love and sundays, me

To quote Colleen, i’ve been in “grind mode” and forgot to stop and have some scheduled rest time.  Thankfully it didn’t take long to reset… Went to bed Friday night, slept 10.5 hours! Yesterday already felt much much better. Went out for lunch, walked and walked with Mr. Belle, watched a movie, had some mint/chai tea. I’ve been reading a lot, computer turned off mostly, sitting outside in the sun. Today, went for a run. Sunny again. Sunny in my head. I snuggle with my husband and i say, for the billionth time, “I like vacation more than real life.”

Happy 100 days to Sun Flower today 🙂 Everyone say hooray for her, cuz she’s dealing with family and parent shit and she’s sober. Hurrah!

Quill (day 33) and I have been writing back and forth at a (sometimes) furious past with fascinating twists and turn… Here’s something I sent to her this week, seems appropriate for a Sunday post:

here’s a novel idea about your dreams and goals:
it’s all possible.
Maybe in smaller steps than perhaps you’ve been imagining.
but it doesn’t matter HOW LONG it takes to get to ‘fabulous’
it just matters that you’re upright
you’re on the highway headed towards ‘fabulous’
and you are moving forward.
go slowly
but GO
do little bits and pieces of small assignments and homework
and just (tentatively) begin
no, really 🙂
(i feel like i’ve been typing “no, really” for days and days
in all of my emails
to everyone
about everything).

love and sundays,
me

Team 100 update:  123 members, welcome to Melinda (7). Happy days to SoberinMtl (7), KC (71), Whineless (75), Victoria (31), Grace (10), Lurker M (21), Katie (21), Kriss (71), Shel (91), Marie (70), Kirst (15), Laura (50), Erin (70), Tammy (91), Em & Sarita (10), Suzanne (35), Catkin & Overndout (21), Gindy (85), Camla (30), Ingrid & Pip (10), Carol (20), Sterling (7), and Trish (21).

treats and rewards. must. must.

From me:

I am well, but tired. I say that too often. I did not get a mini-vacation this month, or last, saving money, should have done it anyway. I work hard and long and need the time off away from home, not only to rest, but also as a reward to look forward to. I know what makes me ‘tick’ and i need to stop resisting it. I resist giving myself the things i need on a Regular and Consistent basis because … [fill in the blank] … to prove that i can function with less? that I can do it without reward, without recognition (it would be like always working without pay, for free). Why? Why is that such an interesting character trait that i possess?

If i was giving myself more regular rewards, what would that MEAN? That i value myself more. that i’m worth it. that i’m doing hard work and have ‘earned’ it. that life is fun and i need to partake in the funness. That there’s a 3 year old inside me, and if she doesn’t get treats on a regular and consistent basis, she starts to temper tantrum about ‘HOW HARD THIS IS’ even when it isn’t really.

Here’s a treat, i say to her now, let me decide right now what your treats are for today.  After the big catering job of 150 sandwiches and 3 dozen cookies … Im talking to you, inner Belle. I’m serious here. Listen carefully:  go for a run after the catering is picked up even if you’re tired, make meatballs for dinner tonight (no more takeout), turn off the computer at 8 pm, take a bath, be in bed by 9:30 pm. do it. treats and rewards. Must. Must.

*NOTE: I have put together a collection of my blog posts, in chronological order, so you can see where i was on day 18 and see if it’s like where you are! To order the compiled PDF go here.

Notes from my inbox:

Carol: Day 16, halfway to one month which is where I got before, but this time there is no restarting! So many good things happening: going out on my own after only a little over 2 weeks at new job, picked up a difficult sock I was knitting months ago & realized I could easily finish it, you know — just lots of little things that make me happy. Plenty of really difficult things going on too but I’m not falling into the pit of despair, just letting them happen. I don’t have the power to make things different in any of these frustrating situations I’m peripherally involved in with family. In retrospect, all drinking did was sometimes make me act more involved & emotional, justifying my descent into the despair pit. Phew, glad I’m done with that way of coping.

