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
www.soberlinks.me/worth

Resentment

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.”

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.

hugs

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.

New Podcast Series… “Duck Ponderings: Behind the Scenes with a Sober Girl”

New Podcast Series
Starting Tuesday April 3rd

Introducing a new 10-part podcast, “Duck Ponderings – Behind the Scenes” with fascinating (!) behind the scenes stories from this sober girl. honest, unedited, rambling. recorded at the duck pond. complete with a badly dressed dog, a man who looks like a priest/jester, and a story about why my jewelry designer mails the bracelets to me in france only for me to turn around and re-mail them back to the US.

This new 10-part podcast will be free, hosted on gumroad and itunes. supported only by donations. (or use this link for paypal / no VAT). it works out every time. no sponsorship. just you pitching in where you can.

Stay tuned. The first three episodes will be released all at once on Tuesday, April 3rd.

i will never get it ‘right’, but i know my intent :)

this is my personal stop-drinking blog, which means sometimes i write stuff – about quitting drinking, about being sober – and sometimes i share stuff – positive stories from penpals, struggles, adventures and tragedies.

and if i was you, if i read something on a personal blog that rubbed me the wrong way, then i’d maybe brush it off as a misunderstanding. but if a second and third time i found it irritating, i might unsubscribe and move on 🙂 the world is full of humans. we don’t all click.

i started this blog as a way to document wanting to be sober, and it has grown into something else that was not my intention at all. i figured i’d keep doing this sober thing (audios, penpals, jewelry) so long as people liked it. i mean, if i had an idea for a bracelet, and nobody wanted one, then i’d have moved on to other things.

i am utterly without a marketing plan. i’m not trying to find a niche. there is no master plan of any kind at all 🙂 there’s the lovely randomness of being in contact with so many people, and trying to find the common threads, to weave some of them together, to create a hammock (see what i did there?) where you can rest for a bit.

sometimes i get really lovely supportive emails, and sometimes i get unhappy ones. i know i’m neither end – i’m not as great as the lovely ones and i’m not as shitty as the shitty ones. i’m somewhere in between.

well, the only way i know that, is i know my intent.

my intent is to follow (not lead) and to create community without hierarchy. my intent is to share, encourage, empathize. i didn’t want to ‘model’ anything, but i was told that’s what i do. i didn’t wake up one day and think – hey let me model problem solving once sober. i just wrote about my stuff.

if you read one of those older emails, i don’t even remember one specifically, maybe when my husband was looking for an office and i talked about how we found him one – or maybe if you are folloowing along with my sober fiction project, and you read some of the prewrites about how writing is like being sober, but if you read stuff like this about problem-solving, and it’s helpful, then i take those comments and do a bit more of it.

when i get “you’re selling too much” then i try to weigh that against “i wore my not today bracelet every day for 1000 days and never took it off even to sleep.”

i will never get it ‘right’.

and i guess it’ll never be perfect because i’m a human and not a brand. i don’t have a team of people saying “research shows that when you weigh more, people like you more.” i don;t have anyone measuring if my swearing turns off more than it attracts.

i’m just being me.

i’m not a brand. i’m not even a business. i mean, this sober coaching thing makes money but that’s not why i do it. (you can’t fake empathy and connection, and you can’t fake giving a shit, not even when paid. nobody would be penpals encouraging people to be sober only for the money. and if they did, it’d be super transparent and you can smell that kind of shit a mile away.)

i also am not building an empire, i mean i didn’t get sober, start to sell a class, quit my day job and tell you-all that i’m focussing on taking your money from now on. i’m sober, yes, in addition to my regular work. i’m not sober so that i can be a sober coach and take your money. i’m sober because it’s the foundation for everything else i have in my life, including catering, bread baking, and being up at 5:40 a.m.

there is no plan here 🙂 there is only intent. my idea to write sober fiction? came from a penpal. in fact, came from two different penpals – one who suggested fiction, the other who suggested serialized fiction.

behind the scenes, i’m a caterer and a text designer. i’m working offsite for 3 months and getting up at 5:40 a.m. which i loathe. i’ve been getting myself treats staring this week, finally, to help with the early mornings. i counted out how many days i would be at the new thing (48) and i’ve done 15 of them already. i also know that when it’s over, i’ll miss it, but right now i’m regretting the commitment (sounds familiar  – starting a new offsite job is just like early sobriety – want to quit, sure it’s a mistake, want to finish the goal and then never do it again, expect i’ll get to the end and want to keep going, etc.).

