That’s a bit of a pretentious title but I actually made it up because it talks with search engines well. That would be a first :-).
So, hi there, possibly first timer blogger? This is my blog ‘Feeling my way back into life’ and this post is about starting a sober blog. I am assuming that you are thinking of quitting drinking or have done so already. Maybe you need an outlet for all that is happening, or maybe you are looking for sober (online) friends, maybe you are looking for tips and support… Blogs can provide that and more, and less.
Here are some tips which I find important. Maybe you don’t. I have written this rather ‘do this, do no do that’ but obviously you can take what you can use and leave the rest.
Whatever your reason to blog may be, make sure you start off anonymously.
- you do not now what you will want to write in the future,
- because right now you might feel on top of the world thinking you can deal but experience shows that the process of getting sober is messy. Today might look like this:
And tomorrow can look like this:
In early sobriety you will find yourself in an emotional roller coaster. Whatever you have been suppressing by drinking will rear its ugly head at some point. You will be able to deal way better because not drinking. But still. You need to take care of you and that means babysteps in your own tiny circle.
- because you want the absolute freedom to (think that) you can let out the beast when writing,
- because you do want to open up in order to keep sober but not be hit over the head with the consequences immediately,
- because you do not know if your sobriety will be ‘succesful’ and the shame of having to admit that to people around you might force you into hiding again. There are others who would argue that it is good to have people support you. I am not there (yet?). If people were always so absolutely supportive you and I would not have ended up where we are / were. Addiction is a very unattractive spiritual mistake. Asking for help with it is like needing a loan: you only get it when you don’t need it. I am guessing there are people who want to dare me on this. As I said: trust is not my most well-developed muscle. Meaning no disrespect to the people who have helped me but still – trust goes as far as it goes. As does friendship, as does love. Unlike an addict mindset neither of these gifts are without boundaries. And in my not so humble opinion they should not be boundaryless anyway. Actions have consequences. Getting shit faced at a friends party means that I lose the friend. That is logical and in my opinion a healthy process. Actions should have consequences. Same with addiction: not attractive, let’s go do something else. 😉
- because there is a worldwide stigma on addiction and you do not have to deal with that or fight it. You have your own internal battles to take care of.
- because no matter what sobriety comes first and the consequences of going public immediately can stand in the way of focusing on sobriety.
- because on the net, what you write is NEVER gone. Do not make the mistake of thinking your blog is gone when you turn it off or delete it. The internet has a cache history which is very stubborn in remembering everything you did.
- Also… there is a waybackmachine where anybody can look up your former site. It always takes a while before the info there is deleted as well.
Well, many reasons why I advise you to stay anonymous for at least 5 years. Why? Because above and because right now you might be on top of the world, but experience learns that this can change tomorrow.
Why? Because your first priority is sobriety. That is all. You do not know what upheavals lay in the future, you do not know anything about the future. Maybe you want to run for president? The internet remembers everything.
EDIT 30 august 2017 TO THIS POST:
Shame is one of the emotions which are very present and influential in addiction. A lot of the development of addiction has to do with finding your place in this world and mainly overdoses of shame and quilt prevent that. Guilt is about ‘having done something wrong’, shame is about ‘being wrong, feeling less deserving or non-deserving, feeling one has no right to live or less right than others.
The biological function of shame is to keep us from doing stupid things which are out there, to keep us from being aloof and to not go were we say ‘pride comes before the fall’. That is all ok. Shame has it’s function. Problem is, and this is not ok: in this society, shaming people is used as a (destructive) tool by parents, upbringers, teachers, group leaders, groups, peers, well anybody, to keep others in check. Shame is one of those emotions which get transferred very easily. If shame builds up too high in the one, he/she/group will seek a scapegoat and transfer the shame by shaming the other in order to release themselves of the tension and nasty feelings that shame brings. This is done by shaming, by getting angry, by criticizing, by being perfectionist about stuff, by bullying – there are many ways. More info is to be found online.
Next to that, shame can be so ingrown that we shame ourself out of what we want, need, need to do. That looks like feeling you don’t have the right to speak up against a spouse/boss/parent/friend. If you have trouble taking care of yourself (like I) chances are you have not learned this or feel you do not deserve it. That last part translates in not feeling you (i) have the right to take care of you (me). The first part probably means that you had caretakers which did not take care. That is a dangerous, destructive situation which in itself breeds shame.
