Audio: BBC Radio London with Eddie Nestor (May 3, 2017)

turns out i was on the radio twice yesterday (yeah, that never happens). for the second one, my cell phone rings, and it’s: “can you talk for 5 minutes about being a sober coach, and can you get a penpal from London to come on too?” turns out the answer was YES.

what you will hear in this audio is a recording from BEHIND THE SCENES. You hear the show going on, you hear the producer saying “Belle, we’ll have you on in just a second” and you can hear what it sounded like from my side of the microphone (I was on skype in Paris while they’re recording in London). Then at the end, when they’re ‘done’ with me, you can hear penpal Tom continue onward.

Total length is about 7 minutes from start to finish, though my voice doesn’t begin until 2 minutes in, so be patient 🙂

(this audio was also sent out for free as an MP3 file to podcast subscribers and to daily one-minute message subscribers)



3 May 2017 – BBC Radio London – presenter Eddie Nestor


dear alcohol: you lied to me

from my inbox

email from TickleMeShelmo (day 26):

“Dear alcohol,

Firstly, this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but make it I must. It’s over. We are finished.

For years I thought we were amazing together. Life with you made the world seem more colourful. You made me feel whole, feel important and feel loved by those we met. You have me the strength to do things I’d never have done without you. 

There was a reason for that.

You lied to me, all of this time. Lie after lie after lie. You told me I was funny, but I wasn’t – I was attention seeking and shaming myself and others. I would share secrets and inappropriate and intimate details because you said it was ok. You told me I could do what I liked – but the casual sex, the flirting, the drug taking – it damaged me more than I’ll ever know. You told me that responsibilities were bullshit – and now I’m trying to sort out years of debt and irresponsible decision making.

The whole time I believed you were showing me real life. Life in glorious colour; busy; hectic; fucked up; hedonistic. But it was a lonely, sad life of hidden pain and selfishness.

The things you told me were just bullshit lies to keep me with you. There’s an odd feeling of achievement in the little things in life; clean washing, an early night, a monogamous relationship, a well cooked meal, holding hands with someone you love. Life without you is calm and peaceful. Don’t mix that up with boring – it isn’t. It’s fun. It’s reliable. It’s better.

So this is goodbye. It’s not me – it’s you.”

[update: she’s on day 618 today]



do i have to count days?

Here’s an extract from the  book

do i have to count days

from Clementine: “Why do you think it’s important to have continuous sober time? Why is it more valuable to have 60 days in a row, than to have 29 days, a week off drinking, and then 29 more days (like me)?”


I think day counting is important because each day represents a day when you said NO. You are building a wall between the ‘you’ back there, and the ‘new you’ over here, and so every sober day is a new brick in that wall. 

There are many forums and online communities that have pledges like “let’s plan to do 15 out of 30 days sober this month,” but they are not continuous days.

This doesn’t help us; we don’t get anywhere. On the days we’re not drinking, we are waiting to drink again. It’s like holding your breath and going underwater for a day. 

To me, the reason for a longer goal (100 days) is that you have to actually go forward and learn something. Once you remove the booze, you practise new things like self-soothing, treats, and learning to change the channel in your head. 

If you don’t pay attention to your sober momentum, then any day can be a drinking day or a sober day. By counting, you’re saying to Wolfie: “I’m not doing this. I’m getting the hell out of here. As far as I can, far away from you. One sober day at a time.”


024. Worth It

Sometimes, when you’re trying to quit drinking, the voice in your head can get really loud. So I send out free one minute audio messages of encouragement (and ass-kicking) to anyone who wants them. This is a transcript of One Minute Message #024.

024. Worth It

I’d like to go into your head for just a minute
and re-program something, if you don’t mind.
I’ll just slip in one ear and come back out the other.
And while I’m inside, I want to change one thing.

This is worth doing
because you are worth it.
Being sober is worth doing
because you are worth it.

