wanted

WANTED

Lurker interested in completing 100 days sober. Yes, in a row.

Benefits include great sleep, return of self-esteem, elimination of hangovers. Lots of support. Save $400 to $1000 a month by not drinking.

Limited quantities available.

ACT NOW and receive a gold plated welcome email.

Operators are standing by. The next 5 people who sign up will receive a fast-action bonus: HOMEWORK to help with the first few days.

Double your money back guarantee.

[Team 100 has had 59 people in it for two days. And, you know, just for the sake of even numbers, it’d be good if someone else joined. Not OCD at all.]

this time

This time it’s different. I tried to quit before, on my own, it never worked. I could do 2 days or 4 or 7 or even 9 days. But never longer.

Until things changed, and I finally opened myself up to asking for some help. I made my first post on this blog…  And because of that, i am TEN months sober today!

no, i don’t think that blogging is itself the solution. I just think that reaching out is key. Do you have to blog to be sober? Certainly not 🙂 Can you get sober alone in your head with your own best thoughts without outside ideas and support? No, probably not.

Shel (day 31): “This time — because of course this is not my first time quitting — something is different. Alcohol is not an option, gone, off the table, thinking the drink ALL the way through when the little voice starts up.  Last time the bottle was always hovering in my peripheral vision… something shifted, and I feel great. Thank you for being there.”

Simpson Sister (12): “I don’t have room in my head for all the thoughts of the past and all the what if’s of the future.  I only have room for the things that will help me stay sober.  I have freed up space in my mind and that has allowed me to devote the time and energy that it takes to fight off the demons in my head.  It’s working.”

PP (10): “Thanks so much for your support.  I don’t know why, but once I committed to the hundred days.. so far, easy. Of course I could be delusional… and I felt a bit scared this morning… knowing how easy it is to go back and I haven’t come very far. But it is a start and it feels good.”

Lawyer Anne (23): “Thanks for creating a support space for the non-joiners of the world :)”

Team 100 update:  56 members. Welcome to new members: Debbie (day 3), KT (3), and Kristi (2). Let’s have cake for: Victoria (40), Terri (120), Erica (92), Shel (31). And me, i’m day 305. My first sober day was july 1, 2012. Amy votes me most likely to be sober at 11 months. Because I am in such good company, i would have to agree.

I don’t want to do early recovery again

As I was writing on DDG‘s blog this morning, as recently as last night i thought about having some wine.

Belle: … out for dinner, tired, the couple next to us was having wine, and i thought, yeah i want some too. i had to literally turn my head away, talk to husband, and distract myself. then the urge faded. It might have lasted a minute. which is a long time when you really feel like drinking. now it’s the next morning, and after 11 hrs sleep i feel fine (again). and i know from what everyone ELSE says, that it gets easier and easier as even MORE time goes on. i don’t think they’re exaggerating. and i want to get to where they are. where it’s even better than this.

I don’t drink because of this comment that Number 9 / Catholic Alcoholic posted on my blog:

Number 9: I’m almost to six [months] … I had three years sober and then without a sober network or tools in place I slowly picked it back up. Moderated at first, but only to prove something to myself. After about three months I was back into the drinking game and it took three years to get sober back. Ugh. I can’t even entertain the idea. I have too good of an imagination and my brain who romance me right back out there. At 43 with 2 children I just can’t risk it again.

I don’t drink because of this comment from Katherine this morning:

Katherine: Today is Day 259 for me and when I look back at those early days of sobriety, I was feeling scared, angry, stupid, guilty, sad, shaky and all alone.  Wondering how I made my life such a mess?  This isn’t what I wanted or wished for when I grew up!  …  I don’t want to do early recovery again, I don’t want to ruin my relationships, I don’t want to be the mom that drinks, I don’t want to hide how much I drank, I don’t want to be controlled by alcohol EVER again!  For those who are doing the 100 day challenge…you CAN do it…it will get easier and better!!! The support here is one of the greatest reasons I don’t drink anymore!  Thanks Belle!

I don’t drink because of this gem from Paul:

Paul: Relapse is part of alcoholism, not a part of recovery.  For this alcoholic, I could have another drunk [binge] in me, but I don’t have another recovery in me.

That my friends, might be all that’s keeping me from drinking again: fear of regret, fear of not being able to restart. Fear as a motivator is probably a good thing. That and the relief I feel: relief that i slept 11 hrs last night (guess i was tired!). relief that i’m going for a run today. relief that i know that i’m going out for dinner again tonight and that i’ll be the only one not drinking and i’m fine with that.

