my name is F and I am a lurker

email from F: “Hello. My name is F and I’m a lurker. I signed up for the 100 day challenge and made it to day 35. No I’m no longer sober. Maybe this is more than you wanted to hear but I’m on a roll…
I’m in law enforcement. I can’t deal with my job, it’s so hard seeing the way we as a society treat each other, especially those we claim to love. I’m too afraid of the repercussions of admitting I have a drinking problem and asking for help from my agency … I’m a binge drinker. I’m fine all week dealing with the everyday duties of my job but come the weekend I’m pretty much drunk until Monday morning…
Your emails and audios that I sign up for are so inspirational. I look forward to seeing them in my inbox, it gives my comfort during the week. I even bought your “Stay Here” bracelet to help me cope. I touch it and think I need to stop when I’m on a weekend bender.  Sometimes it helps and I won’t drink but more often these days with all the job negativity, I continue to drink.
I love my job — I started in law enforcement thinking I could make a difference … now I lie and make up some bs job when someone asks what I do for a living …
But, you are a godsend. You keep my sane during the week when I work. I’m glad I stumbled across your website, you give me hope. I just need to get right in my head and get some self-esteem. The weekends are hard, I don’t know how to deal with myself and the negative thoughts that invade my mind in the quiet times.
So there you have it. My name is F and I’m a lurker.”

Question: What would you say to F about wanting to get her head right before she quits?  Post a comment below …


stay here, stay focussed. stay sober. stay true to you. stay here.
new painting added today, this is #372
sober art thanks to mr.belle

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

  • Hi F, I hear what you are saying, I am working in a very stressful Federal Government job and like you was sober during the week but come Friday night out same the vodka. I am married and my husband hated seeing me go in self destruct mode. I knew I was hurting him, our marriage and my health but just did not have the willpower to stop. After my binge session would come the depression and I would spiral down in that dark hole. I hated my life, hated Me and knew I needed help. Firstly I needed help not because everyone around me wanted me to stop but that I wanted to stop. I knew I wasn’t alone with my drinking problem from reading all the wonderful messages from Belle.
    So I decided to go on medication (antibus) I tried doing taking the tablet myself but that failed as I used to stop taking the tablet if I knew I wanted to drink. Then I asked my husband to help me. So every morning he would make me a cuppa and put a tablet in the tea, this worked for me…… I am currently on day 57. But I have also reduced my hours at work. I am only doing a three day week, which also seems to be working. I find myself a lot calmer now. I even caught myself singing the other day which made me smile. This is my story, in a little way I hope it helps…

  • I’d say I get it, we all do, that’s why we’re here.
    Plan ahead, make plans for the first weekend alcohol free, count the hours, minutes, seconds even until Sunday bedtime. You can do this and we have your back.
    I never ever believed it was possible to live alcohol free, oh I knew others could do it but not me, no way. And they kept saying it will get easier. Yeah right! Know what? It does, it truly truly does.
    I’m almost a year alcohol free after more attempts than I could count.
    Try it, really really try it, you’re worth it.

  • from Sarah T Dear F, Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe the stress and disillusionment of your job makes drinking seem a good idea. I think that’s understandable. I know that strong and caring person who joined the (police?)to make a difference is still there. You will find her again more easily without alcohol. Know that your positivity will return. There’s a special strength needed to do your job. That hasn’t left you. You can do this. I believe that.

  • I wish I knew what to say. I’m not sure what made me successful this go around. I just stayed and kept trying until it clicked. I added more tools. I became more ashamed and unhappy until the booze wasn’t working at all anymore. I needed time I suppose to be ready. I wish I knew what to say to people on the fence..but I’m not sure anything would have helped me until I became sick and tired (and desperate) enough to do the work. I do know you can quit at any time..the whole rock bottom thing is a bit dangerous. I quit well before I lost anything and in my head I almost continued because I hadn’t lost anything. That is crazy thinking when I think back on it. I’m rooting for her.

  • Can’t get your head right until you get sober – For me it was too easy to fall back into old habits and old circular thoughts when I was drinking. I needed to take action first then my head and mood followed.

