sober maintenance. small. worthwhile.

tiredfrom my inbox:

ohnarn (day 223): “Belle, I was listening to a sober podcast yesterday [NOT one of yours], and the guest is a big believer in AA, and she was talking about how she knows people who had been sober for 20 years and stopped working the program and relapsed. I really hate thinking of over-drinking/alcohol use disorder/whatever you want to call it like that. it seems so dis-empowering to think that we always have to be “on watch” for this “disease” (I don’t think it’s a disease). It just feels like so much effort. Yes, I think we need to have supports, but that sobriety can be taken from us at any moment, and even after 20 years we’re still a slave to this? If that’s the case, then what’s the point? I’m not feeling shaky or anything, but I had to stop listening to the podcast because that message just feels shitty.”

me: from my side of the screen i see it like this: we do need ongoing sober maintenance, but the amount we need is small. but we do have to do it. it may not mean meetings for everyone, but we often do need to be reminded by something external to our own heads that drinking sucks rocks. it’s like a car. it periodically needs gas (your sober car needs gas!). And you can’t fall asleep driving it. nobody gets mad that they can’t just learn to drive the car and then forget about it. you have to be present and take care. it’s your life (the car, sobriety). But the concentration required to drive the car? it’s like 3% concentration on a good-weather day, and 90% on a shitty snowstorm day. we do the 3% sober maintenance happily because it means we get to drive the car. the alternatives are we don’t do the 3%, we take our hands off the wheel, and our sober car drives into oncoming traffic.
because the road isn’t 100% straight, because there are challenges and bumps all the time.
but for me, the 3% maintenance it requires for me to be sober now is not only worth it, it’s a luxury because it means I get to KEEP this whole sober life that I’ve built on top of the foundation of being a non-drinker. to lose that would suck WAY more than a commitment to listening to a (helpful) podcast each day [shall i plug my own lovely podcasts here, or is that shameless?], or that you might email your sober penpal a one-word email every day, or you might be someone who goes to a meeting once a week if that works for you …probably the take-away is ‘don’t drift’. but the actual amount of maintenance required? it’s small. and worthwhile. le hugs le hugs


there is a new 1-minute video of this painting at top of the page here.

Exit 308

Do you see Tulips or do you see Fire? Check out the video.


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 tend to hear quite a lot about “working the program “ because my mum is quite involved in AA. For her she talks about “being sick” or “it’s the illness talking”. I try not to let it grate on me . So the other day when she spoke in that tone I transcribed it in my head as “that wolfie brain of mine” and it not only helped me feel less irritated it also made me realise that we are dealing with the same demon only using different language.
    The phrase “working the program “ is one I never quite understand. If I look at the 12 steps it kind of goes like ( for me anyways)- admit when I’m in the wrong ( try not to hold grudges); work on myself rather than expect others to change; be willing to share the joys of sobriety (especially with those still stuck in the depths and wanting hope); leave my past failures behind ; don’t forget how crappy drinking was; stay in the present. Sort of tools which help me feel ok as a human I guess and ones which hopefully keep me from drinking.
    That’s my take on it anyway! 🙂