I wish I could drink as much as I want and not suffer any consequences

from my daily micro-email sent September 12, 2018

if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can step off now. find the exit. get off and stay off. (sortie is ‘exit’ in french)
original painting #93 here today.

from me:
this is wednesday. we are home after 20 days of working ‘off-site’ while visiting in-laws, and travelling (mostly being lost) in the US. on the way home from the airport yesterday, as I sipped espresso and ate a power bar to try to wake myself up, mr.B says, “I didn’t tell you this before, but there’s a hurricane warning, a million people on standby for evacuation.” He didn’t use these words, of course, because he doesn’t speak english with words like ‘standby’. the reason he hadn’t told me, is because of my long-standing agitation about flying, and the self-imposed blackout on news that i have, but even MORE SO right before a flight. something bad happened in a plane yesterday? i don’t want to know. doesn’t change me having to get on the plane…
i’m easily wound up, so i have to filter the ‘news’ so i don’t get overwhelmed. and i guess husband knows me well enough to not tell me things that’ll exacerbate my shaking with fear, which i did only 3 times the plane yesterday, grabbing his arm. the rest of the time i happily worked on my laptop and unhappily did not eat the profoundly bad food (thanks air canada).
flying, for me, is like being sober. i do my best to keep my head attached even if it means doing things differently from other people. i reach out and bruise my husband’s arm when required, not often, but i do. when the anxiety stops, i go back to my shitty meal or my laptop. i don’t dwell. though why they continue to serve the shitty meal while it’s bumping around, i have no idea — oh wait, it’s because the bumping around is trivial — it doesn’t mean anything. the flight crew are bored with it. they keep pouring coffee…
i want to share more of the ‘stay here’ philosophy that developed on a bumpy flight in the next email, but also i’ve got some new mantras that i now say during times of anxiety…

some notes from my inbox:

pippa: “just want to say thank you for your emails. They make me feel like I’m in a posse of people who are doing this amazing thing. When I feel on the periphery of the world — cos it looks like everyone else is merrily drinking (even though I know logically this is not the case) — knowing that there are other women [and men] who have made the same excuses, wondered if they were making a mistake going AF (because, you know, I’m not THAT bad), and who go from feeling on top of the world about their decision to feeling shit and weird — makes the difference. Something has shifted for me fundamentally so I’m 10% conflicted but 90% happy and that part of me keeps getting bigger and more certain.  It used to be the other way round. I feel like I’m in a cool gang now.”

~

sobriety shingles: “I’m so glad mr b is enjoying doing this, I love them. Does he know how much the the little exit sign helps us? What it communicates to us? How evocative it is? I’d like to order more, I hope he doesn’t tire of this theme yet, I sure haven’t! Thank you, Belle, for everything.  Et merci monsieur b.”

~

S: “Hi Bella, I don’t normally reply to your emails … the main reason I am a lurker is because I don’t yet fully believe I have an issue with alcohol (although maybe I do since I am here!). I’m more of a binge drinker 2-3 times a week rather than a every day drinker. Which I know is just as bad but I have been reading your emails and I feel that I am starting to see the light …  it’s now Thursday (here in New Zealand) and I have yet to drink again since last Saturday, not because I have stopped myself but because I just don’t want to! seriously this is such a new feeling for me and a lot to take on board especially since I am actively working to manage my anxiety and depression (meds and psychologist).”

~

DaniZ: “honestly, i just feel angry tonight. At the end of the lesson, you have the ‘take a moment and imagine day 140’. I can’t. I DO feel broken, although I liked the part about when you stop drinking, the craving goes away. I know that to be true, but right now, that experience was too long ago, and so the ‘knowing’ is an in my head knowing, not a head AND heart knowing. So yeah, I’m just fucking pissed off right now, and feeling sorry for myself. I have a million and one things to be happy about and grateful for, and I am just heavy in the pout mode. I seriously wish that I could drink as much as I want and not have to suffer any consequences. How fucking childish is that? I’m 48 for god’s sake! Sorry. Totally crappy email, and rather than put it in my journal, I am sending it to you. Which hardly seems like a nice choice, but I am hoping that being honest with my feelings might help.”

