extract from writing project:
Question from BalanceBeam:
“Don’t you get tired of it all? Or tired of my shit? Or tired of my starts, stops and detours along my road for the last x years?”
I know that we hear a radio station in our head that says—apparently very logically—that we should Drink Now. This voice speaks even when drinking is not appropriate, when we’re drinking too much, when we want to drink less, and when we promise to quit. This voice speaks even when we’ve already had too much, when we’ve fallen, and when we’re in legal trouble. This voice speaks even when we’re bitchy to our partners, when we’re missing work opportunities, and when we know—just really know—that it’s time to stop.
I know what this radio station sounds like, the one saying Drink Now. And that sound of wolfie is convincing.
Am I tired of stops and starts? Well, I know what it’s like. I know what that voice is like. I also know what it feels like to be here in the sober lighthouse. I shine out a light, repeatedly, always in the same direction. Some people see it, some don’t. Some see it and crash into rocks. Others see it and don’t trust it.
I try to keep doing my thing, whatever that is. I don’t run out into the water saying “pick me, pick me.” I broadcast something to compete with wolfie. Some people can hear it. Some can’t.
It’s really sad when you can’t hear my lighthouse (how’s that for a mixed metaphor), because booze can suck the life out of perfectly nice girls, and crash them on the rocks, even when they don’t want that to happen. No one wants to crash. No one ‘picks’ crashing. And it happens every single day to people who don’t want it. That’s sad and hard and disheartening. I wonder if I could be louder, or run out into the waves, or if I should try to say something a new way.
How do you combat the voice inside someone else’s head? By talking about my own head. And hoping that that’s enough.
[update: balancebeam is on day 503 today]
find the exit. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you get off and stay off. and if can’t find the exit, you ask for help.
original art. exit. they are not prints, they’re originals, so there’s only one of each. this one has sandy beach colours. to fit in with the lighthouse.
pulling myself of the rocks and starting this quest for sobriety again…
I love this lighthouse symbolism … well, I AM Sea afterall (haha). Anyway, right now at Day 4, I am figuratively strolling the top deck on a very stable yacht sipping my Pom & Soda. Giddy and proud to be sober and free. I do see a storm or two far off in the distance, but no need to worry about them right now.
I have sailed some short cruises on this ship before, but I was never prepared for possible problems. On this journey, I know where the life jackets are, and I know the Captain (Belle) is very well qualified, and best of all — we all can see the lighthouse.
Thanks everyone … you all are helping me more than you will ever, ever know. xxoo
Belle – Keep shining the light and we’ll do the work in order to reach you. You have definitely reached MANY!! I don’t remember if it was this blog or another, but I read that you don’t have to be good, you just have to be sober. I have been repeating that to myself every day, when the ought’s and should’s come screaming into my life and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Along with work, being sober, at least for now, is all that I can handle. I’m on Day 14, and it hasn’t yet gotten easier, but I am working my way through it and determined to reach my goal of sobriety!
Yes. I can’t top these posts but reading them gives me such a warm feeling inside:) Thank you for hanging in there with us and thanks for this post. Day 9 now….walkin the walk!
It’s such a tough thing–this trying to pinpoint just how to say and when to say it, and how–in order to draw someone to your light. I can say that following Belle’s advice to keep adding sober supports until you find the combination that works for you, has been what finally forced things into place for me. For me, it’s been a combination of many sober supports, with the game-changer being me sharing my struggles with a couple of people closest to me, and reaching out for help in real life. Had Belle not been there, reasonably suggesting I add more supports if what I was doing wasn’t enough, shining her light and beckoning me to swim away from the frigging rocks, I don’t know that I would have reached Day 104, which is where I am now. It’s good here: The rocks are receding, Wolfie’s siren song is quieter, and I feel parts of me waking up that have been dormant for years. Don’t wait for it to all feel “right.” Just swim away from the rocks and toward that lighthouse. If you feel tired, go to bed, tell yourself not today, do whatever you need to do. Just don’t drink. It’s the only thing that you can’t do.
After all my starts and restarts, you’re still here, still returning my emails, still speaking to me, still not counting me out. And although I might have washed up on the rocks a few times, I am back out there heading for the light! Keep shining Belle. You won’t give up, so neither will I!
I’m on day 63. The longest I’ve ever made it. I found you about 2 years ago. Maybe almost 3? My time frame is a bit hazy. But your story. Your blog. Your podcasts. All helped me on my journey to sobriety. Yes, I stopped and started many times since then. I even stopped emailing you because of it. But here I am. 63 days in and I still follow your blog. Any support is good support. We all need a little something to help us realize what we’re doing is what we need to be doing. Thank you for doing what you do.
What a great post and a great visual -a light house. I am now on day 112 and it feels great. All along the way your words and the images you invoke have kept me moving forward – Wolfie, the elevator, a car, and now a lighthouse. Thank you so much Belle for your insights, your truths, your kindness – I feel like we’re in this together. xoxoxox
Goodness, what beautiful posts here, I cannot better any of them myself. Thanks again, Belle, and also to the sober online community. xxx
I found your blog over two years ago. Along the way I fizzled out and got back on the elevator. I still received occasional emails. I liked on occasion.Thank God that you did not stop being that light house, because when I the elevator door opened and I got off the second time you were there. No shame no blame, ready to support a new day #1. I am grateful for your beacon on the dark and stormy nights. I do not have to be without direction. Thank you!
