are you unique?

This is plenty strange. I’m preparing something for the press (fuck, let’s stop right there and gasp, shall we?) and i’m considering how to describe myself. like, what is it that makes me unique in this sober space.

It’s a weirdly navel-gazing exercise. and it makes me heaps of uncomfortable-like. Because we’re all unique. I’m not more unique than someone else. I’m a sober girl, who has found her sobriety insurance in the form of being a sober penpal. The rest, to me, is extra. Really. I’m not trying to be modest. i’m trying to be serious.

Anyway. here’s an exercise. you can help me and think about you at the same time.

In the comments, please write what you think is unique about me and this sober thing. You might say i’m a *good* writer and i’ll say that lots of people are good writers, that’s not unique. maybe i’m being difficult, or maybe i’m missing something obvious.

So after you write what you think is unique about me (holy), then in the same comment, write something that is unique about YOU. what special talent, or combination of talents, or attribute, or loveliness do you have that hardly anyone else has. It’s hard, right? I mean, it’s easier to do it about someone else than it is to do it about yourself.

if this gets strange, or seems self-serving, i’ll take the post down. if you come back later and this is missing, you’ll know why 🙂


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

  • Belle- you are brave and strong, willing to speak fearlessly and post about a difficult and personal topic that many of us- including me, had previously been afraid to discuss with anyone. Thank you for being you and for helping me feel less alone. Xoxo.

    Something lovely about me? That’s difficult today, but tomorrow will be better.

  • Well, Belle:
    No one else has ever called me ‘sweet pea,’ much less in the context of a reply to an email in which I admitted I was falling apart. And it made me laugh, and it made me cry (for another hour) and it made it alright to cry (for another hour). Then I got up and got on with things. Thank you.
    I’m not sure that anyone can identify what makes them unique. I have a weird skill set, a gothic past, and really good taste in men, but so do many people. And, I’m on day 90–which is not at all unique, and I am surprised and happy to learn that. Here’s a hooray for all us 90 dayers!

    • i had to call you sweet pea right before i gave you shit for being too hard on yourself 🙂 you taking care of you is a big deal. day 91 today. hooray for you.

  • Dear Belle,
    What makes you unique is the personal connections you make to each one of us.
    You take time to respond to each one of us, giving encouragement and hope.
    Your “Wolfie” voice gives us a way to talk to our urges.
    Your 100 day challenge gives us a running start.
    Your sober art, gives us way to see we can do more than drink.
    No one I know offers this and more.
    You have helped me get and stay sober and I am forever grateful!

  • How are you unique?

    Well, when I first read your blog it struck a chord with me. You have the ability to write in a way that has me often thinking, “That’s exactly how I feel,” which allows for a more meaningful personal connection during the recovery process. You’re like the cousin everyone wishes they had, someone who doesn’t judge when you screwed up or listens when you need to bitch, a straight talker who can set you on the right path when you’ve lost your way.

    How am I unique?

    It pains me to write, but when I finish my work, I find the process satisfying. I also have red hair and I like to think that I can laugh about myself.

  • You’re unique because you’re telling people that this shit is hard work but at the same time you help them to believe that they can do it and, more importantly, you help them to find a way to believe that they are worth the hard work.

    That, in combination with the personal emails, the very manageable 100 days approach and the encouragement to step back onto the horse each and every time you fall off also make this page unique.

    Me? I’m unique because for about 10 years I was certain that my drinking would just slowly get worse and worse because I would never be able to stop. But I did stop and now I can’t imagine it any other way. I see lots of people who need to do what I have done but aren’t ready yet. So I am grateful that I found the strength and courage – with my first baby steps here on this blog – and I know that that makes me unique.

    Big hugs,
    Kirst xx

  • Starting with the 1st definition from Merriam Webster dictionary, on unique:
    — used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else
    The shape of each and every snowflake is unique.
    His talents make him truly unique.

    Belle, you have unique talents and a unique skill set that you use in a new way with a new mix of social media and technology tools to lead a community of people to live in the present, in sobriety.

    I can’t go into details about my uniqueness because there could be people who would know who I am from that description, ergo, I am unique. All of my life people have told me I’m different. I relish that, it gives me energy.