Team 100 update: 50 members! 1 missing, 1 rejoined. Welcome to newest members: Rachel (3), Christina (19), Shel (25), Marie (4), and Roxanne (2).  Sober Kat is on day 199! Sober Journalist Kate is on day 20, Mr. Belle is on day 8, and Katie on day 10.

fuck you wolfie, in very small print

Rinse Lather Repeat. I know i’ve written a blog with this title before. You’ve been sober for a bit? figure out what you’re doing that works and keep doing that thing. if it’s a mishmash of AA and blogging and reading, then do that. if you start to feel like you’re heading down a slippery slope, then do something soon, early, before you get derailed. i wrote this recently to a team 100 member:

… the slippery slope can escalate quite quickly, don’t take it lightly. in fact, take it heavily … 🙂 blog, call someone, go for a run, go to bed.  yell out loud at wolfie. fucking pig anus.  no no not this girl, no no no. not me not now.

for me, when i started getting a cold last sunday, i put on my big girl boots and waited.  i know that being sick is a gigantic trigger for me. i get woe-is-me-ism and i start to plan to drink. I don’t actually drink, but i start to bargain with myself … “if i feel like this in 7 days i’ll drink then.” Then the time comes and goes and i don’t drink and all is well.  But it’s the bargaining that i don’t like, that makes me feel quicksandy.

so this time, i knew what was coming, or i thought i did. taking my own advice, i blogged and emailed and told my husband. i prepared for the day that always arrives in my headcolds where i can’t taste anything, as that seems to be the trigger point.

i didn’t know it, but something had changed. I am in fact on DAY THREE of not being able to taste anything (!). and i’m actually doing fine.  Well, fine might be an exaggeration.  i’m cranky as hell, i hate my husband, i have a low grade headache, and all i want to do is sleep.  So sleep is what i’ve been doing (12 hrs at a time). i’ve been outside, i’ve been on the couch, i’ve been upright and i’ve been downright.

BUT wolfie is quiet.  The idea of saying ‘fuck-it let’s drink’ has not surfaced. not once.

i remember reading on someone else’s blog, someone who has much more sober time than me, and she said that something bad had happened (death, catastrophe) and she didn’t even think of drinking.  and i remember reading that, and i was like “yeah, I would be thinking about drinking for sure if that happened to me, no matter how sober i was.”

and yet, i didn’t. i haven’t. i’m not. holy shit when did this happen? sometime between my last cold (feb 14) (8 ish months sober) and now (april 21) (almost 10 months). Sometime in the last 2 months i have stopped linking wine as the solution to a dip in energy, a flagging of enthusiasm, a pit of despair.

ha! fuck you wolfie. no really. fuck right off with you.

[on a side note, I’m thinking of having some jewerly made for us, sober jewelry, that says “fuck you wolfie” on it, in very small print, so that only you know it’s there… no, I’m serious.]

so does it get better? the obsessing, the cravings? apparently yes 🙂 does it get easier, thank fucking god, yes. is it possible to get a cold and not think that the world is ending? yes and who knew?

Heidi: I realized that every moment sober is so much better than even the best moments drunk.  Because the time I have spent drunk has not been enjoyable.  Sure, the first few moments I feel the alcohol run through my veins provides a feeling of calm.  I feel relaxed.  I feel like I can finally turn my brain off from all the craziness of my life.  But those moments quickly disappear.  They are followed by shame, guilt, anxiety and fear.  Don’t even get me started on the hangover, the headaches, the vomiting and shakes.  So yes, the whole “not drinking” thing is going much better than I thought it was going to.  [husband] asked me what is different this time and how I have been able to stay sober.  Here is my answer:  I am able to not drink by doing just that — not drinking.  Whatever I need to do to not drink.  Every day is different.  Sometimes I read.  I watch TV. I cruise Facebook on my phone.  I call a friend.  I play with my kids.  I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes.  I read sober blogs.  I email you.  I play games on my phone … I take a deep breath.  I walk up and down the stairs a few times.  I look outside.  I close my eyes.  I do anything — except for drink.  It has worked so far, and I am going to keep doing it.

Team 100 update: 41 members; 2 missing. Welcome to KS, who is on day 1. Sunflower is on day 30 as is Victoria 🙂 Mumscriber is on day 14. Erica is on day 82. Julie is 156. I am 295.

all these quotes apply to me

Here are some more clips and bits from Roger Ebert’s 2009 post and monumental list of 1,411 comments:

Terry: If you’ve ever thought you’re drinking too much, you are. If you ever “need a drink”, you’re a drunk or becoming one…. But, my god, what a colossal waste of my time it was to be boozed every night. Work 1/3, sleep 1/3 .. .and be drunk 1/3? Jesus, there’s better things to do than that with a life … So, whether [medications], AA, religion, or whatever does the job, all I can advise is there’s too much life out there to see it in a fog. It truly sucks after a while.