Keep on shining!
I’m grateful my once-rudderless-now-sober boat is being guided by your benevolent beacons and buoys. Stay here. xo
ps – for me, this song echoes the somber yet hopeful tone of today’s missives…
Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. — Anne Lamott
I’m sure it must be discouraging to watch people restart over and over again. I know I get extremely frustrated with a friend of mine who just keeps making life worse by listening to wolfie. All we can do is shine that light and offer guidance, and then it’s up to them to reach out and work for it. And for those that do, and make it out of that dark hellhole …what an amazing blessing. One thing I’ve learned through all of this is that the person has to really want it, and be brave enough to work for it. No one can do it for them – but having support is a huge help.
I think that wolfie radio (WR-FM) is an interesting metaphor because really how radio works is it gets into your head as that friend in the car seat next to you, the guy in the morning you drive to work with…you know that guy…he says things to you directly, or at least it’s supposed to feel like that. When wolfie talks, he’s like that guy on the radio…except wolfie really does say what we need him to say to justify drinking/ self distruction. He knows especially what we would do, especially well in fact. Plus, Wolfie likes the dark, he likes to be alone with us. Wolfie wants to be your voice of reason. Commander. The only one.
The lighthouse well, that’s where it’s safe. You can get out of your head and away from him and tell on him.
The lighthouse = strength.
There is no fun to be had in the rocks…just jagged edges which is just what Wolfie wants.
So true. Some days I wish I could do more, but all I can do is share my reality.
I’m sure it’s hard to watch as we go astray. But so many are helped by you and this community. 97 days for me and I feel so peaceful and happy today. Super grateful.
Thank you Belle.
97 days…that is just beautiful. I love feeling so happy for someone I don’t even know, but really I do. you’re an inspiration to me at 35 days…and I totally get the peaceful, happy, grateful. We’re blessed to be in this with Belle!
Thank you! 100 days tomorrow, and then on to 180. 🙂
Belle – thank you for shining the light out there into the dark spaces, and offering a path through them. One of the things working for me now is that I didn’t plan this, didn’t give myself the opportunity to overthink when to start or for how long. Even feeling good after following the “moderate” rules for a while, I knew it was just time to stop. The overthinking, dithering, and fretting was exhausting. I just did it. I feel as if I’ve been dropped in the middle of the ocean, at night, and I just started swimming. Not really thinking about what I’m doing, just doing it. Only now, seven days in, am I thinking “Holy Shit! This is DEEP!!” So I’m trusting the light you’ve sent out and am dog paddling my way towards it.
Another help is that you’ve taken the troublesome questions out of the equation – do I really have a problem? has my bottom been low enough to need to quit? forever, really?? … it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I’m not going to drink today. And I’m not going to drink for the next 100 days. Once I’m on that sandbar, I’m planning to be strong enough keep swimming.
I keep forgetting how hard this was in the beginning –because life is so so much easier without the booze — and how much people need that lighthouse. Bless you Belle. You simply made my life thousand times easier by being this lighthouse. Love you
Thanks to you I’m on day 13 of being sober. I’m one of those that is hearing & I really appreciate you, your blog, your messages, your emails…I still hear Wolfie too but so far I’ve been able to ignore him by doing things you have suggested 🙂
I appreciate what you are doing, Belle. I just found your blog and it was the straw (feather?) that broke the camels back. At least it has incapacitated the camel for now (I’m only on day 6, but it’s the longest I’ve gone without drinking in over 20 years). What your doing is more than enough. Please keep shining. Although my shipmate, Wolfie, says “Go to the rocks. That’s where all the fun is.”, my focus is on that light.
Ah Belle! But some listen… and we are so thankful that you shone your light! Brave shit sister.
I feel so happy to be here and even when I’m not feeling so happy, I know that I’ve made it (at least for today) and I should really celebrate the making it! Not everyone is as lucky as I have been.
I got off the elevator, I found the protective cove… I can drive my sober car…. It’s awesome actually, really, really awesome and NO one helped me until you helped me, help myself.
Funny you should write today about your lighthouse metaphor. Just now I’d been thinking of how when I write blog posts sometimes it feels like I’m throwing lifebelts out into that sea of alcohol in which so many of our sisters and brothers are drowning. Giving just enough support for someone to keep kicking against the tide for another day, maybe? And the lifebelts may only be a speck on the ocean, but the act of throwing them is one of defiance and faith.
You shine a light of hope and possibility, dear Belle, for those who can see it. Keep shining. Xx
It’s brave what you do, Belle. There’s a real risk of internalizing others’ continual restarts. If I were doing what you do I would question my ability twenty times a day. You’re absolutely right – all you can do is shine the light of the truth. Many will be guided by that light; many will not. You cannot control outcomes, only your actions. Your actions speak love and truth. That’s all. And that’s enough.
I love this. I feel bad when I have to restart my date. But I know I am consistently improving. I’m changing myself and while today I feel terrible because I hate being on day one again and love, Love, Love being sober and full of life, I will keep emailing you. I will keep watching for the light to shine. I know I will get there and look back and smile with pride.
Totally agree…if Belle ran away every time I’ve had a reset, I wouldn’t have been here long… I’ve reset at 60, 75 and almost 100 days and every time she’s been right there, saying don’t try harder, try different with no judgement at all!!!