    With all of that uniqueness I read the blogs and Belle’s writings and say hey that’s me, too. That sounds like me.

  • Belle , there’s no one like you ! I mean most in recovery might decide to give back by being a sponser … But you chose to think up this 100 day challenge …. That had no choice but to expand into gynormous proportions !!! It must be incredibly hard to keep up wih yet you make it seem light and easy and you DO know who we are and keep us all straight in your head !
    you always forgive, you always take us back , you always understand ! I mean I’m not super religious …. But truly this is a very forgiving and spiritual thing you’re doing !

  • Well, Belle, I would have to say that I can think of no one, except maybe mother Teresa, who invests in the lives of others as deeply and as sincerely as you do. It takes alot of time to do what you do….and for freakin free. What? You are amazing. As for me? I haven’t figured that one out yet…. I know this for sure…you have made me a better person. Or rather helped me to expose the beautiful me that was already there and needed a little resurrection belle power.

  • Belle, you are unique because of this crazy, wild thing you do for all of us. Your encouragement on all levels is undeniably awesome. Not only do you send emails, and you are consistent with this whether you are in or out of the 100 day challenge, you also send out snail mail as well. I believe you will also send out care packages that contain homemade cookies… across the ocean, for God’s sake! You are truly a gem. I am unique because I am always willing to try to make positive changes in my life despite taking on some pretty bad habits earlier on. I just don’t give up, because I can see that bright future ahead of me.

  • I think what makes you unique is that, as you’ve seen, a lot of people attempt to get sober, but very few are able to quickly bust out of the isolation that most of us have in common (i.e. isolation of the drinking problem). And in busting out of that isolation find that the closest thing to a cure is to create an interact in a community of meaningful relationships. It is a simple act, but it is rare and not easy to do.

    I’m unique in that I am a pretty natural mediator and can be conscious of a lot of people’s feelings and interests at the same time (except for when I self-indulge in drinking, of course).

  • Fuck you wolfie…….now that is unique! As for me? hhhhmmmmm, God made me special – uniquely special! And tomorrow is 100 days for me (which isn’t all that special but I thought I’d toot my own horn!) xxoo

  • You are unique because you have become like a longtime childhood friend to me in only 100 days; it seems you know exactly where I came from and where I am now. You also have the unique ability to know what to say and when to say it, having never met me, and it is always right on. You have gotten into my soul and believe me, that is unique, for few have. You have a unique program that helps without stigma, without shame, and you give it away which is totally unique in this world today. You say we help you, yet you have no “Belle” of your own and yet, uniquely, stay sober and take on more and more of us little chicks, clinging to your life raft, and guide us down this path out of love with determination. You own unique and we are all better each time you let it into the world. I am just a regular woman who didn’t like the way drinking was making her feel, no uniqueness there, and I surely didn’t go out into the world and blog and try to help someone. You claim that unique title, the Sober Queen of Unique!

  • You provide a balance of practical experience and humor in the service of healing a bunch of strangers. Who does that? Who thinks and imagines that all up? And for what? It wasn’t money, it was a way to heal yourself…this story gets better and better. This is an unconditional love for self and others that is self replicating…this is the model that you imagined and created. Who does that? Belle does.
    Me? I make up crazy voices for puppets to guide teachers to their own creative voice. A playful child in the body of a middle-aged woman.

  • You are unique like a mother! My sober mother,you hold my spirits up when I repeatedly fall,and you give guidance and audios that are real with no b.s. You are my lifeline to the sober world and my pen pal. Your way of communicating is unique with flair! I am unique because I am a person who can’t handle alcohol,who is struggling,and you are my lighthouse everyday and for that I am grateful you haven’t dumped me back into the sea of distress!

  • Namaste: I’m writing this before reading your other comments, but IMHO, what makes you unique is that (now don’t freak out everyone) you basically use behavior therapy to help us, without being a behavior therapist yourself. You understand that positive reinforcement must be preferred by the person who needs to change a behavior (treats) that it cannot be the behavior itself (booze) and that a thick schedule of reinforcement is needed at the beginning that can be thinned out over time. You set a goal (100 days) and visually remind of us of our progress (daily emails). You are more reliable than my alarm clock. In short, you are a wonderful teacher.

