Breezy and golden Monday morning, the fields bright with wild flowers and big pink flat-faced roses running along the fences. We’re having a crime wave out here in this part of the countryside so my anxiety is higher than usual — stabblings of elderly pensioners, gunshot fire at night, carjackings and assaults. Nothing to drink over, but not an easy time.
I read Mary Christine’s thought-provoking post on recovery blogging after five years and agreed with many of her comments as well as her questions. There are no easy answers. Those of us who do blog are the first generation of recovery bloggers and that is a certain kind of responsibility, but there are no guidelines as yet. I read around widely on blogs that identify as sobriety-focused, AA, Al-Anon, recovery etc. The silliness does depress me at times, along with the dire poetry and mutual admiration societies. It bothers me when people have no sense of privacy, let alone any appreciation for anonymity. Each time I see happy family snapshots, I am aware that Google search engines are trawling the web to capture and store those images, post them on generic image-bank sites. No privacy, no anonymity. A while back, a blogger who was bad-mouthing her employers and job-hunting said something that puzzled me a little. Because it was a lazy Siunday morning, I ran a quick advanced file search with only two identifying details and within four minutes I had unearthed the name of her workplace, her son’s academic institution and residence, her online banking account number and home address, her Facebook identity and online CV. That horrified me. Because any employer could have done the same.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly and knows my part of Africa well, could quickly guess my hometown and possibly go on to identufy myself and the person with whom I share a house. Our AA meetings are here are far and few between but they are also small and I don’t talk about them in case local readers are able to deduce identities of certain colourful characters. In my real offline existence I never talk about any of my sober and unsober friends, am very low-key and discreet. When I write about them online I change all the details, but I mention their situations and dilemmas because it may help someone going through something similar. I try to speak about those I encounter with respect and tenderness. It bothers me a great deal when Al-Anon bloggers disclose a great deal about the still-suffering alcoholic in their lives because for me this is a transgression of another’s privacy and, secondly, because of the hostile and often ignorant assumptions about the nature of alcoholism. I hate listening to others demonise, pathologise or depersonalise the alcoholic or addict in their lives, don’t believe it helps the Al-Anon member or anyone reading. I have learned agreat deal from those who have a mature and informed understanding of Al-Anon and take those understandings into my own life and dealings with the families and friends of active alcoholics. We don’t have Al-Anon out here where I live, we don’t have NA and we don’t have rehab centres or even detox facilities at the state hospital two hours away. We have one another and we muddle along together.
Other details of my daily life are a way of showing how one sober woman in recovery lives one very ordinary life, my interests, my struggles, my mistakes, my slow recovery from a devastating illness. Because I work from home and lead a very quiet and often lonely existence, I don’t have that much to write about. So I mention my garden, recipes I am cooking, what I see on walks in the mountains, books that I am reading (I have no television) and ideas about society or psychology, insights that come to me, quotations that move me. I stay in touch with the wider world via online forums and mailing lists and the great mysterious unfolding possibilities of the Internet. None of this is wildly exciting but it is the life I have chosen and love. When I sobered up, life began anew for me, the creativity came back, the healing started, the service opportunities grounded me in a more worthwhile life.
Thank you for reading and take care, please safeguard your personal details and those of family members with more care. Sadly, in blogland it is safest to assume that you are being read by those you would least like to be read by, tracked by strangers who do not have your best interests at heart. Don’t say anything about another person you would not say to that person’s face..