drinking is like shaking your mind

from me:
when i posted the ‘thank you’ message, i didn’t really expect people to say thank you, again, in return. and now when i share too many of these it’ll seem self-serving. so i’ll mix in a bit of what my inbox looks like today. the ups and the downs. 

andpops: “Your emails were great!! Im sure that I would not be where I am now without you!  You’re welcome but thank you right back at ya again. PS. It’s also fun to have you in the same time zone. I want to tell you again how psyched I am for Mr. Belles painting and to hang it in my office at work. I’ll send you a pic when it arrives and I hang it!  I even enjoy seeing all the new ones that get posted. It makes me happy that he feels inspired. He should also feel appreciated!”

A: “I’ve read the thank you message several times and wanted to reply but not known how. When you sent the other replies, I felt even more inadequate to respond but just wanted to say how lovely it sounded for you and Mr B.  I have to be honest I’m a philistine regarding art but I admire his talent and am ridiculously pleased for both of you that it’s working. Enough rambling, just really pleased for you both and of course envious.  I need to get out, off and into the sunshine.”

C: “I don’t expect a response, just wanted to vent. I love your husbands art and the theme has hit home. Big time. I have been looking for my Exit door for some time. I haven’t found it yet. Of course I equate that to yet another fault of mine. I think of the person that used to be on the other side of that door and I miss that version of me. But I’m exhausted, all the time. Why is it so much easier to “self medicate” than lace up the running shoes? I used to take such pride in my athletics but can’t even imagine having that discipline now. I am so tired. Tired of trying, working crazy hours, the stress and being alone. That being said, I am blessed with two wonderful kids but they are growing up and have lives of their own. I keep making promises to myself (and silently to you) to be better tomorrow, finally start being that perfect version of myself. And it’s like groundhog day. Without the benefit of positive progression. Anyway, not great at expressing myself and thanks for reading. Does Mr. B create any paintings that include directions to the Exit door? … Take care Belle and thanks for all you do! I still carry around one of your hand written letters with me. Took me weeks before I opened it and read it. Not sure what that’s about.”

pilates queenie: “Your husband’s art has become a minor obsession. I have purchased four and need to stop now. I can only afford so much — but it is worth more to me than you can imagine. I hope he does a showing — maybe some bigger pieces too. Thank him and tell him that his pieces move me in a way that I can’t explain. I may have told you I have many fine artists in my family including my sister and a couple of brothers and my mom who passed away 20 years ago. I think his art is reminiscent of how she made use of color and form. Clearly, he is hitting the mark with many, many people as they have all sold so quickly. Thank you to you too!!  You continue to inspire me to be a healthier person in mind, body and spirit.  Hope you keep doing what you are doing for a long time. 💜❤️💚”

Bean7: “I’m having a grumpy day. Even going to yoga this morning didn’t help. Maybe it did help, and I’d be even worse had I not gone? Laughs. I’m in my room watching NetFLIX AND TAkING cARE oF some tASKS. ONE of MY ANNOYances is my computeR. As you can see itS FUCKED UP … I’ve got mY SOBRIETY TODAY> THAT IS A POSITIve> BEAn7”

jenwithoutwine: “So beautiful. I read this with a soft smile and dampening eyes. And I am a girl who does. not. cry. (mostly) I feel lucky to witness this, so thanks for sharing. Beautiful things happening to beautiful people. It doesn’t get much better.”

Auntie Briggy: “… He clearly loves you so much because his concept of EXIT is so filled with compassion and love. Thank you again for being there. I know some day you will be too famous to email with me – so now I must really get sober for 30 days so I can still have you :)”

magitinto (day 2): “another thing I discovered, I drink to quiet my mind, or at least that is what I thought, however reality is that when drinking the opposite happens, my mind wont stop spinning around a 1000 topics and making everything so dramatic and so intense and so tiring, at the end is worse it is like shaking the mind. What I am really looking for is calm, silence, quite time with my mind focused, something I will never achieve drinking.”

