how would you answer? what do you think I would say?

this is a contest / writing assignment.

  1. read the question below, which is a real one from my inbox.
  2. then imagine you are me, and what MY reply might be. you can pretend to be me.
  3. Winning answer gets an audio bundle worth $150.

your assignment is to write out a 4-5 sentence reply for this email, from my point of view, what might i write as a reply to this.

post your comments below (or send to me in an email)

i have already written my reply. i think this is a cool experiment to not just look at this how YOU might reply, but to imagine how someone else (me) would, too.

even if you’re new to me, and you don’t know what i might do, try it anyway.

and the winner will get an audio bundle worth $150. 

deadline: tomorrow, thursday, around noon eastern.

isn’t this fun? i can’t wait 😉 the last time i did this, the response was fascinating.




Leener (day 88): “sometimes I feel like I’m just half-assing the sober thing, like I’m not really invested in it, or like I’m not thinking about alcohol ENOUGH. Instead I’m just head down about it. Keep my head down, ignore wolfie, go about my day, stay sober. Head down. Or, I’m just wafting along in a sea of sober momentum, pulling out the supports when the water gets a bit choppy. [we’re not even at the metaphor part yet.] Okay, here goes.

Imagine that I’m alone in a room with Wolfie. I think of a one-room mountain cabin. Isolated. Part of me (the perfectionist?) feels that to be really kick ass-this-is-gonna-stick sober, I should be in that room with Wolfie, staring him down, watching him wither away while I dehydrate him. I keep my eye on him, I know his every move, and I can see him getting weaker and weaker.

Most of the time, this is what I’m actually doing: I’m in the room with Wolfie, and I make sure to keep my back to him at all times. I can’t look him in the eyes, I’m too scared of him. I’m not going to let him win, but I’m also not going to peek at him. I’m constantly shuffling around the room to make sure my back is to him, so that I can’t see him. But I know he is there. Since I can’t see him I can’t tell if he is withering away. I can’t see him dehydrated and suffering. For all I know he is looming larger than before, right behind my back. But I keep shuffling around, not daring to look at him, hoping that what I’ve been told is actually true… that even though I can’t see it happening, he is actually getting smaller, and suffering behind my back. Maybe one day I will have the courage to turn about and look at him, but that day is not today.

What do you think? Is the latter version of sober still enough? Any sober is better than not sober, I suppose. We have a call scheduled for next Tuesday. Maybe we can talk about this then.”


What do you think i said to her?


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

  • Trigirl: As a MAJOR conflict avoider in all aspects of my life, I totally get not wanting to look him in the eye. It does take a lot of energy to operate that way though! I imagine you, Belle, would tell her that while sober IS better than the alternative, eventually she is going to need to have it out with him and kick him to the curb. And that can never happen as long as he is allowed to shuffle around the perimeter while SHE is the one exerting all of the energy keeping an eye on him. He just gets to lurk about…when we keep starting over he hangs around in the hopes that he can swoop in and take over.

  • D: Whatever it takes to keep Wolfie at bay …is what you do …..yes keep your head down and focus on getting through the day …..yes pull out all the tools in yout tool kit and get through the day …… believe in your mind and heart the Wolfie is and will get smaller everyday you dont drink and there will come a day when you can turn around and stare him right down and say ” I win”

  • Fluffy: You don’t need to ever be alone with wolfie, that is what he wants, for you to be isolated. You can reach out any time and each time you do this he will literally start to fade and wither, more support and tools = you becoming stronger and wolfie weaker. When you are coasting along “half assed” as you say If what you are doing is working and you are gaining sober momentum, then you keep doing what you’re doing, the longer you keep going, things change. the view changes the further away from day 1 you are. You’re doing great.

