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.”

what you see and what you get

in yesterday’s micro-email, i sent out a picture of a bracelet, with my arm attached, with a view from my balcony.

elevator bracelet
source

then i got this in my inbox:

Maverick: “The view from your window in the bracelet picture looks like something from a movie.”

me: 🙂 I wish the balcony picture had a good movie to go with it. we’re on a corner with a church beside us (loud) and an intersection below us (cars stop to wait for the light with their stereos turned up loud). thankfully the buses stop running for a few hours at night so it’s quiet at least from 1 am to 5 am … but really in august, with the neighbours above and below away, it’s at least quiet in my head!

Maverick: “you mean you aren’t surrounded by artists? you mean you aren’t typing on a an old black typewriter?  😀 I’m so disillusioned. I am sober though!”

me: I know right? all that lovely imagery. I’m here in an oversized t-shirt, blue plaid pj bottoms. I just made my husband cereal for breakfast (!) but only because he’s leaving on a flight in a few hrs. Normally he’s up and gone by the time I roll out of bed… notice the nice home cooked meal I didn’t make. notice that the manicure I got last week, the polish chipped within 4 days but I haven’t removed it yet so I just look raggedy. notice all that, too.

~

and also this morning:

me:  I will have 10 days alone with husband away. i will have 10 days of healthy eating, running, movies, clean house and sleeping through the night. which really means 10 days of sloth, eating popcorn, watching downton abbey reruns.

~

today i have a choice of what to do for the next 10 days. i want to get to the end of this break and be pleased, no matter what happens. today, each day, i’m creating a version of a story that i’ll be able to look back on later. (everything is like everything = every day sober means it’s another day you can look back on and be proud of, but right now, today, the way you do that is to not drink. at all. none.)

today i can go to a movie or go swimming or get my nails redone. i could also fuck around, waste a bunch of time, skip meals, have too much caffeine, and get to the end of 10 days and think that i had a nice chance for something lovely and i didn’t really take advantage of it. (i’ll get to the end of my week, my month, my marriage, my life and know that i had a chance for something lovely and i didn’t really take advantage of it.)

yes, there’s a time and place for sloth. yes, i will still be slothful. yes, i’ll make sure i avoid overwhelm. i’ll sleep late, i’ll sleep uninterrupted (no thrashing! no snoring!). i’ll make very simple meals.

~

now that he’s gone i’m fine. it gets quieter in my head as soon as i’m alone. look at this, i go right to WRITING when i’m alone.

i can do things that make me feel better or i can do nothing. i can go swimming or i can talk about going swimming. i can eat hummus and carrots on wholegrain bagel for lunch. and may i’ll have popcorn in bed (if i frame it as a sober treat, that is).

if you take care of YOU, can it fix your marriage? (not literally, but still …)

since everything is like everything, i will tell a story about getting up early.

wanted to get up early for weeks (years) because i like the calm and quiet, and i feel better about me when i do it. (wanted to be sober for years because i like the calm and quiet, and i feel better about me when i do it.)

i think it about it for years before there’s any action. (ditto.)

then i fuck around a bit, try it here and there, don’t really take it seriously. don’t set up any accountability. ask someone with no authority to hold me accountable. generally do nothing. manage one day then crash again.

ok let me back up a bit so that this will make more sense.

for about 6 weeks my husband and i had been up each other’s noses. completely. sky is blue? not it isn’t. spoons face down in the drawer? what’s your problem with that. and for a while i literally thought he should ‘go on vacation’ without me but his passport had expired.

then 2 weeks ago, after one of the shittiest days, it was a saturday night, i thought oh god my life is so out of control, i can’t get anything, i spend all of my time looking at him wondering why he can’t be different. that’s it. i’m getting up tomorrow (sunday) at 6 a.m.

which i did. emptied my inbox. had 3.5 hrs alone in the morning. he gets up, i’m already feeling centred and accomplished (!) and so he seems pleasant. is it me who’s different? i’m sure it’s him.

