“Shame and survival are incompatible. Silence kills.”
Anne Bishop Shoup
I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. I remember being 11 or 12 years old, riding along in a pickup truck in Eastern Oregon with my uncle when he said to me, “Annie, I raised my kids with a glass of booze in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Don’t ever do that.”
I don’t know why that stuck in my head, but his words came back to me in my 30s when my relationship with alcohol was no longer serving me. So did the words of other family members who had shared their stories. The openness honestly saved me and I’ve now been sober for 13.5 years.
In my experience with universities, recovery on campus is very student-focused. The fact that collegiate recovery even exists is wonderful, because it didn’t for a long time, but the discussion around recovery for faculty and staff remains largely absent. In a high-stress environment that rewards strength and precision, visibility as a person in recovery can feel particularly scary.
And yet, what am I saying to younger members of my family or to my colleagues when I choose to remain silent? Recovery is a superpower, and representation matters. If we’re going to be a healthy community, we need to be a wholeheartedly healthy one.
I have a responsibility to demonstrate that recovery should not and must not remain hidden in the dark. People in recovery often lead rich, wonderful lives with successful careers, sometimes as a direct result of all they’ve learned on their journeys. For those who can, it may be time to speak up.
For those who want more information, additional resources and thoughts are here.
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