that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us.

from my inbox:

bluesparkles (day 0):  “FUCK I hear you Belle. It just seems so damn boring and exhausting without the buzz of wine to keep the night going. I don’t know what to do instead. I mean, I do, and i’ve done it, but I’ve forgotten the past few weeks since i’ve been back at school and it’s ramped up the tension and need for release. I am so goddamn sick of thinking about it.
Belle, if I could tell you all the things that are running through my mind every day with school, the three kids, my job which is filled with children, colleagues, the new fire pit in our backyard so my hubby and i can enjoy a date night at home since we don’t have any damn help – well firepits don’t seem that fun with just coffee and creamer. I bought decaf coffee and creamer just for that reason, but it’s more fun with wine. and I hate that. Hate hate hate. I can do a trillion strong ass things, give birth, deal with marriage stuff, family serious health things, I don’t want to deal with one more damn thing – i.e. giving up something that relaxes me. does that make sense? I feel like your response is going to be unintentionally condescending because it’s just not that easy to find other sober supports and treats in the midst of life.”

me: I know that I will be unintentionally condescending when I say that you being sober is a big deal, for you, for the kids, and for feeling proud of yourself. if you’re missing out on a ‘buzz’ then yes, you can find it in other ways. you’re here [reading this, emailing] because on some level you know that you’re drinking more than you want to be. it’s not easy to find sober supports. but I’m here, and you can be emailing me 4 times a day. you could listen to the audios and set up calls with me. you have a voice in your head that tells you that alcohol makes things better. that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us. and on some level you know this. that’s why you’re emailing me. to ask me to say this. so I will 🙂 hugs

~

ORIGINAL PAINTINGS

http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/original-art/

drinking bathwater

email from Hernoodlyness (day 6): 
“Tonight is regular Drinking Tuesday with my two very good friends. I bought them a bottle of wine (i think it is my turn), but also have my special drink ready. I need to tell them that I will not be drinking alcohol with them any more (well for at least 100 days), but that I would still love to have an evening once a week to catch up. I am a little anxious about their reactions, as I used to be the drinking friend. But I am hoping that I can also just be a very good friend. Perhaps even better, now that my attention is not focused on how much alcohol is left and if I have enough after they left.”

me: you’ll find it easier with your friends if you mention it in advance. like send a text that says “can’t wait to see you tonight, I’ve got the wine, I’m not drinking these days so I’ll have tonic for me but I can’t wait to hear about xx and yy. see you soon.” just be matter of fact about it. it makes it easier for when you see them face to face. huglets

hnn: “I emailed them like you suggested and ended it with a funny story about how I found my little M was in the bathtub this afternoon drinking bathwater out of his shoe. They cared more about the anecdote, than my actual non-drinking warning. I am pretty sure you are thinking: YUP! 🙂  Thanks for the great advice. No anxiousness here any more!”

~

​exit the past situation. move into the new place. the door’s open. 


this is painting #399 here > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-399

give up what doesn’t serve me

this is an email about how things grow and evolve. i was looking over some messages i received in 2013, about a year after i quit drinking, to see how much i’ve ‘bloomed’ since then. here’s one example:

october 9, 2013
email from E. “Hi Belle, I just want to say I got chills reading your post about opening a store! I’m not sure why exactly, there was just something so — touching on a dream — or something. And beautiful how things change and how you accept that thought so easily (it seems).
And on that note of changing dreams, I thought it was really interesting in a recent post how you mentioned you no longer write fiction. I am struggling with that one. I feel like it was this dream I always had and it’s soooo hard to let it go, but I just don’t think I like it, or that it’s good for me (it kind of makes me crazy) and I write in so many other capacities. I’m in another fiction class right now to give it one last shot to see if I want to or not, but I hope to hear from you or see a post on whether that was difficult to give up the fiction dream or if you let it go easily and what made that possible. I think the ability to allow oneself to change (including changing dreams) is so important but boy, can it be difficult!”

me: I’m big on giving up stuff that doesn’t serve me. but really the decision to not write fiction anymore wasn’t even really a decision. I just stopped. I never ‘had time’, I was always ‘busy with other things,’ and that’s it. years went by. then more years. now I realize that I wrote fiction to make other people happy. for me, it’s too solitary. and I’m not compulsive enough (i.e. I don’t get up every day just dying to write fiction). I do get up thinking about pie though. turns out I had to get sober and be 46 years old to figure out what I’m really called to do. I’m CALLED to and dream about cinnamon buns. and pie. and today I made sour cream coffee cake and bagels and lamb pot pies…

 


 

what’s interesting, of course, is that 4ish years later i WOULD start writing fiction again, sober fiction, about Rayna.

