Jan 262012

I was at a zoo last month taking a boat ride through the “monkey islands.” The monkee islands are teeny pieces of land upon which each separate monkey lives. The islands are strewn throughout a big, beautiful body of water. There are no visible fences or barriers on the islands, but each monkey stays put anyway. I felt uncomfortable during the ride. The monkeys stood on the edges of their little islands and stared at us staring back at them. They seemed so human – and to me they looked lonely and sad. I felt a little ashamed, riding around, staring at them for my own amusement. I got the feeling that the other boat riders were uncomfortable too, because no one was talking. I raised my hand. Craig cringed. The tour director smiled and nodded at me. I said, “Why don’t the monkees just leave their islands? It looks like they could so easily escape.” The guide said, “They could, you’re right. They could easily get to each  other’s islands or escape the entire zoo pretty easily. Their problem is, they don’t know that they can swim. Each stays on her little island because she doesn’t know she can swim.”

One of the most important parts of me is the recovering part. I am a recovering alcoholic, bulimic, druggie, liar, and jerk. The collateral and internal damage of my addictions once led me to sit alone on a couch in the filthy basement of an old boyfriend’s house and thoughtfully consider suicide.

Still. I consider each of those addicted years be a gift. Yes, there was suffering, but addiction was my path, and I needed to walk (crawl) it. I am not ashamed of my demons. They make me who I am, and I like who I am. I’m wild about myself, to tell you the God’s honest truth. And here’s a magical gift that came of that suffering: I am able to remember and write about what it was like to be an addict. I am able to explain why I chose it,  how badly it hurt, and why I couldn’t escape for so long. This is something that people who are currently addicted can’t do. I certainly couldn’t have spoken for myself while I was addicted. Addiction is like being swallowed up by a whale. The addict is still in there – whole, screaming, human, precious and terrified – but all anyone can hear or see is the silent damn whale. It’s a nightmare. For those inside and outside the whale.

So I write about addiction. For all those addicted Monkees, whom I love so very, very much. So they will know that someone understands, and that someone will try to speak for them while they can’t. My Lovies – you are not bad, you are beautiful. You’re just swallowed up, and you need to start believing that you can swim your way out.

I also write for those who love addicts and want them back so badly. I don’t have advice for you. I just have stories. We share what we have and then pray that it helps.

Sisters, Everyday

My decision to get sober was more like a weary surrender than a bold march into battle. After I had allowed my life to fall into a thousand pieces for the thousandth time, Bubba and Tisha planned a loving intervention. Then I found out I was pregnant with Chase and I realized that I was running out of people and options. At the time, the path of least resistance seemed to be sobriety.

It’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.

I called Sister and told her to do that thing she always does, which is to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do next, and then make that thing happen. A few hours later she gathered up my broken, cold, shaking self and drove us to our first AA meeting. Afterwards we came home, sat on my bed together and stared at the disaster on my bedroom floor. During my drinking decades, I lived like a pig. My room was nothing but a hazardous pile of stilettos, tube tops, wine bottles, ash trays, and old magazines. I valued nothing. Everything that came into my life was disposable – clothes, opportunities, people. My bedroom looked like my insides had spilled out onto the floor.

After a few minutes of quiet, Sister climbed down from the bed and started picking things up, one piece of trash at a time. She threw away the wine bottles and the cigarettes, she folded the tube tops, she gently tossed the magazines. I watched for awhile, and then joined her. We hung up every piece of clothing, wiped down every surface, poured out every hidden bottle of booze. We worked, silently, side by side, for two hours. Then we sat back down on my bed and held hands. My room looked so different. It looked like a place a girl might want to live again. I wondered if my head and my heart might one day be places I’d like to live again, too. It was the beginning of starting over.

The remarkable thing about that day is that it wasn’t remarkable. What Sister did for me that day is what she does for me every day.

I find life to be quite difficult. Painfully difficult and equally beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing some sort of protective layer that others seem to have which keeps them from crumbling and crying more. But then I remember that God gave me Sister as my layer of protection. I feel insulated from every painful and beautiful moment, because instead of being consumed, I am usually wondering…how will I explain this to her? What will she say?That’s probably how I became a writer, because most of my life I am simultaneously living and reshaping my experiences into stories for my Sister.

I do this because when I tell her my stories, her response sorts things out for me. Her voice and her face are mirrors to me. They say, everyday… It’s allright, Glennon. It’s allright.

Please, if you can, try not to teach me that it’s not healthy to depend on another human being this completely. I’m well aware. It’s terrifying. It’s why every time she leaves my house I stand at the front door and pray that she’ll make it to her bed safely. Please God, just get her home safely. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that it is.

We have a lot of songs, Sister and I. This is the one though, that feels to me like it was written for Us.

And it’s for you today, Monkees. Save somebody’s life today. Swim.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  135 Responses to “You Can Swim”

  1. […] I was like a sinking ship in the middle of harbor. I had hundreds of other ships around me. But I couldn’t see them. I had a way out of the boat, but I didn’t know I could swim. […]

  2. I’m a monkee. Trying to swim.

    I’m bawling at my work computer by the way…thanks for that.

    Thanks for reminding me to swim. I can’t even being to express my thank you.

  3. G, I love what you do. Thank you for putting the truth out there and making people feel less alone and less crazy! This post reminded me of a new Pearl Jam song, Swallowed Whole….I can feel the dawn I can feel the earth, I can feel the living all around. I could choose a path I could choose the word I can start the healing. Bring it now. Whispered songs inside the wind Breathing in forgiveness. Like vibrations with no end. Hear the planet humming. What is clear far from the noise gets swallowed whole…… That Eddie Vedder can really put it all into words so nicely, like you do here. Whether you are an addict, love the addict, whatever, just keep breathing in forgiveness. And remember Love Wins. Thanks, G, for helping me become better, more thoughtful and less of a jerk.

  4. I lost my first husband to addiction (Nov 2001). We have a son who is such a blessing, but he really doesn’t remember his dad. Although I am remarried now and have two more beautiful daughters, there will always be a void that can’t be filled. Is that wrong? I don’t know, it just is. Thanks for your ministry G, it truly means a lot!

