When I decided to quit drinking, and when I realized that AA wasn’t for me, I knew I’d have to find a route to sobriety that was as public as possible. I knew that the only way I’d be able to reverse my reputation as a boozer would be to tell the whole world—or at least the part of the world I lived in—that I was quitting.
Fortunately, we live in a time when it’s easier than ever to share our secrets with friends and strangers alike. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter and blogging and video sharing and all that good stuff, a decision to give up drinking can easily be publicized for all to see. Which is precisely what I did. I fired up my laptop and wrote an open letter on my blog, explaining that I had a serious problem with alcohol and asking for the support of those around me.
My aim wasn’t to encourage all my friends to congratulate me on my decision or rally to my side clutching six-packs of Diet Coke (although many did). Rather, I wanted to create a situation in which, no matter where I was—a cocktail party in San Francisco or a dive bar in Madrid—there was always a chance that someone had read my blog post and was waiting to catch me with a drink in my hand.
Okay, so ironically enough, lots of my real-life friends don't know about my eating disorder. Some do, but plenty don't. For me, the accountability of a blog is a little more existential.
My thinking goes something like this: I want my blog to be real. I don't want to sugar coat things, I don't want to make them look better than they are, and I also don't want to make anyone else's eating disorder worse through what I write. It's not that I've never relapsed while blogging (I have) or that I share every tiny detail of what's going on in my life or in my head (I don't), but I don't want to be a hypocrite. I can't really bring myself to write that things are great! and wonderful! when they're not. I feel I owe that to my readers.
At the same time, I worried that if I joined a questionable ED website, one of my readers would "recognize" me. I worried that someone I wouldn't know would catch me buying pills at the store. I felt like I was breaking my end of the blogging "contract" that I had with all of you. I swore to myself that I would be honest. I might gloss over some of the details for privacy reasons, I might choose not to mention some things, but I also didn't feel that I could run a recovery-oriented blog if I was neck-deep in the eating disorder. I also would never really turn my blog into anything but pro-recovery, even if I was measuring the "pro" in nanograms at the moment.
People have asked me if this blog is keeping me tethered to my disorder. Hell, twelve years of ED did that for me. I see their point. I think many people have recovery blogs that keep them obsessed with food and weight and keep them forever stuck in the eating disorder world. And yet...I also value the accountability of my blog. I value that it was one of the first things that gave me an identity outside of anorexia. I know, right? A blog about eating disorders giving me an identity that wasn't anorexia? But this identity was as someone trying to recover from anorexia. The "trying" might have been half-assed at times (okay, more like quarter-assed, or even tenth-assed, if I'm really being honest), but it was there.
Yes, ED stuff is still a big part of my life, both professionally and personally. I volunteer with ED advocacy groups. I blog here. I write magazine articles about eating disorders (though it's really just a teensy fraction of my overall wordcount...honestly, I find lots of other things even more interesting). But my identity within the ED world isn't as "Carrie the ex-anorexic." It's as a writer and advocate and lots of other things.
In the end, I keep blogging for any number of reasons, but a big one is that it keeps me accountable. It keeps me on the right path.