for me, it’s about doing something—not waiting for the feelings to shift. sometimes i have to put jumper cables on the battery. Sometimes i have to push the car down a slight incline and pop the clutch. there is no waiting to feel like it. the car does not start with willpower. the car does not start with you saying “this is my day 1, i’m quitting drinking today.” the car starts with you doing something. (“oh but i am doing something, i’m SAYING that i’m starting, that’s something.” and i say: and if you restart, then you know that saying “this is day 1” isn’t enough of a push so you—wait for it—do something else. to start the car.)
there is no waiting to feel like it. there is no click (“i’m waiting for something to click.”) this waiting? life is sifting and sorting and shifting and moving. and you’re standing there saying “i just have to feel like it. i have my own little rules, belle, i have to have the first of the month, or the moon spots, or after the vacation. i have to feel like it, belle. well yes, i HAVE been standing here for years as my life sifts and sorts and moves by, but belle i’ve been waiting to feel like it. yes, i’ve been waiting for a while, but that means i must be close, right? like if i wait to feel like it just a bit more, then the car will fucking start by itself because i WILL it to do so. no? you mean i have to put gas in the car, put the key in the ignition, get driving lessons, change the oil, check the tire pressure, put my hands on the wheel, slow down in snowstorms, tune into a better station on the radio? well belle, that sounds like too much effort, i’d rather stand here and will that fucking car to start. i’d rather not bother learning to drive a car, so many things to consider. what? a car can take me places? places that i can’t even see now, yet, at all? smacks of effort, belle. if sobriety is like a little car, then it sounds like driving is taking on too much.”
said no one, ever.
because you do, in fact, drive a car, think nothing of it, do what needs to be done, learn the things you need to learn, do the maintenance, because you LIKE the trade-off. you LIKE what the car can do for you. where it can take you. where does your sober car take you?
there is no waiting to feel like being sober. there is no click. there’s a numbing and a progressive giving-up-ness. the way to feel better is to stop pouring the booze on your head. NO SHIT it’s overwhelming and hard: you’re bathing in “can’t give a shit” liquid. you’re looking for a click to quit drinking in a bottle of anaesthetic.
you hand over choice, coherency, balance and sense-making. you wait to feel like it? the booze has dulled the switch, the electricity barely flowing. and when you’re in that state of darkness, your poor brain will tell you that the only thing that makes sense is to drink more. and so you do.
(except you’re here, reading this, so i know something that you don’t.)
so you do, you drink more. until you hear this: there is no waiting to feel like it. there is just beginning. the feeling like it comes later. the mood changes after the action. you can stop waiting now. if you were waiting for a click, here it is.
“if only there was a sign, a clear indicator, something that told me it was time to exit the booze elevator, get off and stay off …”
this is painting #363 here > www.artsober.com
when you’re in that state of darkness, your poor brain will tell you that the only thing that makes sense is to drink more. and so you do.
How many times have I decided to have only 4….I mean it’s only Lite Beer so 4 is ok, right? Starting at 2pm, pop in a movie, only drinking 4 then water til bed. Only that’s not what happens. It’s starting at 2pm, pop in a movie, drinking 4 then getting the bright idea to pop in another movie bc by then my brain thinks it’s a great idea. By the time I’m finished, 12 beers disappear in 10 hours but even so I’m obliterated going to bed at midnight, sleeping til 4am when I’m awakened by my pounding heart which switches back & forth with a pounding head. Getting up at 6:30 am to take care of my dogs, feeling like shit & swearing this will never happen again. But it will & has for several years, too many to count.
This has been happening 2 or 3 days a week. I am a binge drinker. Never thought I was an alcoholic bc I didn’t drink every day or need alcohol to calm the shakes or a quivery stomach. I’ve done at least 3 – 90 day, 1- 65 day & 1- 30 day abstinence’s in 5 years only to return to my previous levels.
At this point I’m 4 days sober not wanting to stop at 90 or 100 or whatever. I want to quit forever. It’s great to read of others who have the exact same experiences as me.
I needed to read this. I’ve been waiting to feel like it, thinking that one day I would wake up and want it badly enough. I think today I’m angry enough about my drinking to try something different, something I’ve never done before, even though I’m teeming with thoughts and concerns about “what the hell am I doing?”. I can’t keep putting this off hoping that I’ll be ready, I’m never truly going to be ready…but today. I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be.
Today is day 1. It is 4:50pm, and normally I’d be pouring my first glass to have while I make dinner. I’m signing up for the daily emails instead.
