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.
I hope you are feeling much better. Conjunctivitis is really miserable and I hope you are over your other infections too. There's something about getting ill in the summer that is particularly miserable- it just feels so unfair.
I handed in my notice at school and will leave at half term- 15 Feb I think. As the return to school approached it felt rather like a prison sentence to see the academic year out. I am there for the grand total of 2hrs 15mins each day and even with such a short time I've always found myself clock watching. I'm not going to feel bad about it any more- I've been thinking of all the people who would make terrible TAs - Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax to name but two. The other day the kids were looking at Human Rights and knowing that the teacher does not welcome my contributions I was not willing to proffer the story of my father-in-law coming to the uk on the Kinder Transport at exactly the same age as the children in the class. And this was not a matter of obstinacy- my previous (occasional) contributions have truly all been received as if I'm a complete pain in the arse. Too bad.
I have been feeling a bit low about it, but today I woke up feeling much better- allowing myself to be relieved! I had a cold last week and that always gets me down as well. It dawned on me a couple of days ago that it wasn't the greatest idea to rush to fill my time the instant the kids had both left home. I've been so occupied with meeting their needs, and last year was very very intense with Liza. I wonder if I need to actually experience the change- the loss, in a sense, and give myself time to consult myself properly on what I want to do next. If I had started the counselling course I may well have felt the same way but for different reasons.
Back to weddings, and the garden is beginning to call- although we seem to be heading into a cold snap. Plus I have a heap of books to read- I've been going through a big reading phase and like nothing more that to get my pyjamas on early and read for an hour before bed.I've just bought myself a floor standing reading lamp for the living room, which is a bit too murky to read without eye strain. It will also be nice not to be tied to school holidays for going away- me and my husband will head off somewhere in June. Probably just Cornwall with the dog to visit friends but it will be good to visit out of high season. I feel like I've been tied to school holidays for most of my life between my schooling, then teaching, then the kids' schooling!
Although it's now almost 5 years since I stopped drinking I still reflect on it being a great achievement to chalk up these difficult experiences without turning to the vino. It has crossed my mind, but for half a second on the far horizon of my mind, if that makes sense. I've come a long way.
Hope everyone is doing well and having a happy start to the year. Hope to check in more often once school's out for ever!!
Five years is great Elsie, a real accomplishment. I was in graduate school when I learned that I really did not like teaching. I learned much later that I did like tutoring - one on one with someone who was really interested - that was something quite different.
Yay for you on five years! I'm not getting notifications so missed this.
Good to cut losses and get out from a place that depletes your spirit and is just a really bad fit. I feel pissed off when I think of how much students might have appreciated listening to a real-life account of someone who came to Britain on the Kindertransport but it's their loss.
Winter is definitely a time for immersing oneself in books and garden plans. And to give yourself time to reflect on the children leaving, the change of roles, the decisions about what to do next. And to just relax, take time for yourself, focus on the relationship with your husband, time in Cornwall.
Those flickers of temptation do pop up every now and again but if I don't give them any attention, they go away in an instant. It's blazing hot here, heatwave high summer, worrying about drought, the garden a dust patch. I'm still battling with the trachea infection and delayed payments so tightening belts etc. This is just part of the freelancing life. And of course I'm desperately worried about family and friends up in Zimbabwe, no telling if the military repression will continue and if the Internet shutdown will be fully lifted.
But on we go, reading the outpouring of tributes to Mary Oliver all across the Internet -- her poems resonated with so many -- slowly drafting out articles on conceptual art, planning autumn planting for the garden if we get enough rain, reading French fiction to keep up my French, bottling ripe tomatoes & peppers. and making a pear galette with just-ripened pears.
So good to hear from you again --
Good to see you back.
A real cold spell here, it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit when I left West Virginia yesterday morning. And I seemed to have caught a cold, taking zinc and drinking tea.
Strange how memory works. It was the phrase "just ripened pears." My aunt and uncle had a pear tree on their farm in southern Ontario. I remember exactly where it was - on the right side of the house about 30 feet from the back gate on the path to the barn - just outside the fence around the yard. I don't remember ever having a ripe pear and certainly never a pear galette - though we did have spiced pears at Thanksgiving. What I do remember is being ambushed by one of my cousins as we walked out to the barn and being hit in the back of the head with a really overripe, rotten pear - the juice of the cold squishy pear falling down under your collar and on to your chest and back - and the hysterical laughter of the cousin who threw it. This was more the 60 years ago and I can't remember the last time I thought of it - great to get these old memories back.
