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LifeRing Recovery: a self-help alternative for recovery from alcoholism and other chemical dependency. Group support for abstinence from alcohol and “drugs” by empowering the sober self within you. Completely secular: no prayers, Higher Powers or Steps.

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Mary's Sober Diary   Sobriety/Recovery Journals

Started 12/8/08 by marylouise50; 49000 views.
marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/8/08

Thanks so much for the welcomes! Kat, Rob, Margit.

Just thinking back, a few key understandings come to me. I was sick as a dog and addled, confused, slightly hysterical all the time when I first stopped drinking.

In March 2007 I had a major eye operation coming up and I was in a rage and suicidal and not able to talk openly or sensibly to anyone. For most of the previous year I had been hoping I would die in my sleep. I didn't want to live but didn't like the idea of going through a messy process of dying. I just wanted to wake up dead, if you know what I mean!

But if I look back now, I can see that I had wanted to stop drinking for months if not years. And I had known since I was in my early 20s (I am now 47) that I was alcoholic or a problem drinker or addicted to alcohol or substance-dependent. Sometimes I drank to blackouts and sometimes I stopped at one glass. But the secretive intense relationship with alcohol never changed.

When I was a child we had sherry glasses given to us as a treat before meals once in a while. I would make mine last forever and I would wait for the lift and fantsy that came up with sipping a grown-up drink. I noticed from early on that I became devious around alcohol. I pretnded to drink less than I had consumed, I plotted how to have an extra glass, I was 'aware' of alcohol around me. I loved to sip from other's glasses or sneak a drink quietly. I didn't have to do it; I liked doing it.

And that lying about how much I had drunk was linked to an observation from the age of 18 or so -- that I had a much greater tolerance than others for alcohol. I could drink as much as I liked and it did not affect me outwardly as it did others. The French writer Margerite Duras writes about this in her memoirs, that when drunk she felt more lucid and clearheaded, not foggy. I was cool and dry and observant.

Sometimes I drank less than others, most times I seemed more sober than others and felt I needed to drink to catch up with the giggling and silliness and flushed faces.

I was sitting with terrible family secrets I assumed nobody knew. My father was violent and abusive and my mother drank heavily and used Valium, drifting into childlike fugue states. My brother had been killed in a stupid war in the colony in Africa where we lived then. Alcohol liberated feelings within me but also made them blurry and distorted.

You know, a year-plus sober means zilch after nearly 30 years of chaotic or managed or annihilatory drinking. There is so much I am only beginning to understand now. When I sobered up my emotions were flattened out and just cardboard. The emotional seesaw of the first three months was followed by complete deadness and I began understanding what the drinking had done to me over decades. I might as well have buried my inner self under a slab of concrete.

That is what kept me sober, the shock of realising I was scarcely human in any deeper sense. I had all kinds of interesting ideas and little performative moods, but nothing beneath that. I knew very well I was not fit for any kind of relationship, romantic or platonic, nothing that would require adult, mature and reciprocal feelings. I was blunted and my feelings about my body were those of a 23-year-old.

I had to get sober if I wanted to become human for myself. And then I fell in love.

Let me stop here, this is hard for me to write about. More later.

Gal (mdek)

From: Gal (mdek)

12/8/08

MaryLouise50,

Hello & Welcome! Glad to have you here. :-)

Best wishes,

Gal ... (a non-drinker, continuously since 2-19-01)
***

helmet45

From: helmet45

12/8/08

Hi Mary and welcome to the forum.

Your story strikes SO many chords with me, but you're wrong about one thing.

A year sober means an awful lot!

Jem x

marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/9/08

Hi Jem

Yes of course that first year sober meant everything to me and each sober month since has been a small landmark I cherish!

But in terms of slowly re-emerging from the hammering I gave myself while drinking, I need much more time. What I found to be a core problem was a kind of gross immaturity concealed behind a very strong coping exterior. I had years of unlived life behind me and had just not engaged very deeply with anyone or anything except daily drinking for so long.

The recognition that I needed time to let everything heal and mature was crucial in helping me stay away from alcohol.

I was very unwise to launch into a love affair seven months into sobriety because all my expectations were unrealistic and I was quite unable to cope with personal conflicts and had little to offer when it came to intimacy.

But that first sober relationship, no recourse to drinking, no drink-fuelled fights or weepy remorse or inadvertent sodden sex, was a brilliant learning curve. I found I could contain all kinds of uncomfortable feelings and stay sober. And there was not that hideous reactivity I had experienced with excessive drinking. No sense of catastrophic end-of-the-world disaster, just the ending of something I had hoped would last. No shame or bitterness or the old drunken raging.

