broken mirror, bent golf club, two bullet holes [Julie-Joy’s Dad Part 1]

from me:

i received a long email from Julie-Joy’s Dad about his new sober life. it’s so fascinating that i want to share it all with you, but it’s long (i said that already) and so i’m going to split it into parts. Here’s Part 1:

===

[May 2016]
email from Julie-Joy’s Dad (day 822): “Hi Belle, I wanted some insight with my drinking problem, which I thought really wasn’t that bad. So I sent my “girls” (girls includes my wife) an email and asked them to tell me about the before and after. I was surprised. Actually I was a little shocked! You will like the response from my wife. Enjoy.  This is my original email:  I need your help! I like to read the blogs of “Belle’s” website and I find them encouraging and in some cases sad. I am looking at my own journey and how content and happy I am right now and I would like to add a perspective to the blog (or whatever) from my family. Could you write a paragraph or two about the DAD (& husband) before the 100 day sober challenge, and the DAD after taking the challenge? Thanks and I love you. DAD (and your Mom’s hubby).”

1. Response From My Wife

I really think you were on a course of self-destruction that was going to end tragically … There were a couple of times that I was probably more frightened, and mad, than I’d ever been in my life. There was one night that I was so concerned about you that I left work in the middle of the night to come home and check on you. I had talked with you on the phone and you weren’t making much sense. By the time I got home you were in bed asleep.

There was also an instance with a patient in the ER one night that I thought to myself, “this could be Jeff.” He had a seizure related to alcohol withdrawal. He was right around the same age as you and a daily drinker. Not a homeless alcoholic guy off the streets, just your average every-day worker, wife at bedside. He was obviously altered, couldn’t talk or make any sense, going to be admitted to ICU (withdrawal can kill), didn’t know if he was going to make it and if he did, what would his quality of life be like. That really frightened me. I remember talking to you about it and you blew it off. At least that was my perception.

Then Julie-Joy came along with an initial 30 day sober challenge, I thought to myself “he’ll do it for Julie, she always had a way with her dad.”

Let me back up a bit and give you my example of “frightening moments”: broken mirror (floor length), bent golf club, and also two bullet holes in our house and you not remembering what happened! My heart is racing right now just recounting this…

There was also the way you tried to hide how much you were drinking. I felt God was whispering in my ear: “look here, look there,” and sure enough there’d be a bottle. … Belle entered our lives through Julie. I cannot begin to thank you enough for your gift of reaching people, Belle. It was the absolute perfect time. Jeff took on the challenge in the typical fashion “all-in”! He did 30 days, and then 60 days, and then 100 days. He is now at 822 days and counting. He is amazing and a joy to be around. He’s “fired-up” on a daily basis, and is hard to keep up with. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m much younger than him, six years? A bit of a private joke 🙂 I’m so thankful he’s alive (I don’t think he would’ve at the rate he was going). I get to enjoy his company for the rest of our years together (38 years and counting).

I love you Jeff and I love that you took on this challenge with gust! You have been a huge inspiration not only to me, but your daughters and those around you, and those you don’t even know you. I’ve shared with friends, patients and acquaintances about the change in you, the website, and the person that Belle is and has been to our family. Thank you Belle for bringing this inspiration to us. Thank you for your own 30, 60, 100+ day challenge and inspiring others to “stop thinking about drinking.” You have a gift, thanks for sharing with others and this family in particular. You’re a life saver.

[end part 1]

chocolate with cranberries from Frankfurt, Germany

last year we did some fundraising for a homeless shelter that accepts men and women, couples, and dogs.

When my step-father was sick (he’s the one i call Mr. Cinnamon Toast in podcasts), he asked that his clothes be donated to a few charities, and this special homeless shelter was one.

he also had a lot of hand-wrapped stones, which i brought back to france so that we could do the stone fundraiser. there are more of those stones available, too, and some new ones this year from my most recent trip (my mom keeps finding more hidden in the house).

and this year i want to ADD to the stones, and introduce …
a blind auction. 

what’s that?