So visceral, aren't they, those old memories? I once climbed a peach tree in a garden somewhere in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and was stung by a wasp. The smell of ripe peaches, the fuzz on the peaches, the smooth branches and the sudden piercing pain in my hand all add up to something unforgettable. That memory triggered of course by your story of the rotten pear!
I've always been intrigued by Proust's sudden and profound recollection of his forgotten childhood stimulated by tasting a madeleine dipped in a limeflower tisane (A la recherche du temps perdu). I do think memories are aroused by chance and sensory impressions, long-forgotten pieces of music, colours and fragrances. As if the memories are all buried deep down within us, intact but quiescent, patiently waiting to be woken up.
Take care with that cold, zinc sounds good. I'm getting better, slowly.
My fifth anniversary came and went this week. I felt like it was something I ought to be celebrating, but I'm in a bit of a slump right now. Just 7 more afternoons to do at school then I leave, which I'm hoping will pick me up.
Heard someone on the radio talking about her sister's diaries- her sister who I assume took her own life although I didn't catch the whole item. Anyway, she had her sister's diaries and had been reluctant to read them, but when she did she was surprised that they were a little more upbeat than expected- and said that she thought her sister probably couldn't write when she was really low. I get that. All the stuff we hear about 'reaching out', expressing our feelings to others etc. but to be honest when it strikes we - or certainly I- want just to shut down and withdraw. Not that I feel at all suicidal but I'm having to force myself to do stuff out of the house. I'm happy to engage with my immediate family but beyond that I'd mostly rather not. But I'm not numb, which is really something. Usually I feel really numb when I'm low. And usually I can't take an interest in anything- and at the moment I am still interested. Heard another thing on the radio about a new book called The Joy of Missing Out. There seem to be a couple of other books by the same name. Apparently JOMO is the new FOMO. That definitely strikes a chord. That resistance to the onwards and upwards approach to self improvement, the modern urge to be permanently occupied and endlessly productive. The new text by a Danish professor of psychology- who has apparently been studying self-help literature and felt that contrary to their intention a lot of them make us less rather than more happy. I may well get hold of a copy.
My therapist feels I have consistently run away from my more painful feelings and have forced myself to be cheerful/ busy/ pursued any number of new hobbies to try to move away from long repressed sadness. She may be right, and it does rather make me want to run away from her and go on a shopping spree or something. But instead I'm trying to plod along with my sadness is tow. Dragged myself out to see John Grant two nights ago. It was standing only and I got really hot and bothered down in the mosh- I'm only 5ft and there was a bloke stood next to me who must have been 6ft 8" and broad into the bargain (maybe this is why he likes John Grant) Anyway, I moved to the bar area which is on a platform and got quite a good view of him. I'm not that familiar with his music, but Glacier definitely speaks to me.
It is a glacier moving through you
And carving out deep valleys
And creating spectacular landscapes
And nourishing the ground
With precious minerals and other stuff
So, don't you become paralyzed with fear
When things seem particularly rough.
Well, that's the idea anyway. Just hoping I'm not on some wild goose chase with all this.
Hope everyone is well and recovering from ailments.
Congrats again on the five years! I'm sorry though to hear about the depression.
I'm all for the Joy of Missing Out. When I worked in media my life was like a crowded house, endless events and crises and travel opportunities and I hated it most of the time. I like solitude, I like quiet bookshops and libraries, a comfy sofa and a book, a hammock under trees in the garden. Many things interest me but they're mostly quiet or solitary things -- writing fiction, doing research, garden pottering, cooking for close friends, walking in vineyards or mountains with dogs. I wouldn't want to do many of the things self-help literature and tabloid advice columnists think we should want or do.
E, there are things I've 'felt' and faced and endured. And there are certain Pandora's boxes inside the psyche that may always remain closed. There are times I do stay numb and frozen in loss. On the whole my emotional range has deepened, I am able to contain more, feel and express more -- I suspect this is true for many of us as we get older. Your therapist may be right, but these shifts take time. Go gently and take your time.
