Category Archives: Essays

It’s All Fun and Games: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Hi friends. I almost hate writing this post, but I really can’t seem to help myself, so…let me begin by properly introducing myself:

Hi, I’m Bobbi, and I’m a complete and total buzzkill.

Wait – whaaa’?

That’s right. I’m a buzzkill – Bobbi Bummer Buzzkill, at your service. It seems that since I’ve become a “person in long-term recovery” (i.e. bboorrr-iiinnng), I’ve noticed with a combination of amusement and horror the ridiculous lengths to which we find new and dumber ways to perpetuate the drinking myth – that alcohol will take care of just about everything, and therefore should be in just about everything – in our culture. Which I then feel compelled to share with all of you.

I’m sure some of you may be thinking, “So what? Why do this?” To which I can only say, you’re right – who the hell do I think I am, coming down on people who can have their fun without me poo-pooing this and tsk-tsking that like I’m some kind of pseudo-In- Long-Term Recovery-Church Lady?

Well, for the record, I can ignore people and their drinking quite easily – do it all the time, actually, and hardly ever think much about it. People drink and have a good time, people get drunk and do fun/silly/stupid shit, people get drunk and kill themselves, people get drunk and kill other people –  it’s all just another day in the life in America.

But lately (OK, yesterday), throughout my time online I was peppered with several of these fun-coded messages of Ain’t This Great-ness, all involving alcohol, geared mostly toward women, all…day…long. At first I just went with the flow, but by the end of it my “Oh, dear god, you have GOT to be kidding me” meter had reached the saturation point, and now, well, I have to say something.

First was this cute, funny, very timely “IMomSoHard” video about what women of a certain age with an average body type/figure have to deal with come swimsuit season, and just how utterly ridiculous it can be. Allow me to say this: I really like it! I get a real kick out of these ladies and love where they’re coming from, ‘cuz, um, I can totally relate – and I’m not even a Mommy!

So I hate to complain, you know? I wonder, what would this video have looked like without the wine, though? I’m sure it would’ve been just as funny and just as good. It only makes a somewhat subtle appearance, like it’s just the perfect conversation piece to accompany the subject matter at hand – women having to put up with the outrageous expectations of what being a woman is in this day and age – and no doubt a prop to signify it’s just a part of the fun.

OK, I get that. Mommys gotta have their wine, fine, whatever.

But…were those mini bottles of booze I saw sitting on the red chair in the background during their posing sesh? Like, maybe this video was brought to us by Bacardi? No, no, it’s probably just those little sample bottles of perfume. Or mouthwash. Or something.

Then a little later on in the day I came across this Cosmopolitan Magazine post on Hip Sobriety’s Facebook page, and then the meter started really registering in little fits. The old-fashioned flask aside, this business of sneaking fermented beverages in somewhere with you on your person in such a manner isn’t really anything new, believe it or not. “The Beer Belly” and “The Wine Rack” came into vogue years ago, and as you can see on their pages they retail right along with several other such handy little items on Amazon.

How convenient! What hilarity! I mean, it’s only wine, fer chrissakes, not, like, vodka or something. I’m sure that Cosmo girl doesn’t have a problem or anything.

And I used to think that was a pretty ingenious idea, actually – but even when I was still drinking you couldn’t have paid me enough to try doing such a thing, at work or any place else. (Wait, does this mean I’ve always been Bbooorrr-iiinnng™?) Now it just seems desperate, cheap, and really, not all that funny.

Hip Sobriety’s eloquent words on the subject (Note: the post comes up but then directly links to Cosmo’s video – just X out of the video page and you should be able to read it) reminded me of – and stated much more effectively than I can – the reasons why this shit bothers me, so I’m most happy to see I’m not alone.

And last, but certainly not least, I came across the final insult of the day (on a website called “Thrillist”): Yes, Virginia, we have rum raisin ice cream – hold the raisin…

To which I can only ask, “Why is this needed?” To which I can only hear so many fun, urbane, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, young(-)ish ladies answering, “Why not? God, stop being such a stick in the mud!”

Oh, right, that. Sorry…

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P.S. For those of you wondering about, and still waiting for, Part 2 of my series “On Belief”, I’m still working on it, and will be publishing it in short order. Honest! 🙂

 

 

 

 

It’s All Fun and Games…Pour Votre Santé!

