Ellie Schoenberger is the writer of the popular blog, One Crafty Mother, and Founder of Crying Out Now, a blog where women tell their stories of addiction and recovery and offer each other support through a vibrant and growing community.
She is a jewelry artist and designer who runs a successful jewelry shop, Shining Stones, via a website and in-home store.
Ellie’s open and honest writing about alcoholism and recovery led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Showand interviews in USA TODAY and Redbook Magazine.
Her Blog was nominated as a BlogHer Voice of the Year in 2011, and was named one of the Top Ten Inspirational Bloggers by SheKnows in November, 2012.
In November of 2011, Ellie was diagnosed with stage 4 tonsil cancer. After chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery, she was declared to be in full remission in April 2012. You can read about her cancer journey here.
She lives outside of Boston, MA with her top priorities.. her children, Greta and Finn, and her husband, Steve.
You were brave enough to go on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about your own story of sobriety. Can you tell us why you felt compelled to tell your story so publicly? Also, were you afraid to do so?
I can answer the second part of that question easily – YES. I was afraid to go on her show and speak so openly about my drinking history. However, I feel really passionately about breaking down the stigma that surrounds alcoholism, especially for women and mothers. Women tend to drink alone, in their kitchen, not hanging out in bars, so their drinking becomes a dirty little secret and they feel like they are the only ones doing the things they do, feeling the way they feel. They feel utterly alone and afraid of being branded as a bad person, or bad mother, so they suffer in silence. Many women who saw that episode responded that, for the first time ever, they could identify with my story which made them think about their own drinking. That, ultimately, the reason I decided to do the show. To let other women know they aren’t alone, and that there IS hope. I was afraid of judgment or alienation from the people I know “in real life”, but that didn’t happen. If anything, there was an outpouring of support, and more understanding than I expected. Addiction impacts more than half of American families, but it’s still this taboo topic, and I’m determined to try to change that.
What has come out of that for you?
More people learned about my blog, especially Crying Out Now, and that community grew as a result which is terrific. On a personal level, I guess mostly just the satisfaction of doing something brave and getting through it. Also many, many people contacted me saying they wanted to stop drinking and asking for help. I know I can’t get anyone sober, but I can direct them to resources that can help, and it was an honor to be able to try to help so many people. Helping them helps me, too.
What is your wish for all women?
That’s a big question! In general, my wish for all women is that we can have open, non-judgmental discourse about all kinds of issues – not just alcoholism – that many women struggle with. We are so hard on ourselves, in general, and so many of us suffer from a kind of perfectionist syndrome. We tend to compare instead of identify with other women; either we look at other women and think they have it all together and feel badly about ourselves, or we look at other women and put them down so we can feel better about ourselves (otherwise known as gossip). From my work with alcoholism and recovery, I know that SO many women share the same feelings, but so few of us feel comfortable being vulnerable, or sharing openly. The greatest gifts in my life have to come to me when I am brave enough to be vulnerable, share my fears and imperfections, and I wish more women felt comfortable opening up and sharing with other women.
I'm sure many women contact you on a regular basis confiding in you their own stories. What do you see over and over again that women really need that they aren't getting in their lives?
I see, over and over, that women feel like they “aren’t good enough”. They feel they’re not thin enough, they’re not a good enough mother, or spouse, or friend. Women work so hard – whether they are raising their kids at home, working, raising kids and working, or are single moms – and they have such a hard time recognizing that they are doing the best they can, and that they ARE enough. Women drink, eat, starve, numb out, compare or hide because they feel they don’t measure up. I talk to so many suffering women, and the feelings inside are all so similar, and there is so much support out there if we would all let our armor down, share and empathize with each other. We are, as a rule, terrible at asking for help, because to us it sounds like we’re saying we aren’t good enough, or we can’t handle life. Asking for help is one of the bravest things anyone can do, and if more women did it we’d ALL feel more comfortable showing our fears and vulnerabilities.
You're a founder and moderator of the blog, “Crying Out Now: Voices of Addiction and Recovery”. How is this helpful to women?
I am a big believer that giving voice to fear, shame and guilt goes a long way to helping people heal. Writing out your deepest fears has a way of taking a lot of power out of it. Many women admit on Crying Out Now for the first time ever that they think they have a drinking problem, or that they are an alcoholic, and then they email me and say how much lighter they feel as a result. And then there are all these women who comment and respond that they understand, they have felt (or feel) the same way, and once someone realizes they aren’t alone they get brave enough (usually) to ask for help. A community forms where before they thought they were the only ones. It’s a beautiful phenomenon, and I feel incredibly blessed to be part of it.
For a chance to win a $35 gift certificate to Ellie's Etsy shop, please leave a comment and tell us what your biggest takeaway from the interview was. Contest goes through Thursday, December 20th and winner will be chosen by random and notified via email. Contest is now over…Congratulations to Susan!