Some pretty amazing stuff happened in yesterday’s open call. one of the parts that i keep thinking about is when we practised feeling better. If you listen to the audio, this part starts approximately 24 minutes into the call. Here’s an extract from the transcript:
We’re going to practise it now. We’re going to practise accepting help. Here’s how it goes.
Everybody’s going to sit. Relax your shoulders. And have a couple of big sighs.
It’s hard to accept that help is possible. It’s hard to accept that your life can and will be different if you are sober for a longer period of time.
If you are 180 days sober, it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever get to one year. You don’t even know why you’re bothering. If you’re on day 7, you think this whole thing is rotten and you don’t know what the point is. I guess what I’m saying is that you can have a rotten moment no matter where you are in the process.
So let’s practise feeling better, shall we? It goes like this:
For about the next 25 seconds you are going to pretend that you’re happy. And that you’re sober. And that there’s help for you.
If this is an uncomfortable feeling, I’m going to tell you that you don’t have to do it for very long, just for about 25 seconds. All of the anxiety that you have that you’re broken and that it can’t be fixed, you’re just going to set that down – just for 25 seconds.
I know that it’s impossible to give up being anxious forever just because somebody asks you to. I’m just asking you to practise it now.
We’re going to let go of the anxiety that we cannot be fixed.
We’re going to let go of the fear that there isn’t anybody to help.
We’re going to accept the fact that we are in charge of our own lives and how happy we are, and that that’s a good thing. Because the world is full of lots of opportunities and things – and I don’t want the same things in my life that you want in your life, so it’s good that you’re in charge of you, because you get to pick and add the things to your life that you like.
So we’re going to practise it. Are you ready? Crying is fine. Crying is actually good sign.
[Crying is a great sign. It means you’re listening. It means you’re actually getting it. Because you know what? There’s a lot of defensiveness – “this is bullshit, and this doesn’t work for me”– and honestly I think that if there’s crying that means that it’s actually going in. Maybe you don’t like it and it feels uncomfortable. I understand that.]
OK, here we go. Twenty-five seconds. Now just listen to me and pretend that what I’m saying is true, OK?
I am a happy sober person. I’m not broken. Once I stopped drinking I realized that my life got dramatically better. And all those ideas of moderation – whether they are true or not – I don’t need to consider them because what I have right now is actually great. Sobriety is actually great. Even if I could drink again, I wouldn’t.
There’s lots of support for me. There’s lots of help for me. I raise my hand, there’s help there right away.
I’m taking good care of me and other people are taking care of me, too, and that’s OK.
I’m going to put down that backpack of rocks that I’ve been carrying around with me for fucking 25 years … 20 years … 15 years … 40 years … set it down.
‘Oh but Belle, it’s my family, I can’t set down my whole family backpack of rocks in one go’ … I know you can’t. Just set it down for about 25 seconds.
That’s it. You can relisten to that clip of audio. You can accept help when it’s there. And you can practise the feeling that it’s going to be OK. Because I know that it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be OK all the time. I know that. It doesn’t.
You can practise feeling better for short periods of time until it becomes more true for you, until it feels more real.
“Belle, what if you forget what happy feels like?”
Superb way to end this post, Belle, such an important question to explore, tease apart, discuss, ponder and attempt to answer in a way that honors the asker and the seeker. What if we don’t remember what happy feels like and how to recreate it in our lives; how do we move forward sensibly… Such a great opener; I bow to the asker and thank her for her poignancy amidst the unknown.
On practicing accepting help-
Thank you for the reminder that we are not broken and there is help- like your blog. I think I am having a hard day and feeling sorry for myself that my grown up self took all the drugs away- this last one alcohol- forever. I was having a little pity party and started to cry Reading your post-that’s right! Not broken! As I read on with blurry eyes and mascara running- I came to the part about putting the backpack of rocks down – only my eyes were Teary and I read “cocks”.
Why does Belle need to put down a backpack of cocks? Wait a minute- I went back to re-read that line …oh ROCKS not COCKS. Right! Got it! The whole thing snapped me out of it and made me laugh.
It is a good thing to not take ourselves so serious. I think only our egos can be broken but not the real deep down truth of who we are!
that is hilarious and LOL. honestly. maybe I should clarify in future. whatever is in your heavy backpack? put it down. don’t need to know what’s inside! you make me smile : )
This is terrific stuff Belle!
I have nothing but appreciation and admiration for you and the service that you provide to such a great and needing number of people.
You mentioned (the following are clearly my words as I did not take the time to transcribe your words) that you may have creeping thoughts that tell you with all that you have accomplished, with all that you have experienced and with as well as you are you could at least try moderation. You also mentioned that you understand this to not be a possibility. To much of your content that I have read and to this last point in particular I can relate.
There are times that I have briefly entertained the idea of learning to drink in moderation now that I am where I am at in my sobriety and self-learning but it is because of those exact same points that I know that I cannot drink in moderation. Thankfully, I am not resigned to that knowledge, rather I am empowered by it. It is a beautiful thing to be sober, trying times and all. For me, recovery and sobriety have been what has allowed me to grow and learn to love. What more could I want?
Thank you for being the inspiration that you are and best wishes moving forward.