 

Well dear readers, what can I tell you? When it comes to our national obsession with making sure alcohol’s a part of everything we do, I think I may have finally seen it all. And I just…I just…I just…

Here, just read it: The Weird Intersection of Booze and Fitness Could Be Big Business For Both Sides (filed under “Wellness”, of course).

The fact that very few readers find anything wrong with this in their Comments is not a big surprise, although I do wonder what sorts of responses they might come up with if they were confronted with, say, studies that show drinking alcohol post-exercise doesn’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly (or, a peanut butter and chocolate protein shake. Or something). Clearly it won’t cause any of the participating gyms or booze-merchants looking for a great new way to make a buck (or their marks) to re-think it, so…

What’s next? Bar service at the ER? We all know what a long, boring, emotionally-wrought ordeal that can be. Better yet, how about offering patients a nice glass of heart-healthy vino in physicians’ waiting rooms? Along with the pharmaceutical representatives who hound doctors’ offices with free samples and goody bags, wine sellers and a discerning in-office concierge could make a such a difference in the stressful lives of patients and their physicians (not to mention their staffs).

Speaking of staffs, I’m reminded of a story a doctor I used to work for told me about finally establishing with Primary Care Physician after years of avoidance – doctors are notoriously derelict patients – who extolled the virtues of at least 3 -4 glasses of wine daily to him.  Suffice it to say, he found that a bit…excessive.

Even for your health!

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On Belief, Part I: The Reflex

 

Hey, everyone – how are you all doing out there? 

If you’re a new reader of our blog and I haven’t had the chance to greet you before, welcome! If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, welcome back! You may have also been wondering whether you’d ever see anything new from me again or if I’d abandoned ship completely…

Well…what can I tell you? You probably already know that I’ve been sucked into the LifeRing social media vortex for a while (say, have you Liked our Facebook page yet? Are you Following us on Twitter?), but what you don’t know is that I’ve had a few things I’ve been stewing over for a long time, the past in year in particular. In terms of wrangling my thoughts into something resembling a coherent fashion – which in my brain amounts to a 3 ring circus where anything that can go around in endless circles will – I’ve been concerned with trying to express myself in a way you won’t find snore-inducing, offensive, or just plain bizarre.

Until now, I’ve done a little writing about it here and there, I just haven’t published any of it. It’s delicate subject matter intensely personal to all of us, so much so that it’s not something very many of us enjoy having total strangers who know nothing about us, nor whom we know much about, challenge: our beliefs.

Let me put it to you this way…

Have you ever believed something beyond a shadow of a doubt – would have staked your life and the life of your Grandmother on it – only to find out it was just an illusion?

Before you say “No, never, not me!” bear in mind that you and I both know this hasn’t been an uncommon occurrence in the history of mankind. Some examples of it could be something as simple as (quick, cover your kid’s eyes!) finding out Santa Claus is only a fictional character to discovering someone you trusted implicitly has a lot of best interests in mind, but yours is not one of them.

Makes you feel like a damned fool, doesn’t it? Me, I hate not knowing things, just hate it. It makes me feel like something I found of value about myself – i.e. knowing things other people need to know but don’t off-hand, such as where the bathrooms are in Lowe’s (in an effort only to be helpful, of course, although in some circles this is known as being a “busybody” or a “know it all”) – suddenly went in the discount bin, without my permission. It’s an unsettling, discomforting betrayal of the sort that will set one back on their heels and make solid ground feel awful shaky for a while.

But. These things happen to the best of us, especially when the illusion is artfully constructed or portrayed, and by no means make us faulty characters beyond hope or redemption. We’re an imperfect lot, us homo sapiens, pitfall prone, warts and all – but by god, we know what we believe in, and why.

Simply put, belief is an essential component to the human experience. Belief in oneself or another, for example, can make all the difference in someone’s life when nothing else will. Belief in things greater than oneself – or lack thereof – can, too. It’s how we tell our stories – about ourselves, one another, where we come from, where we’re going, why things are the way they are, and why we are the way we are.

Belief allows us to form ideals and principles which help us to connect us to one another and the world around us. It instructs, informs, and imbues our reality with meaning and purpose. It can propel us forward into exploration and discovery of new worlds or keep us rooted in our many and rich histories and traditions. Belief helps us succeed, helps us fail, helps us help one another.

