what’s missing?

something’s missing

i’m sitting at my desk. i work on projects. I send out a newsletter to a group of clients who haven’t heard from me in two years… I clean off my desk. I make lunch, make dinner. I am working my way through eating the entire contents of our deep freeze. In January I said that it’s something i should do at least once a year. Now i’m actually doing it.

something’s missing.

i’m running more or less consistently four times a week. I’m getting to bed at a set time and getting enough sleep each and every night. I laugh with my husband, i’m reading good books, and i’m at peace, relaxed, at ease.

it really feels like something is missing.

so this afternoon i tried to put my finger on it.  staring at my computer screen.  nothing. then i closed my eyes. Can i just be still for a second and see what’s missing?

well, the fact that i can be still and listen is the clue.  the thing that’s missing is anxiety.

anxiety. my life-long friend.  a continuous low grade thrum. a physical feeling in the stomach, a tenseness of body, a constricted way of thinking. it’s gone. I just realized today that it’s gone.

I used to come up to tedious tasks and then put them off because “i just can’t handle that right now.”  can’t handle what exactly? getting out the Windex and cleaning the glass desk? really? how much energy does it take to grab a spray bottle and roll of paper towel.

I used to look at my inbox and sigh — so many people to contact, “i just can’t face them now.”

I used to let the phone ring. Clients calling and I’d stare at the call display.  I’d even say out loud: “yeah, i’m not talking to YOU.” even if i didn’t know who it was.

and now i realize that the anxiety is gone.

no wonder i’ve been feeling so good for days, tiring everyone with my endless pink cloud gushing.

I mean REALLY!  Drinking CAUSED the anxiety?  i thought i drank to settle the uneasiness.  this could almost piss me off.

it seems perverse. it doesn’t seem logical.  Let’s try standing up in front of a room full of people who want to be sober, and let’s tell them:  “you think you’re drinking to ease anxiety, but in fact if you give up booze for 70+ days, you might find that your anxiety disappears.  entirely.”  The boozers will smile nervously; they will not believe you.  it’s not-believable.

and yet.  here i am.

feeling un-anxious does occasionally mean that the wolf’s voice speaks up with stupid things like: “i must not have been a very bad boozer, because i’m feeling so great so soon.”  When the truth is that without the poison of alcohol in my system, i actually now get to feel GREAT more often … without feeling pushed-forward, tense, irritable.

And so i don’t drink.  Not today, and not tomorrow.  and probably never again.

I’m living in a ‘room’ now that has been unaccessible to me my entire life.


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’m replying in 2021 and I feel like a futuristic being – but here I am on my 14th day of sobriety and this morning I woke up and thought, “what wonderous thing am I feeling right now?” my head is somewhat of a riot of morning thoughts: what my plans are for the day, who I will be engaging with, options for exercise, chores, schedule of errands, keeping a soft spot to care for the sadness in my family over a friends recent suicide, wondering when my new coffee pot will be delivered…and then I noticed that my body felt different. I’ve gained weight over the last few years and have new aches and pains at aged 60. But there is a new peace from head to toe. Despite everything, there is a thread of relaxation and connection deep within me. It’s definitely different from mornings of my drinking days when there was a sickening tension throughout. Every part of me was in turmoil, twisted and crying. But this morning, sure my hips are stiff and my ankles crack but it feels perfectly right.

  • This is my new realization (d 47) – no anxiety. Took me a while to notice that “missing feeling” too. I almost don’t know what to do with myself:) I’m kidding. Another thing I’ve noticed is the sleep. I swear to you, I thought I had insomina for the past 15 years. The only time I slept well (since I was in my early 20’s) was when I was pregnant. But I just chocked that up to the pregnancy hormones. But it is dawning on me, that my insomnia was alcohol induced. Oh my god. If I only realized this earlier. Although, I probably wouldn’t have stopped earlier, because I wasn’t ready. Anyways, I’m loving the sleep, and the anxiety free days. Thank you Belle

  • Wow. This is so wonderful to read. It is just amazing to me how so many of us have exactly the same experiences. I have suffered with high high high anxiety my whole life. Literally, I even told some people for years that if the doctors can’t help me, then I have to relieve myself through a glass of wine at night (I didn’t tell them a bottle+). I’m day 12, and yes, I do feel glimpses of feeling a lot better, less anxiety, more sleep. At this point, it’s either that or extreme anxiety, but I’m so hopeful that what I’ll see in my future is a calmer more peaceful ME. Something I’ve NEVER had for more than a couple hours.
    I tear up when I read many of your posts because I find that it’s like me talking…I get it and you write so well. Reading these is really helping me. Thanks Belle and all the rest of you! It gives me HOPE.

