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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vacation? Break? Retirement?

I’ve been advised by my doctor to try to slow things down a bit. Immediately after the words left the doc’s lips, I told her I was planning the first ever live OARS workshop and meeting. “Ohhh…” she said… “Well… I want to support you in your endeavor to provide information to people involved in alcoholism, but would you at least consider taking a little break after the event?” I told her I would think about it. And I did think about it long and hard. And then I discussed it with my family. Here is the result of all that thinking and discussing.

For the past month I have not posted on the blog. I have not answered e-mails. I have only very marginally been active in the support groups. I have taken a break from all things alcoholism. The only exception is that I held the workshop event as planned.

I’m feeling refreshed, renewed, relaxed and can see how all the alcohol related activities have been sources of stress. I’m also feeling guilty. I’ve gone back over my (130+) e-mails and I’m concerned that I can’t address each one individually. I feel guilty because I did not respond to them in a timely manner. I’m going to try to respond to the running current theme of the messages on my next post. Hopefully, that can help several people at a time without each receiving an individual response.
In the OARS Family and Friends Group, I always stress the need for the family and friends to find a way to have a productive and satisfying life outside of the alcoholic chaos. Call it detachment if you want. I call it survival. The goal of the group should be that the member finds strength enough to stand on their own and be confident in their own decisions. The goal should be that they not NEED the group so much but are able to give their insight to others who are still in need.

Personally, helping others through the alcoholic maze has been a means of survival. I found strength in helping others survive. Doing research and posting the results, participating in OARS discussions, writing my own life journey (The Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife—available on Smashwords),reviewing books by new authors, and finding new means of reaching out, have all been a part of my route to survival. It has been expensive, not just financially, but emotionally and physically. Oh, there’s so much more I would like to do – but my financial, emotional and physical budgets seem to be running tight these days.
At first, when I agreed to this little vacation, I thought… so what am I supposed to do? Sit around and watch QVC and re-runs of Oprah? Get fatter from trying all the recipes on cooking shows? The idea of this did not make me happy. I couldn’t imagine not having anything to do. I promised my kids that I would take some time to see how retirement feels. I said I would “try it on for size.” So I would see it through to the best of my ability.

It took some effort on my part to focus only on the event and nothing else. When the event was not as big of a hit as I had hoped, I took it as a sign. I cleaned my office. I cleaned my bedroom. I took naps. I watched SpongeBob Square Pants the Movie nine million times with my great-grandson. I scanned family photos. I enjoyed watching the sunrise and began sleeping better. I realized that I didn’t NEED the alcohol related work as much as I thought I did. I discovered that I didn’t do it because I needed to but rather because I wanted to do it. However, I want to go zip-lining and hang-gliding, but know it is probably not something I should do.
I’m not retiring this blog. I’m still going to be posting here. I’m still going to try to address concerns of those who write to me. But things are changing. I will no longer be able to answer each and every e-mail. Instead, I will continuously offer the link for joining the OARS support group. (http://oarsffgroup.ning.com/?xgi=4R6sAeUek4uZ9X ) That’s my recommendation for being one of the  best sources of support for people involved in alcoholic insanity. But, you won’t find me there as often as I have been in the past. I will lurk… interject… just not so often.

One of my goals has been the formation of OARS as a non-profit organization. I’m no longer pursuing that goal. Instead I have (and will continue) to encourage the members to go forward with that project and make OARS non-profit a reality. I will be here to support and advice, but cannot take on the responsibility of such a long-term commitment. This endeavor needs someone who can commit to several years of getting it off the ground – someone younger and in better health than I. There are several people within the group who truly want this to happen and are willing to make sacrifices to see it happen, but they all have regular jobs and time limitations.
If anyone who reads this is interested in helping with sponsorship or mentoring or taking on the task – please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the people who are actively trying to make a go of keeping OARS going and turning it into something as big as we all think it can be.

I’m not sure about continuing with the workshops. I haven’t made that decision yet and unless I get another grant – I don’t have the money to do it up right.
I’m not retiring. I’m just taking a step back. I’m finding, or rediscovering, other uses of my time. I’m writing another book containing real-life stories of people who have walked in the shoes of loving an alcoholic. (If you have a story you want to share, please e-mail it to me.) I’m collaborating with two other family members to write my family history book. I’ve promised a family cookbook with my Mom’s recipes – time to make good on that promise.  I rediscovered my passion for writing when I began this blog. It’s time to use and expand that passion. It’s time to take my own advice.

Please contact me at immortalalcoholic@gmail.com if you can provide any of the following:

1)      Guest post for the blog with new information or insight;

2)      Help in making OARS a non-profit organization;

3)      Have a story you would like to see in my next book (all stories are identity-protected);

4)      Suggest a topic for a blog posting.

Thank you for being my faithful readers. Thank you for providing me support and encouragement. Thank you.


Mustang Sally said...

Good for you Linda.Life is too short to take on so much. Your group has been a huge help to me. Thank YOU.