For all of these reasons and more, we need belief with which to frame our experience as much as anything else in our lives. Like most every other facet of human nature, however, it’s a double-edged sword which colors our perceptions while it adds or detracts, benefits or harms, progresses or digresses, shapes and distorts our experiences in ways both positive and negative – and very often, both at the same time.

Where it gets all dark and twisty, though, is when we accept something as true without being aware of any factual evidence or basis upon which to do so – and everyone does it in some way or another, whether we’re aware of it or not. Don’t we make decisions about what we believe is true about ourselves, other people, situations, or environments every day?

But it can get especially messy when we cart these beliefs around with us until they become unshakeable parts of our worldview – and of who we are in it – such that no one could pay us enough to believe anything else. Even more fraught with peril still is when a bunch of like-minded individuals get together. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. Sometimes, it’s a mob with torches and pitchforks.

Again, there is nothing uncommon about this quirk of human nature in our time here together on Earth, so far as I can tell.

Remember that time when almost everyone believed the Sun revolved around our flat Earth, even though Eratosthenes figured out it was round way back in 240 B.C., right up until those stinking heretics Copernicus and Galileo came along during the Renaissance and really screwed everything up?

Thank goodness for those pesky scientists, right? And yet…

Dig if you will the picture of “modern” medicine a little under a century and a half ago. Sure, we got by and everything, but did you know that doctors back then had no idea that they should wash their hands before, in between, and after caring for their patients to keep from spreading deadly infectious bacteria and viral matter from one to the other to the other (or, as was often the case, from the trusty educational cadaver to still-living patient)? And that even when Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a respected medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, discovered through observation and trial that was exactly the case, they still refused to change their practice?

Yeah, that’s right – his colleagues roundly criticized his silly little hand-washing idea, ignored him, and sent them both packing to the insane asylum he died in for reasons unthinkable today. Many of his fellows were incensed, for example, that anyone would dare suggest bacteria could be carried around on a gentleman’s hands. Really.

And then, having later found out his ideas were absolutely correct (which then gave birth to the study and proliferation of science at the cellular, microscopic levels, and ushered in the modern era of medicine, the universe, and practical living as we know it), you would think such a tragic chapter in human history would remain closed forever. Because after that. we would have learned our lesson and become hip to not ignoring shit at our peril, right?

Yeah, uh, hold up. Let us pause and reflect upon what we know now, and how such a simple little thing could have saved hundreds upon thousands of lives across the millennia if only we’d known about it – and then accepted the fundamental possibility of it instead of dismissing it because it did not conform to our previously held beliefs.

Mind-boggling, idn’t it?

Now, fast forward to our current age of enlightenment and reason. (Laying it on pretty thick there, aren’t I?) Does what eventually became known as the Semmelweiss reflex still figure anywhere in our thinking, culture, discourse – indeed, the very fibers of our being – to the extent it renders – yes – even reasonable, rational, thoughtful, intelligent, sentient beings into quivering blobs of dissonant, doubtful, ignorant, dismissive goo?

Why yes, yes it does.

And so, by now you may be asking, “Alright, fine, but what does all this belief business have to do with addiction and recovery?”

Everything.

 

If you like what you’ve read so far, I hope you’ll join me in the next month (or so) for On Belief, Part II: The Conundrum. 🙂

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Craig Whalley’s Success Story Featured On Eminent Potential!

a-lifering-success-story

 

Hey, everyone! Long time no see, huh?

Well, what can I tell you? I’ve gotten sucked into the all-things-Facebook vortex, that’s what. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we’re on Facebook, and guess who’s the “Page Manager”? (No, really. Guess! Haha) 

I’m not complaining, really – I’ve gained a boatload of fun and valuable skills in the process – but like the good little raccoon I am (ooooohhhh, look! Something shiny! **Toddles off to make whatever it may be my very own**), I tend to get a little…distracted. And, as such, you fine folks end up neglected.

And so, here I am, asking for both your forgiveness (pretty please?) and your renewed attention to the latest important thing in the LifeRing universe, and it’s this:

Eminent Potential, a new website focused on pairing people with recovery coaches open to multiple pathways – yay!, has featured our own Craig Whalley’s recovery story on their Success Stories page, and so  of course I want to share it with you!

Idn’t that thoughtful of me? Please click here to read Craig’s story.

