Belle is off-duty. Ask someone else.

When I was trying to quit drinking, i did some unusual things.

I’d drink the better part of a bottle of wine while watching downloaded episodes of A&E’s TV show “Intervention” (about drug and alcohol intervention and recovery). And I’d cry.  Other nights I’d inhale champagne, compulsively eat peanut butter cookies, and watch “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” online.  And I’d cry.

Very late in the game, like two months ago, I found the sober blog Unpickled, but only after someone else directed me to it (a guy i know is 5 months sober, doing it all on his own, white knuckling it really, and not entirely successfully and he offered up the Unpickled blog as an example of what wouldn’t work for him).

Right before I began Dry July, i read the entire Unpickled blog from start to finish, a few pages at a time, and i thought “hey, here’s someone like me. no big bottom, probably not a ‘real’ alcoholic, but drinks more than she wants to. watching the clock until it’s Miller Time. That sounds like me. maybe i can (happily) quit drinking, too.”

When I started this blog, i didn’t have any idea that there was a sober blogging community out there. Like i said, i never put “quit drinking” into Google. i wasn’t lurking on a half-dozen sites waiting for motivation (god, i wish i’d thought of that, i could have sped this whole process up by a couple of months at least by starting earlier!).

I started this blog because I was stuck and scared. I wanted to do 30 days sober and i KNEW that i was just about to fail. so i started writing, in the faint hope that someone would find the site by accident. Since Unpickled hadn’t posted in months, i knew it wouldn’t be her.

well i got “welcome” comments right away (how shocking) and i slowly started to fill up my blogroll with people who reached out.

I’m still in baby steps here (day 33) and i’m super hesitant to offer any advice or approach that i haven’t already tried myself. I didn’t start this site, as some people do, with the intent to “help myself and help others” … honestly, i was only thinking of myself. don’t get me wrong, i think it’s great to help others. and i think it’s probably necessary to stay sober, but i just never thought of it like that.  i was in a selfish and desperate place, and i was thinking only of

Anyway, 33 days later, it’s super very cool when someone who has one or two days sober emails me (who knows nothing) to say thanks for being their motivation. or i realize that i’ve been linked, without even realizing it, to someone’s blog who has never actually posted on my site, but is following me quietly.

And it makes me nervous.

Here’s why.

In my real life, i have an unusual career that other people consider glamorous, i get to vacation a lot, and I live in Europe. i have a couple of university degrees, run a business, and (usually) have 9 plates spinning at the same time. i teach and lead and motivate a team. i have clients who pay me well for my advice.

And in my real life, I don’t have a peer group. not really. i have a few friends from school that i’ve had for ages. and everyone else is an employee, previous employee, client, or previous client. or potential client.

maybe everyone feels that they ‘don’t quite fit in’ in one way or another, but this has been my experience most of my life.

NEWS FLASH:  This sober blogging thing is the first time in forever that I feel like i have a peer group of people “just like me.”  Careers don’t matter, our ages barely matter, and to some extent our length of sobriety doesn’t matter either. There is love and support here.

And I don’t have to act like I have it together 24/7.

Best of all, i’m not in charge here (the host, the leader, the manager, “go ask Belle, she knows”). And I’m not trying to teach anybody anything. I don’t have to put on a good face, my business face, my I’ve-got-it-together face.

it’s such a relief.

so while i might occasionally slip into teaching mode and say:  “Let this be a lesson to you and you and you, do this, and you’ll feel better,” i’ve tried very hard to resist that aspect of my personality in this blog, even though it’s sooo engrained. and i gotta tell you, I adore this new way of being, where i’m under the radar.

[side note: I found this blog yesterday and thought “shit I could be her,  i should turn this sober thing into a business, i should come “out” to my clients and i should turn this sober THING into a platform.” OK, i am jealous of Nicole, and the way she gets to be a successful business chick AND an amazing writer AND she can swear in public AND talk openly about giving up booze and sugar.  My public face is quite a bit different …]

I guess what i’m saying is I don’t want to bring my public face IN HERE and act like i know what i’m talking about (cuz i don’t).  and i don’t want to take this sober life OUT THERE and share it with the world. i like being in here, in the sober blogging world. and i’m glad that the two worlds are separate.  If i’m helpful to Rigorous Honesty, then that is a delicious side-bonus. but this is the first time in forever that i’m doing something just for me. not trying to help anyone, not trying to make a business out of it. not trying to drum up clients.  I’m hiding here, safely, until i get my sober sea legs.

