protect that shit

from AnnaD (day 86):

“Heavy drinking is like time travel. Each year of drinking is five years of actual life. It’s why relapses are time-sucking vortices, into which whole decades can be devoured like so many Cool Ranch Doritos. This makes falling off the wagon a much longer trip than the cute aphorism suggests. The wagon is much higher up off the ground than you’d think — if you dismount, you will fall a long, long time before you hit even a high bottom. Claw your way back on. It’s worth it. Because, like quitting smoking, almost everything is easier than the first part of quitting. Once you’ve done it, protect that shit like it’s sacred, because it fucking is.”


Senior Sober Workshop: Worth
(and senior just means you’re 200+ days sober)
registration begins Tuesday, July 17th
small group, live calls, homework, treat box in the mail


from my inbox

P:  “I’ve had some moments the past couple days but I’m determined to make it through … I’m still angry at my friends [about my birthday] and the world. I’m still hurt about their thoughtlessness. Oh and another thing that’s bugging me – I sent out like 50+ Xmas cards in the mail. I love getting some back in the mail and guess how many I got in return? Like 8. People just don’t care. Not like I care it seems. Makes me want to hate everyone right now. That’s how I feel.”

me: the thing about holding resentments (birthday/ Christmas cards) is that it’s wolfie winding you up so that drinking will seem like a good idea. as if hoiday cards mean anything. they don’t. you send them because you like sending them. you don’t send them so that you’ll get some in return. if you want a lovely birthday, you do it for yourself. that’s why being sober is about learning self-care.
when you outsource your self-care and count on other people to make things good for you, you will always be ‘disappointed’ and that’s wolfie territory right there. you’re learning now how to do this for yourself. that’s what being sober IS. it’s self-care. and it’s new. and it’s hard. and if you don’t like sending out cards, then don’t send them. but to drink because people like me get cards but don’t send them, is outsourcing your well-being to people like me who just don’t’ think about cards. 🙂 and don’t let wolfie tell you otherwise.

P:  “Omg, I never thought of it that way?! Like ever! Holy shit, this reasoning could change my whole perspective on things! YES! Now I feel sheepishly stupid about how I felt about my birthday and Christmas cards. Cause yes, I DO send them out expecting them in return (which never happens and then I feel shitty) and I DO expect others to make my birthday memorable (which is illogical thinking cause they have their own life and problems, they needn’t be responsible for my happiness). My husband has truthfully told me before (in exasperation I’m sure) that it’s so hard to make me happy, that I’m usually never happy, or that nothing anyone does ever lives up to my expectations. WOW truth!!!! OK, my mind is blown here. Thank you Belle for your honesty 🙂 I needed to hear that.”

dry july (happy soberversary)

today is canada day. first day of july. it’s moving day in Quebec. it’s a day for fireworks and corn on the cob and watermelon (let me know if you’re having all three). you will have strawberries still in canada, in france we’re into peaches now. today is also my soberversary, not because i wanted my day 1 to coincide with canada day (though i like it!), but because of something called Dry July, a cancer fundraiser based in australia. technically you’re supposed to sign up on their site, let your friends and family know so they can sponsor you, and you give up drinking for a month to raise money. i didn’t do that part. to be fair, i didn’t do any of it except the sober part. I didn’t tell friends, i didn’t even tell my husband. I was too terrified, because my previous longest was 9 days, so going for a whole month seemed impossible. sure, i could have raised a few bucks from my facebook friends, and my generous uncle if i had shared what i was doing … but you know what? i couldn’t share. I couldn’t fundraise. i couldn’t deal with any questions, because i was barely holding on — going to work, not getting fired. that’s it. that’s all i could do to begin. any mild joking on my FB page? i wouldn’t have been able to handle it. i did ask for support online but only from other sober people, and before that moment where i reached out for support i had no faith that it’d even work. i just knew i was stuck. It was day 9 of dry july, when i realized i was going to fail if i didn’t try something else. so here’s my message for today. try different. if today is your day 1, and maybe you’d like to do dry july and we can be soberversary twins, then try different. if what you’ve been trying ins’t working, try something else. if you’ve been ‘waiting for a few clear days on my schedule’ you can try something else. if you’ve been ‘waiting until the vacation and the funeral are over’ then try some else. if you’ve been waiting (for anything), then you begin now and add in new supports. new things. try different. oh and p.s., it’s entirely possible to quit drinking, tell no one, say ‘no thanks it was giving me headaches,’ and go on your way without large declarations. sometimes people like announcements — and you should do you. but me, i liked doing it under the radar. I still do. #dryjuly – that means today is day 1 if you’re not already underway. you’re ready. today’s the same as any other day. it’s a day you don’t drink. hugs xo

send me a picture of your summer fruit – whatever you’re eating today. strawberries, peaches, watermelon? if you’re in tasmania, send me a picture of your lovely root vegetables 🙂 I’ll share some of your photos in my long-weekend emails, today and tomorrow.


