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.
The house will be on our plot- we got planning permission to split it. so we will continue to live here whilst it is built, then sell this place to pay off the loan. it's probably the financial side that makes me most nervous. But also the safety and wellbeing of our cats (the chickens and dog will be fine.) The house will be built to passivhaus standard, although we won't go for full certification because that is apparently a total pain, causing problems with things like cat flaps! At the moment we are having replastering work done in the cottage. Can't wait till its finished and I can get back to normal and get rid of all the dust.
How sad for your old friend. I think as we all get older it gets more not less difficult to bounce back as the sense that life is long enough to reinvent ourselves and seek a newer world seems to contract. And it sounds like the idea of a lost home is particularly hard in South Africa. We all go back to our home town half expecting it to caught in a timewarp. I only live 10 miles from where I spent most of my childhood and I still expect it to be full of bikers with long hair and leather jackets... Of course it isn't. But my home town was never and still isn't anything to get excited about.
I will get in touch with Craig. We do not have any meetings in our town for recovery support. There was an AA group when I moved here but that has long since folded. Interesting that I had clocked that long before I acknowledged I had a problem that I needed to tackle.
Go for it! Good luck on your journey.
The building project sounds amazing. Daunting but amazing.
If there is no recovery support at all in your town, I'm sure a meeting would be really welcome. Let me know what Craig thinks and you can probably find other UK LifeRing people around with experience.
After some horrendous heatwave weather, we had unseasonable rain and it now feels like autumn. My rosemary is flowering blue and we still have two or three months of summer to go!
Hi Mary and everyone really,
Worrying that I'm too bold in my approach to sobriety these days- in terms of how I talk to other people about it. Been thinking about the fact that shame was definitely not a massive player in my emotional life when I was drinking excessively- yes, I did feel excruciating shame about certain things that I did, but mostly I actually felt it wasn't really my fault. Maybe that is why AA didn't suit me, because there is a bit of self-flagellation that goes on with some people at AA. I think my quest has always been to understand. The science of addiction is of the utmost importance in my view- I don't entirely understand it to be honest, but the changes that take place in our bodies when we drink too much, too regularly and for too long aren't talked about enough- maybe not even researched enough in my opinion. What exactly are the mechanisms that make it dangerous for someone in advanced alcohol addiction to detox without medical supervision? Why exactly did I itch all over when withdrawing from alcohol? Why does it disturb our sleep patterns when we stop, and why, conversely, does it also disturb our sleep patterns when we drink more than usual? One thing I have come to understand is the issue of histamines in alcohol. When I heard about the idea of being 'allergic to alcohol' to begin with I thought it was probably nonsense for most people- and most people would have hardly begun to drink if they had had an allergic reaction like some far east Asian people do due to lack of a particular enzyme. But I used to suffer really quite badly with insect bites- fleas brought in by the cats, mosquitoes on holiday. Flea bites actually caused me to have hives- 20cm in diameter, agonisingly itchy and leaving bruising after they subsided. Since I stopped drinking my reaction has been greatly reduced- just a bite, not a hive. I have mentioned this before here. My understanding is that whilst I may not have an obvious allergic reaction to alcohol itself, regular imbibing made me far more sensitive to other allergens. So in a definite way I am allergic to alcohol. I just hadn't realised.
I'm going slightly off piste here, but I do feel that the shame attached to alcohol addiction is often rather misplaced. And perhaps that can make me a bit insensitive to the shame that some people feel. Of course the emotional side of what leads us towards addiction is also crucial- and here it was the ACE studies that helped me put this into perspective. The higher people 'score' in terms of adverse childhood experiences, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. So NOT THEIR FAULT. I suppose there are many difficult experiences that induce shame that are also absolutely not someone's fault. I had a few difficult childhood experiences, but perhaps I'm very fortunate that whilst they caused distress, sometimes the feeling that it might have been my own fault, they were not shame inducing. For some, the shame attached to certain childhood/ later life experiences must take some work to shift. I'm writing to understand here. To try to have a better understanding of shame.
I dreamt the other night that I visited the flat of my dear friend who died two years ago of illnesses caused by alcoholism. In the dream he had already died, the place had been cleaned up, just leaving a few possessions from when he had still been keeping his head above water. ( His sister told me that when he was admitted to hospital, the flat had been knee deep in cider bottles, he had been passing out on the sofa, not making it to the loo when needed, living in terrible squalor in other words.) In the dream I had wanted to take something to remember him by, but we were there without permission and I felt it would be stealing, even though the new tenants were just going to throw everything away. The last bit of the dream I remember was the new tenants in another room that had been completely emptied. I apologised for being there, then said to them that whatever they heard they needed to realise that my friend had not been a bad person, he had been good and kind, but has got lost in addiction.
