Sunday, November 6, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

I love words.

For me they are little doors; behind each one lies a precious truth, or perhaps a secret. Words give us a glimpse into the soul.

Words are powerful.  

We can use them as weapons of hate, to fuel jealousy, deceit, fear or resentment.  One simple word spoken or written in anger can have devastating effects.

Words can also be healing; a salve to ease pain, fear, isolation or torment.  Words bring community, support and comfort.

I feel like I have lost my way with words. 

I am not going to write about my recovery on this blog anymore.  Somewhere along the way, my awareness of audience led me astray.  I lost the ability to write purely, experientially, authentically, because my ego got caught up in delivering a specific message of hope or inspiration.

I lost sight of what was really going on, deep inside of me.

This is dangerous, because it pulls me away from the private, anonymous, soulful work I need to do on myself. I was looking outwards - at the impact my words have on the world - instead of inward, into my soul.  I lost access to my truth.

I stopped writing for writing's sake, and began delivering a message instead.  The urge to post about pain or difficulty with a hopeful flourish was irresistible.  I believed in the hopeful flourish, in the message, and I was always truthful on this blog, but I found out - in the hardest way - that the danger lies in the things I wasn't saying, the truths I wasn't even allowing myself access to. 

Because of this I stopped knowing how to ask for help; I put myself in a position of having my own answers. I substituted this blog for the hard face to face work of recovery, which is done in the grittiness of a circle of strangers at a meeting, or intimately, and privately, with trusted friends.  This work is not meant to be shared publicly because it is impossible, I have learned, for my ego not to be aware of how it will be received.

I still believe - very strongly - in the power of voice and healing in addiction and recovery.  I don't regret the words I have written here.  I believe that addiction thrives in silence, and Crying Out Now - where hundreds of women come share their stories- will continue to break down those walls of silence, stigma and isolation.  The women speaking out are brave, and the community forming there brings compassion and healing.

I don't want to stop writing.  I want to get back to the place where writing enables me to metabolize life in a pure way.  In an observational way.  I don't want to be a message deliverer anymore.  I can't.

Life has thrown me some curve balls lately.  I have some large obstacles to climb mentally, spiritually and physically (health wise).  I am going to need words, writing, to maintain curiosity, hopefulness, and gratitude, and I am going to need the comfort of the community sharing my words brings.  I will also need words to have direct access to my fear, pain and uncertainty.  Not in the context of recovery - mine or anyone else's - but purely and simply just as they are

I have been thinking a lot about whether to shut down this blog or not.  I talked to many trusted friends, and received lots of advice.  I prayed over it.  A lot. I'm struggling with the role of Ego in blogging.  It is impossible to divorce Ego from any form of writing, but in the blogging world the instant response received - and the desire to be heard - is addictive, and it can be dangerous. 

I have been thinking about great writers and speakers, like the Dalai Lama, who share their words, emotions and beliefs with the world without being swallowed whole by Ego.  Last night I watched a teaching by the Dalai Lama, and I was amazed at the power of his words, at the healing comfort they brought.  He spoke about Ego, how Ego as better-than, Ego that is used for power or grandstanding, is dangerous and toxic.

But he also said that Ego is necessary to build self-awareness, confidence, self-love and compassion.  In this way Ego is important, he explained, because if we can't have compassion for ourselves, we have no hope of having compassion for others.  Ego, he said, must always, always, be balanced by humility and a genuine love for all beings.

I fell asleep last night with his words ringing in my head, and I had a dream.  In the dream I was at a spiritual retreat, in a open pavilion with swaying palm trees, the sound of ocean surf nearby, surrounded by colorfully dressed women from all over the world.  They were laughing, sharing stories, lifting each other up with words.

One woman glanced my way, saw me cowering in the corner, silent and alone.  She threw open her arms and flashed me a brilliant smile.  "Come," she said.  "Let me hear your story." 

"I'm afraid," I said. 

"If you are afraid then you are not speaking from here," she said, pointing a slim finger at my heart.  "If you speak from the heart there is no reason to be afraid.  But you must get this out of the way," she said, pointing to my mind. 

"My child," she whispered, placing her hands on either side of my face, "words are a gift.  We heal with words.  We sing with words.  We praise God with words.  What is life but a wonderful story?"


  1. Ellie - I just want you to know that I'm feeling a lot of the same things you are. I have 9 years sober and I lost my way. I forgot that being sober takes work and it isn't about being entertaining with my crap that isn't REAL. Getting to the heart of what's real is hard work, and often private work, and I applaud you doing what you need to do to maintain your sobriety. It needs to be in the #1 slot, I'm slowly learning. I hope you continue to blog, because I want to hear your words, your story. The good, the bad, the hopeful and the hopeless. Because it's all important, just like you. Sending you hugs and prayers.