thanks

from my daily micro-email sent August 28, 2018

 

thanks. 
let me start by saying thank you. for all the things.
you know those knots you carry around inside forEVER and then they slowly start to unwind? those knots. sure, you know about them.
that’s how i feel right this minute. un-knotted. (long may it continue!)

i want to say thanks for:
your support while i do this sober thing. you think that i’m doing something for you, but you’re doing something for me — in my coaching calls, in my montreal sober meetup, in my daily emails. i wake up each morning and scroll through my inbox, to see how you’re doing, to see if you have news. to see if you’ve written the song in the sand yet, or cleaned up the cat vomit, or if you’ve travelling home safely from vacation.

i also want to say thanks for the support on the newest addition to the site, the original art from Mr. Belle (who wants to sign his name now as: mr.B).

i don’t share a lot about his life (cuz it’s his life) but let me say this to you and you can read between the lines: he’s painting. evenings and weekends. he’s up and down the stairs to his office (when we’re at home), and now that we’re on vacation, he BROUGHT some of his art stuff in his suitcase to continue here in Canada.

to see him working on vacation is actually lovely. he’s had a slow, hard time with his career for the past 7 years so it’s really been a great thing to see him inspired.
and when THAT happens, it changes the inside of my marriage.
and when THAT happens, i feel ‘relieved’ but also supported. by you. so thank you. from both of us.

i’ll also say thank you to the agent who has asked to read the second draft of the sober fiction book. i’ll say thanks to the Everything list for your support in getting that book done. I’m planning (yes, still) to begin writing a new fiction book in September and i will let you know how you can follow along, too, when the time comes.

if you’re on a booze superhighway, it might be time to exit. if you’re on a booze elevator that only goes down, you can get off now. if you’re in the booze sewer, i promise you it’s better in the sunshine.

if you’re stuck in weird thinking, you can stop drinking and see how you feel.

exit the booze things.
all of them.
alcohol doesn’t suit you.
you’ve tried it.
it’s not for you.

hugs from me


link to original art – Exit 036
exit the sewer, exit the booze elevator.
original art, paintings – not prints – so only one of each available.

Wednesday Celebration Roundup

If we are sober penpals, then we email all the time and I keep track of your dates. Then i can celebrate you online (here) when you hit the big milestones. like these ones:

Happy Day 50 to Lheras!

Happy Day 50 to Scrappy!

Happy Day 50 to Wave-Spirit!

Happy Day 50 to Jennifer 2.0!

Happy Day 50 to Hat Trick!

Happy Day 50 to Da!

Happy Day 50 to Allison!

Happy Day 100 to Jane Marie!

Happy Day 100 to Reenster!

Happy Day 100 to Carly!

Happy Day 100 to Alligen!

Happy Day 180 to Mary Elizabeth!

Happy Day 200 to SerenityNow!

Happy Day 200 to Ana Maria!

Happy Day 200 to Prissy!

Happy Day 200 to Lhaschnoodle!

Happy Day 200 to Happy Day 200 to unpuzzlingpatti!

Happy Day 200 to wildflower!

Happy Day 200 to emsyface!

Happy Day 200 to jenwithoutwine!

Happy Day 400 to Dry Ace!

Happy Day 400 to Leila!

Happy Day 500 to Karebear!

Happy Day 500 to RRH!

Happy Day 500 to Goldie!

Happy Day 600 to Lime Tree!

Happy Day 600 to Sophiestar!

Happy Day 600 to Jazzie!

Happy Day 700 to Gene!

Happy Day 700 to Lola4126!

Happy Day 700 to TJS!

Happy Day 700 to RubyHarper!

Happy Day 700 to Poppy!

Happy Day 900 to Auds!

Happy Day 900 to Kaffy B!

Happy Day 900 to Debbie!

Happy Day 900 to KLC!

Happy Day 900 to Country Pat!

Happy Day 1000 to Hughie!

Happy Day 1200 to Grateful Girl!

Happy Day 1200 to Jenuful!

Happy Day 1300 to Sean!

Happy Day 1300 to Indian Lake!

Happy Day 1300 to Mel P!

Happy Day 1400 to Canadian Girl!

