married to the beer man

Email from Sunny:

“I’d like to begin the 100 Day Challenge, but my situation is a bit odd. I’m wondering if you think it’s too much to overcome.

My husband is fairly prominent in the beer world. Because of his line of work our lives are very focused on alcohol. It pays our bills, it’s how we socialize with friends and family …. My husband says if I want to quit drinking that’s fine, but he will not change how he lives his life. He will continue to drink at home. I will have to attend beer related events with him

Is this an impossible situation? I need to quit drinking, but I’m worried that in my current situation its not possible. Any info or thoughts are welcome. Maybe you know someone in a similar situation? I hope I’m not the only one!”

me: it is possible. I am a caterer and often host large events where I buy, pour, and serve alcohol to my guests and I make homemade cocktails. I just don’t drink any myself. Booze is not good for me. It doesn’t improve my life. But I know that my clients like it and my job is to be of service, and to take their money 🙂

So if you approach alcohol as a tool that helps you earn income, that’s completely different from needing to drink it yourself.

Imagine you’re a vegetarian who’s a chef. You cook meat for the President because that’s what he’s paying you to do. Then you go home and eat lentils and chick peas and couscous and homemade lemonade with tonic and rosemary…

how’s that? hugs belle xo

~~

And hooray! Sunny is on day 4 today 🙂

You may not agree with my advice. You may think her husband should quit his job, or that she should leave him (!) (she has young kids). Or you might think she can’t get sober without her husband’s support.

But really, the only person we’re in charge of is ourselves (well, and the babies we have around us). Sunny can do what’s best for her. I know that lots of people cannot have any alcohol in the house at all. And I respect that 100%. For others (or at least for me), I seem to be able to shelve booze in my mind as “not for me.”

What would you tell Sunny? Is it too much to overcome? Me, I don’t think so… You?

love, me

==

some of the comments received:

freedom (day 153): “I’d tell Sunny it is possible to do it with alcohol in the house and a husband who still drinks. I have both and I’m on day 153 today. It might be sensible to stay away from the boozy events in the early days..I couldn’t have managed them at that point. And I’ve found going to bed early with a good book can help on the days when I struggle with him drinking. Those are usually days when I’m tired, stressed or struggling with overwhelm and it’s been a real learning curve for me to start to recognise when I’m feeling like that and take steps to look after/protect myself from Wolfie. And remember you’re not alone! Belle is always on the end of an email and has been an incredible support, especially in the tough times…and I have to remember to reach out before Wolfie gets too loud. It gets easier the longer you do it. Keep the faith :)”

Rambling Rose (day 76):
“I think it is up to Sunny as to whether or not she can stay on the sober path and still attend these events/have booze in the home. My roommate has a liquor cabinet full of alcohol, and it doesn’t bother me because I never touched his booze anyway. So it’s not so unusual to stay sober while loved ones have the occasional drink. However, what does bug me a bit is her husband’s attitude (must go to these events? I’m going to drink anyway…). I sense some general resentment between the two of them… and that may make it harder (not impossible) to reconcile while focusing on recovery … I sure as hell would resent being told I have to attend alcohol related events, even if my livelihood was connected to it, because health is more important than people pleasing. Just depends on the person – and the situation. Belle, I think your feedback is good. It’s up to Sunny to decide on her own boundaries.”

Wanda T (day 76): “I am a vegetarian and I know you use this analogy sometimes but it’s not a good analogy because it’s not a valid comparison. Vegetarianism is usually an ethical commitment. So chefs who are vegetarians don’t cook meat. I bake & cook – I wouldn’t even know how to cook meat. I don’t know how the President got worked into the analogy. Sunny is in a very tough spot. If it’s possible for her to go to an in-patient rehab to get the booze out of her system, that would help her I think. She would at least have a running start. Her husband sounds beyond selfish. Going to work-related events where there is alcohol is not the same thing as him drinking at home. There is more going on in this relationship than her husband simply having a social & professional commitment to the Beer Industry. There is also an extreme power imbalance in the relationship if he’s demanding that she attend drinking events while she’s trying to get sober. Sunny could announce at a drinking event that she’s an alcoholic who is trying to quit drinking ….maybe some people there would support her and she’d find out she really & truly is not alone. Good luck Sunny!”

Elyn Jones (Day 143):
“Belle, I think your advice was spot on. We rarely get the ideal environment, so we have to adjust. I’ll bet that most of start out in a less than ideal environment cuz we created it with booze at the center. Doesn’t mean things can’t shift. They can, and thankfully, they do.”

