Headline: “Being of Service Shuts Up Wolfie”

in an email i wrote to my sober penpal, Lilly:

I don’t know anything about anything.  I don’t know about moderation cuz I never tried it.  I’m afraid of it.  I’m afraid of relapse so I don’t try anything.  And I’d only want to moderate if I thought that booze was useful… which I don’t … And the idea that it’ll be OK with just one glass is wolfie talking; it’s not common sense (which of course you know).   And anyway, nothing gets worse from NOT drinking.

and in an email to Jenny:

no day going forward will be as difficult as the first 3 days … from now on they’re all pretty much the same.  I honestly think that deciding to start [like really and truly do it] is the hardest part.  then once we quit, we brace ourselves and we hold on tight with white knuckles … but the real drama is already behind us.  Day one is behind you.  hungover, regret, disappointment, it’s all finished.  already behind you.  Day one was the hardest (and most exciting) part.  And now … well, now, your sober car is rolling downhill.  you just do today what you did yesterday.  Get enough sleep, get outside, drink fizzy drinks starting at 5 or 6 or 7 pm.  stamp your feet a bit in a temper tantrum.  have a bath.  write something down.  then repeat tomorrow 🙂  no really, you’re already doing it.  the thing you’re waiting for is here.

and in an email to Amy:

being sober is fine with me because being drunk really isn’t that interesting, comparatively.  There’s no ‘one glass of wine’ … There is only a choice between sober and loving it, and feeling like a bag of shit.

being sober penpals with you-all (and Jen and Leigh and Whineless and Jackie here and there) is truly fabulous. Someone posted a comment that i was working the 12th step.  if working the 12th step is the same as making sure that I help me first, making sure that I don’t have a drink, that in explaining things by email it helps ME to travel on this highway just a little bit easier, then YES i’m doing the 12th step.

I’m sure the 12th step is supposed to be *selfless* in some ideal world.  I’m sure i’ll get some lessons in AA in just a minute … (here come the comments!).

But here’s what i think.

in being of service i am talking to myself.  when i write to jenny, i’m really writing to me.  i’m explaining stuff to myself.  When I write a blog post, it’s to talk to myself, or to work something out for me.

if you think you don’t have it “in you” to reach out just remember that you’re really helping yourself. it is in the helping of others that we ‘fill the hole’ and avoid the PIT. and any other metaphor you’d like to throw at it.

and when I explain things to myself, it really shuts up wolfie and THAT is my favorite sport.

how does it feel?

Book giveaway winner announced here (WhinelessinWashington)!

My new sober penpal Jenny wrote:

“Tell me how 7 months (sober) feels?”

what a question! talk about getting right into the meat of things 🙂 here was my answer:

how does 7 months feel.  what an interesting question. It feels like a big number that I didn’t create.  It’s like I’ve gone to bed and gotten up 230 days in a row without drinking, and that doesn’t seem possible.  you know, it’s like anticipating a big vacation and thinking that the time will NEVER pass, and yet it does, steadily, day by day.  it’s just like that.  and it’s like arriving on a big vacation and not wanting it to end, even though some days are crummy and boring, you still don’t want to go back to ‘real life’.  and I hope that in time, I’ll feel more confident that I’m never going back. the further away I get from ‘there’ will convince me that I get to stay ‘here’ … and then perhaps I can look forward a bit more than I am already …

I know i didn’t plan to quit forever. i just found that once I got going, i liked being sober more than i thought i would. it’s BETTER than before. yes, sometimes, i act like it’s a gift that can be thrown away. yes, sometimes i act like nothing can touch me. but in truth, it’s just like i said to Jenny. i get up every day, and i continue to enjoy my life, and i do the things that work. i don’t focus too much on how many days anymore (mostly because the number is so huge, and in some ways it’s a truly impossibly large number). i don’t worry too much when i get teased for not drinking.  i know he’s jealous. i know he can’t figure out how to get here where I am. I’m OK with that. I will try to gloat less, and be more humble. But 7 months feels waaaay more awesome-sauce than i thought it would 🙂 and so yes, sometimes i gloat a bit.  i dance around the kitchen relishing in my newly found genius. yes.  guilty as charged.  go ahead and fucking sue me. I’m sober. and. loving. it.

encore, et encore

last day for book give away 🙂

wine tasting event last night.  I knew enough not to pour myself a taster, not to have a glass in front of me. but I did ask the person next to me if i could have a sip from one of their tasters.  All eyes on me (cuz i’m the girl who doesn’t drink), i took i very small sip, less than a teaspoon … and it was truly revolting.  Apparently the look on my face was pretty funny. it tasted like gasoline. and it smelled nasty. there i was, hosting a wine event, and i don’t drink wine, and when i did try to taste a sample i looked like i was in pain… they laughed at me.

and then I thought …

hard to believe anyone drinks this stuff voluntarily.

