Category Archives: Keepers

Keeper of the Month – February

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

Nelson Mandela Quote

 

This month’s post is contributed by Mary C., who recently posted about her 2 year sobriety anniversary, how she’s gotten there (aka her “PRP”, or Personal Recovery Plan/Program), and all of the benefits she’s received by living a clean and sober life:

I am so pleased to be able to say I have two years sober as of today. I am doing a quiet little happy dance here on my iPad keyboard.

I’ve been trying for decades, literally, to shake this drinking obsession. And with support from a good addictions counselor and the wisdom of this group and F2F LR meetings, I finally, finally feel free of it. After two years I still do the various elements of my Personal Recovery Plan, but maybe not quite so intensely these days — my F2F LifeRing meetings are down to once a week, online reading and posting most days but not always, weekly visits to addictions counselor are now down to as-needed “tune-ups”.

I’m feeling physically and emotionally better than I have in years. The biggest danger now is getting complacent and slacking off on my program. For example, when I miss a week or two of F2F meetings, I can see a big red flag signaling caution, pay attention!

I know it can be so daunting and scary to quit. But keep trying, trying, trying. I’m sure I was lurking and occasionally posting on LR forums and email lists for at least two years, then I found my counselor and then started about six months of hard-work-therapy before pulling the trigger on my Quit Date of Feb 4.

Just for the record, let me briefly list the changes in my life that have come with sobriety in these last two years:

* My thoughts are now turned outward toward an interesting life instead of inward with guilt and secrecy and self hatred.
* Crazy good health improvements. Lost 52 lbs. (Weight Watchers). Normalized my high blood pressure. Reduced all those lab test markers for cholesterol, liver, blood sugar, etc.

* Sleep gets its own category because it’s so wonderful to have it back!  I still have to take the occasional Benadryl or melatonin, but those 3 am wide eyed hangover wake ups are gone for good. 

* This is a weird one:  I can enjoy music again. For years I wasn’t able to listen to much music because it provoked such an emotional response in me. Now that my emotions are better balanced, I have pulled out my old vinyl, bought a new turntable, transferred old iPod music to iPhone & am good to go!

* Like a lot of people in sobriety, I’ve found exercise. I now try to walk with my little dog Rosie every day in order to keep my mind happy and to sleep well.  (Plus Rosie likes it)

* Travel is something I can do again. I don’t have to stay home any more and nurse my addiction. Went to Santa Fe/Taos last fall and am heading to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, this spring.

* Best for last, my dearest relationships with family and most friends are happier, more relaxed and somehow closer. Sadly, not all relationships fared so well, but I can’t really regret that.

 

Thanks for letting me share my milestone with you. I’ll still be here reading, even tho I’m not a very frequent poster. I can hardly go a day without looking in on LifeRing!

 ~~

Keeper of the Month – January

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

Strength Grows

 

 This month’s Keeper is contributed by a wise and wonderful long time LifeRing e-mail list member with over a dozen years of sobriety talking about what she does to keep herself on an even keel, while navigating a busy and sometimes stressful but rewarding life, during a discussion about avoiding relapse:

…the relapse talk is really useful to me. I think as we stay sober for longer we need another kind of maintenance perhaps, or maybe just to keep up the maintenance ?

I’m sober longer than I ever considered starting out. My life has changed so much. I’ve grown and become more competent, more brave, and in many ways more true to myself. I mean, I feel defeated by Ph.D rejections! But I always thought I would never even be capable or want to attempt it because I would then have to teach. Something I considered so terrifyingly beyond me, and I’m teaching and loving it. I forget sometimes to consider these kinds of things.

I move in new circles and I do often feel like a strong cool sober woman but also sometimes like a weird marginalized wanna be. Sometimes I embrace that and think it’s ok to not really fit in and other times I suffer.

If I don’t remember my drinking history and how terrible everything could get – I may start thinking I’m the kind of cool sober woman who can drink sometimes to take the pressure off, to fit in, to celebrate like those around me, or to hide away in my old hole of fear and pain.

It’s actually hard to navigate. I can do so much more now, but I am still a person who feels stress in ways that can really damage me and over things that surprise some people. On the other hand, I can live with some variations of chaos and pressure that others regard as impossible. I think because I remember how crazy it and I used to be.

