everything is like everything

You know how people say sobriety is like running:  just take it one kilometre at a time, one day at a time.

Or sobriety is like raising small children:  the days are long but the years are short.

Sobriety is also quite a bit like living in Vancouver:  you can walk on the beach in the morning, drive through fog at lunch, and be skiing at suppertime.

Well, I’ve also heard that “how you do one thing is how you do everything.”

How you do dishes, is how you do sobriety.  Begin ONLY when all the dishes have been gathered up from all far reaches of the apartment? Or do you start the dishes with what’s there, and add in more later as they come up?

Let me think of how I do dishes. I start with the water a little bit warm, knowing it’ll cool down as I go along.  And that I can add more hot later. (My husband starts with tepid water and adds lots of hot until the basin overflows. Metaphor much?)

My mom begins the dishes, makes piles, does the first load, has big plans, and then lets the soapy greasy water just sit there. Walks away to do something else. Comes back and the water is cold. Has to start again from scratch nearly.

My friend Pat puts her dirty dishes in the sink covered with a towel until it’s time to do the dishes, because then the counters look nice and tidy even though there’s work to be done.  Me, I set the dishes beside the sink, so that the sink is free for other things. Yes it’s not as pleasing to the eye, but it’s efficient.

The reason i’m even thinking like this today is because … well, just because.

I went out for dinner with friends on Tuesday night and the chick across from me is also a runner.  We were talking about my upcoming wedding catering next weekend (she’s one of the volunteers coming to help me here next week with the food prep). Anyway, she said that catering a wedding was like running a marathon:  you do as much prep as you can in advance, but most of it can’t be done until the day of the event. You will cry at some point, and then when it’s finished you’ll be glad you did it … but perhaps you’ll only try to do one or two marathons (weddings) per year …

I realized she was right, and I’ve felt more relaxed about the catering since then. I know that it will all work out. And that i’m doing this the way i do everything: I think about it a lot to start, then I make a chart and a plan. Then i do half of the first day’s plan.  Then I memorize and internalize the plan.  Then after I get going a bit i don’t even need to look at the plan anymore, and that half of the things i thought about in advance i didn’t even need. I will finish on time, but without much extra time to spare. I will be hugely relieved when it’s over.  I’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. I’ll realize that anticipatory anxiety is more than 85% of my problem.

Sound like sobriety? We stalk and read and lurk on blogs for a long time before we begin. We worry about imaginary future events (like: i can’t quit drinking now because next weekend i’m going to blah blah … what if my boss asks me why i’m not socializing with clients? I couldn’t possibly just say “i’m not drinking this week” so instead I better wait to quit next month).

We worry about things that don’t actually occur. We avoid beginning our sober car trip because we don’t know what to expect. (Worry: I better not quit now until I have 1000 tools in my sober toolbox … Versus: I can quit now, see what I need to add to my toolbox as I go along BASED ON HOW I FEEL and how successful I am).

Is how you approach sobriety the same way you do the dishes?

If how you do the dishes isn’t working for you, and you can never get caught up, and you don’t even know where to start … maybe it’s time to consider Plan B.  Maybe it’s time for you to have a clean counter and have the dishes done.  And you get there any way you like. I truly believe there is no right way to get the dishes done (to get sober). However you get there, just get there. Maybe you need a dishwasher, disposable plates, or to hire someone to help you.  But to just accept that your life is full of dirty dishes, and when the counters get full of dishes you transfer them to the floor, or to plastic bins, and you put them on the floor and keep on making more dirty dishes — with no plan on what to do next — well, this sounds like a special kind of hell to me.  And if you’re living the dirty dishes / drinking more than you want to kind of hell (and you’re living it bravely I must say), then you know what kind of hell it is.

Now, look up for just a second. Moving house is not the solution. Divorce is not the solution to dirty dishes. A dishwasher is the solution to dirty dishes. A tool that can help you and that you use. (You may need a divorce, too, but we’re dealing with your dishes here!)  Call someone to walk you through it while you’re doing the dishes, and who can cheerlead you while you’re in progress, tell you what to expect, which parts are hard and which parts are easy. Then do the dishes. Be accountable to someone as you do the dishes.  Find some solutions 🙂 (I hear Dawn liquid soup is good on cutting grease!)

And here’s the part where it’s me talking to me:  Belle, if how you do everything is how you do everything, then do more in advance, so that you have a bit of extra time at the end. While adrenaline is exhilarating, the adrenal fatigue is dangerous for a boozer. Slow and steady is a better approach for me.  There is no finish line. There is ‘getting it done’ with energy and time and good humour to spare.  Figure out how to do THAT.

