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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.


Loneliness vs aloneness

Especially early in sobriety, people may struggle with personal relationships.

Marriages or other long-term relationships may seem more fragile, whether due to raw emotions from early sobriety, or a relationship in which both partners had been drinking or using, and only one is now trying to quit.

While I don’t believe in a hard and fast rule, preached elsewhere, about making no major life changes in one’s first year of sobriety, there is some general value to the spirit of that as an idea.

So, that leaves dealing with loneliness, either from a relationship gone astray, or not having one.

Well, it means dealing with what is perceived as loneliness. And, that can include — and should include, as I see it — learning the difference between “loneliness” and “aloneness.”

We are all going to be alone at times in our life.

We’re also going to feel lonely at times in our life even when in the midst of a host of other people. Related to that, we may also feel alone, but yet not lonely, in the midst of one of those hordes.

Read more ...

Keeper of the Month – October

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.

Goethe Quote

This month’s Keeper is contributed by group member Chris E., who has found important new ways to cope with stress:

It’s the end of my work week, it was very challenging. Working in an ER environment there is consistent emergencies all day but this week several things went wrong, myself and my co-workers were really affected. Transitioning into the weekend has been a major point of relapse, there’s yelling, fighting police radios and blood at work and then I come home to quiet but my head is still full.

Meditation is a very helpful tool, followed by dogs, followed by food, a good book and a good sleep. Alcohol is a false promise, drinking after work just gets me drunk, screws up my sleep, gets me dehydrated, hung over and depressed. I’m going to continue to reinforce these facts so every Thursday I can look at this transition as something that I know exactly how to handle. There is nothing like going to bed sober and walking up without a hangover.


Check Out LifeRing On ONDCP Webinar!

LifeRing Board Member and Salt Lake City, UT meeting convenor Mahala Kephart recently participated in an ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) webinar entitled “Expanding Opportunities for Recovery: And Introduction to Three Secular, Abstinence-Based Mutual-Aid Pathways” on LifeRing’s behalf. In addition to Lifering, the webinar also includes representatives from SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety, and the ONDCP recorded it for our viewing pleasure.

Please note the webinar’s total length is 1:34 (one hour and  thirty-four minutes ) and begins with several minutes of ONDCP “housekeeping” business, then moves on to Mahala’s presentation at around 9:23.

Please click here to see the whole webinar on Vimeo, and many thanks to Mahala for representing LifeRing in a personal way while disseminating vital information about our organization on a national level. It’s wonderful to have been invited to the wider recovery conversation, and hopefully this is just the beginning for us!

A Word About Overwhelm

HI everyone. So, it’s been a little while since anything has been posted on our blog, and there’s a reason for that. Technically, there are a few reasons but really only one major reason, and since I have this here platform to use for just such a purpose, I thought I’d tell you alllll about it.

See, here’s the thing: I’m someone so easily overwhelmed that being overwhelmed overwhelms me, and then it’s almost always downhill from there. A lot of this has to do with a redundant perfectionism that – when mixed with a load of poor time-management skills, a nice dollop of intractable procrastination, and a wee touch of hiding out in a book or a movie (or online) – allows me to see a few molehills as Himalayas I’ll never be able to climb. Never, I tell you!

I learned these things about myself during my first year of sobriety, and I must say, I was shocked as all get-out to find out I was a perfectionist. I mean, what exactly did I have to show for this? It’s not like I’m one of those perfectionistic overachievers who does every ridiculous thing they can to show the world (or sometimes, just their parents) they’re worthy of honor and praise – hell, I made Bart Simpson look like a Harvard grad student compared to my tales of a fourth, fifth, sixth grade nothing. I never realized that doing nothing at all is a actual choice on one end of the “What the Hell Do I Do Now?” spectrum, but in fact, one of my family’s favorite mottos, oft repeated both to ourselves and one another, was: “If you can’t do it right the first time, then don’t do it all.”

Yeah, OK. Well, I can’t do all that much, anyway, so…I’ll take “Don’t Do It At All” for $1,000, Alex! Wait – make that a true Daily Double!

This sense of overwhelm figures pretty prominently for a lot of us in early recovery, as well. Once you sober/clean up, you’re suddenly aware of all the detritus left strewn about from your own personal train wreck, comprised of all the people places and things you left piled up, neglected, ignored, hidden from and/or otherwise generally bailed on over the years.  That hamster wheel to nowhere alone can turn one back to the bottle or their drug of choice (or both) quicker than you can say “Lickety Split”, and I’ve seen more than a few of my brethren fall under the strain of an unrealistic desire to play catch-up.

I had such a moment at somewhere around 30 days in, and I was given one of the greatest gifts to my sobriety when in a phone meeting I described the terror of realizing there was so much I hadn’t done and so many years wasted that I simply didn’t know how I could carry on. The other meeting attendees listened to my litany of woe patiently until a dear named Marie piped up and said, “You know what? You don’t have to worry about anything or do anything else right now except staying sober.” The very idea of that was like being struck by lightening, and since this piece of information was coming from a long-time sobrietist (i.e. LifeRing parlance for one committed to their sobriety), I took it at face value, and was SO relieved. I took a deep breath and accepted that even though I was not going to build Rome in a day, everything was still really going to be A-OK.

And lo, it was! It wasn’t about what I couldn’t do (everything all at once) so much as making a choice about what I could do (some people call this living in the problem vs. living in the solution), and it’s one of the most freeing feelings in the world. You place things in priority levels and work from there. D’oh!

I’ve used that experience every time thereafter I got overwhelmed to help me through, and it’s still what works for me today. It was especially useful when I was working a full time job, caring for my sick Mom, and trying to maintain my then long-distance relationship all at the same time. And yet my tendency toward feeling overwhelmed hasn’t just gone away. Ohhhhh, no – that would be too easy, even for me.

So it was that in the last month or so I found myself presented with several different irons in the fire – things that would require a great deal of my undivided attention – and I knew I was going to have to prioritize based upon what I could live with.

Let’s see…

1. DDNMW (Don’t Drink No Matter What) along with maintaining other serious health and well-being issues? Check.

2. Spend time doing good, fun activities with my hubby like taking wonderful meals, going to concerts, riding bikes, taking walks, learning to golf, and otherwise enjoying life together? Check, check.

3. Fall clean up of a badly neglected homestead? Triple check.

4. Decorating post Fall clean-up homestead for Halloween/Thanksgiving (I’m a holidays nut, you see)? Check to the 4th power!

5. Other slightly more miniscule day-to-day stuff I won’t bore you with but that’s time consuming nevertheless (but **sigh**, OK, some of which involved mooning over George Clooney’s endless Venetian nuptials)? Super industrial check!

6. Post on the the blog?

7. Finish the Books page?

8. Work on other LifeRing-related items?

9. Meditate, do yoga, and learn a lot of CBT?

10. And, oh yeah, lose 20 pounds?

As you can see, there were a few things important to me that I was not going to be able to give the time and attention I think they deserve. This blog is incredibly important to me for example, but so is my sanity, so some of the things normally toward the top of the list got bumped down in order to accommodate other things important to me, as well.

One can ask, did I simply have my priorities in order, or did the perfection monster get me again? Could be either, but most likely it’s a little of both – in which case, I still have work to do (I say after the 14th revision of the post).

Dear god, when will it ever end?!?!?! 😀

Life continues on it’s way, and there’s never going to be enough time for it all. But as long as I do what I have to do to take care of myself, I will take care of everything else in good time.

How about you, Dear Reader? How has overwhelm affected you, and how have you learned to handle it?