we have the best day, and since then we’ve been fine again.

did getting up at 6 a.m. save my marriage? (if you do some good self-care can it help you be sober?)

sure. (to both.)

if i turn and face me and take care of me and do what i need to do, am i easier to get along with, less up his nose, and generally more comfortable in my own skin? (duh.)

a week goes by. i plan to get up every morning at 6 a.m. after that one time, but i don’t.

then this past week, that’s it i’m doing it. set my alarm for monday morning, then when i wake up i promptly turn it off, sleep too late, don’t get enough done, feel behind and irritated all day. i KNEW there was something that would make me feel better, but i just wasn’t doing it. (sound familiar?)

tuesday. same thing. set alarm, turned off alarm, slept late.

wednesday morning. alarm goes off 6 a.m. and i think to myself … (get ready): “Try Different.” If turning off the alarm repeatedly isn’t working, try getting up. just try it. try different. (i won’t like it, it’ll be too hard, i’ll have to go to bed early all the time, how will i cope with some future imaginary event where i have to be up late.)

wednesday morning i got up. did a long run in cooler temperatures. had a bath (look there’s time for baths again if you decide you’re going to focus on taking care of you). i worked straight through till 5:30 pm. same thursday. same friday. all good days. very good days. one was even a 9/10 day.

ok, long story for nothing. today is sunday. 2 weeks later. got up this morning at 6:30 a.m. It’s a good day. there was bread made today. there was lounging in the park. there was lunch with friends.

already told my husband that i’m going to bed at 9 p.m. tonight. (you’ve already told your husband that you’re not drinking tonight.) he made a face. (ditto.) i’m still doing it.

it’s what’s best for me. (oh and i’m not drinking, either!)

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).

 

 

how tiring it must be to be married to us

what must it be like to be married to us, this unique combination of high functioning, high emotion, lots of noise in our heads.

my husband, though he drank as much as I did, does not have a wolfie voice. he is not wound up by things. he doesn’t struggle with “can I, will I, should I, is there more, is this the right amount.”

it must be so tiring for him to be married to me. I may complain about his sloth tendencies and the absolute LACK of obsessing (about anything). but really, he’s dealing with me.

I’ll give you an example.

This is a true story.

My husband is perfectly content to make me a ‘special drink’ at suppertime. if I tell him specifically what I want. and how to make it. why ‘how to make it’? because I keep changing what I want.

(1) Hot chocolate from Marks & Spencer. very yummy. expensive (3,25€ for 10 packages). they have no diet or ‘lite’ option. I only bought one box of the 10 packages.

(2) Then at Christmas, I got Mr. B. a treat for his stocking (which I promptly drank): a box of instant cappuccino powdered things. I drank all of his, and started buying it regularly for myself, the little single servings, 10 to a box. Worked my way up to one or two a day. They were quite weakly flavoured, though, so had to be made in the medium coffee mugs so that there wasn’t too much water added. We have 3 sizes of mugs: large, medium, and small. My husband would make my special coffee for me in the medium cup.

(3) After a few weeks, I moved to a canister of the same powder, instead of the premeasured packages, because it was cheaper (there’s a theme here). Now that I had free reign of the powder, I switched to making a stronger, bigger dose in the large mug. Now it had to be made with 4 teaspoons of the powder with a bit of cream. in the larger mug. there. that’s pretty good. my husband would make it for me.

(4) Another few weeks. it’s too expensive. I’m going through these canisters way too often. I go to the store to buy some diet instant hot chocolate that can be made with hot water.

AND there isn’t any.

France, apparently, is a land of hot cocoa (made with milk, which I don’t drink). it’s all cocoa. no hot chocolate. And not only is there no instant hot chocolate in france, there is no ‘diet’ anything hot and chocolate-y/coffee-y. I can picture the blue canister in my Canadian memory. it was president’s choice brand. I had it all the time. But here? There’s cocoa and sugar in a can you can add hot milk to, but no instant hot chocolate.

I consider leaving the country in desperation.

