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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); 46330 views.
Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

9/29/19

Spunky,

Stopping drinking is hard, there is just no getting around that.  But many of us here had done it, and if we can do it, so can you.  First tries don't always work.  One thing you could do is go to a doctor, there are things they can give you that make stopping easier.  And if you can find a recovery group, that can help too - being around other people who are trying to stop is a big help.  What you have to do is just keep trying.  I'm hoping for the best for you.

Brian

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

9/30/19

Hi there spunkyblue

It is I'm afraid the nature of the beast. But the fact that you are even checking into a sobriety support group is a sign that on some level you want to stop. Therefore you have something to build on.  It took me quite a while from knowing I needed to sort it to actually staying stopped, but i made incremental progress which built me up for the final push.  

I really recommend Martin Nicolaus's book, 'Empowering Your Sober Self'. I found it really did give me some confidence that getting sober was actually possible. AA didn't suit me- I needed to believe I could do it by my own efforts without the inconvenience of having to drop everything and 'get to a meeting' which is more or less how AA works- and it does work for some people. But I had responsibilities that I couldn't just drop at a moment's notice. When using AA I would panic when I couldn't go to a meeting- then I realised I could stay calm and the craving would pass. But as Brian says meetings can also be very helpful.

The key to beating an addiction is somehow to stop putting the stuff in our bodies, which is apparently very simple but for some of us a complex rearrangement of our mindset - at least it was for me. Some people seem to 'just stop' but for most of us a few relapses are par for the course before we manage it- certainly they were for me, as I managed to finally and truly accept I was absolutely entrenched in a vicious circle that I absolutely had to break. I ate SO MUCH chocolate during the first few months of finally getting sober- but amazingly didn't put on weight. My theory was that my body was so used to getting its calories from wine that it took time for me to adjust to getting them from food instead. I also read everything I could lay my hands on to do with addiction and alcohol dependency - in fact I read addictively ( with chocolate by my side) Anything to keep yourself occupied, and my advice is don't feel you have to immediately catch up on all the sensible yet dull things you've been avoiding whilst drinking. Do nice things, even lazy things, trashy tv, daytime naps whatever it takes to not drink. There's a lifetime to catch up with your admin.

We have all been where you are- think of it as absolute evidence that you have to break the cycle. And the cravings you get are yet more evidence-  so hard as they may feel  bizarrely I found they actually shored up my resolve. It can feel like a bit of a white knuckle ride at the start, but it will definitely get easier.

Good luck, truly you can do this. 

Elsie xx

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Jan-19

Hi everyone, I'm still here and still sober! It has really got quite easy of late, absolutely a baseline reality of how I live to the extent that I don't think about it much. 

Before Christmas my oldest and closest friend rang to tell me she has been diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Devastating news, but she is under the care of an internationally renowned specialist cancer hospital- The Christie in Manchester. I am very worried about her nonetheless  but she said to me she needs me not to get upset, and i'm being as positive and supportive as I can be. It does however throw my own life into perspective. Stopping drinking was a huge mountain to climb at the time and for some years afterwards, but I feel very fortunate to have managed it, and extremely fortunate to have avoided serious health consequences from my years of heavy drinking.  Not that my friend's illness is drink related. but I would be lying if I didn't admit I'm profoundly grateful to not have to go through what she is embarking on.  We are making headway towards building our new house, a process I do not relish and sometimes dread but really and truly it now seems, relatively speaking, a breeze, even a privilege that this is my biggest issue. 

I am thinking again about the possibility of starting a group. the advice is that you should be at least six months sober to consider it- there was no way on earth that I felt ready that early in my sobriety, although I guess everyone is different. Now I am wondering is six years is too long?!!! I certainly feel I could now firmly guarantee I'm not going to be in relapse territory which seems pretty important to me for facilitating a meeting.  I know at AA the thinking is you are never ever out of the woods.  What do people feel here? 

A bit late to wish you all Happy New Year but Happy New Year anyway! 

Love, Elsie

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Jan-20

Hi again

I think a new group would be amazing -- E why not contact Craig Whalley and ask him for suggestions and support? On the mailing list we have a number of UK-based sober posters, lovely people and I'm sure you would get a positive response to any  new group.

Where will the new house be (not detailed location of course)? -- at the sea,  in the same village, in the countryside? It is daunting and I'm sure you  will have many ups and downs but  at the same time it is a really exciting project.

Sympathy to your friend -- cancer is such a medical ordeal, horrible treatments and uncertainty. This last week I heard from an old friend who was at varsity with me, a friend not ex-boyfriend and he was sad we had lost touch -- he has been through  a painful divorce, his daughter has had some kind of breakdown, he has had a number of operations and TIAs, then had to recover from a serious car accident. His memory is poor, he struggles to walk, his career  floundered -- I realised that because he had emigrated to the Antipodes, I assumed his life would be so much safer and  more comfortable than our lives here in South Africa. I'd hardly given him a thought. Now he writes to say how homesick he has been, how he longs to be able to come home again. But the country he recalls is long gone, it is a different and far more challenging society. Pleasant upmarket spaces and gorgeous surroundings for a touristy holiday, but not easy to live here.

Happy 2020 to both of us

love as ever

xMary

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Jan-21

Hi Mary

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.

E xx

Danny2333

From: Danny2333

Jan-22

Go for it! Good luck on your journey.

Danny

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Jan-24

Hi E

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!

More later

xMary

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Feb-26

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 

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

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