“I am rising up to future possibilities”

From me:

I got this message from Kary (day 8): “Dear Belle, I am close to tears because I am overwhelmed by what you are doing with your blog, your emails, your willingness to call… I often turn to your blog at night when I am looooonnnnnging for a nice glass of cabernet that I know will turn in to many glasses. Reading your blog settles me, provides me hope and helps me to refocus on what is important. Does your blog include how and why you are able to do this for all of us newbies? I am simply amazed by what you do.”

and then i thought, shit, DOES my blog say why i do this? yeah i think so. it’s sobriety insurance. it’s a virtual guarantee that i will not drink, not now, not in the future. I quit drinking and now I stay sober because I CAN. There are lots of people who want to quit but can’t. I can. I did. I’m staying here in this sober place. Because it’s delightful and the alternatives are potentially heinous. because there’s nothing wrong with my sober life that 2 bottles of wine couldn’t ruin. I’m here and sober because it’s working for me.  it’s not perfect, but it’s better.  much much better.

But the question of HOW do i do this? i imagine kary thinking that I live off of a trust fund, or that I’ve been given some kind of sober research grant.  Really, being a sober penpal at this point takes about 2 hrs a day. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but i work at home, i don’t have any kids, and my real full-time job isn’t really full time, it’s about 3-4 hrs a day. The rest of the time i’m running, catering, reading, helping my husband with his work, or i’m watching Downton Abbey (which is kind of lame this season, unfortunately).

Why do i do this? Because i offered to be a sober penpal to Amy and to Lilly and then 307 other people joined in.

Because i get to be a sober cheerleader which is really a very fulfilling thing. you do all the hard work and i say ‘rah rah you’re so great’ … i prance around with my pompoms. i sprinkle glitter when you go by in your sober car.

But really, i do it because i think something like this is needed. when we want to get sober, we need to be able to talk to someone, maybe for the first time, about our shit. and AA isn’t for everyone. so there’s this.

how’s that for a very unfulfilling answer.  Kary, i do this because you’re lovely and i would like to get to know you. and i’d like you to know that you’re not alone. not by a mile. there’s a big crowd of us here. hanging out, doing the sober thing together. we’re all successful in our own ways. we’re all smart and interesting and dull and sad in our own ways. we’re just like you.

From my inbox:

Cdn Girl (day 7): “I am so happy that I am living numbing-free! I feel like I am rising up to future possibilities. The briefest idea of going to buy booze today… crazy brain… It’s not gonna happen. Thanks for your support” (she’s now on day 19)

runningfromthebooze (day 100): “How do I feel? Like I’m healing. Some days I feel like a mountain lion sitting on top of the world taking in the view and other days I feel like a kitten who’s eyes have just popped open.” (now she’s on day 134)

JenFaith (day 2): “Sobriety – like so many other things in life, once you get some traction and begin to notice the benefits, a problem might arise when one becomes too attached to this new bliss and awareness. It’s not a continuous feeling. There will be great days where the choice seems crystal clear, there will be difficult days when its not clear at all, and there will be neutral days.. these ones for me are even more lethal because there is a dullness that creeps up on me unexpected. On these days I almost forget what I’m doing for no reason and am vulnerable or I unconsciously ask myself why am I doing this? It almost seems inconsequential. On these days the sense of the benefits is dulled or nonexistent. On these days I need to remind myself that the great benefits you were feeling were real and will return again and again and will grow.”