(5) Instead I buy the cheapest ‘intended for milk’ cocoa mix there is (nesquik! oh my god!) and a bottle of instant decaf coffee.

now my special coffee goes like this: medium cup, 3 spoons of chocolate powder, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, cream, hot water. my husband would make it for me.

(6) Then I read something about trying to reduce the sugar in my coffee to 1 teaspoon, so I calculate the number of grams in a teaspoon of sugar (5g) then I try to figure out how small my coffee/chocolate combo should be. I switch from the medium to the small coffee cups (of the three sizes), to make a smaller 5g of sugar portion, and I mix one spoon of decaf with only one spoon of nesquik (lame) and some cream and hot water. My husband makes my coffee for me, after I clarify the specific recipe which changes daily.

(7) Last friday I had a catered event, and there was some real coffee left over, I put it in a jar. now I’m adding it a few tablespoons at a time to my little special coffee, for a tiny bit of caffeine but also to use it up. My husband makes my coffee for me, BUT every day, now, he has to ask me ‘how I want it’.

(I want to moderate my drinking, I can’t figure out how to do it, I try things that don’t work because the thing I’m looking for isn’t in the alcohol.)

I have an idea of what I want and I keep changing, because I can’t match the idea. for the hot chocolate coffee combo? I’m looking for some feeling that isn’t there. It reminds me of home. when I used to have it before my sunday long runs. I can still remember the sound the spoon made in the square blue cup (that the movers broke). mix a bit of powder in the bottom with cream, then add hot water.

why do I want that experience now?

soothing.

what am I getting instead? gritty nesquik in a small less-than-5g-cup with an endlessly patient husband (but how patient is he, really, how long can he tolerate the intolerable).

(8) yesterday morning I got up and did research on homemade instant hot chocolate. it is really just cocoa, sugar and powdered milk. I have all that. I make some, it’s fine. but it has 30 g of sugar in one cup.

(9) yesterday afternoon I walked to the Marks & Spencer to check out the hot chocolate they have (again). surely this would be easier. but it has 26 g of sugar per serving and it’s 3,25€ for 10. I leave without buying any.

so.

if the thing that I’m looking for isn’t IN the hot coffee drink, then it’s time for me to move on. stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. go back to tea. I was drinking only tea before. I liked it there. my husband can make tea: add one bag to the teapot, fill with water. serve with any mug. it’s just plain easier.

(if the feeling you’re looking for isn’t in the alcohol, they stop fucking with the quantities, timing, types and tricks. just move on. the thing you’re looking for isn’t in there. the feeling better? it’s not in a bottle.)

yes, these things are true

Yes.

Yes. it does suck that you don’t lose weight when you first quit drinking. Yes i agree. It’s unfair.

Yes, it’s totally OK to stay home instead of socializing on your FIRST weekend sober. Yes. You’re taking care of you.

Yes, you can quit drinking without telling everyone you have a PROBLEM. you don’t have to tell your husband yet. You will find a way of explaining what you’re doing that feels good to you.

Yes, i talk about who to tell, and what to say, and what else to drink instead, and what to expect in the sober jumpstart class. you can even hear my voice. and maybe you’ll find it a tiny bit funny and entertaining when i swear on the audios. maybe.

Yes, you will feel tired when you first quit drinking. Your poor body needs to rest and reset. Sleep as much as you can for the first 30+ days. Take naps, order take-out.

Yes, it’s entirely possible to quit drinking if your husband works in a brewery, or if he drinks the contents of the brewery, or if he thinks that online sober support is a scam/cult. Yes, what you’re doing is for YOU. He’s on his own journey. Look away.

Yes, you can argue that treats aren’t necessary for you. And i’ll probably make some suggestions for treats you might like. that said, you will figure out your own way through. what you’ve been doing before hasn’t been successful. so you know, it can’t hurt to have some tea or a breakfast sandwich now and then as a treat

Yes, your kids do notice when you’re drinking, and yes they notice when you stop. They notice a lot. They notice in ways that they’ll never be able to explain with words. cuz something like ‘trust’ doesn’t have easy words to describe it. They notice. they will not use words to tell you how they notice.

