“My feelings this afternoon are like a yowling cat …”

ack, the days of early sobriety, when your mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.  with permission, here’s part of an email from Quillian (when she was on day 2):

My brain simultaneously wants me to know that:

  • I don’t have a REAL problem with alcohol like the people I hear from in meetings or read about on blogs, so it’s only worthwhile when they struggle, not when I struggle
  • I have a huge problem with alcohol because I should be incredibly ashamed of the shit I’ve done while drunk, it was awful, like seriously I should just sit here and feel like dying of regret for the rest of the day and/or until I actually die. Of regret.
  • So I really, really need to stop drinking.
  • But I don’t have a REAL problem so it’s not like sobriety is anything to be proud of.

And then I say, Wow, thanks, brain, you’re a real help. Did it ever occur to you that I drink so I don’t have to listen to you?

And then my brain replies, Are you trying to start something? And a chorus of voices in the background is all, Ooooooh, girrrrrrrl, and Oh no she diiiiiiidn’t

And then I wonder if I have actually finally snapped and gone completely around the bend, mental-health wise. And everybody in my skull kind of gets quiet like kids who have noticed their mom is in a mood and don’t want to attract any wrathful attention. The voices went away! I must be fine. Totally sane.

Then I pretend to work for a little while and try not to notice how unproductive I am being, because heaven knows my brain will have opinions about THAT too …

But anyway.

Still sober today. WHETHER OR NOT THAT IS LAUDABLE. I guess I can figure that one out later? And for now just BE it, regardless of merit.

Gah. I swear. My feelings this afternoon are like a yowling cat hanging around a front door. DO YOU WANT TO BE INSIDE OR OUTSIDE? PICK ONE. I don’t knoooooooooow, whine whine whine.

Thanks for letting me ramble more. ~ Quillian

And just so you know, she’s on day 8 today 🙂 Go, Quill, Go!

Team 100 update: 3 members have rejoined the challenge after a period of ‘research’ — welcome back to TMcA (4), PP (2), Moonbeam (3), and SoberInMtl (5).

Just to note, when someone stops emailing or goes ‘missing’, I still hold your spot for you. Your name stays on the chart and when you’re ready, you can just email and give your new day 1 and we keep rolling. If you reached out asking to do the challenge, then I save your spot. That means that Lurker Mum can come back any time and resume her spot #32 (i’m teasing you specifically cuz i know you’re right here with us…).

Celebrations for: MG who is not telling me (yet!) what day she’s on but she’s doing well, Sunflower (75), Ellen (50), Lane (60), Sober Kat (240), Christina (60), Marie (45), Laura (25), Erin (45), Diane (60), Carolyn (10), Cam (28), Gindy (60).

And hugs to Lurker B and Helene for bravery.

“my true self is showing up”

When Erica got to 100 days sober, I asked her to write about how she was feeling. Here’s what she wrote:

Erica: Well, it’s been a week since you asked me to write about how I feel after 100 days. I’ve put it off because, well … it’s really hard to say how I feel. I had a really long ‘pink cloud’, a good 60 days’ worth.  Where I felt amazing. Super happy, set the world on fire kind of energy, cried at the birth of spring, etc. Now I’ve kinda come back to earth to join all the ‘normal’ people.

Here’s a couple of things I now know:

I’m not awesome. I blamed alcohol for all the things I felt I should be doing.  Volunteering at the animal shelter more then once in a blue moon, writing thank you cards, being the friend that just listens instead of waiting to jump in with my perspective, set things on fire in the bedroom, do a weekly deep hair condition/face mask, clean my house…. Still don’t do any of that.

I will never be “that mom.” You know-the one that makes the awesome designer cupcakes for the class, etsy level kids crafts/projects, SAHM who drops the kids at preschool with complete hair/makeup/super cute outfit (all the while holding a 2mo/old), has kids that never hit, curse, or have a big brown blob on the front of their pants.  I would settle to be the mom that remembers to bring an extra diaper.

Not going to look like a supermodel. I knew that at a young age. Really has nothing to do with alcohol. But you just never know! At 40, I have now accepted it.