  • G: So what! You know Wolfies in the room. He always will be! You don’t have to look him in the eyes. You said’ HE IS NOT GOING TO WIN’ that’s all that matters. You said it! Be aware of him and ignore him. You will win if you really want to. So do it 🙂

  • Hat Trick: ‘Let Wolfie go his/her own way. You needn’t be so fearful of not confronting him/her. As time passes reflections on your long past relationship with Wolfie will filter through by way of a useful kind of focus on the shabby past. You may get help with this, such as with a therapist or mentor but don’t torment yourself with this fear. The essence is that you are continuing your self care and using others to help you in the process. You are not alone in a room with him/her. Never fall into that mistake. It is a Wolfie voice. Keep it up you’re well on the way, Belle’

  • Cocomac: When I read this the first thing that came into my head was this poem:

    ‘Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there He wasn’t there again today I wish, I wish he’d go away… When I came home last night at three The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall I couldn’t see him there at all! Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!’ Hugh Mearns

  • N: One day you will have the courage to look at wolfie and he will be all dried up. But today hold yourself safe. Focus on you and ignore wolfie. Use your treats to actively make yourself strong. Wolfie can get weak all by himself (he wants you to peek). You are doing the right thing. Hugs to you.

  • My first reactions when I read this were feeling the same thing myself in this journey and specifically what those feelings and desires were. I’ll name them: TRUST. I wanted to trust myself in sobriety, to feel secure that I would not relapse no matter what happened. Wishing for that trust that I saw others talk about having, brought me to FEAR. Fear that I would not achieve that, that I was different. Maybe peace would not come, maybe happiness in everyday things that I saw others find in sobriety would not come. That I would always have to have my hand on my sword. That in my mind I would continue this steady stream of self coaching to keep with it. Sometimes it felt like I was two people: On the outside was the increasingly capable, better spirited, and calmer person who seemed different to those I worked with and lived with. On the inside was a little full-time coach person who was encouraging, checking in (ALL THE TIME), and assessing danger (go to that party where everyone is drinking or take a pass?) Sort of like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her gang get a peek at the real Great and Terrible when the curtain slips, and he shouts “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Was my sobriety run by a little man behind a curtain and would it always be that way? The next was FATIGUE (or, fear of losing one’s grip). There was a lengthy period at the end of my drinking where I attempted moderation with more or less success and I remember the background drain it caused on my being to be constantly talking to myself about it, and constantly wondering if I could trust myself. Only the moderation experiment was actually worse than the first and second years of my sobriety because it never got better. I was tired of it and tired by it. But sobriety does get better, unlike moderation. Sobriety moves forward and gets better. The one thing that became clearer and clearer as I went from one to two to three years in recovery, was that my brain needed time to heal physically from the way it had changed when I was drinking. That much of what I was feeling was still the flicker of my brain’s chemistry that was transitioning from responding to and needing constant alcohol to an adjusted brain making its own happy chemicals. But I also think from the side of belief and cognition that it helps to label alcohol, drinking, and all of the negative emotions as something like a Wolfie because to make that transition of getting rid of something that has become a part of you, you have to sort of make it your enemy and reject all that it is. But have faith that your healing brain will feel less and less cravings. And time will make new routines and habits seem no longer odd but comfortable.

  • 6000yds: Well you are already doing awesome to be at day 88, but that keeping your back to Wolfie, thing….that is not going to help you sustain your sobriety. You see Wolfie, like Mother Ocean, is not one you should ever turn your back towards. That kind of behavior can have detrimental consequences. Face Forward Toward Wolfie (and Mother Ocean) at all times: You need to know what you are dealing with, what is ahead, what is coming toward you, so when the “water gets choppy” you’re ready for it. This means every day you need to engage in some type of sober activity (email a supportive friend, practice self care, read a sober blog, go to bed early, prepare a special treat). Understand that Wolfie (like Mother Ocean) will sometimes be more thunderous and seemingly omnipresent than other times-they could swallow you in the blink of a snarl or the curl of a wave. But you won’t let that happen. You understand the dangers of turning your back. When Wolfie is quiet and the waves have calmed, continue your face forward position (meaning continue to practice good sobriety hygiene:).

  • Mrs. Roberts: You are defiantly doing something right to be on day 88! Congratulations!

