Open Letter to Heather Kopp
I read your book, Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I laughed, I cried, I related. It wasn’t my story but like all the stories I’ve heard of people in recovery, it was close enough. The details of our drinking are different but our stories have the same theme. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
I found myself wanting a really big glass of wine while I was reading your book. I know it’s not uncommon to be triggered by reading a drinking memoir so it wasn’t entirely unexpected. The craving didn’t last long and it wasn’t particularly upsetting. What floored me was that a couple of days later, I found myself thinking that I could probably drink again and not have a problem. I was enjoying a Saturday afternoon, sitting in the grass and gazing into the blue sky. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why I didn’t drink. I couldn’t conjure up the feeling of anxiety that drinking caused or the shame or hopelessness that I used to remember vividly. I could only think about how natural it would feel to have a cold beer in my hand. It wasn’t like the craving I felt while I was reading your book. It was a terrifying inability to remember the feelings that have kept me sober for 1 year, 9 months and 24 days. It would’ve been so easy to walk in the house and tell my husband that I wanted a sip of his beer. I didn’t think about how he would react. I didn’t feel enough to care.
I did what I often do when I know I’m in big trouble. I prayed. I begged God to help me remember why I started this journey. I prayed to feel something: shame, fear, guilt, anything to replace the intense numbness. I took lots of deep breaths and focused on my kids playing and on the ants trying to crawl on me as I sat in the grass. Little by little, I was reminded of why life is infinitely better sober than it ever was drunk. My kids will never remember me with a drink in my hand. I won’t have morning-after regrets caused by drinking. The anxiety that crippled me is nothing like it was.
Reading your book made me realize that I haven’t been paying enough attention to my recovery and how helpful it would be to write about it again. I used to have an anonymous blog about sobriety. I shut it down last November because I wanted to live my recovery without an audience. This blog has been different and I’ve been ambivalent about blogging at all. I wanted a creative outlet but not necessarily an audience and because of that, my writing has been vague and inconsistent. Transparency is also trickier when you’re not anonymous. But, I’ve missed the online recovery community and writing about recovery.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Life is hard and it’s confusing. It’s stressful and sometimes downright scary. Being a parent has got to be one of the hardest things on earth, especially if you’re prone to anxiety and control issues like me. It’s been impossible for me to write of these things without talking openly about the role that my sobriety plays in them.
I have you, Heather, to thank for helping me remember what’s important. When you wrote Sober Mercies, you opened yourself up and showed us your vulnerability. It’s the most powerful thing that anyone can do. It changes lives and creates a ripple effect. I’m ready to play my role.