Philip H., a LifeRing convenor in Belfast, Northern Ireland, wrote this chilling poem about his late former wife:
Two dead mice.
One fresh, one slowly desiccating. Its head chewed, eyeless.
A new lock on the dingy door and new keys.
Inside the wooden floor was covered in something dark, like tar.
A chair upended.
Bottles, more bottles, one open, musty smell.
An expensive wine glass with some wine left.
Defiance and style to the end.
From a member of a LifeRing email group:
I joined LifeRing on December 9th of 2011, it was day 3 for me .
I was miserable! Guilt, shame , self-loathing, remorse and despair had become my constant companions. I felt like I was in a state of perpetual grief; I couldn’t think of one good thing to say about myself. I was terribly lonely, sad and depressed. I was so desperate to change my life…. the drinking that initially brought me relief a long time ago had now taken over my life and kept me in a constant state of misery.
Those first few months were hard at times….early on, some mornings I woke up feeling physically worse then when I was drinking. But I have to say that some days were wonderful simply because….I was doing it, I was going to bed sober and waking up with a clear conscience if not a clear head. I hung in there because the good people of LifeRing kept reminding me that there would be good days as well as bad days. I believed them.
Today is day 400 for me! That’s 399 days of going to bed sober!
So what is my life like today? My life is not perfect by any means….I still face challenges like everyone does, you know…stuff….
A recent message in a LifeRing email group included this comment: “40 years of smoking pot and 10 years of drinking heavy have probably scrambled my marbles…..eeeesh…..unhealthy coping skills and unhealthy ways of reacting to sadness have not helped.”
That comment drew this response:
That’s exactly the sort of thing that the whole recovery process can deal with. Pretty much in just the way you’re experiencing: not blocking the emotions with drugs leads to more feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety, which leads to doing something about it — making a series of changes, seeing a therapist, etc. Those steps can be pretty slow to bring benefits, unlike the alcohol and other drugs which acted virtually immediately, but aside from the clear head and better life that sobriety brings, those longer-term, ‘real’ changes improve things on a vastly deeper level. And, after a time, the changes take root and open up a whole new world. Not always a world of “happiness,” but one of hugely more satisfaction. Or at least that was my experience and it sounds like you’re on track for something similar.
Try to remember, when you’re feeling bleak about your future, that you have plenty of time to change EVERYTHING. You’re what … 38? Okay, more like 52. But that’s only about 30 years of living as an adult, and your life expectancy is, now that you’re getting all healthy and everything, well into the 80′s. So you’re only half-way through your adult life! Anything can happen (and probably will!).
A member of one of the LifeRing email groups asked for examples of a “plan” for staying sober, since LifeRing places the responsibility for building a plan or program on each of us as we each develop our own approach to getting and staying clean and sober. This is a reply that explains very well what we mean by a “plan”:
About a plan…..I’ll share a bit about mine and try to give you some ideas of what you can do to empower your sober self.
In the past when I quit for 5-6 months I did it without any support. Eventually I would literally forget why I quit to begin with, I would start feeling better and convince myself I could control or moderate my drinking…NOT.
I knew if I was going to succeed this time I had to do something different and for me that meant reaching out for support (amongst other things)
First and foremost I quickly made my sobriety the number one priority in my life, nothing or no one comes before it.
Educate yourself about addictions, you can surf the internet or read books.
This is from a message sent to a LifeRing E-mail group: