about to give up

from my inbox:

L: “I’m seriously about to give up on trying to be sober. I have been struggling since 2009 – when I first went to rehab. Since then I got married and had a beautiful baby boy and didn’t drink for about two years. When my son was about a year and a half I started drinking again at social events and it quickly got out of hand. I snowballed fast and hit lots of rock bottoms. Last weekend was my worst – I drove after going to an event all day where I was drinking. I was blacked out. I got behind the wheel blacked out and tried to drive to my old friend’s house … all while my wonderful husband and sweet boy slept innocently in our home. I was out doing bad things. I have the worst anxiety. I thought that was my break through “aha” moment. But no. I drank yesterday at a baby shower then took an uber to a pub near my house and drank alone bc we have no booze in the house. I’ve been going to rehab after work 4 days a week. I don’t know why I can’t even get ten days recently. I’ve never been this bad. Or sad about everything. I have a great life and I’m ruining it with drinking.

Your podcasts are so inspiring and I can relate so much to you and what you say … I wish I wasn’t wired this way and/or I knew how to rewire permanently. I’m so fed up. I don’t know I am just venting but felt like I needed to actually send this to someone. You are amazing. I wish I had 1/4 if your strength and outlook. Thanks for making me feel like I am not completely alone.”

me: my lovely, don’t confuse my strength and outlook with anything other than being sober. I’m not some special creature. I’m a fucked up human like everyone else. I just happen to have quit drinking. 

and you can do that too. and you can kick some major ass once you quit (for real). 

that you don’t yet know how to get there, doesn’t mean it’s not possible – it means you don’t have the right tools and accountability (yet). 

so here’s what I’d suggest (and I’m not a counsellor, and you should ignore me):

  • 2 weeks of anti-anxiety medication + antabuse for 6-9 months
  • daily accountability to someone (me, sponsor, therapist)
  • weekly one-on-one meetings with someone who’s a booze specialist (me,
    sponsor, therapist)
  • continue with your outpatient treatment
  • sign up for my jumpstart class so that we can be daily penpals, and then
    email me 4 times a day to begin.
  • remove the booze from your home.
  • do not socialize outside the home for the first 6 weeks. going to a baby shower is asking to drink. I have a high bottom and I didn’t socialize outside the home more than 2-3 times in the first 6 weeks, I was too afraid to drink and I didn’t want a new day 1. 

if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you stop off now. right now. whatever it takes. there is support for you. but as a group, us boozers, we suck at asking for it. support is right there. you have a brain that says it isn’t. your brain is incorrect.

if you do the jumpstart class, then we’re penpals, then  you can set up calls with me once a week for 6 weeks, that might help get you going. and a trial of antabuse + of anti-anxiety medication for the first for the first week (or too) might be really helpful, too.

I know you don’t WANT to do any of this. but you want to be sober. so you do some new things now. and get away from day one.

again. please ignore me. I don’t know you. I don’t know if your situations is truthfully expressed (or if it’s worse or better than what you describe). I can just talk about what I’ve seen in my inbox from other penpals. all i know is that you’ll need tools + support + accountability. and more of it than you think you ‘should’ need. hugs from me

L: “Belle, thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. I read your email over and over and I couldn’t believe you were so responsive and real.  You gave me hope when I was seriously ready to give up on this whole sobriety thing. I emailed you 10 days ago.  I have 10 days sober today. I am so grateful for these ten days. I know I’ve had more time in the past and 10n doesn’t sound like a lot (hmm, I think that’s wolfie telling me that)  but this time around 10 days seems like a fucking long time. I am grateful for each one of them. The urges are definitely not as strong, but I need to stay on top of this and use these tools every single day. Actually every minute of the day. Because I know this shit can sneak up on me and come out of nowhere and tell me I can have one.

But screw you wolfie! Screw you alcohol! I am over you and getting stronger everyday, and quieting the voices slowly.  I am going to sign up for your jumpstart class this weekend. I am really looking forward to it. As far as your suggestions, thank you! I am on medication and I think they are starting to kick in … I’ve cancelled every commitment and social event that has been on the calendar and am ready to turn down any that come up. I simply can not even be in the room as it.  I can’t thank you enough for your support. I’ll be in touch this weekend when I sign up. Thank you, thank you!”

Audio: I Want to be on the Rich Roll Podcast

This is Sober Podcast Episode #196 for my weekly sober podcast series.

I want to be on the Rich Roll podcast.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s an ultra-endurance runner, previous over-drinker. He’s a vegan athlete now and he has a podcast that is very popular. He talks to people about health and wellness, not just about recovery (although when the person he is speaking to has an over-drinking history, that will often become at least the subtext of their conversation).

I figured someone in my group probably knows who he is. Either you live in LA, or you know him, or you know his wife, Julie Piatt, or you know his cafe (Joi Cafe).

I’d like to be on his show because I think that I have an interesting perspective to offer, particularly as I just listened one of his recent episodes, where at the end, he and the guest — and the guest was another over-drinker, marathon ultra-endurance runner — were discussing how do you reply to people who email and say, “you’ve inspired me, I want to quit drinking, what’s your advice?”

The two of them come to it with different approaches, of course. As I’m listening I think, “gee I would say a totally different thing that will reach a whole other group of people that these two responses don’t reach.”

Below i’ve posted a 3 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast, recorded while i was out walking to breakfast.

HOMEWORK
Do you know Rich Roll or Julie Piatt or Joi Cafe? Short of irritating him with multiple emails, do you have an idea how I can get on his show? Do you know someone who knows someone? I think the idea of a sober trial needs to be shared more, and we need to spotlight the newly emerging internet-based, anonymous, private, AND portable supports for sobriety.

 

 

 

Download the audio podcast episode 196

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

 

Comment:

BG: “I don’t know this guy but I hope you get on his podcast. You have a lot of important information to get out there in the big boozy world.  My favourite part of the podcast was being in the cafe with you (at the very end). Loved that you read the menu to us. It’s that Harriet The Spy feeling. Do you know that book? It was one of my favourite’s when I was a kid. The fly on the wall. Being able to observe without being observed … Love listening to you Belle.”

MJP: “What I heard in this podcast is: you don’t have to wait for a lower bottom. A lower bottom for me could’ve been death or disability.”

===

small print.
read this FAQ on how to leave a comment on the blog.

Audio: “Keep It Exciting”

This is Sober Podcast Episode #186 for my weekly sober podcast series.

So, what does it mean if you have a boring stretch of time in your sobriety?

Well, the answer depends on if you’re on day 7 or 77 or 700.

Below i’ve posted a 3.5 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast. the full thing is 28 minutes long, but this chunk here stands alone. if you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

HOMEWORK
Have you had a ‘my sobriety lacks sparkle’ time? Did you hear anything in this podcast that would help you if it happens again?

 

 

 

Download the audio podcast episode 186

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

it was a baseball bat

from my inbox:

this is from B (day 299).

“I used to think that booze was medicine, that it would help me with life’s ills. I was compelled to drink because if I didn’t then something terrible would happen – I would have to face real life sober.  Even if I didn’t feel like drinking, I would still drink because I had to take my medicine or I would get sick from the full force of my life.

I was terrified of getting sober, of how I would cope with the world without my medicine, and it has been really really hard sometimes because the full force of life can be harsh. But fucking hell it can be amazing too, this sober life!  … and of course I have realised that booze wasn’t a medicine at all, it was a baseball bat that I would hit myself over the head with, over and over again until I fell unconscious. As I enjoy the real privilege of a sober life, of being fully present and being able to work on myself to become the best version of me that I can, that suddenly seems like the saddest thing in the world. I don’t do that any more. I have learned to take care of me.

Recently I’ve been passing through a time when I’m far enough away from day one to have forgotten what it was really like. The hangovers, the shame, the health fears, the isolation, struggling through a work day, struggling through any time that I wasn’t drinking, worrying about how much I was drinking, whether people could tell how much I was drinking, which shop to get today’s booze from so I wasn’t rumbled as a boozer, hiding the recycling, hiding my drinking, hiding my best self. I’ve been going through a phase where I have been remembering ‘the good times’, like a relationship break up where you start to remember the fun you had, conveniently forgetting all of the stuff that led to the break up.

Well that’s all bollocks. If there ever was a time when booze and I got along, that time passed a long time ago and won’t ever come back again. But I don’t think there ever was a time when it was ok – it’s all just stupid Wolfie lies.  I am through with believing that bastard Wolfie, if I hadn’t clung to my sober supports I know I would have been sucked in, and I would be sat here now all alone, without you, without my self esteem, right back to where I was, feeling shit about myself and my life.

Emailing you, Belle, every day has been my number one sober support. Knowing that you genuinely care and getting your replies and suggestions (which are always right of course because you are a genius) has been the thing that worked where nothing else did before. And looking at the stuff you produced in your early days and the stuff you produce now and seeing how far you have come gives me real proper hope. And hearing about you having difficult things happen helps makes it all feel real and doable.  Imperfection is required – booze is not.