But the little things. The little things that you sometimes don’t notice ’til you’re in bed going over your day.  Like enjoying my day. My whole day.  Even the bad parts.  Because I’m there for it, my true self is showing up. The person that is showing up everyday is happy, feels healthy, has good (better) breath, less critical of herself & others, has more patience, can wear clothes that she hadn’t been able to fit in, is interested in everything around her, & has a big ol’ “what the hell is wrong with her” belly laugh for all amusements.  And I really like that person.~ Erica

And hooray for Erica, she’s on day 126 today 🙂

Team 100:  98 members, welcome to Tiffany (4).  Happy days to: Amy 180, KC (45), TMcA has rejoined the challenge (yippee!) and is on day 3, J (200), Sober Journalist (60), Brandy (28) and this is a super big deal so let’s all have a big shout-out for her, Kirst (40) her wolf is a hyena which i think is hilarious, Paula, Julz, Quillian, Dana & Sam (7), Chelsie, Erika, & Anna (30), Suzanne (10). And me (339).

monday

Happy to be mailing out the first 5 bracelets today 🙂 super powers are on the way!

I got a great email from Colleen in my inbox on the weekend:

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could live out two lives — sort of like the in the Christmas Carol?  So we could see our life with alcohol, and the one where we chose sobriety?  How interesting would it be if we could see how our lives would be played out with each scenario.  What would we lose, gain?

I play this game in my head it scares me…because I know that alcohol would take everything away — my family, friends, health, finances, looks,  I am so glad I am not on that path and am choosing sobriety — the upward path.  But I know that the downward path of self-inflicted path of misery, pain and suffering is waiting for me — hiding and ready to pounce on me at places like backyard bbq, birthday parties and other seemingly innocuous places. I am grateful that I am on the path of sobriety and I don’t want to ever give up this freedom.

Had a nice time at my friend’s party … I didn’t have the desire to drink at all and this is SUCH a blessing.  I have made it this far before, but always white knuckling it — feeling deprived that everyone could drink and I couldn’t.  It is different this time.  I feel like I am the lucky one

Team 100 update: 97 members, welcome to Gindy (58), Lex (3), Camla (3).  Happy days to: Suzanne (9), Sara (16), Rebecca (72), Mel (15), Carolyn (8), Leah (22), Jackie (40), Elle & Helene (22), Mary (10), Colleen (32), JG (31), Lurker B (7), Debbie (21), Sunny Sue (90), Lilly (31), Thirteenpointone (365!).

imagine a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store

R: “Is it wrong to think ‘I can’t seem to get more than 3 days in a row, yet I’ve had more sober days in the past 6 months than I have had in 6 years’?”

The only thing I’ll say about percentage of sober days, is that individual sober days are HARD and we’re just *waiting* to drink again.  part of how you get wolfie to shut the fuck up is to say “no not today, not tomorrow, see you again in 100 days.”  Then he backs off and leaves you alone.

I certainly found that “drink one day, be sober one day” was just too hard.  I tried it. It took too much energy.  It made me feel bad on the days I was drinking AND white knuckling tense feeling bad on the days I was not drinking.  Frankly, being sober for a longer period of time is just plain easier OK, we can argue that it sucks temporarily for the first few days, but that’s only for a VERY short period of time.  Then it gets easier. Wolfie acts up, you ignore him, and then he comes around less and less…

And I wrote this to MG, who also mentioned the idea of making ‘progress’ with her drinking:

Every time you drink, you wake up wolfie, and have to – to some extent – start again. OK, we can argue that it’s not all the way back to square 1 starting again, but it’s probably at least 50% starting over. Wolfie is awake, and he has learned that if he tortures you, you will give in. You have to shut the fucker up. Dehydrate the wolf.

imagine a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. if you give that child candy … well, good luck ever going for groceries again without having candy on hand. sure it can be done, but it’s waaay harder than avoiding the situation entirely)

no more candy for the screaming child in the grocery store.  Anyway, that’s the goal with the 100 challenge.  just to see what 100 days continuous feels like. THEN you can make decisions going forward from there.

