I was more interested in wine-o’clock than I was in life-o’clock

If you’re not on the micro-email list, then you missed this email I sent out last week. It got a LOT of feedback below. Thought I’d share it here today.


Saturday April 12th

from me

Mr. Belle and I took a day-trip out of town today. Just got on a train and went ‘over there’ – to walk around, eat greek sandwiches, share pie, sit in the sun, and enjoy being away from home.

The French would say “j’ai profité de l’après-midi” – or, literally, I “profited” from the afternoon. I found benefit. Found something.

I think I found money.

Here’s what happened.

[And this can only happen because I am sober. I am certain of this. When I was drinking I did not think like this. At all.]

So we’re sitting in the sun, drinking tea, eating pie. And I have a flash. Literally a moment of clarity.

Before we left the house this morning, Mr. B had said that he needed new clothes (which is true) and I agreed that I also hadn’t bought anything for months.

And I said to him “I’m sorry. I didn’t count on us being poor.”

I didn’t say this to make him feel guilty. We are in complete agreement that what we’re doing now career-wise is the right thing for us. We could move so that he could find better work, but we’ve decided to stay here and for him to make a go of the self-employed thing. But we’re in our 40s. We were used to being a double-income no-kids family.

So here I am, eating pie in the sun. And that phrase comes out of nowhere, what I’d said this morning, it starts to replay in my head like an audio recording:

“I didn’t count on us being poor.”

And it think, well yes, I guess I did count on it. I mean, I grew up poor. I have in my life started a few one-person companies, and I’ve always earned ‘enough’, but not really super gigantically successful. And frankly, I’ve always considered this to be an improvement on how I grew up.

Like, once you surpass the socioeconomic status of your parents, you can stop.

(And really, looking at how we grew up, that’s honestly not a very high bar.)

So yeah. The pie. The sun. The relaxed-away-from-home moment. I didn’t count on us being poor.

OK, first off, we’re not poor. It’s dumb for me to even say that.

Then I realize – here’s the flash – this is a message that I tell myself that is not based on reality. It’s one of the ‘stories’ that I tell about my life. It’s something that I just ‘say’ but it’s not real. It’s some kind of old, well-ingrained reflex.

And my flash was this:

What if I am in charge of not being poor. What if I am in charge of how great my life is. What if I am not limited by the income my parents made (or didn’t make). What if being sober has provided me with a gift, a space, where I can really and truly put down the backpack of rocks that I’ve been carrying all these years about my ‘poor’ childhood.

Who will I be if I stop telling this story?

Who will I be if I use this sober stretch of life to put down the backpack and do something else, something different.

In my weirdly defensive way, I’ve always said things like “I only work as hard as I have to, to maintain the standard of living that I want, and then I stop. It’s a work-life balance thing.”

It sounds good.

That sounds like noble poverty, doesn’t it.

But is that even true?

Or is it more likely that I’ve stopped myself right at the edge, every single time in my life, over and over. I’ve stopped myself from going further. Because I’ve set the bar too low. On purpose.

You know, in the past I was always more interested in wine-o’clock than I was in life-o’clock.

And today, I had the first really clear flash that it could be different. That I can be different. Sobriety has given me a gift of clarity.

Sorry. Long email. And for some reason this seems too personal to put on the blog just yet, so I’m sending it by email instead. Weird. Yeah.

What about you? What’s in your backpack of rocks that you’ve been carrying around that you could put down? What have you been carrying for a long time, that’s not even true, that sobriety could help you fix/uncover/resolve/grow?

I think for me it’s uncovered an assumed level of noble poverty. I “profited” from the afternoon. Holy. Can’t stand my own jokes.


Happy Day 50 to The Duchess!

Happy Day 50 to Fernie!

Happy Day 50 to Chavez!

Happy Day 50 to need2stop4real!

Happy Day 100 to Fit Fat Food!

Happy Day 100 to HeatherS!

Happy Day 100 to Alicia!

Happy Day 100 to Maria-Anne!

Happy Day 100 to Anna-Lisa!

Happy Day 100 to Kzee!

Happy Day 100 to abwalsh!

Happy Day 100 to ChrisAlys!

Happy Day 123 to SJP!

Happy Day 180 to Jec is Corked!

Happy Day 200 to Anna!

Happy Day 200 to Jocelynn!




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

  • Hello Belle,
    Long time no talk, I disappeared last January and I have now returned to this very happy place where we have realizations daily. I can’t believe what I just read! The biggest reason that I want sobriety is that I want financial security and I want to earn it myself. I have always been taken care of, very well in fact, but despite that I have never felt secure. I think that is because I have never felt I could count on myself to do it and a lot of that has to with finances.

    I loved reading this realization that you’ve had. Its inspiring to know that someone else is thinking the same way. I look forward to hearing what you do and how this works out for you. I know you can do it!

    Oh and a friend of mine has a good phrase– she says child-free, not childless. I love it! I’m child-free also. 🙂

    • I’m sure some psychologist somewhere is laughing herself silly at us debating whether money = how we feel about ourselves… (duh!) it’s probably a lightbulb moment we both (and others) need to figure out.

  • I’ve recently noticed that I behave in a sort of ho-hum, glass is half empty way a lot of the time. It makes sense that I did this during my drinking days, as my glass was usually empty in both a figurative and literal way. But, since I’ve stopped drinking, my life is really great most of the time. I want to show the universe and those around me that I am grateful to be here in their presence. The negativity is baggage from my self-indulgent drinking-self.

    The last couple of months have been filled with all kinds of these realizations about who I REALLY am without alcohol.

    Day 101!!!

  • There is a great deal of insight in this post, me thinks.

    Being sober creates the mind-space needed to rethink the stories we tell ourselves. And once we rethink those stories, we then can choose better stories.

    Pretty cool.