why isnt’ there a range of choices, like there’s a range of people\?

foreign keyboard on husban’ds laptop. please read with patience. will write more when i get home. typed with abandon. typos everywhere.

lovely treat to meet sober people yesterday in London. oh so many similarities – we’re all functioning quite well in our lives except for this one thign… this one shitty thing.  and yet, seeing faces, we realize that we’re not alone. we’re surrounded by love and support. it’s everywhere. we have to figure out how to ask for it, and how to let it in, but it’s there.

i did come away from teh meeting though a bit freaked out. when i hear things like ‘i’m in awe of what you’ve done for me’ it makes me feel very weird. like, where is the REAL professional in this field and when are they going to show  up and take over/ ,,, you know how new moms say that for the first weeks of their child’s life they feel like the babysitter and they keep wondering when the real parents are going to come and take the child away.

i feel like that.  i whined to mr. belle over hamburgers on portobello road: why isn’t there a psychologist doing this? why arent’ there10 or 20  sober social workers online  – being honest about hteir own journeys and sharing stories of others? why, if i stop and ask 100 people on teh street where to go for help with too much booze, why is the only option AA that anyone can think of. why isnt’ there a range of choices, like there’s a range of people\?

again i woke up at 4 am last night, in this weird london bed staring at the ceiling, thinking there should be someone other than me with a sober challenge, being penpals to 270 people.

it’s not that it’s overwheming for me.

it’s that i feel unequipped to do enough. i can  listen and cheerlead. imagine if i actualy knew what i was talking about@ or if i’d gone to school to do this…

i can’t even tell if i’m making sense, but i guess i’m having a case of the ‘holy god isn’t someone else really in charge and i’m just the temporary substitute.’

when C says how important i am to her, as we hug goodbye in the tube station, i think “shit, if she only knew that i’m just the same as her. i’m not special at all. not one bit. of course i listen to her. she’s dealign with exactly what i was (just) dealing with.”

i think there’s a name for this feeling. reluctant something. but sometimes it gives me a giant case of ‘oh boy, there’s gotta be someone else better at this than i am and when are they coming to take over’ combined with ‘time to pull up my big girl panties and  get shit done’ – it’s both of those feeligs combined.

it’s very grey and rainy here. and cold. husband has gone to abbey road (again!), i’m inside. waiting. thinking. figuring things out. then we’re going on a magical bakery tour …



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 have just joined your blog and all this is new to me, but I am very excited about being sober, I have been going to AA meetings and to be honest they scared me….living 24 hrs at a time and being “ill” for life is enough to scare anyone. I am also on day 1 of the 100 day challenge.
    Feeling good

  • I was just thinking today how strange it is that there isn’t more help for people who want to quit drinking. There are tons of books and of course there’s AA but the support you provide is so rare. You are brutally honest about your experiences, and you give people what they need: hope that things can be better. And you’ve built a community of people who are helping each other. Thank you so much Belle!

  • Ditto times a million to all these comments! You were there for me before (way before, actually) I was there for me. I feel like I’ve already met you, but it would be nice to one day be able to join for tea in London! As to your ?, I totally wonder that, too: why aren’t there more places where drinkers can go to get help, not a “program,” or to find people they can bounce ideas of off, not to be preached to about how bad their drinking problem is? It’s bizarre that AA has such a stranglehold on our society… Anyhoo, yes. Just, yes, to you! xx

  • The meeting you all had sounds lovely, and I also wonder how you do it!

    Re: AA being the only game in town and the whole stigma around alcohol–ugh!! People often need help to quit smoking (or lose weight etc), and it doesn’t mean that forever and always they’re this “stigma thing.” Personally, I think that hugely contributes to the problem. If anyone could say, ‘I need to quit drinking/slow down/etc. because it’s a problem for me,’ as openly as you could say, ‘I need to quit smoking,’ think what a difference that would make!

