anonymous confession booth: things we can’t control

step right up. for one day only, i’m creating an anonymous sober confession booth on the subject of “things we can’t control”.

I want to focus on things we need to let go of. Like crazy in-laws, compulsive behaviours, and those people you are forced to visit where you’re afraid to eat in their homes because you’re not sure if you’ll get food poisoning or not. “I just scraped off the mould, they say.”

This came to me because of a one-on-one call i had with a sober penpal this week. We are all carrying around this backpack of rocks of things we just need to let go of.

i personally hate dwelling in the past — unnecessarily. Yes, sometimes we have to excavate. But i don’t want to wallow. And there’s a very fine line between the two. And then there’s the shame. and the guilt. yeah.

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. Promise.
  4. In your comment, write two or three sentences (max.) about something that you’d like to stop in your life, some weight you’ve been carrying around, that being sober is going to help you let go of. For example, i’ll make one up: “I’d like to step out of the way of my crazy MIL and just recognize that she’s a flawed human and it’s my job to remove myself from her reach.” OR “I have been a compulsive laundry freak, the clothes I wore today must be clean and folded every night when I go to bed. Now that i’m sober I’m going to let that go. I don’t need to be in control of my laundry anymore. I’m going to let it go.”
  5. Then take a second and post an anonymous ‘reply’ to ONE of the other comments already posted, and say something comforting, consoling, forgiving, kind. Pick a comment where someone hasn’t replied to them yet.

i have a feeling that this will unfold in a lovely way. because you’re all lovely people. and we all have a backpack of rocks that we’d like to put down, right? What’s in your backpack?

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.

when i don’t drink, i feel better about me

written at 9:30 a.m. local time

today i’m proud of myself. it’s silent, early morning, up before most of the locals on a holiday. the upstairs neighbours are away. quiet. i can actually hear birds, it’s like the shortest day of the year has really passed, and we’re into something new.

it’s not raining. it’s warmer than seasonal which is a gift. my husband who has been sick since the day before the vacation started, is still in bed, still sick. man flu + coughing so much you throw out your back. yes, that’s him. but right now, he’s quiet too, and asleep. when i tell him he doesn’t cough when sleeping, he doesn’t find this curious. i do.

my emotions are in charge of everything i do. if i feel frisky, i make bread and do the dishes. if i feel slighted, i sulk and listen to business podcasts with both earphones in, sorry, can’t hear you. when i like my life, i make dinner. when i’m a slug, we have frozen meals from the frozen-meal-store, which is actually quite good, compared to north american standards. it’s not lean cuisine. it’s actual food. just frozen.

if i feel proud of myself, i keep doing the same things that make me feel good.

and as this new year unfolds, unspools, like a roll of film in front of me, i get to pick where i walk. i decide how many days i go outside (i work from home!). how many times i make dinner. how many times i drink juice. i get to decide whether i want to write a sober fiction book. i get to decide if i learn new things. if i play video games. if i sit in the bathtub.

you’re the writer of this new film, the one called “Me 2018.” you’re also the actor, the stage director, and the costumer. you get to decide what to wear, today i;m here in my plaid pj bottoms and my sober fuzzy socks. i get to choose between all-butter croissants or ‘croissants ordinaires‘ (never pick the latter).

i get to reach out for tools and supports that make me feel better about my life. i remember that how i think about things changes them. the rainy sidewalk becomes shiny with reflected light when i’m in the right mood, and can also be sludgy black and dark on another day. i pick the shiny. i pick the 80% that’s good. there’s something going on right now in your life, in mine, that sucks anus rocks. I’m not discounting my shittiness. i’m focussing on the good parts. and on the parts that i can control. starting with how i feel about me.

and when i don’t drink, i feel better about me. so i’m going to continue doing that.

happy new you 🙂

==

Comments from advance readers:

Jazzie (day 401): “And you inspire me!! … You’ve given me a new way to look at things and life though I’ve thought this was before, your way makes more sense to me. Thank you Belle. Happy New Year!!!”

Flyaway (day 192): “Before your blog I never thought about ‘changing perspectives’ or ‘reframing thoughts’. These tools have changed my life. I’m excited for this new year! Thank you for inspiring me!


~ and welcome to everyone who has found me through Catherine Gray … she’s penpal #270 and is on day 1570 today!


Would you like a sober penpal for a year?

Sober Jumpstart class re-opens today
with a limit of 11 available spots
Today
Monday January 1st
www.soberjumpstart.com

 

The power of the earth behind me

From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on Winter Solstice [and is celebrating 3 years sober tomorrow] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar. I like Winter to Summer because the days get longer, and each day brings about more promise and more hope. It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”

Imagine it’s the shortest day of the year (tomorrow in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober starting tomorrow, December 21st. It can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on June 21st? Summer Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.

  • If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%

I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?

