the drinking itself was making life hard

from me: i recently sent out a survey with a few questions; here are some of the replies.

from anonymous:

What’s the biggest reason for being sober? Drinking prevented me from growing into someone who could thrive without drinking.  I wanted to know what life was like on the other side. I didn’t want to die having never given myself that experience.

What’s the one biggest thing you’ve learned from me? The idea of the sober toolbox that you just keep adding and adding to, even when (especially when!) things are going well. The concept that the drinking itself was what was making life hard — I’ll be honest I didn’t believe that at first, and even after I started to feel better, didn’t really viscerally “get” that until about 6-8 months in. That 100 days is greater than the sum of its months, in terms of the changes one experiences.

from anonymous:

What’s the biggest reason for being sober? I had read a lot of articles and books such as Catherine Gray in the hope that I would learn how to drink and feel good about myself: buck the trend, be the exception. I came to realise, however, that no matter how clever I am (!) it’s really not possible. I can see and feel that my mood was affected more by alcohol than other people. I felt like I was on a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing and had to stop denying that alcohol was the problem not the solution to me feeling better about almost everything. So my one reason was mental health as you expected many people to say, I just hadn’t thought about it that way until now.

What’s the one biggest thing you’ve learned from me? Acknowledge how hard this is and give yourself credit for every step along the road to sobriety. If I’m feeling a bit wobbly I think of my worst drinking experiences and question whether I’d want to be there again.

 


quote from the Exit the Booze Elevator writing project (written this morning!)
   It all starts with an argument. The best kind of marital argument where I’m SURE I’m right and he’s wrong. We’d just returned from a particularly distressing visa meeting with the French government, you know, the kind where they’re saying ‘you can’t do this, you must do that’. And there was much finger-wagging in Mr.Belle’s direction.
I had warned him for months beforehand. They’re going to give you shit for this, I said. No, they won’t, they don’t care, he replied. They are going to send us home to Canada, I whined. No, they won’t, it’ll be fine, he repeated.
Well, it wasn’t fine. Before the agent could approve us for the next level of our resident visa, she apparently had to do a careful review of his file.
And then she said what I knew she would (I knew it! I was right!): “Monsieur, you cannot have this visa renewed in this situation.”
She said it with a nice French accent. But still.
Three days later, in a fit of frustration, I went into my husband’s things while he was at work, pulled out one of his ‘for fun’ paintings, and stuck it up on the website.

This is Exit painting #1, and it went to Indy in California 🙂
more here

 

my name is F and I am a lurker

email from F: “Hello. My name is F and I’m a lurker. I signed up for the 100 day challenge and made it to day 35. No I’m no longer sober. Maybe this is more than you wanted to hear but I’m on a roll…
I’m in law enforcement. I can’t deal with my job, it’s so hard seeing the way we as a society treat each other, especially those we claim to love. I’m too afraid of the repercussions of admitting I have a drinking problem and asking for help from my agency … I’m a binge drinker. I’m fine all week dealing with the everyday duties of my job but come the weekend I’m pretty much drunk until Monday morning…
Your emails and audios that I sign up for are so inspirational. I look forward to seeing them in my inbox, it gives my comfort during the week. I even bought your “Stay Here” bracelet to help me cope. I touch it and think I need to stop when I’m on a weekend bender.  Sometimes it helps and I won’t drink but more often these days with all the job negativity, I continue to drink.
I love my job — I started in law enforcement thinking I could make a difference … now I lie and make up some bs job when someone asks what I do for a living …
But, you are a godsend. You keep my sane during the week when I work. I’m glad I stumbled across your website, you give me hope. I just need to get right in my head and get some self-esteem. The weekends are hard, I don’t know how to deal with myself and the negative thoughts that invade my mind in the quiet times.
So there you have it. My name is F and I’m a lurker.”

Question: What would you say to F about wanting to get her head right before she quits?  Post a comment below …


stay here, stay focussed. stay sober. stay true to you. stay here.
new painting added today, this is #372
sober art thanks to mr.belle

health? or MENTAL health?

omm338.health.or.mental.health

This short message is extracted from a facebook live video, and i’m standing on the balcony outside my office, looking around. i talk about quitting drinking to feel better – and challenging the idea of whether we do it for our ‘health’, or for our ‘mental health’. if you’d like to see the full video, you can go here.

To listen to this short audio message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

After you listen to this clip, you’ll want to go immediately to the podcast subscription page, look at the BONUS PHOTO I’m sending to new subscribers. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY FOR THIS BONUS PHOTO 🙂  the link is here > http://www.audiosober.com

 


this is painting #373 – Stay
Stay here, stay sober, stay focussed.
Stay true to you.
… sober art thanks to mr.belle

the hard parts of being sober, and the good parts … (part 1)

this message was sent to subscribers on Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Hard:

D: The hardest part of quitting drinking for me was the mood swings during the first few weeks of sobriety.

newme50: The hardest part of quitting drinking for me has been quelling the “anticipation” of a drink. Reminding myself that after the anticipation and the first 20 minutes I’m just chasing the scream of excitement and I can’t find it again.