my favourite canadian breakfast, photo taken last year when i was in canada having cheerios and fruit from the market. today i’ll be having french granola and peaches 🙂 well, as soon as i drag my lardy ass out to get some peaches! my husband just left for a walk, i gave him cow eyes, but i don’t think he’s buying any for me…

Solstice to Solstice 2018

From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and am celebrating 3.5 years sober tomorrow] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”

Imagine it’s the longest day of the year (tomorrow in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober starting tomorrow, June 21st. It can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on December 21st? Winter Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.

  • If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%

I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?

​Alcohol is addictive, liquid poo (AUDIO)

Drinking is like pouring liquid shit into your life. It flows over everything. It affects every aspect of your life.

And to make things worse? This liquid poo (alcohol) is addictive. If you have some liquid poo, it makes you want MORE of it.

If that doesn’t sound like a nightmare, then I don’t know what does.

This is the subject of a brand new podcast (episode 252) going out today to podcast subscribers.

​Here's a clip where you can listen to a bit of the audio.

extract from Sober Podcast 252. Addictive Liquid Poo

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. If you've heard the entire audio, you can tell me if you heard anything new ​... To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

​Download ​SP252. ​Addictive Liquid Poo

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

this is for you (re: anthony bourdain)

the truth is
i've been feeling off all week. this thing with anthony bourdain has occupied my thoughts quite a bit. what a fucking tragedy this is.
and i've been waiting, as i often do, to know what i think before i speak.

i know this.

we have a head that lies to us and feeds us misinformation.
we often aren't aware of that, and think that the voice is 'true' or 'real'.
we add alcohol to that and then voice is very loud, dark and insistent.

His gilfriend's friend, Rose McGowan, wrote:
Bourdain reached out for help before his death, “yet he did not take the doctor’s advice.”

this is the part that flattened me, i think.

that for whatever reason, he couldn't hear the thing:

you have a voice in your head that lies to you. it tells you to drink. it tells you it won't get better.

you could remove the alcohol and see what happens to that voice.
and if you can't remove the alcohol easily, or on your own (i couldn't) then reach out for help and open the top of your head and let the advice in, even when it sounds ridiculous to your wolfie voice.
remember that your wolfie voice is lying to you.

any voice you hear that ISN'T saying "take good care of you" is wolfie.

i feel like i could say this every day, forever, and it wouldn't be enough. and it'll be just the right thing at the right time for someone else.

It'll be both. not enough.
and enough.

this is for you.


Case Study: Tim

A couple of times a year, I mail out a free paper case study (yes, really, in the mail, with nice stamps and everything). This one was originally sent out September 2016.

Doesn’t matter if you drank 3 glasses a night or 3 bottles. Doesn’t matter if you go to AA, or you’ve been to rehab, or if you use only “The Belle Program.” We have a lot in common, and can learn from each other. This is Tim’s story.

Tim (Day 946): I’m on Day 946 today but I’m ashamed to say that only you know that. My work involves a huge amount of numerical information, so it’s quite embarrassing, I should know my day count. In the early days it really made a difference. Now it’s all blending together a little, in a good way I would say.

me: You’re in a unique position in that you’re one of my penpals who emails me AND goes to AA, and you’ve found both to be helpful in combination. How long had you tried to be sober on your own, before you actually got some momentum?

T: I’m now 36 years old, I first kicked booze for a reasonable period of time at the age of 22. I was doing my degree and realized that if I didn’t sober up for a bit, then I wasn’t going to graduate. I stopped drinking for six solid months without a support network. Eventually I started drinking again, and then 13 short years later I appeared at AA. At various times I quit for a week or two; it was never hard to stop, it was incredibly hard to STAY stopped.

My denial was that I wasn’t an alcoholic (in my mind) if I held down a good job, and I did; if every weekend I could get up with my children in the mornings, and I did; if we had enough money, and we did; and so long as I didn’t ever get behind the wheel of a car after having drunk, and I didn’t. So I wasn’t an alcoholic. I originally had a longer list of things I wouldn’t do, but I started removing items as part of the denial.

me: I think we lower our standards, right? What did you originally say you would never do, that you then ended up doing?