    I didn’t get this right away. I started and stopped and started and stopped until I started to understand that not drinking was easier than trying to do the same thing over and over and hoping for different results (the definition of insanity, right? :))

    Nobody said it’s easy, but we’re a stubborn lot when we put our minds to something :). Yeah I didn’t know what to do with myself at first either, all those empty hours… but the longer I’m sober it’s amazing what creeps back in, all those things I’d neglected and not thought about and forgot I missed. They came back and I started to learn more about how to cope with things like negativity and day to day stresses and long weekends.

    I was an every day drinker and full disclosure: I do attend AA, have found it tremendously helpful to give me tools on how to live well and happy while being sober. I needed that face time, that accountability to get sober. I couldn’t do it alone. I also think our sobriety is our business. Not everybody gets it – family, people at work, they don’t have to be the first to know. It’s up to you and your comfort level on who you tell and when.

    But somebody, somewhere should know if only to give you a lifeline.

    Sobriety is so worth it. I’ve been sober almost two years and could not have dreamed that my life would be what it is now. Grateful. Serene. Happy. Full.

    Just my two cents

  • Right there with you! I always wake up to another Day 1 and say to myself this is the day I need to get my head on straight so I’m going to take the day off work. 9 times out of 10 I just end up day drinking instead! So it’s just not going to happen. Also like Belle says we are never going to feel like it. There’s never going to be a period of complete peace (for me) and a drama-free life to make it possible. I just need to accept it. So I’m back on Day 1 today for the 700th time. Let’s just kick Wolfie to the curb once and for all. He’s a liar.

  • This was my exact story. I am a in law enforcement. I had the same misgivings. I was a weekend binge drinker. I was afraid to OUT myself, but I finally accepted I could not continue. I didn’t want to work 30 years helping others, earning a modest pension, only to retire and die a short time later from alcohol related issues. There simply is never a right time, but dieing alone with a beer in my hand is not what I spent my life working toward. Neither have you F! I don’t know where you are, but in the United States, law enforcement is plagued with 4 things,Suicide, divorce, heart disease and alcoholism. ALL of which are a direct result of the extreme stressors of being cops and the fact we are in the state of hyper-awaness all day long. Period. Alcohol relieves that state, until it doesn’t anymore. Hence, we either hide in a bottle until we die, or find ourselves getting help before it’s too late. F, you are reading Belles site for a reason. You are here for a reason, as was I. As terrifying as it is, you know now IS the right time. Feel free to ask Belle for my direct contact. I’d love to chat one on one.

  • There never is a right time to “get your head right” and it certainly won’t happen when drinking. In order to “get your head right” you first have to be sober, the rest will follow!

  • In my experience you will never feel ready to stop forever. It is much too scary a concept to contemplate. I’m never going to drink again, I would say the morning after yet another binge, only to have Wolfie screaming in my head that he needed a drink by early evening, by which time the hangover had gone along with the firm resolve. And the wine was opened (because I deserved it!) So I just started with all the support 53 days ago. I have never in my life gone this far. What was different for me this time? The support kept me firmly reminded why I was doing this PLUS I trusted what everyone was saying, that it will get easier and I will feel so much better. Reading this comment back I realise that what I was saying I ‘deserved’ was to keep myself in a place of constant remorse and recrimination and guilt and low self esteem and exhaustion! Wtf! Never thought of it like that before. Nice one Wolfie. You dick!

  • Quit drinking for 100 days and your head will start to get right. It’s pretty much impossible to get your head right while drinking. Wolfie messes with our heads, confuses us, and convinces us drinking is a good idea. Once you step away and get some clarity things in your head will change. Keep on with Belle. She is an awesome sober tool.

  • Hi F,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m a nurse, so I can’t relate exactly to your experience or stressors, but I relate to the fact that I couldn’t tell anyone at my agency about what was going on with me, as I was afraid of the repercussions as well, the stigma.
    Well, I’m glad you are here, you are in the right place.

    I know that your head will get in the right place when you stop drinking.

    Your self-esteem will be regained, every day that you don’t drink.

    Even though the weekends are hard, if you throw every tool you have at that weekend stress (podcasts, blogs, treats, self care, walks, etc), you can win. Each day gets a bit better, a bit easier. I know you know that since you already succeeded in 35 days. That is amazing.

    Take the plunge. Stop drinking the booze and throw every ounce of energy into supporting yourself to succeed. You are doing amazing work (both professionally and personally on your sober journey). This journey may give you some clarity about your job and what you might do about that.