  5. Hi Glennon,

    I have a story for you. I read this post today with such a heavy heart. I have a friend for who I am (the non-biological) sister. She has struggled with addiction for years and goes through long periods of sobriety. I am the godparent to her son, who she became pregnant with our senior year of high school. I love her more than words. I have been through so much with her, have cared for her son many years ago after a suicide attempt, sat with her in the hospital for days after her brother nearly died in an accident where they were drinking together. We have been friends since we were 5 and have shared everything you could possibly imagine.

    We live in different states and even though I don’t see her often, I always know when she has started using again. She completely cuts off all contact. And it kills me. She won’t return phone calls, emails, facebook messages, letters, nothing. The last time she spoke with me was January of 2012, a few weeks after sending me a text telling me how grateful she was I was in her life. I know that she was arrested a few months later and spent some time in jail. But, I also know that she is such an amazing person and has so much love to give to the world and has provided me with unconditional love for 26 years. And I hate to know how much pain she is going through.

    After reading this today, I decided to try again to reach out to her (I haven’t tried since last December). I sent her a message on facebook. I saw that she read it a few minutes after I sent it. And I waited. 6 hours later, I got this response:

    Hi there, I miss you too, very much. I think of you all the time and wonder how you are and occasionally see pics of K on Facebook and can’t believe how big he is getting and how beautiful he is. I don’t really know what to say except that I never meant to lose contact with you. In typical J style, I majorly lost my way in life again and I just felt there was no coming back this time, especially where friendships are concerned. I’m so happy you contacted me because I just felt like you would never want me in your life again. I don’t really talk to anyone for that reason. Anyway, I hope you and B and K are doing well and maybe someday we can talk more. Thank you for reaching out, I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know…

    Love, J

    Thanks, G. Thanks for helping me to get this started again.

    • Maybe you could send your friend G’s book to help her feel less alone.
      Yours is a story of hope – thanks for taking the time to share it here.
      I’m rooting for your friend and I’m sure other Monkees who read this story will be too.
      Carry On Warrior Friend!

  6. My sister and I also have a similar relationship to that of you and your sister. I’m quite sure there are times we not only finish each other’s sentences and thoughts, but also take breathes for each other when one of use forgets to. My sister depends on me and feels a layer of protection that only I can provide as much as I do her.
    Don’t worry that others feel this type of dependence may not be healthy, they may have even verbalized it, but it is yours. We all have different types of “protection”. Baseball players wear helmets, soccer players wear shin guards, welders wear goggles. You get the picture, people like you and I have our sisters, feel safe and carry on!

  7. Glennon (and the rest of you!) – thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. What if your son is an addict? And is 6 years old? And you’ve only known him since he was 4? And you’ve never gotten to grow to like him, much less love him because you’ve spent your whole life trying to protect him from himself but he doesn’t care. He has no desire to care for anyone or anything besides himself. I so desire to like him and love him and show him Gods love. But he is blind to all of it. (Seems like it to me at least.) give me a glimpse into his head. Does he know we are loving him even if it doesn’t seem like it? Are our words getting in his head and heart even though it doesn’t seem like it? Is there anything else I can do??

    • I’m so sorry. There is a Monkee here who holds you and your son in her heart tonight. I have 2 adopted daughters who have been thru more before they met me than most of us could survive, and yes, some days it feels like only pain will do, for them. But, after 5 almost 6 years, there are good moments too. I hope that good therapy, support for you, an understanding community or family, and infinite patience surround you. And when they fail you and you I hope you know that, though love may not be enough, love and professional help and a whole huge village are all we can offer our little scarred and scared angels.

  8. I’ve been thinking about you since I saw you and heard you and met you Friday in Lexington. I’ve been so overwhelmed. I do think you are a most beautiful and genuine soul. You inspire me to keep taking that next right step. Today I sat in therapy and was able to say I was three nights sober from laxative abuse. It’s the one thing I haven’t been able to stop this time around. Three days out from 3 years is doggy paddling. But it’s a start. I read about you and your sister and I cried happy tears for the two of you and a few tears of grief for a relationship I had that is going to take time to get back. I forwarded your post to this dear one of mine who was like my mother and told her your words about your sister could have been my words about her. And the song. Wow. She saved my life again and again. It was her and another friend of mine that intervened as I sat on rock bottom and gave me a push back to life. Every bit of my addicted, shameful, dishonest, anorexic life came unraveling and it was so ugly. The ripples of hurt I caused were bigger than I could take. I wish I had been brave enough to name everything for what it truly was bc now I might have a lot more support. I know I’m still loved- I’m just so lonely in it all. After I sent your post, it opened up a line of communication between us that’s been a little hard. I feel like I’m always kind- today I got brave too. You are so dear to my heart. It’s true that in the midst of all the madness I couldn’t see anything clearly. But now- ouch! This is all hard and I wasn’t so certain I could do hard things but I am bc I truly believe you when you say “WE CAN DO HARD THINGS” and “LOVE WINS”. I hold you and yours in my cracked open heart and I am grateful for the sister you are to me! Big love!

  9. G,
    Please listen to “Better than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant.

  10. I once read a post and wanted to teach you something. I am so sorry for that. My heart was full of “I used to do it that way and then I read about this other way and then I did it that other way and then I felt SO MUCH BETTER!” but I think what you probably heard was “you are not enough”. Just needed to say sorry before I commented on this one.

    I’m not sure if everyone knows this, but you dropped everything to be your sister’s lobster when she needed you most. You two have each other and it is truly a beautiful thing.

    What an adorable baby picture. So grateful for the gifts that you share everyday here at Momastary.

  11. I am a recovering druggie, liar, sex addicted, male dependent, anorexic and deeply selfish person that at one time did everything I could to die. God saved me from the pits of hell. No doubt about it. It’s why I will never stop sharing my story and the filth that I once lied in. There is not a single day that I don’t remember that old way of life. It’s why I love those caught up in addiction and who think there is no other way but this. This post is why I love you and your big beautiful heart that tells it how it is. Thank you for this post!

  12. And what if, you don’t have a sister to help you swim? Then what?

    • You come here and say you need a sister, and you will suddenly find you have sisters everywhere you turn.