From my inbox:

Bizi (day 32): “I read 1/3 of cosmopolitan magazine, have not done that in a very long time!”

Sarita (84): “Thanks so much Belle. I truly couldn’t have done it without you and your blog and wisdom. There’s just something about knowing your words are always available to read or reread that calms my nerves and temptations.  I’ve even started to DESIRE exercise in all this. Imagine that!!! It’s been AGES since I actually CRAVED it. So it’s like my old (new?) self is reemerging. SWEET!”

Penny (12): “Still sober, done with witching hour so tonight should be free & clear.”

JacksterT (13): “After a week of listening to your voice [with the jumpstart class] I felt as though I had finally found a sober friend who has been through it and understands. Being able to speak with you one on one was incredible and gave me such hope and inspiration! Thanks for all you are doing Belle! I’m looking forward to more classes!”

Paul (2): “I guess I am learning that the nagging doubt is *wolfie* and not *me*”

Julz (32): “I thought only I was going through the witching hour. I am so happy knowing I’m not the only one who feels like this, who gets this intense craving at 5 pm and feels like I’m going mad … My main two things that help me over this time (and through the rest of the night) are hot chocolate and baths — I actually spent and hour and a half in the bath last night, I was like a prune but heyho the craving passed.”

Team 100 Update: 250 members, welcome to member 248 Paul (day 2), member 249 Leslie (day 2), and member 250 Alice (day 5).  Happy day 100 today to Designer Rachel! 


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

  • Oh my goodness Belle, I’m laughing my ass off in the car wash line..  It’s so true I always say everything is everything, and I’m stuck in the relapse scam of life..  Mr.  Thinks sober cyber friends are culty and scamish, fuck that..  This is all I have..  I’m on day five of the scam and even though I’m coughing like a seal and had to wake up to hungover Mr..  I don’t mind the cult I reside..  I’m shooting for day 30..love Hugs and poison Kool aid…

  • Reblogged this on Stopping Drinking and commented:
    I tried to quit so many times before I eventually did and I can remember making those same excuses that I couldn’t give up because of this event or that. I procrastinated way too long, as we all tend to do!

  • I love this analogy because for years I’ve been saying that the state of the dishes is a barometer of and analogy for my mood and mental health. Sometimes I can flirt with disaster in the kitchen but it’s best that I just keep up with it and do a little maintenance a couple times a day because flirting with disaster eventually brings full on catastrophic conditions and when that happens, I’m overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, don’t want to start, and I sink into a pit.

  • What a great analogy, Belle! The part about moving or getting a divorce because of dirty dishes made me chuckle. It is amazing how much work we can put into avoiding the real problem. Thanks for a good read. -Jen

  • My husband does the cooking so I’m the sous chef and dishwasher. It’s not the washing that would get the better of me it’s the drying. The pots and pans that won’t go in the dishwasher. I would wash them, put them in the drain board and leave them to dry while I sat with my wine and watched mindless TV. Then, every morning not feeling well and in a haze, I would face the messy kitchen and have to put away the dishes. My started messy for so many years! Now 45 days sober, the dishes are all done in the evening and I face a clean, neat kitchen to start my clean, clear day.

  • Wow…250 team 100 members! GO Belle and GO team members! Congrats to Designer Rachel on 100 days!!!
    It is true that ‘days are long and the years are short’ for me! I never want to do those long first few week days again, they were SO hard and I thought I was going mad too like Julz said. Hot tea, reading blogs, a lot of tears and going to bed EARLY every night got me through those beginning evenings of sobriety. Find what works for you and do it. It is SO worth it to get sober. Life is so much easier and uncomplicated and enjoyable now. It’s actually fuckin’ amazing!!!
    Love the ‘doing the dishes’ analogy, but I do the cooking and hubby does the dishes! 🙂

    • ha katherine, I like your comment! does this mean you like to do the glory-work but not the cleaning up repetitive parts? I’m JUST like that too – my husband does most of the dishes ’round here! but when I do them, I have a ‘way’ of doing them … thanks for the comment today, I appreciate you being such a constant source of encouragement.

      • yes! i love doing the glory-work and leave the dishes for the kids and hubby! if they did the cooking, there would only be paper plates! lol i do the daytime dishes by rinsing and putting in the dishwasher. I often feel like “if the sink is clean my mind is clean and free of clutter”! : ) My mom used to tell us kids that we needed to clean our bedrooms top to bottom, in case the President stopped by for a visit! lol my clean sink is ready for the President to stop by! how silly is that?
        glad you appreciate my encouraging comments! I really needed to read others encouraging words in those early days, weeks, and months! So if I made just one person feel a tad bit better today, then it was worth it! : )