leave us kids alone

[note: this was originally sent as a micro-email in february but it seems like today is the right day to post it again. because i know you’re there. and you’re asking this exact question today. yes, i can see you through the screen.]

working on a new secret writing project. here’s a quote from today’s session:

I wish I could definitively answer, once and for all, the question: “can I drink after 100 days.” I’d like to have a button I can push that gives out a set answer.

But here’s the thing, every person who asks the question is a different person. You have a different bottom, a different situation, you have kids, or not, you have a supportive husband, or not – and every single solitary person (without fail) is asking me the question (again) because they are certain that their situation is different. And so yes, while it might be tempting for me to give the exact same answer, instead I give a tailored response, one person at a time. I’ve tried pointing you to an audio, or to something I’ve written before, but it’s not good enough.

You want to hear it directly from me.

And while you know the truth before I even begin, you want me to say it anyway. You want me to look into your eyes and say:

“Yes, I hear you, I know. Yes, our brains do say that moderation should be possible after a period of time off. Yes, while you are very special, you’re not this kind of special. You’re here, we’re talking, and so that means that you’re probably like me. Yes, I know you don’t want this to be true, and yes maybe you will toss away your sober momentum to figure it out yourself. I know that happens because we’re nothing if not stubborn and independent, you and me. And yes, people DO throw away their sobriety more often than they wish in retrospect. After you sit here in my chair for two years, you too will get this email so many times it will make you want to cry, literally, every single day: ‘I did the 100 day sober challenge, I started drinking again, it’s been 18 months, I can’t get a new day 1, why did I start drinking again?’

And your wolfie? He’ll hear that and say ‘that’s her, that’s not me.’

It is you. It’s me too. I know you don’t really want to hear this now so I’ll just say: continue on being sober after 100 days. Go to 180 days. The view is completely different from there. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, then wait. Sober momentum is hard to get.”

(And your wolfie will say “my sober momentum was EASY and that means that I could quit again if I want to.” And I’ll say “hey wolfie, leave this nice girl alone. She’s doing well, so don’t you dare tell her that because she’s doing well that she can drink. Leave us kids alone.”)


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Thank you thank you Sam41 and abbiegrrl for your insightful and sympathetic replies. Love the idea of indifference, Sam41. It gives me something to hold onto.

  • Had 2 years sober, decided I could moderate for my bachelorette party, and ended up drinking for the next 13 years! Right now I have almost 2 years sober again (yes, you WILL stop keeping exact count someady…) and realize how precious and fragile and wonderful this all is. When we are obsessed with alcohol, we are not living our lives, we are planning for the next drink. If you are reading this blog you probably know exactly what I mean…

  • My 1st time sober (day 15) and I’m struggling a bit with conflicting messages. From my voracious reading of sober blogs, I definitely see that moderation doesn’t work. I love the idea of a sober momentum. But I get frustrated with another line of thought I’ve read about — that those who quit drinking aren’t quitting “forever.” That u just get thru today, that u just give it one more week, one more month, etc. Clearly successful sober people avoid the idea that they are “never drinking again,” but that’s incorrect. It has to be never. It has to be or else we ruin the sober momentum. Can someone help me make peace with these two seemingly conflicting arguments? I don’t want to mess w/ my or anyone else’s sobriety, and if avoiding the “forever sober” label works for folks then it works. But it feels a bit like I’m lying to myself.

    • One of the ways our minds work against us (and there are SO many ways) is to distract us with the past (regret/resentment) and the future (fear). Recovery is in TODAY. I suspect it’s the wolf that tells you you’re lying to yourself. 🙂

    • Always and never are blanket statements where one feels designed to fail. If I say I will always go to the gym and I will never eat sugar again, when I slip up (which I will), I will feel like a failure and beat myself up. Better to say, today I will go to the gym and not eat sugar. That is attainable and manageable. The same goes for alcohol. To say I will never drink again is an overwhelming statement, like a death. I say, today I won’t drink. After a while, it is not a thought I think a lot but in the beginning, I thought about wine every minute of every hour of every day. But like an old lover who destroyed you, eventually it slips away till you don’t think about it much. If you one day spot it, you think, it hurts too much to go there, I will stay here – and you trust in the knowledge that shortly the feeling will fade away into the background. If it helps you, the opposite of always is not never, but indifference. I have a friend 5 years sober and she promises me that she truly does not care, she does not feel awkward, sad, mad, or crave it. She knows it does something to her brain that she can’t control and she prefers life this way. Until one gets to that point, we play tricks on ourselves by saying, one day, one day. It makes it a little easier to bear.