I’d have to drink it for awhile before I could ‘get used to it’ again.

i’m sure if i had a glass or two i’d be over the revolting taste part.

what kind of a person thinks that forcing yourself to drink something nasty would be a good idea.

oh, it does warm my throat just a bit.

i remember now the feeling of being numb in a few seconds. in a glass or two, i could be numb, i could go there.

i don’t want to be one of those people. i’ve read about them. i don’t want to be them.

i don’t want to say “i had a sip, then a glass, then a bottle.”

i am NOT going to be one of those stories.

and I poured myself some cranberry juice. the night continued. all is well. encore, et encore. again, and still.

Recovery is another word for freedom

As i was shopping today at the specialty wine store for a valentine’s catering event, i decided right there in the store that i was going to drink wine tomorrow night.  buying all this nice wine for a wine tasting, can you blind-taste-test which one is Italian versus Chilean versus French versus American? Clients love this kind of shit.  Really love it. It’s like an ice breaker that gets everyone talking, they vote on which one is the italian wine, then we do a great unveiling, and the one italian guest in the crowd will gloat, etc.

And i thought, “yeah, i’m having some too.”  because, you know, fuck it.  i have a cold (this happened the last time i had a cold, too). and cuz it’ll be valentine’s day. and because really this has gone on long enough.

I came home and said to husband: “it feels like i’m going to drink tomorrow night.”

He says what he always says … nothing. I think he’s used to me doing this, periodically, i just lose direction and starting to drift.

I head out to the third store for more specialty food stuff, and i buy myself some cranberry juice and ginger ale to mix.  for tomorrow.

Because like before, when i get to this very adamant place where I feel that I want to drink right now, I go ahead and decide to WAIT for a week and then reassess.  If i still want to do a three-bottle-red-wine-taste-test in a week’s time, I can do it then.  Not tomorrow.  Not without true thought and consideration.  I am not ‘falling off the wagon’ because of an impulse decision. Or when i have a cold.  I’m just not flaking out now. Later maybe. not now.

Next week. i’ll revisit it again next week.  There will be plenty of future opportunities when i can drink again, if i so decide, it doesn’t have to be valentine’s day, it doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

NOT when i have a cold. NOT when i just want to pitch it all in and say ‘fuck it’.  NOT NOW.

i will read some more of the new recovery book tonight.  and i’m going to play cards with my husband. he always wins. and i will go to bed and wake up tomorrow feeling better.  this is the truth. it always works out this way.

mystery book reveal [and giveaway]

OK, so here’s one more quote from the recovery book i’ve been reading:

We need to define very clearly what recovery is, because recovery is not only abstinence … Recovery will mean different things to different people, but it’s going to mean forgiveness of yourself … What are the things that people need to do in terms of improving their lifestyle and filling in the gaps where the alcohol was or where the drugs were? … I would say my best teachers have been my patients and people who have lived this and who have been successful. The people I admire the most actually are people who are in recovery, because they’ve had a very difficult journey. When you have to come face to face with yourself and you have to come face to face with your fears and your demons, you’re kind of looking at your own humanity and you’re looking your own mortality straight in the face. And so I admire those individuals who’ve been able to really do that, been able to turn their lives around in such a way as to make this addiction and their past history of addiction work for them rather than against them. They’re not a victim. They’re not a prisoner of the past. They’re really not able to erase that past, but they’re able to actually move ahead. Some days may be great, some days may not, but they’re able to move ahead honestly. And to me, that’s a great inspiration.

This quote is from the book Recover to Live: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction, by Christopher Kennedy Lawford.  His lovely publisher sent me a copy of the book to ‘review’.  It’s pretty amazing in terms of the research it contains; he interviewed over 100 of the world’s leading experts in recovery:

  • How to determine if a bad habit is becoming a dependency
  • What treatments work best for any individual person
  • How best to help yourself or a loved one recover from addiction
  • How to lead a fulfilling and productive life in recovery

A word of warning though… I quite enjoyed this book and found it had lots of really great ideas and quotes.  But it is a research book. Full of citations. Full of quotes from lots of people (the author talked to 100 people, remember).  It is NOT a gushing true-life story of one guy’s recovery… this is more scientific and (in some ways) more practical. If you’re looking for a ‘story about sobriety’ then this isn’t the book for you.  BUT if you’d like another tool in your toolbox, then you might enjoy the 1 squillion quotes and ideas and genius bits of research collected all in one volume (OK, there are probably more than 1 squilion good ideas here, i didn’t actually count them).

