This message was sent to subscribers by email while i was travelling at the end of august.
friday morning, it’s 7:40 a.m. the husband is up, behind me now in the kitchen boiling water in the kettle that-whistles, opening the fridge for cream against my right arm while i type (fridge/ table/ small space). so yes, dumpy rental apartment has a fridge! and a kettle! did i also mention it’s on the second floor above a sex cinema? i probably left that out before.
i’m going to share a sample of my inbox today. thank you for all the things – your updates, the probing questions, giving me shit, sending me virtual balloons. as we head into a long weekend (in north america), we will also stick just a bit closer to our sober supports. read what comes through. listen to audios. do the things. being sober is worth it.
my inbox, friday morning:
Fly over girl: “I’ve started listening to your lessons and podcasts on the way to work. Many times I go back and listen again because I get distracted by driving. This morning I was listening to the “best day” podcast, and it got me thinking about today. Today is the best day – I’m sober. Getting through a day like today while drinking would have been awful. I’d be hungover, wouldn’t have packed my lunch last night so would be scrambling for something this morning since there isn’t time to go get something. Instead I made my lunch, went to bed early, and got up with enough time to treat myself to an extra-large fancy coffee. Today may not be fun but it’s more fun than if I were drinking. Thanks for all the replies to my emails this morning – I’m reading and thinking. I have to say seeing emails from you is my favorite part of the morning. It reminds me that there is someone out there reading what I have to say, who’s been here before, and can help me keep my little car on the road…”
S: “I usually like all of your emails and I find them a great source of comfort, but I think this one is harsh, and not really relevant. I see you as someone who treats people with and encourages them to treat themselves with compassion- I don’t think if you drank last night that anyone would even say “that’s not a reason”. They would just do what any of us in any program would do, and encourage you to get back on with sobriety, and look at what may have happened to lead you up to this point. I’m hoping maybe you meant that there is nothing big or small that justifies drinking, but I’m not sure that’s even the point. Sometimes we fail. And we learn from that, so I don’t know why our reasons for it are under fire. Most of the reasons that we first give for our drinking are not the things that have made us drink anyway. When you say “that’s not a reason”, instead of “let’s look at this deeper”, it cuts people off in their personal insight into the behaviours that may have been red flags. Obviously this is just my opinion, and I’m trying to work out why this particular email has such a profound effect on me that I wanted to criticise it, but I don’t know, it didn’t make sense to me, it felt like it wasn’t within the ethos of what you do.”
me: I think I was trying to say that when we think we drink for the ‘weather’ that it’s not the real reason, and one way to test that would be to think of how you’d respond if I said that I drank because of the weather. it was a reframing exercise, an uncomfortable one that that, to see if the reasons we give ourselves have any weight if you imagine me saying them instead of your own wolfie trying to convince you that whatever’s happening is a good reason to drink.
S: “Yeah, after I sent that I realised that there isn’t a way in the world that you would have meant it the way I took it, and that I need to visit why that bothered me in my own self so much. Kind of like a “why am I reacting to this so strongly?” But it’s true. The weather isn’t a reason, and it does need closer inspection, just like my reaction! … Also, I just realised that reasoning that the weather or an external force drove you to drink takes away your sense of personal responsibility. This puts Wolfie squarely in charge because by making a statement like “the weather made me do it”, or “my kids were having a tantrum” means that you were powerless to stop it, and that no amount of preparation would have foreseen this event. Which of course we know isn’t true. I tend to drink when I stop meditating. It’s the cornerstone of my day. There are routines in place that we have that we break because we are human, but it’s our responsibility to pick them up and keep working with them, and not use external forces as a validation for our crappy decisions. Because they are decisions, in the end, aren’t they? We aren’t powerless against them, we make a choice. And though there are circumstances leading up to them that need to be navigated, we direct the sails. We have the power to say “no”. The weather, or traffic or our kids (our kids! Hah! As if our kids would ever actually want us to drink if they knew the personal hell and danger it caused us and them) does not have the power to say “yes”. That is a right reserved to us only. I feel better about this now and I’m sorry for attacking you.”
soberaggie: “Wolfie has been loud today. Well, maybe not loud but definitely more vocal. Drinking has sounded like a horrible idea up until about, oh, 2:28pm. I know the exact time because I was sitting in a dr office with my 12 year old when the dr ordered X-rays to be done RIGHT THEN. And I needed to get my 8 year old to the orthodontist 45 mins from that exact moment. So I scrambled texting my mother and neighbors to try to make it all work (had to get my ten year old from school too). At 2:28pm my perfectly planned schedule went to hell and I was overwhelmed. A glass (or 3) of cheap Chardonnay sounded like the answer. “You’re only 20 something days in- it’s not that big of a deal” actually went through my head. I continued just doing what I had to do and as I sat in the orthodontist office (at 3:05pm) I read your e-mail today about how we would not accept you saying you gave all this up because of the weather/traffic/job. So I didn’t. I can’t accept that from me either. But it bothers me he tried to get in my head. It bothers me that I could be that vulnerable. What do i do? I listen to you and Annie Grace (This Naked Mind) every day. I think I’m using sober supports. Maybe I just need to read your e-mail about relapsing every day. That and Liquid Poo and Be Proud audios. Dunno. Going to bed sober (10:09pm) Good night!”
RRH: “Your husband’s art is awesome. Beautiful! The pink yellow brown one so perfect… Job was crazy today. They threw me up there with, in their own words “backwards training”. Circus. All too familiar where I expect unexpected, things people want that I just don’t have the answer to yet, how could I. It’s so hard. I’m so hard in myself and others. I laughed my ass off though. The best sober tool for me is humour. This penpal stuff has been wonderful. I’ve learned so much and appreciate your support. When does my year run up? How much to renew? Hugs! RRH”
original art – Exit the booze elevator – this is painting #159