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Tag Archives: keepers

Recovery Is a Process

By Ron C.

The state of recovery isn’t an end state of not using … it is a process of sobriety, relapse, success, failure, joy and pain… and a lot of work

If we could all realize that we are addicts and that not using was the answer … and could do that … this list and recovery programs wouldn’t exist.

When I realized that I was alcoholic and must become abstinent … that was the beginning of my discovery of why I used, when I used, what kept me from stopping before and what was preventing me from maintaining sobriety now.

The denial part is: if you don’t see recovery as a process … you are in denial of the difficulty and work that is required … you will self blame and other blame rather than slipping and then immediately getting back to the work of figuring out how the hell that happened so that it won’t happen that way again.

Laying the Past to Rest

By Pippa M.

This evening my husband and I came home from 3 days in the north of the country on a game farm. It was a strange thing, being there, not 100 km from where I spent most of my childhood, riding through the Kalahari bush that I had not seen in nearly 30 years, all the almost forgotten birds and the animals.

Some weeks before I left I had been feeling very despondent about my capacity to beat this addiction thing. In the drive from Johannesburg airport to the northwestern border of the country, so many memories came flooding back. Riding past my now dead brother’s old property. Seeing all the acacias, all the grass.  All of it was almost too painful to bear. I decided that I would never make this struggle, it was going to defeat me for sure, I do not have it in me.

We spent many hours in the early morning and evenings, riding around in an open Land Rover with a game ranger. Many times I thought how nice it would be for you all to see real Africa this way. So many animals for whom life is just the now. No searching for some greater meaning, more understanding, more sanity. Just the now. Where living and dying has nothing to do with choice. Where each creature has its place in the food chain. One morning we came across a pack of seven wild dogs. These one doesn’t often see. They were on a hunt, circling, scheming, trying to find a young buck or other prey. We followed them some three hours, until we lost them. I wasn’t sad we hadn’t seen them find their meal, since they often start eating the animal before they have even killed it. It is so hard to face how cruel nature really is.

But there were many other things also. A huge herd of elephant, and us being mock charged by the matriarch. A mum black rhino not ten metres away, her young calf suckling. Giraffe, impala, springbuck, kudo, gemsbuck, eland, wildebeest, a civet.  Saw no big cats though. Warthogs romping in the water hole just outside our cabin. A bateleur eagle with its vivid plumage. Many many birds.

None of this is going to help any of you with your addictions, but it might help me. Reclaiming the past, perhaps, and laying it properly to rest. I didn’t even smoke the weekend, and when the peach brandy came out, which is lethal stuff and right up my addiction alley (a bit like tequila) I wasn’t even tempted to smell it.

So I survived for now. I don’t think my train of thought makes a whole lot of sense tonight, and I hope you’ll forgive the irrelevant content.

Thanks for being in it together.

My Sobriety is a Treasure

By Lisa P.

Well, who said the exhilaration was going to wear off? I still get a particular thrill out of being sober. I heard something about “rose colored glasses” and similar nonsense at AA meetings. When it didn’t wear off for me, people in my aftercare class did their standard — told me I was in denial. Sad, silly people. I believe some people spend too much time wallowing in their despair at giving up alcohol to take advantage of having a new outlook & lease on life.

I am driven forward by the changes I notice. This is what keeps me going, and promotes the continued “exhilaration.” Small things, but I notice. And I take the time to notice. Like my skin looks so much better. My hands don’t shake. I actually have friends and even better, can make plans with them and actually show up! Looking for these changes is like watching your hair grow — it is so slight and infinitesimal, that you could stare in the mirror all day and see nothing. But as time racks up, you can look back and see all of the encouraging changes to your life.

I crave the very “ordinariness” of life now. Not having the additional woes created by myself after a day-turns-into-night of drinking. Having things run “somewhat” smoothly, or at least more smoothly then they ever, ever did when I was drinking. I have learned that life is actually “easier” sober.

It’s the little stuff that still, to this day, impresses me. I buy cheap cut flowers from the street vendor every Friday (money saved from not drinking — wait until you see how this adds up if you want a little exhilaration!) and take them home. It makes me happy. And reminds me how much a treasure my sobriety is.

Exulting in That Feeling

By Kate M.

Liz wrote:  I have just read two emails in a row that mentioned the exhilaration of the early days of not drinking. That’s where I am now, and am very disappointed that it will wear off.  Kind of like a new love, I guess….  The exhilaration is what’s keeping me in there fighting right now.

Actually a lot of it’s come back now.  It never wore off as such, I just forgot what it was that was producing it every day at first. It didn’t come from nowhere, that feeling — it wasn’t random. It was there every day at the start because I had clearly in my mind the difference between my daily life as a nondrinker and my daily life as a drinker — I couldn’t forget that, it was at the front of my mind back then.

I guess I’ve just let thinking about the difference slide, and taken it all for granted a bit… as I said in my second mail, investing a bit of time in actively remembering why I stopped and the many downsides of drinking have made a world of difference. I’ve caught myself once again walking round my flat thinking “Isn’t this great!! I’m walking round feeling totally well and clearheaded and sober!!” and exulting in that feeling.

It’s important for me to remember what produces that feeling of exhilaration. I find right now that every word I wrote down about how I felt ten or eleven months ago when I stopped is invaluable in reminding me of things that have got a bit vague and blurred with time, even though a bit of hard thinking also brings them back.

Posted April 26, 1999

Onionism: the Disease


It is interesting, I have found, that my eyes don’t tear as much when I don’t chop onions.

Some might say that I have a not so rare disease that is always there and manifests itself when the onions appear on the cutting board.


If I stay away from the onions, it doesn’t seem to matter whether I have onionism.