LifeRing Recovery

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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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Going Forward (with clarity)   Sobriety/Recovery Journals

Started 2/16/14 by Elsie (Elsiek); 52372 views.
Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Feeling pretty low. 

a) We will never have peace on earth.

b) My dog keeps barking at night and I'm sleep deprived.

Of course I also have a lot to be grateful for but when I lie awake at night I give myself such a hard time. 

Just upset my daughter who now probably thinks I'm a racist because I failed to understand how everyone cutting online college classes for Blackout Tuesday would make a difference. It is an important show of solidarity, of course, and good that young people are motivated to make a stand. I just hadn't quite twigged what was happening. I have nothing to cut today. It doesn't mean I don't care. 

E x


From: MaryLouise3


Hi E, it's good your daughter feels so passionate about showing solidarity right now -- the pragmatic or effective value of many gestures and actions  is another issue altogether, isn't it? And I suspect many more [scary, horrible etc] things need to happen before there is any meaningful change.

I think of 3am as My Hour of Self-Loathing Before Dawn, if that is of any comfort.


Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Thanks Mary

Been giving myself a hard time all day today as well. Sometimes I feel as if I am completely talentless- doing weddings usually gives me a boost as it is one thing I can do really well. 

The lockdown is definitely getting to me now.

Hope you are doing ok 


Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Blimey, it's ages since I checked in with my own journal. 

What a strange time. The first bit of lockdown seemed to drag interminably, then everything speeded up somehow, and now here we are on the brink of a new term for my kids. Kids, ha! Now 21 and 19. 

Weddings have started up again but they are strange little events what with social distancing, and from now on with masks for everyone apart from the celebrant and the couple. But we still have weddings happening. I reckon I'd want to postpone, but I guess the problem is that no one knows when we will be able to get back to normal. 

The news from the doctor in the house is that for now the virus seems to have got a bit less virulent in many places in that although there are more cases it's because of more testing- and there are far fewer serious cases.  It has been weeks since his hospital had any covid inpatients.  He is in Coventry, however in contrast our other close city is Leicester where there have been far  more cases, and an extended lockdown.  It's thought to be linked to multi generational households plus some dodgy textiles factories running on sweated labour- and mainly centred on the BAME communities.  Hopefully Covid will in the long term have some positive effect in eliminating these illegal employers operating in unsafe conditions with underpaid and unprotected workers.  It's been a problem for a long time, and has long been overlooked. 

Not drinking. Goodness, it's really quite easy at the moment. My problem is the level of despair I feel at my son and daughter's drinking. They are probably completely typical in their peer groups, but I'm horrified by it and can hardly believe that I put myself through the effect of excessive alcohol consumption for so long.  I have a particular fear of vomiting. I was sick far too many times and the thought that I tolerated something I loathe for so long  is hard to comprehend now. I try not to be too critical of my kids, just give them sensible advice about moderation (which they then mostly ignore. Just like I used to.) The one positive is that they both say they don't drink on nights before work or college. I've witnessed them in holiday mode after the easing of lockdown which may be why it seems excessive. All I can say is that I have at least shown them that if there is a problem with the booze, it can be sorted. 

Hope this finds everyone well

Elsie xx


From: LolaBug


Elsie, I have four adult daughters and they all drink. I don't like it, either. But they're fully adults (youngest is 27) so I keep my mouth shut and try to lead by example.

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


It's all we can do Lola. 

I don't know how to motivate myself.  I experience a lot of fear in my everyday life. Fear of all kinds of things but essentially it boils down to one thing- fear of getting things wrong. 

I have many things to say and especially to write, but the minute I allow myself to feel that some of those things might actually be important or worth saying, suddenly I lose confidence. It's weird, a fear of not necessarily getting it wrong, almost a fear of getting it right. 

I heard Marian Keyes read her account of having a serious drink problem and then getting sober at 30. She has clearly gone on to really make something of herself, which is great, but I'm left thinking, shit, I'm nearly twice the age she was when she got sober, it ain't so easy.  And partly I think- who on earth would be interested in my story? It just isn't as dramatic as hers, and certainly doesn't have the happy ending of success as a novelist!

