Learn From.

thanks to Amy, I literally spent 2 full days this weekend reading every single comment on Roger Ebert’s really amazing post about alcoholism and AA. I made a list of the most outstandingly thoughtful quotes and bits.

Here’s one.

Ebert: My own best efforts always ended in drinking. I needed to learn from those who had my problems, or sometimes much worse, and were staying sober. For me, the meetings accomplished for me what I could not do on my own.

I like the phrase “my best efforts” … i think what he’s saying is that on his own, using his own way of thinking, in his best attempts to find a solution, he still ended up drinking.  So he had to learn to listen to other people who had figured out how to stay sober.

This made me think of my feelings of NOT being terminally unique. And about mentors. As a person who is NOT going to AA, i’m super wowie excited glad happy amazed elated thankful grateful for the sobersphere. Newbies asking intelligent and scared questions. And people with LOTS more experience than me pointing out tree roots that i’ll need to step over, and warning about weird faulty logic that MAY spiral out into weird faulty actions.

I know this online thing isn’t the same as AA. and i know that not everyone’s problems can be solved by blogging and reaching out and asking for help and taking advice and learning to resist urges and trusting other people.  I get it.  I’m lucky. AND I’ve worked to get to where I am now, and i’m freaking proud of it … “I needed to learn from those who had my problems…”  Learn from.  Not just listen to and then ignore.  I had to Learn From. I had to let someone else’s learning inform me. I had to learn from.

i think that’s why lots of people don’t go to AA, and don’t reach out for help, and lurk, and keep drinking. They think they’ve got it figured out already. they don’t want to learn anything new … That’s not you, though. You’re here, you’re reading this, you’re online, you’re reaching out, you’re learning.


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 encouraged by the Day 5’s postings. This is my day 6. This week is dragging. The blog posts, pen pal emails, and audios are getting me through. I am finding it very hard to go to sleep at night. I hate the tossing and turning. I’ve tried counting backwards from 1000 by 7’s and 6’s. I’ve tried relaxing all my body parts starting with my toes. I still wind up laying there.

    I’m wondering, how many of the original, early Belle followers are still among the sober. I hope all 20 something of you. Day 6 sucks.

  • I for one definitely need to learn from others, helps with realising I’m not alone, helps to know what I may encounter, helps to see the tools and see if they work for me. AA wasn’t for me at the time I thought of going but sobersphere is good for me especially because it is available 24/7 and I don’t have to feel guilty phoning a sponser at the wrong time. Just being in sobersphere any time encourages me to stay on track because of all the benefits I read about and am starting to experience. Then of course my best so far is my sober coach/penpal, thank you Belle, mercy beaucoup.

  • Ditto to Lilly-glad to have slipped, so now I’m back, enjoying the sober ride at day 21 yesterday. On my way to 180 this time, no stopping me. I think Amy is right, too: it is SO hard to say, What do YOU think? But, for me, this sobersphere seems to allow peeps to tell their stories, and to let us all know that, Oh, OK, that thing I just felt or did or didn’t feel or didn’t do–you know all about that already! And, guess what, you’re still sober, and I’m not, so…maybe I really should just tell wolfie-boy to shut it, and start listening to all the sober people who have already stepped over that boulder and around that pothole! Many, many thanks, Belle, for all that you do…you rock! xx

  • One of the hardest parts is not being a know it all. Saying things like: I don’t know. Or: what do you think? Or: I was wrong. And this: I don’t have all the answers. Or any answers. Or I have all the wrong answers.

    Actually opening ears and minds and hearing what’s being said.

    And AA? Well, it’s not for me now, but never say never. But if you see me there, don’t act like you know me. 😉

  • Day 30 over here. And I think it’s super cool there are now OVER TWO DOZEN of us along for the ride. What awesomeness. It makes me (almost) happy my relapse happened cause it led to this. Fabulous stuff.

