i’m a girl writing emails and cheerleading

Some days are like this. i haven’t gotten dressed yet and it’s 11:16 pm here. I may not get dressed after all. I am sober, and I don’t hear wolfie saying anything at all. But yes, i’d like a big blanket to come up over my head and blank out this day, and perhaps tomorrow. i haven’t been sleeping well for about a week. I have a design client who is very disappointed in my decision to retire one of my businesses. she’s writing long emails outlining what i can do to please her. then I remind her that i’m closing the business, not doing any new work on the project, and have already refunded her money. Then she sends me another email …

and not everyone in Team 100 is always thrilled with me. Yes, I get lots of happy emails every day, a metric tonne of emails. But i also know that some people are irritated with me.

I am not a perfect human. Team 100 isn’t a perfect challenge. It’s not really even really a team, to be fair. It’s a collection of people trying to be sober. Some succeeding, some not. Statistically, about 25% of people who sign up for the challenge disappear at some point. Some return later to begin again. Others disappear and don’t return. Maybe about 50% of team members restart to day 1 at least once. Joining an internet challenge to get sober isn’t a magic solution. I’m not offering magic to anyone. Some people do not get sober, even with help. I know not to own that, because really i’m just a girl writing emails and cheerleading and back-patting. You’re the one who gets sober. I just offer encouragement, ideas, things to try.

As of today, i have 392 people signed up in the challenge. I get about 150 emails a day. I get out of bed and the first thing I do is check my emails to see how everyone is doing. It’s really the best part of my day by far. Some people just email to say ‘sober’, others email and ask questions or share success stories. Some are chatty, others are not.Β  Some share disaster stories (cancer, death, divorce, pet death, accidents, messy relapse). it’s weird, but I look forward to all of the emails, because i look forward to hearing from you and knowing how you’re doing — whether you’re good or bad i still want to know how you are πŸ™‚

i feel like i have a very good life. I have a full-time job that doesn’t require much of my time, and my catering work is usually only 2 or 3 days a week. I help my husband with his work a bit each day. and since about March of this year, i’ve been spending the rest of my time on sober stuff.

emailing 392 people helps me stay sober. when i record a podcast, it’s like i’m talking about what i need to hear, so it’s like i’m sending a message to myself.

I spend about 4 hrs a day on sober stuff now, which includes emails, writing, recording audios, talking to people on the phone.

I’m very aware and careful and vigilant that i do not become overwhelmed. Sometimes I’ll answer 40 or 50 emails in a row, but other times i’ll be watching a BBC baking show. sometimes i’m at my computer when you email, and other times it takes me a couple of days to answer (not often, but it happens).

i don’t know why offering to be a sober penpal back in March has led me to this exact place, to where I am today. I don’t always (often) know what i’m doing and there is no grand plan. Sometimes I imagine a future life where this sober thing is my full-time job (hey let’s have a meetup in Seattle!). I also imagine a future life where the sober stuff maybe supports the opening of my sober bakery.

and to be fair, I also imagine a life where I drink a bottle of wine and say fuck it all, why bother.

but i won’t drink. sure, relapse is possible for everybody. but it’s not happening to me, at least not today (!).

there’s no way to write this post without it looking like a big “do you love me” plea. it isn’t. This is really just an expression of where i’m at today. I’m a real human with real feelings.Β  i’m doing my best and yes, sometimes my best is NOT ENOUGH. I get it. And when my best isn’t enough, it’s super disappointing, I get that too. I’m a regular human and I fuck up and underdeliver sometimes. Yes.

And yes, when i gloat about my sobriety you may think “i’d like that too” OR you may think “i can’t seem to have that, i wish she’d shut up about it.”

i get it. I’m ok with truth. I’m sober 510 days today and i know that i’m not a perfect human. i do need to be reminded not to gloat. it’s not all positive and rosy in sober land all the time. it’s fucking hard work, especially in early sobriety.

But being sober, and staying sober is worth it. to me anyway. So yeah, i deal with some flat days. And then i eat chocolate and have a bath. i write a message to myself. and then i watch some more baking shows. and the latest episode of Parenthood which makes me cry every time.