    About me (the teacher)… What is unique about me? You’re right, this is harder. I enjoy working with “challenging” children. That’s unique? I’ll have to get back on this one.

  • Dearest Belle,
    I echo every single word written above. But, for me, what makes you unique is that you put a “face” to the monster that is alcoholism – WOLFIE! For me this was life changing. No one else ever did that. There was no face, just emotions and thoughts that controlled our drinking, so I was the bad guy, the looser To have an actual “being” to fight against made it something I could take control of and do battle against AND WIN!
    You are so right (as usual)…it is so hard to think of what is unique about myself. Perhaps what makes me unique is my ability to see the good in people and in situations……to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. I’m not naive about the world and its problems, I just try to always see the positive in all situations and the good in all people.

  • The way you express your thoughts and feelings, that’s what I was drawn to. Honest & genuine. You give a shit and I love how you take the time to personally respond to the emails. No bullshit either. I <3 what you do here.
    Ummmm….. I'm good at saving $!

  • Belle, you’re unique because you haven’t given up on me, even though I’ve had so many Day ones. And your emails to me hit just the right note; you seem to know me. How is that possible?
    Not sure how I am unique…hmmm…maybe an honest voice on my blog? But isn’t everyone honest on their blogs? Annie x

  • You, Belle, are unique because you are able to love people who feel unlovable, until they can love themselves. You are unique because you found a gentle way to reach out to scared strangers and give hope to them in a safe environment. You are unique because your desire for others to live a sober life is purely selfless, in a world that at times seems so selfish. You are unique because in all the business of life, you are a constant, your messages instructive, hopeful, and personal. I know I have never met anyone quite like you. Your service to others is an inspiration to many.

    I am unique because I have a second chance at life, and it is amazing!


  • You are constant.
    You are dependable and accessible.
    You know what to say cos you have been there and that counts for so much.
    You live in my computer and my iPhone and you are always around when I need reassurance.
    All those things my friend, make you- to me- unique.

  • Dear lovely Belle, I have never encountered someone with such deep empathy and heart. You are able to meet people just exactly where they are, without judgement. You never give up on anyone. And you have a calm gentle strength that has led to getting sober by yourself and living in a foreign country and building your own businesses and reaching out to hundreds (thousands?) of people every day. I know you say you do it for your own benefit but I think there are few people who would be able to do it with the kindness, patience, understanding and compassion that you express. You are very insightful and honest. And often very funny. My life is richer for having “met” you.

    me? I am a wild haired, spiritual, hippie bookworm, finally learning to live my life honestly.

  • What’s unique about you is that you are personable and real…you really answered when I called for help so it feels like a friend who isn’t judging but understands the struggle.

    Me? Unique? No but a weird thing is …My people would say I’m an extrovert, but I’m really an introvert…tested and proved…probably why I started drinking in the first place…

  • Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you”. Dr. Seuss was certainly wise. And you are also unique because you end all your podcasts with, “Okay, good-bye” in that crazy funny voice and I crack up every time!!!!!

  • Your ability to get to the heart of the issue is uncanny. You’re like a skilled surgeon with a finely-honed scalpel, cutting through the muck. And we’re left with the bare simplicity of truth.

    What makes me (somewhat) unique is my ability to laugh, and make other people laugh, even as we are despairing.

  • What makes you unique is your tenacity and dedication to this blog and to all your readers and sober penpals. I have seen many, many sober blogs come and go, some just abandoned without a parting note. You, Belle, clearly have a deep and abiding appreciation for those who reach out and seem to have an endless well of support to offer. You have filled a much needed void and greatly changed the status quo of how to get, maintain and sustain a sober life.

    As for the possible comment of there being plenty of “good” writers out there and that’s not so unique, well, yes! That speaks to something much bigger: It’s not being good at it that matters, but the telling of the story. And that is what makes us all unique.

  • Belle,
    You are unique because you care for others. You are selfless and have helped countless people on their sober journey. The domino effect from someone getting sober will affect their family relations, marriage, work, health, and frienships. The future generation that will not drink because they are being raised by sober parents. Plus you are funny and super into reality.

    It is hard to write your own unique attribute , for me I will say I have love in my heart and a good sense of humor- oh yeah and sober too !!