Jo: “Alcohol is *the Siren’s song* to me, it pulls and calls, coaxing and wailing, encouraging, but oh what disaster awaits! Upon the rocks of it I shall surely be left for dead, not once but several times over, and eventually I might not rise. Knowing this danger lurks and surrounds me so far has kept me away from those tempting places and people, and oh how it has called. Some can walk away from alcohol no worse for the wear but woe to those who find themselves gripped by it talons. It wants destruction at any cost, but not before it tosses its victims about like a rag doll in all sorts of sordid positions doing the damnable… I suppose The Devil knocks on all our doors in a myriad of ways, some worse if that’s imaginable and some we judge to be not so so terrible. Truth be told, all are equal to each that answer the knock! I have answered the knock so many many times, like I was being compelled by a force both in and beyond myself. I have nearly been stripped so many times of the loves of my life, had God not been gracious to me perhaps I would have been. So I’m being vigilant in recognizing the steps, the knock, and the voice of *The Devil* at my door, pray that I continue to do so! Each day that I don’t answer that door is each day closer to perhaps a time when He will pass my driveway, moving forward searching for another victim. I’m sober today and that’s what counts!”

Kirst (day 9): “This time around I want to do all those things [to help me be sober] that I don’t get around to because shit has got to change or shit is never gonna change, lol.”


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 never thought I would step foot in AA either…until I did. Yes it is in a dingy church room, with folding chairs and a perking coffee pot. And they all say the steps, and the promises, and the Lord’s prayer. But then they open up to each other and tell about their week, and their issues, and their struggles. It is very much like these blogs but in 3D with faces you can touch. There is something about being able to open myself up to strangers that is comforting. I met with my sponsor (who happened to be the first person I met at my first AA meeting). She is sober 23 years and goes to a lot of different meetings at different locations at different times. She has encouraged me to go to more than just the one “women’s only” meeting and put myself out there to form some relationships. She has a whole large group of friends through AA that do a lot of good work in the area. She said she can go to any Starbucks around the city and see people she knows from AA. They seem to find each other in coffee shops.

    So why do all of these members with so many years still keep coming back to AA meetings? Because it is by talking to the newbies that come in to the meetings that keep them sober. Like Belle – helping all of us helps her to stay sober as well. Right Belle?

  • Belle, You’re onto something here with this 100 day challenge. How is it that you’ve gotten 300+ people using you to help them stay sober? I’d love for addiction scientists/researchers/therapists to figure out what you’re doing so it can be replicated 10000x over and spread around the world. I’ve never stepped foot in an AA meeting, and never ever want to. A couple years ago, I did go see an addiction outpatient treatment place (at our local hospital) and met with her for a 30 minute info/assessment, and I never went back. There is something lovely about having you so caring and open and hands off but very present and supportive if needed. You’ve done this too. And you’ve got the right touch. Whatever it is, hope someone who can tease this apart and figure out why this works – hope they find out about you and map out how/why this is working so well. And in your free time, start up a 100 day challenge for exercising/eating well. ; >) All my best, Meg

    • Thanks for this Zenmeg, I appreciate the comments : ) I think that being able to be anonymous helps too. while a meeting face-to-face with sober people is super helpful, it may not be easy to wrap your brain around on day 1. I think that I’m faceless helps too, in a weird way. Like I’m a calm voice in the ether and that’s it. you can interpret me and what I say in your own way, to suit you. I’m thinking that it might be time to take over the world, but maybe it’s a bit soon. I’m also thinking that pretty wild things happen when we get sober, and this is just part of my ‘wild thing’ : ) glad you’re along for the ride. hugs from me.

  • You do it because you are kind and compassionate. You rock at it because you are clever, honest and have a way with words when it comes to all things in sobriety. You are always there, ready to support, time after time, day in, day out.
    I, for one pray you don ‘t trade us lot in for another, less time consuming, kind of sober insurance!!
    I just know you will have that bakery one day too, you so deserve it.
    Carrie x

    • I don’t think I’d trade you in, Carrie, for anything : ) really, I get to know so many interesting people, doing amazing things (getting sober), dealing with good lives and with shitty lives. I get to hang around and watch you climb fucking mountains. honestly, I have the best view in the stadium : ) and for the bakery, I finally have a plan on how to fund it … more later!