Click! Ha ha. Yep – needed that. I’m never going to feel like it and I’m also never going to have a stress free life. So I need to get the car going and keep it going no matter what kind of storms I have to drive it through.
Excellent! 3 days…
I was always waiting for the “right” moment.
I went to the west coast with my family for a 3 day getaway in Feb and before we left, it was my intention that I would not drink that weekend. I purchased Belle’s audiobook and started to listen to it on the 3 hour drive there.
When I walked into our oceanfront accommodation, the view of the waves crashing on the rocks was stunning. And then I looked in the kitchen, and there on the counter was 2 complimentary bottles of wine! I immediately thought, heck yes, that is exactly what this moment needs right now, a large glass of wine to enjoy this beautiful view. “I’ll wait until I get home in 3 days to stop drinking”, I told myself. The compulsion to drink was SOOOOOOO strong (the wolfie marketing for drinking was intense, but now I’ve learned it only showed the 1% of the fun part, and missed out on the 99% of all the terrible fall out that would occur if I drank it).
Anyways, some how, I postponed opening the wine (white knuckles) and willed myself to go outside for a walk with my earbuds and Belle’s audiobook. I hiked along the trail, watching the waves crash onto the rocks and listened to Belle’s voice explaining all the wolfie lies, and flat out suggested that I just needed to “stop drinking”. She then started talking about “when is the right time to stop drinking?”. She shared an email from someone who wanted to stop, but it was 2 days before christmas or some holiday. And Belle’s advice, was “stop today”, “today’s a great day to stop”. “You will start feeling better sooner if you stop today” (or something similar:)).
And those words struck a cord in me – I stopped that day (day 35 now!) and realized, it’s now or never. It’s never going to get easier. I’m sick of making excuses. I don’t want to waste yet another vacation drinking too much and feeling shitty. While I really want to drink that glass of wine and look out at the ocean, I can still look at the ocean without the wine. I’m not going to die. I may feel like it, but I won’t actually die.
And I didn’t drink and I made it through the weekend and enjoyed myself so much more sober. I am so proud I heeded Belle’s advice and started feeling better that day. I didn’t wait.
Absolutely brilliant, well done. I’ve ruined so many holidays with booze, anxiety attacks and hangovers. Can’t wait until I can enjoy a booze free ocean view!
I Love That Car… as it can take me anywhere, anytime I want to go somewhere, do something I would not have been able to do if I was still drinking, fighting off Wolfie every day.
Day 73 today and it feels amazing to get up, head and body ready for another day of driving anywhere and doing anything I want to do. Sun is shining, here I come…
You were one of my clicks with your messages! Today 236 days!
Agreed. Maybe it’s like looking for a four-leaf clover or the lucky penny on the street. Waking up, saying “today I’ll find one” (without getting up from the bed, of course!) might not work in most cases. I’ve definitely tried that. And then I started walking … and then some day, I actually find a five euro note. And then? Not picking it up because it’s the wrong lucky click sign? I’m not THAT stupid! 😉
I love that analogy Lena 👍😁
This is very Zen, and just perfect for me today. I just need to do something, anything, other than pour on the liquid shit of course, that never worked.
No one ever really wants to quit drinking, after the remnants of the hangover are gone. We forget how embarrassed, sick, tired and anxiety ridden we were. Never have I said that I felt great after a night of drinking. Nope not ever! Fun? I thought all my fun times were over when I quit. They’ve only just begun. Imagine I just got home , and it’s dark.
I love the last line: click. Thanks Belle!
Day 22 for me alcohol free. The ‘wine witch’ beckons loudest between 5 and 7pm….grrrrrrr. But then I remember the lovely pink clouds that surround me each morning with clarity and energy- and that’s what I focus on. Ding dong the wine witch is dead yet another day…
Thinking about cars and driving- one of the pros of giving up drinking I can help out with picking up family from the station at night! In the past I couldn’t have as wine came before helping out the family. It’s great to feel so free from thinking about drinking (coming up to day 100)and I thinking of that new car I always fancied but didn’t think I deserved it (far too good for me!) Not anymore – will be a lovely reward for being off the booze (and chauffeur extraordinaire). Now to envisage a colour to match the new me!
Actually for me it was a relief to know there were things that I could DO to help me resist drinking ( especially at the beginning). Because all I’d ever been told was “you’ll get it one day” and “keep coming back” or “it works if you work it”…. all those things sounded like riddles to me. Somehow I couldn’t “get” what everyone else seemed to.
I don’t mind hard work and doing as long as I can believe there’s a point to it and things will improve.