Elle: Day 47, write a couple sentences on why this time is different for me. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days, and I keep coming up with the same answer. I don’t know. There wasn’t a drunken night or an excruciating hangover, in fact I can count the number of drinks I’ve had since Christmas on my fingers. I’m just tired of thinking about drinking. “Should I have a drink? Then I can’t drive (my number one rule is I NEVER drink and drive). If I have a drink, will I eat everything in sight? Pick a fight with my son? Will I call someone and babble? Will I wake up at 3AM with a racing heart? Will I drag in the morning and miss taking my dog for her early morning walk? (it is so hard saying no to those big brown eyes).” I guess I’m lazy and it’s just easier to not drink.

Team 100:

Welcome to PJ (day 2). Say hello to Simpson Sister (70), Thirteenpointone (340), Erica (150) and Donna – who has only recently joined Team 100 is in fact 100 days today!

Photos: Sandals

Assignment #4 Sandals

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures, because of the short deadline on this one, and because it’s summertime, you can send me a picture to add to this photo gallery up until Monday morning. You’ve still got time 🙂

 

I get by with a little help from my friends

Brandy has a long history of alcohol problems, and lost her father to the disease. She joined the 100 day challenge, and she restarted on day 1 a couple of times.

On May 7th, I got this email from her: “I hate to say and was embarrassed to tell you that I am starting over again 🙁 How do you do it?”

My answer:

me: Good question. How did I do it… I accepted, I think, that the first 30 days were going to suck.  I ate take out, I did the minimum work allowable to not get fired. I slept A LOT. Some nights I went to bed at 8:30 pm just because I wanted to drink so bad. I ate a ton of junk. I drank tonic water (bitter) with cranberry juice. And I hid in bed. I didn’t go out very much and … well, I waited. I also blogged every single day. (Not that you have to blog, of course, but you could email every day or even twice a day or every three hours, whatever it takes…). Usually, if I felt like drinking (which I did), then once I blogged about it, it was like I had “told” on my inner addict and the cravings were relieved somewhat … I know you’ve been sober before for periods of time. What have you done before that worked – at least short term …

On day #9, she sent me this:

Brandy: I started feeling the urge again yesterday but I did take your advise.  I took the rest of the day off from work and I organized my closet and my daughter’s closet. Yes, decluttering it is a weird kind of calming and therapy.  I cooked a nice meal watched a movie and went to bed early! I am happy to say I am on day 9.  I will continue to take your advise to get me thru these low days.

On day #13:

Brandy: OMG… I made it thru the weekend!!  Wow:)  I will tell you that wolfie was putting all kind of crap in my head….”you can drink after a long day working in the yard” I really laughed and said shut the f&%k up! Instead I rewarded myself with some sweet treats and a good nite sleep!

On day #30:

Brandy: It’s truly a MIRACLE 🙂 Enjoying my sober life today! So many blessing have happened in just 30 days. F@$K you WOLFIE!

And then it seemed that sobriety really took hold of Brandy. And today she’s on Day 51.  I asked her to explain why she’s sober now — what’s different this time?

Brandy: I am sober today because of my higher power… I mean it is truly a miracle.  The last time I drank… I wanted to give up and die, in this despair…. I got on my knees and prayed.  While I was praying I did feel this sense of comfort and a little voice saying…”It’s going to be OK.”- Then I knew, I never have to drink and feel that way ever again!

Since that day, what has helped me stay sober is your blog, my AA (ladies only meetings), and praying every morning for the strength to stay sober just for today and at night thanking my higher power for giving me that strength.

Today, I feel like a different person than I did at day 4.  My mind is so much clearer and I have some pretty big plans with my life.  When I think back to some of my actions while drinking, I think: “Who was that person?” I am happy to be ME again… and am truly happy to have “my life without drinking”

As you know I lost my father to this disease. I am just so grateful that I can say I am sober today and can make him proud!

Thank you for believing in me Belle 🙂

This isn’t a blog post about me. This is a blog post about not giving up, and keeping going even if you feel shitty. This is a blog post about Brandy and how fucking tough she is. And this is a blog post about Team 100. “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Team 100 update: Holy christmas 121 members. Welcome to Caroline & Maggy (6), Katherine (322), & LimeTree (3).  Happy days to Lawyer Anne (80), Lauren (95), Debra (151), KT (60), LilyUK (55), Paula (30), Allie (20), JG (55), Leah (45), Sam (21), ZenMeg (10), Cam (50), Sara (40), Julz & Quill (30), Lex & CB (10), Meka (11), Cassie’s Mom (14).

