This message was sent to subscribers by email while i was travelling, september 10th.
this is the last morning of our road trip. vermont. went on an amazing hike yesterday, was it – like – the first hike of my life? it may well have been. like straight up a big hilly/cliffside to see the view from the top? how have i never done that before. i’ve done ‘hikes’ if you mean walks on level ground …
well i have a whole big thing to write about that hike, in terms of self-confidence (of which, it turns out, i have none). but it was fine and the view was amazing (thanks to Inspired for the local tip).
maybe we’re always fine. maybe we just need someone outside us to say “you’re fine” – if only to counter-balance the incessant voice in our heads that says that we’re not – not enough, not talented, not able. why can they do it and i can’t.
i’ve also realized i’m a ‘slow’ learner, in that i gain my confidence very slowly. i do gain it, but i’m incremental about it which can be painful to watch to the ‘jump in and get it done’ crowd. i can tell you about how this relates to being sober, and to art, and hiking, and rowing and swimming (the times in my life when i can remember it clearly). if you told me i had to go to school to learn to be a brain surgeon, i’d say “ok, hard, but i can do it.” if you told me i had to walk up a mountain and that i wasn’t going to have a heart attack even though i have ‘that heart issue’ i’d say “i’m going to faint, fall over, they’ll have to call the paramedics, let me just stand here, take a few steps and then stand still again.”
i think i quit drinking the same way. i fucked around on the edges, doing a day here, a week there, until i thought “ok, wth support, i can try this.” but the length of time i spent walking around it was YEARS.
and you know what?
sometimes you don’t have years to spend. sometimes you have to do the uncomfortable part right now, to get it to stop, even if you’d like to unsuccessfully continue to try to do it ‘your way’. if your way isn’t working, you can try different. these are the deep realizations from yesterday’s hike. My husband barrelled to the top, documented the whole thing with lovely photos, then promptly fell asleep in a chair at the lookout. what was i doing while he dozed? I was eavesdropping on the lovely english conversations, and learning about the pride parade that we’d missed on saturday, stand-up improv, and hawk migration. all of those have sober lessons in them, too. more later. right now i’m doing emails, posting a painting, letting him sleep in, and drinking fresh fizzy water from the dispenser down the hall near the elevators…
my inbox this morning:
Andpops (day 49): “My favorite thing about not drinking? Not sweating in bed anymore. It got down to 38 degrees last night and I wore comfy long pajamas and snuggled under warm blankets.”
Amazon Sister (Day 79): “I’ve been noticing when looking at the daily facebook memories one of my first thoughts is I remember being hungover on that day, and that one, and that one too. I’ve been struggling with realizing how much more could I have been? How do I be more now? I still seem to be in the same ruts, only without the hangovers. I know it has been way better but my self esteem/confidence is low. And I’m realizing that I’m still afraid of so much, I’m just not covering it up with booze.”
me: it’s hard to hear this, but to begin, just being sober is the project. it’s the goal. what you’re learning to do now is to take good care of you, and remove the booze (solidly sober) and that becomes the foundation of a life to be proud of. but first you do the things. the concrete-pouring, sober foundation, things.
m: “Hello Belle, thank you very much for y our email. It actually comes at surprise as receiving am email directly from you. I am feeling pretty crappy about things today as I have been doing really well for the past 3 weeks and then this weekend 3 drinks each night and about 5 cigarettes over the course of the weekend. I have friend that is a big part of my drinking and smoking and I went out with here Friday night, which was too soon. I feel like I need to only be with her for day time catch-ups. You see, I work in the health industry and feel terrible about being such a hypocrite.I am worried about how alcohol is such a major part of my social life with the people around me. Wow, sorry for the verbal vomit. This is such a private thing for me at the moment, as I really don’t want to tarnish my reputation. I can feel I am getting closer to this change. It is hard with how much alcohol is part of the Australian culture as it is in Britain. Thank you for your time. I am so scared to send this email in fear that someone else will see it.”
HerNoo: “Argh and here we go again. Another reset. I was reading about going back to where things worked. Things only started working in my life when I stopped slurping down wine. It is such a small moment of ‘pleasure’, but what a price I pay the next day. So much anxiousness! I need to renew my penpal slot. Will chat with hubby tonight. I just want to be a good mom now. And my dad lost his job. And my mother-in-law had a stroke. And this tiny human just needs me. I feel so overwhelmed. But I am going for some post-natal counselling on Friday. And hopefully with some penpal magic, all should be ok. Right?”
Fatgit (Da) (day 103): “methinks she doth protest too much (about AA) … it’s very good to tell people who have had negative experiences of AA, or feel bad about themselves because of AA`s approach, that we are not alone.
kitkatpaddywack (day 1333): “I love your travel adventures. East coast fall weather should have been more lovely for you. Maybe you [got] a lovely weekend! … I must admit, I’ve been a bit jealous of Mr. B’s art finding an audience. Indeed I should flip that around to INSPIRED. I am an artist wanna be. I’ve done some painting and have some visions for a show or a book. I’m just too hard in my self critiques and don’t let anyone see my art. Well that won’t take it anywhere. In due time. And maybe an art class to build my confidence. This last piece was gorgeous – and I see a figure approaching the exit sign. Intended? Give my kudos to Mr. B for having fun expressing himself and being bold to put it out into the world.”
me: I talked about your email with mrB, the idea that someone was jealous of him was an eye-opener to him. what we don’t share is his career struggles as an artist for the last 7 years and what it took for him to get to this place. it’s too tempting to look at a ‘result’ and think that there wasn’t 7 years of work to get there 🙂 le hugs le hugs
Step 1 Exit • Step 2 Stay Focussed • Step 3 “I Have Potential Because I’m Sober”
original art – potential – this is painting #190