Gindy reflects on 100 day sober …

Gindy is a Team 100 member (day 106) and I asked her to share a bit about what it was like to hit Day 100:

Gindy: Things have definitely changed for me in 100 days, but, more than that, most things have stayed the same. I still have the same job, same husband, same dogs, same car. The laundry still needs to be done, the house fixed, dinner prepared, overtime hours put in though on salary, and bills need to be paid.

My biggest accomplishment, so far, has been learning to balance all this in a healthy way. I still have meh days, difficult clients, and three places to be at once. At 5:00 I used to scream “pour yourself a glass of wine – you EARNED it today!” When in reality, once a glass was poured, nothing else was accomplished. The glass turned into a bottle, then often into another. With the next morning’s hangover, I ended up wasting the first half of the day unaccomplished and further set my agenda back.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m happy. I can’t control tomorrow, it’s coming regardless of anything I do. I’m living for today, and making a point to take time for me when I need to. My 100-day treat came in the mail today. I bought 20 sample-size perfumes – I may not have been able to decide on one, but at least I know better than to wear them all at once 😉

Photos: 10 minutes from home

Assignment #6: 10 minutes from home

The goal for this assignment was to take a picture of whatever you see exactly 10 minutes from your house.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures. If you want to join in for the next assignment, stay tuned 🙂

Can’t compare apples to oranges

Comparing. In response to yesterday’s post, let me say this. We all have completely different lives. Some are big, some are small, some are near and some are far. We all have sobriety as our goal in common. But the rest of our lives may be very different. You have a yard, I don’t. You have kids, I don’t. You have a car, I don’t.  And so what? I don’t think it matters. At all. We’re here to support becoming our best selves, to be sober, and to get shit done. Kids or no kids, jobs or no jobs.  Someone is spending her weekends in jail because of past legal problems. Someone else is vacationing on a boat. But we’re all trying to figure out how to live sober. That’s it.

I recently wrote this on Paul’s blog:

me: I get lots of emails that say versions of this same thing: “Where is my big sober rainbow? Why is she happier in her sobriety than I am in mine.” And yeah, there’s no perfect happy sobriety. Some days are rotten. Other days are glorious. Some situations are easier. Some kids vomit on the carpet. We’re all doing our version of the sobriety thing. Can’t compare apples to oranges AND we can’t compare our internal journey to someone’s publicly broadcasted, edited, version of truth. Well you CAN compare, but only if you want to make yourself crazy… nuff said. 🙂

and i sent this email to another sober penpal this morning:

me: We have super very different lives I’m sure. There is no comparing. And while I may be amazing (!), I’m mostly just different … I’ve got a lot of free time that I’m happily spending on being a sober penpal.  That said, I don’t read as many blogs as I used to, nor am I doing any other sober reading anymore (though I did a shit-ton at the beginning).  You’re doing your thing and I’m doing mine.  Sometimes your life is going well, sometimes I’m underwater.  Then we switch places 🙂

finally, this bit of genius from Lawyer Anne (day 102):

Lawyer Anne:   I loved your post about comparing [June 19th ]… I think it’s a good reminder to focus on our own gifts and not get caught up on comparing ourselves to others….we all have our talents and our own journey.  I think in the world of the internet, Facebook, blogs, etc … to compare ourselves to others and wonder why we can’t be more like the *perfect* person we see pictures of or read about, it’s quite an unhealthy practice in my opinion. And when I find myself doing it on Facebook I try to take a break and deactivate my account for a few weeks. If I’m not using it to connect with friends or read articles and am making myself feel bad because I’m looking at pictures of *perfect* families, then I need a break and I need to re-evaluate.

…  While I quite easily focus on the negative things happening for me — work stress, relationship stress, car falling apart, regular anxiety and feeling nuts — I think it is important to remember the wonderful things happening every day. The fact that I have the luxury to choose to be sober and when that gets tough, the luxury to go to bed early, watch TV, etc., I am one lucky duck.

 

There’s major shit going on

Stuff:

Team 100 has a lot of people in it. And every individual person has a complete life. In some cases, people have quite big lives that they’re dealing with while being sober. There’s major shit going on.

This week i’ve had the amazing experience of hearing about 3 pregnancies, 4 divorces in progress, a vacation to Europe, and one fuck-it relapse.  There’s been a car accident (she’s fine but the car isn’t), a double-mastectomy (she’s feeling good), vomiting on public transit, and one family moving internationally. There’s a mom whose husband drinks a lot which alternatively fuels her to make positive changes for herself AND makes her feel like giving up, and there are two single women who are lonely.

There’s a guy who hasn’t been sober more than 5 days in a long time, there’s childhood abuse surfacing, and there’s someone (finally) happily planting her garden. Someone is a caterer, someone works in a rehab centre feeding breakfast to addicts, and someone else thought of drinking a half dozen times before lunch this morning but is committed to staying sober today.