Happy 100 days to DDG & Lynda :)

Happy 100 days to DDG (holy am i ever glad to see you hit this date!) and Happy 100 days to Lynda (and to Mr. Lynda who is following along, too).

Here’s what Lynda has to say:

WOW!!  Thank you for inviting me on this journey.  It has been been truly amazing and I am so grateful and appreciative that I could come along and I’m planning on staying on this bus because I love the other passengers and driver. What have I enjoyed about this? Clarity in thinking and conversations, confidence, acceptance — life is like this, so just do it and move on, clear skin, brushing teeth at night … seeing people, understanding self, a calm knowing, “falling” asleep and feeling the wonderment of that, savoring coffee, playing 3 hour tennis matches, evening walks, early morning breakfasts, being of service with gratitude, not enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do, being available, increased intimacy in all relationships…. and this is just the beginning. Were/are there challenges?  You bet there are.  I choose not to list them because life has challenges whether we drink them away or not…. [emphasis added]

Now let me say this. Getting sober is hard. 

It’s really hard. When we’re used to squishing down feelings with booze, it’s so completely disorienting to remove the booze and to live life naked. (I wrote something about this to Quill yesterday).

i also think we’re all trying to be sober because we’re trying to sort some shit out.
and just because the tectonic plates cannot visibly be seen to be moving
does not mean that they’re not.
moving.

cuz they are

being sober isn’t a race or a destination or a popularity contest
it’s a tool
sobriety is a lever that we can use to open stuff up to get unstuck

and for some people being sober is how they avoid dying.
and how they get their life ‘back’
and how they keep their children
and how they repair their relationships

for me, being sober the first month was hard
and i wasn’t always sure what the point was
except i didn’t want to go back to day 1 so i kept going.

then i realized that i still was thinking that i wanted to drink at the end of
30 days, so i renewed it for another 60 days (90 total).

and here we are today, 370 days later.

i did not intend to do this. i intended to do 30 days just to prove that i could.
and something happened.
the tectonic plates shifted.
you can’t see it happening.
doesn’t meant it’s not.
happening.

*NOTE: I’m putting together a collection of my blog posts, in chronological order, so you can see where i was on day 18 and see if it’s like where you are! If you want me to send it to you when it’s finished, put your name in the box here:  http://eepurl.com/BqAEn

the blog post with a lot of links in it

how am I? i’m really quite fine. all is well in my part of the world today.

a few new sober girls have arrived in the last week, never having seen this blog before. and yeah i know, i write a lot, but there are 215+ posts on here and it’s kind of hard to read it starting at the beginning cuz blogs are in reverse chrono order, and even if you search for just July 2012 (month #1), to see what what fucking terror i was dealing with on any particular day … well this is a long sentence without much point, but basically it’s hard to read a blog in chronological order especially when it’s long. yeah. you know what i’m trying to say, right?

so anyway, i spent a good chunk of yesterday compiling my blog posts from just month #1 of sobriety, putting them together in chronological order — with a few comments for good measure — and hopefully will be able to make some kind of PDF download thingy available. Month #1 is 80 pages long. No, really. Fuckers. No wonder you don’t want to read it online. ANYWAY. holy long winded without saying ANYTHING batman. if you’d like me to send you month #1 when it’s ready, you can do this thing here. Yes i will eventually some day when the planets align have the whole thing together as a book (!). yes, yes. eventually. for now there’s this. it’s what i can do for now.

i could find things to complain about (the weather! it’s cold!) but really i’m doing OK. I’ve got an email inbox full of sober (or trying to be sober) penpals. I’ve got a few photos for the sandal project already coming in, and i’m sending off some new Fuck You Wolfie bracelets (hopefully) later today! There are 119 people in Team 100 (welcome to Caroline and Maggy, both on day 4). Whineless is on day 70, Lane, Diane, Gindy & Christina are on day 80, Sober Journalist is 81, Kirst is 10. Carolyn is 30, Suzanne is 31.  And Amy is on day 201 but she’s on vacation! Hooray for Amy 🙂

Sorry, this whole blog post today is filled with links, but here’s another one… You remember Lurker M, right?

Here’s the email she sent me just a few days ago… (she’s on day 16 now!)