T: One of them was never getting too drunk at work events, and at the end of my drinking story, that was one of the things that eventually led me to stop, properly: a drunken work party. I was working in the British media at the time. It’s a bit of a joke, but it’s almost impossible to be too drunk to work at the British media, but I did have a really good go at it. At my work-leaving party, I spent thousands and thousands of pounds of the company’s money at the party. I remember very little of it, but I did have to go back and retrieve the company credit card days later from a club. Before, I had always been quite controlled about who I would let see me drunk. But things got chipped away and the standards got far lower.

me: In what other ways were you in denial?

T: One of the things I did at the end, once I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to have to stop, but didn’t want to stop YET, was I made sure that I had a HUGE stockpile of booze that I had to drink through completely before I quit.

me: It’s interesting the tricks that we play on ourselves, like “I’ll quit as soon as this large stock is gone.”

T: Yes, and since I’m an addict in a number of areas in my life (I’m a bit of hoarder, too), the stock of alcohol was NEVER finished. I kept it topped up. It was pretty alcoholic-ish behaviour: “When that gets to nil, which is never, I’ll stop.”

me: What are your other compulsive tendencies?

T: My other aspects do less damage to my life compared to the alcohol — shopping, eating — things that, in moderation, are good, but when they get out of moderation, they can be quite damaging. Like many of us, I’m shrewd and clever. I do these other things in way that is never quite enough to really damage me. It’s the notion of ‘getting away with it’ which was always big for me with drinking as well. It’s just that over time, you STOP getting away with it.

me: There is this idea of sneaking, that is quite attractive.

T: Absolutely. I’ve been sneaking things all my life, and I still am. I went to a formal English school. I was good at misbehaving and not getting caught. I’m married to someone who was far naughtier at school, but she didn’t care about getting caught. She finds the sneakiness utterly baffling. For her, the getting caught was getting attention. For me, it was always about a private, secret victory. It’s sort of sad for me to talk about it now. It doesn’t make me feel good admitting those things.

me: Some people that I talk to when I do one-on-one coaching calls will say that the sneaky part is: “I’m a good girl, so I sneak this.” Or “I just want to have something that nobody else knows about.”

T: Agreed. Now, I think I have two pillars to my sobriety. One is AA, and the other one is the penpal relationship that I have with you. What I gain from both is the experience of others. I went to a meeting and heard a man say that if he had another drink, he’d have to hand over his wife and children in exchange for the drink. When I first quit, my marriage was in a very bad place, so his words really resonated with me and his message carries to this day. It’s about how much I would lose.

me: Your wife did want to separate at some point.

T: Not at some point, at many points. The phrase that got me to attend my first meeting, was when I had a raging hangover and the night before I’d been babysitting the children whilst L. went out. (She’ll kill me for saying that, because I think when you’re the father, it’s called ‘parenting’ rather than babysitting.) But she’d gone out and I’d looked after the children. My normal trick — because I’m a secretive person — was to get very drunk on my own. I’d been trying to drink less, and I’d been behaving quite well up until that point, and then I basically drank a huge amount.

She came back and she was livid. The next morning I woke up with a horrible hangover, and her phrase: “Tomorrow you’re going to San Francisco, and when you get back, we’re getting a divorce” — those words ushered me into realizing just how far and fast things had gone wrong. I went off on that business trip; flying sober is not fun, let alone in your early days. Especially when you’re travelling on business, the whole thing is geared to push alcohol on you at every turn.

me: You were on Day 2 sober and flying first-class. I remember.

T: My stories of my Day 2 or Day 6 are incredibly privileged, really. The horrors of “oh my gosh I had to sit in this very nice aircraft whilst stewardesses pushed booze at me.” But I don’t delude myself. Where I live in London, there’s a lot of street drinking and that’s where I would have ended up if I’d have kept going.

I found an amazing AA meeting in San Francisco at 6 a.m. and went to that every day for two weeks. Then I got back to London, and things were pretty tough, and I think it was a month after I got back, that L. decided she wanted to get divorced despite all the changes I’d made.