Belle is off-duty. Ask someone else. god, isn’t it great when someone else is in charge. In here, i’m a participant, struggling, just like everyone else. i’m not an example of anything other than ‘robust honesty’ as Mrs D puts it : ) Some other day i’ll write about the feeling of being in charge, and when it started (i was 9 yrs old) and how it makes me feel.  for now, let me say that i’m off duty.  saving the world is someone else’s responsibility.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I love this blog. This is me. I’m 2 days alcohol free and I’m thankful I searched this out. I’m reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, and she references your blog. Thank you for writing.

  • I know I’m around 6 years late on this particular post, but it resonated a lot with me. Lack of a peer group is tough. Hard to know to whom to who to talk or of whom to ask questions. This community that you’ve enthused, Belle, is hugely helpful to me. The realisation that what I have wrestled with (for more years than I care to admit) is not something peculiar to only me, is in itself so very helpful. Being a pedant, I also struggle to read things that are poorly written, so it’s lovely to immerse myself in a well written, funny and self deprecating blog. Please keep writing!

  • You are in my head. Writing out my thoughts. Getting me through this. I am sure people write to you all the time and say exactly these things, so let me add myself to the list. I’m on day 3. Day 3, and every word I have read so far gives me strength to know that I can do it, too. So thanks for writing these thoughts out. Thanks for putting them in an easy to read format. I appreciate every single word.

  • Its only been two weeks, but this community has been one of most welcoming I’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t matter that its a cyber world, and in fact I think it’s even better because people can speak from the heart, and be free of the constraints that our physical world can put on us. The is also no one who has categorically done it all before, so a sampling of wisdom is on offer.

    It has been therapeutic, and I’m sure it will continue to be. A very different world from bits and bytes of my everyday. Take care, Paul.

    • paul, i also was quite shocked at the non-preachy and generously supportive community here. i was just saying to my husband this morning that this community has been the best surprise … and totally unexpected help : )

  • Like you, in discovering my new blog friends, I am beginning to discover a new me inside of me (if you know what I mean). People write things – and I think “thats me” even though I had not consciously known that about myself before. Its a lovely scenic road to be on ………… Cleo xx

    • yeah cleo, it’s like we’re all (inadvertently) holding up mirrors for each other. Or i’ll write a comment on someone else’s blog and then i’ll think “where did that idea come from? i should think about that some more …”

  • I didn’t even know what stats and tags were before I started searching for sober blogs b/c I’ve never tuned into any particular blogs or been interested in blogging. I was especially shocked to find that there are women, just like me, who are successful and vivacious and secretly (or not so secretly) struggling with alcohol. It really is like a global support group and it doesn’t matter who you are in real life because blogging (including those who just follow blogs) puts us all on common ground and it feels amazing. You’re an amazing non-leader!

    • Suzy, i’m exactly the same way. i’ve had a work blog for a long time that i never updated and i never check the statistics … i also never realized there were a bunch of other sober like-minded humans doing the same thing at the same time (i.e. getting and staying sober). it’s like one big light-bulb moment followed by another, followed by another!

  • I wanted to keep my sobriety and my healing work separate, but since I want to help addicts *with* my healing work, it made sense to combine the two. : ) I know there will be days when I wish I had kept them apart, but I can still follow everyone and you guys are *such* an inspiration that I know I need you all no matter how I do it.

  • Exactly what 3B said!

    Oh, and I’m with you on wishing you’d discovered the sober community earlier. I had picked my sober day and wrote me first wee blog post in emotional meltdown, then did a search and found a bunch of amazing folk (and although it took/takes tremendous courage for me to comment on people’s blogs i read them all avidly). I soooo wish i had found you all earlier, but ultimately i am grateful i found y’all at all.

    Geek alert: I still like to leave it to Buffy to save the world 🙂

  • I think it’s just nice to listen and comment when you feel like it and by all means write from the heart about your experience. Others will take what they need and we can’t control how someone interprets our experience anyway. I try to never harm with my words, but other than that I’m clueless and just here to vent and hopefully learn something. Helping others is still a very mysterious (and frightening) concept, but that feels okay right now.

  • Oops, I have only ME to worry about above. One day I”ll learn to reread carefully before i push publish. Or perhaps not !~!

    • too funny Lynda, i nearly went in and corrected your comment to say ‘ME’ and then i saw your second post and decided it was a lesson. I’m not in charge of editing comments, either … thanks universe. i’m glad we can add to the list of things that i’m NOT in charge of !!

  • It has taken years (decades maybe) to realize that I am NOT the global alarm clock and that there are a zillion situations in which I have no say, interest or design. I have only nE to worry about and take care of in that sense, and it is terrifically relieving. YOu have described it perfectly. Thanks, Belle.