But i couldn’t see it then. i needed the space of being sober, measured in years, which eventually allowed the writing to come back in, on its own, without being forced.

It did NOT happen right away. i didn’t even predict it would happen at all.

i also found a way to make the fiction not solitary, by posting it live every day for people to read. and i found i way to make it ‘compulsive’ but committing to posting something every single day without skipping days.

the things i thought i couldn’t change, i could. the things i thought were fixed about writing fiction (solitary/not driven enough) i could change with external accountability. i know that’s not the way most people write books. it’s not the way most people do anything. but i know me. i do better when i think someone is paying attention. number of fiction books written without accountability over a period of 23 years? none. thought about it. didn’t do it. added daily accountability? wrote a first draft in 6 months.

tried to quit drinking on my own, I could get to 9 days.

add accountability? coming up on my seventh soberversary on july 1st.

but don’t get me wrong. accountability is hard. you have to reach out. you have to say you’ll do it. you have to show up. you have to allow yourself to be accountability. it’s scary to set it up. but it can help to get the thing done.

and i know, for me, i can’t do much without something external to me. it’s just how i’m wired. i can’t even apologize for it. it’s just who i am. i can do LOTS OF THINGS with accountability. I can do very little without.

i’d still like a blue bakery (i do love that photo). I’d also like to get fiction book #1 published, and start on #2. I’d like to have a radio show (!).

and my ongoing goal, often overriding others… is to sleep in.

maybe i’ll do all of them, just not at once. maybe if we’re sober for a longer period of time, there’s room to put the goals in.

and the space to let new, unimagined ones grow.

hugs from me xo

 


Question: If you were making a pledge today, and you could pick any number of days, then how long can you pledge to be sober for, for sure, starting today?

me, I can be sure, from today, that i’m not drinking until July 1st (my soberversary). for sure. for sure. no questions. i’m going to be sober longer than that, but i’m definitely 100% not drinking between now and then.

What about you? what’s your ‘for-sure-for-sure’ number of days you can be sober starting today?

~

“I know you’re chasing problems
But you’ve been running too long
It’s time that you come home my love
And stay here in the sun my love”


www.artsober.com

be OK with you first


email from Sunshine (day 1):
“I want to try 30 days. Haven’t made it that far yet. Day 1 for me again.”

me: you can try for any number of days you like 😉 how about starting with 2 days, and then getting a nice sober treat! 

sunshine: “You never make me feel embarrassed or shitty about emailing you and keep me feeling encouraged. Thank u:)”

[update: she’s on day 446 today]


Question: If you were making a pledge today, and you could pick any number of days, then how long can you pledge to be sober for, for sure, starting today?

me, I can be sure, from today, that i’m not drinking until July 1st (my soberversary). for sure. for sure. no questions. i’m going to be sober longer than that, but i’m definitely 100% not drinking between now and then.

What about you? what’s your ‘for-sure-for-sure’ number of days you can be sober starting today?

~

“If you see a chance, take it …”
[original art here]


www.artsober.com

stuck in our head

we can get stuck in our head with the ‘drink-now’ voice. we can get stuck thinking that nobody understands, nobody cares, nothing will work. in fact, the ‘nothing’ language is wolfie speaking. because there ARE tools and supports. there are. there are things to do and try. sometimes it means doing 5+15 things together at the same time. sometimes THAT is what’s required. so you do it. cuz you keeping your head above water is the goal. and you alone in your head with a voice that thinks that drinking is a good idea? that’s too lonely.

even on weekends. even when everyone else around you is doing something else. it’s ok if you do what’s best for you. keep your head above water. reach for a flotation device…

 

drinking thinking

omm347.drinking.thinking

Drinking-thinking is different from sober-thinking. and your drinking-thinking is likely going to OBJECT to ideas suggested that come from sober-thinking. You have to be open enough to try the new things, even when your head disagrees.

