Headline: “Being of Service Shuts Up Wolfie”

in an email i wrote to my sober penpal, Lilly:

I don’t know anything about anything.  I don’t know about moderation cuz I never tried it.  I’m afraid of it.  I’m afraid of relapse so I don’t try anything.  And I’d only want to moderate if I thought that booze was useful… which I don’t … And the idea that it’ll be OK with just one glass is wolfie talking; it’s not common sense (which of course you know).   And anyway, nothing gets worse from NOT drinking.

and in an email to Jenny:

no day going forward will be as difficult as the first 3 days … from now on they’re all pretty much the same.  I honestly think that deciding to start [like really and truly do it] is the hardest part.  then once we quit, we brace ourselves and we hold on tight with white knuckles … but the real drama is already behind us.  Day one is behind you.  hungover, regret, disappointment, it’s all finished.  already behind you.  Day one was the hardest (and most exciting) part.  And now … well, now, your sober car is rolling downhill.  you just do today what you did yesterday.  Get enough sleep, get outside, drink fizzy drinks starting at 5 or 6 or 7 pm.  stamp your feet a bit in a temper tantrum.  have a bath.  write something down.  then repeat tomorrow 🙂  no really, you’re already doing it.  the thing you’re waiting for is here.

and in an email to Amy:

being sober is fine with me because being drunk really isn’t that interesting, comparatively.  There’s no ‘one glass of wine’ … There is only a choice between sober and loving it, and feeling like a bag of shit.

being sober penpals with you-all (and Jen and Leigh and Whineless and Jackie here and there) is truly fabulous. Someone posted a comment that i was working the 12th step.  if working the 12th step is the same as making sure that I help me first, making sure that I don’t have a drink, that in explaining things by email it helps ME to travel on this highway just a little bit easier, then YES i’m doing the 12th step.

I’m sure the 12th step is supposed to be *selfless* in some ideal world.  I’m sure i’ll get some lessons in AA in just a minute … (here come the comments!).

But here’s what i think.

in being of service i am talking to myself.  when i write to jenny, i’m really writing to me.  i’m explaining stuff to myself.  When I write a blog post, it’s to talk to myself, or to work something out for me.

if you think you don’t have it “in you” to reach out just remember that you’re really helping yourself. it is in the helping of others that we ‘fill the hole’ and avoid the PIT. and any other metaphor you’d like to throw at it.

and when I explain things to myself, it really shuts up wolfie and THAT is my favorite sport.


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

  • Today I’m 5 days sober- my last glass ( ok- more like a big gulp goblet) of vino was May 27. Each day the clarity of the structure -I WILL NOT DRINK NO MATTER WHAT COO COO INNER/ outer circumstance implores me to – gets a little simpler : I’m feeling the power of momentum even in this short lil victory timeBIG TIME TEST LAST NIGHT: I was eating dinner w friends when a frt tooth cap fell off ( which I apparently swallowed ) leaving me vulnerable n self conscious w a gaping hole in the frt of my smile EXPOSED! Normally- this would shoot me into hiding at home self medicating into a wine stupor. But WOW – I was so buoyed by the I will not drink no matter what – so glad that I took this to heart n it really did warm my heart. I went home , drank tea, and took care of myself. Awoke w a (lil) giggle about the smile gap hole thing- am writing this at the dentists remembering that all of life comes down to one breath at a time , step by step. Thxs

  • I don’t see the point in one glass of wine. Never have, never will. Someone said to me yesterday ‘so you won’t even have one bubbles at the wedding?’ (they don’t know me well at all) and I was like – No! I live sober now. But anyway, what’s the point of one glass? If I’m going to drink I might as well have 10. Great post as always. Signed, another fan. xxx

  • Hmm. Perhaps getting my personal training certification and a second part-time job doing it has made this whole sober-thing SEEM easy. Not at all times easy, but for the most part I don’t feel I’ve struggled a lot. Could be because I’m channeling that time and energy (before spent drinking) now into helping others…interesting.

  • Well your emails/blogs certainly help me a lot – you have such a great way of explaining things – and I’m very glad they help you too.