So to be shown different tools and ideas to try was a breakthrough for me.
I certainly never felt like it but I was sick and tired of feeling like crap all the time. And for that reason I was desperate to try anything.
So I guess my advice would be to anyone sitting on the fence- just move and do. Keep on trying different things and never give up. Even if it seems like it’s impossible….. never give up. It’s so worth it in the end 👍🥰
True! You WANT to stop drinking but you DON’T FEEL LIKE IT until you get a few days of sobriety and then you CLING to that with all you have and next thing you know you’ve been SOBER FOR WAY LONGER THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED… and it’s good 😎
Sooo true…we like the trade off when driving a real car… It does take effort to get our sober cars started and keep driving. But it is sure taking us places we never thought we would go 😉 thanks Belle xxxx
I happened on “stop thinking about drinking” now, after I have been sober 290 days.! But I remember the constant never ending thinking about whether I had enough at home, how much had I had, where had I put the wine, how much did I have left, would I need to go out and shop for more. Etc. etc. it sounds exhausting and it was. Thanks for the chance to talk about this.
Been waiting for the click for a while then last weekend after reading about someone like me (Belle) I just decided to throw myself off the cliff and I’ve not crash landed yet tho early days yet..
Oh my word yes!! A car can take me places but I mUst use’due diligence” in learning to drive the car. And from someone who has driven a car and knows how to navigate. Thanks Belles LJC
I too love the car analogy. I grew up in the prairies where you started driving whatever you could get your hands on – as soon as you could get your hands on it – bikes, snowmobiles, tractors, old beat up cars, whatever. I do feel like I am on a journey and I have to make sure my car is road worthy. Day 35… I’m on a road trip, the music is playing loud, singing along, wind in my hair – adventures in my sight. Thanks Belle.
let there be The Hip on the radio. and a Husky truckstop (irving big stop) for lunch.
Oh yeah! The Hip – was so lucky to go to their show here in Ottawa… don’t want to say the “last” show! Truck stop club and black coffee – here I come! xo
I am on Day 25. I had no intention of finding out about this blog. I had no intention of taking a 100 day challenge, nor did I think it was possible to excise wine from my life and feel SO MUCH BETTER AND STRONGER in less than 25 days. But I stumbled on the blog, saw the challenge, it resonated and I jumped, albeit with skepticism and fear. I did not tell my husband I was taking the challenge until Day 4. Then I started telling everyone.
I listen to podcasts, one minute messages, read posts, read the book AND employ multiple additional tools every day (working out 1-2 hours at night plus replacement drinks (Kombucha)), and give myself treats liberally. 2-3 brownie bite cubes? Count me in. A fresh orchid in a new pot? Absolutely. Baths with scented stuff and listening to podcasts. Hell yeah. Sometimes I don’t wait for two days for a treat and I have multiple treats a day. I don’t care because I just want to feel better, which I am.
In fact and truth be told, I envision myself beating the shit out of Wolfie, not just telling him to shut up. I’m like Trinity from the Matrix dodging the Wolfie bullets in 3D and kicking the shit out of that fucker. As Leslie Jones says “Slay All Day!” and I am slaying that Wolfie.
By the way Belle, GREAT idea to give it a name and objectify that voice into something we can fight, instead of fighting ourselves. Have we all talked recently about how brilliant, brave and inspiring Belle is and all of you out there are? Seriously, you people blow me away. Thank you for every word you have taken the time to write on this blog because I have read them and they were words that I held on to for dear life.
For those who are struggling, POUR ON THE TOOLS FROM THE SOBER TOOLBOX. Do not be spare with those things. Yes I’ll take a bath. No I won’t pick up the dog poop. Yes I will sleep in. Yes I will eat macaroni & cheese every night. Fuck you you fucking asshole wolf. Get the fuck out of my house! Wait, come here and let me kick you in the ass with my cowboy boots on. What are still doing here because I told you to get the fuck out!
And guess what, after the listening, bathing, eating, visualizing, working out, slathering on smell good stuff and the replacement drinks, he leaves. And I try to make sure that he is humiliated in the process because that makes me feel good. Then I wake up with a clear head and my dignity in tact. And I smile because I fought the wolf and won one more day. I say girl you fucked him up. Bet you can’t wait to take him down tonight. By the way, your swings and kicks are getting stronger and stronger — I like what I’m seeing because you are fierce.
An extremely powerful and kickass post. this really cuts through the bullshit. I will keep this one at hand to reread in times of weakness. This is the post I would show someone who is starting to worry about their drinking. Tough, goofy, SMART – but above all, powerful. Thank you for this, Belle.