  • Moderation is not the answer for most of us. It definitely does not work for me. I tried so many times and so many times I failed. I signed up for 100 day challenge (on a waiting list now). If I can make it to 100 days, I think it would be a great start for me.

  • I did 100 days, then signed up for 180, and now on my way to 365!
    Each day I don’t drink gives me a day of peace.

  • Because I like the satisfaction of crossing things off, I’m taking my sobriety a chunk at a time. 100 to start, maybe 50 more and just keep going. After years of struggling with stopping, starting, and failed attempts at moderation, I’m done. Simply done drinking.
    So when Wolfie starts to talk to me, I will say” shut the fuck up.”

  • I am reaching 100 days next Tuesday! Yay me…and like everyone else I was trying to decide if I can drink in moderation. I started with I will only drink at the beach house….then I said ok and weekends….then I wondered is Sunday part of the weekend? I realized my drinking was out of control and I wasn’t drinking!!!! So I have signed up for another 80 days.
    Thank you Belle

  • Every once in a while I look at a lite beer and thing… “maybe I can have one” and then I tell realize that is Wolfie talking and I tell him to “GO THE FUCK AWAY.” I am not stopping my sober car from moving. I DO NOT want to have to start over a Day 1. That was hard. I LOVE how I feel and now I am starting to lose weight. Replacing all the sugar with protein and I feel MUCH better. Thank you Belle you have saved my life!!!!!

  • Great post! Maybe you could send it out monthly or quarterly. It spoke to me loudly and clearly today, which is so appreciated as I’m having a fairly easy time staying sober but Wolfie keeps quietly asking when I’m going to drink again. Sometimes Wolfie inhabits the body of a friend or family member saying those words.
    So I needed this and I will value my momentum and trust that my life is going to just keep getting better SOBER!

  • Yep! That is me…completed my 100 day challenge…over 2 years ago! Today, I am on day 4 AGAIN for the 400th time because that voice seems to convince me every time I have good momentum that “moderation” would work…well, it never does-really- because even if the actual drinking doesn’t get out of hand, the energy it takes to listen to and fight that nagging and constant voice always gets out of hand. I am committed and I am on vacation for the entire months of June-August!!!! Looking forward to experiencing all my amazing adventures and not planning on packing the annoying, bully, nagging, energy sucking leech of a voice…THAT will make my baggage much much lighter!!!!!

    • For me 10 years sober,6 years drinking 2 years sober, 2 years drinking, 1 year sober. I might be smart enough and not “that special” to realize where I go with moderation. My life is too precious and short to waste it on another go round with drinking

    • You hit the nail on the head for me! My drinking hasn’t been out of control either – but it is just what you said, the energy sucking leach of a voice doesn’t end. In committed to, halfway through 30 days for me – again.

  • After sitting in on treatment and meetings where many people have thrown away 9, 14, even 26 years of sobriety just to end up back ‘in the rooms’, I realize I’m not that special. I prefer to take their advice and not even try out having just one…..

  • This message is just what I needed today! The truth of it rings like a bell – a clear clarion call to stay sober, not the death knell that alcohol would signal for me.

  • I listened to the audio ‘post goal let down’.just yesterday at your suggestion. I am about a month away from one year and wolfie has been at me big time lately telling me how DIFFERENT I am.

    Really, I wish all of the rest of you lived next door to me in the apartment building in the photo.

    But, at least I have you cyber-neighbors. And I am very glad you can see me through the screen..

  • I am past the 100 day challenge and am not able to commit to the 180 day just yet. I have a vacation in july, That I will probably attempt to be moderate for then another one in august. I have steadily been losing weight and don’t want to ruin that.

    • you have had alcohol for plenty of vacations before. maybe this year you do some sober research – just for one summer – you do your vacations sober … then see how you feel september 1st.

    • I can so relate – I’ve got a big wedding at an all expenses included resort in July. And I’m going to want to drink, but I know better, at least part of me does. And I’m going to listen to that part, not Wolfie.
      So I signed up for 180 immediately after 100 knowing that I’d be pissed about not getting to drink at the wedding and a family reunion and several fun weekend get aways. Including this weekend.
      So I’m taking my alternate beverage, sour cherry juice, which gives me the idea of a glass of wine. And I’m staying true to my better choice.
      Today is Day 118 – and if I can do it – I know you can too!

  • What great timing as I just listened to an archived audio last night on same subject. I’m halfway to 100 now. Can’t imagine having to start over at this point. The encouragement of the nightly audios keeps me feeling so good about this decision! Thank you for reinforcing!