    It sounds like the supports you are using are keeping you sober and keeping wolfie on the other side of the room shrinking. But you may want to add a few more supports so it does not feel like such a battle. You are correct about him shrinking, but he likes to pop back up big and strong out of the blue once in while. So, to have a big stack of supports will help you to beat him back down.

    There is no need to wait for choppy water when you have such great momentum going, just add a little more support :o)

  • J: You’re on day 88. As you get sober momentum you won’t be thinking about alcohol all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re not invested but you need to keep using sober supports every day not just when the water gets choppy. The kick ass sober voice is Wolfie , telling you you’re not doing it right, trying to draw you in, telling you what you’re doing isn’t enough that’s Wolfie. Keep doing what you’re doing, use your supports and he will get quieter/smaller. Hugs

  • You may not realize it, you are already facing down Wolfie and you have been for 88 days. It may be a little bit Wolfie that is that perfectionist voice, questioning whether you’re doing this right and trying to get your riled up. While it is normal in early sobriety to wonder if you’re doing it right…just keep going and using your sober supports (perhaps more regularly than it sounds like you are) and eventually you’ll know your on your right way. Wolfie may come and go some but you’ll hear less and less him that perfectionist Wolfie the more sober time you have under your belt because that proves you are doing the right way for you.

  • Shel:Hi Belle, I think you said: “Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer! Be careful ignoring Wolfe and pretending like he isn’t a problem…he might sneak up on you and bite you on the ass”

  • Dancing Rabbit: Sober is sober and you’re using different tools to keep you that way which is great. Sober will feel different the further away you are from your last drink. You’ll learn what works for you and everyone who is successful repeats what works. If you feel wobbly go back to what has worked before for you. Trust what others have told you about being further along. They’ve got no reason to tell you a lie and you’ve got every reason to believe them because when you get to where they are, you’ll find it’s true for you too.

  • You have some pretty good sober momentum here on day 88 so yay for you! (Throws confetti!) But Wolfie is a stupid anus and can’t be trusted! I know it’s hard but you need to turn around and face Wolfie. Look him in the eye and show him that you will not be defeated. Look how far you’ve come! Every day you are sober he dries up a little more. Turn around and check. Yep, there he is. See the cracks? The bits of fur and dust falling from him? The scared look in his ugly yellow eyes? Rejoice in knowing that YOU are making it happen! Celebrate that YOU are slowly defeating the beast! Now give yourself a sober treat. You deserve it. Check in with me tomorrow and tell me how much more Wolfie dust you’ve swept up and thrown into the wind. OK Byeeeee!

  • No it’s not, sorry. You alone in an isolated cabin with Wolfie does sound scary. The head-down perfectionist in us needs a vacation sweetie. You’ll get stronger when you engage in sober supports every day. And you’ll be able to look Wolfie in the eye as he runs (tail between legs) down that mountain. Won’t that be cool?

  • Hi sweet pea:). The first scenario is Wolfie trying to get your attention, he’s trying to stare you down but the second one that’s you dehydrating him slowly and surely. Every day you don’t drink is starving him of want he needs and filling you with what you need. You’re using your tools and preparing in advance. Well done, we’ll speak more on Tuesday. Le hugs X

  • You can’t whither and cowl at Wolfie. Build your strength up to tower over him, strength meaning sober tools; books, podcasts, human support system, confidence in your ability. Grow larger with each day. Every day you are sober is a victory!!

  • Before I get into what I think you would say Belle, I wanted to comment that was how I was feeling on day 88, I didn’t know how to articulate it, Leener does a great job of this.
    I think Belle would say: in the beginning your job is to just stay sober. Using your tools and collecting more, but you also need supports as well, sometimes we need to add more supports, other people in your life who are sober and who have been through this as well. You cannot do this alone just you alone your head, whiteknuckling it. Supports buoy us and help to give us courage in ourselves. Keep emailing me everyday and we’ll talk soon.

