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.
you might enjoy Knapp's "Pack of Two", Elsie, and not too long ago i came across Gail Caldwell's "Let's take the Long Way Home; a memoir of friendship".
I read Pack of Two last year and loved it (not quite as much as I love my dog though, although we had a few wobbles we are so great now)
i will look out for the other book, thanks for the recommendation. Not related to alcoholism or addiction in any way, but I recently read 'Longbourn' by Jo Baker, a spin off of sorts from Pride and Prejudice, but a parallel narrative about the servants, exploring the idea of the social underside to Austen's England. It is a very fine novel, beautifully written, the descriptions of the countryside are wonderful, and the plot well conceived, in general, (not sure about the ending but she was up against it, without throwing out any spoilers)
Reading is really helping me this time round. I'm not always in the flow of reading, but I am right now. It is a great distraction.
More than a distraction, I'd say, reading can be a good learning curve and prompt you to get back to writing. In the first few years of being sober I read a great deal on addiction and recovery that reinforced the understanding of why I needed to stay sober but as a voracious bookworm I also read all kinds of other memoirs and biographies and fiction. Always good to wake up in the morning and remember what I was reading when I fell asleep, unlike the fog of reading while very drunk.
Yes, the sobriety related reading is very helpful. I have done lots of it, but then relapsed, but am now revisiting some if it and understanding different and more things. The other reading is partly a return to a previous life as a teacher of English Lit. I hold with the idea of a reading journey, reading my way from sympathy to sympathy, and the great thing right now is to just read for the sheer pleasure of it, and the corollary to only my own experience- no lessons to plan like in the old days, no modelling for others of how to read. I do like to write, but sometimes worry that I haven't got a whole lot to say that would be that interesting to people other than myself! A Facebook status is about as good as it gets;) My learning curve is more with music at the moment. I am finding recently that some songs I hear bring up many emotions- learning the chords, transposing to suit my voice, then singing at the piano seems to help me process the strong feelings. It isn't just the emotional stuff, in fact it is a bit more the skills stuff that brings me such satisfaction though. I transposed a piece from D to G quite quickly yesterday.
I was brought up with an expectation of excellence, second place was never good enough, and I carry that competitive pressure with me at the same time as I reject it. I find it hard to get out of the idea that there should be marks out of 10 for everything, and due to fear of being judged as crap, I hold back. There are things I like doing that I'm not especially good at - piano and singing being two of them. And I'm learning that that is ok. Which is actually quite liberating and actually frees me up to learn. I don't have to make my mark on the world- in fact for me in some ways it no longer feels like a very worthy aim. It is fine, in fact a good thing, to live with a light touch. Just thinking aloud here! There is no doubt in my mind that alcohol has stunted any creative journey I may have made, and disappointment at myself has reinforced the drinking. But the overarching message of my childhood was 'if you are enjoying it, it is almost certainly wrong. If it is a burden and a torture, then it is probably right.' Emotional baggage. My biggest mistake was trying to be good and do things my parents' way, then I was p****d off because all it brought me was more work and slogging to keep at the top. Then drinking became the key way in which I fell spectacularly from grace. My god, there's a lot going on emotionally this morning! Maybe what I'm saying is, without the drink I feel the force of that competitive conditioning, I will never be good enough to satisfy that force, and I don't want to drink again, so somehow I have to step back from it.
Made pancakes for breakfast this morning. Time for another I think. If I can allow myself such a pleasure!
Have a good Tuesday, pancake day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras..
Before the season of dust and ashes, you mean? My Lenten sensibility comes and goes.
Every now and again I find it helpful to simply jettison a great deal of the internalised and irrational expectations and perfectionism I seem to have carried from early childhood. The angst returns in times of doubt or despondency, but the best way to get over oneself is to stay sober and pay attention to what it is we love rather than to focus on ourselves doing whatever it is, music or art or writing. I have been sitting up at night in bed with Virginia Woolf as a young woman and not yet famous or published, writing down in her journal how much she loves writing even if it amounts to nothing, just the physicality and pleasure of writing at full tilt, making up scenes and imagining characters and describing things. One of my 'hobbies' is painting and I long some mornings to get to the easel and put strokes of oil paint onto a canvas, not caring if it works out or not or what anyone else would make of it. The kitchen and living rooms in summer have a number of my bold bad artworks drying there or hung on walls. I know I'm getting better because practice helps -- but like starting a novel or short story, I don't know if it will work out or appeal to others or communicate what I want to show, that relationship with the self and painting or the narrative emerging from paragraphs of scrawl. It is pleasure that moves me to carry on and not mind failing. Fail again and fail better, as Samuel Beckett said (paraphrasing badly). What it takes is a clear mind and energy and passion -- not the soggy fits and starts of drinking, but a daily habit of doing something that begins with pleasure and little by little interests one and takes on a life of its own.
Do you have any recordings of yourself playing? -- writing and painting take me to a different kind of place outside and yet within myself, an expanded sense of self, something that enhances even when it feels impossible and this kind of habit or discipline is antithetical to drinking. I imagine Brian doing his carpentry is similar.
The minute I record myself I go to pieces. Which about sums it up. The same happens if I try to perform. I did my Grade V at around 44, and it was absolutely the worst exam I have ever taken. I fell apart, and nerves are a disaster for something like music, for which you have to be in the moment. I passed- I think the examiner could see what a fix I was in with my anxiety. I have to say, being in the Sound of Music is great. As part of a team, I transcend all that nonsense. And it doesn't matter that my voice isn't as pure and sweet as some of the other cast members- my strong deep voice adds something to the mix. Of course I want to be good, but more for the rest of the cast than myself.
part of the problem with the piano is that I know so many gifted pianists. People who can't play might think I'm quite good, people who play well will realise I'm not! And I'm always judging myself, even if they are not. Which they probably are not. And with music and writing, I have a profound desire to be heard, but my anxiety about getting it wrong is by far the louder voice in my head.
early days. All I need to do is stay sober for now. The other stuff can be chipped away at in time, I guess.
thanks fir the message
Eek! Just posted a video of myself singing on Facebook. I am utterly terrified that people will be embarrassed by it. Or ignore it politely. Or both.
as long as the anxiety doesn't cause me to relapse...
curious as to why you did it, Elsie, if it's so anxiety-provoking...and esp. if you think that anxiety might "cause" relapse...
I'm not sure why, your comment has upset me. You do have a point, but I wouldn't ever do much at all if I never did things that made me anxious. Being interviewed for my current job was bloody horrendous, but I'm glad I did it. When I first did a wedding ceremony, I felt like I would die if I said one word wrong. But I'm confident and good at it now. I was probably being a bit flippant when I said I hoped it wouldn't cause me to relapse- I was simply dealing with acute anxiety that I felt just after posting the video, and realising that this time I've got to tolerate being acutely anxious, and getting nervous about that in itself. I have wanted to post a video for ages, but have never found the confidence before. I don't think it was ever going to be any easier. Sometimes you just have to do it. Enough self examination. Luckily a few people have said nice things about it.
oh yes, i get that we wouldn't do much if we didn't do things that make us anxious. my decision to retire from this job is quite anxious-making, but i'm doing it none-the-less.
in light of what you said about about anxiety and relapse, it seemed like a reasonable question to ask.
sorry, Elsie, i won't ask any more questions.
i'm glad you got positive feedback on your singing.