there is no waiting to feel like it

for me, it’s about doing something—not waiting for the feelings to shift. sometimes i have to put jumper cables on the battery. Sometimes i have to push the car down a slight incline and pop the clutch. there is no waiting to feel like it. the car does not start with willpower. the car does not start with you saying “this is my day 1, i’m quitting drinking today.” the car starts with you doing something. (“oh but i am doing something, i’m SAYING that i’m starting, that’s something.” and i say: and if you restart, then you know that saying “this is day 1” isn’t enough of a push so you—wait for it—do something else. to start the car.)

there is no waiting to feel like it. there is no click (“i’m waiting for something to click.”) this waiting? life is sifting and sorting and shifting and moving. and you’re standing there saying “i just have to feel like it. i have my own little rules, belle, i have to have the first of the month, or the moon spots, or after the vacation. i have to feel like it, belle. well yes, i HAVE been standing here for years as my life sifts and sorts and moves by, but belle i’ve been waiting to feel like it. yes, i’ve been waiting for a while, but that means i must be close, right? like if i wait to feel like it just a bit more, then the car will fucking start by itself because i WILL it to do so. no? you mean i have to put gas in the car, put the key in the ignition, get driving lessons, change the oil, check the tire pressure, put my hands on the wheel, slow down in snowstorms, tune into a better station on the radio? well belle, that sounds like too much effort, i’d rather stand here and will that fucking car to start. i’d rather not bother learning to drive a car, so many things to consider. what? a car can take me places? places that i can’t even see now, yet, at all? smacks of effort, belle. if sobriety is like a little car, then it sounds like driving is taking on too much.”

said no one, ever.

because you do, in fact, drive a car, think nothing of it, do what needs to be done, learn the things you need to learn, do the maintenance, because you LIKE the trade-off. you LIKE what the car can do for you. where it can take you. where does your sober car take you?

there is no waiting to feel like being sober. there is no click. there’s a numbing and a progressive giving-up-ness. the way to feel better is to stop pouring the booze on your head. NO SHIT it’s overwhelming and hard: you’re bathing in “can’t give a shit” liquid. you’re looking for a click to quit drinking in a bottle of anaesthetic.

really.

you hand over choice, coherency, balance and sense-making. you wait to feel like it? the booze has dulled the switch, the electricity barely flowing. and when you’re in that state of darkness, your poor brain will tell you that the only thing that makes sense is to drink more. and so you do.

(except you’re here, reading this, so i know something that you don’t.)

so you do, you drink more. until you hear this:  there is no waiting to feel like it. there is just beginning. the feeling like it comes later. the mood changes after the action. you can stop waiting now. if you were waiting for a click, here it is.

click.

Belle

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

  • Oh my word yes!! A car can take me places but I mUst use’due diligence” in learning to drive the car. And from someone who has driven a car and knows how to navigate. Thanks Belles LJC

  • I too love the car analogy. I grew up in the prairies where you started driving whatever you could get your hands on – as soon as you could get your hands on it – bikes, snowmobiles, tractors, old beat up cars, whatever. I do feel like I am on a journey and I have to make sure my car is road worthy. Day 35… I’m on a road trip, the music is playing loud, singing along, wind in my hair – adventures in my sight. Thanks Belle.

      • Oh yeah! The Hip – was so lucky to go to their show here in Ottawa… don’t want to say the “last” show! Truck stop club and black coffee – here I come! xo

  • I am on Day 25. I had no intention of finding out about this blog. I had no intention of taking a 100 day challenge, nor did I think it was possible to excise wine from my life and feel SO MUCH BETTER AND STRONGER in less than 25 days. But I stumbled on the blog, saw the challenge, it resonated and I jumped, albeit with skepticism and fear. I did not tell my husband I was taking the challenge until Day 4. Then I started telling everyone.

    I listen to podcasts, one minute messages, read posts, read the book AND employ multiple additional tools every day (working out 1-2 hours at night plus replacement drinks (Kombucha)), and give myself treats liberally. 2-3 brownie bite cubes? Count me in. A fresh orchid in a new pot? Absolutely. Baths with scented stuff and listening to podcasts. Hell yeah. Sometimes I don’t wait for two days for a treat and I have multiple treats a day. I don’t care because I just want to feel better, which I am.

    In fact and truth be told, I envision myself beating the shit out of Wolfie, not just telling him to shut up. I’m like Trinity from the Matrix dodging the Wolfie bullets in 3D and kicking the shit out of that fucker. As Leslie Jones says “Slay All Day!” and I am slaying that Wolfie.

    By the way Belle, GREAT idea to give it a name and objectify that voice into something we can fight, instead of fighting ourselves. Have we all talked recently about how brilliant, brave and inspiring Belle is and all of you out there are? Seriously, you people blow me away. Thank you for every word you have taken the time to write on this blog because I have read them and they were words that I held on to for dear life.