Chris’s publisher (Lindsey) has also said (yippee) that I can give away one copy of the book : )

Here’s what you can do for a chance to win:

  • To win a copy of the book sent directly to you by the publisher, leave a comment below saying that you’d like to win.
  • You need to be comfortable giving me your email address (go create a fun one on hotmail if you need to).
  • I will pick one comment using a random number generator.  That person will be the winner.
  • I will send the winner’s email address to the publisher’s contact (her name is Lindsey).
  • Lindsey will ask you by email for your mailing address so that she can send out your winning book to you.
  • I (Belle) will not know your name/address, etc., nor will it show up on this site or anywhere else.  But you do need to be comfortable communicating directly with the publisher so that she can mail the book to you.

Would you like to win? If so, post a comment below.  I’ll pick one comment using a random number generator on Friday, February 15th.

OK, one more quote from the book:

Recovery is another word for freedom: Recovery is a lot like enlightenment — most of the people who have excellent recovery, you wouldn’t even know until you spent time with them. They are human beings first and recovering people second. The recovery ideology does not define them, but it’s an integral part of their life. Recovery is not a feeling. It is a state of awareness and realization. You realize that you are free. No matter how good or bad things get, the fundamental realization is that you are free.

Would you like to win a copy of Recover to Live: Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction, by Christopher Kennedy Lawford? If yes, post a comment below.

One entry per person.  Unless you share this giveaway on your blog, then you can post a second comment below saying that you’ve shared 🙂

(1) i want it now, (2) shut up wolfie, (3) i’m in the top 10%

Here are a few new quotes from the ‘mystery’ addictions book I’m reading.  What do you think?

(1) We addicts are used to immediate gratification. It’s difficult to tolerate the feeling of craving for a second because we know there’s a solution. All we need is the drug, the drink, the cigarette, the card game, her or him, or whatever it is that makes us think we’re okay. The disease lives in the mind.

[Belle: I want to feel better NOW, dammit!]

(2) Addicts need to understand that sitting with a craving for five minutes diminishes its hold over their thoughts, and that the longer they sit with it the more it  diminishes. They aren’t fighting the craving, but waiting for it to pass, as it surely will. Once you know it’s the cravings that make you do what you don’t want to do, you can no longer be a victim.

[Belle: I call these cravings my ‘wolf’ voice …]

(3) How do you know for certain if you need treatment for an addiction? The odds are you won’t know on your own. Up to 90 percent of people who need treatment don’t recognize that they need treatment, according to research data … “There is a good reason for this state of denial … the area of the brain that allows you to be aware of your own internal state is disrupted by drugs [or alcohol].” This disruption may also create layers of stubborn denial if you have a … habit that has become a serious problem.

[Belle: for those of us online, looking for solutions and looking for help, we might be in the 10% who know we need to do something. And while this book doesn’t specifically say this, i bet that willingly being part of the 10% who recognize they need help makes it more likely that we’ll be successful.  Maybe I’ll email the author and ask!]

What do you think?

“Change your behavior and your thinking changes”

I’m reading a book about addiction, and I keep thinking “i should put this quote or that quote on the blog and see what you-all think…”

I will share more ideas later, and i think i’ll even have a contest to give away a copy of this mystery book … but for now, what do you think about these statements?  here you go…

A Few Inconvenient Truths About Dependency
• Addiction is a brain illness, not simply a failure of willpower or morals … Addiction is about the reward center of the brain. It’s a maladaptive response to trauma and stress.
• Change your behavior and your thinking changes.
• A new “brain model” of addiction is emerging that shows a close link between the symptoms of attention deficit disorder and those of an addicted brain.
• Express self-compassion and you begin to shed feelings of shame, which is at the root of depression and substance abuse.

Are you like me, jumping up and down, saying “YES YES, that’s exactly what I think!” or maybe you’re more relaxed than I am tonight 🙂  Or maybe you disagree entirely … In which case, Cool! More debate!

I’m curious 6

I’m about to take off for a 24-hour mini vacation later today, but look … it’s February!  It’s time to update my lovely Curious post.  Some newly sober people have gotten their start right here.  You can too.  Or you can just watch and see what happens. There is a lot of support in the sober blogging world. You’ll see 🙂

What’s the reason for this post?

i lurked on a few sober blogs before I quit drinking July 1st.  So here’s what i’m curious about.

  1. Post a comment with your number of days sober (or your sober anniversary date if you’re not a day-counter).
  2. If you are an anonymous lurker, and you’re sober, you can just put Sober as your name, and then use a fake email as your email address ( – tell me how many days sober. You can remain anonymous of course.
  3. If you are a lurker, and you aren’t (yet) sober but you’re looking for inspiration, you can put Hoping as your name (or whatever), and then enter the email address ( And you can pick a date when you’d like to start your sober journey (i.e. in 5 days, or February 15th, or whatever). You can remain anonymous, too.