Any shitty sober day
is better than a new Day 1.
And any improvement that you can make
to the quality of your life
is worth it for you.

You don’t have to do it for your family
you don’t have to do it for your kids
you don’t have to do it for anybody

you doing it for you is enough.

I go in one ear and I say:
This is worth doing
because you are worth it —
and then I come out the other ear
and I leave you.

*listen to the free one minute messages (there are 200+), by logging into your gumroad library here. if you haven’t signed up for the free one minute messages before, you can do that here (you only need to sign up once and then you get access to all of the OMMs).

~ shameless commercial link: take some action. podcast subscription. 1-2 longer audios per week. i’ve set it up so that it’s low-risk and safe and easy, and the subscription is controlled by you (which means you can turn it off whenever you like).

016. Patience

Sometimes, when you’re trying to quit drinking, the voice in your head can get really loud. So I send out free one minute audio messages of encouragement (and ass-kicking) to anyone who wants them. This is a transcript of One Minute Message #016.

016. Patience

One of the reasons we drink
is because we are looking for an Off button.
We have busy brains,
we run ourselves ragged
we get overwhelmed,
we want to find some way to make it stop.

The problem with using an anesthetic
which is what alcohol is—
the problem with using an anesthetic to make things stop
is that you make everything stop
both the good and the bad.

It shuts down happiness
as well as sadness.

You might think it’s smoothing over grief or shame
but in fact, it smooths over pride and self-esteem.

In searching for an Off button,
to reach for alcohol
creates another problem.

It’s not that we don’t need an Off button,
it’s that we’re reaching for the wrong tool.

What you’re doing now is you are learning new ways
of finding an Off button.

And, you’re being patient with yourself
While you figure it out


*listen to the free one minute messages (there are 200+), by logging into your gumroad library here. if you haven’t signed up for the one minute messages before, you can do that here (you only need to sign up once and then you get access to all of the OMMs).


015. Good Feeling

Sometimes, when you’re trying to quit drinking, the voice in your head can get really loud. So I send out free one minute audio messages of encouragement (and ass-kicking) to anyone who wants them. This is a transcript of One Minute Message #015.

You’re listening to this audio*
because you’d like to be sober
and you’d like support to do it.

I have good feelings about you, and about this.

There’s lots of people who have drinking issues
who don’t do anything about it—
who don’t try anything.
They get locked in their head with wolfie
and they think that what they hear in their head is true.
They get stuck.

We can’t exaggerate the downside of the drinking elevator.
It goes right to the bottom.
When you have an opportunity to step off early,
you do that.
When you have an opportunity to have some support
and some tools
you do that.

The reason I feel optimistic about you
is because you’re listening to this.
There are many, many people
who don’t even know that there’s help available;
who are stuck.

And that’s not you.

You’re here, you’re trying, you’re adding to your sober toolbox
you’re getting momentum, and you’re reaching out.

That gives me a good feeling about you.

*listen to the free one minute messages (there are 200+), including this episode #15, here.

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.”

anonymous confession booth: sex

step right up. for one day only, i’m creating an anonymous sober confession booth about SEX. Yes, i’ve got something running through my head and i thought, OK, let’s blog about it. and really, it’s amazingly hard to talk about sex even when we’re quasi-anonymous online. And so then i thought, OK, let’s make it 100% anonymous, me included.

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). 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.
  4. In your comment, write two or three sentences (max.) about something about sex that you think is ONLY your problem and that probably no one else has the same problem as you do. For example, i’ll make one up: “I can’t initiate sex when sober but i used to be able to when drinking” … OR … “i worry that i’m the only person who has x problem now that i’m sober.”
  5. Then take a second and post ONE anonymous ‘reply’ to one of the other comments already posted, and say something comforting, consoling, forgiving, kind. In fact, it would simply help if you said “i have this problem, too.”

i have a feeling that this will unfold in a lovely way. because you’re all lovely people. and we all have sex shit that we can’t talk about.

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.