  • You are irreverent, funny, honest and completely relatable. You have the ability to write posts that nearly everyone can identify with. Although your early posts during your first year of sobriety were about you, they weren’t narcissistic or self-centered. Unlike my (private) blog, your posts have a sense of humor and quick wit. It reminds me of reading David Sedaris’ work – horrifying and hilarious at the same time.

    Unique about me? Hmmm.. I’m irreverent, funny and honest. And I care less and less what people think of me as I get older. I am finally learning to stand in my own truth, whether or not it ruffles a few feathers!
    Still Breathing

  • I think it is interesting that you are able to navigate this sort of public persona/display and not be driven to drink. Public appearances and attention from the press are almost always guaranteed to drive me to the wine bottle, that is why have not done a public appearance for over a year. More power to you if this type of exposure does not get under your skin.

  • We haven’t met, and we haven’t been communicating that much (relatively speaking), or for that long. And yet, you have this amazing ability to make me feel better.

    For me, and I imagine for a lot of others, that is what is unique about you Belle.

    You just make me feel BETTER.

    That mightn’t sound like much, but it is, it is huge.

    As for me, I can only think of one thing that might make me unique. I’m not sure, but I’ve never met anyone else who is the same as me in this respect. I can’t burp.

    Birch Girl xxxx (Day 39)

  • You are unique because you are human.

    I’m also unique because I’m human.

    The beauty of your uniqueness is that you are willing to reach out to perfect strangers and offer them an understanding of themselves, better, wider and deeper than they currently grasp within.

  • Belle, what makes you unique is your honesty. You don’t condemn your fellow boozers (ex-boozers); you give us the gifts of your experience and information and tools – you understand how we can fall and pick ourselves up, and you give us a hand. You aren’t A.A., you’re a different way to sobriety. A more scenic route? You say FUCK!
    What makes me unique is my generally positive outlook, and my sense of humor. I say FUCK! (I say a lot of other stuff, too.)

  • You: Your uniqueness comes from within.. Its like you are a friend to hundreds of people, and only know a handful of us personally in real life.. This is so unique.. To be completely honest and open and always there for those of us that feel alone and friendless and hopeless in our sad, lonely, desperation to get sober.. You are unique by being a genuine caring person that stays sober and is able to let shit go even though you may hear some god awful shit.. You are unique because you are the one and only Belle, no more no less..
    Me: My uniqueness comes also from within.. I am an average girl next door with many many unique secrets and attributes that I rarely share.. I am unique because I am a care giver in my home and in my job.. I listen and give.. Now in sobriety I am unique because I can leave what I don’t need and take care of me.. I am unique because I am apart of a cyber sober cult that fulfills a part of my sober tool kit and I have no problem being apart of it.. I am unique because I am a 20 year drunk in RECOVERY…..
    I am so proud of you for getting positive press and moving forward with this Sober Cyber Movement.. You are Unique, You are Appreciated, You are Loved..

  • You’re unique in that you make each of us feel special and unfearing of what’s next! As if we are actually sitting at your table having tea and cookies and bashing Wolfie together! Pure friendship! I’m unique because I’m a badass sober Pastry Chef living in the middle of the ocean! 😉 Thank You for all you do Belle! Xoxoxo

  • Hi belle
    What makes you and your blog unique to me is the strength of character that comes through. You tell it like it is – raw honesty – you are real – you are positive about sobriety. Your audios are funny, compassionate, moving, have really practical information – love them.
    You offer a really good alternative to AA- ( no disrespect to AA- have been , and never want to go back – too much guilt and stigma)
    Still working on my special talents – just wanted to send this off before I get distracted by other things

  • Anonymous: You know, what’s unique about you is your remarkable ability to communicate. You are an excellent writer, but so are loads of people.
    Somehow, you speak in a way that communicates and illuminates the common parts of our experience- you start out trying to explain how you feel, but you seem to always do so in a way that ends up explaining how we all feel. You tell each story for all of us. You’ve made a remarkably personal, deeply intimate conversation immediately accessible to us, from the other side of a prison wall. You really understand the prison – you’re free, and you want us to know exactly how to get free, too.

