facing things head on

I recorded a podcast today about having a sober Christmas. Thanks to Momma Bee (18) for the idea.

Last year was my first sober christmas, and like our first sober anything, it was a bit weird. This year we’re going to be in a hotel room on christmas day, so that’s a pretty big routine-change. It means no tree this year, no baking, no big meal, and no Christmas Eve or Boxing Day catering (phew!). It means, instead, i’ll be having my favourite kind of adventure: a vacation in a new place. Lots to look at, see, photograph, explore. And no kitchen, no baking, no cooking, no food prep, no cleaning out cupboards, no recipe testing. Oh and the apartment we’re renting has a TV. that’ll be a treat in itself 🙂

The key for me is to continuously create new routines that support me — do things, create things, set up things that make me feel better. Sometimes that means showering before 5 pm (!). But it also means (in future) going to the doctor sooner so that i don’t worry as much. It means dealing with things as they come up rather than stalling, procrastinating, waiting.

When i was drinking, i just let EVERYTHING slide – paperwork, trips to the dentist, paying my taxes. I was just too fucking lazy to do anything. (Well, i was too boozy after 6 pm to do anything.) Now that i’m sober, i’m slowly figuring out how to get things done.

and some of what i’m learning (this week anyway with my heart thing) is about facing things head on.Note to Belle: don’t be avoidant. just deal with it. call the doctor to ask a follow-up question. Wake up my husband at 5 a.m. if i feel weepy (which i did on tuesday). He said some amazingly supportive things and i could nearly cry now in writing this to describe the relief he gave me at 5 a.m.

Here I am now on saturday evening, symptoms 95% resolved, feeling better than i’ve felt in about 6 weeks. The brain space that was occupied with even 8% worrying, is now gone. Yes i could get squished by a car tomorrow. but my mortality can happily go back into the background again. where it belongs.

and lemme tell you, anticipatory anxiety is such an energy-sucker. worrying about impending doom is just sooooo depressing and never-ending. Just like putting off going to the doctor is crazy-making. Just like letting things slide (in some cases too long) is a kind of self-torture. Just like worrying about christmas instead of taking steps to ensure a good one is a recipe for disaster.

Look, it’s november 9th. lots of time between now and December 25th to get some new strategies in place to ensure that we are (I am) taking good care of ourselves. You and me both. Let me know if you want me to post an extract from the christmas sober podcast.

PS/ And yes, i’m taking it easy. i have a frozen lasagne in the oven as we speak. i haven’t cooked anything since thursday. i did shower before 5 pm. i went for a small walk to buy chocolate.

From my inbox:

Brett (day 3): “Belle, Zenmeg’s e-mail really hit home for me.  I struggle so much with finding happiness.  I think that’s why it’s so hard for me when I pass by others laughing and enjoying a glass of wine.  I immediately think it’s the wine that’s making them happy.  But it isn’t, and that realization is a wondrous yet terrifying revelation for me.  If it’s not the wine, then, ultimately, these people are just genuinely happy?  I have been turning to wine searching for happiness for so long, and it’s not there.  So that means I have an awful lot of work to do, to undo the wine = happiness fallacy and to redefine happiness for what it truly is.  The problem is, I don’t know what that is yet.  But I have a teeny little positive voice in my head that tells me someday I will find out…”

Matt S (12): “Every time I get here I start thinking about moderation also. It is such a mirage, such a myth. It’s like when you are in a fancy store and you wonder aloud how much something is because the price isn’t marked and your friend tells you ‘If you have to ask it means you can’t afford it’…. Moderation is the same way, if you find yourself thinking about it, it means you can’t do it.”


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

  • Glad to hear all is well with you (and your lovely, lovefilled heart :))and that you are giving yourself a break! Enjoy your lasagna!

    • Brett says: “Moderation is the same way, if you find yourself thinking about it, it means you can’t do it.” And I am so afraid this is true and I really don’t want it to be. I started this sober journey 12 days ago, sort of catapulted into it before I really intended (I’ve been toying with the idea of abstinence for about 6 months) by a life event that startled and scared me. And I thought: 100 days, I can do this. And I guess I pictured after that time magically becoming the person who can have a glass of wine, maybe two, and not feel any desire for more. But now I begin to see that my body chemistry and personal psychology are highly unlikely to let that happen. And so I feel cheated, almost like a bait and switch. The bait= I started out planning 100 days and out, and the switch is= this sobriety stuff might have to be forever for me to be true to my best possible self.
      Jen: I can’t even imagine things being as you say they are now for you, living with a deep understanding that wine does not bring happiness. I need to stop writing, I am depressing myself 🙁

      • dear carrie. one thing at a time. there’s no bait and switch. first you do 100 days continuously sober and then you figure out what to do from there. it’s impossible to make any decisions so soon. like the booze and wolfie are still calling too loudly now to even know what’s ahead for you. and Jen is right, things get much better. all of us sober can testify to that. for now you just have to do some days, see what it means to you, and figure out your journey going forward. hugs from me!

  • Wolfie got me today. Not bad. Not enough I feel the need to start over on the 100 day challenge. A small mistake and realized quickly what had happened. I feel guilty and ashamed.

  • What a wonderful support Mr. Belle is! I envy you.

    You were right, day 7 is a bit less weepy and bleak. I’ve done this before alone and it feels so much better to have your sober support. So, thank you!

    • thanks Jenn, I waited a very long time to find Mr. Belle (I didn’t get married until I was 39!). he has his weaknesses (of course, don’t we all) but he’s pretty good at saying randomly positive things at 5 a.m., especially if it means his wife will then roll over and go back to sleep. which I did. he does leave his socks all over the house, though. well, not just his socks. he leaves bits of himself everywhere. it’s like he’s leaving a trail in case he gets lost…

  • You know what I decided last year? I was pretty newly sober (made it 2 months, then started over again in Oct.), and I had had a hell of a holiday season the last year. I decided to pretend the f&&&ing holidays didn’t even exist. As much as I could, I just did my own thing–nada on Halloween, a trip on TG, and a swim at a beach on Xmas! I felt like it was right for me, and for once, I did what felt right! To Brett: When I first quit (well, it’s taken me about a year), I literally could not imagine being happy without wine, could not imagine being happy and being able to not drink and still be happy. It’s starting now, and when I see people drinking wine, I am not automatically wanting the wine OR their happiness. It will change, it will, it will, it will–really. I NEVER would have believed it, but just give it some time. *Yay for 5 am wake-up calls! Hugs, Belle.*