Happy Day 1400 to Festie!

Happy Day 1400 to Graceb!

Happy Day 1500 to Sanfransober!

Happy Day 1500 to Lara!

Happy Day 1600 to RunnerMom!

Happy Day 1700 to Janet!

Happy Day 1700 to Denise!

wolfie is a cockroach

From my inbox, this message from L:

“I woke up feeling MUCH better after emailing you. is there a connection? probably so. and also i had a bit of a revelation.

remember my email where i talked about feeling like wolfie was behind me, and i was scared to turn around to check to see if he was getting smaller, blah blah blah? …

i realized something. i didn’t feel like i was doing the sober thing properly, not because i was stuffing my mouth with cake, but because i wasn’t getting “better.” i wasn’t being cured of my wino-ism. at the end of the 100 day challenge i wanted to keep going because i still didn’t know what i thought about it all. but that was probably code for, “i’m not cured yet, so i need to keep going.”

THERE’S NO FUCKING CURE!!

and its taken me this long to accept that. wolfie wasn’t going away because he’s a fucking cockroach, and those motherfuckers do not die. they would survive a nuclear war, and so would wolfie. fuuuuuuuuck wolfie.

cockroaches are fucking disgusting creatures and i fucking hate them (can you tell)? but i’ve also over time accepted that they are here to stay. and so what do i do? i make sure that an exterminator comes regularly to spray. and as soon as i see one around, if maybe i’ve forgotten to call the bug man, i sure as hell call the bug man then. i don’t let them infiltrate and set up shop. first sign of them and i take action. because i fucking hate cockroaches.

and i hate wolfie too.

now my next bit of work is to really truly accept that wolfie is here to stay. and get to work on keeping him away.”

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.


OMM024. 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 300+), 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).


Senior Sober Workshop: Worth

(and senior just means you’re 200+ days sober)
class begins Tuesday, July 24th
registration has just begun
small group, live calls, homework, treat box in the mail
www.soberlinks.me/worth

Let’s see how this goes

from me: do you quit drinking 'forever' or is it an experiment? what are the advantages of framing it as an experiment? I asked, you answered:

J: "If you can say ‘I choose not to drink’ it’s easier than saying ‘I can’t drink’ which can then start feelings of deprivation and the Wolfie voice. Framing it as an experiment should make it more achievable mentally than forever, your explanation of running as an example made sense, if you said that you were going to run x amount every day for the rest of your life ... what would happen? :)"

Flo (Day 47): "Hi Belle. I think framing it as an experiment an making it a choice. 'I'm choosing to go 100 days sober' is a whole lot less confronting than 'I'm going to give up alcohol forever', which frankly seems kind of unreal. I think if I say i'm giving up forever, i feel a fear in my solar plexus area and sick or maybe that's the hole i think needs filling up with something (alcohol). Saying that i'm choosing to do this for 100 days feels like i'm easing myself into this whole concept of finding out how my life will be sober, and will it be better? Let's just see how this goes and make a decision later. So less confronting."

~
Question: what do you think about quitting drinking as a choice ... you know, a choice that supports you to be your best you (this is a trick question)​.


New Podcast Series (FREE! FREE!)

Need to catch up on episodes 1-3? Click Here

umr004.gratitude > i know that the idea of gratitude is talked about a lot. but what does it mean, in a practical sense. like HOW can you have an attitude of gratitude? i think i stumbled on an idea that works for me when I was doing a catering job this past weekend. 

Show Notes:

Get these messages on iTunes (apple podcast) > link

Get them on Stitcher > link

Get them on Gumroad > link

Music: “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen

Donations to support these audios and keep them free.
On Gumroad > link
By Paypal (no VAT) >
link

Feedback from the ​meditation audio series: 

enroute: “​Thank you for that Belle, this meditation worked for me, and I have listened to a lot of teachers, a lot of silence, a lot of endless thoughts in my head, a lot of perspectives on meditation. For me, I know that whatever practice suits you, it lights the path to consciousness which lights the path to sobriety, creativity and more and more...​” ​Subscribe here.

