Alcoholism and shame

Old 08-30-2016, 01:39 PM
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Alcoholism and shame

At a doctor's appointment this afternoon, for something unrelated- a skin condition- forms to be filled out included very personal questions including alcohol intake, and even past alcohol intake. Now this saddened me and reminded me that I will never be able to part with this label no matter my sober time. And then I got to thinking about shame and whether or not it outlives it' use as a motivating factor for change. Must we always hang our heads? Is this a lifetime of judgement, no matter being recovered?

Are we supposed to be ashamed for life? Thoughts on reconciling your addict self and your current self, your intoxicated self and your present self?

How will we feel having this label for a life time?

Driving past a beach the other day with a friend, we saw people of all kinds of bodies playing and swimming. Some large, some young, some thin some old. I thought, "Well good for them, I wish I'd enjoy myself without fear of public humiliation or someone criticizing me". My friend however looked and said "They have NO shame". To me being shameless was a good thing. Shame twists you, encourages self loathing, prevents you from being your best self. I don't think anything good was ever founded on shame. But then my friend's comment really sunk in. Is there some kind of respect in being always self conscious of our imperfections, others will respect us more if we are noticeably uncomfortable with ourselves, if we are reserved and unhappy?

I figure we have one life, one. One chance to be free, be happy. Why are others so determined to deter this?
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Old 08-30-2016, 02:57 PM
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I think alcohol once saved my life, then it turned on me.

I am grateful to be sober and grateful I had alcohol at one point in my life.

Today, I just live in the moment, feel it, move on....

(it works for me)
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Old 08-30-2016, 03:22 PM
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I am pretty darn proud of being in recovery because I'm in a very exclusive club and if anyone professional or private wants to know about my past all they have to do is ask. I'm simply not that person anymore and few can say that they completely changed their lives with all of the change being in a positive direction. I still have lots of problems but I'm working on them to the best of my abilities and no one can expect more. I answer to God and myself so what others think of me is none of my business..

I cringe when I think of the past but the past is the past. It will always be there but I choose to live in the day.
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Old 08-30-2016, 04:02 PM
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no one but you is trying to" deter this."
doctors need to know alcohol consumption in the event medications are necessary.

I think part of the reason I have no shame in being an alcoholic is because im in recovery.
hanging my head in shame is a choice- something I did when I was a practicing alcoholic/addict.

I choose not to.

ive been to many,many,many different specialists and doctors in the 11 years ive been sober- more than I was the previous 37 years of my life. I have been asked many,many, many times about past and present alcohol and drug use.
I haven't had any shame once for saying yes, I used to drink and have been sober xxx years.
that's what RECOVERY does.
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Old 08-30-2016, 04:27 PM
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Doctors really need to know these things Sleepie.

There's no punitive aspect to it - they need to know about my addictive past as much as they need to know I had my tonsils out at 3, I had chicken pox at 10, all the falls and fractures I've had, even the ones 45 years ago, I smoked like a chimney for 15 years, and the fact I once swallowed a guitar pick (ok maybe not that one...)

I'm sorry if this makes you ashamed - but that's something you can work on.

I really believe shame is engendered within us - certainly other people can sometimes make us ashamed but it's up to us whether we own that shame or not.

I've lived a good life since getting sober, I've helped a lot of people and I've really made the most of every day.

I've made amends where I could for past behaviour.

I'm so much more than my addictions and I truly believe you are too sleepie.

I think shame about our pasts belongs in our past.

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Old 08-30-2016, 04:54 PM
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I too felt overwhelming shame when I first got sober. But the longer I stayed sober, the less shame I felt.

Do your level best and love yourself. The shame won't last forever.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:06 PM
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I live in "the worst run state in the US." This is not opinion. It is a fact. I'm fortunate to have any healthcare, being on Medicaid, but the few HC people who will still see us haven't been paid in a year. They are sick of it and sick of us patients. We go to the equivalent of "Third World Clinics," we suffer profiling and labeling because it is easier to do this than to work with the "extra baggage" poverty brings, and we are expendable. This means if we disagree with a Dr. or even call too many times we will be terminated.
If you admit to a drinking problem, even if it is comparatively brief, you will be labeled. Your history will follow you, and most often you will be turned down by future HC people because they will not believe that you are no longer drinking. The HIPPA Act is merely an agreement to let HC people dispense your personal information as they please and our Patient's Bill of Rights is ignored.
So yes, I am expected to be "ashamed". When I try to advocate for myself I am terminated. If I am articulate and ask questions I will also be dismissed. As a woman who chose not to marry or have children I am especially viewed as not even having contributed to that. Folks like to claim that they are in control of their lives and destinies. But we all have to answer to someone.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:18 PM
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I'd also like to add that I find your questions intriguing and thought provoking, sleepie. If we are not willing to venture out of our comfort zones, if we are afraid to consider the contradictions that support intolerance and conformity, then I don't see how we can really be free.
And I sincerely hope that no one considers this medical advice or a personal attack of any kind.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:47 PM
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Hi Sleepie,