<< email from Tim, December 12, 2013: Last night my wife told me she’s very unhappy and wants a divorce. I’m all over the place (to steal from Country and Western lyrics, I’m not sure if I want to shoot myself or go bowling) not least as I had today off work with her and the children and had a great time. I know she’s sad and upset, and she’s entitled to be, but we have so much going for us, despite everything I’ve done and despite how much she feels she can’t trust me. >>

That was incredibly tough. It was two weeks before Christmas and we decided that the best thing, with two small children, was to have our Christmas together as a family, and then figure out what to do with our separation in the new year. That was a very bleak time.

me: For a person who goes to AA meetings, what is the benefit of having me as a sober penpal? Why would you have added that in addition?

T: I don’t think it’s possible to have too many stands or elements for my recovery. What attracted me to being a penpal of yours, was that at that time my life was a mess, and I wasn’t sure that AA was for me. I’d just stopped drinking for only a few days at that point when I first contacted you, and I wasn’t quite sure about what I was going through. Then when I got back to London, I still hadn’t found a meeting that I liked, so I was feeling a bit disaffected with it all. And frightened. I do think, ultimately, for me, in my heart of hearts, I’m a secretive and cheaty person at times; the more daylight I shine on me, whether that’s through meetings or through exchanging emails with you — the more I starve wolfie by making friends and not being alone — it betters my chances.

me: Right, but I’m a Canadian girl living in France, I’m not on the list of sober supports that you might have naturally gravitated to.

T: When it comes down to it, does it really matter whether you’re Canadian or based in France? I have a number of sober friends now and I don’t know any whose circumstances are exactly like mine. It doesn’t matter in terms of geography or where you’re from. Having accountability forces me out of a very insular, strange and closed world.

The biggest challenge I have on a day to day basis, is living with me. To be paired with someone exactly like me wouldn’t be terribly helpful. I try to be better, and yet I wake up every morning and there I am.

One interesting experience in parenthood is having little people, who have a relatively limited experience of the world, looking up to me. And my son in particular still idolizes me (he’s 6). I used to find that so hard when my self-esteem was nil. The older he gets, the more I see ME wandering around in a mini form: all of his anger, even his compulsive desires to have possessions. Today, I feel a huge empathy for him. I know that I’m in the best place to help him cope with some of the downsides of some of the obsessions.

me: Imagine if you were drinking — like, what kind of a parent would you be to him?

T: I think if 947 days ago wasn’t my first day of sobriety, then there’s a fair chance I wouldn’t be here now — not from a physical health fallout, but I think my self-destruction would have taken a very dark turn. To answer your question, I don’t think I’d be ANY kind of parent, I don’t think I’d be any kind of person by now. That is enough reason to celebrate. No matter how crappy the day may be sometimes.

me: I want to ask you a question that people ask me about being longer-term sober, which is “boy, is it hard to have to think about it all the time?” I’d like to hear what your answer to this is, because my answer has been “if I stopped all of my sober supports, and I didn’t email anybody and I didn’t go to meetings and I didn’t talk to anybody, and I didn’t do anything, I figure I’d be drinking within four months.”

T: I don’t think I agree with you about the timeline, which may be right for you. But I don’t think I’ve got four months in me.

me: You think yours is less.

T: When work takes over and crunches out my meetings, sometimes I’ll go a week without any sober support, and I can feel myself getting crazier and less tolerant. I know if I ran that out, I don’t think it’s four months for me, or if it is, they’d be filled with very unpleasant behaviour.

me: Can you outline what sorts of things you do to ensure that you stay sober? What’s in your sober toolkit?

T: One thing I do is call someone else who’s doing the same sober thing at least once a day, whether that’s my sponsor or someone else who’s new to this sober world, just to make sure that I push myself out of my comfort zone (I don’t like talking on the phone). And I email you.

Also in my sober toolkit is self-care: The better I take care of myself, the better I want to take care of myself. I’m not a paragon of virtue.

Some days I use my tools better than others. But I know that when I do more of this self-care thing, then there are fewer assholes in the world.

me: Ha!

T: The biggest commonality for all of us, having a penpal or going to AA, is that it’s about getting to bed sober at night, getting through a day without drinking. That’s true whether it’s Day 1 or Day 947. The nice thing is that it gets easier.

<< email from Tim April 16, 2015: It’s great to be free of all that shit. I’m still just plain relieved not to be doing any of it any more. >>

[Update: He’s on day 1,673 today!]