Some people are happily sober, others think that being sober fucking sucks and they hate it but they are keeping going. Some days are good days, and other days you find out that your colleague died at home while drinking.  Some days you have to take your mother to the Emergency Department again. Some days your father ruins a birthday party. And some days the in-laws write shitty letters to the judge.

Yes. All this and sobriety too.

Kids out of school, routines shot all to hell. Vacations that don’t quite work out. Waiters who serve you booze when you specifically asked for a virgin drink. We’re surrounded by friends who drink too much, old friends you’d rather never see again AND new friends who are struggling with alcohol and want to know what your secret to sobriety is. You tell her your secret. And she hears you, she really does. She’s not ready yet. So you nod. You’ve been there too.

But you’re NOT there now. Today you’re well aware that you want something else, something different, something better.  The lies of alcohol are transparent to you. You can see right through that wolfie fucker. You feed him cupcakes and mints and tea and pistachios.  You buy yourself reward bracelets and reward massages. You read books and you run and you get up early without a hangover.

Yes, really and truly, wolfie does stop. It really does stop. The noise, the thinking, even the cravings. Be sober and slowly (but very surely) he just stops.  And then we can get on with the business of living our lives.

S sent me this message on Monday: “Thanks for doing what you’ve been doing to help people. If karma exists you’re going to get a Lexus in heaven. Or maybe a really, really big god-hug. I wonder how those feel.”

And I answered: “I think karma exists… because I’m sober and that’s a pretty great treat :)”

Read Blog Posts in Order: 

I’ve 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! You can order the compiled PDF file here (easier to read in a PDF than on the blog).

Photos: 10 minutes from home:

Reminder about this week’s photography project, due Saturday, open to anyone so long as you’re sober 🙂

Team 100:

Holy mother of Christmas, there are 162 people in the challenge, welcome to new members: Durfee (14), EmilyJane (53), Marg (508), MC (1), StarGal (15), Amy-NBT (4), Shannon (13), and Susan (14).  Happy days to Carrie (130), Simpson Sister (90), Erica (170), Katie (40), PP (45), Debbie (x), ZenMeg (14), Sara (61), Tiffany (30), Donna (120), Eden & Adrian (10), and MaryPat (7).

Stay Here

You know how much I love to fly … well, we flew back to Europe last night on an overnight flight. The plane was on time, the trip was brief and calm. There were two tiny bits of bumps, nothing very interesting.

During the first bit of turbulence, I closed my eyes, and tried my “pressing the down-volume button on my ipod shuffle trick” to get the bumps to stop.  It worked mostly. I closed my eyes and tried to hear three things around me (whirring fan, baby up front, arabic woman with gigantic boobs sighing behind me). I tried to smell two things (is someone eating doritos?). I tried to taste one thing (mint gum).

And out of fucking nowhere, I heard a voice.

Now please don’t go thinking that I hear voices all the time, because I don’t. I once heard wolfie very loudly and clearly though. Mostly I have ‘noise’ in my head, like me reminding myself to do things, and replaying conversations, and just general static noise. But i don’t hear voices. Well, not usually.

But last night, on this overnight flight, as I had my eyes squished shut and I was worrying about it being bumpy, I very clearly heard a voice say:

“Stay Here.”

Like … stay in the present, don’t go off worrying about tomorrow, or worrying about later, or worrying about crashes, or worrying about what-ifs. Stay here. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened, won’t happen, aren’t happening. Stay here.

(I love also that the voice wasn’t saying stay there – which would imply that it was coming from outside of me. Because it said “stay here” I know it was coming from inside of me.)

So hooray, instead of hearing fucking wolfie’s voice, i can now hear “My Best Me, Talking to Me.”

Stay Here.

There is no forever, there’s just now. There’s no worrying about later, there’s just this moment.

There’s no “how will i not drink at the wedding?” – there’s just today. Stay here.

There’s no “how can I quit forever?” – there’s just today. Stay here.

There’s no “what if i get squished and my husband doesn’t know the PIN to our shared account?” – there’s just today.

Stay here.

~

Team 100 update: 154 members, welcome to Spencer (11), Tatiana (7), MaryPat (6), Deirdre (17), Erinup (10), Beth (65), Michelle (10), NoMoreVino (3), Dave (3), DontBea (8), and Thirsty (12).

Because i’ve been travelling I haven’t been able to update everyone’s status as often as usual. Happy 100 Days to SoberJournalist, Lane, Christina, Diane, and Gindy.  And yeah hooray, Lawyer Anne is 100 days today!

