Monthly Archives: October 2015

Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnson : A Review 

Ann Dowsett Johnston is a Canadian journalist and lecturer. Successful, erudite and now sober. She has just released a book exploring the nature of the relationship women have with alcohol. It’s a kaleidoscopic creation of intimate conversations, personal diary extracts and interviews with medical experts.

It works very well.

What I love about this book is how gentle an approach she takes to such a sensitive subject. Ann gives details about her own journey to overcoming alcoholism, but at no time lectures the reader on their own drinking habits. She produces frank statistics regarding the medical and social ramifications of binge drinking, yet does so without blinding us with technical jargon. Ann also takes the opportunity to delve into the unexplored frontiers of social networking and the alcohol–related dangers it exposes our younger generations to.

Ann questions female recovering alcoholics in the US, Canada and Europe. She features answers from very successful women, which makes a surprising change from the focus demographic of most writers in this field, who usually favour women in recovery from more challenging socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a valuable addition to the book. It gives the idea of hope, of a life beyond mere survival in sobriety.

There’s always a danger that any female journalist writing about their relationship with alcohol is going to end up with an approximation of Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story. And whilst Ann does give credit to Caroline’s masterpiece, in no way does she try and replicate it. If anything it is a welcome extension, picking up the baton where Caroline left off and carrying it into the 21st century, tackling all of the issues that were not relevant in Caroline’s day.

This book sucks you in, gets you emotionally involved. I found myself crying at Ann’s blisteringly honest account of her own mother’s alcoholism, shouting at her for refusing to let go of an ex who treated her very shoddily and championing her many achievements in sobriety. She is an incredibly good, visible example of a life after alcohol. I enjoyed her journey so far immensely.

I don’t think Ann is done with this subject. Medically and politically there is still so much for her to explore. Pastorally the number of women who want to share their story and heal with her can only grow as public awareness of her book grows. And personally I would love to see her reach beyond her contentment and spiritual peace with sobriety. To soar into the unmitigated excitement and passion that is awaiting her just around the corner from peace and acceptance.

Drink is an essential tool in every woman’s arsenal of recovery. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

(Drink is available online and in book shops, it is published by http://www.4thestate.co.uk )

Recovery is Recovery is Recovery 

Sometimes when I cannot sleep at night, I imagine going back to talk to myself at different moments of my life. Going back to teenage me, taking that first drink out of her hands before it touches her lips, telling her she must never touch that stuff, no matter what. Picturing what life would have been like if I’d listened.

Or the me that lay dying on my bathroom floor, terrified, alone, utterly confused by how life can change so quickly. Telling her it will be fine, not yet, but soon. Just to hang on.

Skipping past the bed bound me, the wheelchair me even, Going straight to the shell of a person that was trying so desperately to navigate a world she had been isolated from for so many years. Telling her one day she would be able to walk without concentrating on every step, That she would be able to stand tall, look someone in the eye, laugh even, hold a conversation again. Make friends, love, and be loved. That it was all on its way.
I’ve had so many recoveries. It’s been my life so it always felt normal to me, but I know it’s not. I’ve started over and over and over again. Every time from nothing. Scratch. Square one.

I recovered from alcoholism when I was able to stop drinking. Finally. I recovered from being disabled when I was able to maintain walking again. Consistently. I recovered from the years of isolation when I was able to live back in the world again. Joyfully.

So many recoveries. All totally different. Addiction is nothing like being disabled. Truly, it’s not. I only know that because I’ve done both. Physical bodily recovery is nothing like putting together the shattered remnants of your confidence, in yourself and those around you mentally. Not even a bit similar. Yet all three felt the same in their conclusion. Finished, Done. Over. Leaving nothing behind but total elation as a reminder they had ever happened at all.

My life could never have been the satisfying, exciting, ecstatic experience it is for me now everyday, had I not experienced recovery-full, lasting, permanent recovery from all three. Three totally different scenarios. None of which there is ever supposed to be lasting recovery from. Not one.

Daily I am told to expect relapse from any and all of the above. Daily there is someone who informs me that it cannot last forever. Daily I know the truth of it.
That I’ll always be fine.

Recovery is Recovery, is Recovery.

It’s all the same, maintaining sobriety, staying physically recovered. Feeling emotionally invulnerable to relapse in any form. And when its achieved, suddenly the past just becomes a massive springboard to catapult us from a life we were existing through, to a life that defies description in it’s wonder and beauty.

Sometimes when I cannot sleep at night, I imagine going back to talk to myself at different moments of my life. But I can’t. So instead I tell myself my truth, Even when it’s hard to speak my heart and do justice to the blessings I feel every single moment of every day. I feel my truth.

Recovery is Recovery, is Recovery.

It is all the same at the end.
It is all achievable. So really the sooner we take the labels off what it is we are recovering from. The faster we all come together and just Be The Recovery as a unit. The quicker we will all get there. Get happier. Get stronger. Get our lives back. Stop trying to achieve in splinter groups or in isolation what we could all be doing in public, together. 
Because all recovery is the same. Maintaining the recovery is identical. And there’s no way I would ever have figured that out, had I not spent so much of my life doing it. Over and over and over again.

I tell myself this. 
Then I wait for the sun to come up and show me the miracles the next day will bring…