I also sometimes forget how far along in the sober journey some of you are … so this will help me remember and help me celebrate with you.

Really, if you’re an anonymous lurker that’s totally fine! Just chime in with where you are : )

PS/ HERE’S MY GUT REFLEX: I have no proof of this and am only going on a gut feeling here, but if you are a lurker and still drinking, then by posting something anonymously, it’s like raising your hand and saying “ok, yes, i could use some support” and i think that makes a big difference in what happens next for you.  Well, if you don’t believe me, you can try posting something and see what happens : )

Belle xo

voted: “Most Likely to be Sober at 8 Months”

i had a dream last night that i was part of a group being honored with an award. i wasn’t dressed as nicely as the other people and felt judged based on the dress i was wearing. I was given a very large glass of Grand Marnier (orange liqueur) that i was to hold, to pose with, while the group picture was taken. And then I was supposed to drink from the glass (like saying “cheers!”).

In the dream, i walked around with this big glass of booze in my hand, before the picture was taken, trying to find someone who could make me a replacement drink that i could drink from instead. In my head, i toyed with the idea of taking the celebratory sip — just for the photo — but instead I faked it (raised the glass to my mouth but didn’t drink).  Then i handed the glass to someone else.

So. Here’s what we know.

Even in my dreams, I will not drink. I may want to look like everyone else, but I do not give in.

This is reassuring. Today is my 7 month anniversary. Amy has voted me “Most Likely to be Sober at 8 Months.”

I did have a “fuck-it” moment earlier in the week and i thought about having some wine, cuz really, “fuck it.” At 7 months sober, though, my ‘oh fuck-it’ reason didn’t seem large enough to blow everything.  I tried to remember what I would say to someone else if they were complaining of a ‘fuck-it’ feeling. I would say “wait till tomorrow, go to bed, have a bath, go for a run, you can drink tomorrow but not today, etc.”

[it’s moderately spooky when i hear my own voice, in my head, giving me advice.]  but it works.

I may bring the glass to my lips for the sake of your photo, but you cannot make me drink from it.

Love Belle (aka Sober and Happy About It)


That it exists doesn’t mean i need to have it in me

A penpal asked me by email how I managed to buy and serve wine to clients without actually drinking any myself.  What’s interesting is that I’d just posted this comment on Amy’s High Five yesterday:

I am 211 days sober. this evening my husband poured a large glass of liqueur to use in a photo shoot. the smell. was lovely. i asked him if he was going to drink it, he said no. He used a funnel to put it back in the bottle. i knew it wasn’t for me. it might be for other people, but it’s not for me. That it exists doesn’t mean i need to have it in me. i like who i am now, i like that i can see this very clearly. It seems simple, but my mantra is “that’s not for me.”

I told Lilly that I don’t feel tempted when pouring wine for a client.  But perhaps my situation is unusual.  I don’t really want to smell the wine or taste it, because that *might* wake up my wolfie voice, so i don’t even go there. But i can pour it for her or him or them.

As I wrote more, i realized that i have this same thought pattern about other things in my life (here’s some of the text):

I’m personally not that interested in being in places where the sole purpose is to drink heavily.  I can, and have, gone ‘for drinks’ but I have a tea or mineral water, and then I leave after one drink.  if they’re continuing onwards, I’m done now.  It’s not for me.

And maybe they are drinking because they’ve never made a choice about what’s best for them, what’s right for them … they’re doing something on autopilot.

Me, I’m driving my car.  I’m on ‘manual’ not ‘automatic’. I get to choose where my car/life goes. Me. It’s me choosing.  that means that I make decisions that are different from other people’s … including not having kids!  MOST people have children. MOST people have a baby alarm that screams at them until they pop out a kid.  MOST people probably don’t even stop to think if it’s what they want, they’re on some kind of autopilot that says “it must be baby time now.” 

I also don’t have a television because I realized 8 or 9 years ago that it wasn’t good for me. too much time wasted watching the weirdest levels of complete garbage … when I met my husband, it was quite a discussion point about whether or not we’d have a TV… we had one for a while, without cable, and now we don’t.  Except when we got to hotel and then it’s a big treat!

I think this all makes me unusual.  I’m quite comfortable making decisions that make me a little bit different from everybody else IF the decisions are better for me (these are all personal decisions).  No TV is better for me.  No kids is better for me.  No booze is better for me.  Lots of sleep (10 hrs) is better for me.  Running 5 days a week is better for me.  Yes, these are not the same decisions that everyone makes.  But they’re better FOR ME.  And i’m the one making decisions for me.

Maybe now I see that stopping drinking is another one of those decisions.   And that somehow makes it even easier to “not” drink the wine when I pour it for a client.  It’s not for me.

Does this make any sense?