I show you some cool treats, you EMAIL me with your highest bid that you’d be willing to pay to sponsor the homeless shelter and receive the specific treat being auctioned.

The email with the highest donation after 24 hrs wins the treat.

It’s called a ‘blind’ auction because you don’t know what the high bid is, you just have to submit an email with what you’d like to donate.

Here’s the first treat, this is bittersweet artisanal chocolate + cranberries that i got when i was in Frankfurt, Germany.

Would you like to ‘win’ this chocolate bar and make a donation to the homeless shelter at the same time?

send me an email with “chocolate from germany” in the subject line, and tell me your bid. You can use any currency you like (then i’ll convert to USD to compare to the other bids). Maybe the high bid will be $8 or maybe it’ll be $18. or higher. i literally have no idea! that’s the fun of it 😉

 

send me an email with “chocolate from germany” in the subject line, and tell me your bid.

hugs from me
belle xo

… Deadline is Wednesday September 20th @ 4 pm Eastern …

Audio: Snake or Starfish

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #212 sent to sober podcast members.

Are you a snake or a starfish? A snake presents only part of their story. You might talk about your husband, but not about over-drinking. You maybe tell your doctor about menopause and not the two bottles of wine.

Whereas really, you’re a starfish. There are multiple things happening. and if you don’t present all of them, then the person listening can’t always help you as well as they could.

To get you started, you can listen to this clip from the beginning of the audio, and then you can add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Fill in the blanks: I told ______ about _____ but i never mentioned _______ or _________.

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #212

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).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: Behind the Scenes with the BBC

Below i’ve uploaded a clip from Sober Podcast #216 that will go out to sober podcast members.

This is a special behind-the-scenes audio recorded February 2017. I was contacted by Hannah Smith, freelance journalist with the BBC and she wanted some background information before I did some live, on-air interviews for the BBC in May.

She also asks me about being the poster-child for sobriety, and my answer may surprise you.

To get you started, you can listen to this clip from the beginning of the audio, and then you can add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments.

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Do you think that sobriety has an ‘image problem’? Tell me your thoughts.

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #216

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).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: Sprinkler

This is a clip from Sober Podcast Episode #211 that i sent to sober podcast members.

~~

“Feeling very grateful I listened to this podcast this evening. I’m permanently soaking wet cos of all the bloody sprinklers I walk into. I think I shall wear my raincoat always around my children :-)” ~ Hidcote
~~

In this podcast i talk about how to avoid dealing with someone (or some situation) that is making you feel nutty, and I frame it in terms of thinking about a sprinkler. To avoid getting wet, you do both of these things: you walk around the sprinkler, AND you put on a raincoat. We tend to get stuck staring at the shitty boss, the irritating husband, the bratty child (the sprinkler) – and we wonder “why are they doing this TO ME.”

That’s what boozers do. We look around, find existing problems, and drink AT them. “Fuck you, I’ll show, I’ll drink at you.” Especially in the first 200 days.

so here’s an audio on how to identify (and avoid) the sprinklers in your life.

You can listen to a 2-minute clip from this podcast and add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments. You should leave one. Do it today 🙂

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

HOMEWORK:
Sometime in the last 48 hrs, something like this happened to you. did you walk into the sprinkler, walk around it, or put on a raincoat?

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #211

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).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

“I have asked for help and you have given it”

email from mygi (day 1): 

“Hey Belle, just finished listening to Lesson #1 of the Jumpstart class, and I’m in floods of tears because it’s real now and I’m not lurking any more and I’m real. I thought I was broken but maybe I’m not? Sobbing with reality and relief that I don’t have to fight any more.