Sober Photography Project: Assignment #6

Have you forgotten what your passions are? Maybe you’d like a sober hobby 🙂

Assignment #6:  10 Minutes From Home

For this assignment, you want to walk, bike or drive *exactly* 10 minutes from where you live, and take a picture of something there. No 9 minute or 11 minute trips!
  • DEADLINE: Saturday, July 20 @ 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!)

Read more about FUN here.   And for inspiration, take a look at Christina’s 10-minute photo:

christina - 10 minutes - assigment7 C

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.”

ice cream treat

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Travelling puts me in different cities, this week i’ve been in the same city as one of the Team 100 members. So yesterday we went for ice cream 🙂 (thanks ST!).

At first it was a bit like internet dating for sober girls (i’ll be wearing jean shorts, you’ll be wearing black sandals). But soon it’s like two chicks sitting in the park, eating ice cream, talking about booze and how to create a life without it. I really enjoyed the visit and I learned a lot. This reaching out to sober people really helps me to continue to be sober. I just don’t think that talking to ‘a friend who understands’ is the same as talking to someone who has gone through (or is currently going through) the exact same fucking thing.

To cap off the delightful vacation day yesterday, a friend of Mr. Belle’s took us out for supper and then for ‘drinks’ … he knew we weren’t drinking and he took us to a very very loud, very popular pub, with a DJ and $4,50 for a tonic water. You know this kind of place. He wanted to show off how nice his drinking hole was (read that sentence again). And the evening was long. Holy, it was long. Our friend ordered a beer, no problem, i figured we’d be done in half an hour. But for his second round he ordered another pint of beer AND a double gin and tonic at the same time. While Mr. B and i sat without drinks (we’d had enough soda on the first round).

Long and loud and long and loud. That’s how i’d describe my 1.5 hrs in that bar.

One we got home, Mr. B admitted that being in a bar at all wasn’t a smart idea for him (he’s on day 87). I didn’t have any pangs at all, but he said that his friend’s drink “looked good” even though he knew he wasn’t going to drink.  Note to self. That one visit to a bar in a year was plenty. The drunk girls singing Don’t Stop Believing were completely embarrassing. the bathroom was a disaster area, my feet stuck to the floor. And to quote Paul quoting others, “If you hang around a barber shop long enough, sooner or later you’re gonna get a haircut.

No thanks. I’m happy at home with my tea and fresh cherries. Why couldn’t we have been sitting in the yard with Fuck You Wolfie lemonade having an actual conversation, instead of literally shouting to be heard, the conversation consisting of nouns and verbs alone, as the other complementary words were sucked up by the din of Journey and the DJ’s beat box  and holy christ i’m never going there again.

a glass wall of alcohol

In this city where we are visiting, in this city where we used to live, we had dinner last night with a long-time drinking friend. The guy (and his wife) drink a lot. A shit lot. Even when we were drinking too, we never drank as much as these two. The four of us would hang out, yes, but i’d always watch the guy and marvel/feel sick at the quantities he’d put away. The ordering ‘another round’ even after we’d already said we were done. The telling me he loved me at a particularly sloppy party. The disclosing of sexual details during a meal.

Last night, they had beer before the meal, a bottle of wine during, and opened a second bottle after. [This is exactly what we would have done, too.]

Mr. Belle was a bit nervous to arrive there with 3 cans of tonic water. The couple joked with us, saying that by the end of the night they would have ‘pushed us off the wagon’. But really, once they got drinking, they weren’t the least bit interested in what we were doing, whether we were drinking or not.

By 10:30 pm I was tired of them and ready to go home, tapped Mr. B’s foot under the table.  The guy looks to his wife and says (re the second bottle of wine) – have some more, it’s open.

I looked at their glasses of wine. I looked at their stained teeth. I looked at them talking loudly over each other, each vying for our attention, “let me tell the story, no let me. Did you see the tv episode where …”

In the car on the way home, i told Mr. B that i was sorry that they talked ‘at’ him, instead of ‘to’ him.  They didn’t ask questions about his work or his life in Europe or about how things are going for us.  Instead it seemed like they struggled and competed to tell him about every single thing that had happened to them since we saw them last, including punchlines to badly remember jokes, did you see that thing on YouTube.

Honestly, the evening was like a comedy show except it wasn’t funny. Yeah, it was like the worst kind of stand-up comedy. People trying to make a connection, and failing gigantically, because they are behind a ‘glass wall of alcohol’ – they kept talking even if Mr. B needed clarification.  They ignored Mr. B when he spoke, and literally jostled each other if one tried to interrupt the other. And on. And on.

Nothing of any real substance or connection or interest was shared. No real questions were asked or answered. No one felt touched, or brought together, or connected.

Looking into that glass wall of alcohol, i saw a mirror. And it was grim.