    I totally get the service thing, even though I’m not doing the whole AA thing (yet?). It completely makes sense to me that in explaining to others how to get and stay sober it reinforces it in your own mind and reminds you why you’re doing this. It’s like with any kind of teaching really, when you can help teach others how to do it, that’s when you really KNOW something inside out not just in theory.

    I love the sense of solidarity and sharing and support we all have here. I know I wouldn’t have even come this far without it.

    I liked reading your comments to your other pen pals too. Being on (yet another) Day 3 today that was a nice reminder. And I love this:

    “being sober is fine with me because being drunk really isn’t that interesting, comparatively.  There’s no ‘one glass of wine’ … There is only a choice between sober and loving it, and feeling like a bag of shit.”

    God, so true. It’s really just a fleeting escape/euphoria followed by feeling like utter crap for days. Is that worth the agony? Hell no.

    Anyway, you rock.


    Another Fan x

    • Thanks for rocking my world, too : ) I may get a t-shirt made, and I may just repeat it again: there is no ‘one glass of wine’. There is sober and loving it, or there is feeling like a bag of shit. Amy suggested a wine glass filled with shit. Nuff Said !

      • Yep, I was just thinking about this in the shower actually. It is Day 4 after a 3-night binge and I STILL feel like shit – down on myself, depressed, unmotivated, just CRANKY. And I know it’s alcohol withdrawal. So when I compare that to how I felt after 35 days off why the FUCK would I want to drink? Seriously.

        I mean, I know wine will undoubtedly tempt me again but why would I want to swap that for that. No. I also was thinking, ‘God, why do I still feel so crap?’ And then my smarter internal voice talked back to me and said, “Honey, if you poured copious amounts of poison down your throat for three nights would you really expect to feel on top of the world just four days later?”

        And there you have it.

  • Ha ha…don’t worry about me hammering away on the AA thing, Belle…

    BUT (and you knew there was a “but” in there!) yes, being of service to others, working with others is what we do in AA. That is the whole point. Yes, we stop drinking. Then what? We need to transform ourselves…we have a design for living that makes it so that the thought of drink doesn’t pass us. The biggest thing we do in that regards (outside of working the steps) is working with others, helping, encouraging, being of service and help.

    Writing your wonderful blog is of service. How many comments have you had here and on other people’s blogs (I’ve read many!) where people have said how amazingly helpful you have been to them? That what you wrote was *exactly* what they needed to hear? Amazing service there. Also supporting other struggling and not struggling recovery blogs helps. When we look to others is where we lose self, where we stop those squirrels in our head from flitting about to and fro.

    When I help someone on the subway, or pick up some trash that isn’t mine, or letting someone ahead of me who is in a rush, or shoveling my neighbour’s snow or writing a card to someone for no reason, etc. these are ways I am of service to others. When I work with my sponsees getting them through the steps, I am of service. When I talk to the guys at my old treatment center, that is service. Anything that we do, Belle, that gets us out of us, well, that’s a victorious thing 🙂

    Your emails and other writings are certainly to yourself and are borne of such, but resound with others because we are in a common bind. You are having your cake and eating it too – this is the added benefit of service – they get something and we get something.

    Keep up the fantastic work.

    A fan

    • ah shucks, thanks for this! A fan, how lovely… I think this is the key: “they get something and we get something.” and at least for me, it seems like the surest way to guarantee that I won’t slip (if I’m emailing other people every day and asking how they’re doing …). It’s win-win for sure.

  • Sometimes it amazes me, all the little miraculous moments of synchronicity that link us together in this sober bloggy world and in the big old real world. Yesterday I wrote a blog about how I had unwittingly been following the 12 steps all along, even though I’m not a member of AA, and not 30 minutes ago I posted a response to a post on a message board detailing how “service to others” had been the starting point for me in my road to recovery. And then I clicked on this blog.

    It’s a small beautiful world.

    • did you post about service on your own blog? if so, I’d like to read it : ) you think it was the beginning of the road for you (you started with the 12th step)? I find this all so intriguing …