    We are rooting for you and cheering you on, F.

  • Hi F
    I am a social worker and a binge drinker also. I appreciate what you said about how some people treat each other. I have seen and read terrible true things, and you can’t I know them. So… you have to take care of yourself, and protect those vulnerable pieces of yourself that get hurt and tenderized at work. Binge drinking is like holding your breathe. You hold your breath all week until you can exhale and drink on Friday night. When you take away the alcohol you can exhale everyday. The yoga people have taught us how important breathing is to our wellness ( an aside from the usual function called life!). I think the 100 day challenge is a good start. You have to pick a day and say that’s it! Supports are everything! Stay away from the Wolfies in your life and embrace yourself. I think you almost have to be a little mad, and I am f…king doing this! Change your patterns, I had to avoid stemware because I associated wine with pretty stemware and cause I am a fancy drinker. Then my husband started putting soda and cranberry in the stemware and at first it was a bit weird, then I decided to own it!! Sounds silly I know but we all have these games and conversations in our head, that help us justify our behavior.
    Anyway F it’s your journey, so get in your car and drive 100 days and see where you get to, then you might decide like me to drive another 100!!
    All the best,
    Day 181 and counting
    PS- my mom asked me yesterday why I am still counting days and I told her because it keeps me accountable. Each day counts even if you have to start again at 1. Day 1’s suck rocks but it’s not the worst thing that can happen.

  • I so get it, the wanting to be in the right space–but as others may say-you can’t get into your right space until you actually stop drinking. You have the interest, you are reaching out and feeling Belle’s support-that’s good! For me, reading was really helpful to undersatnd why my head kept saying to DRINK when my heart was saying NO–Belle’s book is great, also The Naked MInd is really insightful. You have a very, very stressful job but unfortunatley, alcohol makes us more stressed in the end..good luck–we are pulling for you! (many many day 1’s – quit for 2.5 years, moderated for 4 years, now sober!)

  • Hi F, I’m a lurker too but felt that I needed to comment on your post. I was a police officer for over 30 years, I’ve retired now but really in your heart once a police officer always a police officer. I understand how you feel, I don’t often speak about my career, most people think it’s all about car chases, drug busts and the hunting down of offenders and that’s a big part but it’s other part that nobody every wants to hear about and quite frankly I don’t blame them. So drinking was the way I coped or thought I coped, it’s how we debrief after a disaster, celebrate after a achievement it was as much a part of my job as was carrying a gun. But then it wasn’t enough and for me it was a downhill spiral. Giving up alcohol has 100% been the best thing I ever did, my levels of depression, anxiety and feelings of despair have eased, I don’t think for me they will ever go away but wow life is so so so much better and I know how to cope with those noises. I wished I had reached out for help earlier because once I removed alcohol I saw with clarity that I needed a little more help to deal with what I had seen and had to do. Today I’m alcohol free and I’m back liking people and enjoying life. Good luck big hugs it’s a long hard journey but you can do anything if you want it bad enough you know that. B x

  • Hi F…. Be kind to yourself. All I can offer is that at closer to 65 than 64, here I am still trying to out run Wolfie after 50 years. What a waste of time/pain/emotions/money all of that drinking caused. Situations were I believed an angel was sitting on my shoulder because I really shouldn’t have come out of them alive. Put yourself first, go slow and do much better than I did – you can do this.

  • Your head gets better as a result of not drinking. A lot of the negative thinking for me was tied up with the shame of drunk me and constant relapsing. It gets better the further along you get. There may still be negativity at 60, 100, 100+ days but you are better equipped to deal with it. Don’t try and fix anything apart from the drinking. I’m on day 163 and can not describe properly the change it’s made for me it’s huge.

  • Dear F, I understand completely how you want to get your head right in order to stop. I stop and start and stop and right now I’m also waiting to “get right” to start again. I KNOW, however, that one’s head doesn’t get right until after stopping. Booze makes me depressed so I can’t get up the enthusiasm and hope to stop until I stop. That’s how it is. Do as I say, not as I do.