Fuck you wolfie.

cookbook treat

booktreat

Slept until 10:30 am this morning, what a difference 🙂 And it’s sunny today — finally!

AND thanks to our lovely european weekend postal delivery, I received this treat in the mail just as I was having my second saturday morning cup of coffee.

Thanks to the Tiny Gift Button, and thanks to Ellen for recommending this Seattle-original doughnut store for inspiration.

Picture Postcard (Sober) Life:  it’s sunny, saturday, well-rested, and Mr. Belle is ‘working’ because he woke up feeling motivated, which never happens (!). All is well.

danger zone

What can you do when you feel like you’re getting near your danger zone …

  • you’re almost 30 days sober and you’ve NEVER managed to get past 30 days, and so you’re getting close to when you usually ‘fail’
  • you’re about to attend a wacky family event with super crazy dynamics, pressure, alcohol, and general nuttiness
  • you’ve been sober for a while but you can feel wolfie‘s voice getting louder; it’s not screaming yet, but you can see it coming – on the horizon
  • you have a flu, an accident, a setback at work, an argument with your husband (wife)

I mentioned to Heidi today that thinking about shit like this IN ADVANCE is like having a tornado disaster plan.  What will you do (and maybe even in what order)…

so you can see your disaster zone, it’s looming.  it’s the place where something ‘bad’ might happen.  how can you stay in your sober car and manage to drive around the disaster zone?

ok, here’s a big idea.  you’ll have to do something different from what you did last time. If last time you crashed straight into the pit, then maybe it meant that you didn’t have enough tools, enough support, or didn’t have a good enough plan (or didn’t implement the plan). For example, before i started this blog, i would quit drinking for a week at a time, but i had no real commitment to it. Just being in the grocery store was ‘danger zone’ enough for me to buy wine and drink it. So to be successful in the future in a grocery store, i needed a different kind of support… can’t really avoid grocery stores my whole life 🙂

So now, if you see something coming up that looks like a danger zone where you have previously ‘given in and drank’, you try something new to navigate the situation.  You can call your sponsor, go to a meeting, you can take some time to write and to read sober blogs.  You can email your sober penpal more than once that day. you can plan to have easy take-out meals. you can go to bed early.  you can declutter a few drawers (decluttering is weirdly calming). you can have a big bubble bath. and you can wait.

Heidi also added a hilarious twist to her tornado disaster plan:  “[If I feel like drinking], I will write about it.  I might put it in my blog or in an email to one of my sober friends, asking for advice.  After all, if it’s a good idea, someone will agree with me.”

imagine if we all had to get someone to agree with us that drinking was a good idea before we relapsed… that would certainly slow us down some!

Team 100 update: 84 members, welcome to Leah (4).  Virtual cake celebrations for Ellen (30), Victoria (55), Lane (40), Christina (40), Kirst (21), Allison (20), and J (who is 6 months today). I’m on day 320.

I am taking a 4-day mini vacation beginning tomorrow (staying at home this time) but will spend most of each day with technology turned off. So I will be a bit quieter than usual! You can enjoy the break from the noise of me!

“do you struggle with the possibility of moderation?”

Here’s a quick email exchange between Marie (day 24) and me. 

Marie: Do you still struggle A LOT with the possibility of going back to drinking, yet just in moderation?  Or did you come to that profound realization that drinking in moderation just doesn’t work for you?  I love, love, love your blog and I think I know the answer to this but what I’m wondering is whether that torment gets easier in time.  Maybe it’s just me that feels a terrible amount of frustration and shame even with the fact that I cannot control myself as I’d like to around alcohol.  I feel like I should be able to control myself and that it’s ridiculous that I’m so in love with my red wine.

Me: About moderation, I haven’t ever settled on anything.  I think thinking too hard is part of the problem. Sometimes I think I’ll try moderation LATER, but for now I’m happy with this.  Later is later. It’s over there. It’s not today. Today I’m doing this 🙂 I originally thought I was quitting for 30 days, or 60, or 90.  Now I’m on day 319.  I haven’t made any big statements of anything.  I’m trying very hard to NOT be black and white about anything because that tends to make me feel nervous. Instead, I am just stating the truth:  I feel better now than I did when drinking.  The rest I’ll figure out later … Later is later.  It’s over there. It’s not today. Today I’m doing this.