It’s hard to be strong and fragile at the same time. But I think it’s often the case for people in recovery, and also it seems many tend to take on too much at once when we find we gain strength. I have done it so many times! But I have also done very little at times. It’s hard to balance too little and too much and I find I manage it better when I’m in touch with sober support. It helps me keep perspective – or at least get it back when I lose it.  :-?

Shit this is a ramble – I’m really worn out. I had exams this week and yesterday and today I’ve been feeling really tired but my head was spinning and I felt a little manic in my thoughts. Intense and speedy and exhausted. I got some time alone this evening and turned to Netflix – I feel like its safe to meet the world tomorrow. :)

~~~

Guest Blog: Badassery, By Dennis Meeks

This is our final blog post of 2014, and we’re proud as peacocks to present a special contribution chronicling a truly remarkable first year of sobriety, authored by our own fellow LifeRinger and blog supporter and frequent commenter Dennis Meeks. Our many thanks and heartfelt congratulations go out to Dennis, and here’s to another great New Year for us all!

Dennis’s medals cache, displayed on a walker incurred by developing a bone spur from all his badassery. ~ Photo Courtesy of Adalyn Meeks

 

BADASSERY

When I tell non-runners that I run marathons, the first question I get is “Why?”   And it’s a very good question.

I have always been running from something, most of us have I think.  Now I am running toward something, sobriety, but to get there I have to run through a ton of bullshit to get to the other side.  And I needed help to get there.

At the tender age of 63, after finally (hopefully) getting off the crazy-go-round of serial relapses that had been ongoing for 3 years, I decided I would run 6 marathons in 6 months.  The first 2 or 3 went well, so I upped it to 12.  But, then I thought, “What if I get injured and need some time off?” So I added one more, #13,  and just in case I had to skip one, I could still finish 12 in 12 months.

Running – now I am speaking literally; feet pounding the pavement running  – and getting sober are not that that dissimilar.  I’ve been running on and off for decades, but for the last several years, especially 2010 through 2013, my running was mostly off.

I started training again in July 2013 after quitting drink and drugs on June 29.  Some may think it borders on masochism to train for one marathon, and just plain craziness to train and run one every month for a year.  But, not so fast….I had been drinking myself senseless with alcohol for years,  so why not run myself sober?  I needed a goal to strengthen my sober resolve.

—–

Running became my go to therapy.  Running, hurting, growing,  and getting stronger with every training run and my self-confidence shining in the sweat of my contorted face at the finish line of every marathon.  It’s difficult to drink (like I drink when I drink) and exceed at anything other than resolute failure and regret.

So,  my first marathon time this year was a 4:23,  not bad for the aged among us.  I was stoked.  And 6 months later, I had a personal best at 4:22.  And I kept going.  Running.  Not drinking.  Repeat.  I ran in the rain, sleet, and the heat of the Tennessee summer, when I came to understand the splendid relief that shade trees and sobriety offer.  I ran when I didn’t want to run,  I ran when my feet hurt, when my calves cramped, when all I could do is put one foot in front of the other and I ran when I didn’t like myself and have kept running now that I have discovered that , hey, I’m not so bad, I’m actually a pretty good guy.   I have endured.  By god, that’s what I do, I endure.

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Keeper of the Month – December

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

With Everything That Has Happened

 

This month’s Keeper is contributed by list member Mary S., who has some wise words to share about how she handles the Ghost of Christmas Present. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas (or any other of the holidays around this time of year), it’s still an unavoidable part of our culture that has the power to pose challenges to us all; Mary poses simple but important questions at the end of her post, which you’re most welcome to share your answers to in the comments! Read on:

I love Christmas, but because my life has changed so dramatically, I have to be extra vigilant. I was a daily drinker, and therefore tend to neglect to talk about or plan strategies for navigating seasonal minefields.  But since I cherish sobriety above all else, I don’t take chances.  For example, I never take punch unless I’m positive it’s alcohol-free.  Fruitcakes, rum balls, foil-wrapped chocolates–fergetaboutem!  When I walk into a setting where alcohol will be present, I make sure I go on a full stomach–not filled with “pub” food, but with a protein such as peanut butter, cheese, etc.  And because I refuse to perpetuate the drinking ritual, I don’t engage in “pretend” drinking, i.e. drinking out of stemmed glasses, etc.  One of my “bibles” with regard to food is Liz Scott’s “The Sober Kitchen”.  She gives many wonderful alternatives to cooking with alcohol, and de-bunks the myth that alcohol burns off in the cooking process.
 
