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Why Do I Blog?

11 May 2012

Last night on twitter I asked people to answer the question, “why do I blog?” I got some great responses, here, here, and @proflikesubst’s five-part previously written dissertation on the topic, starting here. So time to answer my own question: why do I blog? Why am I here? What’s all this for?

Asking why I blog is, I think, essentially asking two questions. First, “why do I write?”, and second, “why do I write here?”. I think that each of these deserves a little bit of attention. As to why I write, the answer is that I always have. My older sister was always writing stories and poems when we were kids, and sharing them with me. My favorite continues to be the story about how Gargamel caught and ate the smurfs, but then he dies. Because it turns out smurfs are poisonous. Because they’re blue. I mean come on!

So I’ve always written. Stories and poems and later a dissertation and scientific papers and a blog. I kept a journal for a number of years, but I haven’t in a decade or so. Sometimes I keep one while I travel, but I didn’t on my recent trip to New Zealand.¬† I did a lot of writing when I first got sober. Journaling is useful in early sobriety when one’s emotions are completely out of whack and rage erupts into elation or terror with no warning. Somewhere in my house I still have the journal I kept during rehab. I’ll have to find it sometime. It’s got my fourth step in it too.

And that’s another aspect of writing and sobriety. My sponsor had me writing for several steps. 1,2,3,4,6, and 8. It focused my thoughts, allowed me to pay attention to things in my head and heart about alcohol. Writing crystallizes my thinking on topics and helps me think more deeply than simple pondering, or even discussions with my sponsor or others. I write so that I can understand the things I’m writing about.

So why do I write here? Why keep a blog and open it up to the world to read about my private life? There are many reasons for that too. Of course, like many bloggers, I have this vague fantasy that someone is going to read my blog, and decide to offer me several hundred thousand dollars to write a book about my exquisitely fascinating life. He’s an alcoholic! He’s a scientist! He knows what semicolons are for! I was obviously born to be the next Augusten Burroughs or somebody. Or some hospital administrator will read about my simulation work and offer to pay me thousands of dollars to study his/her hospital.

But that’s a vague fantasy, and I don’t even know if I could produce a book if I was asked to. Blogging is very different from writing to a single purpose. I also write here for the simple reason that Roger Ebert described as the reason we get married: to have a witness to my life. I have a couple hundred people who read about what I’m thinking, how I’m doing, my ideas and fears and triumphs. It makes me feel part of a community. Many of the people who read and comment on my blog have blogs of their own, which I read. There is an intimacy to the community of people who write about their lives.

I write so that I can help people with addictions, and people who care about people with addictions. I try to be as honest and open as I can about my own journey, and what I’ve gone through, so that people can see that recovery is possible, and that life can get good after sobriety. I share my – as we say – experience, strength, and hope so that someone who is out there, googling “alcohol sober help”, might find this and read and realize that if I can do it, they can do it.

I write here to help to alleviate the stigma of alcoholism and other addictions. To show that alcoholics in recovery are not all constantly relapsing and miserable. We are not all people who slept under bridges and developed serious facial hair situations. We are ordinary men and women who have a mental illness. A fatal one, if it is untreated. And one which is, in many, extremely recalcitrant to intervention. One for which the scientific community doesn’t even really know how to effectively measure improvement and remission, much less promote it.

I write so that people with loved ones who are suffering from alcoholism can see that recovery is possible, but cannot be imposed. The only treatment for active alcoholism is pain. We cannot impose recovery. All we can do is decide what we can and cannot live with. And then set boundaries and enforce them. We alcoholics, while drinking, will use and abuse everyone in our lives in order to continue drinking. When our support, our enabling, is withdrawn, we have the best chance for recovery. Often, it isn’t enough. Most alcoholics will die of alcoholism.

I write because the only way to recover is to stop fighting. Alcoholism can’t be beaten. It can only be surrendered to. And I hope that I can help other people lose their battles. Give up. Let go. And then move on.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 May 2012 10:36

    I write on a blog because I am compelled to do it by something within. Every time I think about stopping, someone will leave a comment or an email that really makes me realize that perhaps I am passing along a message of hope for those who are affected by alcoholism. In the early years of blogging, I wrote more about the message. Now, I just write about what I am doing and what my thoughts are at the time that I sit at the computer. It is therapeutic for me.

  2. 11 May 2012 22:39

    It’s funny. I can’t write for hundreds. I have to actively forget how many are reading lest it wig me the hell out.

    But I like looking at traffix in the aftermath.

  3. Angela permalink
    12 May 2012 03:18

    You write very well.

  4. 12 May 2012 20:44

    I like how you said writing your way through your steps helped you focus your thoughts. I’ve found that my writing helps me focus my thoughts, too. It often leads me to make new realizations or form a different insight that I didn’t have before I put my thoughts in the written form.


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