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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just writing in this spot randomly because I can't figure out the format. I can't get to my own posts or anyone else's. My gmail box too, is so messed up I can't read messages. .can't calm down and focus enough.
I was sober since Oct, through winter and spring and summer. It was a fabulous, energizing, healing time. I was almost getting creative. Then the crazy thing happened. I drank..just a day in late august, then a bit more in sept, and now a daily habit I cannot stop, alone. I've connected with local health agencies including my dr, mental health, addictions. They've finally figured out they're all dealing with same issues, so they've restructured accordingly. I don't even know specifically what I'm asking for, yet they are kind and seem to understand. I'm really proud the gov't I used to work for and the community, having come together to offer much better service than when I worked with them.
What happened ? I have a few guesses. First, I was just getting lonely and bored. But also during the spring and summer, I've been talking with my dtr and my lifelong friend Kris...lots of backporch afternoon phone chats with her. They both hammered home the message that sober times are utterly irrelevant no matter how long. There will always be mistrust. And I believe them.
I read Hungry Ghosts about10 years ago and was really impressed by it. Mate's idea of describing and alcoholic's desire for alcohol as a "bare want" really struck me. That after you become an alcoholic, you have this urge for alcohol that isn't related to anything else - you aren't drinking to relieve stress, to fit in, or anything else, you have just become conditioned to want alcohol. I don't think for alcoholics like this cutting back is an option.
Sorry to hear this, but it's really good you are actively looking for help. Relapses happen, as you know from my history, you just have to work through them. And being bored, yes that was always a motivation for me to drink too. And the mistrust, I understand that too. My wife still worries that I might start drinking again - it's not so much mistrust, she no longer sees it has a moral failing, just a vulnerability I have that she worries about.
Wishing the best for you, keep letting us know how you are doing.
And when you need help finding your old posts, I can help.
I'm so sorry to hear that Rae, but I understand how easily this can happen. You have relapsed before (as most of us have) but you have also come back from it before and returned to abstinence.
Mistrust in what or whom? In ourselves? Or mistrust from other people, that however long we have been abstinent they don't truly trust that we will remain so?
As I say, I like everyone here understand how relapses happen, and we all know from experience that having been round the block too many times before that the fantasy of returning to a moderate intake of alcohol is just that- a fantasy. But abstinence also leaves a gap that sometimes feel very hard to fill and it can be tempting to entertain that fantasy. I get it.
BUT and it is a very big BUT, I disagree that periods of abstinence- long or short- are 'utterly irrelevant.' You say yourself that it was a 'fabulous energising and healing time', you felt your creativity returning. These are deeply significant things to have learnt. I have likened the process of getting sober and subsequently relapsing as being a bit like Snakes and Ladders. HAVE COME BACK TO EDIT A DAY LATER BECAUSE I KNOW I'VE BANGED ON ABOUT SNAKES AND LADDERS BEFORE! But I think my point is slightly different this time... It's horrible to land on a relapse snake and slither back down, but really we very very rarely go immediately back to square one. We have learnt valuable lessons as we have moved up the board,that will help us keep going and get back there. Here my Snakes and Ladders changes a bit to a game that actually has a strategic element! Getting sober is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. But once we drink we relinquish that choice until we find the strength to climb the board, the mountain, whatever, again. But we at least can remember how much better things were when we didn't drink, and that will hopefully motivate us.
I am going through a tough time right now. I am still sober but I have to say that the energising and reviving experience of fairly new sobriety seems to have got away from me. It is important to remember how nice it is to not feel like vomiting every morning, but as my sobriety becomes the norm I think I become more aware of the emptiness and depression that almost certainly led me to drink too much in the first place. My ability to exercise choice has become really really crucial. We are not always going to be on the pink fluffy cloud of early sobriety, and that is tough. It was supposed to transform us permanently, wasn't it? So I completely get where you are coming from. But of course you know you don't want to be in daily prison of alcohol addiction. It's so much better, incalculably better to be free of it but we still have shit days even when we have been sober for ages, just not remotely as shit as if you add a bottle of wine and half a bottle of vodka into the mix.
As they say at AA,keep coming back, talk it out as much as you need to here, we 've all known each other for a long time now, we know how it works, and I really believe we are here for each other.
Hugs, hang on in there, you can sort this.
Had a long chat with my husband about my current frame of mind and he suggested I might give myself a break from reading books about addiction! I have bought myself a nice crime/thriller novel that looks like a very good yarn and I'll switch off from thinking a lot about addiction for a while. There are more than a few people who in sobriety make a full time occupation of it, writing recovery books or setting up groups. I must say some of them come across as big old attention seekers when they do this, as if they are the world experts on sobriety if they have stopped drinking for six months! But actually, good luck to them if they have the guts to put themselves out there and help others even if it means being a teensy bit smug about themselves. Jealous, moi?!!!
Trying to put my best foot forward today. I had to write a letter of complaint to my daughter's college and had been worrying about it, but I wrote a very good letter, and I was thinking that I am better when I have something constructive to do, and especially when I need to do it for someone else who needs me. I'm going to have a little look at some volunteering opportunities with Citizens Advice in my local town.
Have a good week!