I received a series of emails from lurkers (silent readers, non-reacher-outers), and in this podcast I reply to a few of them with longer, detailed responses.
The complete audio recording is over an hour long, and split into two parts. In this extract from Part 1, I talk about the feeling of being determined on day 1 (or 10), and how that feeling of being determined isn’t enough to be long-term sober.
Here's a clip where you can listen to a 3-minute extract from the podcast. To download the entire 25-minute audio from part 1, you can use the download link below.
extract from Sober Podcast 285. Welcome Lurkers Part 1
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Journal 7, available at auction
It’s day 1 and I know my determination will not be enough
Belle…are you in my head? Last night, Day 18, I told my best friend about my 100 day challenge. Her offer of support was amazing and a welcome addition to my tools. But as we were taking, I realized that here on Day 18 I feel good, I feel like things are different this time. I told Ms. A that I know I’m not always going to feel this way. What if I’m 100 days sober and celebrate thinking I can handle one drink? I know I won’t stop if that happens. What if 2 years from now something in me triggers? The thought really scared me that it’s not about how I feel today, strong enough to share with my bestie, feeling like I’m finally to a point that I CAN DO THIS. You are so right, sheer determination is not going to get me through. I have to have a plan, supports lined up, treats in the Amazon cart, whatever it takes. This is a day-by-day challenge and I have to be ready for whatever the Universe throws my way. I’m not always going to feel like I did on Day 18. Dang, girl! I like you in my head better than Wolfie!
I’m sick of drinking day 1 for me .tried in the past done a month but I feel more focused I appreciate all your comments want this bad
So tired of thinking about drinking. My problem isn’t stopping, because I’ve done that several times. I made it 8 months once, and 5 months another time. I want to learn how to be sober at home, with friends and family, and especially on vacation. Thanks for your insight and tools Belle.
This made me want to give up, like I’m doomed no matter how I feel.
when I hear “determined”, I feel tired already. I’m just glad that I don’t need to fight with sober determination every day. like miraculous motivation, it’s so easy to loose and so exhausting to keep up …
My first real adventure in AF life lasted 9 months and was “easy.” I got to the point where I didn’t want to go online and read about sobriety because I really just didn’t want to think about it anymore. Clearly I needed more supports and tools, so I’m back, with 9 months AF, 2 months A, and now about 10 days AF. This Naked Mind got me started and your book has taken me to the next phase. Thank you!
Sounds very very interesting. I’m on day 15 for the millionth time so this may be a great help.
Thank you for this. I did have that feeling my first day – I’m only on Day 5 and I already know the feeling won’t last, because feelings don’t. I’m trying to take that energy when I have it and apply a splatter-paint approach to sobriety. Throw as much at the canvas as I can. Support is obviously huge. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of people who support me in this. But having a central person – a sponsor, a guide, a what have you – that’s different and I know that now. I would say… tag, Belle, you’re it. I’ve read your book and am doing the 100 day challenge and I keep coming back to this blog. I’ve been at Day 5 many times. I hope this is the last one.
Belle~ nearly a year…. this week is surprisingly anti-climactic… it was a year ago that I met you and ‘A Girl Named Sam’. You both are a big part of how I’ve done this. Just being in the background and being a big part of my sober story has helped. ~Hippyhindu (day 362)
I totally agree with everything you say about how our mind set changes from day to day, hour to hour, and thats not enough. Its just pretending. Being determined in the morning for me is so easily wiped away come the evening after a presentation or busy work day or dealing with sick Mum. This time I am reaching out because I want to belong to this amazing group of people who all agree with you. So heres my comment. Where does it go? am I connected? Is there anybody out there? Jan. day 6
Hi Jan! Yes, you are connected and we are out there! Welcome to the sober community. With Belle’s guidance we are all at different points on our sober journey. I’m just over 3 years sober, and I can tell you it’s worth it. Stay determined and keep telling Wolfie to F off, one day at a time. We are all out here, and we’re rooting for you!
I didn’t have a” this time “ moment. I had this is THE time moment. I was sick of fighting. Sick of the misery. Sick of waisting time planning drinking, anticipating, being hung over etc. determination only lead me to regret, pain and misery. my Ahhhhh ha moment was learning alcohol was causing the misery and not relieving it. I can do better with out a beer, or 16 in my case. Relearning, retraining my brain and behavior has kept me in the here and now. Reading, sharing, listening every single day has been the keys. I’m here, I’m living in today and looking forward to tomorrow. It’s not feeling like I need to be sober-it’s knowing I need it. It’s knowing that the drinking story always ends the same for an over drinker. I resolved not to become that guy. I’d much rather be here and deal with this. I’ve been there-i don’t want to be there. Here is much better!
