Audio: “Keep It Exciting”

MAY 30 2017

This was Sober Podcast Episode #186 for my weekly sober podcast series.

So, what does it mean if you have a boring stretch of time in your sobriety?

Well, the answer depends on if you’re on day 7 or 77 or 700.

Below i’ve posted a 3.5 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast. the full thing is 28 minutes long, but this chunk here stands alone. if you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

Have you had a ‘my sobriety lacks sparkle’ time? Did you hear anything in this podcast that would help you if it happens again?




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(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.


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

  • On day 67 learning to cope with those difficult feelings that I poured wine on every night, especially those especially nasty ones that come at three in the morning. Thankfully those three in the morning wakings and feelings are less now that I have stopped drinking, but happen occasionally. What also happens occasionally are feelings of elation that I have not had in a very long time. Don’t quite understand them, sometimes don’t give them the recognition that they deserve, but am trying to keep in mind that these are not feelings I had when drinking. This sparkle will wax and wane, but I am going hold onto the fact that it is there because I am not drinking.

  • 19 months sober. Can hear the voice saying it’s been long enough, you can moderate. I know it’s not true. What helped was hearing the tip about reading about people’s day 1. Day 1 is one of the biggest reasons I keep going.
    Thanks for the audio ❤️

  • Wow. Just wow. I’m in the sober jump start email pen pal program honing in on 3 months. I feel my sobriety has been a bit shaky (I have been sick, feel overwhelmed and just “tired of doing this”). I’m probably one of the least patient people on the planet. And so do here be patient with myself as hard. But I’m glad I heard from you tonight. You’re right though. I have to learn it. I have no idea how to go about this. Certainly won’t be able to learn if I’m “pouring bottles of wine on my head”, as you said. You hit the nail on the head with my feelings today. All of them. I’m just so glad to have heard you say feeling flat as normal feeling frustrated is normal. asking myself is there a good reason to stay sober as normal. I guess I’ve been expecting with the snap my fingers for all of this to go away. But I’m glad to hear this is normal. This really helped me tremendously. It helped me chase Wolfie off, too. I still feel a bit shitty invite relieved that I’m not by myself in this. Thanks, Belle. .

  • I’m coming up on 9 months sober and your comment about the first 200 days really resonated with me. It’s only in the last few weeks that things have finally started to click. It’s normal to be bored, flat, tired, stressed or anxious sometimes. If I accept my current emotional state, I don’t feel the need to chemically alter it. Radical acceptance is the true gift of my sobriety so far. Thanks for all you do, with love from England <3

  • Oh Belle, somehow hearing your words resonates more than reading them …. “Anesthesia to regulate your mood” – exactly! I’m one of the folks who has been “pouring bottles and bottles of wine on my head” for 40 years to regulate my moods. I’ve not really looked at sobriety as relearning a healthy way to do this without that anesthesia. Listening to your words has really helped me reframe
    this journey in my head … thank you!

  • Im the drink wine every 7 days gal. Im always failing at day 7 because Im never feeling like its that bad, but it is! I can definitely relate to your comment about truly learning how to deal with my emotions in my mid 50’s. Somehow I dealt with them pretty well given zero skill advice from my dysfunctional parents. The silent treatment was my mom’s favored parenting skill. That lasted until I was about 46yrs old when i started having “a little” wine at dinner to cope with a child’s health issue….and here I am 10years later with a problem. Your words of wisdom & no nonsense voice is super helpful….thk u Belle!

  • Boredom is one of my main triggers. Thanks for reminding me that I was bored as a child before I ever drank and somehow I figured it out…and will again! Thank you for your encouraging words and sharing your journey. You are helping me start each day alcohol free!

  • I am 363 days sober thanks to Belle and Elise. I wasn’t used to feeling all the feelings because I numbed the sad, the angry, the bored, not realising I was also numbing the happy!
    Sometimes feeling the feelings is overwhelming and I cry more easily, probably years of grief I drank away leaking out slowly.
    However, to quote Catherine Gray there is without doubt an unexpected joy in being sober. I can feel that now! It’s a higher high than alcohol ever was! For that I am so very grateful. X

  • Day 270ish. I have felt the loss of the sparkle of being sober and a big help is staying tuned in to a sober community because everyone else is NOT sober. I have not known what I really wanted in quite a long time but it’s starting to come through.