  • Hello, I’ve been reading your experiences roughly in tandem with mine (currently at 82, so I’m playing catch up). This post really is what it’s all about for me. I’ve known for some time that self medicating with alcohol for anxiety and depression were in large part causing my anxiety and depression, but the addiction/crutch is so hard to let go. I think it was Allen Carr that started me thinking that way, the vicious circle of stress relief that simply isn’t. The only thing I’d add is that is isn’t only the wolf that says “stupid things like: “i must not have been a very bad boozer, because i’m feeling so great so soon.” Other people say it too, even health professionals, I had a run-in with a nurse only last week who demanded to know whether I was ‘labelled an alcoholic or just a heavy drinker’; she did not believe it was possible to stop addictive behaviour yourself, which is ludicrous, loads of people quit smoking etc. I heard someone in a bank having a conversation yesterday (an ex boozer himself) explaining simply that it isn’t the substance that makes you an addict, it’s how you use it, and if he puts one of anything into himself he cannot stop, so eventually you have to stop putting the one in. I felt like walking over and hugging him. I didn’t though, that would have been weird. Not English, you know. Anyway. Anxiety for years. Crippling. Stop boozing. You’ll feel odd but you’ll get used to it. You’ll start to sleep well. The anxiety *WILL* go.

    • i agree. completely. first the anxiety – about a year after i first was sober i took my first flight… something i used to really not like at all. and surprise, surprise, i had much less anxiety as a sober flyer. it sparked the idea for my Stay Here bracelet… being sober allows us to (better) be able to stay here, stay with this, don’t over thing future things that will (probably) not occur.
      and as for boozing professionals, they’re maybe likely onto project their own wolfie on others. the nurse: “oh KT, *you’re* not an alcoholic, because (she’s thinking) I’m not an alcoholic and I drink more than you, so shut up your whining.” i had a cardiologist say to me “but you only drank wine, not hard liquor.” he didn’t ask about quantities though 🙂

  • This post gives me tremendous hope. I’ve not been without some level of constant anxiety for more years than I can remember. It’s like I’m one of those motorcycles with the sidecar..the sidecar is the anxiety…always with me wherever I go. Sometimes I can control it, sometimes it’s paralyzing. Being somewhat of a tightly-wound individual, drinking has been the only way I know how to relax and unwind. Very thought-provoking to think it’s contributing to, rather than curing, my anxiety issues. Thank you for sharing this!

    • you’re so kind suzanne, thanks for this : ) are you on day 20 now? i wonder what else i’d write about if i wrote a book, i feel like i spew much here, and then some! what’s funny about all of this blogging for me, is that i got a degree in writing and then never used it really. sure, i write a lot for my work, but i stopped writing for ‘fun’ ages ago. like 20 years ago. and i certainly never thought my blog would be interesting to anyone but myself. i think i write to entertain myself, or to figure things out. To realize that even one other person is interested in my ramblings is strange, unexpected, and lovely indeed : )

  • Hi Belle,
    I love coming here and reading how great you feel and what you figure out on the way. I’ve just made it through day 3, everything’s weird, all I know right now is that I just have to not drink . Been looking for positive things to look forward to and keeping my eye on the prize so to speak. Right now sleeping throught the night is a real treat.

  • You know, there is a saying in this meeting I sometimes go to… “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens.” All I can think right now is “wow.” I wish you could see the smile in my face.

  • I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you consider “never again”. You must really be appreciating the new life you find yourself in. Congrats! Keep on keeping on… Paul.