    For those who are struggling, POUR ON THE TOOLS FROM THE SOBER TOOLBOX. Do not be spare with those things. Yes I’ll take a bath. No I won’t pick up the dog poop. Yes I will sleep in. Yes I will eat macaroni & cheese every night. Fuck you you fucking asshole wolf. Get the fuck out of my house! Wait, come here and let me kick you in the ass with my cowboy boots on. What are still doing here because I told you to get the fuck out!

    And guess what, after the listening, bathing, eating, visualizing, working out, slathering on smell good stuff and the replacement drinks, he leaves. And I try to make sure that he is humiliated in the process because that makes me feel good. Then I wake up with a clear head and my dignity in tact. And I smile because I fought the wolf and won one more day. I say girl you fucked him up. Bet you can’t wait to take him down tonight. By the way, your swings and kicks are getting stronger and stronger — I like what I’m seeing because you are fierce.

  • An extremely powerful and kickass post. this really cuts through the bullshit. I will keep this one at hand to reread in times of weakness. This is the post I would show someone who is starting to worry about their drinking. Tough, goofy, SMART – but above all, powerful. Thank you for this, Belle.

  • My sober car started with a tank full of willingness … willingness to surrender the emotional misery which was/is the consequence of my drinking. My willingness came from asking for it, from whatever you believe or don’t believe in, if your sober car is sputtering, stalled out … give it a try. Ask for willingness to take sober action … from whatever source you trust. I “hear” many peeps on this site using Belle as their “power”. I love you Belle, I appreciate your diligence to giving to ME and others seeking sobriety, but you’re not powerful enough to keep me sober, tho you help a lot … my willlingness, my sober car runs from a fuel supplied by a power greater than myself, a BIG POWER.

  • Wow – glad to read this useful blog and those who reply. More than 30 years after stopping drinking, I still get demonic thoughts to go back to it in today’s booze-obsessed society. So I turned down volunteering for our group’s art show when they wanted me to serve wine (“that’s the only way people will come); I didn’t take the San Diego group hike that ended at the microbrewery; I didn’t go to the local yoga studio wine & yoga opening; I didn’t go to my friend’s huge reunion celebrating with margaritas & tequila shots … it feels like all social activities I want to do involve alcohol. Not a good place for me to be. So I’m alone a lot. I just found this blog, and it’s good to know others who are sober are out there struggling to find an enriched social life that doesn’t include drinking. I hope someday I meet others near me who love life sober and don’t push AA because it’s getting lonely only socializing with others while dog walking.

  • This morning marks the start of day 6 for me. Here is an excerpt of the email I wrote my sober-for-three-years friend while drinking my coffee this morn…

    “I want to get healthier, and to feel good (mind, body, soul), and I don’t want ANYTHING to consume so much of my life/time/attention/energy/earnings… I want balance. I am happy and mostly productive and doing awesome in school. My kid is happy, healthy and well-adjusted, my relationship is wonderful, and I feel grateful for how far I’ve come since leaving my marriage… and yet, old habits die hard. I felt I was still not coping in healthy ways, that drinking was a crutch and a comfort that I could do without, you know, an old hat from my youth, a hat I was ready to throw out. I’ve never had a healthy relationship with alcohol, as you know, which is why for myself I know it has to be none, not moderation. My brain isn’t wired that way. I kept thinking about quitting, and talking about it, and cutting back, and yet continuing on with the same exhausting, self-defeating habits. And then I kept seeing signs — an essay here, an article there, a glimpse of this, a dose of that (aka, reality) — until I woke up one morning and knew I was ready. And it didn’t take a catastrophe or loss or hitting bottom to make up my mind, because I am stronger and wiser than that now, because now I value myself and my life and believe I am truly worthy of happiness. Looking back, it is plain to see all the shameful, embarrassing, painful memories associated with my drinking. It is plain to see the poor decisions and lack of responsibility and the loss. Just because I am high functioning doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. And besides, I don’t want a dark cloud coloring my life or controlling me in such a way. I am done. I have committed to 100 days but am likely to go beyond those. For now, though, I am taking it one day at a time — not counting down the days to 100, looking forward to my next drink, but counting the good days as they come, feeling stronger and more proud as I approach my goal.”

    If we didn’t start as we meant to go on, we can start again. We can start as many times as it takes until it sticks. Fear and doubt are natural, I think, but I’ve learned to approach fear with curiosity — to lean into my fear — as fear just means we’re moving closer to the truth (Pema Chödrön).

    Best,
    b.

    • I suppose I should clarify that “starting again” is in reference to life choices in general, and not sobriety in particular. I started college in my mid-thirties, for instance, something I had put off doing countless times throughout my life. The fear and anxiety only increased as I got older (catastrophizing!), as did my thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. I applied numerous times before following through. Just the *thought* of starting college late in life was daunting… and, ugh, the paperwork! But, the fact is, whether it was rebuilding my life after ending my marriage, seeking a support network, starting a new job/school, or quitting drinking, I had to stop waiting for things to change and start doing the work. I am much happier for it, and more confident. My outlook is brighter, and my quality of life continues to improve. Gradually, suddenly : )

  • Wow. What an amazing analogy; which just gave me a swift kick in the butt. That’s me standing there, waiting for that magical moment. Click received. Time for me to get out of bed and start that car!