Yes, you will feel gigantically shitty if you drink for 2 days, be sober for 1 or 2, drink for 5 days, quit again. It’s so true, but hanging around day 1 is probably the hardest place to be. you have none of the benefits of drinking (are there any benefits?), and you have none of the benefits of sobriety (there are many). Day 1 is too close to the sewer. It’s time to step out into the light.

Yes, the Fuck You Wolfie bracelet does help. but you have to wear it. you look down at the bracelet, and you think “OK i’m doing this. This sober thing? this is me. doing it.” and then you yell at wolfie. alone in your car, under your breath in the grocery store.

YES, you can try to quit all of your vices at the same time with a juice cleanse or a raw vegan diet thrown in for good measure. I’ll probably suggest that it’s not a terribly fun or wise to do it all at once.

YES, repeatedly relapsing does mean something. it means that whatever you’re doing so far is good, but it’s not enough. you need to add more supports. if each time you begin again you add more supports, then eventually your sober tool kit will be big enough to get you through .. sometimes the support you need will be rehab. sometimes the support you’re missing is more connection.  sometimes the support you need will be AA. sometimes the support you need will be listening to sober podcasts. it’s not really about ‘trying harder’ … what else could you add?

and YES, i do believe you can do it, even when you don’t believe it yet. I have been on day 1 and day 7 and day 37 and day 287. I remember exactly how i felt. I felt like there were two versions of me: The ‘real’ version of me was the drinker … and the ‘new/shadow’ version of me walking alongside was the sober me.  it took a LONG time until i really really really felt that the new sober me was the ‘real’ me. But thankfully, while i was going along, it didn’t matter. I continued to drive along in my sober car, with both versions of me still present, and I just kept going until the fake drinking me faded entirely. That you can see both versions doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. just keep going.

 

the rules? they’ve gotta go.

i am a blamer. i see that now that i’m on my own. when my husband is here, he does most of the housekeeping. i like the dishes done after supper. i like them all done, pots and everything. he does them. hahaha that’s so hilarious. because as soon as i’m on my own, i have been doing the dishes while I make dinner, which means that the dinner dishes themselves don’t get done. they wait on the counter till the next day.

i could nearly cry. this is so heartbreaking to see up close. i want him to do things that i won’t (and don’t) do myself. sometimes after we do laundry, i fold the laundry or he does. mostly it’s him. i suggest that if he folds the laundry we could put away the drying rack and it wouldn’t take up so much room in the already small bedroom. he does it sometimes, but mostly not. me neither it turns out. there is laundry on the rack right now. i don’t fold the laundry and put away the rack either.

i could nearly cry. i remember very clearly that when i was drinking, i would get into quite a snit about the state of the apartment. I’d feel so overwhelmed with mess and stuff. i would announce very judgmentally, with a glass of wine in hand, that surfing the internet should be a reward for AFTER the chores are done, not before. Then what happens? As soon as i’m alone, i surf the internet, hang out on facebook, and finally get shit done at 11 pm.

ok.  so there’s a remnant or two from my drinking personality that i’m still carrying over. i’ll be 20 months sober in 3 days. This realization about my crappiness wouldn’t have made much sense to me when i was on day 30.  But here, now, i can see that the patterns of communication, expectations, implied standards, and RULES that i had when drinking… well, it’s time to dismantle them. oh my god the rules i had. rules about cleaning that would somehow keep my over-boozing from showing.

and now? the rules? they’ve gotta go. i mean the booze is gone. it’s time for the rest of it to go too.

note: kindness welcome. no comments about me being controlling. (how controlling is that!). i’m just too tired and teary for much of that. here, let me control how i want this to go. my blog, my rules. i declare it. jesus a girl has to have some place where things are controllable! so here goes: no comments about me being controlling (!) or being codependent (!) or anything else crappy. just not for today, OK? I’ll be better prepared to take crap tomorrow. If you can’t relate to this post, or if you can’t think of anything nice to say, or you think i’m plain wacko, you can just write “pat, pat”  🙂

~

Happy Day 50 to Jessica!