Not recommended, that early sobriety love affair, but it was like a hothouse experience to force emotional growth -- secretly that may have been what I wanted.

And there were many more new ways of living sober that helped -- the women friends who showed me how adventurous their lives could be without any recourse to alcohol and a very smart and skilled therapist. Better eating and daily exercise, making sure I always get to bed before 11pm so that I get enough sleep.

Simple stuff, but I had no self-care skills before March 2007. Life just happened to me and I coped as best I could. Now I feel that I can choose what I am doing each day and respond without tat dreaded compulsivity and inner ambivalence.

x (1074michael1)

From: x (1074michael1)

12/9/08

Greetings Mary L,

When I was a child we had sherry glasses given to us as a treat before meals once in a while. I would make mine last forever and I would wait for the lift and fantsy that came up with sipping a grown-up drink. I noticed from early on that I became devious around alcohol. I pretnded to drink less than I had consumed, I plotted how to have an extra glass, I was 'aware' of alcohol around me. I loved to sip from other's glasses or sneak a drink quietly. I didn't have to do it; I liked doing it.

My. I don't doubt your recollection. I've always thought genes play a very large role in alcoholism. But there's also an obligatory narrative here for a writer. How else could you explain such a tragedy as alcohol without beginning with " ... ever since I was a child ..."  

Not recommended, that early sobriety love affair, but it was like a hothouse experience to force emotional growth -- secretly that may have been what I wanted.

I agree that that the first thing you need when newly sober is a good love affair, for the reasons you cite. The upside, emotional growth, is worth it -- and necessary. All prior experiences while drinking are suddenly suspect. Of course, pious warnings are in order for those in a fragile state of mind.

I think on-line support is all you need. I look forward to your posts.

Michael 

marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/9/08

Hi Michael

Thanks for commenting. I don't agree at all that this is an obligatory narrative. My experience and how I choose to recount it is not really open to debate. It is my choice of narrative. You need to remember I come from the Third World and have spent most of my life resisting the overdetermined narratives of the West. But this is not just a 'recollection' in hindsight after sobering up, it is something I noticed from early on.

And I wouldn't opt for online support as a priority because I prefer being with others face to face and being able to see the body language and voices, and the real energy of interaction. Online connecting is a poor substitute but it is what I have to deal with because of living in a very isolated region.

With any experience that is transformative -- and sobering up is certainly one -- there is a rewriting of the past to fit the new self-understanding. Didn't you find you did that when you stopped drinking?

Mary

x (1074michael1)

From: x (1074michael1)

12/9/08

Hello Mary,

You need to remember I come from the Third World and have spent most of my life resisting the overdetermined narratives of the West.

A while back we delved into cultural arrtifacts such as narratives and myths -- especialy narcissism, which we finally abbreviated to n --  in this  forum. We are always on the lookout for the causes of alcoholism, even though there's genearal agreement that it doesn't matter.

Your perspective on the West's overdetermined narrataives is of great interest. Can you expand?

... there is a rewriting of the past to fit the new self-understanding. Didn't you find you did that when you stopped drinking? 

That was tempting, early on, but I soon decided it was best to leave that edice as it was, in the past. I have no narrative for it. I just don't believe in awakenings or revisionism.

Michael

mkh106

From: mkh106

12/9/08

wow, Mary, so much in your description of your enmeshment with alcohol (not quite the right word, maybe, but i'm stumped right now) and how you ended up "being" (or not) has me sitting here not just with recognition but appreciation for your skill in articulating so much of what happened to me as well, not just while drinking but in sobriety.

thanks for putting it out here. yes, the former little ideas and performative moods, with nothing solid beneath (although i do wonder...that's how it felt, but i also had some conviction that somewhere "deep down" there was a solid kernel...i just couldn't get to it while drinking all those years, but think the conviction it existed partly got me sober); the lucidity and clearheadedness while foggy, and the liberation of feelings which were distorted. and more. the dead flatness later. and more again.

enough for now. too much.

glad we're both here and not there.

i have to agree with Jem on the sobriety of all these months being something indeed, but i think i know what you mean, as i often feel like a total newcomer to it/myself.

margit

marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/9/08

Hi Michael

'Overdetemined' is quite a difficult term to define. I don't really want to go into post-colonial theory here, but there is a great deal you can find on literary or political blogs, academic sites etc.

I would rather use this blog space to explore my own experiences and understandings in dialogue with others talking about how they have reached freedom and comfort in sobriety. I probably spent too long in academia to revisit semantics again.

Thanks for commenting.

Mary

marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/9/08

Thanks so much Margit!

I'm also very glad we're here and not there.

Love

Mary

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