D (not yet a penpal): “Let’s assume for the moment that her husband is not a complete asshole. That may be a stretch, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt. I agree with your statement that the only thing we are in charge of is ourselves … You’re advice was good: put alcohol in the context of a produce / service that provides a livelihood. Separate it from her life. Livelihood on one land, life on the other.”

it’s not all about me

it’s not all about me.

before i make a list of all the ways he’s changed, i can make my own list. top five things i’ve stopped doing in the last 10 years. shaving my legs twice a week. getting my eyebrows done at the salon. making dinner 5 nights a week. packing his lunch. wearing lingerie.

it’s not all about me.

before i get irritated that nobody told me, i can take stock of the reality. not everyone wants an audience when they’re dying. it might have been sudden(er) than it seems. they weren’t thinking of how to exclude me. i haven’t spoken to them for a year. i’m not as close a friend as i thought i was. maybe they were more important to me than i was to them. maybe they didn’t think about me at all, maybe they were dealing with him dying and didn’t send out invitations for everyone to come visit.

it’s not all about me.

those people with their whining child. my god that child cries all the time. we don’t raise them like that in canada. in france they let their kids cry. a lot. often. for hours. even if the neighbours are disturbed, no one says anything. that child isn’t crying on purpose, intending to drive me crazy. her parents don’t know that i have to get up at 5 a.m. to do the baking. (and then when i do get up to make the sandwiches i’m standing in the spare room, which is above their bedroom, so they hear me, i’m sure. no one says anything.)

it’s not all about me. these things are not being done to me. i have a role to play. i sort out my part – all of it – before i start to wonder what’s up with you (or him, or them).

 

 

i’m actually excited

from my inbox:

cricket (day 6):

I just want to thank you for starting this blog and being so candid and honest with your trials, tribulations, thoughts and feelings.  This is the first time getting sober hasn’t felt like “work”.  Reading your blog helps me SO MUCH!  The thoughts you have (wolfie) are what I struggled with before and I’m sure I still will occasionally. But this is the first time I’m actually excited about going on this journey of sobriety and it’s all because of you and your blog.  I can’t thank you enough.  I’m smiling again!!!!  THANK YOU!!!!

I hope HUGE BLESSINGS just chase you down and overtake you!  😀

Day 6 of sobriety.  🙂  Thanks to your help.

Love, Cricket”

[update, she’s on day 505 today]

==

shameless commercial link. it’s my birthday today. don’t forget. i am a human who likes a big-deal-birthday but also I know that i have to make that happen for myself 🙂 you could buy me a present. in the absence of chocolate, then you doing the jumpstart class would be a good present. ha. you doing the jumpstart class, being sober, and us sharing chocolate? that would be the best.

anonymous confession booth – may 2015

step right up. for one day only, i’m creating an anonymous sober confession booth. i thought of this while doing dishes. I had my hands in warm water, and i thought “i wish that i could tell someone ‘this’ story” — you know, the story that was swirling around in my head.

Then i thought, OK, why not? Why don’t we tell our most shitty stories?

Well first off, 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 before the comment appears). 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 be forgiven for that happened to you, or that you did, because of alcohol. For example, i’ll make one up: “I used to steal money from my drunk parents’ pockets when i was a kid, because they’d never notice and they were ignoring me anyway” … OR … “i crashed my mother’s car while drinking but claimed it was a hit and run.”

  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.

i have a feeling that this will unfold in a lovely way. because you’re all lovely people. and we all have alcohol-related secrets. what’s yours?

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.

here’s a good idea for a mocktail

from my inbox:

Trarium:  “Still sober and grateful and a little sore. Moved rock for 8 hours straight, and spent most of yesterday getting seedlings into pots and a new raised bed we built last weekend. The sore muscles feel great! It was warm, almost 80 degrees here. I have to admit there was serious screaming for an ice cold beer (in my head) towards the end of both afternoons. I felt my feelings…. sad that I have already drank my allotment, probably my neighbors, and their neighbors so I’m done.

But then I made a new brew:  1/3 ginger ale, 1/3 blood orange dry soda and 1/3 sparkling water. Delish and refreshing!

I am savoring “Keeping the Wolf from the Door“. It is motivation, encouragement and a treat all in one!”

tables need support

as i wrote this morning to a sober penpal…

I’m discovering that I know shit about building furniture without a plan …

we bought a really lovely kitchen counter, whacked 4 legs on it, and presto, it’s NOT a table. Well, not yet anyway. Did you know that square things are more unstable whereas triangular things are more rigid? (They didn’t teach this to English majors).

spent most of the night tossing and turning, thinking “whenever you try to do it yourself you suck. just spend money and buy the real thing…”

I got up this morning, went for a run, did some online research, and now in the light of day I have learned that the table needs to be braced (duh!).

But somehow at 4 a.m., in the middle of darkness, doing research and asking someone for advice didn’t occur to me. Only self-flagellation was an option.

Parallels to sobriety much? Duh.

In early sobriety, we’re like a table with a missing leg.  We’re OK if no one touches us. We’re OK so long as we don’t have to socialize. We’re OK so long as no one asks “what can i get you from the bar.”

Then we add supports. And we slowly put stuff under the missing corner and now we’re a four legged table.

is that enough?

well here’s what i learned this morning. 4 legged tables still need to be braced. they need corner supports, or they need diagonal braces, or they need to be bolted to the floor, or they need to be bracketed to the wall (the last choice is what we’re doing). [yes, i will take photos once it’s done. if you are on the list here you’ll get the pictures.]

so yeah, i’m sober. i have 4 legs. i had an idea when i set out to be sober that it would be SOMETHING.  and then it turns out to be something DIFFERENT from what I expected. and my initial reaction (still) is to panic and say “this isn’t working. i am a fuck up.”

when thinking of sobriety, and tables, often a visit to Mr. B. is required.

I say to him “tell me this is going to be OK.”

and he says…

“It’s OK already.”