  • Hi Belle – I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now. I’m trying not to sound trite when I say your blog is inspirational – it really is! So many of the things you are going through/have gone through are just the same as what I have been contending with. I’m close to five months now…. 145 days (after 16 years of drinking just about every single day). I’m learning a ton from my peers – in person and online. I, like you, am not terminally unique when it comes to alcohol. Thanks for providing a(nother) learning forum for me and I’m sure many other lurkers out there 🙂

  • I do not go to AA either…for many reasons. I have found such strength and great advice from the sober sphere here and love that at any time of the day I can read posts from any of you when I need it most. AA meetings are at set times and days and maybe I am too lazy to get in the car ‘again’ after working and running around with my kids. It is like a private sober lesson each time I read a post and I don’t feel all alone! It has worked for me for the last 8 months! So thanks Belle for taking the time to post…you help me so much! 🙂

  • Love this. You nailed so much here…wish I wrote it.

    I could go on ad nauseum about the whole thing of trying to do it on our own. We can’t! is the simple answer, as you mentioned. At the core of this, is that at my BEST, I mean my *absolute* best, I got arrested, hospitalized over and over, put in detox, put in treatment, wrecked relationship, wrecked cars, pissed away jobs, etc. Again, this is me at my BEST thinking. So it is absolutely laughable to think that I can control or stop my drinking. That’s insane thinking, isn’t it? And yet, for many, many years I tried to see that I wasn’t that bad, contrary to the overwhelming evidence against me.

    And yes, the online thing isn’t AA. Doesn’t have to be, does it? I am an AA dude. It saved my life, etc. but I realize that it’s not for everyone. At the same time, recovering from a fatal progressive illness can’t be overcome by an email or website, as you mentioned. It’s not that easy, unfortunately. BUT, having said that, what you have going here, Belle, is potentially life saving, in that having people come out of the fog of alcohol use, they can see what options are available to them. It’s in getting out of ourselves that we can see a richer life on the horizon. With your challenge, you are gathering the spirits of broken lives and in a harmonious loving action, putting everyone together to help one another. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, Belle, and that’s why I love watching this.

    Learning and leaning from and on others is so important. That’s what we do in AA, that’s what happens in many of the recovery circles. We can’t do this on our own, pure and simple. The idea that we can drink like normal people has to be smashed. I come to these blogs to learn as well as pass on what I have experienced. I also come to the blogs (and recovery sites, and meetings, etc) to just *be* with my peeps. There is power in that. Wonderful, healing power.

    This is great stuff, Belle. Loved it.


    • well thanks : ) and thanks again : ) it’s quite freaky that there are 27 people along for this ride. but I’m not the reason people are coming out of the fog. and Paul, I know that you get that. It’s about anybody (me included) saying I need to learn something new cuz “what I’m doing ain’t working.” and all I did (me, Belle) was say “you can email me if you want someone to know and give a shit that you’re sober. I can be that person for you.” and the magic begins when someone reaches out. god. does this make any sense? anyway. yes, thanks for this. the online thing isn’t AA. but if you’re sober, then you’re sober. if you’re staying sober, then you rock. if you need a bigger tool, there are bigger tools available. but for fucks sake reach out and grab a tool! there I’m done now!

      • Makes total sense. And if anyone is sober, then I am a happy dude…there are never enough sober people out there for this cat : )

        And just take the compliment…lol. : )


      • I am here and I am in. Some weird journey led me to find, first WordPress today and then your words. That was at 5am, waking early to find yet another familiar dose of shame, regret and fear waiting for me following yet another ‘fuzzed out’ previous evening of endless drinking.

        Drinking has been a place that I go for too long now; I’m sick of that place, or more accurately, sick of the journey back every day. I think I’m going to try and stay where I am for a change and see if I can relearn how to find myself and my place. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your wolf analogy; I found it so helpful today to think in terms of doing battle with him, like a half crazed but wised-up Red Riding Hood! I am calling this my upgrading.

        Thank you. I’m ready and I’ve started. April 7th was the last time I let the wolf in the door. I’ll see you on the other side of this journey; for me, 100 days = July 17th 2013.

      • Hi there Mumscriber, if you want to join the challenge, send me an email with the pledge and the date of your last drink, and I’ll put you in Team 100 : ) glad you’re here and that you’ve found some support. there’s lots of genius in the sobersphere, if you reach out you’ll find it all around you!

  • Love this post – I love ‘learning from’. It’s so amazingly liberating, to be able to say, “I don’t know” or “I was wrong” or “Tell me your side of it.” To be open to what others think and do and believe. It’s growth.