Many people had dropped him as a friend after one or other of his crises. It did increasingly feel like he was a hopeless case. But he had been a bright, funny, handsome man with so much affection to give. but life had treated him very harshly. Starting when aged 13 he was found with another boy and carted off to a psychiatrist. The story of his life is long and complicated, but in some ways quite repetitive, a gradual downward spiral that gained pace towards the end as he disappeared into ill health and mental breakdown. a few years before he died he had had a 'wipple'(?) operation as he had various digestive issues including a 'benign' pancreatic tumour. The operation left him with type 1 diabetes (I think 1, he needed to inject insulin) He didn't manage it at all well and had several diabetic comas, and died as a result of one.
this has been on my mind as a woman we know is very very unwell, caused initially by excessive drinking, but the various hospital admissions have left her with a clutch of other worrying medical conditions. She is married to a doctor, and it seems to me that all these subsequent medical issues have clouded the fact that alcohol was and might still be the central issue ( she is still drinking. ) I also wonder whether other health professionals have been skirting around the central problem due to embarrassment, protecting her and maybe more significantly her husband, from some kind of projected shame. The last news I heard was that she is now diabetic and injecting insulin. It does not look good. she can't be older than her late 40s.
Truth to tell, I'm not sure how I would have fared if I had known I had already done irreparable damage to my body. the fact that I felt I had a chance of returning to good physical health was very very helpful. I would not have chosen to have a liver function test and I still wouldn't have one now. I might have done some damage to it, it's entirely possible, but it would not have helped me to know, as I think if I had known I'd fucked my liver I might just feel it was too late. My old friend who died once said to me that he felt 'rotten inside.' I read this as an emotional statement at the time, to do with self-esteem, but now I understand that he quite literally felt 'rotten inside.' and I suspect there was never going to be any coming back from that. I didn't grieve much for him at the time. I think I'm unexpectedly grieving for him now. Poor bloke. Absolutely tragic. I guess there is shame in the knowledge that you have in a very physical sense destroyed yourself, however much the triggers were never your fault. and that kind of shame is also very very hard to come back from. Maybe that's why I don't want people to feel shame. It's such a massive burden.
Not sure where all of this has come from today, but I clearly needed to get it out.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Wednesday xxx
Hi, Elsie. Thank you for writing this. I attended AA meetings for a few years, but eventually found that the program didn't really fit my needs. And some of the people seemed so rabidly fanatic about it.
I left and found Women For Sobriety, which I feel is better suited for women. No shaming, no endlessly rehashing past misdeeds. The founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, said, "I've never met a woman who needs more humility."
I try to have a positive attitude. I try to remember to be kind to myself and others. I remind myself that I don't have to live in shame.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
Thanks Lolabug, and nice to see you here.
I came across Women For Sobriety quite early in my recovery attempts ( it took me three years from beginning to end) and definitely found it helpful- I absolutely concur with the notion that we have enough humility already! But as the saying goes, when the pupil is ready, the teacher appears, and someone pointed me towards LifeRing at just the right moment, and I found 'Empowering Your sober Self' really transformed my approach to well, one of self-empowerment, unsurprisingly It still took me a little while but it was something I could work with. I also have ongoing therapy and am finally coming to terms with the idea that there can be truth in different perspectives- including mine! AA still very much dominates the recovery scene and I have sometimes worried that I would at some point regret 'going my own way' and go crawling back overcome with aforesaid humility. It's the cradle catholic in me, I suspect, and AA does seem to have a fair number of lapsed catholics who have specialised in guilt since an early age! At the same time having been raised strictly catholic and only lapsing as an adult at 25 (ie, not just in a fit of adolescent rebellion) I am now totally switched off by any form of orthodoxy that seems only to serve itself.
After your prompt, I may well revisit the Women For Sobriety forum to see what's going on there.
I'd be interested to read about what brought you here, Lola, it sounds like you have helpful stuff to share. This is a nice quiet forum. For a while I tried to get involved at Soberistas, which also has a sensible approach, but I found the chat pages so congested it was hard to have any kind of sustained interaction. I have made some good friends here.
Take care, and maybe catch you soon.
Shame is such a tricky topic and I have thought about it often over the years. Like you, I wish people didn't have to experience shame or guilt around alcoholism.