Marie: Your thoughts on moderation and quitting really hit home with me.  I have committed to 100 days and whether or not I stay alcohol-free forever or not, I know, without a doubt at this point, that my relationship with alcohol will be different. When I quit smoking over 4 years ago, it was only for a year because I couldn’t imagine my life without a smoke every now and then.  I realized after a year that my relationship with cigarettes was really fucked up and that I didn’t want to go back to that place of longing and addiction.  At this point, even when my asshole friend makes me smell the sweet tobacco smell of a freshly unwrapped cigar (knowing full well I won’t even cheat on a small puff of a cigar because of my poor relationship with tobacco) I can still confidently say no and move on.  I may very well one day have the same relationship with a glass of Merlot.  For now, one day at a time, right?  🙂

… although I must say, i used to think that i’d try moderation (really? would i really?) at one year sober, the closer i get to it, the less likely it seems. I’d miss out on message like this one from Lily UK this morning:  “… Anyway Belle, even if I have to stay in [on Friday night] (also fabulous) and knit … I ain’t going to a pub, I ain’t going to drink. I’m never, ever, ever, going back there again. Wolf can scream, cry, kick, cajole, whisper sweet nothings in my ear, tell me all day long how boring life will be without alcohol how amazing life will be with it. Fuck off wolf Im not listening, I’m never going back. Sobriety rocks, it’s totally cool & trendy to be sober x love me, empowered lilyuk x.”

Team 100 update: 83 members. Welcome to new members: Em (7), Megan (4), Mary (4), Erika (10), Workerbeesc (4), Nancy (3), Helene (3), Elle (3), Jenna (4), Mae (3), Jackie (33), Diane (39).

Celebrations for: Amy (160), Emily (14), J (180), Sober Journalist (40), Mr. Belle (28), Katie (40), Roxanne (22), Chelsie (10).

“cosmic reason?”

I received this email from A. today.

She writes:  “I  am usually suspicious of the type of thinking that subscribes to the notion that things always happen for some cosmic reason. I believe that most of the time, crap just happens.

However, I just had a hell of a shitty day yesterday… and I drank (please reset me to Day 1 in the challenge.) My husband and daughter forgot that it was Mother’s Day and I got very upset. (I know, I’m an adult. I should realize that people don’t do things like that on purpose and just GROW UP, but yesterday it really hurt.)

I used my upset as an excuse — a fuck everything and everybody excuse. And I spiraled into the very typical alcoholic thinking that I suck, I’m a bad mother, I’m a bad wife, no one appreciates me, blah, blah, blah. I drank because I felt I deserved to be able to drink since everything else was so sucky.

So when I was lying awake in bed this morning and beating myself up some more, I figured that I better close this email account and stop pretending that I could ever quit drinking because everyone else seems to get in their sober car and never look back — and I keep turning the fucking car around. I felt I ought to just tattoo a big L on my forehead for loser and go crawl in a hole.

Then I logged onto the computer and saw your post from yesterday…

“You may stop and start a bit, while you figure out how to get your sober car on the road. It doesn’t matter.”

 Wow — talking directly to what I was feeling (is there a cosmic reason at work?) Maybe I’m not such a gigantic loser… (although, I do have to own the fact that I failed yesterday.) I can’t say that I’m feeling confident — I’m not sure how to get there in my mind. But certainly more hopeful that I felt earlier.

And you can quote me because today, you got me back in the car.

~ from A.

My response:

I ‘do’ believe in signs, but more in the way that when you’re ready to hear something, then the message makes sense.  You might have read the same thing a month ago, but today it makes sense to you…

PS/ And those little shits for forgetting Mother’s Day! Really.  If it was me, though, I’d have been reminding them for weeks.  I announce my birthday for one full month in advance.  I also post a list of gifts on the fridge that would suit me.  Nobody fucking forgets my birthday, I assure you. Those shits…

Here are some Mother’s Day flowers for A.:

Source: Diane Turner
Source: Diane Turner, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdlttx/132626781/