Lurker M: Day 13. Sober, sober, sober.  Belle, this is truly awesome. And, it’s not even about the drink; it’s more about the space that’s left when the drink has vacated. Ironically, that used to keep me drinking, filling up all those gaps, plugging away to avoid the vacuum. It stopped me feeling empty, at a loss, quiet. Terrified wondering what might emerge from the gaps – that I’d be left staring at ME in a cold, sober, deadly silence.

But, guess what? It’s liberating! I can feel myself re-emerging from that place. It was a self-induced solitary confinement which annihilated all my feelings and potential. So now … now I am making friends with myself again and re-acquainting myself with who-I-am. Some of this is uncomfortable, but those thoughts are far outweighed by a sense of relief and excitement at what-I-could-do!

All this new time, all this new energy, all this beautiful reflection that I’m now longer rushing to obliterate with alcohol. What an opportunity.

It’s my version of ‘The Great Escape’. Yup, that’s me, Lurker McQueen, excavating Tom, Dick and Harry tunnels, making new passports, eluding that Wolfie jail guard, roaring off on my sober motorbike. Can you hear the whistling theme music?!  Da da. Da da da dah dah dum.  Go go go!!!!!

And you my friend showed me the keys to escape. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

and here’s a great Quill-Quotable (she’s on day 28 today). I especially like the part about chicken sandwiches:

Quill: I feel, like a mild headache or a tickle in the throat — constant but not incapacitating — utter self-disgust. I don’t think there’s anything remotely worthwhile about me and most attempts at self-improvement are pointless because I am inherently broken and scummy. However, I am these days able to be 75% sure that is my depression talking and not actually the truth, which is a huge improvement (much like I think the people who say they like me actually do like me but are just poor judges of character, whereas 10 years ago I would have thought they were just straight-up lying).

I miss booze. Oh well. I miss good chicken sandwiches and a decent college football team, too, but I’m not going to move back to Tennessee, and I’m not going to have a drink today either.

Happy Tuesday to you. four more days until i have a long weekend. sorry did you say something? i’m too busy crossing off days on the calendar … are we there yet? is it summer yet?

Sober Photography Project: Assignment #4

Maybe you’d like a sober hobby 🙂

Mary: “I’m enjoying this photography project on both ends: coming up with my own submission but also seeing the ideas that everyone else come up with … It has both given me something to focus on and also makes me pay more attention to things around me.”

Losedabooze: “I think having something to focus on – a project or assignment like this – makes us forget other things (at least it did for me). It allowed me to involved my daughter in it by allowing her to do something fun. It brings me back to days of sobriety when simple things were viewed with clear eyes.”

Assignment #4 Sandals
They can be on your feet, they can be in the closet, they can be on the beach, or maybe in a store window.  Close up, or far away… It’s time for sober girls to admire some shoes!

  • DEADLINE: Friday, June 28 @ 12 noon Eastern.
  • The format is open: black and white, filters, cropping, all OK.  You can use your camera phone or a nice camera.
  • The photo must be original, and taken AFTER the assignment is received (like, no going through past pictures taken, it has to be new).
  • If you suck at photo adjustments or cropping, send it anyway with a note that you’d like me to adjust.
  • Send as LARGE a file size as you can manage (up to 12MB per image).  Don’t reduce for size.  the bigger the better.
  • Um, you have to be sober …
  • One entry per person per assignment (think of the size of my inbox!)

NOTE:  This project has a short deadline again. Read more about FUN here.   And for inspiration, take a look at Christina’s sandals photo:

christina sandals Image

Photos: Bikes

Story from Katherine

[Belle’s note: have tissues handy]

Hi Belle, there is a recovery story behind my bike picture that I want to share with you…  The first picture [I took] yesterday was of my bike in the garage and seeing the dusty, cob web covered bike “hanging upside down” on the hooks!  I thought ‘well, nothing like taking a crappy pic to send to Belle and share this disappointing bike situation with everyone…but oh well…it is what it is!”

Then I realized why I didn’t like the upside down bike photo…it was like ME drinking!  The upside down bike resembled my drinking life being ‘upside down’! I too have sat in a dark place, feeling all alone with drink in hand and letting cob webs fill my heart and soul.  Stuck upside down, getting less air in my tires and more creepy spiders on me and in my head!