After several years sober, I had met people in recovery groups who had been through much more extreme and distressing experiences than I had. A woman in one of my lunchtime meetings would tell us how she got blind drunk, drove and crashed a car with her small daughter seated beside her and not strapped in. The daughter suffered severe brain damage and every single day that woman would wake up and live through the guilt of remembering what she had done. There was nothing 'helpful' or glibly reassuring any of us could say. She had always known she had a habit of driving when drunk, and it had gone terribly wrong.
Like you, I know people who suffered severe health problems because of drinking to excess, who had falls and accidents, or who had alcohol-related issues to do with job losses and time in prison. All of this led to loss of self-esteem and shame. Of course, the shame was often compounded by medical teams, church members, AA's punitive issues and the anger of family members.
Mostly I think the only way to rebuild self-esteem and 'forgive' ourselves for doing dangerous or destructive things when drunk is to stay sober. Learning about the nature of alcoholism is a good way to counter feelings of failure and ideas about 'not having willpower' etc. What I found over the years was that friends who had once experienced me as volatile in my moods or unreliable got to know me as sober, caring and different, steadier and more consistent. All most friends and family want is long-term sobriety for the loved person, not promises or 'amends'.
But I do know that for some people, the past can't just be put to one side and forgotten, and marriages or family relationships can't be repaired overnight. That's the reality: all of us do or say things when drunk we wouldn't do when sober, and sometimes those actions involve ruining others' weddings or Christmases, frightening children, embezzling money or hurting others very badly. Self-acceptance takes a long time and that kind of shame or guilt is hard. It may be different in kind from the imposed shaming of being told we should just have said no, or that we are intrinsically weak or unlovable people. The long-term consequences may stay with us in divorce, estrangement from adult children, unemployment or ongoing health issues.
What you said about your friend feeling it was 'too late' to make any difference is tragic, and I don't know how to counter that kind of despairing conviction. I know people -- I'm sure you do too -- who sobered up late in life, recovered their health, began over and had a second chance. Our bodies are amazing and can heal in so many ways, just as good therapy can help us move forward. Hopefulness is one of those elusive but crucial ingredients ...
I have been thinking more about the shame issue. I am not burdened by shame about having been a problem drinker but I do feel shame about being/ feeling like an underachiever. And being very prone to depression. I have been weaning myself off antidepressants but have definitely felt myself spiralling down recently, spiralling slowly, almost imperceptibly, but definitely feeling lower the lower the dose I'm taking. It has been a theme at therapy that the anti depressants might stop me from experiencing/ engaging with the sadder feelings I carry around. that I'm seeing how it feels to engage more fully with those more painful feelings. But truth to tell I am probably just trying to prove to myself and others that I don't need them. I am starting to wonder if I do. The last couple of days I have noticed that I don't want to see anyone I know in case they ask me how I am. How do we assess the business of a genetic disposition in therapy? Because by definition there's not much you can do about that.
Trying to sort out what is inherent depression returning, from the 'withdrawal effects' of stopping a long term medication, however slowly, is likewise impossible. I went to the doctors on Monday and we jointly decided I should up my dose to 15mg daily. I had got down to 80mg per week. But it's also a pain to be tinkering and faffing with the dose levels - it requires a level of care that means it easily turns into a bit of an obsession.
Hope everyone is feeling well and has a good weekend. x
Always hard figuring out what can be shifted with medication and what might be better left raw and gritty for the sake of therapy. I hope upping the dose works. My moods go up and down this year and I just hope it doesn't get worse because any kind of medication would be much harder to find out here and more costly.
At 3am when I can't sleep I feel like a complete failure and underachiever and useless, but that is 3am. Most of the time I feel I've done well enough at some things, had some good luck, failed some things but made an effort and had the courage to risk failure.
Much of the time I feel reasonably resilient and optimistic -- I do what I love doing and have never wanted to do anything else. That may be an illusion too but it keeps me going. The problem with depression of course is that we can't reason with it or get any balance. It is like dropping into a black airless pit.
Have a lovely weekend
Mary and Elsie
Most of the time I feel I've done well enough at some things, had some good luck, failed some things but made an effort and had the courage to risk failure.
I don't think you can hope for much better than that and it is something to feel pretty good about. We are all born with certain talents and dispositions, and there is not much we can do to change them. The best we can hope is to do the best we can with the helpful ones and learn to cope with the others. If we can do that, I don't think we have too much to feel bad about.