Sunday, October 14, 2012

Help Us Change The Word 'Alcoholic' From "Bad" to "Brave"

***Submitted by Ellie, Founder of Crying Out Now.

The goals of Crying Out Now are lofty, but simple: to provide a safe space for women to tell their stories of addiction and recovery to help heal themselves, and to let others know they aren't alone.

And to change the way the world thinks of what it means to be an alcoholic.

Yes, the WORLD.

If you're going to aim, aim high, I say.

What do YOU think when you hear the world alcoholic? Quick - knee jerk reaction.  What image pops into your mind? Be honest with yourself. Even if you've been reading here a while, my guess is there is still that image of a scraggly homeless man slumped on a doorstep that slinks around in your brain.  It slinks in my brain sometimes, when my disease tries to tell me I wasn't that bad.

Maybe you've been wondering about your own drinking.  Do you have a niggling voice in the back of your mind that bursts through sometimes and tells you that drinking might be a little too important to you?

Whether or not you're in the earliest stages of wondering about your drinking, or firmly entangled in the trenches of low-bottom losses from drinking, it doesn't matter.  I have always said it isn't how much you drink, or how often, it's what alcohol does to you that matters.  It begins to possess your thoughts, you start arranging your life around drinking, you start to have doubts that you're fully present for your life, your work, your children.

Usually, though, these thoughts are easily dismissed by the stigma that the word "alcoholic" carries with it.  Alcoholics aren't successful business people, financially secure, happily married or mothers who try as hard as they can for their kids.  They aren't funny, creative, loving, compassionate and articulate.  They don't live next-door, or in your own house.  They aren't YOU.

I am passionate about breaking down this stigma that keeps people stuck and alone. Especially for women and mothers. We drink alone, usually, in our kitchens, with a few too many at dinner, with sneaky extra gulps from a glass when nobody is looking, or stolen chugs from a stashed bottle.  And we tend to think we're just bad, morally corrupt. And, as women are prone to do, we think we need to be perfect, so we hide this secret as deeply as we can, even though the shame is there, corroding our confidence and making us feel worthless and alone.

There is a change happening, though.  More and more women are using the internet to reach out, find out they aren't alone, and get help.

This is still a controversial topic, and I have been a lightening rod for criticism, as have other women who were some of  the first to be outspoken about their own addiction and recovery stories.  I understand the criticism.  I listen to it closely, because being open about recovery means constantly balancing the desire to reach out to the person who is suffering in silence with the role of Ego in recovery.  It's a tightrope walk of adhering to the importance of one's own recovery program and coloring outside the lines a little bit.

Here's what I see, though. More and more people (especially women) are exploring the idea of recovering from behind the safety of their computer screens, WAY before they would consider a recovery meeting, or even TELLING anyone else about their problem.

Entire communities are forming online to support each other, cheering each other on, offering encouragement and support - and often, the information that helps people walk into their first recovery meeting.  I don't think that one can stay sober long term completely online.  At some point you need to have real people in your life who can help you face-to-face.  But MANY people are meeting each other online first, and taking those initial brave steps towards admitting a problem because they can identify with the stories they read, the people they meet.   The stigma of being an alcoholic is broken down, so the compassion, love and support can come flowing through.

It's been a while since I made a video celebrating Crying Out Now.  I don't know where the last two years went, but I haven't made one since the first anniversary, and now Crying Out Now is 3 1/2 years old, and it is time for a new video.

MANY of the women (most, in fact) you see in this video met first online, by reading sober blogs, through the Booze Free Brigade, or through reaching out initially and tentatively from behind their computer screens.

They are getting off that elevator of addiction - the one that only goes one way .... DOWN - before they go all the way to rock bottom.  The internet is helping them identify with others who are exactly like them, where before they thought they were the only one.  The internet is helping many of these women go to a recovery meeting, and supplement the support they get online with people in 'real' life.

I know the statistics, that many people never crawl their way out of addiction. I don't care about the statistics. Admitting you are an alcoholic and doing the brave work involved in getting well takes serious guts, and it's this bravery I want to honor.  Crying Out Now shares the struggles (many people try for years before they finally get sober, if they get sober at all) and the successes, to show people that they aren't alone and that there IS hope.

Please honor their courage in sharing the messages in this video by commenting and PLEASE share this video on your Facebook and/or Twitter pages.  Odds are addiction has touched your life in some way - either directly or indirectly - because more than 52% of American adults are impacted by the disease of addiction.

Please share this video so it can reach that one person who is suffering in silence - you may even know her, but you don't know she's suffering.

Please help us change how the world responds to the world 'alcoholic'.

Please help us change the world, one story at a time.

(P.S. - I recommend watching this in full view screen for better viewing.  To share, click on the "share" button - SUPER easy).  Thank you.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a beautiful video... Sobriety is an incredible journey and seeing others embrace it deeply touches my heart. I've been sober 24 years and I wouldn't trade it for anything. To the women in the video and to all those new to sobriety and questioning their relationship to alcohol, I send you lots of love - may you live with the peace and joy you deserve... Barbara

  3. When I think of the word alcoholic, I think of the woman I love most of all in this world. She is smart—probably one of the most intelligent women I’ve ever known. She is beautiful—both physically and spiritually. I’ve asked her to marry me and want to spend the rest of my life with her.

    The only thing standing between us and the amazing future we spent a week talking about are her addictions. She is a drug addict and an alcoholic. Right now, the only thing she loves are her next drink and her next high.

    I have promised her and her mother that I would be here for her when she finally hits rock bottom and seeks help for herself . I have promised her that she does not have to walk the long road to recovery alone—that I would be by her side every step of the way.

    I see that as my duty to someone I have been friends with for years. I see it as part of my life long commitment to the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.

    I know it won't be easy, but then again, most worthwhile things aren't. I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley and am willing to do it because I love her.

  4. I'd also say Thank You Ellie...for all the good that your hard work has accomplished...

    I hope that my beautiful and beloved Lauren Elizabeth, whose nickname is "Ellie" can one day follow in your footsteps and be clean, sober and healthy. I love her and want her back in my life.

  5. Beautiful ! It takes so much courage to to acknowledge that there is a problem. And courage to ask for help. For those who speak up and speak out - God Bless You All! You are changing minds. Little by little you are erasing that image that first comes to mind of 'the alcoholic'.

    Alcoholism is a disease and yet people blame themselves. People who look at an alcoholic blame the alcoholic. It takes people speaking out and education to remove the stigma that alcoholism has. I liken it to the stigma that Downs Syndrome had. People saw the condition but they didn't see the worth of the individual. But now that has changed because people spoke out. People hear the word alcoholism and they think of someone who doesn't have the strength to overcome a weakness. They think of someone who doesn't 'want' to get better. They think of failure.

    Thank you for the work that you do in bringing light to this disease : D And thanks to all the courageous ladies in the video - I am honored to share this video : D

  6. Nice work, Ellie. Its beautiful :-)

  7. Thank you for the very inspiring video, and to all you successful ladies.

  8. What a great project. I have the same aim as you. We need to show both addicts and the world that it is not shameful to suffer from an addiction, and that people can recover given the right help and support. Kudos. Love your video - will be sharing it :)


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