remove the booze

email from Amylee on the day before she quit drinking: “What if my Wolfie is the real me?  What if wolfie isn’t one aspect of me I can control but rather the central control point?  How can something as basic as wolfie so consistently and easily override all of the facts and insights and intentions I know to be true until evening rolls around?? Is wolfie the real me??”

me: not true. not true that wolfie is you. you remove the booze and the voice stops. when you’re on day 60 you can ask this question again. for now, it’s actually wolfie speaking, saying the same things he says to everyone: “I’m different, I’m broken, I can’t do this, I’m a special fucked up human …” 
you’re not. remove the booze and this all stops …
the thinking is IN the alcohol.
hugs

[update: she’s on day 141 today]

~

this is exit painting #384. there’s an exit 384 on the highway in florida, heading to gainesville. yes, really. gains-ville. what do you gain by taking exit 384? you get to go to gainesville. you can’t make this shit up. maybe i’m the only one who finds this amusing 🙂
this is exit painting #384 on the site, here.


​painted by mr.belle, acrylic and ink on archival paper, 11.75″ x 16.75″; original art (not a print), only 1 available, signed and numbered on back. link.

 

little surprises

email from Noontylemon (day 5): “Sober 🙂 Also i had a great idea. When i was drunk i was always finding nasty little surprises (like sent messages in my mails to that i’d forgotten that made me cringe, text messages to exes, realising i must have taken out £40 from the cash machine since i found the receipt and no sign of the money nor what i spent it on, thinking i’d only drunk one bottle of wine and then finding a near empty second. etc etc).

Anyway!!! So i’ve started planting sober surprises about the place! Little encouraging notes to myself, a £5 note hidden in a pocket with the words ‘for a treat’ stuck on it, i even just put a recipe for an alcohol-free punch in the fridge! The trouble is that since i’m sober i haven’t forgotten where they are yet!!!! But it makes me smile to think i might discover them in a week’s time and how pleased i will be if i’m still sober. So much thanks.”


 

this Exit painting (by mr.belle) was chosen to be shown at the art show in Tennessee (May 2019). now it’s here in paris, ready to be mailed to you. but just before it leaves, i snuck in some oxygen bubbles, signs of life. effervescence. fireflies!

this is #381 > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-381-fireflies

 

link here > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-381-fireflies

small notes about summer #3, #4 & #5

small notes about summer #3

so you will decline some of the invitations to some of the summer events. people want to go for a hike, that’s fine. They want you to sit around in their yard and watch them get hammered? not so much. You can attend every second event. You can arrive late and leave early. You can (for sure) go in your own car so that you can leave when you’re ready. You can take a replacement drink with you to avoid the tepid tap water on offer. You can show up with some fuck-you wolfie lemonade and then see how many people want to try it because it looks so good.

~

this painting is available at auction. HIGH BID is $5!!

link here


small notes about summer #4

when you drift from your sober supports, the voice in your head gets louder. It’s like an early warning system. you hear the wolfie voice, you go back to your sober stuff. listen to an audio, read a post. when you drift, the alarm will start to ring. make sure you listen to it. and don’t let wolfie tell you you’re too busy to be ‘sober’ today. not true. you being sober is how you have your best possible day today.


small notes about summer #5

small sober treats, something every two days, and you frame it like this:  this is my treat for being sober, because this shit is hard and i rock.

examples:
bubble bath
nice pens
smoked salmon
pickled onions
raspberries
flowers
magazine
kindle book
nail polish
new wrench
screwdriver with changeable ends (they have a fancier name than this; we called mine “the intensely useful item”)
posh makeup
shitty cheap makeup
calendar
getting a photo printed on real photo paper
new socks
replacing your towels, are you kidding, do you think i can’t see them from here?
cake
cake
corn on the cob
cake

drinking bathwater

email from Hernoodlyness (day 6): 
“Tonight is regular Drinking Tuesday with my two very good friends. I bought them a bottle of wine (i think it is my turn), but also have my special drink ready. I need to tell them that I will not be drinking alcohol with them any more (well for at least 100 days), but that I would still love to have an evening once a week to catch up. I am a little anxious about their reactions, as I used to be the drinking friend. But I am hoping that I can also just be a very good friend. Perhaps even better, now that my attention is not focused on how much alcohol is left and if I have enough after they left.”

me: you’ll find it easier with your friends if you mention it in advance. like send a text that says “can’t wait to see you tonight, I’ve got the wine, I’m not drinking these days so I’ll have tonic for me but I can’t wait to hear about xx and yy. see you soon.” just be matter of fact about it. it makes it easier for when you see them face to face. huglets

hnn: “I emailed them like you suggested and ended it with a funny story about how I found my little M was in the bathtub this afternoon drinking bathwater out of his shoe. They cared more about the anecdote, than my actual non-drinking warning. I am pretty sure you are thinking: YUP! 🙂  Thanks for the great advice. No anxiousness here any more!”