However, I have had a couple of things recently that have made me think I do have some talent at expression and I could do with overcoming my fears.  I got into a chat on Facebook about a picture of George Best, with the well known quote- I spent my money on booze and women, the rest I squandered. Or words to that effect. The subsequent discussion was actually interesting, and a few stories of people's own issues or family issues emerged. I can't remember exactly what I wrote without looking it up, but I remember that someone who had developed a drink problem following an adulthood trauma wrote to me 'For what it's worth, I find your words very inspiring.' It was something along the lines of anyone being vulnerable to addiction given very unfortunate circumstances, and that turning to the booze is not actually that unusual. It was to do with the idea of 'alcoholic' as opposed to 'normal' people/drinkers, that I think it is not  a helpful distinction, that i certainly do not want to feel like I'm still an alcoholic even though I no longer drink.( Which is the whole AA schtick I get annoyed by. Oh yes, as well as GOD  meaning Good Orderly Direction.  Bollocks it does.) That we do not think someone who used to smoke continues to be a smoker for life- they have earned the right to be a non-smoker, because that is what they are. 

I think it is so important to experience the feeling of freedom that overcoming an addiction gives us. Of course it is sometimes a challenge, I might miss drinking sometimes, but I also miss being 25 sometimes. The man who responded to me saying my words were inspiring (for what it's worth- it's worth a lot to me, and I thanked him) seemed from what I could make out to be currently struggling. I thought about messaging him but I didn't feel comfortable with it.  

Freedom, I say. I really really felt that for quite a long time, and I can remind myself of that feeling if I reflect on how awful I felt when drinking far too much. But other challenges come in, don't they? I'm engaged in a search for meaning I suppose.  My children don't need me nearly so much, I thank goodness I have my menagerie to keep me focused in the here and now. Building a new house is truly terrifying though.  If it were just my plan to do so I would have aborted the mission by now, but my husband is dead set on it. It's as I said about the roof elsewhere, I can't stand having to deal with blokish blokes and matters I'm not at all confident about. And I worry about the cats living in close proximity to a building site. With access to the road which they don't usually have. Worry worry. 

The other positive thing that happened was an ex student of mine got in touch and told me she had been inspired by me to become an English teacher. She has survived as one much longer than I did. The thing that really touched me was when she said that when I read the first page of Pride and Prejudice aloud in her first lesson, it was like a portal to another dimension being opened for her. Blimey!  When I did my term and a bit as a teaching assistant- and they didn't like me, and thought I encouraged bad behaviour in the kids, and I resigned- I was desperately frustrated by the other TA who was reading a novel chapter by chapter to the class. God she was SO BORING. I wanted to go and wrest the bloody book off her and read it with some feeling! I had told them in my interview that reading aloud was a very particular strength of mine. Did they utilise it? Not once. And when they said 'bad behaviour' what I would think I was encouraging was a bit of bloody SPARK. Different perspectives I guess, and that school clearly didn't really go in for encouraging spark. As you may surmise, I'm angry about it. Because the criticisms that came my way really decimated my self-esteem. Some of the criticism was fair- I don't enjoy imposing control on other people, and that is a problem in primary teaching. But it is also to do with being frustrated in using the things I used to use to get classes on board: humour, liveliness, valuing what the children themselves offer even if it's surprising and not on the curriculum. 

Well writing this has made me feel even more worked up that I did when I started!  That is something I notice when I write with feeling- it brings an uncomfortable level of turmoil. it's easier not to feel that turmoil. 

I hope this finds everyone well with a good week under your belts. Have a good weekend, and thank you for this forum. It helps me so much xx

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Oh yes. Only yesterday I got seven hundred and something likes for a comment I made about a Guardian article. I suspect I do have something of a way with words.


From: MaryLouise3


Well, you inspire me -- and I loved hearing any teacher who could read literature with comprehension, let alone feeling!

And I believe that writing happens when you find you are able to say meaningful things to yourself on a screen or on paper and  then realise readers out there might also find meaning and encouragement or entertainment or value in what you write. I like Marian Keyes because she doesn't talk down to readers or patronise anyone or skim the surface. There's an honesty and straightforwardness there, her hum,our and ordinariness and  willingness to take a risk.


Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Thanks Mary. 

Marian Keyes has been doing a Between Ourselves series with Tara Flynn reading from her non-fiction writing. It has been absolutely hilarious. I love Irish voices and colloquial sayings in anycase, like the way she refers to her husband as 'himself.' Yesterday she read about her drink problem, which was not funny, but quite moving. Last week she read about going to a designer outlet in Italy and after flying to her next travelling destination developing an obsession with taking a flight back to  visit the outlet and bulk buy some very ugly but 'trending' trainers and then selling them back in London. She spends 12 hours on the internet trying to sort out travel logistics which proves impossible. When she wakes up after a night's sleep she discovers she has 'regained her sanity.' I could relate to this after my obsessive wellington boot episode last week! There is a recognition of human weakness, the temptation posed by shopping and the internet, but also a liking  and healthy enjoyment of girly accessories for which she is totally unapologetic. Her writing had a similar feel to that of David Sedaris who has been featured on the same comedy half hour slot. I suppose I consider it a strength to be able to laugh at not just the absurdity of many aspects of life but also one's own absurdity and foolishness. 