My sober car started with a tank full of willingness … willingness to surrender the emotional misery which was/is the consequence of my drinking. My willingness came from asking for it, from whatever you believe or don’t believe in, if your sober car is sputtering, stalled out … give it a try. Ask for willingness to take sober action … from whatever source you trust. I “hear” many peeps on this site using Belle as their “power”. I love you Belle, I appreciate your diligence to giving to ME and others seeking sobriety, but you’re not powerful enough to keep me sober, tho you help a lot … my willlingness, my sober car runs from a fuel supplied by a power greater than myself, a BIG POWER.
Wow – glad to read this useful blog and those who reply. More than 30 years after stopping drinking, I still get demonic thoughts to go back to it in today’s booze-obsessed society. So I turned down volunteering for our group’s art show when they wanted me to serve wine (“that’s the only way people will come); I didn’t take the San Diego group hike that ended at the microbrewery; I didn’t go to the local yoga studio wine & yoga opening; I didn’t go to my friend’s huge reunion celebrating with margaritas & tequila shots … it feels like all social activities I want to do involve alcohol. Not a good place for me to be. So I’m alone a lot. I just found this blog, and it’s good to know others who are sober are out there struggling to find an enriched social life that doesn’t include drinking. I hope someday I meet others near me who love life sober and don’t push AA because it’s getting lonely only socializing with others while dog walking.
Oh so true, wise Belle. thanks.
This morning marks the start of day 6 for me. Here is an excerpt of the email I wrote my sober-for-three-years friend while drinking my coffee this morn…
“I want to get healthier, and to feel good (mind, body, soul), and I don’t want ANYTHING to consume so much of my life/time/attention/energy/earnings… I want balance. I am happy and mostly productive and doing awesome in school. My kid is happy, healthy and well-adjusted, my relationship is wonderful, and I feel grateful for how far I’ve come since leaving my marriage… and yet, old habits die hard. I felt I was still not coping in healthy ways, that drinking was a crutch and a comfort that I could do without, you know, an old hat from my youth, a hat I was ready to throw out. I’ve never had a healthy relationship with alcohol, as you know, which is why for myself I know it has to be none, not moderation. My brain isn’t wired that way. I kept thinking about quitting, and talking about it, and cutting back, and yet continuing on with the same exhausting, self-defeating habits. And then I kept seeing signs — an essay here, an article there, a glimpse of this, a dose of that (aka, reality) — until I woke up one morning and knew I was ready. And it didn’t take a catastrophe or loss or hitting bottom to make up my mind, because I am stronger and wiser than that now, because now I value myself and my life and believe I am truly worthy of happiness. Looking back, it is plain to see all the shameful, embarrassing, painful memories associated with my drinking. It is plain to see the poor decisions and lack of responsibility and the loss. Just because I am high functioning doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. And besides, I don’t want a dark cloud coloring my life or controlling me in such a way. I am done. I have committed to 100 days but am likely to go beyond those. For now, though, I am taking it one day at a time — not counting down the days to 100, looking forward to my next drink, but counting the good days as they come, feeling stronger and more proud as I approach my goal.”
If we didn’t start as we meant to go on, we can start again. We can start as many times as it takes until it sticks. Fear and doubt are natural, I think, but I’ve learned to approach fear with curiosity — to lean into my fear — as fear just means we’re moving closer to the truth (Pema Chödrön).
I suppose I should clarify that “starting again” is in reference to life choices in general, and not sobriety in particular. I started college in my mid-thirties, for instance, something I had put off doing countless times throughout my life. The fear and anxiety only increased as I got older (catastrophizing!), as did my thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. I applied numerous times before following through. Just the *thought* of starting college late in life was daunting… and, ugh, the paperwork! But, the fact is, whether it was rebuilding my life after ending my marriage, seeking a support network, starting a new job/school, or quitting drinking, I had to stop waiting for things to change and start doing the work. I am much happier for it, and more confident. My outlook is brighter, and my quality of life continues to improve. Gradually, suddenly : )
Wow. What an amazing analogy; which just gave me a swift kick in the butt. That’s me standing there, waiting for that magical moment. Click received. Time for me to get out of bed and start that car!
For years I’ve been one of the many moms drowning their exhaustion and stress in booze. Happily drinking (lots of booze) at social events in front of their children while having conversations about how sad it is that we have drug & alcohol use problems in our high schools. Reading the jokes on social media about drinking moms “It’s wine-o-clock” “I do yoga for stress; I mean I drink wine in yoga pants”, etc. We parents who want all the best for our kids, refusing to see any connection between our behavior and the sad reality of addiction among teens.