(When i relisten to this audio clip below, i feel like it’s the KEY to what i’ve been saying lately. maybe condensed and compressed in a way that i haven’t said it before. it sounds ‘new’ or something …)

To hear this short audio message, press the blue button below. nothing to download. just press play.

Question: Did you hear something in this today? post a comment.

how to reframe celebrations

transcript from omm285. How to reframe celebrations

As you may know I do coaching calls with some of my pen pals or subscribers. You don’t actually have to be a pen pal to have a coaching call, but I do calls on the phone with people to talk about sober stuff and I had 3 calls today and each one of them presented a little nugget I think that I can talk about further as a One Minute Message.

The one I wanted to start with is: if you have a voice in your head that says for example, ‘I should be celebrating with alcohol’ …

There’s something to celebrate: job promotion, got through a hard thing, dealt with the kid thing, made the dentist appointment you didn’t want to make, your birthday. Doesn’t matter what it is.

But if your brain says, ‘I should be celebrating with alcohol’, my assignment to the person that I was talking to today, which I’m now going to share with you because you can do this too, is to do a little piece of writing, and write down 2 things.

#1 is to write down the dialog of what wolfie is telling you about how you need to celebrate with alcohol. What is the message that you get. What’s the wolfie message?

For example: How am I ever going to celebrate if I don’t have alcohol, a wedding toast won’t be the same unless I have champagne, it’s my birthday I deserve it.

What’s the language that wolfie is using?

#2 is to write down how you reframe the idea of celebrating without alcohol. What is the message you might give yourself instead?

For example: Turns out what I really want is a feeling of celebration, it doesn’t matter what’s in my glass.

And the reason I’m sharing this today is because I think that the coaching call today illuminated for both of us as we were speaking, that the reason I wanted her to write down the first part, which is – ‘what is wolfie saying’ – is to acknowledge that it exists. Not just to lay down new reframed ideas (ini concrete) on top of the old concrete, but to hear him out. What does he have to say? What is the message in there?

Because there’s nothing the matter with the message that says: “I need to celebrate.” The part of the message that needs to be dissected is: “I need to celebrate with alcohol.”

I think that wolfie’s message is exactly correct except for the word ‘alcohol’.
“I deserve it. It’s my birthday. I need to celebrate” … all of that is true. So you can’t dismiss that message in your head. You can’t dismiss it because it’s true.

The only part that’s incorrect is linking that to alcohol.

The wolfie voice that says: I deserve something, I need some me time, where’s my treat, where’s my celebration, how am I going to go to that wedding and not raise my glass … that’s all true, all valid and I think you need to acknowledge it.

Then the reframing part is where you simply change the word ‘alcohol’ for another word.

I needed a treat. I’m going to be at this wedding. I want to hold up my glass, so I’m going to hold up my glass with a tonic and a ginger ale because it turns out that what’s in my glass is not that important.

Or it’s my birthday. How am I going to celebrate my birthday without alcohol? And wolfie will say, ‘You know it’s not the same. Birthday’s require alcohol.’ And so you acknowledge that and you say, ‘I really want my birthday to be special. I have to think of a way to make it special. I have to keep all of the same feeling of celebration just not with alcohol.’

When you’re doing reframing, and whenever you’ve got the wolfie voice running around in your head, you can acknowledge it.

It’s sort of like when the 3 year runs into the room and says but mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy I want a donut. And you don’t say, ‘Fuck you, have a steak’. You don’t say, ‘That’s a ridiculous idea, of course you’re not having a donut’.

What you say is: “I hear you. I know you think you want a donut right now because you want some kind of a treat and I totally acknowledge that you have been good, cleaned up your room, whatever the kid thinks he deserves the donut for.”

You would acknowledge all of it. “Yes, and it turns out there’s other ways to get a treat that aren’t a donut, and you’re totally right you do deserve some kind of a treat. So let’s get a sticker and put it on the chart and let’s get some carrot sticks and dip them in hummus and how about you come and help me make supper. Those are all celebration-y treats.”