When my hubby had asked me where I went with the camera outside, I told him about the ‘bike photo’ and he seemed pleased and interested.   I then jumped in the shower and thought about all of this and realized how symbolic it all was.  A bit later I looked out the back window and saw MY bike and my hubby was cleaning it off!  I realized it was like how he has lovingly supported me in getting clean and ‘right side up’ and ready to start peddling again!  I didn’t ask him to do that for me….he just did it!  I saw how much he loves me!

So the shadow picture today means….  “Look at ME!!!  I’m here in the sunshine making a beautiful shadow!  No more upside down, dirty, dark garage for me to sit and rot in…it’s time to GET MOVING and GO PLACES!!!”   This girl and bike have adventures to go on!

Bet you didn’t realize how much would come from this bike assignment!  lol  I didn’t either, but I’m so glad I did it!  Another successful recovery assignment!  Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you!   My bike even thanks you!  lol Hugs, Katherine

Assignment #3 Bikes.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures, this post is now closed to new submissions.

If you want to join in for the next assignment, stay tuned 🙂

This post is now closed to new submissions.

drink my koolaid! come towards the light!

An email exchange that i’ve been saving, that i want to post right now, early Saturday morning. this is about Feelings and it’s about Landscapes. you may agree with me or think i’m completely full of shit (both opinions at times valid), but there really is something amazing about being a sober penpal. it’s glorious, built-in sobriety insurance for me. I get to write to you (and really i’m writing to myself half the time). AND i have front-row seats on amazing sober journeys while you do the hard work and i do the cheerleading … yeah, it’s win-win.  really it is.  Here’s how I know:

From Lurker M:

Thank you … I’m in awe of you and your achievement and your resolve. And your patience in replying, instantly and gently to me. Jesus, Belle, how do you do it? Fit in all these messages to all these people? I am on a journey. Early steps. Learning a lot, trying to stay with it. Got to keep with it and understand the landscape. I feel like a novice and a silly schoolgirl. You’re a bit of a guru for me which must be weird to accept when you’re ordinary in your own life and extraordinary in mine. Don’t give up on me. You really are extra-ordinary.

From me:

I never gave up on you because you didn’t give up on you 🙂

it must be weird to think that I’m obsessing about not drinking – when I’m really not.  somehow doing the blogging and the emailing makes me feel connected to people, and not alone, which is very calming, even when some people’s lives are dramatically shitty.  But being your sober penpal never makes me think about ‘drinking’.  I think about the feelings I had, but never about the actual alcohol.

maybe that’s it.  maybe alcohol is just a blunt instrument we use to regulate feelings, and once the booze is removed, we’re all just left talking about our feelings. which was at the root anyway. anyway, I seem to be able to do that (talk about feelings) happily and without making me feel like i want to drink 🙂

the only thing I can say with some confidence, is that the sober landscape that you mention makes no sense until you’re further in.  everything seems weird until the booze has been gone for a while.  the answers come later.  the clarity and the lightness comes later.  and thankfully it begins to get better quickly, get to day 10 and it’s better, get to day 16, and it’s better still. Then day 30 is pretty remarkable, as is day 50.  And then it’s onwards and upwards from there …

The only thing you need to begin, is the feeling that there’s something out there better than obsessing about drinking.  And there is.  and those of us in the sober cheering section will all say the same thing.  it’s better over here.  we’ve been there (where you are), and we’ve been here.  it’s better here.

[that sounds a bit culty! drink my koolaid! come towards the light!] 🙂

Team 100 update: 117 members, welcome to Trish (13) and Sarita (2).  Happy day 50 to Lilly! It’s day 75 for Lawyer Anne, day 90 for Lauren. Let’s have a parade for Roxanne (60), Debbie (40), LilyUK (50), JG (50), Colleen (51), Rebecca (91), Jessica (10), JT without JB (14).

going to bed is always a good solution. to any problem.

super tired. catering and baking and stuff. haven’t been outside yet today!

here is the sum total of all my genius:

going to bed is always a good solution. to any problem.

Team 100 Update: 115 members, welcome to Donna (92).  Happy days to SoberinMtl (20), KC (61), Sunflower (90), Whineless (65), Victoria (21), Lane (75), Kriss (61), Christina (75), Marie (60), Kirst (10), Laura (40), Erin (60), Tammy (81), Diane & Gindy (75), Camla (20), & Carol (10).