  • I like that you know what’s going on in my head better than I do. Hearing you say that what I’m feeling is normal, that helps a lot. Tomorrow will be my first Day 17 in many years. And, yes I’ve been feeling flat. I guess I was expecting this burst of carpe diem energy! But it’s not happening. I’m still just trying to stay on track. One foot in front of the other. Thank you. You’re really a great help Belle.

  • Hi Belle,

    I passed 30 days on Sunday and hit a “wall”. I felt so happy on Sunday but then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I felt so flat and somehow so devastatingly sad. I became frustrated with myself that I did not feel so certain about my sobriety, that I should feel happier than I did. I wanted scream, punch a wall, maybe break something. I think one of the things I was not prepared for was feeling, again. Numbing for so long solved nothing. All the crap I’d been stuffing down for nearly 10 years, unsolved. No wonder therapy was not working. Because I was not working, because I was numb. Not in the way of being broken, more like slowed, faded, arrested at times. I am slowly learning the beauty of sober communities. I have scant support in my offline life. I am in several communities which has been a boon to me. At first, I just read other people’s stories, their journeys, no matter what day I was on. Then, I built up the courage, to comment, offer support, give words of encouragement, express admiration, show solidarity. Finally, I started to share my story and it was amazing. The support I received, the love, the encouragement, the wisdom, beautiful.

    I struggle to reach out. I once told my therapist, if I was drowning, I would not try to call for help, because I do not want to inconvenience anyone. This actually happened when I was around 7 or so. I learned to swim around 4 years old but I was still shaky when it came to water I could not stand in if it was higher than I was tall. We were at a lake. I ventured too far and when I touched my feet down to feel for the bottom I did not feel it. I started to panic. I started to fail about rapidly almost as if I was trying to find a way to ground myself. I began to swallow a lot of water and I remember turning towards the shore and seeing my mother sitting on the beach, perhaps reading but either way completely unaware of my predicament. I remember considering trying to yell for help but I did not. I then felt embarrassed and tried to hide the fact that I felt so insecure and deep water. I managed to calm myself enough to remember that I could swim and gradually work my way back towards safer waters. I never mentioned this to anyone until I first told my therapist when I was around 27 years old and then now where I am telling it here. So, I have had to learn how to reach out. It was not something that 6 year old or even 12 or 16 or 20 year old me knew how to do. I really feel I did not actually learn how until now, at almost 30 years old.

    In Monday, I did cry myself to sleep. Not because of cravings but because of the conflict in my mind. I want this. I want to be sober. So why don’t I feel like it? That feeling has abated through this week and I feel more stable now but reaching out helped immensely.

    I still feel very exposed though. I hope my comment was not too long but I loved and appreciated this snippet. I am feeling normal feelings. I need to relearn or newly learn many things now. I love the no-nonsense approach of all your content. Raw and real. Just what we need. Thank you!

  • Sobriety sometimes lacks sparkle but there’s nothing sparkly about waiting for the hangover to clear. It’s frightening to consider that all the choices I’ve made as an adult were made as a drinker- and I worry that some of those choices aren’t reversible at age 60. But some are, and those will have to be the ones I focus on.

  • The need to keep reaching out. When the newness of sobriety is gone, I still need to speak up about my truth as a sober person. I’m less than two years. So maybe a teenager still emotionally if one ascribes to the arrested development model of addiction. My long term
    sober father just told us last week his cancer is back and this time there’s not stopping it. We are guessing he’s got about 3 months. I guess I just need to say that and this probably isn’t the place, but if reaching out is part of it…well I still haven’t said this to any of my sober support network. So now I have. And this will be really hard. Like all the way hard. And now dad has to take medications for pain that he was using a looong time ago as a young MD resident so he’s really not sober any more. But he shouldn’t be sober! Yes please to pain relief when you’re dying a painful death. And I have thought about joining him in that oblivion. But I sure as hell hope I don’t. I want to help him through this with as much grace and dignity as we can muster. So there I reached out. Thanks Belle and Elise for helping me her to this place. Wish me luck with the next part of the journey.

