how tiring it must be to be married to us

what must it be like to be married to us, this unique combination of high functioning, high emotion, lots of noise in our heads.

my husband, though he drank as much as I did, does not have a wolfie voice. he is not wound up by things. he doesn’t struggle with “can I, will I, should I, is there more, is this the right amount.”

it must be so tiring for him to be married to me. I may complain about his sloth tendencies and the absolute LACK of obsessing (about anything). but really, he’s dealing with me.

I’ll give you an example.

This is a true story.

My husband is perfectly content to make me a ‘special drink’ at suppertime. if I tell him specifically what I want. and how to make it. why ‘how to make it’? because I keep changing what I want.

(1) Hot chocolate from Marks & Spencer. very yummy. expensive (3,25€ for 10 packages). they have no diet or ‘lite’ option. I only bought one box of the 10 packages.

(2) Then at Christmas, I got Mr. B. a treat for his stocking (which I promptly drank): a box of instant cappuccino powdered things. I drank all of his, and started buying it regularly for myself, the little single servings, 10 to a box. Worked my way up to one or two a day. They were quite weakly flavoured, though, so had to be made in the medium coffee mugs so that there wasn’t too much water added. We have 3 sizes of mugs: large, medium, and small. My husband would make my special coffee for me in the medium cup.

(3) After a few weeks, I moved to a canister of the same powder, instead of the premeasured packages, because it was cheaper (there’s a theme here). Now that I had free reign of the powder, I switched to making a stronger, bigger dose in the large mug. Now it had to be made with 4 teaspoons of the powder with a bit of cream. in the larger mug. there. that’s pretty good. my husband would make it for me.

(4) Another few weeks. it’s too expensive. I’m going through these canisters way too often. I go to the store to buy some diet instant hot chocolate that can be made with hot water.

AND there isn’t any.

France, apparently, is a land of hot cocoa (made with milk, which I don’t drink). it’s all cocoa. no hot chocolate. And not only is there no instant hot chocolate in france, there is no ‘diet’ anything hot and chocolate-y/coffee-y. I can picture the blue canister in my Canadian memory. it was president’s choice brand. I had it all the time. But here? There’s cocoa and sugar in a can you can add hot milk to, but no instant hot chocolate.

I consider leaving the country in desperation.

(5) Instead I buy the cheapest ‘intended for milk’ cocoa mix there is (nesquik! oh my god!) and a bottle of instant decaf coffee.

now my special coffee goes like this: medium cup, 3 spoons of chocolate powder, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, cream, hot water. my husband would make it for me.

(6) Then I read something about trying to reduce the sugar in my coffee to 1 teaspoon, so I calculate the number of grams in a teaspoon of sugar (5g) then I try to figure out how small my coffee/chocolate combo should be. I switch from the medium to the small coffee cups (of the three sizes), to make a smaller 5g of sugar portion, and I mix one spoon of decaf with only one spoon of nesquik (lame) and some cream and hot water. My husband makes my coffee for me, after I clarify the specific recipe which changes daily.

(7) Last friday I had a catered event, and there was some real coffee left over, I put it in a jar. now I’m adding it a few tablespoons at a time to my little special coffee, for a tiny bit of caffeine but also to use it up. My husband makes my coffee for me, BUT every day, now, he has to ask me ‘how I want it’.

(I want to moderate my drinking, I can’t figure out how to do it, I try things that don’t work because the thing I’m looking for isn’t in the alcohol.)

I have an idea of what I want and I keep changing, because I can’t match the idea. for the hot chocolate coffee combo? I’m looking for some feeling that isn’t there. It reminds me of home. when I used to have it before my sunday long runs. I can still remember the sound the spoon made in the square blue cup (that the movers broke). mix a bit of powder in the bottom with cream, then add hot water.

why do I want that experience now?


what am I getting instead? gritty nesquik in a small less-than-5g-cup with an endlessly patient husband (but how patient is he, really, how long can he tolerate the intolerable).