Let’s see how this goes

from me: do you quit drinking 'forever' or is it an experiment? what are the advantages of framing it as an experiment? I asked, you answered:

J: "If you can say ‘I choose not to drink’ it’s easier than saying ‘I can’t drink’ which can then start feelings of deprivation and the Wolfie voice. Framing it as an experiment should make it more achievable mentally than forever, your explanation of running as an example made sense, if you said that you were going to run x amount every day for the rest of your life ... what would happen? :)"

Flo (Day 47): "Hi Belle. I think framing it as an experiment an making it a choice. 'I'm choosing to go 100 days sober' is a whole lot less confronting than 'I'm going to give up alcohol forever', which frankly seems kind of unreal. I think if I say i'm giving up forever, i feel a fear in my solar plexus area and sick or maybe that's the hole i think needs filling up with something (alcohol). Saying that i'm choosing to do this for 100 days feels like i'm easing myself into this whole concept of finding out how my life will be sober, and will it be better? Let's just see how this goes and make a decision later. So less confronting."

Question: what do you think about quitting drinking as a choice ... you know, a choice that supports you to be your best you (this is a trick question)​.

New Podcast Series (FREE! FREE!)

Need to catch up on episodes 1-3? Click Here

umr004.gratitude > i know that the idea of gratitude is talked about a lot. but what does it mean, in a practical sense. like HOW can you have an attitude of gratitude? i think i stumbled on an idea that works for me when I was doing a catering job this past weekend. 

Show Notes:

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Music: “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen

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Feedback from the ​meditation audio series: 

enroute: “​Thank you for that Belle, this meditation worked for me, and I have listened to a lot of teachers, a lot of silence, a lot of endless thoughts in my head, a lot of perspectives on meditation. For me, I know that whatever practice suits you, it lights the path to consciousness which lights the path to sobriety, creativity and more and more...​” ​Subscribe here.

Ready to quit?

from my inbox:

Rambling Rose (penpal #2512): 

"So something has been bothering me for a few weeks on the issue of readiness when it comes to being sober. I've heard on a number of occasions "in the rooms" that you just have to be really ready to quit drinking before you stay with recovery. I have heard it mostly in the context of people relapsing. It almost comes off as an accusation that he/she just didn't want it enough (recovery). Another thing I hear often is, "In your heart of hearts, do you want to quit?" UGH. YES.

There's something very flippant to me about this. I know people, myself included, who have wanted to quit for years - sincerely, in our heart of hearts - and hate being in addiction/excessive drinking limbo. It hurts. It isn't even enjoyable. It's not to "feel better" - for me, it was to feel less bad. But, of course that less-bad feeling starts to turn into a consistent and repetitive horror.

Drinking is the worst kind of hell, and it isn't that I (the true me) wanted to keep drinking, not when it got bad. I just didn't know how to stop it. I think that's why we surrender or reach out, because of course our brains will want booze.

I've brought it up to people (sponsors, sober women, etc.) before, and I usually get the same answers about not wanting it bad enough or not having some God moment where all of my sins, er, sorry, cravings (hah) were magically lifted.

It scares me when people say things like this, because I do want to stay sober, with all of my heart. But there hasn't been some God moment or change in my thinking. Not yet. Isn't that where the work and the supports come in?

Anyway. What made you know that you were totally done for good?

Do you think it is different for everyone?

Thanks. Whew, good to get that out of my head. It was upsetting me today, and kind of freaking me out."

me: I think that the idea of readiness is sort of like the idea of willpower. it’s assuming that the tool is in us. I think that the tools are outside us and that if someone is relapsing, they don’t have enough tools/supports/accountability. Us alone in our heads has us all drinking, me included.

but with the right amount of supports (different for each person) we can do this sober thing.

the challenge is getting people to try different supports when the original ones aren’t (or have stopped) working. we’re so stubborn and wolfie wants to keep us stuck, so that’s the hardest part of this. it’s not that rehab doesn’t work, it’s that no one wants to go. it’s not that antabuse doesn’t work, it’s that it’s hard to convince someone to take it because if they take it they can’t relapse and wolfie hates that. wolfie will argue against most supports.

wolfie wants you alone at home with a bottle. that’s the challenge as far as I can see: helping people to see that wolfie is bullshit and that there’s sunshine OUT HERE.


​You might not agree with my advice to Rambling Rose. How do you feel about being 'ready'? Post a comment below.

Feedback from the new (free) meditation audio series:

Auntie Briggy: “Love this! Meditation is one thing for me that needs to be non-negotiable part of my tool box! You did a great job - meditation is just like sobriety - some days are shit and you don't pay attention for 2 seconds - some days you feel refreshed after but you keep staying with it. It was great to hear you doing something outside your comfort zone and trying a new tool! It teaches us courage to do things like this - try things - and keep trying them and adding things in.” Listen here.