  • It is in the “doing” of sobriety that gives you momentum. You are invested in it! You have 88 days of momentum. If we sat around thinking about it, nothing would ever happen and nobody would start. That said, you need to have blankets of support and use them before you need them. It’s not about trying harder, it’s about trying different. You find yourself alone in a cabin with Wolfie stalking you. There is nothing saying that you need to remain stuck in a room with your foot nailed to the floor. Maybe it’s time to get out of the cabin and have a sober coach beside you. Maybe you need to lock him in the cabin. Nail up the door, board the windows, and let him do his temper tantrum rant on his own. If you use layers of support perhaps he won’t be as loud in your head. White knuckling it is hard and will wear you down. Sober treats and support will keep the noise out of your head.

  • Do you need to stare at a plant you’re not watering to know it’s dying. Nope. And you don’t have to stare at wolfie either. Live life and let him die alone. Do pile on the sober tools to crush his ass but don’t stand there and feel bad that you are living a sober life, that’s kind of the point. Hugs

  • this is very interesting. I can say with 100% certainty that mike tyson will never kick my ass. Why?because i would never fight an unwinnable fight. You dont fight alcoholism. You avoid the fight because you know with certainty that you will be defeated.

  • This might be a bit more an Anne response than a Belle response, but here it goes…
    Any sober is better than not sober. It’s the first step to freedom!
    You have made a major change. You have stopped listening to the voice of addiction and taken back your life.
    It is a scary time. It’s ok to give yourself space to get used to it. This is not a war to wage. There are no medals for being the soberest. The goal is to make life an simple and gentle as possible.
    Think about what other supports you could engage for when things become tough and life gets in the way. Meetings? Therapy? All options to consider.
    Wolfe isn’t dehydrating…he’s just become quieter and tamer. Some day you will turn around and realize he’s just a part of you. And instead of a scary wolf, he’s is a puppy looking for attention and love. He never wanted alcohol. He just wanted you to accept and love yourself.


  • You’re sober- that’s the goal – that’s what let’s you move on. How you get there doesn’t matter so much – have a stare out if that works, play hide and seek or go for the silent treatment. Do all three. Do them in a different order. Do what works today. Doesn’t matter and it will matter less and less the longer you are sober.

  • I’m a perfectionist, too, so I get it. You want to do this sober thing perfectly. Sorry to tell you, but there is no “perfect” way to be sober, and any voice that tells you you aren’t doing it right is Wolfie. You’re on day 88, so clearly you’re doing it right. By ignoring Wolfie, you are dehydrating him. You’re making his voice smaller and smaller.

    Don’t wait for the water to get choppy. Keep using your sober supports. Add more. Every day that you stay sober is another day that Wolfie gets weaker. It may not feel like it, but ignoring him and going about your day is making him wither away. Don’t give him more power by listening to him tell you that you aren’t doing it right.

  • I thi o you would say something like…you need to face Wolfie and look himstraight on. You need to use your sober tools before you need them to give you the strength to fight Wolfie and dehydrate him. His voice is getting weaker because you haven’t fed him but by not facing him dead on you are giving him some power and Wolfie and power are not a good thing!!! You need to stare him down and let him know that you are boss and you don’t need him….you don’t need him at all!!! He now holds no poepwer over you!

  • I think facts are important. You are sober or you are not. There’s no “sober enough.” A watched pot doesn’t really take longer to boil than an ignored pot. Don’t criticize your sobriety. Congratulate yourself on it. Don’t want to use tools until “it gets choppy.” Use sober tools every day, even if you don’t feel like you need them. Think as sober tools as a double edged sword; every time you use them, you get stronger and wolfie gets weaker. You don’t need an excuse to kick that fucker in the balls any chance you get, eh?

  • First of all, half assing sober is moderation or drinking a bit. You’re not doing either so you’re not half assing it. Secondly pull every trick in the book that works – if keeping your back to wolfie and not checking on him works for you, then stick to that. Third, curiousity killed the cat – looking at wolfie, for you, might well be the equivalent for someone else of going out with a bunch of drinkers for dinner, and he may get you.

    But finally I’m going to sort of contradict myself – you can’t run from wolfie for the rest of your life, or live in fear of him. When you feel ready, or brave enough, or whatever – turn round and face him. You might be surprised.