    Anyway, I would love to see you create a ‘manual’ based on what you’ve been doing: Getting Sober: Your First 100 Days or How to Have Fun Getting Sober or How to Get Sober and Get Happy. It could include how to create the desire to become so (getting over the hurdle of I just can’t or it’s not that bad), maybe how to get ready for it, how to think about slips. It could also include your experiences as well as others you’ve spoken to (I’m sure you’d have to get permission but I’m also quite sure people would be happy to contribute their stories/journey in that way and have them excerpted for the greater good). It could include tips and mantras/meditations (I love the whole sobriety feels like clean sheets idea!), what you can look forward to, what to watch out for etc. You could self-publish if you couldn’t find a publisher, but I bet you could (maybe the same one that published the Soberistas book, which is good, but all the stories are pretty extreme). I think there’s a complete dearth of books on getting sober for people who ‘aren’t that bad’ (seemingly so) and definitely all the memoirs focus on the how it was. Way too little out there on sensible tools and what to expect. Later, (because I’m thinking it might be harder), you could create CDs of your audio program of this. That way people can get them through amazon “anonymously.” I think all this would appeal to the same people who like the Jason Vale book and things like that.

  • I often feel the same (what the hell do I know?) but as a recovery blogger I focus on just telling my story so others can see themselves and know we are all essentially the same. The only thing that sets apart the writer is an ability to tell the story well (even on a wonky key pad – bravo!) and sparing the time (and courage) to put it out there for the world to see. Sometimes I feel like our timing is fortunate as the whole idea of Recovery Advocacy is gaining speed and opening the dialogue. One day, the average person might at least know that treatment options and self-managed recovery EXIST, if not the specific names. It’s an honour to be part of the change, and to know we made a difference by speaking up.

  • You are doing a tremendous thing. Something amazing. I think it’s going to take time and voices for people to realize the choices that are out there for support. There are several internet message boards that are not AA related, Women for Sobriety, SMART. mmabsers, Moderation Management, SOS,… They have very active forums and chat rooms. They may not offer one-on-one support, but they are there for people to reach out with their problems and struggles and share their experiences and get support and advice. I have referred several people to your site, the support is out there.

  • so glad that you had a great gathering!.
    I would have loved to have been there….
    louisiana, USA is very far a way!

  • It was great to meet you yesterday! I left wishing I could meet more cool sober people more often… Thanks for all the advice. Who knew 100 day challenge would be such a genius idea?

  • Oh Belle, I thought of you all meeting up yesterday and missed being there but my daughter had a lovely birthday day here. I think we all feel guilt and anxiety about what you do for us all. You have an extraordinary gift and talent and it’s transforming a lot of lives, but I for one just don’t know how you manage it all and worry what impact it has on you. You care so much for us and it must feel like quite a weighty responsibility at times. But as for wondering when the ‘expert’ is going to turn up, well, you have! Your combination of experience, humour, empathy, support and communication … well, it just works. There is no official training that could qualify anybody any better. And if it were ‘official’, perhaps it wouldn’t work as magically as it does. So don’t worry! Look at how many people you’ve reached by being you. Extraordinary. I am forever thankful that I found you. Ditto comments above about sharing the load in any way that helps you to help others.

  • I totally agree with and feel the same as you regarding “professional help”. Having said that, it is much easier to feel comforted by someone who truly understands the process. Other options besides AA would be great and I do believe the time will come when there isn’t such a stigma around the recovery world and THEN the gates will open and we will be flooded with recovery options (I am an optimist). Until then it is people like you who truly make a difference in so many lives just by being you! Thank you! Thank you! I do love the idea of matching up pen pals! Sometimes it can be easier during difficult times when you must remain accountable and as we all know, being of service to others affects both parties in a positive way.
    Thank you Belle for Being!!!!!!!!!!

  • ah dvorak?- not qwerty or the other way?- you did fine! I think there IS a range but up to each individual to broaden it and then the teacher or pupil will come or just plain friend will be in your life. As you have wisely said to me in the past when I wondered how you handle all your emails. -“you worry about you and I will worry about me”
    We are surrounded by love and support!- Thanks for being there and pointing it out.
    -and for hunting and pecking on the foreign keyboard 🙂

  • Belle — What we need is a web. So once someone has her/his 100 days, that person can be a sober penpal for someone earlier in the journey. Pretty soon there are 25 or 50 folks with 100 days, and some of these are matched with one, two, ten newly sober people. Maybe one person who’s a regular reader here can volunteer to do the matching or the assignments are just randomly made–whoever hits 100 and whoever would like a sober pen pal. It is indeed astounding that there aren’t any really good options to AA. Read Her Best Kept Secret by Gabrielle Glazer for a resounding feminist critique of that organization. Anyway, it seems logical that we all jump in and help one another at some point — like sand bags against the flood, building a barn, or having a bake sale! Jumping in and lending whatever hand we have.