Did it make me want to drink?

No.

We used to be that couple, too. That used to be us.

“a brand new me”

Note from Tammy:

Hi Belle, what’s different today (Day 100) as compared to day 7?  First of all, I don’t really specifically remember day 7, but I do recall the first few weeks sucked.  I was obsessed with not drinking.  I got pissed off like a little kid when I thought about 100 days.  It seemed like forever, and with summer looming quite daunting.  I had little moments of “OK, this is good” I’m not hungover, I’m a little less anxious and I can do this.

Today, 100 days into it, I am overwhelmed. In a way, it feels like a brand new me.  Let’s just call it version 2.0.  Support has come in many ways, and the sober blogosphere has been my rock.  I’m a better me.  There are many, many blessings and if I listed the top three, they would be:

1. My creativity scale has soared and opened new, better doors.

2.  My mind and body are happier.

3.  My relationships feel like they have more authenticity and integrity.

This “better” hasn’t been a magic pill and it’s not simply “not drinking” … it’s doing some work and then some more.  On my [yoga] mat, with my words, with my head and most of all my heart.  Love & hugs.  Tammy

Team 100 Update: 143 members, welcome to Eden (2), Liberte (8), and Adrian (2).  Happy days to Amy 216, Carrie (122), KC (81), SimpsonSister (82), Sunflower (110), Victoria (41), Grace & Sarita (20), Lane (95), Katie & Trish (31), Christina (95), Marie (80), Laura (60), Erin (80), Em (20), Diane (95), Gindy (95), Camla (40), Ingrid (20), Carol (30), Sam, Favorite Day, Mrs F, CB & Beckie (10).

practising saying NO … to these people, to these places

From my inbox:

Paula (day 42):  Been working my ass off here. Not complaining, because I like it. I’ve been sleeping really good, like through the night. I’m not good at the whole counting sober days thing which I think is a good thing. I’m curious as to where I am but not drudging through each day. The first 10 days or so were tough. Now I feel like I’ve pretty much picked up where I left of with my [previous] long stretch of sobriety. But in a way it’s different this time.

Sobriety was very important to be before but now I feel gifted or something. Sobriety feels almost magic this time. I have truly learned that having a couple of years under my belt doesn’t make me immune to myself and my destructive behaviors. I can’t stress enough how terrifying that loss of control was to me. Especially after KNOWING [what a period of sobriety was like]. For me, looking at myself drinking, was like watching myself from above walking in front of a train. I truly felt unconnected and, shall we say, possessed. Possessed by some idiot who was trying to destroy me.

… This recent battle [to get sober again] removed any doubt in my mind (which already should have been removed) that I am addicted to alcohol. I am a fucking addict. This is dangerous shit and I don’t want to play around it. It will fucking kill me, there is no doubt in my mind.

Thank you Belle, for being there and believing in me, when I didn’t believe in myself. Luv, Paula

From me:

I’m now entering week #2 of working from a remote location, and i have to say i kind of like it. I really love vacations… lots of sunny, outside, walking around. Eating divine breakfasts and the best sandwiches. There are some things in North America that you just can’t get in Europe, and i’m trying to enjoy all of it while we’re here (and i’ve bought some supplies to take back with us, like plain Cheerios, baking powder, maple syrup, and ziplock bags).

This is my first time being sober and visiting a place where we used to live. It’s haunting, in that as I walk around, i think “i used to drink there, i had drinks there, remember the night at that place?”

The first few days were a bit disorienting, and I preferred to limit my time ‘out’ and stay in our rental home a bit more. To be fair, I’m enjoying being in a large home with two levels and a yard! it’s really a vacation for us compared to our tiny (darkish) european accommodations sans yard. I keep saying “i could live HERE” meaning in this house, if not ever again in this city …

Now that we’re into the second week, i’m doing better. It’s like i hadn’t yet practised saying ‘no’ here, to these people, to these places, and as we go along i realize that it’s fine. I may have an uncomfortable minute or series of minutes, but it’s fine. One great realization is that i have much less tolerance for stupidly expensive fancy trendy restaurants. Once you remove the $50 bottle of ‘vacation’ wine (“oh, we’re on vacation, oh this is a nice place, oh this is an ‘event'” (not to be confused with yesterday’s ‘event’)) – yeah once the booze is removed, those trendy places are just expensive and unnecessary. I’m happier with a really good pulled pork sandwich with tangy BBQ sauce that costs $8.

Happy 100 days to Shel & Tammy!

I’ve asked them both to share how it ‘feels’ to be on day 100, so stay tuned for updates from them 🙂

Team 100 update: Welcome to new members Pete (6), TV (4), Rob, June, Kathleen & Olivia (3), Irish Eileen (63), and Beckie (9).