I am not shame free when it comes to addiction. Also, I know that a lot of people around me, even though they themselves say to be ‘not shaming’ actually do shame me when they feel like it. I have met up with this in conversations several times and it is hugely unpleasant. If I had been recently sober I do not know how I would have dealt with the backstabbing. Which is why I warn you to stay anonymous so if you inform people of your addictive character and substance abuse when you are ready to trust people. Not that you are confronted by somebody having found your blog online. That’s all.
You might be in a state of mind where you wonder what I am talking about. That could be logical because addiction comes with denial and part of the denial is the denial of shame. Trust me, the shame is there. Like all other things it just needs you to be ready for it to show itself. Sobriety is like peeling an onion, we find layer after layer. However: if you were not susceptible to shame you would; A. not have an addictive character, B. be either very enlightened, very autistic or very criminally insane. ;-). C have worked on shame issues for a long time in your recovery already. ❤
If anything you should have/take the time to work this out yourself – in your own time. Which is why I advocate anonymity.
Set up an anonymous e-mail account
Set up an anonymous e-mail account at e.g. Gmail.com. That might not be totally legal but sobriety first. Nothing in this anonymous e-mail account should be real – apart from the e-mail account you need to give up as a last resort. So do NOT use an acronym, do not use your cat’s name, do not use your real name anywhere because it will show up, do not enter your telephone number. Nothing. Because you (and I) do not know how things relate back to you.
Also, some search tools allow people to find whatever friends do online all over the web, based on their mail address. So an online nickname is of no use if it is backed by your standard e-mail address or an e-mail account with your regular name.
Or… do NOT work with G-mail and find an e-mail server which does not want to link ALL your online business (e-mail, YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, whatever) to one account. This is specifically unhandy when you already have an G-mail account.
Work from a computer/device which is password protected. Do not read, blog or reply from your work address or anybody elses computer. The search history of the computer will remember the internet addresses you looked for and those adresses will leave behind cookies. Any other person logging in after you will be able to find these and probably connect the dots.
When you live in a tiny village you might even want to drive to another city to work on your blog, read or reply because when you react to somebodies blog the IP address (which is the address of your computer on the internet) is visible. This IP address can be tracked on the net and refers to a certain area in a large city or to a village. Your provider could hand over your real name and address when requested but I believe they only do that on the request of police. Not sure.
Don’t worry: people, governmental organisations, CIA, NSA, Google, Facebook, hackers, whatever is out there, they will always be smarter than you and can find out what you write and who you are.
You will find that if you search for stuff online, your adds start to change towards (non) drinking items. This is true for Google but also for Facebook. Getting Add-block on a Firefox browser will help you not to see stuff like that. So it does not pop up when you are watching a vid together with a friend.
What’s in a name?
How to name your blog? Well…. a lot. People with blogs like ‘shit I need to quit drinking’ never ‘make it’. The name of your blog expresses your intentions. Make sure you get those right before you start. Something like:
Beware of your intentions, they shape your thoughts,
Beware of your thoughts, they shape your actions,
Beware of your actions, they shape your life.
Always log out of WordPress and your anonymous e-mail account after you are done.
Always log out and in and do NOT let your computer / device remember what the password is for these sites. You never know if it gets stolen or somebody finds it.
Also when you work from a Gmail account your Gmail profile will be visible online where ever you go. So when replying to something on YouTube, it will be from your anonymous soberblog mail. That can be quite scary if it happens to be a reply to somebody you know!
Never reply online to sites while having your Facebook opened.
Some sites take your not privatised Facebook account and post your real name with the comment. Sometimes you can undo, sometimes not. But with a Google search on your name the comment might show up. Not sure if closing your FB account actually works.
Write for yourself
Write for yourself, do not write for the other. Trying to impress, help or save other people from whatever faith is a TRAP. Don’t go there. (As I have 100.001 times. 😦 )
No matter how pink your clouds are, no matter how convinced you are that you have found the Ultimate Truth -which you have! Enjoy!- write FOR yourself. Because ‘own sobriety first’ and you need to find your sober feet, your sober body, heart and mind, your sober life first before you start reaching out. In the 3 years I have read sober blogs I have seen about 20 of them with first post of ‘I really want to help other people find sobriety’ and they were gone within weeks or months. That is not because it is bad to help. No way, it is actually good to help. But FIRST you need to help yourself. And because you are / have been addicted for so long it might not be totally clear to you what that entails. So: ‘own sobriety first’ – no writing for others.