    • I understand. I am not an addict but in a lonely, horrible time in my life and I have no one. Both parents? Gone. Siblings? Unavailable emotionally. Husband? Doesn’t give a crap anymore. Where do we turn? God is my only friend and I am praying that that is enough. Good luck xxoo

      • Good luck and prayers for both of you, Faith and Laura.

        Faith, if you’re talking about yourself – I have no personal experience with addictions, but have you tried AA or NA or whatever it might be? Can you Google “social services” + your city and look for help? Do you belong to a church or synagogue, or have a community center that might have people who do outreach for those in need?

    • Faith and Laura, You are not alone. Your sisters/brothers/friends are on those other little islands, waiting. Try with all your heart to be the one to take a deep breath, reach out, jump in, and swim, because you just don’t know yet that you can do it. If you find one of them who jumped in, got scared, and is doubting they can make it, then maybe be the one to offer a word, a hug, a small gesture that might ease the struggle. On those days that my island feels lost and the waters feel vast, I remember, “How many times has He heard me cry out God please take this. How many times has He given me strength to just keep breathing…”

  13. I feel this way about my sister, too, Glennon — I can’t live without her.

    A few years ago, my sister had an ectopic pregnancy — her second, which means her chances of having a baby “naturally” went to zero. When she called me crying, I stood up, went to my computer, and booked a plane ticket before she had finished explaining. Because this is what my sister and I do — we show up, ALWAYS.

    When I got to her house I climbed into her bed with her, found a TV channel that was having a Sex and the City marathon, and we laughed and cried our way out of one of the worst experiences of her (our) life. We didn’t leave that bed all weekend — her husband brought us meals and tissues.

    You are SO BLESSED to have this kind of sister relationship Glennon. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You’ve won the lottery of life.

    Rejoice. xo

  14. another amazing truth telling post. Thank you. All of us “sisters” appreciate it. more than you will ever know. there is the addict – and the ones that love the addict.

  15. Holy gorgeous head of hair little G!!

    Lovely post too :-)

  16. Glennon, I want to believe you about addicts. I really do. I believe that people are mostly good. I believe there is hope in every human being and God loves each and every one of us. But with my current experience, the light doesn’t seem so bright and there doesn’t seem to be anyone inside that whale.

    My family is being torn apart by an addict. She has three beautiful children whom she cast aside like waste. She doesn’t care about anything anymore and she purposefully and willfully causes pain on the rest of us; seemingly without remorse. She married into my family and her own family (brother, sisters and mom) gave up on her. They won’t see her and advised us to toss her aside and move on.

    As of now, she hasn’t been tossed aside, but it won’t be long. Our family is going on three years of living on the edge of possible tragedy and it can’t go on much longer. I read your posts and book and I want to believe. I went to your book signing. I told you about her and you signed a book for her. She’s Irish like you. I mailed it to her the next day. It was one small act on top of dozens of other silent and cold hallelujuhs that have done nothing. Nothing. But I still want to believe, I just don’t know if I can. I’m grateful that you can give us your perspective on addiction. I pray that you are the rule, and my family member is the exception.

    • Shannon,

      Hang in there. Protect her children. Don’t give up hope.

      Addiction is such a bitch.

    • Sometimes turning your back is an act of love. Let her know she is loved but that you have boundaries. Let her know that if she every does want help, you will be there for her. Please protect those precious children before turning your back if it comes to that.

    • Alanon helps many family members of addicts

  17. Wow. Still crying from the song, which I hadn’t known, but meant so much more after reading this blog than it would have without it. (It also makes me think of “God Bless the Broken Road,” a sentiment that speaks to many of us.)

    I haven’t gotten quite that far down, G, but I have my own demons and anxieties. Early on, my sister didn’t “get” them, but for the last few years in particular, she has stood with me through many of my hard times. I am also blessed with an internet “sister” who I have met in person only once.

    God bless all the Sisters out there, whether or not they are related to us by blood. I am so glad that she has been there for you, because that brought you to us. Thank you, Amanda!

    <3 <3 <3

  18. Dear G,

    Your recognition and gratitude to your sister is awesome.

    I wonder what her story has been, day in, day out, being your mirror.


  19. God’s honest truth, I’m wild about you, too, G. Haven’t told ya lately, so thanks for the chance.

  20. I was blessed with a sister friend 29 years ago ….we were 23. NO ONE understand us like we do. Most may think a new year’s resolution of “no more sex before the first date” is well, wrong. Made perfect sense to us. I don’t know a more compassionate person than this friend …we are both nurses and we both think the other is the best nurse we know. We are fierce advocates….forever the “bad cops” except to each other. I pray everyone has someone who GETS them, who stands IN a dumpster in a schoolyard in a wet snowstorm looking for a diamond wedding ring. You don’t find a friend like that every day.
    I will say a special prayer for Sister today

  21. I think it’s wonderful that you have her in your life to depend on and learn from. We should all be so lucky!

  22. I don’t have an actual sister- I am an only child. But my best friend and I are sisters in every other way. She is the only one who knows all the horrible crap I did in high school and college, the lies and the hurtful things I did to myself and others. The moments as an adult I have not been a good wife, mother, even person. She knows it ALL.
    I have even hurt her on more than a few occasions. And yet, we always ended up forgiving each other, moving on, and laughing about it (most things..) later.

    Last week I needed to say some un-say-able things about my marriage and the state of my heart and I called her and let it fly. After two hours of spilling it all she still loved me, and is still taking my calls. What would I do without her?? Simple truth- I’d be long gone. If not physically then spiritually.

    It can be some lonesome to have a hard past that keeps sucking you down with guilt and regret. It is even harder when you feel like if you tell people who you are, what you’ve done, and the way that your feel that those people, no matter how loving, will turn away from you- not trust you- or judge you. Everyone needs a sister. The one person whose job it is to remind you that you are loved – no. matter. what.

    • Cindy – I am an only child as well. Your words could have been mine. My ‘sister’ and I met 30 years ago and have been through so much together – sometimes hurtful and hard – but together. It’s nice for us only children to have the special bond. I have had people say things like, “well, you wouldn’t understand because you don’t have sibilings”. While they are right – I don’t have someone who grew up in my house & know all those type of things but yes, I do have a sister!

