Forewarning: Angry Rant Ahead with Lots of Swear Words.

I’m an irritable fucking mess today. 5 days, 16 hours and 27 minutes since my last drink and I was doing pretty damned good until today. Today I really want a drink. 

No. That’s a lie. I was doing fine for some good parts of the day. Then one little thing happened, the trigger was pulled, and the cravings shot off like fireworks in my brain. And it was over the most ridiculous thing ever:

This comment:

“It’s amazing how articulate you are considering you are newly sober and in rehab. I’ve been in rehab and I spent years working in a rehab and I seldom met a newcomer able to communicate at this level. This leads me to believe that you are either a well established author (I hope so) or you’re not really newly sober and in rehab. Sorry for my skepticism but I have been in recovery for 32 years and something about this just doesn’t seem right. And by the way, personal journals are meant to be private, not public.”

First of all, I should be flattered that the chaos in my head and my heart is somehow finding order on the page and still has some semblance of sanity. But there’s two other parts that really pissed me off (great timing, because I’ve been in a mood all day). “You’re not really newly sober and in rehab” and the final “And by the way, personal journals are meant to be private, not public.”


Ok. I’m sure they meant well.

Thankfully, there are no drinks to be had here, because for some reason it’s driving me to want to drink all the drinks.

I write for myself, to get my thoughts out.

Words to me are like wool to a loom.

It’s a craft I adore and I spin sentences in my head just walking down the street (forgetting them instantly, but I love to write as much as I do photography and art.) I’m blessed that there’s so many of you supporting me on this journey and are taking your time to read whatever nonsense spills out of my fingers each day – despite all your own challenges, and you still take the time to encourage me. It says so very much about your character, and I thank you.

Like seriously. You are all amazing.

I think I was just shocked as shit to essentially read someone suggesting I don’t belong here and that the absolute reality of what is happening to me and how I’m feeling is a lie – or doesn’t fit their concept of what an alcoholic is, how they should write, or how I should be acting.

How I wish to fuck it was all a fairy tale.

Why am I even caring about this? Why is it bothering me so much?

Maybe because it took me literally a DECADE to come to a point of honesty where I admitted I need help and had no other options. The final straw. The last chance given, knowing there won’t be anymore. The 9th life long gone.

I don’t know.

But swallowing what little pride I had left and committing to leaving so as to save myself as well as my marriage, my family, my businesses and personal potential was among the hardest things I’ve ever had to do (and I know the hard part hasn’t even started yet.) Admitting I’ve been failing at all of them is a tough to pill to swallow – especially with nothing to wash it down with anymore.

I refuse to apologize for what I write here – or that I’m not moving fast enough or I write with an “emotional fragility” and “pretty words” that are so real to me, still here on the other side, just days into a journey many of you have been working an entire lifetime on.

Of course I’m fucking emotionally fragile right now.

(Aside, again: Thank you more than you’ll ever know to all of you who have made me feel encouraged and not alone, who’ve said you know what I’m talking about and that you’ve been where I’m at…that it gets harder but it’s worth it. You know who you are, and though we haven’t met, I love you all.)

Next“a journal should be private, not public.”

I call total bullshit on that one.

This is my experience, my journey, and I’ll do with it what I want. I need this to look back on one day. Perhaps it’s generational, and I don’t want to scribe my deep dark secrets into a paper journal that will disappear with age, as though these emotions never happened. Hidden away like the dirty family secret – if no one knows, then it never happened.

Well, fuck that.

It’s time to talk about shit. NOT talking about it is how I got here, and I’m not making that mistake ever again. Maybe one day someone will read this and it’ll inspire them to be honest, too, and start a dialogue that will save their own or someone else’s life. Maybe it won’t. But for right now, it’s the best medicine I’m taking every day.

The problem with this world is that we are told how to feel. We are told not to talk about it. And we are told that we shouldn’t be feeling what we are feeling. That, right there, is the biggest problem I have with organized religion.

I AM a spiritual person. It doesn’t mean I need to go to a church.

Going to church doesn’t make me a Christian. I could sit in a garage all day and it doesn’t make me a car.

I believe in a Higher Power, most definitely – and I call her the universe. I see her in trees and in music and the touching of hands. The exchange of energy and the power within us to change our lives based on our thoughts. But that’s another post for another day. (I actually have the words “Thoughts Become Things” tattooed on my arm, alongside a Dalai Lama quote about gratitude).

Well holy shit, I’m on a rant, and I apologize. This post is turning more and more into a mirror of my brain at the moment.

Better out than in, I suppose.

I’ve been doing great trying to adjust and settle in here, having my little moments of pride every time I check my tracker to see how long I’ve gone without a drink and how much money I’ve saved (unfortunately, it doesn’t track how many people I haven’t hurt or things I’ve screwed up in the meantime) all the while trying to dislodge that stupid butcher knife that is still lodged between my eyes like a never-ending migraine.

One more reason I’m so irritable today.