  • It sounds like Wolfie is running around in your head creating chaos and then blaming you for not doing it right. Wolfie is trying to convince you it’s all too hard, that you need to drink. You don’t want another day one. Maybe you need more sober tools piled on to make Wolfie shut up. You could try adding 5 more sober tools and if that’s not enough, add 5 more.


  • from C: This sounds to me like this is just another Wolfie trick. It’s not that you’re too scared to stare him down it’s that he’s in the room with you and he’s still got a voice. He’s saying “you should be looking at me right in my face! You’re not strong enough for this sober thing, you can’t even look at me” when really, why bother? You know he’s getting smaller and smaller and really that’s the only thing that matters. Keep your back to wolfie and your face to sobriety. There’s nothing wrong with that, wolfies the past, keep him behind you.

  • from inspired: You would say something about half-ass being better than no-ass in the game. Something about momentum and focusing on sober as, we know that intention and attention on sober is what we are after here. Of course, you would throw in tools, like audios, OMM’s, calls, treats to keep the attention on the sober car going down the road, far, far away from wolfie. Then you would remind her/him that wolfie is getting smaller and smaller from view in the rear-view mirror, and to give him one last ‘fuck-you’ and keep on keeping on!

  • from mindfulme: Lets use the metaphor. Get out of that room, now. Wolfie loves alone time with you, that’s where he weaves his web of lies and fucks with your mind. Your fearful focus is feeding him. Get out of that room, go outside notice the fresh air, notice the ground under your feet, identify the bird sounds you hear, there is a lovely world out there waiting to delight your sober brain. Get out of that room. Now.

  • from ckelly: This is a tough one. Here’s my response (from someone who can’t seem to make it past 7 days sober.)

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are at 88 days sober so clearly the tools you are using are working. Wolfie is shrinking and an getting smaller. I like that you are head-down and going about your business, living a sober life. It’s doesn’t have to be all fire and brimstone, battle and swords…maybe at the beginning when wolfie is so big and so strong. But, as he shrinks, you will think of him less, and live your life more.

  • from Goldie: Hi Leener, thank you for writing and yes any sort of sober is good. When you feel Wolfie behind you in the room I feel him for you, but I also see a door in front of you. Each day you are sober the door opens a little bit more and a tiny bit more light comes in. One day, quite soon I promise, when your room is full of sunshine you’ll have the courage to turn round and face Wolfie and all that will be left is a bit of horrible matted wolf hair. You can sweep that away in a heartbeat and leave your little room for good. Stay sober and keep writing. Belle (Goldie)

  • Here’s the beauty of sobriety- doing it in *any* way is totally badass. Yes, Wolfie is withering away every day that you don’t give in to him, but realize that the “I’m not doing this right” mentality is actually wolfie-driven. It makes us feel bad about what or how we’re doing something so we’re inclined to say “fuck it” and give in. Use your sober supports every day, even when it’s smooth sailing, so they are easily within reach when the tides turn. And, when you feel like you’re not doing this sober thing “right,” declare to the universe, “I am one sober badass!” Before you know it, you’ll start feel like it.

  • Oh that Wolfie. Just like him to make you question the legitimacy of your sobriety just because you dont think you’re doing sober “right” yet, or well enough, or fast enough. The fact you are sober today is proof enough that you’re dehydrating him, and making him wither away. And he knows you’re onto him. But you need to grab that fucktard by the scruff of his scrawny neck and throw him down like the sober BOSS you are. You’re doing it right. And you’re doing it enough.

  • I’d say: don’t pull out the sober supports when the sea gets choppy. Use them every day, whether the water is choppy or not. You need to be proactive with the sober supports, not just when life gets rough.
    As for the cabin with wolfie, I think if you have your sober supports in place and are using them daily and regularly, it doesn’t matter what wolfie is doing behind your back or in front of you. Cause you’ll be too busy feeling awesome to care about him. And if you do catch a glimpse of him one day, you can just say – sorry wolfie, not today. I don’t care how big or little you are, I don’t care whether you are withering away or not in this moment, I’m too busy living this great new sober life, and too busy working on my sober supports to care about you.