On a personal note, I’d just like to say that if it weren’t for Craig getting sober – and starting up the LSR Safe e-mail group – I really have no idea where I’d be now. Maybe sober, but very likely not, and for that, he has my utmost respect, admiration, friendship, and love. Honestly, he has such a wealth of intelligence combined with staunch, and yet unusually gentle, supportiveness I started calling him “Yoda” after a while.

Anyway. Once again the blasted holidays (aka “Primary Excuses to Wreck Oneself If One Doesn’t First Check Oneself”) are coming up, so hold onto your lugnuts – it’s tiiiiiiiimmme for an overhaul!

See you again soon. 🙂

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An Invitation: Alternative Roads to Recovery Telesummit

Mosaic

 

Hey, everyone. How’s it going? I hope you’re all well, but however you are, I’m glad you’re here. Honestly, and not because I’m about to tout something (‘cuz…I am), but because if you’re here, then it means you’re a seeker, someone open, someone dedicated to finding what works for you, and not afraid to use it!

Perhaps LifeRing’s it, perhaps it’s not quite it but just one piece of your recovery program, perhaps it’s still a puzzle you’re trying to put together – and that’s not a bad thing.

There’s been lots of talk lately about “multiple pathways to recovery”, and it’s been music to my ears. This wasn’t necessarily the case when I got started on my own journey – in fact, it took some real digging through the labyrinthine interwebs just to find LifeRing. At the time it seemed if it was that difficult, then it must be a dubious source of sobriety support. I waded in cautiously, but even then something about it just…felt…right. So I dove in headfirst, and I’ve never looked back.

Now I consider all the other folks who found LifeRing and other means of support such as (just to name a few) S.O.S., SMART Recovery, or Rational Recovery way earlier than I did as sources of not just personal inspiration but a testament to something else, something far more important: They were, and are, pioneers in addiction recovery. Living, breathing examples that what they’ve done, walking whatever path they’ve chosen, works for them. The fact that their lives – and the lives of their families, friends, co-workers, and society in general – were and are improved for the better is reason enough alone to prove those paths legit, and that that’s all that really matters.

Somewhere along the line other folks,  both in and out of the greater recovery community, took notice and have come to the conclusion that this is OK to do. In fact, the concept has gotten so much attention and gained such unprecedented importance it’s now a movement, peopled by those deeply committed to saving as many lives as possible, who are open to the reality that people need all the help they can get, in any way that works for them.

One such person is a guy by the name of William White, a professional researcher with a Masters in Addiction Studies who’s worked in the addiction treatment and research fields since 1969 and was one of the first to get on board with the multiple pathways concept. (He’s also the author of a book some of you may have heard of – or even read – called “Slaying the Dragon – The History of Addiction and Recovery in America”.)

He also writes about all kinds of different things recovery-related on his blog, The William White Papers. In a recent post of his I found that he’s taken the concept even further, one that many of us have been living in our own recoveries for years now as well, and that’s of a recovery mosaic. A bright, colorful mishmash that’s not a “pathway” so much as as of little dabs of this and nice dollops of that, all melded together to create one beautiful, harmonious whole. It doesn’t necessarily mean just meetings or other mutual support aids anymore, either – it includes mindfulness practices, yoga, Buddhist teachings, hot wax therapies

OK, not the hot wax, but anyhoo, you get the idea. And so…if you’re looking for ways to create, or expand, your own mosaic/pathway, I’m most happy to let you know that LifeRing will be participating in a 5-day telesummit coming up on August 15 – 19th. Hosted by Recovery Life Management’s Beverly Sartain, it’s called “Alternative Roads to Recovery”, and along with us several other recovery groups/resources will participate, such as:

SMART
Online Recovery Communities
HAMS (Harm-reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support)
Intuition in Recovery
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Medication-assisted Treatment
Mentorship in Recovery
Mindfulness Based Recovery
Says Beverly (from the ARR website):
Alternative Roads To Recovery encourages men and women to find a recovery practice that works for them. Very often, that recovery practice is made up of many different systems and support. I’ll share my own journey with alternatives that had me celebrating 10 years of recovery this year with no relapses, EVER!

Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it? If you want to check it out, please have a gander at this link here: Alternative Roads to Recovery.

And if you attend, I’d love to hear how it went (and even if you don’t, I love hearing from you anyway)!

🙂 Bobbi C.

 

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