Ebert: I have no reason to attend an event where drinking is the purpose, and don’t.

Mike: Earlier you mention that drunks are bores when one is sober (not to mention boors). During my youthful debauches, I used to say to friends: we are each drinking to tolerate the other’s drunkenness.

Ebert:Alcoholism is the only fatal disease from which you can choose to recover.

Frank: I believe the Navy’s alcohol rehab definition of an alcoholic: “if you crave a drink, even if it’s only one a month or one a year and you can’t have peace until you have that drink, you’re an alcoholic.” Makes sense to me…

Ebert: If one is an alcoholic, drinking moderately is dangerous. If one is NOT an alcoholic, drinking moderately comes naturally and doesn’t require treatment.

Such great quotes, i have more coming.  Now me, personally, i don’t brook with the word ‘alcoholic’, it’s part of my irritating rebellious nature.  i like to substitute ‘boozer’ or ‘drinker’ … BUT I don’t let the wording rub me the wrong way, I just substitute a word that I can ‘hear’.  I can hear ‘boozer’.  I’m a chick who likes her booze. So all these quotes above apply to me. Nuff said.

Team 100 update: Welcome to Lane (day 12) and DDG (day 31).  I’m on day 292 apparently. We are a little group of 37 members now. My husband also says he wants to join and do 100 consecutive days (he barely drinks any more now that i’ve stopped). So let’s add Mr. Belle as being on day 1. That makes us 38,  and we have one male member now!

Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing

I have a cold. my colds are never very bad, or long, 3-4 days maximum. they thankfully don’t turn into ear infections or require antibiotics.  they’re just garden variety head colds.

But having a cold is NOT good news for me, because i’ve had 2 before, since getting sober, and i know that both previous times i got a gigantic case of the ‘fuck its’ and decided to drink again. i set a date 7 days into the future and said “i’m drinking then.”  and then the cold goes away, and the date comes and goes, and i remain sober.  thankfully.

But there’s something about being sick that gives me a feeling of despair and woe-is-me.  i usually still run if it’s only a head cold (versus a chest cold). and running always makes me feel better.  I usually still work, jobs #1 and #2 and my passion job #3 thingy.  having a cold doesn’t keep me from getting things done, but the internal dialogue, the noise in my head … man, it ramps up into a frenzy.

During my 24 hour mini-vacation on the weekend, i could feel the cold coming on.  and i had an mini-anxiety attack to go with my mini-vacation… “oh no a cold is coming, you know what that means, better get prepared, get some meals ready, get your sober supports in place, get the catering wine out of the fridge (done!).”

Today is day 2 of said cold.  and while last night i had a very teary, despairing moment about this blog (!) and about the AA ideas of ego (what do i know about that? i’ve never been to AA!), and fleeting despair about the sober challenge … well, let’s just say i got scared.  I tried to explain it to my husband but he’s a normal drinker so he just doesn’t get it, though he does try really, really hard.

I said “what if i start drinking again? this team 100 thing? it’ll be a disaster.” And husband is like “yes, but you won’t.”

Me: “But i feel sick, so maybe i’ll just start opening the wine and drinking.  i could do that right now.”

Husband: “and you won’t.”

And he’s right. i won’t.

i think i learned something concrete last night:  Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing.  In fact, being afraid of relapsing is probably a good thing.  it means i’m aware, i’m conscious.  I start to circle the wagons sooner.  i’m afraid, and therefore i read blogs online, i get the house cleaned up, and i get my cold medications ready.  i empty the fridge of catering wine and i go to bed and sleep 11 hours (again, last night).

i also know, deep down, that i won’t drink. But i gotta tell you i really hate feeling like it’s a possibility — even if the feeling is temporary.  I have a good cry and and big sleep and it goes away.  thank god.

Today is day 290 for me.  That’s 6,960 hours of sobriety, give or take. i’ve had 2 colds already and i have survived. i will survive this one.  This is not the zombie ap0calypse. it’s not worth drinking over.

frankly, nothing is worth drinking over.

hooray, cold medicine is working well today, and after 11 hrs sleep i feel significantly better than i did last night.  and that’s good news.

And every day I wake up to a some delightful sober messages, like these ones, please keep emailing so i can keep sharing:

J: “You know, in all the years of trying to quit drinking, your advice of going to bed RIGHT NOW is the most effective I’ve ever heard – sounds silly but it absolutely works, so thanks!”

