black and white

From me:

I continue to be in a funk. I’m frustrated that I spent all day yesterday doing this really lovely catered dinner, and then I arrived at their home 45 minutes late and without the cocktails. it’s shitty that i had to hand back 50€ (the price of the cocktails and the tip she was going to give me). I’m pissed that I spent 45 minutes in the car, lost, without a GPS, without a cell phone, without a map. I’m cranky that i don’t know the city well enough to drive without a map. I’m disappointed that the pregnant woman didn’t get her homemade lemonade that i did just for her.

And what’s interesting about how my thoughts are swarming this morning — and i’m writing this out because i suspect I am not alone in this kind of thinking — is that my first reflex is to say “i’m not doing catered dinners any more. It’s too stressful. Too much can go wrong.”

My default setting is an all-or-nothing way of thinking.

If this didn’t work, the only solution is to stop it all.

Of course, that kind of black-and-white thinking is super familiar to boozers.  If I feel shitty? Then I should have booze.  Very black and white. Are there other things i could do/drink/say to avoid drinking (i.e. are there other shades of grey?) Maybe there are, but we have a tendency to slam right to the other extreme.  Black and white. My day sucks = i am going to drink.  My kids are misbehaving and i’m a crappy mother = i deserve a drink. Black and white.

It’s a learning process to be able to stop long enough, to realize that there are shades of grey. There are other possibilities of support I can invoke.

Instead of giving up catering (which i won’t but i can’t believe my thoughts even go there), in my case, I could get a portable GPS. I could ensure that the rental car has a functioning GPS. I could upgrade my iPad to have internet. I could buy a regular paper map. I could finally get a fucking cell phone. I could cater dinners but not offer delivery and have clients pick up here.

Shades of grey when we wolfie starts saying that drinking would be a good idea:  we can call someone, we can blog, we can read something inspiring, we can re-listen to an audio, we can go to bed, we can take a nap, we can cry, we can go for a run, we can drink something bitter. and we can wait.

As I drove around yesterday, lost, my thoughts were “why does this have to be so hard?”

And the answer is:  It doesn’t have to be this hard. There are tools and supports available. Why aren’t you taking advantage of them. Why are you driving around without even a fucking paper map? Who does that? Who makes it that hard?


it’s like feeling shitty, and making things harder than they need to be, is part of how we lived our lives as drinkers.  And once we get sober, we have to learn/remember that THIS IS NOT HOW I LIVE ANYMORE.

It’s not how we live anymore, because NOW we ask for and NOW we accept help. We have supports and tools in our toolbox. AND we fucking USE THEM.

Note to self: return iPad since it’s within the 30 days and get one with internet, buy a paper map (!), double the allotted time for delivery from now on, and double the delivery charge (from 15€ to 30€), so that there’s less pressure to get there and back in half an hour, and more incentive for the client to pick up themselves to save the delivery fee.

Notes from my inbox:

Meryl (day 5): I listened to audio 2 today.  Here’s what I thought of your advice: I came home, I had a cranberry-lime flavored soda water with a wedge of lime. Then I had another. Now I am comfy in bed (at 7:30 p.m.), ready to just go to sleep and not think about it. It’s working! … Many bloggers, especially you, articulate what I’m feeling and give me guidance on what to do about my concerns before I even identify them and figure out the right question to ask.  It’s incredibly valuable and makes the misery of the business of escaping my misery so much less miserable.

Laurie (day 23): I just finished listening to the intro and lesson 1 in the Sober Jumpstart class.  I know I will be listening to lesson 1 again and again because there was so much I want to hang on to, really let sink in.  I was ready for a change.  I was tired of carrying around such a heavy backpack.  I knew that I could be better, do better.  So here I am [sober]. I am not broken (what a powerful statement this is!)

FacingMeNow (day 16):  I know that this journey has only just begun for me, but I feel like a more authentic version of myself is emerging.  Yesterday, I had every ping pong emotion possible within 24 hours.  I was initially irritated that I couldn’t have my phone call with you [for the class], but excited the rain stopped and our family could enjoy an early morning (8 mile) bike ride.  We had a blast and I rescheduled our call so I felt better. Later, I was proud [felt great], felt creative [recipe idea], worried [family health issues], and then my husband staged impromptu (read: I got roped in) work in the yard with me as his sidekick.  The kids were at each others throats.  At this point I can only describe what I felt as Wolfie with a megaphone.  He said: “You’ve had a long, crazy day… have a drink… you’ll just have one… it will take the edge off… you have blown this whole thing out of proportion… you need to cut back, not quit…100 fucking days?  you’ll never make it anyway… you’re really not going to drink because you told a woman you’ve never met, that lives halfway across the world, that you wouldn’t???”  Oh, I was one hot mess!  I started beating myself up for everything I could think of.  I cried.  … Then I took a shower, cried a little more and all of the sudden the haze lifted and I could see what this morning would look like if I had “one drink”.  It was never going to be just one.  I knew that.  I said it out loud (to wolfie and his megaphone, I suppose) and I felt empowered.  I ate dinner, made my new favorite club soda and lime, called sick family member, cleaned my purse out which would have never happened with a glass of wine in my hand, and went to bed feeling so damn good about myself.  It was a roller coaster of emotions, but I couldn’t be happier that I survived without caving to wolfie, the manipulative, cunning voice that he is.  I believe you that it gets easier to shut him up, and that he comes around less often, and I am looking forward to that!  I am so grateful to have you as a sober pen pal.  You are an amazing person! I hope you enjoy your beautiful day!  I will enjoy mine here!!  I am 14 days today.