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 am new here, in fact I am still a lurker for a tiny bit longer while I finish reading prior posts. But I know this much Belle, you are rapidly becoming my Shero. I can’t even imagine the toll your chosen role takes at times. I think it would feel like a ton’o pressure to keep it going and to have so many people relying on you with new folks joining in daily. You are clearly a smart and attuned woman and you have learned to take care of yourself and that is very admirable. Please know that even a casual reader could clearly see the incredible impact you have had and continue to have on people who are lost and/or needy. Thanks for all you do, Robin

  • I fall into Belles statistics a few times….. But thanks to Belles blog and support I am where I am today…. I truly believe I wouldn’t of come back and tried again. Today I am on day 33 and with Belles blog and the sober community, I have the support to believe in myself that I can do this, one day at a time. Thank you Belle and rest and eat cake when you need too….. We will still be here! Hugs

  • Belle, you are doing great things. I feel grateful to have your support, understanding and wisdom. You are a gifted communicator and writer and you are using your skills to help others. I for one, never get irritated if I don’t hear back from any of my blogging pals right away. I love having a message of validation, support or a big cheer for me, but, there is other shit going on and that needs to be tended to.

    Appreciate, Admiration and Applause is my response to Belle!!

    Day 20 for me, Is that right, Belle. I can always count on you to have the correct number when I can’t count!

    Parenthood is my favorite show in the Universe!!!


  • Belle —

    So much to say here. There’s a multi-layered, complex, reasoned answer and an intuitive one. On the intuitive level, shine on. Be true to yourself, open and honest. If that impulse extends to hundreds of people? Amazing! What they do with that beacon of light is up to them (us). Certainly, some will be unhappy and even angry, but being dissatisfied in the light of someone else’s happiness is a time-old response.

    Just keep pulsating with that honesty and hope. Complexity and reason note that the model you’ve stumbled into is unsustainable. You’ll have 1000 people signed on soon. Not one person could possibly even affirm sobriety on a daily basis for all those people . Match us up with one another. Maybe some sober reader could volunteer to set up some kind of matching, sign-in system for sober pen pals?

    Just a thought as you seek to manage all these constituents : -).

    Sober. Mostly in that silent camp,


    • Belle you are amazing, and this site and your words have sparked a huge amount of growth for so many of us. For the last few weeks, I have been wondering how as the group grows one person (or even three) could possibly give the amazing email attention you’re known for and not at some point get pretty overwhelmed, perhaps even burnt out. I know you are not there yet and maybe you won’t get there because I suspect you and the site will continue to creatively evolve. However, this came to me so here is a thought -maybe someday you can add a forum type section, or “sticky post” so the group could throw out questions, and experience on the first 100 days and beyond. This way the group can freely lean on each other AND you to keep moving forward. I also like the idea of pairing people up with others or groups forming within the group. Maybe this will all happen organically (:

  • How do you do it…another post that speaks right to the moment. I haven’t had a “bad” day, the kind where bad news, criticism and feeling shitty all converge in 12 hours and I take to bed to wrestle with my demons…this is as good as I am today…not the perfect creature of brilliant excellence that in some part of my brain I think I am supposed to be….fuck that thinking…I am as good as I can be this day…and I am sober, happily sober, gratefully sober and that is damn awesome. Enough said…and thanks Belle for this profound work that you do.

  • Belle! Ah, Belle! If you could just glimpse some of the richness that your mentorship has brought to my life! That you and we all share the human-ness of our struggles and our triumphs- and support each other through the tough times- these are the essentials of a thriving community which you- yes, you, Belle, have started and nurtured. From a very appreciative citizen of this cyber-community!

    CarrieK @ Day#24

  • I am on day 45. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have stopped drinking when I did if it wasn’t for your blog and 100 day challenge. So for that, I thank you. X

  • Want to give you a big hug. I could have written what you wrote but all slightly different. You have a customer who is NOT getting the picture. For me – I realized 4 days ago that this weird worker at the local grocery store is kind of stalking me every time I go in – and is NOT getting the picture.