I know that sobriety is what’s best for me and my children but I’ve been waiting to FEEL like I am strong enough to take a stand and BE that sober mom in the midst of this culture.
Your post today is spot on for me, Belle. Not only must I start, but I must move the car, and then keep it rolling, and keep it in the middle of the road. It have to BE that sober mom and then I can feel like it.
because standing there (trying harder) isn’t enough. we have to do things differently. put the key in the car AND add gas AND get some lessons AND check over our shoulder AND …
Thank you for this wonderful post! This is so spot on for me! And thank you Ri for your comments, they so resonated with me also.
It helps me to know there are others who understand the momma drama, Ck. Let’s do the best for our kiddos!
RI–I really like your comment. I feel the same way. All the snickering inside drunk mom jokes. Why is it fun and funny to be Otis the town drunk? (that’s an andy griffin show refrence- he was a drunk). Mommy’s night out, mommy and me wine party, Vodka and Cranberry at the softball field or margarita’s in the thermos at the soccer game…on and on. But,why don’t these people send up reg flag as boozers? It’s cute and funny. I didn’t feel cute or funny when it was me. I felt scared and chewed a lot of gum—didn’t think/want anyone to know! I have never been proud. RI–be strong, be the mom standing up. I’ll stand with you!
I’ve been chewing a lot of gum myself TJS. I think I’m finally fed up. Yes I’ll stand with you too. Sober mom brigade!
I couldn’t agree more with this. I waited to feel like it for three years until one day I had damaged my liver so bad that my body was in the worst shape ever and Instead of waiting to feel like it, I fessed up to my doctor how much I drank. Saying it out loud was such a relief. , ( embarassing, but a relief.) He helped me take action when my brain didn’t want to. Please have your liver enzymes checked…. talk to someone…… Don’t let wolfie tell you ” just one more night of wine”….. you will never feel like stopping, only in the morning then the desire surfaces again hours later….. the vicious cycle continues….sorry for the rant…. I’ve just been there.
We drink because we drink because we drink. It feeds upon it’s own self. We drink because we drink and feel bad, embarrassed or small. Then we drink more and decide it’s not so bad….wait…we feel bad, embarrassed and small…nobody understands….we drink…..we feel bad, embarrassed and small….it’s like starting your car and the battery is dead or your wiring isn’t working….like the way your car sounds on a cold morning? That’s what stopping and starting is like. Finally with this site we can turn over the engine and get rolling.
Absolutely wonderful and insightful post, Belle! I went through all that first of the month, after vacation crap, and then one day, the click came. In the middle of the month, in the middle of the week. Your click will help someone, give him/her permission to get driving lessons.
This is so true! You do what it takes to keep your car going so you can get somewhere else…you need to do things, and work at it, to get started on sobriety. Both things get much easier after you get them going. And to wait for the right time is just our way of procrastinating and staying in that miserable comfort zone. When you’re drinking a lot, regularly, that’s pretty much all you know how to do and it’s scary to give that up – but you also know its not working for you anymore – so give it a chance. You can always go back to drinking, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy life much more without the numbing, regrets and shame that go with it.
Love this. Action first, then the feelings come later. A lesson I have learned in other parts of my life many times over. The willingness to do what it takes. One time there were some folks at my church that were admiring (or envious) of my professional accomplishments. I commented that in order to attain them, I had to drive to a city 2 hours away hundreds of times, and not once did I ever feel like doing it. Did it get easier? Yes. But I never felt like doing it. Their jaws were hanging open. I think when it comes down to the nitty gritty we half-expect some kind of magic to take over.
I think being a boozer is like being in a religious cult. You’ve been brainwashed and everyone else can see it, it’s so obvious, but for you it is the only comfort and security you have known. And breaking out requires courage, time, patience, love and usually help from the outside.
I stumbled upon a documentary recently called “There’s something wrong with Aunt Diane”. The chilling tale of a horrific car crash that killed 8 people a few years ago in New York State. Although Diane was drunk and high as proven by the autopsy, questions swirled as to how it could be that no one knew Diane had a substance abuse problem. Her family remains in denial Chilling indeed.
Waiting for the feeling to stop the booze is like waiting for a money tree to pop up in the middle of the garden so you don’t have to work – ain’t gonna happen! One step of action leads to starting the car and the feelings change the further we move from day 1. Thanks Belle – always so much wisdom.