Ready to quit?

from my inbox:

Rambling Rose (penpal #2512): 

"So something has been bothering me for a few weeks on the issue of readiness when it comes to being sober. I've heard on a number of occasions "in the rooms" that you just have to be really ready to quit drinking before you stay with recovery. I have heard it mostly in the context of people relapsing. It almost comes off as an accusation that he/she just didn't want it enough (recovery). Another thing I hear often is, "In your heart of hearts, do you want to quit?" UGH. YES.

There's something very flippant to me about this. I know people, myself included, who have wanted to quit for years - sincerely, in our heart of hearts - and hate being in addiction/excessive drinking limbo. It hurts. It isn't even enjoyable. It's not to "feel better" - for me, it was to feel less bad. But, of course that less-bad feeling starts to turn into a consistent and repetitive horror.

Drinking is the worst kind of hell, and it isn't that I (the true me) wanted to keep drinking, not when it got bad. I just didn't know how to stop it. I think that's why we surrender or reach out, because of course our brains will want booze.

I've brought it up to people (sponsors, sober women, etc.) before, and I usually get the same answers about not wanting it bad enough or not having some God moment where all of my sins, er, sorry, cravings (hah) were magically lifted.

It scares me when people say things like this, because I do want to stay sober, with all of my heart. But there hasn't been some God moment or change in my thinking. Not yet. Isn't that where the work and the supports come in?

Anyway. What made you know that you were totally done for good?

Do you think it is different for everyone?

Thanks. Whew, good to get that out of my head. It was upsetting me today, and kind of freaking me out."


me: I think that the idea of readiness is sort of like the idea of willpower. it’s assuming that the tool is in us. I think that the tools are outside us and that if someone is relapsing, they don’t have enough tools/supports/accountability. Us alone in our heads has us all drinking, me included.

but with the right amount of supports (different for each person) we can do this sober thing.

the challenge is getting people to try different supports when the original ones aren’t (or have stopped) working. we’re so stubborn and wolfie wants to keep us stuck, so that’s the hardest part of this. it’s not that rehab doesn’t work, it’s that no one wants to go. it’s not that antabuse doesn’t work, it’s that it’s hard to convince someone to take it because if they take it they can’t relapse and wolfie hates that. wolfie will argue against most supports.

wolfie wants you alone at home with a bottle. that’s the challenge as far as I can see: helping people to see that wolfie is bullshit and that there’s sunshine OUT HERE.

​~

​You might not agree with my advice to Rambling Rose. How do you feel about being 'ready'? Post a comment below.


Feedback from the new (free) meditation audio series:

Auntie Briggy: “Love this! Meditation is one thing for me that needs to be non-negotiable part of my tool box! You did a great job - meditation is just like sobriety - some days are shit and you don't pay attention for 2 seconds - some days you feel refreshed after but you keep staying with it. It was great to hear you doing something outside your comfort zone and trying a new tool! It teaches us courage to do things like this - try things - and keep trying them and adding things in.” Listen here.

[free audios] – Urban Meditation Starts Today

Today begins a new 10-part audio series called Urban Meditations (Regret)

Recorded in different urban environments, this series of mindfulness exercises will tie in with meditation, being still, and sobriety -- with a focus on the theme of regret. Yes, I'll be talking, but there is also quiet time for reflection too.

This 10-part podcast is free, hosted on gumroad and itunes. supported only by donations. it works out every time. no sponsorship. just you pitching in where you can.

And as promised, I have the preliminary 'intro' audio and episode 1 ready today.

umr000.intro > This is the first official audio in the new 10-part Urban Meditation series focussing on regret. Today I am recording in a park, complete with a visit from two dogs, and a rat. Never a dull moment. Time for a pause, are you ready?

umr001.cute > You are as cute as you’re ever going to be. Today. Right now. OK, if not, you’re definitely as YOUNG as you’re going to be.

Show Notes:

Get these messages on iTunes (apple podcast) > link

Get them on Stitcher > link

Get them on Gumroad > link

Music: “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen

Donations to support these audios and keep them free.
On Gumroad > link
By Paypal (no VAT) > link