I don’t think you can dismiss the original message. It’s sort of like saying ‘I want love and attention so I try to make my boss notice me.’ There’s nothing the matter with wanting love and attention. It’s the ‘but I want it from my boss’ part that you may need to disengage and plug in a different phrase.

So if your head is saying “the only way I can celebrate is with alcohol,” look at the message and figure out how you can say the exact same thing but put something else in there in the place of alcohol.

There. I’m leaving you right there. How’s that for a six-minute One Minute Message. OK, good byyyyeeeee!

things larger than elvis :)

memphis. very warm (32C). the tour of Sun Studio (birth place of rock and roll) yielded a very interesting post-tour conversation with our guide ‘G’. we were the last ones in the room (with the famous microphone, and the x on the floor where elvis stood), and in making conversation i asked G about his radio voice, his tour-guide persona, and i asked him about his way of being entertaining and commanding authority at the same time. he talked about radio and podcasts, i said i did a podcast, he asked what about … and i told him. he asked for the website name for ‘friends’. said he knew a few people who’d gotten sober after a low bottom. i said that some sites have resources to help quit drinking before a bottom. to stop early. to remove the shit that doesn’t serve us. he shook my hand. i put some tip money in his tour guide container.

stuff like this changes you. changes me. am i a super huge elvis fan? my husband is. i go for him AND i learn things along the way. large things. things maybe larger than elvis 🙂


if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off and stay off. this is Exit in mandarin. photo taken in the memphis backyard of our dumpy rental house.

here’s the direct link > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-391

made me stop being angry

memphis. very very warm (31C). a little rough around the edges (the city and us). a dumpy rental apt which we tried to back out of and have now made coffee and settled in.

 

from my inbox:

email from Mari: “After listening to this audio [lesson 1]  I realize that I am so angry all the time. Angry that I had to listen to this audio.  So pissed that I can’t drink, pissed when I do drink, especially the next day. I remain in a state of constant anger, gives me a reason to get up in the morning and go about all my tasks, but always pissed about it all, having to live, having to do things i don’t want to do. This rage keeps me from feeling, keeps me from doing anything about my unhappy life.

When you said to close my eyes and listen, telling me I am not broken, that made me feel so much better, made me stop being so angry, made me think maybe she’s right, maybe there is hope for me.

I feel so relieved right now, like the pressure is off me, maybe i don’t have to be in a rage all the time.  Maybe………..”

Question: Do you have anger or is it (maybe) fear? how closely linked are anger and fear, do you think?


NEW PAINTING POSTED

​This painting was selected to go to the Tennessee Art Show in Knoxville Tennessee (May 9-11, 2019) … 🙂

It’s now available on the site.

link > www.artsober.com

the easiest option is to physically remove it

nashville. had to pass by here on my way to the post office. the woman behind the counter talked to us for like 5 minutes about nothing … 🙂

 

from my inbox:

email from C-J (day 125): “Hi Belle, Well at least today i managed a small change in that i made coffee and fed myself before anything else i am going to get that firmly fixed in place then add in the [writing about tracking migraines] stuff – it is really only 10 minutes, and my ultimate goal is then 10 minutes of gentle stretching and yoga …

[the writing assignment] was expressive writing today — scary stuff! its exactly the exercise you described but getting it all down in a letter — first you make a list of all the people and situations you need to write a letter to — you can write a letter to stinky old sexism at work if you want to, if you feel that is causing some of your pain!

when i was watering the garden this evening i was pulling out bits of rose leaves that have black spot on them, and it made me think about this gardener on the radio called Bob Flowerdew, that I have listened to since i was a teenager. He is a bit of a hippy, has an extremely long plait [braid] like Rapunzel and is an authority on organic gardening. The other week he was talking about pests like black spot and aphids and said ‘of course people forget the cheapest and easiest option is to just physically remove them’ — it made me think about the similarities between gardening and sobriety and made me chuckle 🙂  Hugs, CJ.”

[update: she’s on day 441 today]


NEW PAINTING POSTED

​This painting was selected to go to the Tennessee Art Show in Knoxville Tennessee (May 9-11, 2019) … 🙂

It’s now available on the site.

link > www.artsober.com

 

SOLD: Paintings 437, 344, & 373 have been sold to England, New Jersey, & Texas respectively