  2. I just want to dive into these words you have written and let them wash over me. They speak to my heart and to the place I have found myself the last few months.

    Sending many prayers for you!

  3. You certainly don't need my approval, but you have it anyway. I'm glad for the honest words that you have written about your recovery in the past. I'm more glad that you are able to see when something harms your recovery and change accordingly. Do what is right for you and your readers will enjoy it, no matter what.

  4. I have a little teeny blog, it is very circumscribed because I am a teacher and because my family reads it. I have often thought of having one completely private blog--no readers to do the tough thinking and writing I'd like to do sometimes. Take care of you.

  5. I found your blog through the Redbook article. I blog about recovery also and always worry a bit about the "me" that goes out to the world. I fight the desire to be smart and good and recovered--you have described that struggle and juggle so well here. How do we balance ego and the message that we can carry thru this new technology? You are a wonderful writer and you continue to help so many women--todays post is evidence. Thank you for all that you have written and all that you will continue to give as you wrestle thru the current challenges.

    Max from "" and ""

  6. I too have been wordless for a long time now. Unable to share and unable to write. I haven't been able to explain to anyone "why?"...I appreciate your honesty and I find with in your words not just grains of truth, but boulders of reality...Thanks...I wish I could hug you out of gratitude and thanks.

  7. I loved this post. It took me many months of not blogging to stop thinking of my life in terms of bloggable moments.

    That dream was pure gift. To all of us.

    A Song Not Scored For Breathing

  8. In your blogs I have never felt that you lost your way with words. In fact I think it is actually the opposite. You have an ability to describe many thoughts and emotion very clearly and in ways that make all of us say to ourselves..Oh ya I felt that way also but wasn't able to describe it as well. I never got the sense that you were delivering a message other than saying to the rest of is okay to talk about your happy times or fears or things that brought pain. I hope you continue as it has been a wonderful ride and as for Mr Ego..he is very complicated and we all have to wrestle with this fellow so that we can live our lives in a more practical manner.

    Maple Leaf

  9. You clearly have a gift in expressing thoughts with words. Do not neglect this gift or hide it under the proverbial bushel basket!

    There is lots to blog about...Something important you thought about or discovered, something beautiful you experienced, something funny in your life as a mother, and something creative you made... you are, in fact ONE CRAFTY MOTHER with lots to share in addition to your recovery. That your sobriety makes the rest of your life possible just goes without saying.

    You and your words are much loved.

  10. Ellie, big, big hugs. I've worried about ego myself a lot, lately. My 1 year is in a couple of weeks, and I'm petrified I will become complacent. Thank goodness for my sponsor, the fellowship, and of course my HP.
    Do what you need to do...and know, that in this alcoholic's life, you and your blog has made a difference. Sending prayers.

  11. I am immensely proud of you, Ellie. Regardless of your ultimate decision, you have claimed this space as your own and for your own wellness and betterment. Best wishes to you, Ellie. Your words are a gift and I'm so grateful you've shared them.

  12. Hi Ellie....this was a beautiful post and I heard your voice, your true voice again, for the first time in monthes.

    We all are here for you. You have nothing to prove to any of us. I hope you'll feel the energy of our love for you to help you refuel and be strong for what you're facing now.

    I can't thank you enough for posting right now because I really care about you. I want you to be healthy and happy as a woman, wife and mother.

    I'm rooting for you every step of the way.
    Hugs and love.

  13. Your posts have always helped me, this one in particular. I worry about remaining humble in sobriety, never taking it for granted. Don't be too hard on yourself, I always felt the honesty in your writing but I understand why you feel the need to keep your recovery journey less public. I know when I talk to others who don't know me very well about why I don't drink my words sound false or trite and it messes with my head.
    You have inspired me even when you posts are not about recovery, just being you living your life, making your jewelry and sharing your gift for words helps.
    I know it must be a very difficult balance to maintain-taking care of your own recovery and helping others realize that they are not alone.
    Take care of yourself. I know you know how.

  14. Hi Ellie
    Just wanted you to know that I love your blog and I relate to you in so many ways, even though I am not in recovery. Your writing is so beautiful and it just speaks to me, whether you are talking about recovery or not. I feel like we would be friends if we knew each other in person. So, selfishly I would love for you to continue to write and to share, but I also know that you need to do what is best for you right now.
    I truly wish you the best with all you are facing right now!

