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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; 44152 views.
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

In reply toRe: msg 14
marylouise50

From: marylouise50

12/10/08

Up at 5am watering the garden because we are in the middle of a heatwave here at the tip of Africa. I'm still grateful for waking up clearheaded and energised each morning, no cotton mouth or rush for analgesics to take the edge off the hangover etc.

I was thinking about my own take on belief systems. When I was 23, I converted to Catholicism for all the wrong reasons. I stayed in the church because I hoped it might help me control my drinking or remove the desire to drink. Most of my prayers were just a form of reiterated verbal panic and I wasn't prepared to do anything concrete to change my life.

But I learned a great deal about Catholicism as a belief system and as a practice. In the West, Catholicism still presents itself as monolithic, unified etc. In Africa, as in Latin America, the liberation theologies have changed the Church - practices that involve sexism and racism are not acceptable and the emergence of small basic communities reading the Bible from the underside of history have brought conflict out into the open. The cultural imperialism of Rome is not accepted and many varieties of contextualisation are taking place.

When I came into AA in an urban African city, it was still run on Western lines, but in the area where I live, more rural and mostly black, AA is very different from Western models. People have to walk many miles to reach meetings and everything said has to be translated into two or three languages. Because many members are illiterate, the Big Book is not used. There is no sponsorship because people don't have phones or cars and don't meet outside of meetings. There is also a suspicion of the paternalism and dependency issues involved in sponsorship. So we share our narratives and that is what works. Meetings last for four or five hours with all the translating and singing. Most members are nominally Christian but also animist and the younger members are more political and agnostic, so there is no Lord's Prayer or piosity. There is a great deal of singing. And many members get sober and stay that way.

When I had to go to New York on business late last year and attended AA meetings in Manhattan, it was completely foreign to me and I was appalled by the lack of independent thought and the controlling behaviour. I know it is not like that elsewhere overseas becaue I have been to many meetings in the UK and the presence of strong sober women and off-beat humour made me feel quite at home!

Like other belief sytems or self-help approaches, AA is evolving differently in different places. I found and still find AA immensely helpful, the 'partial truths' conditioned by the time in which the 'founders' wrote and worked, have some valuable insights. I take what works for me and leave the rest. I don't have an iota of fundamentalism in my nature, which may or may not be a good thing. It has never occurred to me to accept AA or the Big Book lock, stock and barrel. There needs to be a meaningful critique and change, but the kinds of change needed has to do with the place and the needs of the communities where AA is located. There are more than enough anarchic free-thinkers in the AA meetings I attend for me to make friends and not feel an outsider.

I don't know if this global diversity is true of other approaches to recovery. Most treatment centres in my part of Africa have a very wealthy clientele, relying heavily on foreigners from the US and UK whose parents can afford to send them across the world for a few months rehab. Otherwise there is no affordable and humane environment for treatment -- a few narcotics 'farms' where inmates are locked up ad dried out -- and Christian-run groups like Alcoholics Victorious are very popular, more so than AA.

I have only experienced AA and am interested in hearing about other alternatives that work -- the more alternatives the better!

Sorry for such a long and abtruse post --

Mary

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