Happy Day 50 to JackM!

Happy Day 50 to Kimf!

Happy Day 50 to LizzieJones!

Happy Day 50 to Robin Anne!

Happy Day 50 to Jacques!

Happy Day 50 to Sober Second Half!

Happy Day 50 to Laurie Lynn!

Happy Day 50 to BetterThisWay

Happy Day 100 to Miss Lynn!

Happy Day 100 to Shannon A!

Happy Day 100 to Bridget!

Happy Day 100 to Sober Senior Lady!

Happy Day 100 to Em Anne!

Happy Day 180 to JacksterT!

Happy Day 180 to ErinS!

i’ve drawn all of my 8 tentacles back into myself

i have some typical characteristics of over drinkers. I’m sensitive — to people, to emotions, to noise, to stuff. I’m an over-thinker. I’m sucky at self-care. I crave treats. I’m not unfamiliar with chaos.

All of these things become really evident once I’m alone. I was crying when Mr. B left this morning, and then minutes after the door closed, I was in bed under the covers, reading my book. I went for a run, bought treats, and settled into a really nice and easy day. I watched a hockey game, ate, rested, watched half of a movie, some cooking shows, enjoyed the sunshine, and generally i’ve felt at ease.

It’s like i’ve drawn all of my 8 tentacles back into myself.

source

and now i’m just doing what I want, when I want to.

When Mr. B. is here, which is always, i’m sensitive to what he’s doing. I hear him. I pay attention to him. I realize that we’re both online too much. I plan whether to eat now or later based on what he’s doing. I know it’s time for bed and he wants to stay up longer… or he wants to go to bed earlier.  then once we’re in bed, I hear him sleeping (!).

now that he’s gone, it’s like i’m not responsible to or for anyone. for anything. to be clear, mr. b makes no demands on me. it’s not that he likes dinner at 7 pm or anything like that. in fact, he’s just the opposite. and i feel like i wait for him to give me signs. eat now or later? he’s actually fine with both. it’s me who does all the dancing around him.

right before he left this morning, i told him that the last time we’d spent any time apart, i was still drinking, and i used to plan to fill my evenings with wine. Now, in the absence of wine, i was going to — instead — push the reset button and see if i can just focus on doing what i want. can i really feel myself on the inside, just take care of me. can i just focus on me, and not worry about him.

i told him i was going to spend the next 9 days alone EITHER working or cleaning or reading or doing nothing.

I’m going to see if i can actually find out what i FEEL like doing. can i be still long enough for the next right action to present itself. apparently i felt like writing this 🙂 now i feel like a bath. it’s 8:23 pm local time. I feel like watching Remains of the Day and then going to bed. I feel like sleeping 10 hrs. I feel like mr. b’s flight should land just as i go to bed, and then i can turn off the phone and just sleep …

there’s a co-dependent, critical, enmeshed word for people like me. It’s really easy to be critical. Today I call it being honest.

source

~

Happy Day 50 to Toni

Happy Day 50 to Jill

Happy Day 50 to Robin

Happy Day 50 to CindyW

Happy Day 50 to NRT

Happy Day 50 to Teri

Happy Day 50 to Shamrockleah

Happy Day 50 to Phoebe

Happy Day 50 to Mark Twain

Happy Day 50 to Graceful

Happy Day 50 to Santa Cruz

Happy Day 50 to Claire

Happy Day 50 to Bonnie

Happy Day 50 to Doll Face!

Happy Day 50 to Irish eileen

Happy Day 50 to S

Happy Day 50 to Carolyn V

Happy Day 50 to Wilky

Happy Day 50 to confusedliberal

Happy Day 60 to Missmeliss

Happy Day 100 to Mack!