This year I will stop …

As part of your re-engage with sobriety campaign, today we’re going to talk about things to STOP doing.

you know that overwhelm is something to avoid. at the risk of being a pretentious shit, let me quote from my own book (says every pretentious shit, ever):

(page 88): Your job is to reduce overwhelm. All around you, there are lists of things to do and when you first quit drinking you are going to take it easy. You will shower once a day, try not to get fired, and skip everything else.
Thinking that you need to push or force yourself to do things is a holdover from your drinking time, when you were hungover and you made yourself do things to prove that you didn’t have a problem. You wanted to make yourself look normal. You took on more than you could reasonably do, so that you looked high-functioning, so that nobody knew how much you were drinking, and so no one could detect how you felt about yourself.

For today, I would like you to put a comment on this blog post of something that you are NOT going to do as part of your Christmas/Holiday celebrations this year. You’re going to make 3 kinds of cookies instead of 10. You’re going to skip midnight mass and go in the morning. You’ll do ‘christmas mugs’ instead of ‘stockings’. You’ll order chinese food on christmas eve (my mother used to do this!).

We’re always looking to ADD new traditions to our holiday season, but for today, i want you to consider what you can give up, in order to help you feel less overwhelmed. You don’t have to be clever or original, you just have to be real. If you can’t think of anything, then copy this: “to help myself avoid overwhelm – which is a boozer’s biggest trigger – i’m going to skip making Christmas Eve dinner and have pancakes instead.”

My blog allows anonymous comments, so you don’t have to fill in your name/email address if you don’t want to.

And to bribe you to participate, to support your sobriety, and encourage you to speak up, I will RANDOMLY select ONE comment from this blog post about 24 hrs from now, and that person will receive a sober toolkit bracelet bracelet for free.

hugs, me

I loved him for the first hour [Julie-Joy’s Dad Part 3]

from me:

i received a long email from Julie-Joy’s Dad about his new sober life. it’s so fascinating that i want to share it all with you, but it’s long (i said that already) and so i’m going to split it into 3 parts. Part 1 was previously posted here, and Part 2 was posted here.

===

[May 2016]
email from Julie-Joy’s Dad (day 822): “Hi Belle, I wanted some insight with my drinking problem, which I thought really wasn’t that bad. So I sent my “girls” (girls includes my wife) an email and asked them to tell me about the before and after. I was surprised. Actually I was a little shocked! You will like the response from my wife. Enjoy.  This is my original email:  I need your help! I like to read the blogs of “Belle’s” website and I find them encouraging and in some cases sad. I am looking at my own journey and how content and happy I am right now and I would like to add a perspective to the blog (or whatever) from my family. Could you write a paragraph or two about the DAD (& husband) before the 100 day sober challenge, and the DAD after taking the challenge? Thanks and I love you. DAD (and your Mom’s hubby).”

Julie-Joy:

“Well, my dad before the challenge was interesting. Growing up I never remember my parents drinking at all. Either my dad was good at hiding it or I just never noticed … I almost feel like it is my fault my family started drinking at all. In 2006 I went through a divorce at a very young age, and the whole experience was super heart breaking.  But I went back to school and started serving at a restaurant and kind of got introduced to the whole drinking world.  I feel like I opened the alcohol door for my family.  But I know this isn’t entirely true at all, but I felt at that time we all started drinking pretty regularly. I didn’t really notice my dad’s drinking increasing all that much until about 5 years ago, I think. I loved my dad for the first like hour of his drinking. He loved chatting and playing music … he was so fun for about an hour or so.  But then, of course, you start chasing that initial buzz, drink too much.  Then he would get extremely hungry and very impatient. Honestly, he turned into a grumpy, impatient, selfish, asshole. My poor mother took the brunt of having to deal with him like this. Then he would eat, sit in front of the TV, and pass out. Not very fun at all.

One time when I was home visiting my dad had a bottle of alcohol in the freezer, so I knew how much he had of it, but he seemed WAY more drunk than that amount would allow, so I went into the garage and looked in this metal garbage can in the garage, and there were papers on top, but underneath were 6 empty bottles of hard alcohol in there. So that is where his refills were coming from …

Since my dad started the first 100 day challenge, he has never drank again.  And he is so different in that his true self has come out. My dad at the core is motivated, successful, out-going, determined, an athlete, and all these things got masked by his alcohol … Also, his editors in his brain are back on, so even though my dad still deals with anger and what have you, he now has reigns on it.  And thinks before he speaks.  I can see him processing and making different choices and he is able to do that because the alcohol hasn’t switched off his inhibitions.

My dad is now an athlete. He walks at least a marathon a week (26.2 miles) and trust me, he would be running those miles if it weren’t for a hip replacement he had years ago. He is in better shape than I am and I am 30 years younger than him. He has lost so much weight and looks so handsome! He is more self-confident. His business is going WAY better. He is more loving to my mom and kinder to her and appreciates her and shows her this. He helps her and loves on her. He communicates with us girls (his daughters) every day to tell us what day he is on.  He is more gracious, more kind, more content.  He is just plain flat out, happier! I feel like he is just more HIMSELF!  And when my dad is HIMSELF, he is like the sun that shines on everyone. I love him sooooooooo freaking much!!!!! I am so happy he does not drink anymore so that we can have the real him.”