My longest time sober was about 10 years ago. I’ve always feared quitting outright because I hated that time, it was boring and difficult and I thought that was difficult because I was sober. So I tried moderation, lots of different kinds of moderation, none of which have worked …

What’s different this time that gives me hope is that I’m not going to change anything in my life apart from this one thing. Everything is ok, I’m in an ok place. And I have support, I have asked for help and you have given it. Maybe it will happen to me this time, because I can see the future in you and your sober penpal gang and it doesn’t look so different from who I am now.

I can’t tell you how many times I gave that three year old a doughnut since I returned to day one. Sooooo many doughnuts, soooooo many tantrums. Day one is today again, and it’s shit. I don’t want to be here any more.

And I laugh/sobbed so hard at the corn on the cob thing. Yes, that’s it entirely. I can’t MAKE myself be like that about booze. You’re like that or you’re not. But I’m getting into scary never territory again so I’m going to return to the fact that I’m not drinking now. Not today.

Thank you Belle :-)”

[update: she’s on day 396 today, just celebrated one year sober]

aim for a high, firm bottom

from my inbox:

From E (day 128): “I follow a sober girl and when she was starting off, I followed her, left encouraging comments on the blog. She relapses frequently … and i got frustrated; my reaction is initially to try to fix her. or to say bracing things to her. none of which will help her, I’m sure.  but I do check the blog occasionally, like picking a scab that is irritating me 🙁 so my considered response is probably to back away, strengthen the boundaries between her and me. because her actions are her own responsibility and not mine … and I need to find a way of dealing with that.  but when she leaves sad comments I am at a loss as to how to respond. I generally go for something non-committal, or don’t reply. any thoughts on how I can let this person take up less space in my head?! you must get this all the time in your position!”

me:  I know this feeling, I think that reading blogs of repeated relapsers isn’t terribly helpful. except to remind us that we never want another day 1 again. there are some people’s blogs that i read when i first was getting sober, that started to blog about ‘moderation’ or about how being sober wasn’t for them, I unfollowed them. When i was starting, I want to surround myself with stories of how to be successfully sober … Do I now work with people who AREN’T successfully sober, yes. do I have a lot of patience? yes. do I overinvest in them more than they are invested in themselves? no. it’s about boundaries, I think … wolfie gets into some people’s heads. it’s terrifying to watch. they know that they’re being possessed. they know that the train is coming and they’re standing on the tracks. and they can’t get off the tracks.  it’s not logical. addiction isn’t logical. that’s the horror of it. people die. they can’t figure out how to get off the tracks and then get squished by the train, by wolfie, by booze. it happens all the fucking time.  all we can do is wave from safe land and say “come here” because while giving ideas is helpful, tough love doesn’t seem to work …  huglets

E: “Tx for this. V helpful. Agree totally re harshness not working. I think for me, snippets of things other people have said have unexpectedly made a massive difference. But I can’t guess what those things will be for someone else 🙁 it makes me so sad for that person. Such a waste. Thank you for all you do to be a lighthouse!”

me:  she will find her way. or she will get squished by the train. wolfie sometimes does suck the life out of perfectly nice people. what’s better? quit early. a high firm bottom. better.

E: “Absolutely. One of best things I recall from your podcast was you saying that we think we will quit later, when we HAVE to – as if it will be easier then. When of course the later we leave it, the more difficult it gets 🙁 earlier and firmer indeed!”

Audio: Misfit

This is a clip from Sober Podcast Episode #207 sent out yesterday to sober podcast subscribers.

~ ~

“I don’t walk in dog shit. I’m taking care of me.” (sent to me by MelMel as a possible bumper sticker)

~ ~

Yes, that’s an actual quote from the podcast. Here’s what happened.

J sent me this: “I often feel like I’m missing out when I see people (my family, etc) enjoying alcohol and having fun. It makes me feel a little sad. Will this go away? How can I change the way I think about it and my feelings around it? I feel like it’s yet another contributor to my being a misfit.”

and my answer, to address our feelings of ‘misfit’ is to engage in a bit of reframing.