~

​exit the past situation. move into the new place. the door’s open. 


this is painting #399 here > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-399

give up what doesn’t serve me

this is an email about how things grow and evolve. i was looking over some messages i received in 2013, about a year after i quit drinking, to see how much i’ve ‘bloomed’ since then. here’s one example:

october 9, 2013
email from E. “Hi Belle, I just want to say I got chills reading your post about opening a store! I’m not sure why exactly, there was just something so — touching on a dream — or something. And beautiful how things change and how you accept that thought so easily (it seems).
And on that note of changing dreams, I thought it was really interesting in a recent post how you mentioned you no longer write fiction. I am struggling with that one. I feel like it was this dream I always had and it’s soooo hard to let it go, but I just don’t think I like it, or that it’s good for me (it kind of makes me crazy) and I write in so many other capacities. I’m in another fiction class right now to give it one last shot to see if I want to or not, but I hope to hear from you or see a post on whether that was difficult to give up the fiction dream or if you let it go easily and what made that possible. I think the ability to allow oneself to change (including changing dreams) is so important but boy, can it be difficult!”

me: I’m big on giving up stuff that doesn’t serve me. but really the decision to not write fiction anymore wasn’t even really a decision. I just stopped. I never ‘had time’, I was always ‘busy with other things,’ and that’s it. years went by. then more years. now I realize that I wrote fiction to make other people happy. for me, it’s too solitary. and I’m not compulsive enough (i.e. I don’t get up every day just dying to write fiction). I do get up thinking about pie though. turns out I had to get sober and be 46 years old to figure out what I’m really called to do. I’m CALLED to and dream about cinnamon buns. and pie. and today I made sour cream coffee cake and bagels and lamb pot pies…

 


 

what’s interesting, of course, is that 4ish years later i WOULD start writing fiction again, sober fiction, about Rayna.

But i couldn’t see it then. i needed the space of being sober, measured in years, which eventually allowed the writing to come back in, on its own, without being forced.

It did NOT happen right away. i didn’t even predict it would happen at all.

i also found a way to make the fiction not solitary, by posting it live every day for people to read. and i found i way to make it ‘compulsive’ but committing to posting something every single day without skipping days.

the things i thought i couldn’t change, i could. the things i thought were fixed about writing fiction (solitary/not driven enough) i could change with external accountability. i know that’s not the way most people write books. it’s not the way most people do anything. but i know me. i do better when i think someone is paying attention. number of fiction books written without accountability over a period of 23 years? none. thought about it. didn’t do it. added daily accountability? wrote a first draft in 6 months.

tried to quit drinking on my own, I could get to 9 days.

add accountability? coming up on my seventh soberversary on july 1st.

but don’t get me wrong. accountability is hard. you have to reach out. you have to say you’ll do it. you have to show up. you have to allow yourself to be accountability. it’s scary to set it up. but it can help to get the thing done.

and i know, for me, i can’t do much without something external to me. it’s just how i’m wired. i can’t even apologize for it. it’s just who i am. i can do LOTS OF THINGS with accountability. I can do very little without.

i’d still like a blue bakery (i do love that photo). I’d also like to get fiction book #1 published, and start on #2. I’d like to have a radio show (!).

and my ongoing goal, often overriding others… is to sleep in.

maybe i’ll do all of them, just not at once. maybe if we’re sober for a longer period of time, there’s room to put the goals in.

and the space to let new, unimagined ones grow.

hugs from me xo

 


Question: If you were making a pledge today, and you could pick any number of days, then how long can you pledge to be sober for, for sure, starting today?

me, I can be sure, from today, that i’m not drinking until July 1st (my soberversary). for sure. for sure. no questions. i’m going to be sober longer than that, but i’m definitely 100% not drinking between now and then.

What about you? what’s your ‘for-sure-for-sure’ number of days you can be sober starting today?

~

“I know you’re chasing problems
But you’ve been running too long
It’s time that you come home my love
And stay here in the sun my love”


www.artsober.com

be OK with you first


email from Sunshine (day 1):
“I want to try 30 days. Haven’t made it that far yet. Day 1 for me again.”

me: you can try for any number of days you like 😉 how about starting with 2 days, and then getting a nice sober treat! 

sunshine: “You never make me feel embarrassed or shitty about emailing you and keep me feeling encouraged. Thank u:)”

[update: she’s on day 446 today]


Question: If you were making a pledge today, and you could pick any number of days, then how long can you pledge to be sober for, for sure, starting today?

me, I can be sure, from today, that i’m not drinking until July 1st (my soberversary). for sure. for sure. no questions. i’m going to be sober longer than that, but i’m definitely 100% not drinking between now and then.