Happy Day 100 to Josh

Happy Day 100 to TheFun4

Happy Day 100 to Laurel

Happy Day 100 to Helen

Happy Day 100 to Hazeleyes

Happy Day 100 to Tim

Happy Day 180 to Nic

Happy Day 180 to Jules

Happy Day 180 DianeLouise

Happy Day 200 to Victoria

Happy Day 300 to KT

“Thank you from my soul”

From me:

I’m celebrating 16 months sober today. And when I say ‘celebrating’ i mean that i having a very slack day. I have managed to shower before 5 pm, i’m dressed, and i’m taking a day off food preparation. So it’s like a vacation day! Yes, my desk still needs to be cleaned off. Yes my podcasts in iTunes need a purge. Yes and yes. Life is not ‘perfect’. The laundry isn’t done (well it’s sorted, but it’s now sitting there in a pile just looking at me). I wish i could send my husband away on a vacation for 3 hours (or 3 weeks!) but tomorrow i’ll like him again. I wish that i could have a really good hamburger in this city that didn’t cost 18 euros.

I’m thankful for fast, efficient health care. I’m thankful for sleeping through the night. I’m thankful that I look younger than my decrepit age. I’m thankful i have nice hair.

(my gratitude list is a bit thin today)

OK, i’m really thankful that it’s quiet here today. I’m thankful that my upstairs neighbours have gone away for a few days. i’m thankful that the leaf blowing guy has taken a pause.

I’m thankful every single fucking day for the emails I get that are so wonderful. being sober penpal to a squillion people is really super humbling. and amazing. and all that and more.

In terms of my own sobriety, I’m thankful that wolfie pretty much leaves me alone these days. I occasionally have thoughts of “this would be a good time for a glass of wine” but it never goes any further than that. There is no longing. No yearning. No adolescent, homesick, i-just-wanna-go-home feelings about wine. Wine is *over there*. I can see it, but it’s not for me. I certainly never set out to be 16 months sober, I can assure you. I had no plan, except to feel better. That I do, and here we are.

From my hilarious, touching, joyful, honest inbox:

Carolyne: “…. I can only remember up to wine number two … and then i remember a little bit of a flashback of standing in the public bathroom thinking: If I just lie down here by the toilet bowl I will feel better.”

Hana:  “I’m working on healthy habits that stick and won’t get dropped easily. I’ve had so many hobbies over the years that get ignored for new ones, or out of laziness (shiny ball syndrome). This time I’m trying to weave productivity and fun into the fabric of my life, so activities that support me are more than just some kick I’m on.  This sobriety has to be more than just NOT drinking or else it’s bound to get boring, and boring is exactly the type of thing that caused me to want to tune out, hence drinking… Luckily healthy fun is the antidote and there’s nothing boring or stressful about that! :)”

Cdn Girl (day 23): “Love your lullaby podcast!! You are really an honest voice of reason for me. Thanks for doing what you do. It is super important work.”

LD (day 100): “I was so F—ed up when I started this journey, that I said to myself..just do one good thing for yourself everyday….it might be taking a walk or drinking an extra glass of water … now I can count not drinking as my one good thing that I do for myself each day … everything else is gravy … and the sky is brighter, and I am in a much better place in my head and I can appreciate the good things that come my way that I would not have trusted or given serious consideration.”

Lex (day 26): “You don’t know me, or I you, and there is something so generous and kind that you have done for me even though I repeatedly F’d up and babbled into the world wide oblivion of the cyber sober world, and just trusted you were there. I was a jerk earlier being all woe is me and saying that no one helps me. I’m calling myself out on my shit behavior. For that I am sorry. Thank you a million times over. We are all just little pieces of a puzzle in this whole thing, and the days I get all “wahaaa I’m the only one who ever had to deal with this shit I’ve been dealt” I should step back and say “Lex! Slow down. Thank your friend.” For you unknowingly got me started at this sober cyber (psycho) journey, and I appreciate it, and you. Thank you from my soul. Lex (PS. Forgive my 25 day brain clearing, scary feeling feelings, odd sense of humor, but hanging in there sober self.)”