      • I am so happy to hear you say this. I have a Sister of my own, of the biological sort, who I feel this way about. But my daughter is an only child and I grieve hard every single day that I cannot provide her with a sibling. I am a tiny bit consoled hearing that just maybe, she will find her Sister anyway.

  23. Do you want to hear something amazing? You wrote this post on my 12 year sobriety anniversary. If that’s not kismet, I don’t know what is!

    I feel so grateful to have found another writer who shares my thoughts and feelings exactly. Bless you…bless you so hard, Glennon!!!! xoxo

  24. Your words are so eloquent and truthful, they shine like a star. I have been blessed with a wonderful Sister too – who has watched out for me our whole life, from the time we were abandoned when I was 2 months old up until more recently, as I struggled (and am still struggling) to adapt to life as a single mother of 2 teens after the demise of my 18 year marriage. I feel so connected to what you wrote -about watching your sister leave her house and hoping fervently she will make it safe to her bed. I thought much the same thing the last time I waved at my Sister from the front door. Thank God for our Sisters – and thank God for you, and your words. They are truly a gift.

  25. I just have to say, simply – YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION.

    Keep keep n on.

    God Bless,

  26. This is definitely my favorite of all your posts. Thankyou. I’m so glad there are people like you determined to build from the scraps instead of using up all their energy trying to hide them.

  27. It’s hard to type this with my eyes all filled with tears. I have to tell you that you have changed my life.
    thank you

  28. Thank you for putting what is in our hearts into words and on the page.

  29. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. You are so truly blessed to have a sister like that. I love my sister dearly, but we are not close like that. You are blessed. Thank you for your words. Congratulations on your sobriety. You’re amazing.

  30. GLennon! you can’t make me cry every single morning! I have things I need to do. But in the words of John Cougar, it hurts so good. The only thing that gets me through it is being able to chuckle in the middle at the idea of someone FOLDING A TUBETOP…’cause they’re so big, they NEED to be folded :)

  31. Glennon,

    You and Mandy are so fortunate to have each other. We have all done a lot of crazy things in life, but if being to close to your sister becomes a problem, well it wouldn’t be you that is crazy, it’s the world. I have often been jealous of the relationship you and Mandee, as well as a few other friends who have this deep and spiritual bond with their sibling that really isn’t susceptible to judgement. It’s pure.

    Not many things in life are.

    I love my siblings. I wish I could explain perhaps as eloquently as you how deep my love for them is. But the disparities in our age, the circumstances of our journey to the United States, the differences in between how they were treated versus I was treated have created a large stabbing wound amidst the fabric of our relationships. Nobody talks about it, so we don’t heal.

    We just simmer. And our relationships now bear little relationship to the ones I had with them as a child.

    We are broken. And its the most devastating thing in the world.

    They used to be my lobsters too. They aren’t anymore and there are days I can’t breathe without them. But I do. Even that conversation would be steeped in pain and anger and sometimes I am not strong enough. After a while, if you have cracked enough, there in not enough glue in the world to “unbreak” you and rewind 30 years of deep rooted sadness, resentment and even possibly hatred.

    I love that you what what you have with Mandy. Having lost it myself I can only say that you understand the preciousness of it and don’t need to be told.


    • Kiran…I started crying when I read this….I grew up with two sisters and we are now at exactly the spot you so eloquently described…I wish it was different…and I struggle with it daily…and I keep trying to be the “change “but it won’t happen… It’s heartbreaking

  32. For someone who loves rascal flats like I do I can’t believe that I had never LISTENED to this song. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but think of my son. Not because of the part where the adoptive parents meet their child and bring him home, not because I could identify with that since I adopted my son when he was three but because where everyone might see that family as saving that child, I see my son save me every day. They say that home is where the heart is and after becoming a young widow, my home was empty and sad. My home and heart is now full of laughter and the most incredible sweet, innocent, adoring love I could ever imagine. There is a line from the movie Pretty Woman that summarizes great friendships and great love to me. Julia Roberts is asked what she would do when her knight on the white horse shows up to save her and she replies, “I’d save him right back”. Thank you for making me cry tonight… I’m going to go kiss my prince.

  33. Just read my first momastery post. Maybe it’s all the screens and tweets and emails around me but to come across something (someone) who is so genuinely, honestly, beautifully real…It’s like finding a rosebud growing in the snow. Wow. And thank you.

  34. Those monkeys stay put because they don’t know they can swim. That’s amazingly sad. I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to teach them. Or if the zookeepers are content to let them sadly waste away on their islands.

    Holy metaphors, Batman.

    Thanks for another lovely, thought-provoking post!

  35. Thank you, I feel like I’m learning to swim after sitting on an island for several years. I was in an abusive marriage and didn’t believe I was really capable of anything much less swimming with two small children. But, I can. Not well yet, but I’m learning. And I’ve decided I like myself too, alot :)

    • WOW. You are a strong, beautiful and amazing woman, and choosing to leave the (un)safety of the familiar was probably the hardest but best thing you ever could have done. You are providing a role model for your children that they can truly respect and admire, and when you look in that mirror…I hope you can see the brave woman that I know you must be. I worked as a social worker for many years with families affected by domestic violence in the community, full time at a shelter, and in courts. I was in more than one violent relationship myself, and I can’t tell you how encouraging it is and how it warms my heart to hear that you decided to like yourself too…you are loved! I am in awe of your strength. May peace and strength and love be yours, Lindsey

  36. My love to you and your sister. You are not alone. Even with deep faith in God, I don’t think many of us were born with that elusive protective layer. I think some of us are just able to fake it a little bit better. My big sister says, “fake it til you make it!” and somedays that ‘s just enough to get me through.

  37. Thank you so much for this. My little brother is inside a whale. I so want him to know that he can swim. Your posts on addiction give me so much hope that one day he will see what a beautiful person he is. I found you in the Great Viral Posting of 2012 and I am so, so glad. I’ve read a lot in the past couple of weeks. Liked a lot, loved a lot, laughed, cried, disagreed, agreed, laughed and cried some more. This, I think, is my favorite post so far. So thank you.

  38. *sigh* Thank you for sharing your courage while I’m trying to find mine. You give me hope when I feel like a lost cause.