Julie: “Ok, Belle, I’m sorry, but I laughed at “evil pig fucker”!  You (we) made it through … fuck you wolfie.”

MG: “I can’t describe this feeling.  It’s just an uber calm and peaceful sense.  Like I can’t believe how many years I was an anxious dreary mess.  And how excited i am to be moving on with this new me.  Again, the church message (hard to explain unless you were there) was kinda alluding to that “one thing” that you know needs fixing.  And I have heard that message time and again and WANTED to do something.  And finally I feel like I am.”

Terri: “… The question of whether I will stay stopped or not is still rattling round in my head … I joined [the challenge] because my original goal of 90 days was looming and I couldn’t figure out what to do next … I still get pangs sometimes, but compared to the beginning when it was a white-knuckle ride, I can brush them away much more easily.  At the moment because the answer to this eternal question is not definitive, I am not drinking.  I don’t want to throw away what I’ve achieved unless I am absolutely certain I can either manage it or jump back on the wagon without falling off a million times.  I read a great quote the other day – alcoholism is just death on an instalment plan. That is powerful and really stopped me in my tracks.  So in answer to the question what is better now than it was in the beginning – not having to work so hard to surf those urges is probably the best, waking up clear, sleeping more soundly and feeling better about myself for finally keeping a promise I made to me.”

Team 100 update:  We now have 36 people on this sober vacation, welcome to newest members: Lauren (23), Brandy (7), Sunny Sue (42), and Cindy (who is on day 2). I’d like to hear again from SoberinMtl, Vivien, TMcA, and Leigh.

you being sober is enough (or, Take the support already)

ok. so we’re doing this 100 day challenge thing, right? There are 35 people signed up now which is pretty awesome. I am on day 289, Amy is 130, MG is 9, Heidi is 35, and Sunflower is 24.

I got an email from K, but she’s not the alone in saying something like this: “it feels really strange to email you and not be giving anything back to you in the way of support! you are like a cheerleader to me and i so love getting encouragement from you!”

A few people have said that they’ve stopped sending their daily emails because they were worried they were ‘bothering’ me … 🙂

And I’m thinking, “WHAT?” It’s hardly a bother bother to hear that you’re sober. It lights up my day. Every morning I get up to an email inbox with 5 or 10 or 20 sober messages. It’s tearfully wonderful to hear from you, every day, as often as you want to write. Even when you’re having a bad day.

In fact, i think of this team 100 challenge as my own personal sobriety insurance.  Like, what are my chances of willfully relapsing now? zero. i’m not kidding.  it’s really a big zero. that’s a big gift for me. Money can’t buy that kind of insurance…

Did i know that being your sober penpal would be such a big deal for you? No idea.  None. I still barely understand it. I’m super glad, of course, but i’m perhaps as surprised as you are 🙂

You saying thank you is enough.

You being sober is enough.

With permission, here are quotes from three of my sober penpals:

Lawyer Anne: “I feel like my perspective is different this time. Usually I would feel like I was missing out on something and feel jealous when my husband has a few beers in the evening. This time I realize I’m not jealous of him… There is nothing to be jealous about because alcohol does me no good. I am not missing out on anything, but making a good choice for me. … As each day passes I am feeling energized and relieved by my decision to finally just stop. Not take a break or a month off to see how I feel. But to shift focus back to living my life. It sort of takes the stress off a little to make that final decision. I’ve not felt this before and I’m hoping it means this time around is different. I know I have the power to make it different.”

Lawyer Anne is on Day 7.

Carrie: “Something is different this time. I don’t feel like I am harboring some dark, dirty little secret anymore. I don’t feel like I am unique. Because i told you,  that I can’t drink normally and I reached out for help and I’m getting that help from you and Team 100 and everyone who blogs bravely about this fucking shameful secret.  I found someone who understands and now I don’t feel alone. It’s a little about accountability, but it’s a lot about finding empathy and support and advice that I can draw from when I am faced with difficult situations. I have real people who share my problem and we are all rooting for each other now. That’s what’s different and it makes it a ten times easier than before. Taking the problem out of my head and putting it into an email was all it took to change my journey.”

Carrie is on Day 36.

Brandy: “Alcoholism runs deep in my family … my drinking got worse since my dad passed away in December 2009.  I recently went to treatment, and have relapsed 4 times since January 2013.  I  literally just have a little over 24 hours sober time [at the time of writing this email].  I would like to participate in the 100 day challenge and am ready to finally have My life without Drinking. I am soo happy I found your blog!  I will pass it on to other people I know who are struggling.”