    I too have felt overwhelmed with my life the past few days – my son turned 10 yesterday and he was a behavioral mess today so we kept him home (sometimes I feel like I am raising a monster). His birthday party is this Sunday and we’re kind of disorganized about the whole thing. Though this time I will be baking his cake completely sober. I also have a photo session tomorrow morning and two other families hoping to squeeze a session during the next two weeks. Kind of don’t want to deal with these people b/c I am HOSTING 11 for Thanksgiving. And we’re overdue on our VISA bill. And I’m exhausted. And my desk is a mess of papers. And because I had to keep my son home, I had to cancel my TREAT pedicure I scheduled for this am. Will postpone until Monday. I’ll survive.

    Cool thing is I haven’t desired a drink at all. I’ve cut back on the amount of chocolate I’ve been eating (thought I’d never say that). You say you’re not sleeping well. I thankfully do but that is only when I keep my oxalate intake low. I think I told you about oxalates. When I eat foods high in oxalates, it can sometimes take me 1+ hours to fall asleep, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to pee and be up for another hour, or can wake up super early and just lay there worrying about stuff even though I’m still dead tired. Something to keep in the back of your mind. Will stop telling you about oxalates!

    I’ve been saying *screw it* when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and just going to bed early. Even though I have hours of work, fuck it. World is not going to end if I just turn off the lights and walk upstairs. Good night! Meg

  • Wow, i am amazed that you feel the need to justify any aspect of what you are doing on this blog or how you may come across…we all choose to be here and choose you to guide us to the extent that you can on our collective sober journeys…we show up with all our warts and wrinkles and should expect that you will (and should) do the same. As I approach day 30 -the longest time I have gone without alcohol since my now 18 year old was born – I feel extremely grateful to have a safe, caring, and at times very amusing place to come to check in with myself and the myriad of others who are trying to stay on the same path! ‘nuf said!!!

  • Two words for design client “spam folder.”
    Two words for irritated people “their problem.”
    Two words on perfect human talk “who is?”
    Two words on future meet-up “wrong Washington” πŸ™‚
    Two words on sober bakery “great goal”
    Two words from me “belle rocks”

    Hope you are getting some well-deserved sleep.

      • Right wrong Washington….. East coast Washington meet up so much better I drive to it in a heart beat! πŸ˜‰

      • Momma bee–congrats on day 33–I’m going to start signing on under multiple e-mail addresses so we can have a “Get Belle’s Meet-up to the Right Washington” crusade. πŸ™‚ with apologies to the Washington State peeps.

  • You are an amazing woman, Belle, I’m anywhere you pick this (western) side of the Rockies for a get-together. I love sober parties-the only kind I attend anymore. I’m too valuable to get lost in the drunken haze; I like ’em intimate and memorable. Hope the cardiac issues resolve satisfactorily and all remains cool in Belle-Land.

  • Because of you helping me I’m now 117 days sober. Of course you’re not perfect, none of us are, but you’re perfect for me. As Happier said no squashing allowed.

  • And just when you are flat, I come along, read this post, and once again, see exactly what I need (me, me, me). I want you to see what you need, too, but all I can offer is a huge THANK YOU for being there for me:)

    I hope your weekend is fantastic!

  • You’ve got me committed to the straight & narrow, and I look forward to (a) your daily reply to our bit of banter and (b) your witty well written blogs.
    Everyone has an off day Belle. You more than most should be allowed one.
    You’re playing an absolute blinder on a daily basis, & there are people out here who are lucky to have you around. Please don’t forget that.

    Here Endeth the lesson πŸ˜‰

  • I have related to your blog in so many ways but mostly in hating boredom. I have to remind myself that “flat” days are normal and not everyday is supposed to be exciting and fun. I have been tolerating normal life now for over 60 days. Thanks for all your support!

  • Dear Belle,
    In any given situation this shit is hard, but you, your very rare situation? It must overwhelm the bjezus out of you.. I love why you are doing this, what it has helped you become, and what it all has done for me and the other 391 of us like me..
    Keep strong.. Take a day off.. Get sleep and you know it, eat cake…

  • 392 people? That is a lot of people. You are such an inspiration to me and I am only on day 16. I think that Seattle Meet-up is a good idea. How neat it would be to get together with a bunch of sober people and have a huge party without booze? Maybe someday!