The thing with addiction is that it has turned you into a person who is not living in the here and now and is not living in its own energetic center. If that means anything to you, or to anybody btw. :-D.
I am thinking addiction starts when the core of our being, whatever we feel that is, gets damaged or misplaced. And I am thinking addiction continues that process of damaging and misplacing. If we are lucky we are left with a partial overlap of our core with our body so we still have an inkling of who, where and when we are.
However, when addicted, we tend to lean forward to worry about the future. We are leaning backwards because we carry grief, pain, anger and resentment and whatever other hurt may lay in the past. But no matter what: living in the here and now is exactly what addiction tries to avoid.
Another unhandy thing is leaning sideways left and right to carry all kinds of things on our shoulders which are not our issues – or which we can not change. Writing for other people often comes with leaning forward, out of your core to impress the other. That takes energy which you need to keep to yourself.
There is this AA saying ‘One day at the time’ – I took/take it one moment at the time because this moment is ALL I EVER need to take care off. And when I tried to imagine even that I had to be sober in the evening, my imagination would drag me out of myself and I would fall over.
All in all sobriety will give you a feeling of being more ‘condensed’ – more centered, more in balance. And yes, this can take many months, even years – but while being sober your chances of improving life go up EVERY day. Even if life does not go up, it does not goe down as fast as it would when drinking. There is really no problem in the world that does not get worst with drinking.
When drinking you run out of chances immediately. Energy and focus is on the addiction; how to get rid of it, how to hide bottles, how to score, how to not let people know, if your breath might smell, how to hide your hangover, how to not feel. How to not BE. 😦 Not saying being sober is easy. But it is better.
Consider whom you write about
I write about all kinds of stuff. There are some, and actually I agree with them, who say one should not write about those who can not react. You might want to consider this before you write. As I said: the internet remembers everything. A rule of tumb: if you can not say stuff to somebody in person, it is very good not to write it to them or about them.
However, I have ditched that because I (hope to) trust my anonymity and because I need to let things out in order to survive.
Leaving anonymous replies at blogs – they are not 100% anonymous
WordPress and probably other blogs have a possibility to leave anonymous replies to a post. Please be aware that these replies might be anonymous to the average reader but NOT to the owner of the blog. Obviously not because of security / privacy issues of the blog owner who take precedence over those of the replyer. At the back side of the blog there is a list with all comments, the IP address of the writer of the reply and the e-mail address of this person.
If ever you wonder if people who reply to your blog reply under different names you could check if the IP address is the same. If they are different there is no guarantee that this is not the same person, and if they are the same it is neither but… well, you can sort that out. Also: keep in mind that IP address for computers can change over time. They are assigned by the internet company, not by the person using it.
For those who have a WordPress blog and want to find out what I am referring to above:
- go to ‘My Site’ in the upper left corner.
- scroll down to ‘WP Admin’ and press.
- From the left bar select ‘Comments’
- Here you can find all the comments related to YOUR blog only.
- In this list you can find e-mail addresses of those who responded
- IP addresses
- You can approve, disapprove, delete, edit and mark replies to your post as spam.
- There seems to be no list of comments one leaves at other blogs.
In theory anybody can set up a sober blog and be catfishing for IP addresses and e-mail adresses.
Blogs can be made public, be visible to people you have invited to read or hidden. You could actually make a blog your personal online dairy without posting anything. If that works, it works. Settings can be found in the system.
Do not tell people – the will look for it
Do not tell people you are writing a blog, no matter what they will try to find it and they probably can if they add enough you-specific words. When I Google on ‘alcohol addiction nurse uk blog’ I find ahangoverfreelife on page 3 of the results. Same might be happening to you once you out yourself.
Do not share photos or text you share at other sites as well
Just for ‘the fun of it’ (it worked out to be awful and it upset me pretty much) I once tracked down the husband of a sober blogger who was (she is not anymore and no it is not you!) complaining about a lack of intimacy. She had once posted a photo of her dog and with simple tools like Google ‘photo search’ I could track that same photo to her YouTube account and from there to her Facebook account and from there to the scorned husband. :-(.
What blogsite to choose? WordPress, blogspot?