    • Hi Belle, Glad you had a good time in windswept, old, grey London – I did warn you!! You are the voice of reason, of experience, of support and someone who was out there when I was in need! There were other bloggers but I fixed on you, you spoke my language, you made me laugh and you made it sound possible – tough but possible. I agree with Messy maybe if it feels too much, you should take your own advice and ask for help – I’m positive folk would only be too pleased to pitch in and support – another method of ‘tiny gifts’!!! We want to be enlightened (enlightening) not burdened or burdening – we’re all here……. hugs x

      • I certainly don’t feel like it’s a burden at all. what I’m surprised about I guess is that there are so few choices and I’m shocked sometimes at how it’s ME doing this … like what the fuck do I know : )

  • When you become someone’s rock, you just become someone’s rock!
    Someone to talk to and someone who listens. Someone who understands, and someone who forgives. Someone who cares, someone who loves.
    You will always be just that….my rock.
    You don’t have to worry about anything else Belle!

    Day friggen 60!!!! All because you wrote: stay here Remember that?

    Woot woot

  • Thanks for your blog post. I often wonder about that too…why is it just AA? I mean, there are probably other groups (my counselor told me about a few) but they aren’t well known.

    It’s odd, over the months I have been reading your blog I’ve thought about how overwhelming the task you have must be. Perhaps maybe you could use some help? (Kind of like how you have help with your catering?) I’m not quite sure what that would look like, but I do know that I would be interested in helping you. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

    Cheers and hope you are enjoying your bakery tour 🙂

    • thanks for this, I’m not overwhelmed as much as I am incredulous that this is even happening. I’ve pondered ways of expanding before, and I’ll come up with something that fits I’m sure.

  • I remember finding your blog way back when you first started the 100 day challenge and you had way less than 100 people doing it. Now look at you…270 people following your blog and doing the challenge. How did that happen? That’s a lot of people!!! I often thought ‘how does she do it? How does Belle keep track of everyone?’
    I can hear in your blog that you are working on your stuff. Like you need to keep YOUR sober car on the road and YOU need to go to bed early when all else fails. I guess 270 other people believe in you and your methods and ideas sound manageable! I know it works for me! You made me think of so many things…like starting a new hobby…like photography!
    I loved your new parent analogy and giggled at ‘when is the social worker going to take over this?’ We are all ‘counselors’ really with issues we have struggled with. You have all the qualities of a good counselor…a good listener…helping people make a plan to change! I say do this if it still helps YOU with your sobriety! You are a ‘friend’ who understands what we are all going thru…we are grateful for your friendship…hugs!

  • Exactly what C said. You are enough and yet you really are more to me.You were in the right place at the right time for me when I went seeking help. Therefore, I’ve locked onto you as my advisor and best friend whether you want that job or not. You tell it straight, you don’t sugar coat the bad things and you cheer our accomplishments . You don’t need to be a psychologist, you’ve experienced what we’re going through and can articulate it so we’ll. You are just what the doctor ordered.

    • well I guess it’s encouraging if you think I don’t sugar coat. I worry sometimes that I’m too pollyanna ‘sobriety is great’ … I guess I do tell it straight. the first bit sucks and then it’s soooo worthwhile.

  • Thanks so much for yesterday Belle. It was great to meet you.

    I completely agree. I find overwhelming when I think about what you’re doing is how it’s grown organically for you, how you never set out to be sober penpal to 200+ people, and here you are, doing it, helping us all.

    Enjoy the rest of your London trip and I hope to avoid sending you another “Day 1 reset” email for the next 100 days…

    • I’m so glad I got to meet you : ) you’ll have as many day 1s as you need, and then you’ll have one last day 1 and you’ll be on your way. anyway, day 1s suck. whereas 100 days rocks!

  • Sometimes that’s all people need is someone saying they hear them–you are enough 🙂 don’t worry about trying to be “more.”