  • At almost one year and one month sober, maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is to know and trust is that my moods and feelings will change no matter what I do. It’s simply a matter of time. I never believed that during the 8 years of going back and forth (not drink, but have a bad, anxious mood – drink! not drink, but have a sad or a tremendously happy mood – drink!) that if I waited or went to bed (like Belle says!) that I’d re-find my homeostasis. We won’t be bored or upset for that long … and eventually we won’t even think about drinking to change our mood or cure our boredom. It does happen! Trust me, it does. Even if you can’t fathom it, do the shit Belle says to do. It will get you to freedom.

  • Day 102 sober. Thank you for posting this Belle. One of the reasons I drank was to deal with the monotony of life. Eventually the drinking became monotonous and then i became monotonous and boring. Quitting has been hard. I am starting to pick up the tools. I don’t have energy or creativity to do anything more than what I am doing right now. Reading your posts gives me hope that life can be exciting again. I need more sober momentum. I need to learn to deal with life as it is. I need to be ok with me as I am. If I continue on this path I know that more is possible even if I don’t know what that is yet. Thank you Belle and thank you other commenters.

    • Thank you, Rosiel, for reminding me that drinking did become monotonous, but perhaps even more importantly, I became monotonous and boring. Even though it led to temporary good feeling, those good feelings were gone in seven minutes unless I took another drink. I am feeling a certain amount of freedom in not drinking. It is still hard at times at day 67, but at times it feels like something wonderful that I used to feel, that I lost, and something completely new.

  • I’m 18 months sober and what you speak of in this audio segment, Belle, has been front and centre of my journey from around the six month mark. Not drinking has, thankfully, become ‘easy’. Understanding, accepting, and managing my emotions in a healthy way, less so. It is a revelation though, and always worth the work. I don’t think this work will stop either. It is what I’ve come to realise living a sober life is-or, as I’ve seen it expressed before, “living life on life’s terms”. Thank you for all your wisdom and support. I have been receiving your emails for many, many years; and while I never did end up using email coaching, I credit you/many of your insights with being a part of what enabled my last day one back in October of 2021. There’s no denying that you and your work are a game-and life-changer for many. Life saver, even.

  • Day 27. Perfect thing for me to hear this today, a driving-home-from-work-bored-and-missing-it afternoon. Wishing I could succumb, thinking when does the not wanting it part start? And there your email is, and your voice. Patience. Kindness. Reaching out—that’s harder. (Does this count?) Thank you for doing this.

  • I’m back to day one but this audio still helped immensely. Yes, I’m a 16 year old girl stuck in a 57 year old body. I know realize that I did not learn the necessary coping skills needed at a young age and turned to alcohol. I am grateful that I choose my dream job even though I was drinking. I’m thinking a lot about what you said about the boyfriend you choose, you choose while drinking. Here is to keeping up the good fight. Thanks, Belle!

  • Basically yes I’m a 12 year old in a 50 something body 😊
    I do think most of my efforts go into not using behaviours to numb my feelings . Having not really gotten any other ways of dealing with life.
    And some days do just feel like hard work or flat. The flat is really not easy (for me). It’s like I’m just used to drama or at least bumpy thoughts and feelings. When a flat or calm period comes I actually wonder what to do with myself- like I get fidgety in my skin!
    Maybe it is a lifetime of work to learn these kinds of things.
    What I am pretty sure of though is that my mind will veer towards thinking of drinking (especially at this time of year anyway) and unless I stay connected to other sober folk I could easily pick up. I do know that about myself….
    It’s like a very well worn track in the road – a groove that i really can’t afford to get stuck in again.

  • So so true… have ‘painfully’ learnt problems cannot be solved with alcohol, they only get bigger, more intense and more emotional. Thank goodness with your medicinal words I no longer drown in an abyss of self pity & wine into the early hours listening to depressing music seeking an answer
    Thank you for your support

  • Thanks Belle, happiness and nice company even makes me drink not to mention boredom and loneliness at other times so I ask myself what’s wrong with me?
    All of What you said is so true. All those decisions made while drinking. Roll on a clear head!

  • Thank you Belle. It is very true, drink is used to numb emotions we often think are a sign of
    ” weakness” rather than a sign of being human. We have to learn how to feel normal emotions, to realise there us no right or wrong in the spectrum of feelings, to learn to be our own true selves maybe fir the first time ever.