So it’s water, more water, and eventually a mineral water to give myself some variety (I know, living on the edge over here.) I’m very much looking forward to getting into deeper counselling this week, starting tomorrow, finally.

After re-reading what I just wrote, apparently I need it desperately.

I want to do the work. I can’t WAIT to do the work.

I’m quite certain I’m depressed. Nothing new, really. I was depressed when I left home and I was depressed when I arrived here. Now I’m just depressed, in withdrawal, and lonely – despite having made some great friends already.

I’m going to thank that person who left the comment that I didn’t write enough like an alcoholic – whatever the hell that means. Because without it, I wouldn’t have found the courage inside me right now to sweep all of this clutter out of my brain.

I have a feeling I’m going to sleep much better tonight.

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. That comment’s really fucking stupid. I bet that person wouldn’t be brave enough to say that to your face. Good for you for making it into something better. I don’t understand how anyone can see your amazing writing as fake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. It just blindsided me so much – I had to read it like 5 times thinking I was missing something lol! Thanks for your kind words, too 😘 one little (big) thing I’ve learned already is to deal with it as it happens. If I let It stew inside me it’ll ruin my night and my tomorrow. And now it’s out and I don’t have to own it anymore… wasn’t mine to own anyhow, but you know how we humans are lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. That is really weird. With all of the crap I’ve shared about my journey not once have I heard such a thing! And if I had I probably would have cracked! I suspect there is perhaps more about this commenter than meets the eye. Some type of bitterness?? Hmmmm. I’m sorry Shawn. It’s good you let it out. I’m too curious who this person is… but then again, it’s best to avoid whomever it is anyway. Wow, wow, wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet 🙂 it set me off immediately and I’m learning to go with my gut and try to deal with things head on (my weakness, since internalize and then start to racket… add to that procrastinate) and then I get sick and drink. That’s never an option anymore so I’m just trying to deal with it (and everything) as it comes and move on, I suppose. I just don’t get why someone would question something like that at a time when the other person is down. Meditation has been helping me huge the last few days. Thanks again, as always xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes thank that fine person. One of my personal observations. People often attempt at belittling others only manages to expose their own weakness. Well done Shawn, in the words of Chrissie Hynde If you’re mad get MAD! and then let it go

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just a quick word of encouragement for you. Vincent Van Gogh did some of his best paintings while seeking medical treatment. That didn’t mean he was “faking it.” He felt the routine and stability he found very beneficial. Just because your writing well doesn’t mean you’re faking anything, which is how I took those comments. Talent is going to show through. (Maybe that person was just jealous? Why knock a guy down?!?) Stay strong. You have a lot more supporters than detractors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re the best. Thank you. Was just such a weird comment. This disease isn’t a cookie cutter. We all share similar ingredients, but we all look different and have different strengths and processes. Glad to have got it “out” immediately instead of letting it take any more of my energy 🙂 thanks for being there xo

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It takes someone with immense strength and courage to share their rehab journey, like you’ve chosen to do. Shame on those who can’t accept the fact that not all who struggle are mumbling and incoherent as they walk on the path to recovery. You are an amazing person with a big heart. I can’t wait to give you a big bear hug and celebrate YOU. Big love my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a mean thing for them to say.
    We each are on our own journey in recovery.
    Each person brings something bring the gift of words and photos.
    No one owns your words except do what you want with them!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow! I can’t believe someone would write something so insensitive. Well, wait, yes, I can. The world is full of people like that. I’m sorry that you had to come across one. I think people tend to like to compartmentalize people and it just doesn’t work that way. You can be an addict and still be smart, articulate, knowledgeable, etc. You do this in the way the works for you, while keeping in mind that you are with professionals who will help you find the direction that works for you. Hopefully you can add this experience to the success side of things… you had a bad experience, you were triggered, you didn’t drink, you are still alive! That means a lot ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t believe someone told you that you shouldn’t be writing your journal and story to the public. That is absolutely ridiculous. What you’re doing takes such a level of vulnerability and courage that so little people have. Pride yourself on that fact every day. Your words will help people believe it or not. I completely understand how you feel. When I started my own journey into sobriety I got the same kind of flack from people for being so public about it. Don’t let it get to you. It’s the the most therapeutic and cathartic thing to write your feelings and post them out into the world and know that you are not alone in you challenges and struggles. You got a lot to say and you have every right to say it how you want. Never limit yourself in your expression!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Taylor ❤ I'm finding it's the best therapy…cathartic is the perfect word for it. I can answer questions in therapy. Write letters as needed. Cry my eyes to my counsellors. Rip scabs off of decade old wounds – but all that leftover clutter is still there and this blog/journal thing here is where it collects, and I'm so grateful for it (and all of you out there who are helping me not feel totally alone). THANK YOU xo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ❤ I felt much better after the rant LOL. Sort of like I ate something that disagreed with me, made myself sick, and felt like a new person afterwards. I did have a *great* night sleep, as well (though I slept in and missed the blessed beach walk I look forward to…but obviously I needed the sleep more!) xo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, the person who wrote that made quite the presumptuous statement. It’s okay though, remember, it’s their issue, not yours. We don’t know what place that person is coming from and what battles are being fought there, and what the statement even really meant, but glad you’re taking the time you need to focus on you. It’s courageous that you’re willing to share your thoughts and a blessing that you’re so articulate. Continued prayers that you remained strengthened!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Shawn, you are dealing with a lot of stuff right now, and I know such things affect, but don’t allow it to effect too much. There are a lot of people who feel you, including me, feel your every word, your pain, your determination.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The reason you can write well while in treatment is you are intelligent. As for not sharing publicly, he must not know anything about blogs. This is what most bloggers do – share themselves. If it is too much for a person, they can stop reading and move on.