I also had the “this time has felt different” feeling. I was determined to be successful and that time was very different from previous attempts to be sober. I did “all the things” as far as supports and followed suggestions. This worked until one night my feelings got hurt badly which resulted in a case of the fuck-its. In comes wolfie tra-la-la-ing along…why am I even doing this if I’m not going to get the things I want? Alcohol is not what I have a problem with, it the other things I was doing. My husband even agrees, he said that have never had issues with alcohol. But agrees that abstaining for now because I’m legally bound not to, is what I should be doing right now. Within minutes, I was in the grocery store in the wine section with Wolfie going to town with justifications. It’s the same response any of my friends would have to this situation. Can’t just sit at home feeling sorry for myself on account of being left out. Wine will cheer me up and allow me to have a pleasant evening. Just going to have a couple glasses, because alcohol isn’t an issue for me. Never really was. Well, since I’m only drinking for tonight, better just finish off this bottle. Can’t save it for next time (because of course this is a one night only thing) and have it here being a temptation. Was suggested to to have no alcohol in my home, and I’m doing it different this time. And I would never throw it away, how wasteful. So down goes the rest of the bottle.
Didn’t even think of this as relapse. I just drank. No big deal. It really is not a problem for me. I wasn’t “compelled by an overwhelming desire” like I hear about. It was a decision that I really thought about, made a choice, and executed. Ha! See I am responsible adult! (Did you miss the part where I agreed, on a legal document, to abstain from any mind altering substances? Part of the agreement I had to sign to keep my license as a pharmacist, yes the one necessary to work, to keep my job (which is a rare opportunity to have for other pharmacists in my situation). So glad I’m doing it differently this time! I’m beyond determined to make it work. This experience went so well, that I made the choice to drink, just one beer of course, because I am such a responsible adult several evenings of the next two weekends.
Wasn’t until a couple months later that the lightbulb came on when I heard someone else talking about their drinking. Oh, wait, my past few relapses were all when I got my feelings hurt. Oh shit! Its all because I need new coping skills when my feelings get hurt! I really do have a problem with alcohol! I turned to it because I didn’t know where else to go, and It gives quick results. Okay. Let’s take this from the top. Day 1.
Currently on day 100. Wait, I totally just realized that today is 100. Woot woot!
I think the key thing you said is that you cannot rely on feeling (whether determined, or wretched, or desperate, or positive). Feelings come and go – you can use a feeling to put some stuff in place to help you stay on track when that feeling fades, or is replaced by another quite different and maybe not helpful feeling. Feelings are like waves, they may push you along for a while, or they may capsize you. You need good habits and supports to ballast the boat, to stop yourself being overwhelmed. Da, day 240
A p.s. to my previous comment : whilst watching birds on the shore at Reyjavik (yes booze-free the whole weekend of my trip!) I had the thought that we’re all ‘birds of a feather flock(ing) together’ and that’s why your blog/daily emails + comments work – we may be from different species but finding comfort in our shared experience of being ‘tired about thinking about drinking’. Thankx
I’d rather not be called a lurker (sounds like someone dishonest or unpleasant like a stalker); every single one of we human beings are different and sometimes I like to listen and ‘observe ‘ before taking the plunge to get to know someone or commit to that person. I’m doing great, like Susy I stopped drinking on 7 Jan but I’m not counting days as I believe I don’t need to. I was a ‘more than considered normal’ drinker- but thinking about drinking all the time and your approach resonated with me. I found you via Catherine Gray’s book (after listening to her on BBC’s Woman’s Hour) and look forward each day to your daily email. They don’t always apply to me directly but there’s always something for me to hang on to. Thank you so much for being with me on my new journey. It’s working and I’m not lurking but engaging (quietly). By the way I’ve ordered your cards – I’m always jotting down notes of inspiration I come across so feel they’ll be good for me. From Kay the reader!
I agree with you Kay. Lurker sounds creepy and that is something I’m not. It is possible to read & be silently engaged.
that’s the best thing about Belle- she holds nothing back – and I appreciate the lack of *bull* – it isn’t always exactly what you want to hear – but it is almost exactly what you NEED to hear…
Hi, I’m always lurking around here and for the past 16 days I’ve been lurking sober.
I have yet to read your book Belle, I’d love to win it. 🤞
Day 29. Yes, determination is not enough. I’m now attending a local support group, it helps to have other people who speak my addiction language. My immediate family do not, they have left, but think they know what I should be doing, to help myself. Apparently I need to prove, in their absence, that I am sober. What I need, is to stay sober, day by day, with support from people who can be present with me, online or at meetings, and can hear and speak with me in a mutually understood language. Calling me an alcoholic describes my behaviour, it does not define me.
Oh I didn’t know I was a lurker! I am on day 22 & have only just found your emails in my junk folder in the last 2 days so have loved catching up with them. Everything you say makes sense and I can relate to. I have started this as dry January (well started on 7th as holidays!) but not sure if it will go beyond. I have not really been out to see how that would be. A day at a time cautiously exploring sobriety…
Slightly depressing that determination isn’t enough but you’re right, it can only get you so far. I don’t feel determined as such, I just can’t think of a good enough reason to drink alcohol right now. Hope that continues. Day 24.
Your emails, audios and videos every day are so much help. Also, have my Stay Here bracelet. Day 65.
Have been lurking for quite a while now.Have had many day ones but your emails and being sick of being sick and tired of thinking about drinking has finally helped start the long road to sobriety.Ordered your cards on the weekend just to keep reminding me to not let my guard down.Thanks for being here.
Rodney …Day 69.