  39. I’m glad you have Sister. So many of us need a Sister in our lives.

  40. And, thank you Mandy for being such a great sister to Glennon. (How is your sister anyway?)

  41. You can fly too. Sometimes you need to perch, but you can fly, found your wings. Love reading this again. Hope to see Glass Swans soon.

  42. beautiful. you are beautiful. just keep swimming :)

  43. I have recently become one of your followers, as you say, a new monkey.
    Your post today about your sister just made me realize how lucky I am to have my husband by my side. The link for the song EVERYDAY should be an anthem to him because he has done exactly what the singer sings about in this video EVERYDAY for me!
    Thank you for this post. Thank you for this blog. Thank you for your words. Thank you for being you and persisting in this en devour of life. Glennon, you have given me more in the few posts that I have read than any therapist or place I have gone for assistance in surviving motherhood, marriage, life.
    Thank you from the bottom of my soul!

  44. Your words touch my soul!

  45. Everything you write is beautiful and I not only am learning to swim for myself & read you as I am facing my own battles. I love an addict… Your words are perspective to fight my own fight and understand his… I just found the courage to start sharing last night… Your blog and all Monkees have given me my courage.
    thank you to all of you

  46. Okay, I absolutely could have written this, poured out from my own holey heart to my clackity keyboard:

    “I find life to be quite difficult. Painfully difficult and equally beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing some sort of protective layer that others seem to have which keeps them from crumbling and crying more…That’s probably how I became a writer, because most of my life I am simultaneously living and reshaping my experiences into stories…”

    But I didn’t. You did. And I’m so glad. Thank you. For whol you are, and for sharing her with me.

  47. [...] you are a recovering addict or know one, I encourage you to check out Momastery’s post today. It’s amazing. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", [...]

  48. Head Monkee, that was wonderful. I don’t know if I have heard that song before, but it is perfect. My “Sister” is my husband. He was there as I battled depression and self-harming even though I know NO one else in his life approved of him hanging around. And on today days I still desperately need him to tell me that what I do and who I am is enough. (stay-at-home Mama to 4) If he didn’t, I really may be dead right now. I just have to go before him. Or God has got to help something huge happen in my brain. I am so blessed to have him and our kiddos. And our doggie. And our warm home. And our yummy (often organic because we can afford it, sort of) food. And our chocolate (sometime fair-trade because we can sort of afford it sometimes) And our Church where people are NICE! And our doctors who really do help us get better and Husband has a job that allows us to go to the doctor when we need to. And our country. AMEN!

  49. Love this one. Ever notice how baby Sister is crushing tummy time in that photo? Natural born swimmer and a world class coach to boot. Carry on.

  50. Beautiful! Thanks for being so honest yet again!
    What we suffer makes us who we are – so true. & dependence on another human being isn’t all that bad. we all need people like Sister around us which is why God gave them to us.

  51. Your honesty, transparency, and humility towards your dark places… so painfully beautiful. Thank you for continuing to share your life.

  52. Beautiful. I so respect people who are self-aware…I deeply respect that you love all of who you are, even the bent, dented,and broken parts. For me, there is a majesty in cracked porcelain, you appreciate it more for its fragility. Keep it up. We all have so much to learn from one another…and to teach…
    Peace and good.

  53. Glennon, I don’t have a sister, but your relationship with yours sounds just like my relationship with my best friend. I wish I had had her around for more than just the last two years. I do intend to be with her for all the rest of my years. You and your Sister are both wonderful! Thank you for your honesty.

  54. You write beautifully. I am so glad I saw your writing on HufPost. I am hooked!

  55. I’ve been a silent monkee around these parts for awhile now, and I think it is high time I tell you your words are so, so beautiful. Thank you for being a real, live person, for sharing your raw, heartbreaking, inspiring, and wonderful stories. My brother-in-law recently stood up to his demons with addiction (from which he has been sober for many, many years), stopped hiding them, and shared his story in church and all I wanted to do was stand up and cheer. I love, love, love broken and beautiful people. Because, aren’t we all?

  56. I, too, have a history of addiction with bulimia and alcohol. Reading your words is so comforting and brings peace to myself knowing I am not alone. You write the words I long to speak, Thank You. … I love your humor and wit as well! :) Hugs…

  57. “I am a recovering alcoholic, bulimic, druggie, liar, and jerk. … I am not ashamed of my demons. They make me who I am, and I like who I am. I’m wild about myself, to tell you the God’s honest truth.”

    That, Glennon, is why you are an inspiration to me.

    “I find life to be quite difficult. Painfully difficult and equally beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing some sort of protective layer that others seem to have which keeps them from crumbling and crying more.”

    And that is why when I read your posts, even though we have completely different stories, I feel like I’m reading my journal. Some of us feel more – more pain, and more beauty. The pain I hate (although I’m beginning to see its power to shape me for the better), but if it’s the price we pay for more beauty, I’ll take it. Because the beauty I would not want to live without.

  58. Just wanted to say- THANKS for the reminder! THANKS for the perspective! THANKS!

  59. Glennon,

    This was the first of your writings that I read that gave me hope for my son and my family when I started following Momastery. I am so glad you are sharing this piece of you with all of the new Monkee’s because this is the part of you that was my salvation. Love you, love the wonderful exposure that you are getting, scared a bit too if I may be honest. But excited about what 2012 holds for you! I feel it will be good things!! xoxo

  60. i have loved your posts from the first one i read. this is so wonderful, i have not suffered from addiction as you but i had my aunt (who was really more of my big sister) for me. she was a life boat for me and was there for everything in my life. sadly, she just passed away from breast cancer a couple of months ago and it has been very difficult to not have her here. your story reminds me of how wonderful she was and to just keep going. luckily, i have a wonderful family and sister, we are all very close but she was my “person”. you really are wonderful at putting things into words and perspecitives, keep up the good work.

  61. A lesson in the Bible tells us not to judge others. So, for those that judge you, you should only pray for them. For they are the ones that need help. Every person deserves their dignity and I want to thank you for showing us all how to do that. You show it so eloquently in your writing and I praise you for it. Thank you for showing us what “normal” is. You are a BEAUTIFUL person!

  62. Yesterday I had that moment of going back into my deepest scariest place….still sober, but still out of my mind. It was a good reminder of where I’ve been and how desperately I want to work my ass off to never go back there again.

