Audio: Thirty Years

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #220 sent to sober podcast members.

Sober in St. Pete asked me for a personalized message, to talk about the fact that she’s been trying to do this sober thing for a while.

“I’d love something about how LONG I have tried this. Remember I am 60 years old, and started around age 30 on this path to recovery, with three resets after 1.5 years. I need to know that this is possible. Guess I need some hope.”

There’s an interesting ‘undercurrent’ to my message to her. What do you hear me saying that is applicable to YOU, no matter what day you’re on? hugs from me

 

below i’ve posted a 3.5 minute clip from the longer audio, all i ask is that you leave a message in the comments. If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

and update, Sober in St. Pete is on day 27 today 🙂

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #220

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(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).

 

feedback

when i first quit drinking, i wrote on this blog every day. i needed to get the noise in my head out into the world, and i have always used writing as a way of figuring out what i think. I know that last sentence doesn’t make much sense, but only when i try to write something down, and have to organize my thoughts, do i even see that THIS goes with THIS. i often say that in writing TO YOU (as a penpal or whatever) that i’m really writing TO ME.

i also used to make lists of ‘here’s what i learned this week in terms of being sober’ – and so today i’m doing to do the same thing. about my sober life this week.

  1. i do better with a goal: When i started the new work thing at the beginning of the month, i counted out how many days i had to go onsite (48) and so by the end of the first week i’d done 5. like quitting drinking, when you’re close to day 1, the time elapsed seems small and ‘not worth it’. and then we keep going. as of today i’ve done 19 of 48 days. perhaps at some point i’ll stop counting, or i’ll miscount, or i’ll forget about counting. just like when i quit drinking.
  2. progress isn’t always sunshine and roses: I do fine so long as the comments at my new job are encouraging. yesterday I had a very good shift, turned out a great product, got good feedback, and then checked the online notes when i got home and the boss had written something unfavourable that wasn’t said to me directly. This was a different from the guy who loved me the day before. my lesson: I need to stop looking at my daily evaluations. There is no daily improvement 🙂 there’s a slow and steady improvement, but one individual day might suck, or a series of days might suck, and that doesn’t mean it’s not improving globally.
  3. I care about likes, just like you do. i care about hearts and likes and thumbs up and comments. and i realize now – just this week – that it’s distracting. i could write a sober post for Medium, or record a sober audio for the podcast, or record a live show, or do a Production week with 5 live shows. OR I can spend time moderating, replying, editing comments on the blog. i’ve watched other bloggers turn off the comments on certain posts, and i’ve never thought i’d try it, but now i’m gonna try it 🙂 In terms of feedback, i get lots of it by email, so i won’t be missing out on ideas. I share lots of emails in my daily micro-emails from other subscribers, so you won’t miss hearing from others. When I was getting 10 comments a day, i could keep up, but as the site is larger, the demands of moderating comments is surprisingly time-consuming. And then i care about not being liked (as would anyone), and then i end up focussing on the two people who think i’m an anus. which, as we know, isn’t terribly productive either. Here’s what i’ve learned: Since i’m not a girl who can just shrug and say “oh well” … I am going to proactively remove the feedback loop on blog posts as a trial for a few weeks, to see how things shift.
  4. it all shifts: this week i learned that if i make a pork jus, reduced forever, my husband will pour it out thinking that it’s the dirty water in the bottom of a pot. then i’ll cry and plan divorce in my head. then he’ll say “how could i have known?” and i’ll say “you could have asked.” then he’ll come to me with a cup that has a smidge of a drip of milk in the bottom, and he’ll say “can i throw this out, or are you saving it,” and then i’ll hate him. and then he’ll say something hilarious. and then i’ll laugh. and then it’ll stop. note to self. it all shifts. [as in, we don’t drink on a fuck-it moment, because the next minute we could be laughing, and then we’d have ruined our sobriety for ‘no reason’].

In yesterday’s micro-email about why i share things in the daily emails, i got a bunch of replies. here’s a sample of what’s in my inbox today.

H: “My life is full of people but I’m lonely. And almost no-one in my real life knows the horrible truth about my struggles with alcohol. This loneliness would lead me to drink again if it wasn’t for you – simple as that. Getting emails from you every day is absolutely key in my recovery, I wouldn’t have got this far without you.”