  15. I don't want to be a message deliverer anymore. I can't.

    This is profound. This whole post is profound, and you've given me a lot to think about about ego and blogging.

    I love you. I sent you a note on actual paper today. xo

  16. I adore what you've written and your words. Always. The hopeful flourish and all. But writing authentically and ego-less? Is a challenge for all of us bloggers, I think. I am so glad you are soul-searching your way through it.

  17. Ellie, you have helped me beyond words. Your blog was the first I found. And you know what, I totally understand your decision, whatever it ends up being. I love your creativity and your approach to life as a whole. I agree with Val, selfishly I would love you to continue, but you need to do what's right for YOU. Check in once in a while, let us know you're okay. ((hugs))

  18. You are such a beautiful person, Ellie. You have my complete support, no matter which way you decide to take your words.

    Sending huge hugs,


  19. I love your words.
    But you need to do what is best for you.
    Your heart and your head will work it out.
    Take care, Ellie

  20. I so get the need to 'spin it' and how the need to spin gets in the way... Whatever you decide I am grateful for the words you have had in this space. They have pushed me forward and challenged me and given me new ways to look at things. And I hope you will continue to serve your gift of words. It's funny, I just recently felt like I got my words back... But this post gives me a lot to think about in regards to how I use the words I write. I'm rambling now... Just know I'm grateful for the things you've put in this space and I'm praying for the things the challenges that you're facing right now.

  21. Ellie, listen to your dream!

    Recovery is a big, hugely important part of your life, and your sharing about it has made an immense impact, too.

    But who is to know where you might go and what you might do next?

    I always hate it when I hear someone in a meeting say, "I will always come to these meetings. I will always need these meetings." How do they know that? How do they know their healing isn't meant to be advanced in some other way? Before program, we didn't know of the program. What else don't we know?

    Life IS a wonderful story. Follow your heart, Ellie, take good, good care of yourself ... and tell it, whatever it is.

    Thanks for everything.

  22. Ellie, for the first time in a long time you sound grounded in reality and spiritually healthy. That is so good to hear those qualities in your words again.

    Your work in helping women recover has been extensive, and I think you can take satisfaction in many lives saved through your sharing, and that is a good thing. But I think in all our sharing that we have to keep in mind that there is a Higher Power at work who is using us.

    I try always to keep in mind when I share that I have no wisdom to share, I do not know what is good for others, but I do have experience to share that others may mine for their own wisdom. I sincerely hope that you find that you can continue to share your experience without being swallowed by it.

    Thank you for all you have done for us.


    Mike L

  23. You are a remarkable example of the power of allows a heart connection and I am grateful that I get to feel connected to your beautiful heart. MY heart knows that you will find your way. I am in your corner, on your side and hoping against hope that the retreat in your dream is Costa Rica!

  24. Hey Ellie - I'm so sorry you're struggling. Hang in there. Do whatever you need to do. Every reader loves you and is praying for your success - even if we don't get to read about it.
    Love love love.
    You are amazing and thoughtful - inspirational. We have been blessed by your words, but what's most important is your health. Whatever you decide to do - I still love you :) :) Tho not in a creepy stalker way.

  25. Hi Ellie-

    Your self-awareness shows how evolved you are as a human being. You've given us all a lot to think about, and it's something I've been thinking about lately as a writer as my anxiety has amped and my ego has made it difficult to deal with writerly rejection. I just read this interview with Ann Lamott on Salon yesterday about ego being toxic to a writer. The idea that even Ann Lamott sits around refreshing Amazon after her books come out makes clear to me that it is human to have ego. It is human to want to be heard.

    Whether you blog or don't blog, explore what you want to explore in writing. Think about fiction, poetry, screenplays -- writing in its every form. We've grown used to narrative nonfiction in our blogs, but it's not the only form that's out there. It would be a sorry shame for you to stop altogether, really, it would. Sometimes your friends have to say the hard things -- don't stop writing, whether you publish it or not.

  26. Hey Ellie,
    How do I say that I understand, how do I thank you for what you've written to date? By telling you I hear and feel your true voice clearly within this post.

    Because I know I'm so ego driven in a negative way it's so frightening to think that I've allowed myself to follow that path again. I know what you mean.

    It's not just about what you've typed, it's about the effect of your internal perspective. Do we actually protray well what we actually feel inside and how does what we portray affect what we actually feel inside.

    It can be a cycle or we can root ourselves in our private program with our groups and higher power and follow the path which He provides.

    The gift which God gave you of writing shouldn't be ignored....perhaps explored further in different manners.