    • I hear you Noelle…and I am so proud of you for beating that scariness another minute, another hour, another day. Anytime you need a reminder or additional support, I’m happy to listen. You are not alone. WE ARE NOT ALONE. We are sisters of a different variety, and can do this with a little help from our friends…even if we’ve never met them. I was treated some place that emphasized to never say “good luck” to a sister in recovery, for “luck isn’t what it’s about”. I do and don’t agree, but I’ll leave it on this note: may strength, humor, love and compassion (for yourself especially) be yours.

  63. What a blessing you are. I don’t normally have the organizational skills or patience or take the time to follow a blogger. But you, how could I not continue to be inspired?

  64. What an absolutely beautiful post. My son and I watched “Finding Nemo” last night. It was a first for him, but it had been so long since I last viewed it. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Oh how I love the character Dorry and isn’t that a metaphor for life… to just keep on swimming, or somedays just stay afloat! Thank you so much for your honesty.

  65. Glennor,
    Thanks for letting me share this. For my sister.

    Ain’t None of My Business

    But I will make it mine
    Because you count, you are mine
    And I have held your hand
    From the beginning

    I’m not right next to you
    But I’m on the line
    I will make it my business
    Because you count
    And I have held your hand
    From the beginning

    You have the power
    To read the lines given
    Or you have the power
    At any time to claim that
    This is not how the story ends

    I will make it my business
    Because you count, you are mine
    And I have held your hand
    From the beginning

    It Ain’t none of my business
    But I will make it mine
    I’ve held your hand from the beginning
    I will hand you the pen so you can write
    This is not the ending

  66. you give me so much hope! i can’t wait to swim again!

  67. Thanks G. Jeff Buckley knows the dark places if anybody does…and your beautiful essay today brought me tears of familiarity and gratitude.
    I have a sister, and we are very close, but for various reasons we were distances when i went through recovery, subsequent mental breakdown, and a new and thorough breakdown. I do, however, depend on my husband Mike the way you do with your sister. He quite literally rescued me from the dead, and has done so metaphorically time and again. We have a bit of a pact, subject to circumstance of course, but when one is down the other rises up and carries the other. I have learned to put Pride in the back seat, along with my social workers’ knowledge of codependency and healthy relationships…enough to know that we are lucky, lucky to have each other. “Love will save the day”…I have a plaque in the room where I overdosed and Mike saved my life, and I never knew it’s meaning until this year. No matter what your love source is…HOLD ON AND NEVER LET GO, AND LOVE BACK AND LOVE FIRST ALWAYS. The truth can set us free….and love, sweet love, including self love and believing we are worth it. xoxoxo

  68. Thank you, Glennon. Again. The whale is at my heels and I’m arrogant enough to think I can out swim him. You’ve given me some hope today, so I’ll swim a little harder.

  69. Glennon,

    Thank you so much for this message today. I know your words are helping other addicts. I have twin girls and one of my prayers is for them to grow up knowing that they can depend on one another. I think that is what makes Having a sister so great. I shared a similar article on my blog today about swimming instead of floating through life:


    Thanks again for sharing!


  70. It is through the brokenness that the light shines through… <3

  71. It’s unhealthy NOT to learn to depend on at least one or two people so completely throughout our lives. And I’m certain you would give your life for Sister, too. What could be more “balanced”? Blessings…

  72. great post. i luv the line from Nemo…”just keep swiming just keep swiming” sometimes that line runs non stop through my mind:)

  73. ‘sick today with a raging ear infection, go figure at 47 still getting them! can’t make a meeting today, but feel like I have been fed. Thanks, peace.

  74. My husband is a recovering alcoholic. He’s almost 5 years sober.

    Thank you for being so open and honest about your past and your present. It’s not easy talking about the ugly things, yet you do so with such simpleness. It gives me peace.

    Thank you again.

  75. I am new to Momastery. I found you from a link on FB to your Don’t Carpe Diem post. It really hit home. When I read about you getting sober because you found out you were pregnant, I immediately thought of a song by The Cranberries, “Saving Grace“. It is a beautiful song and it came to mind again when I read this post.

  76. You mention that, “I am able to explain why I chose it, how badly it hurt, and why I couldn’t escape for so long.” I would like to hear those stories. I am new, maybe you’ve shared them and I haven’t found them yet.

    You know, I wonder if most of the world is addicted to something. I wonder why that is? Why are we so broken? Did God really intend this? I don’t think so! How can we find that true authenticity of knowing Him and each other? Loving Him and each other? Didn’t He say that is all we really need? Sounds so simple; yet it’s not. My heart breaks. For my alcoholic friend that puts on such a good front, for those living lies, for those finding their sole value in work, for those escaping in a myriad of ways that seem healthy but aren’t. For those that can’t ever admit fear, pain, love, joy. For those that keep it all inside and live alone. lonely. This isn’t the beauty of life. This isn’t the life I want. How can we find Him, His plan, His ways?

    Sending so much love. Hold on to that sister! Never let her go. That sounds very healthy to me; more healthy than most who “seem” healthy. Lean on each other…I think it’s the only way you’ll make it. You are so very blessed to have her!

    Blessings be upon you and your family, Glennon. You are beautiful!

  77. I too am a recovering anorexic, smoker and alcoholic. I had to give up each thing one at a time. But like you when I was done, I was done. I couldn’t handle one more day of feeling so horrible. I have not been anorexic in 15 years. I quit smoking 4 years ago, and I quit drinking 9 months ago. I had to do it one step at a time, that was my path. Things are so much better for it.

