war and peace

from me

at any given moment, i have about 40 hrs of work on my desk that i could do. add in laundry and meals and exercise. add in not just the actual catering, but the recipe development and the continuing education. add in a husband. now add in a child or a dog or a sick parent, or all three. add in commuting and a broken car and a 3-foot snowfall expected this weekend.

we go along in our sober cars, and we think: “i will add on more supports when i start to feel bad.”
this is typical. i say to a penpal, “you can email more often,” and they will reply “I’ll email more if i start to feel bad.”

here’s the problem.

our gauge is faulty. the ‘i’ll feel bad’ meter doesn’t work. the gas tank has almost no warning when it’s running out of gas.

you look at all the things to do, and you think: “i can’t possibly stop and do any self-care right now, what about dinner?” belle says order in. you say “i can’t do that every day.” belle says you can do it today.

we wait to feel bad AND THEN we’ll reach out for more supports. i might suggest that you sign up for the coaching call that comes with the jumpstart class, and you’ll think “i’ll save it until i need it. i’ll add in treats if i feel bad. i’ll listen to a podcast if i feel shitty.”

since the gas gauge is faulty, and doesn’t give you a good reading, then what?

well then you err on the side of caution, and you do things preventatively. you do things in advance. have alone time? i’ll wait until i feel terrible? or i’ll plan it now as a non-negotiable half-hour.

having a faulty gas/stress/overwhelm/wolfie gauge means we have to do less and then see how we feel (versus do more and try to pull back). book the treat, the haircut, the manicure, the massage. buy the flowers. cancel the dinner. stop going into pubs saying “i’ll have water, i’ll be fine.” we have to err on the side of caution.

because falling over is dangerous. and can lead to years spent trying to get a new day one.

you’re building a life on this sober foundation. you have to check that foundation for cracks. “but i have a big life on top and it’s busy.” yes, check the foundation. “but i have so much to do that i can’t take the time to check.” yes, but it’s the FOUNDATION. it’s non-negotiable.

i am the same. i think “i shouldn’t need this” but i do. and i think “maybe i’ll go next weekend” but i’m going tomorrow. and we think about filling up our sober gas tank with gas, in advance, preventatively. because the gauge is broken.

we know that it’s broken. we’ve driven off the road before.

not anymore. not now. no longer.


from my inbox:

Cookie (day 3): “I just read your email and yes I’m going to send you multiple emails for the next few days (every hour might be too noticeable at work). Part of the trouble with this (multiple emails, calls, meetings) is that I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I’m more of an internal processor than a “sharer”. Also have the assumption that my “feelings” aren’t very important or interesting. I know these things aren’t meant to entertain others but I am still stuck at the point of being ashamed of my thoughts and feelings, feel inconsequential so why bother. It’s not something I am going to solve right away (honestly, it gets better the longer I am sober).  Ok, talk to you soon!” [update: she’s on day 6 today]

F: “I am on day 16 sober and still pinching myself that I am actually doing this, me the fuck up wino, who hadn’t had a single day sober in over 2.5 years!!! I tried everything before and failed at every hurdle (couldn’t even get past the one night without my wine). The wolf in your book is what hooked me. it was like you were talking about my own actual mind. honestly you hit the nerve and made me believe I can tell the wolf to go to hell, thanks Belle xx”

L: “Think you are great and I relate to you so much. I too have an alcohol problem. Thinking of joining up, but maybe you perhaps need to make your emails shorter and to the point. They are War and Peace. People don’t have time to read all that. Better suited to a blog. Kind regards and thanks.”


email from ck:
“Hi Belle, just thought I’d send this along. I finally got my beachy Potential art (#236) framed as my Christmas present to myself. I had the Seas the Day plaque already. (Get it? Course you do). Anyway, thought that would go along well with Potential artwork … Thank you from Arizona. (I live in a desert but I so miss my ocean.) I can seize the day because I have so much potential now, because I am sober (day 808). If you ever find yourself in the southwest part of the U.S., coffee and treats are on me.”

link to original art, 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 hadn’t thought of it like that before- as in “our gauge is faulty “. I’ve had a few cars where the fuel gauge seemed to stay at the same place for ages and then suddenly drop
    ( especially in the red zone!). It’s so true that my own energy gauge is faulty; I seem to plod on pretty well for a while and don’t think anything of keeping up the pressure; pushing myself in all directions (even enjoyable things like staying up too late watching Netflix). And then I wonder why I suddenly feel far too tired; low; overwhelmed and like giving up the sober stuff. If only I was wired to take life at a steady pace …. but i never have ! So I guess I have to train myself to slow down ! 🐌🐢