I think we all have the tendency to be critical of ourselves. Something I have tried to focus on as part of my recovery is being kind to myself, and celebrating the positives. Rather than thinking "I drank for ... Years and did..." I think "I have been sober for 8 months and I am so much healthier both mentally and physically."

I am proud of the changes I have made in my life, and I have learned from my past, and it has helped make me the person I am today.

Try thinking of some of the traits you love about yourself, make a list and keep them in your wallet. Also, try reading/posting in the gratitude thread. It can put a positive spin on how you are feeling.

❤️ Delilah
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:12 PM
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Hi - everyone I know and everywhere I still go, knew me as a falling down, foolish drunken woman. That was a little over seven months ago. Now I walk sober, with my head held high. I must do this for not only my loved ones, but really mostly for myself. At times, a tear will run down my face. I can not walk in shame anymore, since it serves no purpose. Some folks still talk about me, behind my back. Some folks are rooting for me and I feel their smiles. The latter is what helps so very much.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:15 PM
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On a daily basis, people posting on SR are encouraged to seek the care of a physician (or nurse practitioner or other health care professional) because of the multiple health and safety issues involved in alcoholism, addiction, getting sober and living in recovery.

Many -- perhaps most -- of them are new to SR. It's important for them to know that state and federal law falls on the side of their confidentiality and privacy. Our health is important and I'd not want fellow SRers, particularly those new to our community, to think that health care providers can play recklessly or loosely with our confidential health information. They cannot. In my previous work -- where I spent many years before entering a new sector a few years ago -- I was deeply immersed in the implementation of the HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), in addition to state laws governing patient confidentiality. It is too big an issue to explain here but you can learn more here:

Health Information Privacy |

The upshot: If you need care from a health care professional, get it.

Regarding shame and stigmas: No one *loves* being someone who has had alcoholism and/or addiction in their lives. I've recently had some "stuff" that necessitated help beyond the usual clinical care. Being up front about my past helps me help my doctor take the best care of me that's possible. The way I look at it, it's much like how it's important for her to know that I'm allergic to penicillin. (Just like Dee said.)

And while it's not fun to share this part of our lives with anyone, including a nurse or physician, bear in mind that they're people who went into their chosen fields out of a desire to help. When I told my new doctor I've been sober for three years, she didn't look down on me.

She high-fived me.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:16 PM
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Good job, Grace! Keep walking with your head held high. You earned it!
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:17 PM
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I am usually a confident person. I noticed as I sank deeper and deeper into acholism I lost much of my confidence in my abilities as well as me as a person. I only have a short time sober but feel the confidence returning. I am very proud of each sober day. i really hope you feel better
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:37 PM
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Guilt is about the event, shame is the story we tell about the event.
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Old 08-30-2016, 07:53 PM
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I agree with most thoughts here regarding this... But US health care really is a beast, and with insurance and all... It's not easy. Doctors have been known to shame and frighten people here in he states too, if only to sell a prescription medication. One would like to think doctors are all ethical and kind, but they are not always, not in the US. I have had my share of both, and as for women's health care... Wow. It can make your head spin.
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:06 PM
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Hi sleepie!
Have you read any Brene Brown? I really like her stuff on shame and being our authentic selves.
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:18 PM
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Will look into it kitty thanks!
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:29 PM
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Sleepie, you are a hero.

I see folks behaving poorly when I'm out and about almost every day. I bet you do too. How many of these do you predict will look in the mirror, admit the way they are living is not working, commit to change and then FOLLOW THROUGH?


Hold your head up high. Quit shame like a bad habit.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:12 AM
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Good questions, Sleeps. I still feel shame about my drinking. It's less than before, but it's still there and pretty powerful.

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Old 08-31-2016, 12:32 AM
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Thanks guys, I hope that the fact we all quit our love affair with drinking will be regarded with some small measure of respect? Not everyone does it. I am fortunate that my GP is really non judgemental and very encouraging of my task. They have known me for years.

But women's health... layers and layers of judgement! They don't always hide it. I am very lucky in my town we have an excellent and progressive clinic. But before I discovered it... ugh.
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