Sargent (day 34): “The best idea I see here is to turn off the comments! Post what you think is valuable with CONFIDENCE and let people take it or leave it. You don’t need to hear what they think about it … There are a lot of great things about the internet but “comments” are one of worst. They’re repetitive and boring and rarely contain anything valuable. They will exhaust you and you have better things to do with your energy.  And I think it’s the same with the “commerce” part of this. You have every right to charge for the services you provide and to sell products that you think are helpful. Your time is worth something. You don’t have to apologize for that. Just put it out there with confidence. People can take it or leave it and keep their opinions to themselves!”

B: “Hello, I have been reading your blog for years. This is the first time I have emailed you. I’m sorry you are going through a tough time. Continuing to help others is the cornerstone of my sobriety. I am 17.5 years sober as of Feb. 1 … I would hate to see you quit anything that you are doing because it may be your own sobriety that you impact. Stand strong. The work you are doing is helping thousands of people and also helping you in the process.”

~

this last comment really struck me. i love having feedback from people who are WAY further along than i am 🙂

hugs, me

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

anonymous confession booth: things we can’t control

step right up. for one day only, i’m creating an anonymous sober confession booth on the subject of “things we can’t control”.

I want to focus on things we need to let go of. Like crazy in-laws, compulsive behaviours, and those people you are forced to visit where you’re afraid to eat in their homes because you’re not sure if you’ll get food poisoning or not. “I just scraped off the mould, they say.”

This came to me because of a one-on-one call i had with a sober penpal this week. We are all carrying around this backpack of rocks of things we just need to let go of.

i personally hate dwelling in the past — unnecessarily. Yes, sometimes we have to excavate. But i don’t want to wallow. And there’s a very fine line between the two. And then there’s the shame. and the guilt. yeah.

So here’s the deal.

  1. Post a comment below.
  2. For this to work you MUST leave your name and your email and your website address BLANK in the comments form (if you forget, i’ll go in and delete that info manually). all comments are to be anonymous. one of the comments will be from me, you just won’t know which one.
  3. I have no way of personally knowing who posts what. Promise.
  4. In your comment, write two or three sentences (max.) about something that you’d like to stop in your life, some weight you’ve been carrying around, that being sober is going to help you let go of. For example, i’ll make one up: “I’d like to step out of the way of my crazy MIL and just recognize that she’s a flawed human and it’s my job to remove myself from her reach.” OR “I have been a compulsive laundry freak, the clothes I wore today must be clean and folded every night when I go to bed. Now that i’m sober I’m going to let that go. I don’t need to be in control of my laundry anymore. I’m going to let it go.”
  5. Then take a second and post an anonymous ‘reply’ to ONE of the other comments already posted, and say something comforting, consoling, forgiving, kind. Pick a comment where someone hasn’t replied to them yet.

i have a feeling that this will unfold in a lovely way. because you’re all lovely people. and we all have a backpack of rocks that we’d like to put down, right? What’s in your backpack?

PS. if your name/email automatically shows up when you start to enter a comment, you can manually delete them OR you can ‘log out’ of your blogging profile.

Audio: Dating

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #219 sent to sober podcast members.

Rehc asked for a personalized audio about dating, as a sober person, especially when you meet someone magical and think “holy, this is the one!” I have a mix of softy-softy and kick-ass in this audio, and am a bit more kick-ass-y than usual.

 

below i’ve posted a 2 minute clip from the longer audio, all i ask is that you leave a message in the comments. If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

Feedback from listeners:

Fridgkit: “I liked the dating podcast. As a married person … married couples ‘date’ other couples. Like the pair my husband and I had dinner with that love wine-pairing tasting menus. It’s easy to let Wolfie trick you into ‘you have to be able to drink a little, or there won’t be anyone you can socialize with.’ Not true. Or if it is true, you need new friends.”

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #219

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(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).