      • I really think the idea just ‘came’ to me on the weekend. I talked with the owner of a store who’s importing his bread from another country … and I thought “I could be doing his baking for him”.. then I thought “I wonder what I could dream/design/imagine tat would raise enough $ to be able to open my own place” and then the light bulb went on …

  • Every post has a gem…love..”because there’s nothing wrong with my sober life that 2 bottles of wine couldn’t ruin.” So funny and soooo true. So here I am at Day 93 looking towards the completion of the 100 day challenge. I have faced situations that I thought would surely be my undoing…family gathering…friends over for dinner with wine served, social functions as much fun as oral surgery where in the past I would have eased the unease with as much free wine as I could get my hands on…but last week really tested my resolve…loooong weeks of work with no big, shiny reward at the end, no sense of accomplishment or acknowledgement from colleagues…pissed off, really angry…and then out to a social obligation where I have no internal reserves or patience and there is free top shelf booze everywhere!!! I tell my husband that I am done and have to go home. I insist on this (something I would not have done in the past…I would have happily gotten drunk in the past). I understood that I need to regroup, take care of myself and eat some chocolate as my reward to myself. I worked hard, I did the best that I could and (cue the glitter…) I fucking stayed sober!!!! I am fucking proud of myself!
    It’s nice to share this with a group of people who remind me everyday why this is good, hard and a seismic shift in one’s life.
    Signing up for the 180.
    Thank you Belle.

    • day 93! aren’t you a sober rockstar! you should definitely be proud of yourself : ) it’s a super big deal! ready for you to join team 180 if you want … if you want to keep the parade rolling… hugs from me

  • I hope you see this as your sober revolution.. Personally knowing you’re there has been my beacon in the unsupportive place I call home.. Belle, you are helping people change their lives, and this is a huge job.. Praises to you! Glitter to you as well.. And thank you from the bottom of my sober crazy soul! Xo

    • a sober revolution : ) yes isn’t it just wild? holy who knows where life will take you once you get sober. maybe i can use the sober revolution to fund my bakery shop. it’ll be like crowd sourcing but by doing sober work. i mean, why not!

      • I can see you opening your shop with people all over the globe filling your sober shoes and taking over for you.. Now how do we get the funding and assistants to fill the positions? Xo

  • A.A. isn’t for everybody. I read a “devotional” every day from Twenty-four Hours a Day.” It’s definitely an AA-based book of readings. Some of it’s helpful and I’ll take help wherever. But meetings and church basements and telling myself I’m helpless don’t work for me. Trading emails and making myself accountable to a large group of equally wonderfully whacked-out people is way more my thing! 😉

    • I have the book 24 hours a day too and while it’s based on the AA Principles – I like the day to day thoughts (even though some are a bit over the top for me). I don’t believe AA is for me… and while I’m still not YET sober – I feel that I am making improvements in my life. I may not be perfect. I may not have quit just yet – but I’m still here and gathering strength from all of you 🙂

    • I think that lots of motivational reading has bits and pieces that are helpful. Take what you like, leave the rest. Everybody is different. i like trading emails with ‘whacked-out people’ too!

  • Would that there had been something like the blogs and someone like you to hold my virtual hand; but alas i’m still here and still ever so glad to read all these triumphs. i so agree with your reasons, Belle. Thank you for all you have done and will do for so many.

  • I’m so glad you wrote this post. So many of us wonder how you do it. It continues to amaze me.

    I may have tripped and fallen many times this year trying to do the 100 day challenge, but the fact you’re there, and I feel like I’m letting you down as well as myself down keeps me coming back. Keeps me tapping out that “hey! I’m on day 1 again!” email which one day, will lead me to typing a “HEY! I’M ON DAY 100!” email.

    Thank you for being there.

    • And i know you remember when i said “because i can” at our meetup in London. when i recounted to you the emails i’d received just that morning. I do it because i can. And i’m waiting for you to join me here on ‘the other side’ : ) I’m patient. I’ll wait.