  78. I love your writing, You speak very clearly and with great honesty and you see and feel the world intensely.
    I really enjoyed your sensible comments about ‘bullying’. The ‘war’ against bullying is such a farce. School children are mystified by the dogma, because they can see with their own eyes that bullies never self-identify, and their parents just add to the denial. As well, the discourse on bullying in the school never takes into account that there are bullying teachers.
    Also, I loved your defense of homosexuality from a Biblical point of view. I am not a believer but I have many friends who are strong believers and I often wonder how they would respond to a child’s sexuality emerging in high school or before. I fear that even if they are good loving parents, they will have already put a ‘fear of god’ in to their children’s mind and the kids will still be tortured by not being ‘ natural’. So kudos to you for speaking up and getting people talking.
    Thanks for giving me a cathartic cry as well ( your piece on you and your sister was very heart warming)
    With affection,
    Meg Edwards

  79. I am so glad that my friends shared your Carpe Diem post on Facebook. I really relate to your writing.
    I spent 4 years of my teenage life fighting depression and anorexia.
    I have been recovered for 15 years.
    I also feel like I am missing a protective shield and I’m a weeper. For me, my mirror is my mom and I don’t know how I will get through life when she is gone.
    Now that I have two beautiful children, maybe I will gradually transition into “the shield”. I can feel it starting.

    • Alana, that is so beautiful- that you hope one day to transition into the shield, and you can feel it happening. I, too, hope to do the same for my daughters. It sounds like you have a wonderful example, and I’m sure you’ll be able to follow it when the time comes. I bet you already are!

  80. Once again I thank you for your willing ability to share

  81. Thank you for grounding my day in the importance of human relationships rather than administration.

  82. Glennon, a year ago I found out I was pregnant with out second child. It was news that I didn’t necessarily greet with joy. I would often tell myself this baby was going to be our gift to our daughter and that thought brought me peace. When we found out we were having another girl, we started referring to her as Sister even though we had a name picked out for her pretty much from day one. It was no coincidence that I refer to the baby as Sister. I’ve often thought your relationship with your sister was such a blessing to you both. I smile everytime I hear my sweet girl call baby Sister. On a side note, I now get that this baby’s a gift to me…..one I never knew I would want or need as much as I do.
    Hope it makes you smile inside knowing this.

    • Mariellen, thank you so much for your honesty in your post. I, for one, find it much easier to discuss or reveal my status as a survivor of addictions, mental illness, physical assaults and more…than the idea that I might be less than thrilled to be pregnant.
      I have always wanted a big family; before this I was grateful for my 2 children, grateful that I hadn’t screwed them up beyond repair, and eager to adopt 2 more with my husband when the time was right to complete our family. 7 months ago I was in a mental hospital recovering from a suicide attempt that i don’t even remember (had a dissociative episode on a new medication); 7 months from now I will be welcoming our 3rd child into the world. I’ve always loved children, and never before minded difficult pregnancies for the end result they bring. After having difficulty (initially) conceiving, and suffering a miscarriage shortly after my father’s death, I know what a miracle it is to be able to bring life into this world. But insecurities, and my “surprise” pregnancy have made the last 17 wks seem more difficult than most…and I feel SO guilty for feeling dread or fear or resentment; I only WANT to feel gratitude and peace. Maybe it’s b/c I’m not medicated or relying on other vices, maybe it’s just fear and insecurity, probably both and a lot more.
      Thank you for reminding what I know but need to hear, especially from another mama: that these darker feelings will melt away when I hold this Brother or Sister for the first time, and that it’s OK to feel something other than blissful peace in these times. Congratulations on your girls…and for recognizing the gifts you have! xo~Lindsey

      • Mariellen and Lindsey, thanks to both of you for telling your truths. It shouldn’t take courage to say that a woman might be married, and a mother, and even want more children, but *still* be terrified, miserable, or regretful upon finding out that she is pregnant *right now.* But it does.

      • Lindsey,
        Good luck to you. I will be thinking of you and hoping all goes splendidly. I know you will fall in love with your wee one….it just might be a slower journey, but maybe sweeter for it? I know with mine it has.

  83. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Keep sharing, inspiring, marching. I just discovered your blog recently and am inspired – working on mine, hoping to reach and help others as well with whatever I can. It’s inspiring to see your passion, and now, your honesty, your strength.

    You’re right – God gave you your sister; but he also gave you to her. And to so many, here, with your blog.

    You aren’t just swimming – you’re surfing!

  84. Glennon, you came into my life…just when I needed you most!! I have been following you for a few weeks. My husband is a recovering alcoholic. His addiction has taken it’s tole on our marriage because of choices he has made. He has read some of your writing and said ‘That is me!!’ Thank you for speaking so eloquently and helping me see recovery is possible and that it is hard everyday!! Thank you for being so honest, it hurts!! Thank you for taking us Monkees, to the next level…Every Day!!!

  85. Another great article…you know, this reminds me of my mom. She was an alcoholic for most of my life. It was a terrible way to be brought up and there were times that I hated her for it. She died about 5 years ago from cancer. Before that, she had cirrhosis of the liver and was very ill for a long time and I had to care for her. And you know, I hated her some days. But, after she died, I actually got to know her…isn’t that strange? I feel like I know her better now than I did when she was alive, and I wish I’d known then what I know now. I don’t know that it would have made a difference, but maybe I would have been a little more understanding of WHY she drank and took pills, because she was also very broken. Maybe we could have talked about it and I could have helped her like Sister helped you. What I do know is that she’s okay now…and she still loves me in spite of how I reacted toward her issues. I know that she knows that I love her. I’m so glad that you had someone in your life that you could depend on, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, especially when you truly need it.

  86. pretty sure you just wrote everything in my head out. told you…soul mates.

  87. All I can say is that touched me and thank you for writing it.

  88. This is beautiful! I love reminders that these miraculous moments can pop up out of nowhere. No one wakes up and says to themselves, “today I will pull someone out from in front of a bus.” They are just there, living their day-to-day lives, and because they had willing hearts, they had room for the miraculous.

  89. Good lord, woman! How am I supposed to start my day with tears gushing out of my eyeballs? I should know not to read your blog right before I need to go somewhere!

    In all seriousness, thanks.

  90. Glennon. You’re amazing! I’m so glad I found your blog. There are no words. Your talent for writing and willngness to express whats in your heart is so inspiring. Sister’s are really the greatest of God’s inventions.

  91. Glennon- you are simply beautiful! From one recovering alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, anorexic to another… I love your ability to seek out the compassions of ones heart and ‘swim’ to their level!! Keep on keeping on!!