I actually have no clues what the differences are but I chose WordPress because I was looking for an English-speaking audience. And also because blogspot used to be Dutch. But now I find I am the only Dutchy in the sober blogosphere here and anybody can see in their statistics wether or not somebody from the Netherlands visited their website. That is a bit of a bummer.
Deep in the WordPress settings are some buttons where you can link WordPress with Blogspot and other sites. The goal would be to exchange posts and comments.
What layout to choose?
I took one I liked and in which you can just scroll down to the former post. Also the comments are ‘easy’ to find in comparison to other layouts.
Should I pay for my blog to own it?
I have not found a reason for myself. Well, maybe if I were to found out WordPress was showing advertising on it I do not agree with but I have Add-block so I never see that. You could pay if you want to. Specifically if you want to go professional with what you write that would be a good idea.
Can anybody write and reply what they want?
You are allowed to write what you want, within legal boundaries and the contract you need to adhere to when building the blog. When you have an open blog like mine anybody can see your posts and reply. However, the first time somebody replies you will always have to approve the comment of this person. Also, you can decide not to. You can do so at that moment or later, even after you have approved it. You can also edit comments and delete them. Not sure if you can ban people from your blog. You can list somebody as spam which means they will be filtered out. But that would not be a nice way of dealing with people I guess.
How do people find my blog?
When this is your question, you might want to investigate a little more. As I said: it is important to write for yourself. The time where you can afford to write for others without getting all aloof will come. Own sobriety first.
And in answer to the question: there are courses for that but the simplest way to do so is add tags in the right column of the writing page. Use tags like ‘alcohol’, ‘drugs’, ‘addiction’, ‘AA’ and so forth. People search for that and this is how they find you. Also you can start following people by reading comments to other people’s blogs. Replying to other blogs is obviously also a nice way to try to make friends.
What do I write about?
Obviously there are 100.001 subjects to write about. What you might want to figure out is how far you want to go with opening up. I go all the way because I had to hide so much of me all my life this has created a pressure cooker which only found relieve in drinking. In order to not drink I let it all out. Not very attractive sometimes, but effective for me.
You might at some point feel uncomfortable in sharing stuff. Remember there is hardly any pressing reason to share everything always. You can always sleep it over and post later. You can always delete afterwards. The idea behind sobriety is that you learn to live healthily with your feelings and body. Taking feelings of discomfort seriously and finding other ways to comfort yourself than drinking or drugging is a good idea. 🙂
Your blog, your sobriety, your rules in anything. You make it up. That is good. 🙂 Enjoy.
I do not edit posts. Having said that, I edited this one because is it more instruction wiselikeish. In other posts I just ‘let the beast speak’ so to say. Whatever comes up is what comes up. Suppressing things and feelings and wanting things to be different and more beautiful, fantastic and succesful is what helped me get addicted so for me it is really important NOT to limit myself to wanting to write nice and ‘succesful’. Sobriety is not a competition.
It is not that I do not care about people reading my blog . Note that I am not saying ‘my readers’, I find that pretentious, I do not own people and I do not want to speak about people (not ‘them’) like I do. But I care about my need to unburden, as I said, to let out the beast or to write without limits more. That also included that I do not assume that I am everybodies friend, I guess my blog is acquired taste :-). But if that is what it takes, that is what it takes. I take an effort NOT to track if or if not people reply to my blog when I did to theirs. That might sound like it is, and work out to be a little autistic but sobriety is not high school. It is not about likes. It is about transforming. And by the time I can actually deal with ‘counting’ friends and comparing, maybe I will. I do not now.
Sobriety is about finding your authentic self back in this world. It is unraveling the spiritual mistake that choosing the ‘quick fix’ actually is. It is about learning to be here with yourself, to accept and to take life as it comes and deal with it as it is.
I hope to learn that. 🙂 Today is my 35th month of sobriety. I am happy that I quit. I am grateful that I have my life returned to me. I still have not unraveled the spiritual mistake but I guess I will get there in time.
Hope this post helps you on your way. Please take my dark impression of help and trust for what it is; my dark impression. Not sure how this is for other people but obviously you have your own life experience to sail by. 🙂
Wishing you a wonderful time on the web. Wishing you a blog which helps you be sober. Remember: whatever it takes to be sober is what it takes. Sobriety does not know shortcuts. That is why baby steps are good. 🙂
I am happy that I quit. I hope you are happy that you quit too. ❤