Spring is around the corner... I like your Glacier lyrics.
It's a long time since I checked in. I had to do without my laptop for a while as my daughter's had a fault- v impressed that Acer managed to fix it for a mere £30 even though it was out of warranty (electrical problem with charging dock)
The bloody low level depression continues and seems to have transformed into depression about our environment. It's been high on the agenda here everywhere you look with the extinction Rebellion protests and the visit of Greta Thunberg. Our plans to build our house are shaping up to be as near passifhaus as we can manage- without going for full certification which we have worked out makes it much harder and more expensive without actually delivering any material benefit. I don't fancy getting arrested in London but I'm willing to take on the local authority to allow us to install solar panels in a conservation area. I can only do what is within my reach to help the plight of our planet. I might drive myself insane otherwise.
In other news I have just finished reading Edward St Aubyn's quintet about Patrick Melrose- about himself really. However posh and well-heeled the characters and settings are, I found it truly fascinating from the point of view of childhood, addiction, the challenge of recovery. My own childhood troubles were pretty inconsequential in comparison, but of course I didn't know that when I was three. what I related to was the idea that at times Patrick functions highly as an intellectual and yet that belies the total chaos and darkness behind the facade. Not that it's quite such a stark contrast for me. I probably said here ( or I definitely thought) that I was really frustrated by the teacher training person at the school I worked at when she presented us with a diagram of the hierarchy of needs. 'We are aiming to get them working at the higher levels' said she. Err, it's quite possible to work at the higher levels whilst there's some bloody great problem lurking at the lower level somewhere which will f*** everything up nicely at some point. Certain people still think it's ok to be unkind to children in the interests of getting them to the 'higher levels.' Does my head in.
I enjoyed the Melrose novels partly because they are beautifully written and witty, but mainly because they take the idea of childhood adversity and subsequent problems seriously. Lots of people really don't take it seriously- or do in theory but not in practice- if general attitudes towards addiction are anything to go by. I reached the end of the five books feeling in a way understood as a person because I understood the books, if that makes sense. Watching Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose in the sky Tv series based on the novels- very good and BC is perfect for the role, but I am so glad I read them first.
I read about St Aubyn's life and it seems very very close to the books. I had a momentary intake of breath to learn that he now manages to drink sociably- at my own still existing wish I could do this. I still have moments when I think about drinking, although it can be easily quelled by having a rest. I have an avenue left to explore- exercise. Obviously I'm out walking the dog daily but I'm talking proper endorphin producing exercise. I've never much liked getting sweaty. But I feel I really need to get going. But I don't! Getting out on the garden is something I can manage though, and getting back to playing some music feels like an actual option but I'm even reluctant there- when I don't play I get really rusty and it takes time to get back to where I was.
Nice to get all this written down. Hope everyone is well.
So good to hear from you! I've been watching Extinction Rebellion and hoping it has a lasting impact of some kind. Right now I'm looking at images of another cyclone hammering the coast of Mozambique and reading that these cyclones are unprecedented, inexplicable. So much more hard research and investigation is needed to work out what has to happen as a preventive measure. And as with the floods in Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast, deforestation plays a terribly destructive role, nothing to hold back or channel or absorb floodwaters.
I've read two of the Edward St Aubyn quintet of novels and wish I could get more. Brilliant, isn't it? His family -- thinly disguised autobiography of course -- are monstrous, a horror story, but not too far from many dysfunctional families that crash and burn from one crisis to another. I know little about the author as an addict and I have often noticed that there is a crucial but tricky difference between people who are substance abusers and substance-dependent. Some of the most chaotic and headlong drinkers I know have evolved into abstemious people who have a glass of wine with supper in the evenings.
Not for you or me though, (sadly). My patterns are what they are.
Hi Mary, yes you are right. I revisited my drinking enough times over the three years it took me to stop to realise that I was never going to be able to drink moderately.
Trying to eat healthily at the moment and it is HARD not to eat sugary foods. I was thinking, St Aubyn's relationship with alcohol is probably more akin to my relationship with chocolate biscuits, whereas my relationship with alcohol is more akin to St Aubyn's relationship with heroin...
We all have a top addiction! x