C: The social barrage of ‘why aren’t you drinking’ bullshit.

S: For me(day 90) the hardest part of being sober is remembering that Wolfie lies!  Memories fade, and I have a hard time remembering the guilt, anxiety and depression that comes w drinking.  “It can’t be that bad! Just have a couple”!

E (day 75): The hardest part of deciding not to drink again is the fear that I’ll never enjoy holidays and going out as much as I did when I drank.

L: Hardest part is socialising with drinkers.

E (day 201): The hardest part was saying to myself “enough, I’m done” and then actually sticking to it.

The Good:

A: The best part of being sober. Can I have two things please? The happiness and the clarity. I am on an emotional high (when the ex husband doesn’t flatten me). I have regained my joy in life, I do things, I am not in a constant fug and I smile a lot and my skin glows despite being an old trout! Thank you Belle. I am proudly and happily on day 87.

B: That I can feel good today, jut today, on my own, and not need to numb anything.

Faith2019: The best is having my kids being proud of me and kissing me goodnight because I don’t smell like wine.

Emsyface (day 456): Best bit about being sober? Gosh there are so many things, but I think the biggest thing that springs to mind is the absence of shame; having no sense of guilt and remorse and a clear conscience. That in itself feels like huge great boulder gone right from the depths of my soul!

F: Best part- feeling in control of my life and no longer feeling anxious

K: The best: Waking up not feeling guilty, if u laugh it’s real. Having a good idea(and then not forgetting it five minutes later), having more energy, having pride in yourself, your skin getting clearer, your eyes getting brighter, your relationships getting stronger.

And this email, in closing:

C: Hardest part? Feeling lonely and not running to the bar to drink with the bar “friends.” You can always find a bar buddy if you’re buying the drinks. Best part?  Being alone and away from all of the toxic bar “friends.” People I don’t have anything in common with besides drinking and who I wouldn’t even hang out with sober.

 


I’ll be giving away a $150 podcast bundle on Monday to
ONE random person
who has completed this little 5-question form.
Can you help?
https://form.jotformeu.com/90864716729369

stay here, stay focussed. stay sober. stay true to you. stay here.
new painting added today, this is #372
sober art thanks to mr.belle

you can wait and see, or you can fuck it up

this message was sent to subscribers on Thursday, March 28, 2019

from me: on this day, which is thursday, it is 11:40 a.m. and I haven’t gotten dressed yet. that’s not really news. I have physio this afternoon for my nearly-all-better-sore-back and so i’ll get dressed for that! husband is working from the home studio today and tomorrow, making some new Exit paintings, so that’s nice. at least he can make me coffee, in between interrupting me a zillion times.

there is nothing remarkable about this day.

it’s not warm. it’s not big blue skies. it’s a very middle-kind-of-day. it is absent of a headache, void of regret, and completely lacking in a hangover. i got my inbox to zero yesterday (something i do about once every 3 weeks), and i mailed out every bracelet order i have, including all the Not Today bracelets that were ordered yesterday & earlier this morning. done. all done.

i resist the idea of looking around for a PROJECT to fill the time. i resist the temptation to fill in all buffer spaces, all remnant edges, with SOMETHING PRESSING AND URGENT.

to feel caught up and even on a thursday morning? never happens.

you probably do this, too. reflexively, we do the equivalent of pouring paint on the floor (creating a chaotic must-do event) when things are quiet. we’re unused to calm. we’re used to feeling crummy, spinning too many plates. we think that we’re bored, when really, it’s just the absence of chaos.

i can sit with calm. i remember something i heard in university from my dorm roommate:  You can wait and see, or you can fuck it up. This seems like the perfect time to absorb the calm, and wait and see …

 


I’ll be giving away a $150 podcast bundle on Monday to
ONE random person
who has completed this little 5-question form.
Can you help?
https://form.jotformeu.com/90864716729369

new painting added today, this is #372
stay here, stay focussed. stay sober. stay true to you. stay here.
sober art thanks to mr.belle

LIVE RADIO SUNDAY

LIVE RADIO SUNDAY
Tomorrow I am recording a sober podcast at the duck pond with a LIVE AUDIENCE.

This event will also be live-streamed in real time.

(If you’re not available during the broadcast to hear it live, then the audio will be recorded and will be sent out to podcast subscribers as part of their subscription.)

Date: Sunday March 24th
Time: 3:00 pm Paris time (see chart below to calculate your time)

Pacific Eastern UK Paris Sydney
Sunday
March 24th
7 am 10 am  2 pm 3 pm 1 am  Monday

 

This will be a live radio show. I’ll be talking, you’ll be listening.