[end part 3 of 3]

omm268.wrong.place

In this audio, I call bullshit on a bunch of excuses. I can’t be sober in this way, my support must look like ‘this’, I can’t practise my skating routine on the path at the park. All not true.

[be sure to scroll down for photos]

  • Get these audios on iTunes (apple podcast) > link

 

Transcript.

OK, I get this kind of thing in my Inbox all the time. This will sound familiar to you:

“Dear Belle, I wish there was an AA meeting close to me that had people that were my age. I wish I could go to an AA meeting where there were hot men. I wish there was an AA meeting where they were 35-41 years old. I wish I could find a place to practice my skating routine, but I can only do it at the rink.”

What do you hear there when I say that? You hear wolfie, right?

“I can’t get it that way. Those people can’t help me. This is the wrong place. This is the wrong time. I can’t start until everything lines up. I can’t do it this way.”

You have a voice in your head that wants you to keep drinking, so it will manufacture reasons why the support is wrong for you. “I can’t have a phone call with a sober coach because of 1300 imaginary reasons. I can’t practice my skating routine unless I’m at the rink.”

You’ve thought that. Perfectionism.

“If I can’t get it to all line up then I don’t want to do it.”

And I want you to know that today when I was at the duck pond, when I was doing my run, I saw a woman practicing her skating routine on the pathway. She wasn’t in the water, she was on the track where I was running around the pond, she was off to one side doing her skating routine.

And I looked at her and I thought: Fuck, that’s genius. You don’t wait for winter. You don’t wait for ice. You can practise it right here. Of course you can. Stop with all of this, ‘It’s not lined up properly’. Stop with all of this, “I need the right room at the right time with the right person’. It’s all bullshit.

Your brain is manufacturing reasons why this won’t work for you.

It’s all not true.

I took a picture of the woman with the skating thing [below] …

And I thought, if that’s not a sober metaphor I don’t know what is. And then this morning, I get an email that says: “I really wish I could find an AA meeting where people were 26-31 or 35-42.”

No.

I call bullshit.

I call bullshit.

And you can stop that shit right now.

 

pass out in your chair [Julie-Joy’s Dad Part 2]

from me:

i received a long email from Julie-Joy’s Dad about his new sober life. it’s so fascinating that i want to share it all with you, but it’s long (i said that already) and so i’m going to split it into parts. Part 1 was previously posted here.

===

[May 2016]
email from Julie-Joy’s Dad (day 822): “Hi Belle, I wanted some insight with my drinking problem, which I thought really wasn’t that bad. So I sent my “girls” (girls includes my wife) an email and asked them to tell me about the before and after. I was surprised. Actually I was a little shocked! You will like the response from my wife. Enjoy.  This is my original email:  I need your help! I like to read the blogs of “Belle’s” website and I find them encouraging and in some cases sad. I am looking at my own journey and how content and happy I am right now and I would like to add a perspective to the blog (or whatever) from my family. Could you write a paragraph or two about the DAD (& husband) before the 100 day sober challenge, and the DAD after taking the challenge? Thanks and I love you. DAD (and your Mom’s hubby).”

Julie-Joy’s sister (Krista, day 459):

I never realized it until you were into your 100 day journey, that the time I spent at your house was less and less. I think subconsciously it was because of your drinking. Most of the time you would be drinking, get grumpy, eat and then pass out in your chair. You didn’t want to give us (the boys and myself) kisses goodbye and I think it’s because you didn’t want me to smell the booze on your breath. There were times I needed rescuing (like when I ran out of gas) or others situations that I cannot remember and you could not help because you knew you could not and should not drive.

But fast forward into your 100 day journey. We (the boys and myself) are at your house all the time. You are active and successful. You were already a positive person but you it shows through so much more now that you are not drinking. I know that I can call you any time and you are able and capable of helping me out — unless you are on one of your 8 mile walks. 😉 You hug and kiss us goodbye all the time!

You have inspired me! And although my own choice to not drink is one I chose for myself, you were definitely part of the process. Love you dad!

From JJ’s Dad: Belle, my youngest daughter, Renee didn’t write anything, but just called me and told me that she didn’t see me when I was drinking. Which is true. I didn’t get to see her very much and since she has moved with her husband … all she knows is that I am really happy and full of love. She told me that she loved me so much and started to cry. So, I gave her a pass. Her hands are full right now. Her mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer and they have given her 2 months to live. Renee is a mother of 2 young children: a 2½ and 1 year old. Renee is the spiritual one and such a wonderful woman.

[end part 2]

tuesday update: the future of the One Minute Messages

Here’s the link to today’s Tuesday Update message. This is omm260, and it’s a recap of the distribution of these one minute messages, how to send them out the best way.

To hear this tuesday message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

 

 

links mentioned in the audio:

  • Gumroad: Sign up for these one minute messages on Gumroad to get access to ALL 200+ episodes & the occasional video from paris. there’s a video about a poop truck:  https://gum.co/belle-omm/itunes
  • iTunes (apple podcast) > link
  • Get the daily email messages > link
  • Longer podcast subscription > link

 

And here’s the photo of my lunch, funded by the tiny gift fund.