  92. My uncle is an alcoholic. He was 5 years sober until 3 weeks ago when he lost his job. He didn’t come home that night – he went for a drink, and then drove to California (his family lives in Utah). It was not the only time that has happened in the family’s life (3 kids: 15, 13, 10) but this time seemed a bit more catastrophic for them all since the past 5 years have been recovery years. The last 3 weeks have been hell, for all of them, my uncle included. I hurt so deeply for my cousins, feeling abandoned, picked over, lost, confused, sad, angry. I’ve been taking the time to catch up on all of your posts since the start for the last week or so. I have held onto your explanation to Melinda and her questions as to WHY for the addictions – “so that the work of God may be displayed in his life”.
    I am praying he will be able to say the same . . . .soon, very soon, I hope he can get back to The Path so he can soon say, “it was so that the work of God may be displayed in my life.”
    thanks Glennon.

  93. Hi Glennon…thank you for speaking so eloquently about my pain – you know – it’s all about me. ha!
    Your description of your addiction is so painfully beautiful. I will be sharing it with some of my friends. You perform great service in your writing. I feel less alone. I only recently got out of the whale myself. I can’t take big deep breaths yet, but I’m getting there. – Jonah

    • jhdma it is so good to hear that you are doing better! I am proud of you for the strength you have in getting out of that whale. Bless you and hang in there!!

  94. I am so glad to read this today, Glennon.

    I will (God willing) be 20 years sober this summer. I have walked through that recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction from age seventeen to now, recovered from bulimia, clinical depression, and the revelation of the child abuse of my ex husband, leading to my divorce, and then a custody battle, which I lost. I have lived through all of it. All of it, as exquisitely painful as it has been, has somehow made me stronger and more who I am supposed to be.

    But today I am waking up with my jaw unintentionally clenched again because of the chronic pain of my fibromyalgia. This pain has just gone on and on for weeks…and I feel like a monkey on that island. I don’t know that I remember how to swim. or where to swim to. I don’t know how to ask for help. Or what to say. I am just so weary of waking, walking pain-ridden through my day, grinding my teeth down, and going to sleep to do it again. I am so tired of living with pain right now.

    But reading you makes me smile. And it makes me remember that I want to make a difference.

    So thank you.

    • TKathleen,

      You did just ask for help…you are swimming. And the Monkees are here to swim with you. We’ll send you our prayers and support and remind you that you do matter. We’ll remind you that the bravery and determination required to get up each day is an example for your child. That just breathing in and out being present is a gift to the world.

      • Tkathleen,
        It’s so hard, isn’t it to constantly be in pain? To have an illness that no one can see and therefore no one really belives? What people forget is that we all have that pain whether it is physical or emotional and because we forget that everyone hurts we believe that no one wants to help us. But I have learned to ask for help and most people want to help. Want to understand. And as Kristin said you just asked for help. I had some time last night when I was thinking LIfe is just so hard. Why does it feel so hard? and the reality that I am coming to is it’s because it just is and I could lessen the difficulties if I could ask for help. So I will say a prayer for you and I will hope that you test the waters just a little.

        • Both of you are so wonderful! I am so glad that you are monkees. I will be praying so hard for both of you! I have nothing but respect for you monkees. You’re swimming!!! Both of you are swimming now!! I am so proud to be a monkee, that I have the honor of swimming with you, praying for you, and cheering you on!! Thank you both for being honest and being here. Please, don’t give up! I won’t insult you by telling you I know how you feel, because I don’t. What I do know is that you both are bright spots in this world, your place in our circle would be so sad if left lonely. Praying hard for both of you!!

  95. Words are not working in my head right now. I am writing with my heart. I have a sister like this too. When I found out I was going to be a mother, and not just a mother but a young, single, trying to finish my degree mother, I came apart. I know that there are so many women out there longing for a baby of their own, I happen to be one now, but then at that time I was nothing but scared. I called my sister. She told me that she knew I was scared and she wasn’t going to lie to me… there was a part of me that needed to be scared. This becoming a mommy is not something to do without thought first. Then she told me she loved me and that she knew I could do this and she would be there to help when I need her.My sister and I are three years apart, supposedly she is older. We don’t think so though. We are soul twins. She has leaned on me before and I lean on her but it is an understanding that when she hurts I hurt and I help. When I hurt she hurts and she helps. I am a social worker. I have learned all about “healthy and unhealthy” relationships. It sounds to me Glennon, that you have the same kind of relationship with Sister as I have with mine, enmeshed. I don’t think that is how you spell it. It is supposedly an unhealthy type of relationship but I could not ever tell you to change for I would be telling me to change and I don’t think it is even possible. It is like two giant trees growing side by side and though their trunks are not stuck together, both their branches and their roots are entwined. SOMEONE HAS TO BE THERE TO REMIND US WE CAN SWIM!!!!!!
    Now, quickly, I want to make sure to tell you that the rest of my family is wonderful and helpful and so supportive too. My mom is one of my very best friends, but she doesn’t hold with all the “feelings” stuff. So is very logical when I need help solving something. But it is my sister I go to if I just need to have a tantrum or cry cause I hurt. Thank you so much, Glennon. Thank you sooo much for just being you.
    You and your sister are treasures to each other.

  96. Perfect Song! I love this post as my little brother is stuck in a whale and as much as I want to save HIS life, I REALLY want to save my 4 year old nephew’s life because the things that he sees, hears and is subjected to on a daily basis are more than I can bear to think about some days. All I can do is pray, and I do, ALOT! Thank you for your encouragement today:)

    • My little (half) brother is also in a whale (meth, alcohol) and I worry about my nephew (8 months old). We are like ying and yang for how ‘easy’ my life has gone, his has been impossibly hard. I struggle with guilt for wanting to take care of him and I feel so helpless. Reading this heals my worried soul a little. It’s the first time I’ve thought about my brother lately and not been in tears. Hugs to all of you touched by addiction. XOXO

  97. Oh, Glennon. You’ve taken my breath away again. What a blessing it is that you got out of that whale. I know in my heart that this post WILL result in a lot of other people being inspired to swim…

  98. I have two sisters. Both addicts. I’ve never understood them and I’m not close to them. In fact, I avoid them. Maybe you will help me see the world through their eyes. That can only be a good thing.

  99. I say this every time you post about addiction- but you are transformative. Your brave willingness to write about those dark places have helped me understand myself, and most especially my relationship with my brother, so much better.
    I will be waiting patiently for Fifteen.

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