What about you? what’s your ‘for-sure-for-sure’ number of days you can be sober starting today?

~

“If you see a chance, take it …”
[original art here]


www.artsober.com

The Thing isn’t in the Thing {Audio}

This is audio is about how the thing isn’t in the thing.

I talk about how your spouse is your peer and not your parent, and I happen to mention sorting laundry, burning toast, and hot turkey sandwiches.

Alcohol has done a good marketing job, in your head, in telling you that it seems like a good idea to drink… but I can verify, ​for sure, based on my inbox, that the first drink is a disappointment. and the thing isn’t in the thing…

This is the subject of a podcast (episode 293) sent to podcast subscribers.

I want you to hear the whole audio, even if you’re not a subscriber. So I’m going to load the entire thing below ​and leave it there for 48 hrs. ​

​​Listen in installments. Or get a cup of tea and do it all at once. There's something in here for you. I'm sure of it.

[ link removed ]

​Sober Podcast 293. ​The Thing Isn't IN the Thing

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. ​To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

​Download ​SP293. ​The Thing Isn't IN the Thing​

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)

exit the past situation. move into the new place. the door's open. 

eachdayitgetsalittleeasier

nashville takes footwear and music very seriously. sometimes combined in the same space.

 

email from Faith2019: “Hi Belle. Well when I went ice skating the other day I had a really bad fall and hurt my arm. Couldn’t move it and I thought it was broken. Went to ER. no broken bones thank god but still a lot of pain. I guess what I am comparing it to is stopping drinking. Each day it gets a little easier — and I said to myself when my arm is back to the way it was, I am going to appreciate it so much and treasure it and try to never hurt it again !!!!! Because this sucks.

So as not drinking gets easier everyday, I don’t want to go back and hurt myself again and start healing All over!!!! Just like this freakin arm.”

 

​Painting #406 has been posted for sale. 
Here’s how it looked on the wall at the Tennessee Art Show in Knoxville 🙂 (May 9-11). This photo was taken the day before, during set up, so D’s desk is still in the picture, and the garbage cans were later moved! But i wanted you to see how it looked with the others 🙂
artsober.com

the drinking itself was making life hard

from me: i recently sent out a survey with a few questions; here are some of the replies.

from anonymous:

What’s the biggest reason for being sober? Drinking prevented me from growing into someone who could thrive without drinking.  I wanted to know what life was like on the other side. I didn’t want to die having never given myself that experience.

What’s the one biggest thing you’ve learned from me? The idea of the sober toolbox that you just keep adding and adding to, even when (especially when!) things are going well. The concept that the drinking itself was what was making life hard — I’ll be honest I didn’t believe that at first, and even after I started to feel better, didn’t really viscerally “get” that until about 6-8 months in. That 100 days is greater than the sum of its months, in terms of the changes one experiences.

from anonymous:

What’s the biggest reason for being sober? I had read a lot of articles and books such as Catherine Gray in the hope that I would learn how to drink and feel good about myself: buck the trend, be the exception. I came to realise, however, that no matter how clever I am (!) it’s really not possible. I can see and feel that my mood was affected more by alcohol than other people. I felt like I was on a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing and had to stop denying that alcohol was the problem not the solution to me feeling better about almost everything. So my one reason was mental health as you expected many people to say, I just hadn’t thought about it that way until now.

What’s the one biggest thing you’ve learned from me? Acknowledge how hard this is and give yourself credit for every step along the road to sobriety. If I’m feeling a bit wobbly I think of my worst drinking experiences and question whether I’d want to be there again.

 


quote from the Exit the Booze Elevator writing project (written this morning!)
   It all starts with an argument. The best kind of marital argument where I’m SURE I’m right and he’s wrong. We’d just returned from a particularly distressing visa meeting with the French government, you know, the kind where they’re saying ‘you can’t do this, you must do that’. And there was much finger-wagging in Mr.Belle’s direction.
I had warned him for months beforehand. They’re going to give you shit for this, I said. No, they won’t, they don’t care, he replied. They are going to send us home to Canada, I whined. No, they won’t, it’ll be fine, he repeated.
Well, it wasn’t fine. Before the agent could approve us for the next level of our resident visa, she apparently had to do a careful review of his file.
And then she said what I knew she would (I knew it! I was right!): “Monsieur, you cannot have this visa renewed in this situation.”
She said it with a nice French accent. But still.
Three days later, in a fit of frustration, I went into my husband’s things while he was at work, pulled out one of his ‘for fun’ paintings, and stuck it up on the website.

This is Exit painting #1, and it went to Indy in California 🙂
more here

 

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