  • Ugh. Belle. You get me. You said it, girl. In three and a half minutes this audio bite spoke to my pre-teenage 12 year old self who went on to spend the next 32 years drinking (in varying unsafe amounts), screwing, spending, achieving, pleasing, faking. Faking it all because I never learned to just be with my feelings. How to be uncomfortable. Maybe in addition to talking to the wine witch each night I also need to talk to that little girl.
    This audio just stirred the pot, for sure.

  • I am struggling with the monotony of both drinking and not drinking. Neither seem to solve anything. My take-away is I’ll need to do the work myself.

  • Hi Bel, I recently signed up to your posts, and find them resonating, reassuring, and so helpful. I am 110 days sober now, and was a binge drinker before with hangovers that would last a week minimum (bad enough) but with the anxiety, shame, guilt and self criticism lasting much longer. I am finding that only now am I really starting to regain my sober strength and your daily blogs have helped me to stay focussed and remember why I don’t want to drink anymore. Thank you so much for all that you do.

  • The part about all of the decisions (boyfriend, job) made when drinking and needing time to think and process really hit me. We tend to think only of bad decisions made when drunk and not all decisions made while regularly drinking. This is worth exploring!

  • Listening to this has made me realise I’ve spent most of my adult life clicking ‘unsubscribe’ from each and every one of my feelings. When I stopped drinking, it was like I couldn’t find the link at the bottom of the emails anymore. I was desperately yelling “UNSUBSCRIBE!!” but the emotions still came at me, often at the most inopportune moments. I thought I would eventually drown in them.

    Six months on, it turns out that’s not how this works. Like my email inbox, my mind is apparently intuitive as fuck, and while my emotions arrive LOUDLY, unexpectedly and wanting quick resolutions, given a bit of time and space, they’re sorted into folders and priorities. I ultimately choose how and when I deal with them. And they go directly into the bin if that’s where I decide they belong.

    In early sobriety, I was certain that my thoughts, feelings and emotions controlled me. They basically did, but only because I thought that they did. I had to practice living life without unsubscribing from my own brain’s shitty, unedited newsletter. Only once I accepted the fact, and just read the bloody thing each time, sober, did I realise that a) it was never that bad and b) bad feelings always pass and c) we don’t magically get better at stuff unless we do it!

  • Thank you for your words, I am 49 days & couldn’t understand why I was not having a glass of wine & why I didn’t stop at 30. I was getting so irritated with myself and kept dropping things and then getting more irritated. Thank goodness I live on my own but I am getting really fed up of my own attitude. Your words have really helped / I will spend the next days repeating them in my head and do some head dusting. 200 days? Will I ever get there?

  • As someone who recently threw away 180 days of sober momentum I needed to hear this. I found removing alcohol following Belles guidance in the 100 day jumpstart program to be achievable, it wasn’t easy or pleasant but with her help I did it because after so many years of pouring alcohol on my head I was so ready to remove it from my life. But what I’ve found really hard is this – learning about myself, dealing with things sober, accepting, reacting and living daily without the numbing effects of alcohol. And actually I have a pretty ok kind of life, a lot of people have to deal daily with so much more than me but I still found this bit hard. The sparkle of achieving sobriety dissipated and then I had to learn to live sober, learn how to self soothe without alcohol and be present to remaining sober while I figured it out. I guess I was too impatient. Obviously I now regret giving that sober momentum up and am starting to gain some more ( it’s my new day 8 today) and when I get to that stage again I need to develop some more tools. I don’t want to be a yo-yo drinker; down then rebound then down some more on the elevator without any control about where I exit. So around my new day 180 I’ll hopefully be trying a different to last time.

  • Perfect timing for this Belle! I am on day 52 and was just telling a friend how I feel bored and frustrated with it. It’s not that I really am tempted to drink, just frustrated and struggling with feeling social. This really helped!

  • I completely agree with what you said. I never learned coping strategies as a young girl. I suffered a lot of trauma in various forms & drinking distracted me from thinking about that.

  • You did all that stuff While you poured booze down your throat!! Try different now! Think I’ll Make that a t-shirt. Love it.