Anonymous said...

I admire and respect your choices. I found myself swimming in all matters relating to alcoholism that I didn't realise it was drowning me. Being exposed to alcoholism doesn't mean it has to define you or your life, it is an individual journey - sometimes the strategy that helped yesterday, doesn't serve you well today. The gift is to try and be open to everything and not get tied down through guilt or obligation. All the best Linda :)Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,
I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks and am so thankful that I found it. I have been married to my belligerent alcoholic husband for fifteen years and seriously thinking about getting divorced. Reading your blog and all the comments from others is helping me to come to the right decision--I think. Someone suggested I go to alanon meetings, but I prefer reading your blog. For me, your blog is a greater help than most alanon meetings I have attended. You are a good person who is honest and genuine, and it shows in your writing. You're not trying to pretend to be Mother Theresa or the woman from the movie Misery. You are a woman who is trying to care for a husband who you thought would die shortly after you took on the role as his caretaker, but to your surprise he kept on going. Well as you found out through your blog readers this is very common. I too have wondered how my alcoholic husband has lived this far after pouring a zillion gallons of alcohol down his throat. I know it's not all about the military benefits, but I do believe that you did want to protect your daughter, especially since you tragically lost your son. I wish you well and I thank you again for sharing your life with all. You are brave and I admire that.

Anonymous said...

Yes Linda! I have read your blog and walked in your footsteps. My alcoholic is in jail this summer (and fall).... So I agree, take some time for yourself, step back, see what happens, que sera, sera... Just keep this place open for all of us out here.... I give you hugs and love

Anonymous said...

I have never posted to a blog of any kind, ever. Being new to this, all I can say right now is that I feel that stumbling across this site was not a coincidence. I don't know how much or what to share, and even now I am starting to cry because I honestly have no-one I can talk to about my situation. It's like it's "our dirty little secret".

Robert said...

It is so important to recognize when work trying to help others is actually hurting yourself. It's easy to feel guilty and like you're letting others down, but you must realize that you are the most important person in your life. You have to take care of yourself first and there is no shame in that at all!

John Burns said...

Linda, glad you were able to relax during your break. Taking a step back from all things alcoholism can certainly provide perspective, and clear your mind. Good luck with everything.

Gina said...

Linda, I wish the very best for you and so want to say thank you much for setting up this blog. Like one of the other commenters said, I don't think it's an accident that I found your blog. I am so grateful for it and that you have shared your life with us. Thank you for sharing and enjoy having time for yourself. -Gina

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda, I love the way you write - your searing honesty is sometimes difficult to read but all the more powerful for that. What you have achieved is remarkable and I wish you all the best for the future.I am in the rare position of being married to a recovering alcoholic who has been dry for 25 years. One may think that the pure longevity of that would cancel out the nightmare of his drinking but it does not. Ok so we don't have the end stage drinking that you and so many other people have had to endure but seeing my husband dammed nearly kill himself through drinking, soiling himself and screaming in fear at his alcohol induced demons, losing the ability to see, hear, reason, begging to let go, multiple suicide attempts I could go on and on, but you know the script. Why did he pull back from this? I really don't know. He saw his father do the same, he saw what it did to his family. I just count myself very lucky and no I am not being smug. His alcohol abuse rendered him infertile so we couldn't have children. I guess that hurts more than anything. I just wanted to say that no matter how hopeless things appear there is always a road back, be it with your immortal alkie or without them. We have a great relationship now - not perfect but with love. I would like to know how Riley is though.


Great story thank you, its given me hope, came across another site filled with Hope and recovery that your readers might like, its called Soberbook.com.
It's a place where people can share their stories anonymously

Grant said...

Great post. I find helping others is the best way to remain grounded and mainly sober. Thankfully im at the age when my life is speeding up. The way I look at it - enjoy what you do and if you dont change it! Thanks

rehab said...

Hi Linda

Just wanted to say that, as a volunteer at a rehabilitation centre in South Africa, I really admire your courage and respect you. We deal with many recovering alcoholics and their families. I will be sharing some of your thoughts with them. Glad you had a well deserved break.

Anonymous said...

Thank God I found your site. I just recently got married to my wonderful fiance and then moved in with him. I am now in a city unemployed and just realized just how bad his drinking really was. I knew he drank but didn't realize the extent of it. I found myself lonely and depressed, until I stumbled upon your website. Thank you I am learning to cope and I realize I am not alone. Good luck with all that you do. We all need time to take breaks for ourselves.

Gary said...

Are you ever gonna post on the blog again or have you retired from that too??

Scott McKinney said...

It’s good to hear about your endeavor to save others from becoming alcoholics. It is something that quite hard to control, especially if it began in their teens. But I think it’s okay to take a break once in a while, you still have yourself to take care of. Anyway, regardless if you’re physically present or otherwise, your goal will continue as long as there are others who want to reach out to those who suffer from it, and share their experiences on dealing with it. Take care!

Scott McKinney