You can listen to a clip from this podcast and add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments. You should leave one. Do it today 🙂

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

 

Question:
If we had to make a bumper stick out of one phrase in this podcast, what would it be?

 

 

Download the entire podcast episode #207

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 present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

 

Feedback from subscriber:

Alicat (day 184): “I enjoyed this podcast immensely for a couple of reasons.  First reason:  I love hearing you talk about ‘the further you get from Day 1’ because I am now somewhere around Day 180 and nearly everything positive you have predicted has come to pass. I only very occasionally find myself in a jealous state because of the fun others appear to be having while drinking, and when it does pop up it passes very quickly. Sometimes because I leave the situation and take myself elsewhere. Sometimes because ‘fun’ drinking rather quickly becomes embarrassing or awkward drinking, and watching that reminds me how very happy I am to have left those moments behind me. Mostly I am glad to be feeling better (although I am still awfully tired sometimes, which I am attributing to emotional overwhelm) and looking better and waking up healthy. No churning stomach, no awful headache and no shame. Also, I am always keenly aware of where I have left my car. It is truly terrifying to think back on how many times I woke up wondering where it was.

The second reason I enjoyed the podcast: Your wonderful advice about when to stop fucking talking! I do tend to offer more information, or rationalization, or apology than is ever necessary when answering simple questions. I feel an overwhelming need to make others comfortable with whatever stance I happen to be taking at the moment but you are right; probably they really do not care! I know I usually don’t. OMG – so simple.  It is indeed freeing to realize that my doings and decisions really do not matter to most people.  Wheeeee!!!

The third reason I enjoyed the podcast:  Well it was your parting thought on being a misfit.  “So you’re a misfit and who gives a shit?” This has been a growing sentiment for the last few years and especially since about Day 60 of sober living. I have never fit in, and I have never been easy in the company of even the smallest crowd and y’know what? Who gives a shit? So that’s my vote for a bumper sticker: “So you’re a misfit eh? Well who gives a shit?” Good stuff as always Belle.”

big chunk of yesterday’s live audio (limited time)

i don’t normally do this.
in fact, i don’t think i’ve ever done it before…

yesterday i recorded a 2.5 hr live call. it’ll eventually be chunked up and sent out to podcast subscribers.

one thing subscribers get as a bonus is the UNEDITED version of the audios.

and you.
you’ve maybe never heard the unedited version.
and there’s something about the missteps, the fumbling around, the swearing, the reading of the comments, that makes the whole recording seem much more REAL.

so today…

(and i haven’t done this before)

but today
i have posted a large hefty morsel of yesterday’s live call. and i’m going to leave it up for 24 hrs only.

that’ll mean you can listen right now, in 10 minute increments if you must.
and so if you were unable to join us live yesterday, you can get some of that ‘group’ feeling today.

and also.
it’ll give you 1.5 podcasts, live, as they were being recorded.
you can post a comment about being a snake or a starfish …

 

link has been removed.

 

out of fairness to podcast subscribers, i’ll leave this up for only 24 hrs.
le hugs from le me

 

 

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)

 

you’ve tried it for year. now try something else.

this is an extract from podcast SP206 being sent out to podcast subscribers today.

it’s about you wanting to be sober. During a recent live call, D asked me what she could do to be sober, since she’d been trying for a year. here’s my answer to her. This is a 3 minute extract from the podcast (and update, she’s on day 34 today, so something about this answer seems to have worked).

 

 

You want a different result. And it’s not that there isn’t support available for us, it’s that we don’t want it. If your thought process isn’t working now like it did before, then you do new things now. You’re going to need different things to get you going. you’ve changed. the elevator only goes down. The time to step off is right now.

This audio is taken from podcast SP206 (the full version of the audio is 24 minutes long).

 

Download the audio podcast episode 206

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).

Question: What phrase do you hear in this audio, perhaps as if for the first time – something that makes you think “oh yeah. that.” I’ll select a comment in the next 48 hrs and will send a present. anonymous comments are fine.