 

when i don’t drink, i feel better about me

written at 9:30 a.m. local time

today i’m proud of myself. it’s silent, early morning, up before most of the locals on a holiday. the upstairs neighbours are away. quiet. i can actually hear birds, it’s like the shortest day of the year has really passed, and we’re into something new.

it’s not raining. it’s warmer than seasonal which is a gift. my husband who has been sick since the day before the vacation started, is still in bed, still sick. man flu + coughing so much you throw out your back. yes, that’s him. but right now, he’s quiet too, and asleep. when i tell him he doesn’t cough when sleeping, he doesn’t find this curious. i do.

my emotions are in charge of everything i do. if i feel frisky, i make bread and do the dishes. if i feel slighted, i sulk and listen to business podcasts with both earphones in, sorry, can’t hear you. when i like my life, i make dinner. when i’m a slug, we have frozen meals from the frozen-meal-store, which is actually quite good, compared to north american standards. it’s not lean cuisine. it’s actual food. just frozen.

if i feel proud of myself, i keep doing the same things that make me feel good.

and as this new year unfolds, unspools, like a roll of film in front of me, i get to pick where i walk. i decide how many days i go outside (i work from home!). how many times i make dinner. how many times i drink juice. i get to decide whether i want to write a sober fiction book. i get to decide if i learn new things. if i play video games. if i sit in the bathtub.

you’re the writer of this new film, the one called “Me 2018.” you’re also the actor, the stage director, and the costumer. you get to decide what to wear, today i;m here in my plaid pj bottoms and my sober fuzzy socks. i get to choose between all-butter croissants or ‘croissants ordinaires‘ (never pick the latter).

i get to reach out for tools and supports that make me feel better about my life. i remember that how i think about things changes them. the rainy sidewalk becomes shiny with reflected light when i’m in the right mood, and can also be sludgy black and dark on another day. i pick the shiny. i pick the 80% that’s good. there’s something going on right now in your life, in mine, that sucks anus rocks. I’m not discounting my shittiness. i’m focussing on the good parts. and on the parts that i can control. starting with how i feel about me.

and when i don’t drink, i feel better about me. so i’m going to continue doing that.

happy new you 🙂

==

Comments from advance readers:

Jazzie (day 401): “And you inspire me!! … You’ve given me a new way to look at things and life though I’ve thought this was before, your way makes more sense to me. Thank you Belle. Happy New Year!!!”

Flyaway (day 192): “Before your blog I never thought about ‘changing perspectives’ or ‘reframing thoughts’. These tools have changed my life. I’m excited for this new year! Thank you for inspiring me!


~ and welcome to everyone who has found me through Catherine Gray … she’s penpal #270 and is on day 1570 today!


Would you like a sober penpal for a year?

Sober Jumpstart class re-opens today
with a limit of 11 available spots
Today
Monday January 1st
www.soberjumpstart.com

 

Audio: Community

Happy Merry HoHo.

I wanted to share this full-length episode from my sober podcast series. It’s called “Community” (SP231) and it’s about an hour long!

why does online sober support work? and how does it work … like, what is it about having a community of sober people that helps us to feel not so alone.

Well wrap yourself in a blanket, and come listen to this audio. I talk about community (on my site, and in general), and then we start talking about the politician Anthony Weiner and some difficulties he’s had with sexting.

What’s the relationship between sexting and over-drinking? He’s clearly a very smart guy. Funny, self-deprecating, with a voice in his head that says …

Well, you can listen to the audio and find out.

The reason for sharing this today, is so that over the next 48 hrs, if you need a bit sober community, you can dip in here for 10 minutes at a time, and soak up some support 🙂

[ link removed ]

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me what phrase from this audio is an a-ha moment for you. Something that you’ve maybe heard before, but today you REALLY heard it. Loud and clear.

 

Download the Community audio here

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).

==

show notes / podcasts mentioned:

  • Orchids & Dandelions Part 1, and Part 2
  • Lindsay Lohan and Oprah, here
  • Link to be a podcast subscriber, here
  • Empathy for Addiction, here

 

==

comments from listeners:

T: “Sober Community, particularly the online kind, works for me because I don’t feel like I fit in the rooms of AA but I can’t do this on my own but people without a Wolfie voice can’t support me because they don’t get it. That is why I podcasts and websites like yours and the others I use are vital tools to help me have that sober community. Thank you so much Belle for all you do :)”

J: “I think you talking about how you run your thing explains why it works; another forum soberistas didn’t really work. I struggled with posting as I cared too much about replies and posts can be alienating.”