  • You’re unique because you add value to your own but particularly our sober journeys. You’re standing on that ledge, just ahead of us, reaching a helping hand down to us. You sprinkle magic Soberdust around so we follow the trail, gaining nuggets of wisdom and treats as we go.
    I’m unique because I’m firing up my creative imagination to fuel my journey to Soberdom.

  • Belle: You are unique because of your ability to say exactly what I need to hear at the exact moment that I need to hear it. You’re honest and realistic and compassionate and funny all at the same time. The amount of time you spend writing to all of us, blogging and talking to us via your podcasts is an incredible gift. Hello…the one-on-one phone calls…good God, who does that??? You make me feel like living the sober life is so worth it and so possible and actually, the best way to live. The knowledge and experience about this sober life that you share with us helps us get through our struggles. I have found myself saying…What Would Belle Do??? in many life, not just drinking, situations. Thank you!!!

    I’m unique because I’m hilarious, and I wear my heart on my sleeve, so basically everyone knows my exact thoughts by looking at my face.

    Love, ME

  • You’re unique in that you reply to every single person who reaches out to you, and as far as I know you stay with them as long as they want you to. Unheard of. Never come across it before. It’s marvellous.

    I’m unique in that no-one else had my childhood, no-one did all of the things I chose to do as an adult and I’m the only person I know who’s living this life. It’s a great place to be, sober, too.

    Each of us is unique, in that we are the first person who has the unique blend of their past and their present. The little things that each of us can say we share with a shedload of other people like talents, skills and personality traits, are just that, shared, but opening the package is entirely differnt every time you come across a new person. Have you ever wondered why no two suitcases you’ve ever packed to go on holiday were identical? Surely they should be, because we’ve practised this skill a lot, but somehow we’ve never decided it should be exactly the same as the last time. That’s also Us. It’s the mix, the blend, the packed suitcase, that is unique.

    In your case, the metaphor would probably be a recipe, thinking about this exercise and you. No two recipes are identical, are they? And every batch of cookies is also unique. That’s what we want; we only settle for clones from the supermarket because we’re too busy living life to the full to bake from scratch every day.

    I don’t belong on a supermarket shelf and neither do you.

  • You are unique because you offer personal support and hand holding in a time of intense stress for your followers. And you do it with compassion and realism, not a big stick or fear.
    I’m unique because I offer a glimpse of the power of self compassion and love through my own experiences.

    We are all amazing.


  • What makes you unique is that you started a program based on a new, very positive and practical way for people to have hope that they could heal. You gave us an alternative that works! That simple first week stuff is worth millions of dollars, the taking care of me, long term, changed the way we look at this as not a disease that is incurable. Getting us past the stigma.

    You have great ways of sharing our collective hope and determination. Therapists must be losing money at this point! They want us to think we are never gonna get better.

    What’s unique about me is that I am religious, and so being sober is really important to me as part of who I am … and that also gives me HOPE and so I think God sent you to me after years of praying and putting things in my life in place to be able to really get sober and healthy and back to my old self. Because he knows me! And evidently, so do you!

  • As a resource, there is nothing like it. There is tuff luv, candid anecdotes, and a willingness to embrace repeated do-overs unconditionally. One can be passive (read bogs, order podcasts) or active (comment on blogs, e mail Belle daily) and team 100 breaks down sobriety in smaller achievable chunks. Humor inspires. No top down approach, it’s peer support. Lived success.

    The organic evolution of Tired of a Thinking About Drinking is a beautiful thing. Much like the organic process of recovery. Also, Belle encourages user feedback and input about how this resource operates. She is the catalyst for sober members to support other sober members in various ways. Themed photo submissions, for example, are ways we can have fun in recovery and learn more about each other. Very unique flare….. Undoubtedly the most unique sober resource I have used in my years of tryin’.

  • The press?!? Wow. I can say I knew you when…..
    What makes you unique? How many people put together sober “treat packages”? Who takes their precious time and records a sober podcast and wants to give it away for FREE but has to charge 10 cents for it?!? Who records a sober podcast about ME and sends it to ME? Who answers you emails personally and not with a generic “that’s great keep it up” or “yeah, I will restart you”. Shall I continue? I’m using a ranty voice in my head as a write this. Like it should all be in caps.
    My uniqueness? Not sure….. Other than being a major Wiseass