Check the schedule above, and when it’s Sober Show Time, then you can use one of the two links below:

1. Radio (no video)
http://mixlr.com/sober-belle/
All you need is an internet connection. This is 100% anonymous. You don’t have to create a username on Mixlr, but if you do, then use a screen name.

2. Live on Facebook video 
https://www.facebook.com/tiredofdrinking/
If you are logged into Facebook, other people can see your activity. But if you’d rather watch anonymously, then log out of facebook first before you click the link above.

many hugs from me,
look forward to speaking to you tomorrow!
(oh and i’ll have some prizes to give away, too.)

 


 

 

we’ve sent out over 350 of these paintings, all over the world.
if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you get off and you stay off. you find the exit. and you keep this visual to remind you.
this is painting #360

 

do less. let people help.

email from carly: “Last night I hosted a dinner party, and here’s how smartly sober it was. 🙂
1. It was for a group of colleagues and we were all signed up to chaperone the high school dance starting at 7:45. So there was a scheduled end and of course no drinking. Sweet! (Honestly, I wish there were a 7:30 end time on all dinner parties — this introvert needs wind down time!)
2. Drinking me would have gone all out — fanciest dishes and silverware, elaborate meal, way over stressed me who then demanded to get wasted at the end of the very taxing night. Sober me bought paper plates and plastic cutlery, served simple, easy food (literally the frozen leftovers of a yummy vegetable curry and some easy rice and store bought naan). One of the guests asked how she could help and I suggested she bring mocktails. She did and they were fabulous. Me accepting help? Whole new world.
3. I knew the night would be taxing (up til past midnight, which is not my usual), so I planned a quiet, calm weekend otherwise … I’m taking things easy today too, not doing much work and planning another early bedtime.
I’m tired and have a taxing week ahead with some stressful work events, so I’m using today to make my meals for the week and to plan out a schedule of tasks so I don’t get overwhelmed. Feeling wise. :p”

me: the best part of this is #2 🙂 do less. let people help. if that’s not the recipe for sobriety, I don’t know what is!

[she’s on day 344 today]

 


new s’élever painting

​s’élever is french for ‘to go up’ or to rise up. going up. pick yourself up. rise YOURSELF up. (i do like how the root of the word elevator is in here.)

This is painting #369 at the top of the page here.

elastic

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you felt like drinking? That’s the way we think about making changes in our life, isn’t it? We think in terms of a stick. We think in terms of a threat of pain. In my mind, the problem with the idea of having an elastic that you snap every time you have a craving or you think about drinking, is that it waits for the thought of drinking to come up before you implement the strategy. And what I would suggest, instead, is something a bit more preventative, which would be reaching out, finding sober supports, listening to a podcast, listening to an audio. So that the cravings don’t come up as often. So you don’t have to pull back from it. If you surround yourself with the right kind of supports and tools, and you use them often enough, and you use them before you need them, then you create a new path in your head. You’re less likely to go down the wrong path. You’re less likely to have to snap the elastic.

 


new STAY painting

And once you’re out of the booze elevator, you learn to rest and be present. Stay here. Stay focussed. Stay in the present. Stay sober. Stay true to you. www.artsober.com 

This is painting #367 at the top of the page here.

run or lasagne sauce?

from me: saturday is the one day i can sleep until i wake, which today meant 7:50 a.m. Then i’m lounging in bed, taking pictures of the blankets (!), planning to get up or have one more cup of decaf. I have catering groceries to do (or husband will), and then prep today for tomorrow. None of this is possible with a hangover. be awake after 9 hrs of solid sleep? not possible. lounge in bed planning to do this or that? not possible. cook for other people without heaving? not possible. write a sober email to you? wouldn’t be possible if i was still drinking. it’s like a door opens up, in my head, when i’m sober. a door to the REST OF MY LIFE. when we’re drinking, we’re stuck in one room, instead of living in the WHOLE HOUSE. nomsain?

so while it’s now 10:17 a.m. and i’m not dressed, and husband is playing the SAME riff on the guitar, i know he’s learning, but the repetition is going to kill me, and while i’m contemplating going for a RUN or going back to bed with the ipad, let it be said that i am NOT contemplating when is a good time to start drinking. i’m not trying to figure out should i make the lasagne sauce first and drink later? when is it too early to drink, noon?

when the booze is removed, that noise stops. now it’s … coffee or lasagne sauce? run or lasange sauce? poke my husband with a sharp skewer to make him switch songs or lasagne sauce? I pick the latter.

 


new STAY painting

And once you’re out of the booze elevator, you learn to rest and be present. Stay here. Stay focussed. Stay in the present. Stay sober. Stay true to you. www.artsober.com
Art thanks to Mr.Belle, paintings done when he’s not torturing me with the guitar-playing.

This is painting #365 at the top of the page here.