    It’s interesting about you wanting a drink really bad when someone has treated you badly. He was trying to lay shame on you, which feels truly awful. In therapy, you will learn to not let shit like that bother you. Writing about it is one way, and you do that well.

    By the way, I’m an alcoholic too. Haven’t drank for about 7 years. I pray The Higher Power will give you strength, comfort, understanding, wisdom and peace as you go through rehab.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have a really interesting post I’m hoping to write this evening, if I can get around to it. I had a pretty profound, spiritual moment this morning – after asking the universe for some help with Steps 2 & 3 and my faith. And, well. It came, almost instantly. I get chills thinking about it, and though I’m still working through the steps and the workbook as part of my program here, I have absolute, complete faith in moving forward right now. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Drinking: Alcohol

    Let’s not forget it’s a poison

    It affects us all in different ways

    The same is true for those of us who no longer consume. And how we deal with its absence

    Passionate writing (yours) fuelled by the commentary of others is a form of counselling

    Your commentator has his outlook. You are still learning yours

    I am not in recovery. I just stopped drinking. It is no longer fun

    My modest book on Amazon The Teenagers Guide to Drinking is aimed at making sure young people just have fun drinking but understand it’s a poison

    There is no right or wrong way to comment on a drinker or his writing

    No one man woman nor child has the ability to know how you feel about yourself

    And little if anything is known about whether your past enjoyment of drinking will be remembered by you after you die

    It’s nice to have a comment on your blog written by someone who has followed taken a similar journey.

    That commenter could be classed as tired of life. You clearly are not

    Do not forget 5BX the Canadian airforce exercise programme

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Holy crap, that was a bit hardcore. That’s the kind of shit that would have triggered me too. Then I made my sobriety my priority. As my fabulous eloquent husband says”opinions are like arseholes,everyone has one”If you’re looking for a reason to drink you’ll find one” no problem. I drank on the most ridiculous of things. Anger is a good one especially perceived justifiable anger(remember HALT). As Vapersage said, look at it and let it go. You’re writing helps lots of people, but you might not always feel like writing and that cool too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your husband is a wise man…love that quote about opinions! 🙂 I definitely need to work on letting “it” go…so many damned “its” LOL. Had a really intense session with my psychotherapist today – plenty on the brain tonight. Tomorrow marks 1 week since arrival…a little overwhelmed at how quickly time has started moving. The first four days felt like months.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. 😀 I do love reading your posts. Rant as much as you want, you rant so well! I thank that stupid commentator for having irritated you enough to write all this. We can all relate – we too make our pain public, we too want to scream the things that we’ve been suffering from in silence for years. It helps and that’s all that matters. We have pain to bear and we are doing our best to exorcise it, to become happier people, so that we can share our goodness, not spread the pain and suffering like stinky shit we’ve stepped into. Your blog will probably become a book, because it reads so well, because you indeed have a talent that we all admire. But please don’t let that get you bigheaded and forget why you’re writing in the first place. To help yourself. It needs to remain authentic, like it has been so far. Love to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. They are just jealous because you write so well;) I’m also DONE with keeping secrets and keeping it all in. This sober blogging thing has literally saved my life. I’ve found like-minded individuals that I can talk to in safety and have realised that I am not alone and that there is nothing intrinsically ‘wrong’ with me. I just got addicted to a f*cking addictive substance. A journal on my nightstand couldn’t have done that for me. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah shucks. Thank you 🙂 And yes – keeping it in doesn’t do any good, especially for ourselves. The “like-minded” individuals you mention, and that I’ve found here – are literally saving me (thank you for being one of them xo). Writing just helps me organize my thoughts – and hearing sometimes, as you mentioned, that there isn’t some intrinsically ‘wrong’ with me (which I’ve thought for so long) is one of the best pills I’m taking right now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Well, my personal mantra since getting sober has been “I will not hurt MYSELF because someone ELSE is an asshole.” I have found that most of the events that make me want to get numb tend to be related to somebody else’s bad behavior. So I drink actual poison? Wasn’t the best plan in retrospect.

    Liked by 1 person

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