  • I would say… it sounds like your mind is in the absolutely perfect place to stop drinking right this minute ! It will be tough at first, but it will be so much better than what you’re experiencing right now – dear tormented soul that alcohol is keeping you in chains 💔

  • The only way to get better is to begin. You want to get your head right before quitting? Not gonna happen. Alcohol lies to us, it’ll tell you that it’s not the right time, that you still have to figure stuff out before you begin. Try it the other way around. Quit for 100 days and see how you feel then 🙂 Kudos to you for contacting Belle! You’re no longer a lurker!

  • I think there is no ‘right’ head to stop drinking. I’m sorry. (and I would probably tell her something less provocative to not activate the wolfie) To be honest, I would have to sit on my hands to not give a smart-ass answer like my new favorite: “there are no excuses left. I can’t make it right” (found this written on a pair of shoes, on the left one of course!)

  • Hi F, I relate to a lot of what you have shared (e.g., overwhelming job stress & disillusionment, going for periods without drinking, but falling short of the 100 day challenge, being inspired by, & taking comfort from, much of Belle’s material, & being a lurker).
    What I don’t agree with, however, is your belief that you need to ‘get right in your head’ & get some self-esteem BEFORE quitting drinking. To my way of thinking (based on my own experiences & observing, listening to & reading the recounts of others) drinking pretty much guarantees we’ll be ‘unright’ in the head & largely devoid of self-esteem. Two of the greatest rewards of sobriety will, I believe, be the experience of feeling right in the head, & gaining more self-esteem & self-worth than we currently believe possible. Good luck.

  • You can’t start to sort out your head until you’re sober. There are too many booze gremlins in there clouding your thoughts. Stop watering them. Distract yourself at the weekend. Get out the house away from the booze.

    Soberseasidesally (previous sober record of only 7 days so no stranger to the wiles of the gremlins!)

  • Hi F, I totally get what you’re saying. For me personally, I took the high dive off the 100 day sobriety cliff and leapt into the unknown because I finally realized I’d never get my head right *until* I got some practice experiencing life totally without alcohol. Drinking kept me from learning how to be someone who could cope without drinking. I didn’t want to die with that as my legacy. I knew what life was like with booze; I decided to find out what life could be like without it. I was hearing so many people say that even the worst unknown life without drinking would be better than my best life drinking…and it has turned out to be SO TRUE!

    Drinking–the thing I used to rely on to cope with how hard life was–turned out to be one of the main things that was *making* my life harder. It was like death by 1000 cuts…the perpetual hangovers; the shame, embarrassment, depression, and self-loathing; the wasted time and money…the incredible amount of emotional and physical energy it took to keep going while I felt terrible both physically and mentally… Taking booze off the table as an option took away ALL that. It’s amazing how much more resilient you can be, and how much better you cope with everything life throws at you, when you feel really good about yourself and are treating yourself well, consistently. It was like taking off a 60lb backpack you didn’t know you were wearing.

    Imagine instead of spending every weekend drunk…if you had the energy to go hiking or kayaking…or play that instrument…or volunteer with that community group…or take that class…or work on that art project…or go to that spa…or finish that house project…or attend that officer support group…or or or…and imagine how a string of weekends like that might start to bring peace and fulfillment and balance to your life, which would then put you in a good space to start your Mondays…it’s a domino effect.

    It took a lot longer than 35 days for me to really feel it…probably more like 3-6 months before I could really feel how much more resilient I’d become…but I just kept going a day at a time and OMG lemme tell you, the wait is worth it! It’s so, so, so worth it. Best of luck and many hugs–you got this!

  • Hi F – I would firstly give yourself a break! Be kind to yourself. You have a stressful job but look!!!!…….you’ve already made it to day 35 before, so you can do it. Use the sober tools available to you, give yourself a treat everyday if needs be because at the end of each day, as well as a stressful job you have achieved the hardest thing for you – and that’s not having a drink! Wolfie is a real fuck who needs to be silenced. You see so much shit during the working week so use your weekends to embrace your life, feel great about you and wake up knowing you have actually remembered it too. I’ve had to deal with stressful situations these last few months and I can honestly tell you that dealing with these issues sober have been so much easier as I have managed to eleviate one of the most stressful parts of it – drinking! You still have to deal with the same shit – but you don’t have the added stressful feelings of all the crap that comes with being hungover!
    Getting your head right and gaining some self-esteem comes when you are sober – believe me x

  • Forgot to mention sober supports – friends, activities, films, books, interests – anything which does not have an alcohol context. These are the basis of a (new) sober life. And of course Belle!!!! For me 445 days of no alcohol would probably have not been conceivable without Belle’s ongoing support.