anyway 🙂 this is a long pre-amble before i share what’s in my inbox today. i am a real human, imperfect. doing some sober support stuff that suits some people and doesn’t suit others. i’m not trying to find more customers.  i’m not trying to get media, or be on panels, or get a tattoo, or go to a march. i’m not talking about yoga or green juice. i talk about being sober. how to do it, how i did it, how penpals do it. sometimes i talk about cake, but hey, who doesn’t like cake? #theworldneedsmorecake

my inbox today:

spring rabbit: “You post SO many notes in which people praise you. It makes your whole system feel cultish, like: if I want to have my email posted by Belle, I just have to go on and on about how amazing Belle is. It turns my stomach—you have people PAYING you to read other people’s adulation of you. How is that ethical? How is that about helping any of us? And now you’re posting people’s photographs of YOUR book? And getting free feedback on your book from people who’ve turned to you for help? It feels as if you’re using all of us for your own personal ego trip and benefit. I realize that many of these customers/clients/whatever you call them also offer words of support, which you share, and much of that is valuable to the rest of us. But I urge you to stop including the “Belle is so amazing” “Belle is a godsend” “Belle is my hero” stuff that you tack onto these shares. And stop forcing vulnerable people to shill your book for you. Among other things, it’s quite tacky.”

jacci2: “Yes, you’re right! I’ve definitely noticed some [cognitive behaviour] type stuff in your podcasts, OMMs, emails, and blog this time around! That’s probably why I turned to you for additional support when I relapsed, right after I enlisted the help of my therapist and my boyfriend. I feel like you get it, you get me, you get the process, and you speak my language. You know that shame doesn’t work. in my personal experience, AA is terribly shame based (I went for about a year in the past and never felt quite right about it), and I feel there is a sad desperation about living your life just trying to be sober each day. I feel there is more to life. I’d rather let drinking go, and focus on all I get to do, see, experience, and feel now that I’m NOT drinking! I know AA works for a lot of people and that’s grand, it’s just not for me.”

~

and i know i’m somewhere in between. i know my intent. do i have ego moments? sure. do i need to be called out on them? of course. do people pay me to read my emails? no. do i know what it’s like to have a voice in your head that thinks that drinking is a good idea? i do i do i do.

i know how i got the voice to stop. that’s what i hope to share.

huglets, me

tuesday update: the future of the One Minute Messages

Here’s the link to today’s Tuesday Update message. This is omm260, and it’s a recap of the distribution of these one minute messages, how to send them out the best way.

To hear this tuesday message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

 

 

links mentioned in the audio:

  • Gumroad: Sign up for these one minute messages on Gumroad to get access to ALL 200+ episodes & the occasional video from paris. there’s a video about a poop truck:  https://gum.co/belle-omm/itunes
  • iTunes (apple podcast) > link
  • Get the daily email messages > link
  • Longer podcast subscription > link

 

And here’s the photo of my lunch, funded by the tiny gift fund.

never mind. look away. eyes on your own paper.

from me:

this sober girl got up at 6:15 and wrote some on the new sober fiction writing project. it’s day 6 of 100 days in a row. remember when i said it was 100 days until christmas? yeah, that.

there are so many ways that writing is like being sober.

you show up and you don’t know what to expect. you’ve heard other people’s stories but you don’t know if they will apply to you. you are sure you’re a special snowflake and that “what works for others won’t work for you.” You get advice from people who don’t get it. You get cheerleading in unusual places.

In my case, i writing to be so close to early sobriety that some days, it’s all i can do to just keep going. i’m on day 6. don’t want to break the streak. don’t want to have to start over.

if you’re like me, you do better with accountability and support. and when i say “if you’re like me” and you think you aren’t, you probably are. You do better with support. You do better when someone you respect, who loves you, who has your best interests at heart says something encouraging. Imagine the storybook version of a grandmother. that kind of support. (if you have a grandmother like mine, whenever i’d complain about a perceived slight or a sister squabble, she’d say “Never Mind,” as if to say: look away. eyes on your own paper. keep your eyes on the road. don’t let your sober car run out of gas.)

and like writing, it’s not enough to feel like you have the ABILITY to do it, you also need the right combination of motivation and spark and timing and momentum. And when you get momentum? well i’m not dumb, i know that momentum is hard to get, and even 6 days is hard to get, so i’m keeping going.

i also set up some external accountability by posting the book, in order, a bit at a time, as it’s written. It’s officially called ‘serializing’ your book, when you print it bit by bit. And if the experiment of posting day by day continues to work well, i’ll share it here too. for now i’m being a bit careful of who/how i share (sounds like sobriety?).