Team 100:

313 members, welcome to Julieanne (48) and Jessi (2).  Happy days to J (350), Sober Journalist (210), Happier Like This (45), PP (14), Momma B (10),  Em (25), Zenmeg (120), Designer Rachel (150), Donna (102), Trish (145), Susan (110), LD (100!), Dawn D (80), and Mo (31).

Drinking is the biggest fucking pause-button on life.

hahahaha. you all saw this coming right? That the coaching thing would blow the roof off, nearly taking my fucking head with it. You saw this coming? Why am i so incredibly unaware of what is happening in my own life.

last week i said to Mr. Belle that maybe i’d run the Jumpstart class once a month, and the demand is great enough to run it every week.  I said to him, just now, “maybe 10 is a good number of students per session, to manage the emails, the phone calls, etc.”

He says hahahaha you said that Team 100 would surely stop at 100 people…

and i said yes, i really did think that. at the time.

Because when i started sober blogging just over a year ago, I felt very alone. I knew i drank more than I wanted to but I didn’t really know how to stop. I certainly thought that quitting drinking would be gross and that i’d hate it.  I never thought in a billion years that i’d like being sober. I didn’t realize that online we’d have this cool support thing. I never in a billion years figured i’d be penpals with 205 people. I never in a squillion years figured i’d have a coaching thing that is running weekly. I say to husband: there aren’t enough people wanting to get sober to have a class every week, so i’ll probably do it once a month. hahahaha.

Yes, i know it’s up to me to manage the flow.  but what i’m remarking on today, with a high level of incredulity, is the flow itself.  There’s a fuckload of people who drink more than they want to. This is still shocking to me. I don’t really know why it’s shocking. It’s like i’m three years old and i’m just waking up from a nap. My view is distorted and i can’t form a coherent sentence. I stare around, unspeaking, my brain swirls.  I thought it was just me. i figured there couldn’t be anyone else out there like me.

I email the second jewlery chick who’s making bracelets (too much demand for just one chick). and I realize that i have reinvented myself in the short space of 13 months and most of it has happened without me really even realizing it.  Yet every one else can see it around me? isn’t that always the truth.  As Amy and Mr. Belle and you-all laugh and laugh at me today, I’m sitting here thinking:  OK Universe, what next?  Another Sober Work-shop (how to deal with ‘future’ events, learning to be patient, how to fix things that are broken), or a Sober Fun-shop (now that you’re sober, how to find a passion and twirl it around into something nourishing – especially when booze has systematically robbed us of hobbies, passions, and inspiration).

dear universe, what say you?

Team 100 update: 205 members, welcome to Lilith (8), LD (8), Babs (3), Trish E (39), Ebaliff (22), Erin-Kay (14), Lisa (18), JennyGardenGirl (9), One Hundred (4), Kay (12), Heather (3), Kam (11), Cheryl (hooray she’s on day 1), Pam (4), and MC (hooray they’re on day 1 too).  Happy days to: Carrie (155), Sunny Sue (160), JG (7), Mary (80), Jackie (110), Sam (7), Lex (28), Jessica (31), Donna (21), Lime Tree (50), Melinda (50), Maya June (50), Pete (40), Kathleen (13), Stargal (41), CGW (21), BST (21), FitFatFood (14), Tami (10), Gina (10).

Ohhhhh I think i get it now.  All I have to do is show up. Be present. Show up. The rest unfolds as it should.  The challenge isn’t in ‘reinventing’ myself. The challenge is to show up, warts and all, incessant talking to myself and all, and just see what happens.  “Don’t you want to know what happens next?” Why would I drink now. Cuz if i drink now, I’ll never know ‘what happens next.’ Drinking is the biggest fucking pause-button on life. I get it now. Remove the booze and the pause button is removed.  That’s it.  Then all you gotta do is get support, be open to stripping away your shit, be ready to be honest, figure out who you really are.  And then just show up.

holy fuckers, batman. this shit’s huge.