Love to you Belle, and all the gratitude in the world to you for standing by my side while I go through this amazing transformation. Your virtual hugs keep me going 🙂 ~ B”

 

Audio: BBC Radio 5 Live with Emma Barnett (May 3, 2017)

This is Sober Podcast Episode #192 for my longer sober podcast series.

This was my first experience ‘explaining’ sober coaching and quitting drinking to someone in the media who doesn’t know anything about it, is perhaps skeptical, and wonders why we quit. I didn’t realize, of course, that asking provocative and slightly confrontational questions makes for better radio. I think I was expecting something more touchy-lovely 🙂

i have to say thanks (again!) to Bemmy Girl and Sarah for coming on the show with me. brave souls you are. braver than i would have been if the roles were reversed.

Below i’ve posted the entire 17 minute podcast. usually i just post a clip but today, thanks to some really lovely donations to the Sober Good Works fund (thanks!), i’m posting this audio for everyone to listen to – even if you’re not a paying podcast subscriber.

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me how you would have addressed Emma’s concern about whether it’s ‘ethical or not’ to be a sober coach for people who could be ‘in denial’ (her words) and who should see ‘a professional’ … so tell me, what would you like Emma to know?
after 48 hrs, I’ll pick one comment and that person will get a present. 

 

 

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: BBC Radio London with Eddie Nestor (May 3, 2017)

turns out i was on the radio twice yesterday (yeah, that never happens). for the second one, my cell phone rings, and it’s: “can you talk for 5 minutes about being a sober coach, and can you get a penpal from London to come on too?” turns out the answer was YES.

what you will hear in this audio is a recording from BEHIND THE SCENES. You hear the show going on, you hear the producer saying “Belle, we’ll have you on in just a second” and you can hear what it sounded like from my side of the microphone (I was on skype in Paris while they’re recording in London). Then at the end, when they’re ‘done’ with me, you can hear penpal Tom continue onward.

Total length is about 7 minutes from start to finish, though my voice doesn’t begin until 2 minutes in, so be patient 🙂

(this audio was also sent out for free as an MP3 file to podcast subscribers and to daily one-minute message subscribers)

 

 

3 May 2017 – BBC Radio London – presenter Eddie Nestor

 

Photos: Book Cover

Photo Assignment: Book Cover

The goal for this assignment was to take a photo of the cover of the book, in any creative way you like.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures. I’ll be doing another book cover challenge in May/June so you can start emailing your new photos now!

Three random winners of art/magnet/chocolate. They are #6 The Evangelist, #8 SDBKatz, and #17 Mountain Girl.  If you’re a winner, you can send me your mailing addresses so that I can send you your treats.

 

Audio: “I’ll Take the Stairs”

This is Sober Podcast Episode #185 for my weekly sober podcast series.

What do you say to someone, who believes that while the booze elevator may only go down, “if it does reach bottom and the elevator door won’t open, and I’m stuck there – then I’ll take the stairs.” What do you say to that? Are there stairs?

Why does wolfie think that going down further before we quit is a ‘good idea’? I talk about bravado, not using your supports, and the voice that is (always) trying to convince us “to keep on drinking, it’ll be fine,” no matter what.  and really, if it’s hard to quit now, what’ll it be like to quit later?

Below i’ve posted the entire 21 minute podcast. usually i just post a clip but today, thanks to some really lovely donations to the Sober Good Works fund (thanks!), i’m posting this audio for everyone to listen to – even if you’re not a paying podcast subscriber. I’ll leave this link up for 48 hrs, so have a listen now.

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me how long did you know you were over-drinking to the point where you knew you were going to need to do something about it, and then how much longer AFTER that point did you keep on drinking, cuz wolfie said “quit later…”
Yeah, me too.
after 48 hrs, I’ll pick one comment and that person will get a present. 

[ link has been removed ]

 

Download the audio podcast episode 185

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: Empathy for Addiction

This is Sober Podcast Episode #184 for my weekly sober podcast series.

TrixeeK sent me an audio question … what do you say to friends who want to quit drinking but don’t listen to your advice? How do you deal with frustration when people relapse? What do you do when you’re tempted to say “try harder”?

Recorded with a live audience, this longer podcast (28 mins) talks about empathy, how to be helpful, and the tricky question of boundaries.

Below i’ve posted a 6 minute extract from this longer audio, and this clip starts at the very beginning of the podcast.

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment  … have you had an experience like TrixeeK explains in her audio question? what would you do differently now that you know what being sober is like?

 

Download the audio podcast episode 184

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a Sterling Silver “Stay Here” Bracelet (value $52), funded by the Sober Good Works donations.