  • For years I’ve been one of the many moms drowning their exhaustion and stress in booze. Happily drinking (lots of booze) at social events in front of their children while having conversations about how sad it is that we have drug & alcohol use problems in our high schools. Reading the jokes on social media about drinking moms “It’s wine-o-clock” “I do yoga for stress; I mean I drink wine in yoga pants”, etc. We parents who want all the best for our kids, refusing to see any connection between our behavior and the sad reality of addiction among teens.

    I know that sobriety is what’s best for me and my children but I’ve been waiting to FEEL like I am strong enough to take a stand and BE that sober mom in the midst of this culture.

    Your post today is spot on for me, Belle. Not only must I start, but I must move the car, and then keep it rolling, and keep it in the middle of the road. It have to BE that sober mom and then I can feel like it.

    Big hugs!

    • because standing there (trying harder) isn’t enough. we have to do things differently. put the key in the car AND add gas AND get some lessons AND check over our shoulder AND …

    • Thank you for this wonderful post! This is so spot on for me! And thank you Ri for your comments, they so resonated with me also.

    • RI–I really like your comment. I feel the same way. All the snickering inside drunk mom jokes. Why is it fun and funny to be Otis the town drunk? (that’s an andy griffin show refrence- he was a drunk). Mommy’s night out, mommy and me wine party, Vodka and Cranberry at the softball field or margarita’s in the thermos at the soccer game…on and on. But,why don’t these people send up reg flag as boozers? It’s cute and funny. I didn’t feel cute or funny when it was me. I felt scared and chewed a lot of gum—didn’t think/want anyone to know! I have never been proud. RI–be strong, be the mom standing up. I’ll stand with you!

      • I’ve been chewing a lot of gum myself TJS. I think I’m finally fed up. Yes I’ll stand with you too. Sober mom brigade!

  • I couldn’t agree more with this. I waited to feel like it for three years until one day I had damaged my liver so bad that my body was in the worst shape ever and Instead of waiting to feel like it, I fessed up to my doctor how much I drank. Saying it out loud was such a relief. , ( embarassing, but a relief.) He helped me take action when my brain didn’t want to. Please have your liver enzymes checked…. talk to someone…… Don’t let wolfie tell you ” just one more night of wine”….. you will never feel like stopping, only in the morning then the desire surfaces again hours later….. the vicious cycle continues….sorry for the rant…. I’ve just been there.

  • We drink because we drink because we drink. It feeds upon it’s own self. We drink because we drink and feel bad, embarrassed or small. Then we drink more and decide it’s not so bad….wait…we feel bad, embarrassed and small…nobody understands….we drink…..we feel bad, embarrassed and small….it’s like starting your car and the battery is dead or your wiring isn’t working….like the way your car sounds on a cold morning? That’s what stopping and starting is like. Finally with this site we can turn over the engine and get rolling.

  • Absolutely wonderful and insightful post, Belle! I went through all that first of the month, after vacation crap, and then one day, the click came. In the middle of the month, in the middle of the week. Your click will help someone, give him/her permission to get driving lessons.

  • This is so true! You do what it takes to keep your car going so you can get somewhere else…you need to do things, and work at it, to get started on sobriety. Both things get much easier after you get them going. And to wait for the right time is just our way of procrastinating and staying in that miserable comfort zone. When you’re drinking a lot, regularly, that’s pretty much all you know how to do and it’s scary to give that up – but you also know its not working for you anymore – so give it a chance. You can always go back to drinking, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy life much more without the numbing, regrets and shame that go with it.

  • Love this. Action first, then the feelings come later. A lesson I have learned in other parts of my life many times over. The willingness to do what it takes. One time there were some folks at my church that were admiring (or envious) of my professional accomplishments. I commented that in order to attain them, I had to drive to a city 2 hours away hundreds of times, and not once did I ever feel like doing it. Did it get easier? Yes. But I never felt like doing it. Their jaws were hanging open. I think when it comes down to the nitty gritty we half-expect some kind of magic to take over.

    I think being a boozer is like being in a religious cult. You’ve been brainwashed and everyone else can see it, it’s so obvious, but for you it is the only comfort and security you have known. And breaking out requires courage, time, patience, love and usually help from the outside.

    I stumbled upon a documentary recently called “There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane”. The chilling tale of a horrific car crash that killed 8 people a few years ago in New York State. Although Diane was drunk and high as proven by the autopsy, questions swirled as to how it could be that no one knew Diane had a substance abuse problem. Her family remains in denial Chilling indeed.

  • Waiting for the feeling to stop the booze is like waiting for a money tree to pop up in the middle of the garden so you don’t have to work – ain’t gonna happen! One step of action leads to starting the car and the feelings change the further we move from day 1. Thanks Belle – always so much wisdom.