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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); 46569 views.

From: MaryLouise3


Hi L

Sorry to be so slow in replying but I got a bad Pink Eye (conjunctivitis) infection before Xmas and then sinusitis and a chest infection, not nice in the heat. I have a fridge filled with cheeses and  a freezer with duck breasts and salted caramel ice cream and gammon. No appetite at all. My partner also fluey and subdued, chicken soup, weak tea and toast. Staggering heat and then rain at last. The Cape beautiful as ever.

Ugh, that school sounds hideous. You know, I can't work out what their problem is except that you don't do things as they do. Why don't they get a personality transplant en masse?

L, what do YOU feel you would want to change about your style of interacting and teaching? Years ago I worked as a junior editor in educational publishing and rebelled, hated it, was unpopular and criticised for 'not fitting in'. One evening I met up with two very successful older friends who worked in publishing and they both said, on hearing where I worked, 'That place is moribund and dysfunctional, get out.' My feeling is that this might be more about them than you.

Having said that, I'm not sure you should leave until something within you if not them has been resolved. Is there too much identifying with the teen learners? Defiance of authority, old adolescent feelings coming up inside you? What I don't understand is why your 'personality' is the focus rather than the quality of your work, unless they feel your attitude is undermining the staff. What does disruptive mean? That you laugh too much? I can see that this would be really helpful as material for therapy but I'm not sure it is a learning process in itself.

How is the work, the response in the classroom, the marking or researching beforehand, the experience of teaching and assisting a teacher? That would be of interest to me because that is what I'd expect you to enjoy. When I was tutoring I loathed the marking and exam invigilating etc, but found the conversations in seminars to be really stimulating. I spent so much time thinking about pedagogy and all of us learning together, developing listening and writing skills, finding ways to respond creatively to assignments, empowering students who needed more time and attention, the question of how we get to enjoy and appreciate difficulty as complexity. I read Paulo Freire on revolutionary pedagogy. How can we encourage students to take risks in their work? If students respond more strongly to visual literacy or music, how do we bring those elements (art, videos, music) into science or composition classes?

And a major goal of learning for me is about freedom, that the student should feel confident and free to experiment. For that to happen, the teacher needs to be laidback, empathetic and open to the experimentation.

I'm really not sure the critical feedback at this school is about you.

More when I rise from my sickbed.



Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Hi Mary, and sorry to hear you have been so poorly. I hope you are on the mend now. 

Yes, I identify too much with the kids (they are 10-11, still quite enthusiastic and sweet.) I also have to rein myself in when something is being taught to the whole class- I get enthusiastic and want to add things to what the teacher has presented and it is very plain that is not acceptable to the teacher. So I have stopped doing it. When a child is disciplined, it is my reflex to side with the child! I'm sure this is something from childhood. I myself never needed disciplining- I naturally wanted to please, and always enjoyed learning. I was however sometimes actually disciplined for being too keen, too enthusiastic, allegedly hogging class time and preventing other kids from contributing. This last point is a teacher's issue of course, not a child's.  But I recall several occasions on which I was very unjustly put down by teachers. It even happened a couple of times at university. As a teacher myself I never ever made able and keen students responsible for other students' lack of contribution. I was rather fond of group work and feedback as a way of spreading contribution. Anyway, I sound like I'm bigging myself up and I really had big weaknesses as a teacher due to my reluctance to get nasty.  I remember being told I was too easy on kids missing lessons and I needed to get harder. The first victim to my efforts was a sixth former who missed a class as her dog was having puppies. I told her it wasn't important enough to miss a lesson. She replied that it was 'important to her.' Good girl- she was absolutely right. I have never forgotten that and it always struck me that 'better discipline' could very easily lead to 'no empathy.'  I don't want to be the person who walks over kids' sensitivities in order to run a quiet class. 

Sometimes it worked the other way.  I trusted and listened to students, and expected the same in return. Just after my dad died suddenly, I saw a student working on the market. I stopped for a chat and told her I would be away for the first few days of term due to dad dying.  the girl was 17, in my tutor group. When I returned to college my head of division reported that said girl had missed college having 'returned late from a family holiday.' I had seen her two days before the start of term. I really struggled with this breach of trust. she knew she could go under the radar as I wasn't there. A couple of years later she wanted a reference to apply for midwifery, and I couldn't write it, I was still so outraged! That wasn't good or right of me. But what I think is probably fair is that I used to really struggle to separate my emotional life from my job- I couldn't always leave it at the door, and you do need to. In this latest job, I have actually been struggling with a period of depression, and I have managed to leave that at the door, but maybe I have overcompensated by being very buoyant and jolly.  I do remember that my Education tutor many years ago described my classroom style as ' a bouncing beach ball'.  But I can unfortunately often feel like a squeaky ball that has lost its squeak.  Maybe it is the flat squeakless ball that leads me to occasionally masquerade as the bouncing beach ball in an attempt to keep going. 

I still don't know what to do.  I'm not in it for the long term anyway, but I do have a loyalty to the children.  Not the school, not the teachers, just the kids. My husband pointed out the other day that I'm easy to blame, because I don't fight back.  I take it. 

I have a wedding today and need to get ready now. Thanks for the message. I think I'm just a bad fit. I should never have been a teacher. I made a bad career choice because of my lack of confidence to try something different, something grown up. I was never grown up enough to teach, and I'm still not. In some ways I don't want to think about this- it is food for my negative side, my internal gremlin. My therapist says I have been running from this vulnerability all my life. Maybe, but for good reason.  It is overwhelming. 

More later. 

Hugs, L xx


From: steverino63


Hope you are rising from that sickbed. Pinkeye ain't a lot of fun. 


From: MaryLouise3


Thanks, Steve, am now battling a chest infection in the summer heat. Not a great start to 2019, but hoping the antibiotics kick in soon.

Happy New Year to you!



From: steverino63


You continue to remain resilient through many events in life, Mary .... and a beacon to all on that.



From: MaryLouise3


Thanks, Steve -- I find many encouraging beacons and examples of resilience all around us in LifeRing. Good friendships over many years.

Happy sober New Year -- let's hope 2019 is kinder to us than 2018 has been!



From: steverino63


Thanks, Mary. With Ning by the boards, I expect to start dropping in here more. 

Work continues to be frustrating. A month or so ago, I noticed our managing editor, who has lectured me before for not always being the best copy editor, mistook "ring" and "wring" (she meant the latter) in her weekly column. No way that can be a typo. And, you want me to care more, when you do that?


From: MaryLouise3


That's a revealing kind of error isn't it? I keep up the copy editing projects but am doing more writing and developmental editing of fiction and memoirs, mostly for international clients from Canada, the UK and Europe as well as New York. But it's a hand-to-mouth existence at times  even if I don't have to deal with your managing editor.

Hoping new work opportunities come up for you this year --


Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)


Hi Mary

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!!

Elsie xxx

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)


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.