But beyond the minefields, I have to take measures to be sure my head is in the right place.  I can’t draw on Christmases past, whether positive or negative, to create Christmas in the present tense.  I have to watch my self-talk.  If I say things such as “the holidays depress me”, I will ensure myself of misery.  Many of us have been conditioned to believe that at this season, everything that feels empty will be filled; that everything that is dark within, will be illuminated.  So how do I overcome this funk, and use it as an opportunity to grow in recovery?  For me, it’s making a conscious effort to come out of self.  It could mean contributing to a toy drive, volunteering time, or even visiting someone who’s in the psych ward because of addiction.  Sometimes this requires overcoming shyness, or worse yet, a sense that we have nothing to give.  I’m not talking about a Pollyanna positivity, but a powerful life-changing resolve.  With our thoughts and words, we become victims or creators of our own reality.
 
In early recovery, sometimes we have all we can do to get our heads around the concept of abstinence, and then work toward coming to a place of acceptance.  That’s great, and I don’t believe in rushing the process.  However, sustainable recovery means that I have to slowly work on all the other stuff, and to utterly let go of everything that no longer serves me.  With regard to Christmas, it means that I have to consciously let go of my neediness, of my expectations of others, etc. etc.
 
What about you?  Does the prospect of the holidays fill you with joy? With dread?   
 
A peaceful, sober day to all!
~~

Keeper of the Month – November

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

Recovery Is A Process

 

This month’s Keeper is contributed by list member Scot S., who came to understand that recovery doesn’t ‘just happen’ to any of us:

I believe strongly that we each need to find our own path, that there is no magic that is going to work for everyone, and that what works for one person may not work for another. But I also believe that we can glean helpful ideas, motivation, support and inspiration from others, which is the essential purpose of the LSRSafe list as I understand it. That being said, there is one thing that I believe each and every successful person in the sobriety journey, or any journey, has in common:

And that is persistence. To never stop trying. To get up when you fail and start again. And then after some sober days, failure starts to turn into disappointment. And then more sober days, and then disappointment is replaced by a mistake, and then a mistake is replaced by a lesson, and then one day you start to reflect on why your drinking rather than the fact that your drinking. And you analyze why. And then you realize that rather than feeling sorry for yourself and saying why me, and getting down on yourself, that it is you yourself that is causing the problems and that you yourself are responsible for the state of your life and all the undesirable things that are happening to you. And then you accept that the one thing you can control, and the one thing that is the underlying root cause of most all your problems, is drinking. And then you realize that you no longer WANT to drink again, rather than thinking that you can’t, and you start to focus on all the positive elements of sobriety. And then you smile. And then you say to yourself – I get it. I’m done.

For me, this process has taken years. I first wrote this post roughly 1 ½ years ago, and promptly relapsed a month later, and it is only within the last couple months that I again found myself in the same mindset. So, clearly, I do not claim to have all the answers. Yet, as painful, frustrating, discouraging and hard as it has been, I never quit trying. And I kept building up sober days, even though there were not long stretches of time where I was totally sober. And because of that my depression started to leave, my clarity returned. My motivation and energy increased, and I let myself believe, truly believe, that I could do it and that I wanted to do it – to never drink again, no matter what. There were many other sub-components, such as the LSRSafe list, books (both on recovery and cognitive behavior), spiritual growth, exercise, friends and family, changes in lifestyle, my penny jar, meditation, self therapy, change in career, making my sobriety a priority, etc., but I credit my persistence and building those sober days as the number one factor for my success.

I am so incredibly thankful for my sobriety and all the wonderful things that come with sobriety. There are no benefits to drinking – it is all an illusion. Conversely, the benefits to sobriety are endless.

~~~