  • Dear F,
    You should give yourself a lot of credit for showing up, for coming to Belle’s blog, for writing her an email, for doing 35 days sober. The fact that you are putting in the time and effort to face this shit is huge. I’m on what feels like my 1237895th time trying to get sober right now, with 25 days alcohol free today. Just keep showing up for yourself.
    xoxo,
    Kathleen

  • First of all I would say “well done” on the 35 days sober. Then I would say something along the lines of “while you’re still drinking it’s probably difficult to tell the reasons behind the drinking. And it seems unlikely that you will be able to get to “the right place” in your head before quitting. It’s much easier to deal with life once you have a period of sobriety behind you and then you will have a better chance of thinking about your job. You could decide it doesn’t suit you or you could decide that at least you can make some difference in a world that appears very bleak and hopeless.
    But to keep on drinking as a response to the stress of your job isn’t really giving you any capacity to make changes to your life.
    Maybe try a longer period of being sober and see how that goes; and you might benefit from more accountability or one-on-one support. There is plenty of support that is anonymous so that you don’t need to tell colleagues at work – if this would be tricky. Most people I know don’t tell the “world” about their drinking problem; and why should anyone know anyway? The best support comes from people who have been there and who understand where you are coming from.
    Hope this is helpful; but if it’s not then take it all with a pinch of salt!

    • I love this – “But to keep on drinking as a response to the stress of your job isn’t really giving you any capacity to make changes to your life.”

  • getting-your-head-straight-in-order-to-quit-drinking is like trying to get fit enough to run a marathon before even putting on a pair of trainers.
    Our heads straighten out (slowly in my case) when we stop drinking, momentum gets built and self-esteem grows. It’s baby steps all the way. Bribery works, treats work. Yoga has magical healing properties as does exercise…
    I really feel for this woman. What a tough place to be work wise.

  • There is never a right time to give up drinking, the time is now !
    Your head will never be straight as long as you are drinking ,by the nature of what it does to your head.
    I am on my 34 day sober now and it is getting easier.
    I have just finished a book by Jason Vale, “ How to give up drinking easily”. I found that his take on things, along with Belle has really helped to change my perspective on alcohol.
    Please believe there are no positives were alchol is concerned.
    Be kind to yourself, you can do this, you have already been as far as me, you can go further.
    Start now, you are so worth it c

  • You cannot solve the head thing without quitting drinking. It doesn’t mean that is goes easy when you quit. You have to learn other ways to cope with your head and self esteem. I think it’s a bit like learning to walk again and it will take time. I always have to think about the booktitle ‘I never promised you a rose garden’. Sober life isn’t a rosegarden (yes, one with a lot of thorns) and it won’t be. But the good part is that you are more in control, you’ll grow and your self esteem will grow because you do an amazing job: you stay sober, no matter what happens.

  • F my friend and sister over the pond, if you wait to feel like stopping drinking, to feel right in your head about it, it’s NEVER going to happen. You have to stop even though it feels wrong, hard, impossible, and after a bit, THEN it starts to feel right. (And then it starts to feel amazing.)

    But you have to take it on trust, from people just like you, only a bit further along this road, that at first your head is going to be screaming at you that this is a STUPID idea, and since it doesn’t feel right it can’t be the right thing to do, can it? Surely if you were doing the right thing it would feel easier? Surely you’d just want to stop? Well how has that worked out so far, dear girl?

    Start now. Stick with it. Do ANYTHING to distract yourself through your weekends. Observe the cravings when they come, the mental wheedling, as proof positive that you really need to stop before this poison takes over your soul. Get angry that a drug is enslaving you, keeping you compliant, shuffling along, living with 1/4 of your potential and NONE of the joy. Plan like crazy, bring in masses of sober tools, reward yourself for being sober and start rewiring your neural pathways to associate reward with genuine self care.

    Be kind to yourself. Seriously. Kind and compassionate and fiercely protective the way you would be if you found an abused puppy starving and covered in shit, shaking in fear in a corner of a basement, not knowing any other world. Because that is you on alcohol.