mood-wise i’m doing ok this week. I mean, i’m as sloth-y as ever. I’d LIKE to: clean the house, run a 10K, get my eyebrows done, empty the freezer, read a book about Hope, make 4 new recipes, and go to IKEA.

instead of that list of things i’d LIKE to do, instead i’m doing this: emailing sober penpals, hosting a class about worth (which is turning out to be super fascinating, as we discuss in more depth how the “THING is not in the THING”), writing every day, and going to physio twice a week for a sore shoulder (just tendonitis, nothing exciting). that’s it. i’m not cooking meals, i’m not running much (more walking), i’m not making new recipes. in fact, if you must know, i had canned beans for lunch today (3:02 pm) for the first time in 8 years and they were delish. that’s it.

and like when we make any large changes (writing fiction – which really is just like being sober – it’s creating a new something where there was nothing before), i’m being kind to myself to remember that 6 days is a big deal. that writing daily and doing the rest of my life is enough for now. and any ideas of nice eyebrows will have to wait. the freezer will wait. the new recipes can wait. IKEA will still be there on the weekend.

striving for underwhelm so that the magnitude of what i’m doing doesn’t make my head fly off.

 

cold, rainy, and the soup apparently will not cook itself.

from me:

this sober girl slept in this morning, it’s cold and rainy. I had a large pot of decaf. I am wearing orange Ernie socks, plaid pyjama bottoms, a Roots t-shirt, a zip up jacket. It’s colder than it should be.

I open my inbox and it looks like this: celebration of 100 days, relapse on day 49, reset after 3 years of drinking, frustration with repeated resets. (at this point i pause and finds an audio to send to the frustrated girl, an audio recorded for a different frustrated girl, but applies to this one, too, so resending.)

there are sweet and kind emails in response to yesterday’s micro-email (“yes, i feel like that too”) and there are questioning emails (“did you write that nice thing about yourself and pass it off as having been written by a penpal”) and other questioning emails (“i question your qualifications to teach a ‘worth’ class”).

I edit a podcast interview recorded a month ago, and then email the interviewee (again) to ask if she’d like me to NOT share the recording. i’ve offered before, i offer again. for reasons.

my husband comes home for lunch at noon (it’s 1:20 pm now). i suggest not terribly kindly that he shift his work project from one thing to another, and he declines, and then i feel trapped and i stop talking.

i have a new catering order for later this week which is exciting, although the one where i made the 10 cheesecakes was cancelled. so i have food in my freezer (that’ll teach me to do too much in advance!).

so really, it’s a regular day.

up and down moments. problem solving, linking, writing. working on the fiction project (can you tell how well it’s going? i’m here doing this instead).

i have someone who signed up for the jumpstart class but hasn’t downloaded the audios yet, and is having trouble getting going. i have someone who is celebrating day 156 and has been lurking the whole time.

i have 10 small cheesecakes in the freezer. no that’s true. there are 9. but i wrote 10 before and so i’m continuing with that.

and just like anyone else in the universe, i have emails that lift and some that flatten. i have moments of “oh brother” and moments of perfect alignment.

but really. i’m a girl in her pyjamas (now it’s 1:28 pm). i haven’t had lunch. my husband thinks i’m a turd (to be fair, i didn’t warm him up to my ideas, i just blurted them and he declined), and i fear that i am not going outside today because it is 16C (61F) and pouring rain.

i could make soup with the nice italian pasta that M. brought me when she went home to see her parents, but that seems unlikely. uncooked pasta from ‘rome’ is the same as any other kind of uncooked pasta. it’s the kind that isn’t in my soup. it’s not exotic. it’s uncooked pasta. that is not feeding me at this exact second.

ok fine. i’ll make the fucking soup. fine. FINE.

things i learned yesterday: not everyone loves me every day of the week. no shit. and yes, i am OK with that. i am initially flattened and then i reinflate. i think the reinflating part is the key. and how long it is between flat and reinflated. yesterday I learned that making cheesecake in advance is probably not a good idea unless you want to eat them all. I learned that my idea of writing fiction is VASTLY different from the actual writing of it.

do not say “tomorrow will be a better day.”

instead, you can say: “i have shit days too. one shit day. who cares. make the most of it. order a burger from the food delivery and be done with it. go back to bed.” or you can say “the fiction is probably better than you think it is.” or you can say “i’m one of the lurkers who never speaks up but here’s what i think…”