  • I think you are at Day 88, heading into day 89 because you are sober enough. I mean, are there really levels of sober? Saying someone is a ‘little bit sober’ is like saying someone is ‘a little bit pregnant’ or “a little bit deceased”. One is sober or one is not sober. The thing to remember here is this: By moving around and keeping him out of your sight, you are controlling the situation. Not looking at him is your choice, and the fact that he cannot leapfrog over you or sneak around your back to make you look at him tells me that the little piece of shit is not running you. Well done Leener!!

  • picked an easy one didn’t you? Not. I think I’d look at this like a dog that can’t be trusted. I would look him in the eye, trying to establish some kind of dominance, as long as he wasn’t in a position to harm me..make it clear that I was the boss. Then I’d go about my business, but still periodically check in with him, to reinforce the fact that I was in charge, not him; but at the same time, talk soothingly to him, to try and reassure him if he’s fearful, so he calms down if he’s agitated. I wouldn’t show fear to him. In the struggle to be sober, I think that’s the same as tackling Wolfie head on, with tools, reading, meetings, etc. And then rewarding our own good behavior with treats..but always, checking in on what Wolfie may be up to. That may sound a little weird, but it’s what came to my mind being a dog rescuer. To show fear, being afraid to look at Wolfie, gives him power. You need to take charge of the situation, and show Wolfie that he will stay in his crate until he withers away, down to a harmless old wolf.

  • Knowing you, I imagine you said, in some form or other, that any sober is better than not sober. Get more supports. True that!! But the woman is suffering hugely. Totally not relaxed. Last night I listened to a teaching about self-care. I was struck by this scientist’s statements about the gap between liking and wanting. It’s healthy to recognize one’s liking and acknowledge it, enjoy the liking. Wanting (craving) is destructive. His suggestion was to practice retraining one’s brain (which he backed up with pointing to pre-frontal, back frontal brain parts—I’m being a bit silly here—the point was that the brain is fully capable of changing). To practice imagining enjoyment of the likeable and/ or beneficial before doing it, while doing it, and after doing it as a practice. Maybe your banana bread. The wanting/craving part of brain is also a habit and a strong support would be to imagine what indulgence would feel like before, during, and after—a support for not-doing. I do a lot of what he says and will now work with doing it more deliberately.

  • I think you would tell her that if this is working to not look at Wolfe yet then don’t. It’s part of your sober kit and it’s working . Courage is a tough one, it means going into the fear anyway even though you know your going to get beat up but the battle is worth it. You might not I kniw what that feels like in the middle of the fight but you do know what being a coward is. Not being able to try because of fear. Fear is what wolfie thrives on and devours, courage starves him Keep doing what your doing it’s worth it, stay strong.

  • Taking it day by day is what we need to do, not look towards the near or far future, but look at today. And for today, you choose not to drink. You get through today, and you don’t drink. The days will add up. You will become stronger, and Wolfie will wither and dehydrate. But you need to turn around and look him in the eye and tell him “NOT TODAY” Today I will not drink, and you Wolfie will get smaller. I am strong.

  • Sounds as if you are on the right path. As you say, staying sober is staying sober! I might recommend more sober tools than you think you need (when the water gets choppy) just to be sure, you don’t really say which ones you are using. Sometimes it is enough to just ignore wolfie, keep your back turned, and trust that he is withering away. Don’t second guess an alternative Wolfe (growing stronger), learn from those who have come before you, the demon does become quiet the longer the time that has passed.

  • It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you think there’s a monster under the bed, so you screw your eyes shut and pull the covers over your head. You wake up in the morning, and you’re fine; the sun is shining, you’re ready for the day, and the monster is gone. You don’t have to look at Wolfie to know he’s losing his power, just like the little kid doesn’t have to look under the bed in the morning . The sun is coming up either way, and you’re the clear winner. Just keep using those supports, send emails, treat yourself and pretty soon it’ll be morning.