Julz (day 3):  I listened to your audio this morning. It was lovely, so so lovely to listen to and inspiring – oh yes!!! I loved the explanation that it’s Wolfe we’re fighting against. Not ourselves. In some way this makes   Sense in my mind, it means I am not fighting against myself any more, it’s someone else I am rebelling against, fighting against, which then brings out my stubborn side in the determination not to let ‘him’ win, I want to win this fight and oh I will.  PS I also shaved my legs and changed the bed sheets for tonight’s delux sleep xxx

Team 100 update

209 members, welcome to DonnaG (7), Karen (3), Jenn-ly (2), and JM (140).  Happy day 55 to Ingrid, Day 10 to CB, it’s Day 71 for Rachel P. , and it’s Day 75 for Camla.


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

  • Magnificent, wonderful, valid and valuable stuff you’re doing here, Belle. Huge, wholehearted and all-embracing thanks as you inspire & I love to hear your thought patters when the times are tough.

    Wonderful 🙂

    Your readers are great too!

  • How true, and how timely this post was for me to read. I’ve been upset about something with my partner and had worked myself into a snit that included chucking the whole relationship based on one stupid arguement. Black and white much? Hell yeah!

    Why not just speak calmly about what’s bothering you instead of throwing in the towel, Sam? What a concept. I actually felt myself relax while I was reading your post.

    Thanks Belle!

  • Spot on once again Belle. You’ve read my mind again. ha ha.

    I was so an ALL or NOTHING and black and white person. It was getting worse the longer I drank. I use the words that have been taught to me – this too shall pass. and think about how tomorrow will be better day.

    Thank you

  • You are doing amazing things Belle and so many are learning from your experiences. You also have all the answers inside your experience and can continue along in this game we call life. One wise sober woman told me a few weeks ago that it takes at least 2 – 3 years of continued sobriety to operate on a “normal” level. We forget what normal is somehow and fill up our plates with so much. We are human beings, not human doings. Doesn’t feel like it at times, does it? To give you an example of how scattered I have been – today I was writing down a phone number of a fellow staff member so that I could give her a call about a work issue and wrote down my own number. I stared at it for a couple of minutes and thought how familiar it looked until I realized it was my own phone number! Over drive for sure.

    Keep up the fantastic things you are doing – you are an inspiration to all of us here!

  • Everything’s going to be OK. Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I use it and believe it way more now then I did when drinking wine. Funny… I had a chefing moment this last week too and thought…. what am I thinking? I can’t make a living doing this. This whole do what you love thing… I don’t know. And then… I said, YES, I fucking can. and I WILL. Thanks for the post Belle! you rock. me.

  • “it’s like feeling shitty, and making things harder than they need to be, is part of how we lived our lives as drinkers. And once we get sober, we have to learn/remember that THIS IS NOT HOW I LIVE ANYMORE.”

    This is so, so, so right on. I read an article a while ago about how our learning brain, basically, becomes really inflexible when we become alcoholic, I guess I can use that word. And, yeah, I can totally see my thinking having become so staid, so predictable, so black-and-white the longer I came to see drinking as the only solution. It’s like, learn a new trick, DDG, for God’s sake! All I could seem to think of to solve my problem was wine. Now, like you said, it takes work to remember and/or learn again that there are other things we can do… Brilliant! xx

  • Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is a huge trigger for me as well. I have to constantly remind myself NOT to take on too much. Now that I have all of this time and energy, I want to join organizations, participate in book clubs, do yoga four time per week but if I actually do all of that in addition to mom/teacher/wife/granddaughter duties I will want to hide in my closet with a bottle of bourbon. I have been reading The Gifts of Imperfections by Brene Brown and she talks a lot about our culture of scarcity (nothing is ever ‘enough’). One of my cheesetastic mantras these days is, “I am enough.” Shit, it seems like a simple thing but I find myself forgetting OFTEN. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the grey. 🙂

  • this is so true!!! B&W. Life is made of many shades of grey and not talking here about that shitty book- sorry I even mentioned it 🙂 Grey can be beautiful too. The grey has many hues in it as well. The color is there in the grey. The color is what to look for. The rainbows are not in the black and white. I am so grateful that you wrote about this- it has helped me. Especially this week where I am going through this whole weird cycle of elation mixed with I am just going to go have a drink?why on earth would I do that???
    and of course it would not be one. thanks again my friend for your words!
    hugs <3