i’m not perfect and don’t know it all

broadway (nashville). there is live music in probably 30 different places in a 4-block strip. some places with more than one band playing at a time. this photo is ‘outside’ – and this video link is ‘inside’ Ole Red where we had pulled pork quesadilla for lunch …

HonestJoy: “Belle, we touched on this in our coaching call (which I really appreciated and enjoyed the mini therapy:), by the way)…

Why am I emailing you every 4 hours? Because you recommended it, and I want to stop, and what I’ve been doing before obviously didn’t work. I want to give myself every chance to succeed. It’s a small thing, and easy, why would I be against it? Its not like you are asking me to wear a sign that says “I drink more than I want.” I decided to trust you.

Why is this working for me? I want to stop drinking. It’s a reminder to myself that I want to stop. It helps to reach out to someone outside myself and to hear back from you. It works with a bunch of other small things that add up.

Why don’t other people do it if it works? I can’t really know, but I think my unwillingness to do even simple things is partly laziness, and partly anger that I have this problem that might actually take some work to resolve. I might have to accept I’m not perfect and don’t know it all, that the way I’ve been doing things my whole life needs some adjusting in order for my life to continue “working” in a good way. What worked before doesn’t work now. So I have to change. I don’t (didn’t) want to. Thank you! honestjoy”

 


“I’m not lookin’ for a good time
I’m just lookin’ for the exit sign.”

www.artsober.com

does doing what’s right even matter?

from my inbox:

JK: “Hi Belle: I have a sister who is three years younger than me … She is very popular and social. I am ummmm — not that. I went to college; she did not. She married at 21; I married at 31. Although we are different, we are friends and quite close. Beth’s life is not as stable as my life. She and her husband do not make as much money; two of her three kids struggle in school; she and her husband do not have good financial skills — lots of phones being shut off, credit card debt, and they actually just left their house one day and moved somewhere else. I’m sure it ended up in foreclosure. My divorced parents continue to support her and her children financially, and they try to hide it from me. … They have paid for nothing for me ever in my life since I went to college at 18 (which they did not pay for). …

I try to be happy that our family is honest and independent and teaching our two children important and positive life lessons BUT I’m upset, and it’s not fair, and I’m 43, and my sister is 40, and it continues to happen over and over. My dad has been sober for 13 years, and he is actually one of the reasons that I thought quitting drinking would be good idea, and he has been so supportive. I texted him today and said Beth just shared that you were paying for their trip to Florida. Ten minutes later, he wrote: Shit happens.

I’m a little in shock and so upset, and I want to drink because it sucks, and why the hell am I even trying to do anything right because it doesn’t even matter. My sister has done some of the stupidest shit in her life, and she continues to get bailed out! Also, I know my dad would be disappointed if I started to drink again, and I kind of want to just to piss him off because really Fuck You…

I’m not going to drink, but I’m pissed that guzzling alcohol is my first thought. Then, I wonder: Does doing what’s right even matter? I guess I want some type of reward. Like here’s a vacation for consistently making good choices. I don’t even know what I want actually. Some type of sign that I’m doing what’s right.”

me: ok. you can delete this message from me after you read it and you can hate me. but here goes.

     There is no ‘fair’ with siblings. interpersonal relationships are complicated and there is no score card of ‘you get this and she gets that’. If your parents give your sister stuff it’s because (a) she’s got issues, and they’re worried about her and the grandkids and (b) they feel guilty that she’s got issues; they believe they did something wrong by her.

nothing to do with you.

someone gets a promotion, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

someone gets money, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

you don’t want their fucking money because it would come with strings and expectations and demands and implied criticism and control. if you were your sister, I’d be suggesting that you turn down their money and take care of yourself. which is what YOU are doing. you are taking care of you and what your sister does or doesn’t do has NOTHING to do with you and your husband. this is your family now. your family is the little cool one you built around you.

you don’t email your father and say ‘what about me’. instead, you feel sorry for your sister. she’s got stuff that’s fucked up and everyone knows it. including her. she’s probably super jealous of you. even if she’s loud and you’re not. you have your shit together. AND you’re sober 🙂 you fucking rock. is that enough swearing?
love 🙂 and hugs,  me

JK: “Hi Belle: I cried when I read this message; I’m going to print it out and carry it with me and read it all the time. You absolutely nailed it; are you sure that you don’t know me in person? I want to say more, but I don’t know how to say the words. Thank you; I felt validated, yet I also understood how it’s not about me. Also, on a drinking note: totally not drinking.

 


shameless commercial link. i don’t think these links work any more. no one clicks on them. nobody gives a shit about links or clicking or shameless shit. maybe these shameless commercial links should be shame-full commercial links. links to shameful stuff like porn. How about this link? you did it, right? you clicked on the porn link… ok, how about this one then.


lunch. toasted sesame bagel, fancy mustard, turkey that actually tastes like turkey, some kind of original pickle, and iced coffee 🙂 from paysan bread (bagel) and remedy coffee, two places located side by side, and you can eat your bagel in the coffee store. they’re nice like that.


(knoxville tennessee; thanks to Gem64 via the tiny gift fund)

I went straight back to my old ways

email from L (sent on a monday): “Hi Belle, feeling very sad with myself today as on Thursday I celebrated getting to 100 days. I then decided and really believed that I could try moderation. On Thursday itself I had one glass of red poison and thought, yes I can do it.

But with no rules, no 100 days anymore, I was like a wild horse with devilment in me so by Saturday I was overexcited about my night out. I went STRAIGHT back to my old ways: 3 pints of beer, 2 massive wines, another beer, vodka, red wine then I even went more downhill and did another substance that was on offer … I would never have done that if I was sober. Thank fuck there were no random men issues this time. Went to sleep 6am Sunday morning. Still feel like shit tonight Monday 9:40 pm. My anxiety is sky high, I have had to cancel everything and lie to everyone that I have a migraine. I’m scared to go shopping.
So that was just great.

However, now I’m going to start again cos I know I can do it. But this time I’m doing until the end of this year, and beyond. If one good thing can come out of my terrible behaviour it’s that I’m more determined and certain that I don’t drink anymore. Not a little bit. None.

Do a lot of people make the decision to try moderation after the 100 days and then end up like me?”

 



videos:

two FB live videos from May 8th …  one about self-soothing with netflix, the other about misplaced gin at 11:30 a.m.

 


travelling. photo taken on the tiny 29 minute flight from atlanta to knoxville, TN. The clouds look very ‘close’ and free-standing.

 

shameless commercial link: bonus photo of Paris being mailed to podcast subscribers in May. you can go do that now. audiosober.com

 

 

anonymous confession booth: sex

step right up. for two days 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 type Anonymous as your name and put in a fake email (fakeemail123@gmail.com) 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 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.

 


 

this special edition painting #344, there is only one available. potential. your potential changes when you’re sober. link here > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-344

[Audio] My Chat with Janey Lee Grace from “Alcohol Free Life”

​Last November when I was in London, Janey Lee Grace interviewed me for her 'not-yet-released' new podcast. Well now it's released 🙂 and I'm episode #13.

​We talk about ​sober coaching, what it's like to have a voice in your head that thinks that drinking is a good idea, and some tips on things that can help. 


​This podcast will also be sent out ​to podcast subscribers ​ as episode 302.


You can listen to the complete audio here.​ Our interview starts at about the 5 minute mark ...

​Sober Podcast 302. My Chat with ​Janey Lee Grace 

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. If you've heard the entire audio, you can tell me if you heard anything new ​... To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

Sign up for my ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

​This is painting #373, Stay here, stay sober, stay focussed, stay here.

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