you don’t have to be brave today

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 19th.


from me:

my husband is self-employed and has often been at loose ends on what his next project would be. so he’s been ‘available’ whenever i needed something (not a great dynamic… honey if you’re not working, can you do the shopping, get me a coffee, go out now so i can have silence).

now that he’s working on the painting project we actually had to book a ‘date’ time for this week. though for us, that means breakfast in an american-style diner where we can get scrambled eggs and pancakes (decidedly un-french), and then after breakfast we’re going to … buy towels!

i often joke that one of the ways you can judge someone’s self-care is the state of their oven-mitts but it should be looking at the towels. old. frayed, 1 of the 4 towels is torn. yes we have 4 only, for 2 of us. there is no linen cupboard in a french apartment. there is a long wooden thing that holds the broom, mop, one bucket, and the 2 towels not in use can go on the shelf above, but only if they’re folded a certain way (otherwise the door won’t close). when mr.B announced on the weekend that we had to get new towels… then you know it’s well-past-time.

the things that we live with, just frayed around the edges, the things we hide when company is coming. YOU can have the nice small purple hand towel. ours are hidden when you visit.
so this morning, we’re having ‘date night’ with pancakes and towels.

it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very large. sober, occupied, projects. and able to look up and around and say “ok, is there something else that should be adjusted?” he’s apparently starting with the towels. that’s ok by me. these ones are from Wal-Mart, bought in Montreal in 2006. it’s time.

and you? is there a small self-care thing you can do today, since you’re not hungover? can you look around and find one small frayed thing you could adjust? a plant that needs pruning/watering, a nice set of dishes that you save only for company that you could use today. maybe it’s time to have your own version of pancakes and towels. 


from my inbox:

C (not yet a penpal): “Hi, Belle, I love receiving your emails. I always read them religiously. At the moment I am a bit of a stalker. I read your mails and those of your subscribers and I think – “What an amazing group of people!” You are all of one purpose; like me, you drink (or used to drink) too much. As yet I’m not as brave or strong as any of you and haven’t committed to total sobriety. Perhaps I will never do so. In my ideal little world I would be someone who has an occasional couple of glasses … I have read a book recently called “Mindful Drinking” which I enjoyed and which reinforced this idea. But the key that the writer has identified is something which is a bit alien to me. Plan your drinking and know when your alcohol days are going to be each week and don’t break your own rules by having more than three at a time. Always have more dry days in a week than drinking days. Well – perhaps it would be easier to just stop!! I managed a dry June and was very pleased with myself. But it’s amazing how quickly you go back to old habits.
You have had one or two criticisms on your site lately. One was about AA. I believe you should include both positive and negative experiences of AA. It is up to people to make up their own minds as to whether it is for them. The other that stuck out for me was from a lady who said you were using the site to plug your husband’s art work. Why shouldn’t you? It’s your site and you can blaze away. I’d love to see some of his work. Is there a website? [it’s here]
Here is one issue I have with trying to go totally dry. If I get up to day 48 and then have a glass of wine, I have to “reset”. If I’d got up to 48 and had to reset I would never get back again – it would be too demoralizing and I would be back on the down elevator for good – (or bad!) In my mind, it would be better to say. Woops! – tomorrow is day 49 and this day will be missed. So I have 49 out of 50 days sober!!
Thanks for all you do, Belle! You are an inspiration.”

me: if mindful drinking was possible, we’d all be doing it. once we have one drink, we lose the ability to make decisions about what happens next. this is sort of like saying “let’s moderate our cocaine usage…”
and the idea of a reset? well look at it this way, if you can do 48 days, then you can do the 49th day and then the 89th day and then 100. just once you can go straight through to 100 and see how you like it. Don’t have the one glass of wine, do 100 days continuous. The change is large. Well, you’ll see. And if you’re unable to do it without support (I couldn’t) then reach out for some (more). hugs


Lena (day 65): “ok, I feel totally ridiculous, but I am actually afraid of going to the grocery store today. and I have to, if I don’t want to starve … all the pressure of ‘don’t be so stupid, just manage your day, others can do it’. and I know that’s wolfie talking and it’s only 7 a.m. in the morning! … to be honest, the start of this idea to ‘just go to the grocery store as soon as husband is out of the door, stuff the emptiness with some good bulimia attack and maybe get (two, three) bottles of whatever on top’ began yesterday already. I haven’t gone, so far, but I went out to go for a walk, listening to some random podcast (because no time to lose on looking for the ‘perfect one for today’ – happened to be the one with the sprinkler, happened to be just perfect :)) and I have had had to stop my walk to write this email already in my head, now I’m sitting here half way, typing on my phone, no capitals available… it still feels shamefully ridiculous and (in the part of my brain that’s telling me I have to be brave and get everything done without help), I will email you before & after i go to the grocery store. phew!”

me: you don’t have to go to the grocery store today. some days the grocery store isn’t a good idea. I don’t think you’ll starve. I imagine you could do what I’m doing, and make some ‘leftover’ soup, with vegetable broth cubes, canned corn, cooked chicken from the freezer, dried pasta, and carrots. that’s going to be my dinner tonight. it’s not shamefully ridiculous to avoid things that make you feel weird on a weird-feeling day. you don’t have to be brave today. you haven’t learned what you need to learn yet to be brave (that sentence might be hard to understand!)

Lena: “that’s crazy. I don’t have to go! and I will survive (even the feeling of not having a perfectly stocked fridge when husband comes home). probably it’s not about starving … thanks for the ‘permission’ and the recipe! I could get some emergency bread at the bakery and pick a zucchini from the garden, too.
and the sentence about bravery? I have to print that out as a reminder for — just everything at the moment. and if that’s the only thing I really have to do today! but first there is some crying — of relief?”



If alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, it’s ok to EXIT. in fact, you can get out now. and stay out.

my lovely husband has started making sober art to share. original paintings, there’s only one of each. these aren’t prints, they’re handmade for you.

this one is Exit 160. there is only one, so my apologies if you click this link later and it’s already been claimed.

link here



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

  • I feel like there’s a message there- some days we don’t “have to be brave”. Maybe that’s a similar thing to saying “easy does it” ( a slogan they had at A.A. when I used to go).
    Some days I know I’m just not up to “being brave”, and I think that’s pretty ok