    Put your bracelet back on your wrist – I have the same one, every time you hold it you are tapping in to a fellowship of sober that is rooting for you. Stick to Belle. I found her on my day 4, and that’s over 600 days ago.

  • Dear F- I just put in my STAY HERE bracelet after reading your email and before I responded so now they are magically and inexplicably connected. I think 35 days is so great and not ti be discounted in anyway as a failure. It seems like some people have to string together 35 days here, 10 days here, and another recommitted 60 days here for everything to really stick. Each time, EACH TIME, we wake up with so much more clarity so that a plan can easily start forming for our future. I’m sorry you’re job is not what you had hoped it would be so many years ago when you started it. It’s shite really to think that as adults it’s our reality for so many of us. I wonder if there is even 1 trusted person you can talk to right now? Sometimes that helps me- I can’t really “unload ” on my husband but have a cherished friend to listen.
    Don’t give up- keep reaching out- keep lurking. It really is a sign of stirring in your soul that you want change. Sending big Rexas hugs.
    -S

  • I’d tell her she won’t be able to get her head right UNTIL she quits. Only then, when the booze is gone, can she start working on her head space.

  • Hello F.
    For me, the only way I can get any amount of self-esteem is to not drink. The second I drink, the second the negative thoughts start. “I suck, I’m not worth the effort, I’ll never get this, etc.”
    Warm wishes,
    Z

  • F, I too was in law enforcement after retiring two years ago. Now I realize my drinking just made everything that was “bad” even worse to cope with. I know you can do it (quit), and you know you can do it (because you did for 35 days). I promise, it will get better

  • I would say that is Wolfie telling you you need to get right in your brain and get some self esteem. Wolfie is a REAL FUCKER!!! You made it 35 days that is amazing!!! You are being way too hard on yourself. I understand the drinking to not feel anything. I did it for 30+ years. With the right support system (Belle) and special special treats for yourself you can do this. If I can stay sober for over 4 years you can do it too. I was a binge drinker as well. I drank 8+ beers 7 days a week. I also raised 5 special needs children, ran a tight ship and worked full time. Talk about a functioning alcoholic. Life is hard and stressful and over drinkers tend to be a prickly bunch. That is what I have learned. If you can feel your feelings it makes NOT drinking so much easier. I would LOVE to be able to help you. I would be happy to be someone you can call when you are feeling like you want a drink. I had several support people I called when I felt the desire for a drink. Belle is AWESOME!!! Treats… you need lots and lots and lots of treats. They sound silly but they work. A nice bath, getting in your pjs at 6pm and in your bed by 7pm, a nice piece of chocolate cake, ice cream. Daily treats really helped me. Belle set that all up for me. My life is SO MUCH BETTER sober. Hugs and lots of LOVE!!!! You can reach out to me anytime to talk if you want. Meeting Belle and getting sober was the best thing that ever happened in my life. XOXO

  • Getting sober is actually more about “getting your head right” than it is about quitting drinking. The deeper work of getting my head right was only possible after I removed alcohol. For a lot of reasons–including the amount of time/space it took up in my life as well as the way it clouded my visions of myself. Love to F from another lurker. In fact, I have been sober for 90 days (41 consecutive) and decided I wouldn’t tell Belle until I hit day 100. That is when I think I will feel like I have finally moved from being a lurker to someone who stands with her in the light. love. cc

  • Don’t wait till your head feels right. As Belle says it’s the drink that’s stopping your head thinking clearly. Stop now , let the alcohol leave your body, your self esteem will rise, your anxiety will lessen and the real you will start to emerge again. Don’t wait. Stop now.

  • To F- I’ve been trying to do this sober thing for a while and if I’ve learned anything I’ve learned this: “Get sober first. Then work on your head.” Nothing can be solved until you take alcohol out of the situation. It’s like a black tar that seeps into every aspect of your life and makes it appear overwhelming. Once you get rid of it you’ll see how manageable your life is.

  • I’d say to F that she won’t get her head right until after she quits, not before. I’d also say to her that her overthinking is exacerbating her overdrinking, and with the right sober supports and treats she can quit without needing to think too much, the answers to her questions will become much clearer when she is sober.

    Mandini xx