Thanks for the response Mary.  Out new Rule of Six imposed by Bojo has on the one hand answered my petition for divine intervention in preventing my daughter having her annual Halloween Party that  a) she organised without asking me and b) causes me so much distress and leaves so much chaos that c) she never has time to clean up from before going back to college and muggins ends up doing. On the other hand, the Rule of Six makes me feel I haven't got a great deal to look forward to. PLus I have my suspicion that it will have been masterminded with the aim of stopping the XR protests in their tracks. 

Nice to be back on here. 

Take care 

E xx

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Feeling decidedly rubbish especially in the mornings. Shame, when I first cracked the not-drinking thing the mornings were the best, feeling well, fresh etc. 

I have been through the menopause since then. I lay awake last night and weirdly felt it might be time to 'reinvent' myself a bit. Just superficial stuff I guess. I've broadened across my back in recent years and clothes that used to fit no longer do, although I'm no heavier. We do change as we get older. I worked with the loveliest colleague of mine yesterday- she actually got the job I applied for a few years ago and I'm glad she did. She must be in her mid sixties, perhaps a little older, a grandmother now, and is so gracefully looking her age, having gone white, accepted the need for flat shoes, etc. etc. Of course I need to be me not her but I feel I am rather hanging on to youth relatively speaking. I'm unsure if it's still a good look, but it really isn't a good feeling which is far more the point. 

But god I'm lacking motivation and I also feel bad spending money and being 'wasteful' with clothes. A big eBay clearout would be an idea - even that requires motivation though. And doing some yoga or pilates might pick me up.  It's always the problem with depression, you can't find the energy to do the things that might make you feel better. 

I'm reading Gabor Mate's 'In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.' I really enjoyed the first part of it. Now he's explaining attachment theory and its significance in understanding addiction, and whilst I'm absolutely in agreement with these ideas, it makes me feel so bad. I know some of it applies to my own young childhood, I can deal with that, but the thought of what my unconscious issues/ difficulties may have set in motion when I first became a mother are torture to me. The thought I may have passed on attachment issues, depressive tendencies, possible susceptibility to addiction is so horrific. I've read about all this before, it really isn't news so I'm just skipping through these chapters. No one can change the past, not even god. ( Love in the time of Cholera? I got that line from somewhere!)

I am interested in Mate's ideas of 'Harm Reduction.' For the addicts he deals with, total abstinence just seems totally unrealistic. What do we do with someone who tries again and again, but falls again and again, people whose social conditions are so appalling, whose childhoods were so gruelling, who have already done a lot of damage to themselves? Treat them with respect, try to encourage them to improve, give them unconditional positive regard. Mate acknowledges it's a tough gig, but he's walking the walk. 

The friend of mine who is a medical consultant in addictions is a great admirer of Mate's. When I was getting sober he said to me that he thought AA type meetings could help people decide whether they need to abstain completely or whether they can successfully cut back.  I'm really not sure about this, but I definitely think meetings of any approach need to welcome people in active addiction. Which they do of course. The same friend suggested I might have 'planned relapses' which frankly I thought ridiculous! I might 'plan' to have a relapse this weekend but when Monday comes it's highly unlikely I'd manage to keep to the plan of returning to abstinence. I have learnt that to my cost. Not that I feel the need to 'relapse' any more.  

I guess my friend is dealing with the kind of people I am reading about in Mate's book, for whom total abstinence seems totally unrealistic. 

But one thing I found at AA, and here perhaps too but less strikingly as it isn't in person, is that there definitely are many people who are now abstinent who truly thought they could never be, that it was totally unrealistic. But bit by bit, they got there. I guess it all feels much less doable when people are addicted to multiple substances and have already apparently 'lost everything.' But even then, people sometimes do turn it around. 

On the other hand, the friend I lost two years ago definitely appeared to reach the point of no return, and was treated without respect because of it, the regard afforded him was a million miles from positive or unconditional. Perhaps the principle of harm reduction could have made his last years less humiliating. I don't know. 


Apologies for not being bothered to find the acute accent for Mate's surname. 

E xx