  • I am in the re-learning part now after an initial 3.5 months sober, then a relapse, and now another sobriety journey begins. My new job I got whilst sober, my partner I picked whilst drinking but he’s been a huge sober support, but all the things I thought I wanted like marriage and children…not so sure now. This part really resonated with me. Whilst drinking I felt crap and thus compared myself to the world and its wife, but now I don’t feel the downward pull and overwhelming urge to verbally and mentally bash myself I feel as though MY voice is gradually getting some space. So I carry on, I work hard, I focus, I get my independence back, and I decide what’s best for me. Will decisions work out? Who knows. But at least I can say I did it with a CLEAR head. Xx

  • I love listening to you, because you have so much experience, so many stories of so many of us and the sights along the way to long-term sobriety. And it is comforting to know that we all go through some of the same things, see the same sights, have the same fears and bad days and doubts. Thank you Belle.

  • I still can’t believe that I’m over day 700 now, and my brain still doesn’t get sometimes how quiet and calm does NOT equal boring and needs to be fought against … *rolleyes*

  • Yes to all of this. I’ve been pouring alcohol on my head since I was 11 years old because I didn’t know how sooth myself, because I wasn’t getting the right kind of love, because my parents were too busy pouring booze on their own heads. That you and all that you do has found it’s way into my life and I’ve been given permission to stop, to break this cycle, to choose me. Well some days it makes me weep it’s so overwhelming. And yes, just lately (day 140) I’ve been feeling very flat, bored and boring. But when I looked at what I’d been doing, (not treating, not exercising, not spending time outside) I can identify now, because of you Belle, what I need to do to help myself feel better. And even when my day is super hard, super irritating or super boring, well, I’m not experiencing it hung over and that’s just marvelous 😊

  • That was uncanny !! Day 145 and the first day I lost the sparkle somewhere down the drain whilst taking a shower this morning!! Literally feel like shit today so YOU are my star in shining armour today !!! Thank you for making me laugh with you in that extract !!!
    Zoë xx

  • Learning to embrace new activities that add the sparkle that alcohol used to give me. Learning to look for opportunities to create happiness not waiting for them to fall in my lap. Equally, important learning to be “Comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Be patient, that mood or situation will eventually pass.

  • Yes, yes, yes! This is it, the whole Belle philosophy concentrated into a priceless three-minute nugget. I quit drinking and finally had the space to figure out my shit. Now as the world is spinning madly around me, I feel relatively calm. Friends and loved ones left and right are freaking out, and I’m not. I can’t believe it! Who is this person? Never could have imagined I would get to this place. I’m so proud of myself, and all it took was time, support, and putting one foot in front of the other. Cheers to you, Belle! Thank you.

  • Today is an unusual day of sparklelessness – so I’m lucky generally. It’s this lockdown, and not being able to anticipate hugging my grown-up girls – or how we can meet up at Christmas with our Rule of 6 nonsense (in England) Over a year sober now, (and brought up going to Mass every week) so I can do patience – what I find works – and must do right now – is being active in things I know restore my mood. Been for my Saturday 5k run – tick. just finished reading a good novel – tick. going to do some online choral singing, (shout out to the Self-Isolation Choir!!) then bake an apple cake. That’ll turn me around. And the girls’ll help me work out Christmas for the best. And there’ll be hugs galore in the future, for sure, and we’ll appreciate them so much more then. Love to you all!!

  • Only on day 3 now, as I went on vaca and didnt read sober blogs, didnt read your book Belle (in my suitcase!), and felt that I couldn’t have a sparkly vacation without booze. Then came home and felt bad and poured even more wine on feeling alone in my house with post vaca let-down. I now know I cant go even one day without repetition and support, regardless of what I’m doing, esp early on (I just started the last 2 months so am raw and new to feeling all emotions). I will get this new fantastic lovely healthy wonderful habit of being sober!

  • Right now I’m just feeling very tired, being the only one in the house who’s able to cook, wash up, clear away, load and unload the dishwasher blah blah blah because of a disease which I don’t really believe in and think is really just evidence the whole planet has gone bonkers . . . so it’s just lovely to hear your voice – you could be saying blah blah blah or reading the telephone directory as far as I’m concerned zzzzzzz zz z but keep up the good work 🙂