Monday, April 13, 2009

Do You Know the Real Me?

It's inevitable, I guess. Eventually someone I know will stumble across this blog. So if you're that person, I'm writing this to you. I want to answer the questions that you may not feel comfortable asking.

First of all, how big of a deal is this secret you've found? That depends. We're not talking Men In Black, or Watergate tapes, or the Sacred Feminine and Knights Templar. I have no power or money to speak of, and I'm not running for office. In one sense you've just walked into a recovery meeting of sorts, where the basic rules of anonymity and confidentiality are tacitly assumed, if not always followed. Most of what you read here I've shared with complete strangers in 12-step groups for years. That takes guts, and I'm proud of it.

Here's where I stand today: Most of my family knows I'm an addict. (Even my grandparents – I had to sit in their living room a few years back and apologize for stealing a bottle of Vicodin.) And as for the burning question on the table, yes, my pastor knows. That day a year ago, when I sat in his office sobbing, parents at my side for support, was a turning point. I've worked here six years as your full time employee, I told him. People look up to me. Whether I feel like one or not, they see me as their pastor. All this time, as I've made myself available to God in the best way I know how, I've had a plan: Someday, I'll sit you down and tell you that I used to be an alcoholic/addict. I lied for a while, but now I'm done. And everything is fixed. But now I understand that it doesn't work that way. I'm an alcoholic. I'll always be an alcoholic. This will never go away. I can't lie anymore, so I'm pouring myself into recovery, and I'm ready to face whatever this means for my work here in the church.

If you indeed know me, you might also know my pastor. How do you think he reacted? Gracefully, wisely. He said that as an employer, he was not obligated by our church laws to fire me, bring me before the church board, or anything else of that nature. He said that as a friend and mentor, he was proud of me and excited for what God could do in my life now that I had come to the end of myself. We set up accountability checks, we prayed and hugged, and I went on with my life.

So on a professional level, the information in this blog probably wouldn't cost me my career, but it could seriously mess up the time line I've been following for “going public” with my addictions. You know, the one that says I'm just not ready yet to “go public” with my addictions.

I guess this is what I'd ask of you at this point. First, let me know you're “in.” Email me, call me, know that I've done the disclosure thing before, and I'll do it again. Many times. Chances are, you knowing about my addictions will ultimately be beneficial to both you and me.

Second, make a decision about this blog. If it's just not your thing, if the language is too course or the stories too raw, let it go. If you find it helpful or thought-provoking, then by all means, read and comment. Either way, if you're connected to other people who know me, help me keep it a secret. If (and when?) I lose my anonymity here, writing these posts will stop being helpful to me. At least in the way they've been helpful so far – in digging through emotions and details that are hard to talk about face to face. I haven't invited my pastor to read. He doesn't know that I relapsed in December, only that I am working my program and giving my all to find sobriety through God and the program.

Many of my fellow bloggers have written this post. One of my favorites is MPJ's, whose front page states: “Click the links below if you have realized you are My Mother, My Father, Anyone else who knows the real life me.” Cute. And profound and touching if you follow the links. I figured it was time for me to write my entry in the “what to do if you know me” genre.

So if you're my bass player, and you noticed that my Gmail account was open to a certain “Eli Hornby” when you used my computer this morning, welcome to my world. I think we need to spend some time over coffee soon. I'm free most days this week.

That goes for anyone else as well.


  1. Eli, anonymity is so important here and in our fellowship. I'm sorry that this happened. I hope that the person respects you and understands that we have all bared our souls in our meetings. Yet, we are safe there. I hope that same safe feeling will apply to our blogs as well.

  2. I spent 10 years fearful of "what will people think" of my son, the junky. Now I know I was fearful of what they will think of ME.
    This journey of honesty is freeing, scary, hurtful, exhilarating. One freakin' crazy package.
    Your public,internet secret is safe with me;)

  3. MPJ's letters to people who know her are my favorite too, but I like yours too!

    I was especially touched by your insight that when you lose your blog-privacy or blog-anonymity, it'll change the usefulness of posting. If that happens, it'll affect all those people who stumble across your blog in the midst of their own pain.

    Of course, I don't see who visits my blog, but I do get to see the search terms that bring them and there are a lot of hurting people out there. I hope you continue sharing your experience, strength, and hope online in this blog.

  4. It's funny, when you wrote the title Do You Know the Real Me, I expected a different sort of post. I suspect those in your real life who may have stumbled onto your blog might think the same thing discovering your "other self."

    You are a courageous person. It will serve you well in recovery. I'm happy for you.

  5. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. You are very brave.

  6. Well, I say people better shut the hell up if they see it!

    I would imagine your pastor has great respect for 12-step programs. They certainly do in the court system my son is now in.

  7. Hello Eli. One Hindred days is a great achievement. Well done and nice to know you. Take care Findon

  8. Don't know why, Eli, but this reminds me. My mother told me she was SO HAPPY that I was in Alcoholics Anonymous, trying to straighten out my life.

    Then she said, "But we just won't tell any of the relatives or our friends, OK? They don't have to know."

    I laughed all the way home.

  9. Gonna put you on my 'roll. Don't think I've been to your blog before, or just forgot. Sorry 'bout that. You're good!

  10. Eli, I'm so impressed with you as a writer, and also by your heart.

    I love that we can create a sanctuary and community online and hope that is never compromised for you.

    I believe it would be rather selfish of the other person (s)--in most cases. I know that my SO reads TSR to see if I've written about our relationship. So, I've stopped entirely because I'm not free there, or on my personal blog. Time to start a new one I guess....

    Good Luck.

  11. Hi Eli! Welcome to this wonderful group of supportive and loving folks I've come across in the recovery community of blogging! Thanks for following me and I've added you as well! Blessings my friend! Lisa

  12. I love this, Eli -- beautiful and touching. I'd hope that anyone who did find you would understand.

    I found it hard to write to anyone who might know me, since that could include anyone from people who are very dear to me (like close friends and family) to people I don't know as well (like my kids' teachers or my neighbors). But it was really necessary for me to feel comfortable on my blog.

  13. Thank you so much for the courage to have this blog. The about me has been helpful for me in explaining to a daughter what it is like to have an addiction.

    Your writing is a gift to me.

    I have found it freeing to share with people close to me what is going on with me.

    One friend summed it up pretty well for me with "everybody has their stuff".

  14. You just GO, Eli!! "You're only as sick as the secrets you keep" (DOH!!)
    Congrats on getting a little less sick, all the time. :) God is SO good, all the time.

    and tyvm for following me, too.

  15. My past is my reason for being sober. My reason is my excuse. My excuse is my death. MY death is my undeniable realization of life. I want life. therefore, I choose sober. I choose to get beyond my past and try to go forward at my pace, not someone else's. I tell it like it is, no holds barred. I try to be tactful and honest but if tact can't be found, then, sorry will follow but the message won't change.

    Can I stay please?