Brandy is now on Day 6.  She emailed three times yesterday, sounding better and better as the day went on.

Do you see what I see?  Can you imagine how fabulous it is to get to know you?

OK, enough cheerleading, now it’s time for me to rant a bit.  Take the support! Are you really looking at this and saying “not sure i want to email her it might be bothering her.”  Take the support already [you knew i couldn’t end this without a metric ton of swearing.  here’s more…] you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, of course i want to hear from you. you’re super amazing.  yes, you’re an introvert, or yes you’re not blogging.  any possibility that i like hearing from you cuz i like you? Really? no chance? of course I like you.  You’re honestly telling a story of you.  What’s not to like? Do you think you’re “not worthy, and who’d want to get to know you?” Enough already 🙂  There’s is at least one weird (sober) chick here who gives a shit, who cares if you’re sober or not.  But in fact, there’s a whole bunch of us here in Team 100. We’re all cheering for you. and waiting to hear from you. and to hear about you. and learn from you. and share with you.

got grief?

There’s grief in the air.  Two emails in two days from two different people talking about grief.  The first bit I want to share is a comment I wrote to Anonymous.  It is in response to a comment she posted on yesterday’s post, and i figured i’d copy part of my text here, cuz comments have a way of disappearing.

So first here’s me, this is part of what I wrote to Anonymous (who is 8ish months sober):

I think grief is a big stress, and it’s subtle. Like, there’s lots of crying to start, and then there’s none, and then later there’s ‘crying for no reason’. I once read that colds were uncried tears. and while I don’t believe that, every time I’m crying I think “at least I’m not getting sick.” and really, I’m a crier, barely need an excuse! I think that crying is fine. normal. good even. and wanting to drink to hide from crying or to hide from feelings is … well, it’s normal, because it’s what we USED to do. and some of those habits and patterns are still there. Maybe they’re hidden better after 8 months, but if you throw in a bit of grief or real distress, then the old patterns can easily surface.

And also, i got this email from J a couple of days ago, and she said i could share. Oh yeah, J is on day 147 today!:

Had a difficult day yesterday and wanted to drink all afternoon.  I’m again adding to our list of “even ifs….”: [I will not drink even if i am] dealing with finding an elderly neighbor who died two days ago, alone in his house.  So sad, brought up feelings of loss, grief, loneliness, finality, fragility of life … I just wanted to drink after dealing with the surprisingly detailed process of sending him off.  But, I didn’t drink — I just sat here and felt it all, knowing the numbness of the bottle would only be temporary relief.  I also knew I didn’t want to report in this morning with another day 1 … so thanks for that.

I think that J’s solution, as she articulates it here, is really very perfect. And I’m going to save her advice for when I need it next.  Sit and feel it. Know that numbness would only be temporary, and would in all likelihood make things much much worse. Feelings are sometimes uncomfortable, they’re sad, they’re weird, they’re distressing. Sit and feel it.

and i would also add… reach out for help. get support BEFORE you need it.  don’t wait till you’ve go the bottle of wine already opened… post or read or call or reach out early. feeling crummy? reach out. found out your neighbor died (good god!), email someone. don’t let wolfie get wound up and running around in there.  Don’t let him get any momentum going!
what do you think about grief and how to handle feelings of loss? i’m a big crier… and a runner.  can’t really do them at the same time, though… and i’m a sleeper.
what else could we add to the grief toolkit?

encouragement

a new blogger (“a beautiful mess”) posted a comment here yesterday. she was struggling, like we all have struggled at one time or another, and she did the brave thing and reached out for help. I responded to her comment this afternoon.  She said thanks, told me about her upcoming quit date, and then she said this:

“Thank u again for taking the time to give others encouragement : ) ! know that u r making a difference in my life and I am sure many others!

so in my post today, here’s what i’m wondering:

  • how important has personal encouragement (online) been to you in your journey to get sober
  • who would you like to say ‘thanks’ to — thanks for blogging, thanks for personal attention, or any other kind of thanks — who helped you realize that you are not alone?

I don’t think we say thanks often enough. well, i don’t. of course whatever I write here, i am really writing to myself!

Yeah, so I’ll start:

how important is online support? it has meant the world to me. it has literally been the difference between success and failure.  i rely so much on the genius of my online friends, to save me from myself.

who would you like thank? Unpickled was the first sober blog i ever read, and i credit her with changing my thoughts and showing me that sobriety was not only possible but that it could be enjoyable. Then Cleo gave me my very first blog comment, and for that I’ll always be thankful. With that first comment, i knew I wasn’t alone.

What about you?