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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); 45166 views.
LolaBug

From: LolaBug

Feb-26

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.

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Feb-27

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 smile 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. 

Elsie xx

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Feb-29

Hi E

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 ...

xMaryLouise

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Mar-6

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

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Mar-7

Hi E

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

xMary

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

Mar-7

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.

Brian

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Mar-8

Hi Brian

Thanks for that. Of course,  what feels balanced and reassuring enough as a general life perspective is lost when clinical depression kicks in and that is  the hard part. What sobriety does (IMO) is to ensure we are actually present in our own life and that means we can respond to opportunities and create a more positive and different narrative together with those who know us sober.

How is the outdoor kinetic sculpting coming along?

xMary

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

Mar-8

The sculptures are going fine - we've had a fairly mild winter so I have been able to work outside more than usual.  And I've also been doing some smaller indoor sculptures when I can't work outside.  There are pictures of Instagram.

Last fall we went to the Snite Museum in South Bend, Indiana which has a large number of is outdoor and indoor pieces.  It was wonderful to actually see his worke in person.  It gave me lots of inspiration.

An interesting development, I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but I've developed an interest in ballet.  It started with some things I saw on Faecebook - I kept watching them and then got more and more.  And in the last 4 months I've gone to three performances, two mainly Balanchine and Ashton and on of Martha Graham.  We saw a Balanchine version of Firebird with the original Chagall costumes that was just amazing.  I'm not sure I know what to make of ballet, but there do see to be some simularities to kinetic sculptures - I just watch the movement.  I'm enjoying something new.

And none of this would have happened if I had still been drinking - stopping does give you your life back.

Brian

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Mar-9

Hi Brian

There's something so nice about suddenly developing an unexpected interest! I have had an interest in dance somewhat foisted upon with with my daughter being in performing arts training. I tend to favour the dance she feels comfortable with- jazz, contemporary, commercial, basically because I'm her mum. But in her shows the ballet is so often the most entrancing. It's wonderful seeing the boys at her college especially- probably because you see so few boys and hardly any talented ones at your average local dance school but her college has a particular strength in recruiting and training boys.  When I was a child and danced my favourite was tap and I adored all those Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films. Ballet is however the basic discipline from which it all stems. But pointe work is what sorts out the women from the girls and it's a pretty strange and tortuous aspect of it when you give it any thought. The lines and shapes that can be created with ballet on pointe are really striking, elegant and beautiful, but I can't get over how terrible it is for the dancer's feet! My daughter has come to terms with having 'the wrong feet' and really the wrong legs and hips for ballet, which given she is perfectly well-made and healthy is quite odd in itself!  She has a low to average instep, tapered toes (which mean that pointe shoes never fit and essentially she has to balance on just her big toe), straight legs, and forward facing hips with not much natural turn out.  The physio who works at her college has said that she must never work in fifth position as it forces her legs and hips out too far, and the tendency to take the strain in the feet is what has probably caused her to get plantar fasciitis in the past. I certainly hadn't realised it was this technical! And clearly however hard she tries she will never be a ballerina ( luckily she doesn't want to, but they have to do ballet whatever their interest) I suspect even the most naturally adept ballet dancers really suffer for their art. 

Your kinetic sculptures sound really interesting- I take it that suggested movement is part of the principle? I watched a programme about the history of the moving image in the 20th century and the presenter explained about a sculpture of a very odd looking human being that I really wouldn't have understood without his explanation of the way it had been conceived and shaped to suggest forward movement, referencing certain key muscles.  Amazing that something static can achieve that. 

Thank you for a nice bit of thinking on a Monday morning- it's taken my mind off all the practical stuff I have to do today!

Elsie x

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Mar-9

Couldn't agree more, Brian -- and not just that I got my diminished and cramped old life back but that  so many new doors opened. When you're absent from daily life, you don't notice the shrinkage and lack of pleasure, when you get sober it seems to expand and fill out. I went on doing many of the same things, writing, reading, gardening, cooking but with a renewed and  more lively interest.

Ballet sounds an exciting interest -- I watch various kinds of performance art from time to time and when I was working on John Cage, I watched Merce Cunningham and that opened up so  many aspects of movement, gesture, the unspoken for me. I spent time  with videos of Jonah Bokaer who was influenced by Merce Cunningham and some of his performances reminded me of your kinetic moving sculptures. Tell me what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Douu44HtLWc

https://bombmagazine.org/articles/jonah-bokaer/

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