(8) yesterday morning I got up and did research on homemade instant hot chocolate. it is really just cocoa, sugar and powdered milk. I have all that. I make some, it’s fine. but it has 30 g of sugar in one cup.

(9) yesterday afternoon I walked to the Marks & Spencer to check out the hot chocolate they have (again). surely this would be easier. but it has 26 g of sugar per serving and it’s 3,25€ for 10. I leave without buying any.


if the thing that I’m looking for isn’t IN the hot coffee drink, then it’s time for me to move on. stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. go back to tea. I was drinking only tea before. I liked it there. my husband can make tea: add one bag to the teapot, fill with water. serve with any mug. it’s just plain easier.

(if the feeling you’re looking for isn’t in the alcohol, they stop fucking with the quantities, timing, types and tricks. just move on. the thing you’re looking for isn’t in there. the feeling better? it’s not in a bottle.)


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

  • Thank you for this, Belle! I listened to your 1 minute message “No U-turns,” and this really reinforces my memory of that, which I think of often. At day 57 I am feeling like my ‘Drinking Radio Station’ is coming much less frequently. However, I couldn’t turn it off days 1-3, and then some others. I feel like I am in cruise control right now, and enjoying new experiences.

  • I absolutely get this Belle. There are a couple of non alcoholic drinks that I now drink alcoholically…. To the extent that I feel mild panic if I have forgotten to buy limes or don’t have ice cubes in the freezer. They can’t be shop bought ice cubes as they have rounded edges. My ice cubes need to be square don’t you know?

  • This is the best title of any blog I’ve ever read. And your points are all valid. You’ve given me much to write and think about. Although I won’t be sharing this with my wife. Haha.

  • I love this. My husband also does not have the voice! It’s awful to try to bring him into my Head and explain the way I think. I often think he may leave due to me being crazy…lol How hard it must be to be married to us…

  • The best my husband can do is pour me a tonic with lime. Only when I aske. It is never offered. You are lucky!

  • I’m doing this now. But with chips, treats, what ever. I just made it through a weekend catching up with my brother and his family sho I hadn’t seen in 5 years. We use to drink a lot together, he still does. When I was driving home I stopped and bought a v8, a ginger beer, (na) and a Starbucks ice mocha thing. I drank them pretty much all at once in the car with the kids being like why do you need three drinks at once? I need a treat. But do we? Do we need to keep turning to external soothers that will never add up? Back to meditation? I need balance, I’m not drinking but my sugar in take is so high! I still hate myself. There is something else. Am not feeling responsible for in my life waiting for a dink or my husband to fix it. Or a move. Gosh darn it life is hard, and I have it pretty good, makes me want to just give up cause I never feel like I am going to be able to do it right.

    • it’s pretty normal to use treats as rewards when we first quit drinking, especially to begin. i use bubble bath all the time to soothe. that’s external to me. i use shaving my legs as a way to soothe (no kidding). that’s external to me. and i use cake on occasion. and v8 juice. and nice tonic water. i think that the restriction/deprivation model is too hard. quitting drinking is hard enough. our brain thinks we should give up everything. but should we?

  • I love the analogy. Truly. Trying to find what is missing from my life by drinking my way through it…doesn’t work. Still asking myself how I got into that situation in the first place…and that’s just a waste of energy!

  • I got a laugh out of this. It shows much more to our personalities than just trying to find a certain drink. Well done.

  • Good post. Spot on! Same thing happened to me when I gave up alcohol; became I caffeine fiend because I was looking for that fix. Needed to learn to live without a fix like I did when I was a child.

  • This is one of my favorite posts! I do the same thing with my mocktail. More tonic? More pomegranate? Maybe I should switch to grapefruit. 😉 Searching to make it something it isn’t. Waiting for it to bring comfort or soothe my anxiety when I know that my emotional health is not directly tied to what beverage I choose. But because I let alcohol do the internal work for me for so long it can seem that way.