This year I will stop …

As part of your re-engage with sobriety campaign, today we’re going to talk about things to STOP doing.

you know that overwhelm is something to avoid. at the risk of being a pretentious shit, let me quote from my own book (says every pretentious shit, ever):

(page 88): Your job is to reduce overwhelm. All around you, there are lists of things to do and when you first quit drinking you are going to take it easy. You will shower once a day, try not to get fired, and skip everything else.
Thinking that you need to push or force yourself to do things is a holdover from your drinking time, when you were hungover and you made yourself do things to prove that you didn’t have a problem. You wanted to make yourself look normal. You took on more than you could reasonably do, so that you looked high-functioning, so that nobody knew how much you were drinking, and so no one could detect how you felt about yourself.

For today, I would like you to put a comment on this blog post of something that you are NOT going to do as part of your Christmas/Holiday celebrations this year. You’re going to make 3 kinds of cookies instead of 10. You’re going to skip midnight mass and go in the morning. You’ll do ‘christmas mugs’ instead of ‘stockings’. You’ll order chinese food on christmas eve (my mother used to do this!).

We’re always looking to ADD new traditions to our holiday season, but for today, i want you to consider what you can give up, in order to help you feel less overwhelmed. You don’t have to be clever or original, you just have to be real. If you can’t think of anything, then copy this: “to help myself avoid overwhelm – which is a boozer’s biggest trigger – i’m going to skip making Christmas Eve dinner and have pancakes instead.”

My blog allows anonymous comments, so you don’t have to fill in your name/email address if you don’t want to.

And to bribe you to participate, to support your sobriety, and encourage you to speak up, I will RANDOMLY select ONE comment from this blog post about 24 hrs from now, and that person will receive a sober toolkit bracelet bracelet for free.

hugs, me

Audio: Social Worker

THIS IS CRITICAL.

Stop what you’re doing.

I want to share with you this full-length episode from my sober podcast series. It’s called “Social Worker” (SP217) and it’s about 40 minutes long.

I originally thought I’d interview a social worker who works as an addictions specialist. Sounds like a good idea, right? And our talk goes well … until it doesn’t. She says some things that I don’t agree with. And at one point it’s a little bit awkward. You need to listen all the way through, because this does NOT go how you think it will.

So below i’ve posted the entire 40 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.

 

[ link has been removed ]

 

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me what phrase from this audio is an a-ha moment for you. Something that you’ve maybe heard before, but today you REALLY heard it. Loud and clear.

 

Download the Social Worker podcast here

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).

==

Comments from listeners:

Ariel: “The social worker podcast. Just amazing. I cringed waiting for each response. My heart was full that your disclaimers and apologies were still followed with straight arrows and truths. I had so much appreciation that you were not swayed by respectable titles, licenses, and professional experience. You both were gracious and I felt so much one-ness with the reality of just how many of us need to be on this road together.”

C: “Addiction and rehabilitation counseling is, at times … a commercial business with boxes to check off that says “yup, talked about that.” Wolfie wasn’t on the list for today… It’s sad rally. And here are more gross overgeneralizations: some counselors can become qualified (at least in the states) with little training compared to that of others in the mental health professions. Even if a counselor has other (better) credentials, they may fall back to a lowest common denominator way of thinking when working with addiction.  Also, there is a lot of pressure to get counselors on staff who can sign off on rehab, probation, and court documents rather than spend time with client in a meaningful way …  You doing work with empathy is a foreign concept for a lot of folks. it is much more subtle, less valued, in this capitalism or other instant gratification things in our culture. It is even seen as weakness. You. The Beatles didn’t invent music, but their take on it changed the way music sounds. I enjoy very much your intuition, original prospective, and encourage you on the path; you help dry academics humanize their therapy — you have a burning question about life, a niche, you explore it with a unique lens.”

Dr. C: “Interview was tricky. You did well. So did your guest. Great listening … hugely polarising and depending on which side you sit you believe, you’re correct. Your guest talked about dialectical thinking (and being a Libra!) and the ability to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time (this is a well established therapeutic tool) but I wonder if in this case it’s like being a little bit pregnant. I can’t help but wonder if more health professionals took your line, if a lot of grief and morbidity would be short circuited. You stuck to your guns. Well done. Made us all proud x … Your voice. Your bluntness and calling bullshit. Your empathy.”