100 day challenge followup … “It’s like folding in the middle of a bad poker game”

I’ve received lots of emails from people interested in doing the 100 day challenge. It’s a pledge to not drink for 100 days, no matter what.  Even if there’s a zombie apocalypse.  Even if all the kittens on your block get squished the same week.  even if there’s an amputation. No drinking for 100 days. Some people are well on their way, and will be adding 100 days to their current number. Others are just beginning.  Amy is on day 101, Mystery Girl is on day 8. Lilly is 7.  Jenny is 33.

I’m day 260, nearly nine months. Sometime i think i’ll revisit the idea of moderation when i get to my one year soberversary. I’ll be on vacation July 1st.  I can picture it now.

But I recently wrote: “And really, moderation, god, I love the idea of that. I really really do. sometimes I think I’ll try moderation at one year.  but mostly I’m afraid to try.  afraid because of what I read online.  more than afraid, terrified I guess.  I don’t want to fall off and not be able to get back inside again. someone also wrote on my blog something about moderation working for people who don’t really need to moderate…”

for all the times that i half-assed tried to moderate, i was really only white knuckling it. Only drink every second day? OK, let me try to remember, is this an on day or an off day. Only drinking for special events, does today count as special enough? Only drinking twice a week, when does the week start (Sunday or Monday).

It was a lot of noise in my head. and this blog is called “tired of thinking about drinking” because i thought a lot about how much, when, too early, he drank more than i did. Too often.

the truth is, this is easier.  Sobriety is easier. I won’t say that being sober is a gigantic walk in the park.  it has its challenges.  but it is SIGNIFICANTLY easier than trying to manage the consumption of booze.  Why is it so hard to quit drinking, especially the first weeks? Cuz we ain’t equipped to cope with life without our security blanket. Our buffer, our ‘off switch’, our ‘equalizer’. But thankfully after 30 days it gets easier, then at 60 days we stop obsessing about reading sober blogs and books.  Near 90 days the clouds start to life and we feel more like our old selves.

Thus the 100 day challenge.  Our old selves + 10 days for good measure.

So will i drink on my one year anniversary? some days it seems pretty darn tempting. But really, what does that even really mean?

Frankly, it further convinces me that even almost 9 months later, the wolfie voice is still in there.  it’s still whispering sweet nothings in my ear.  I’m much better at ignoring wolfie. My life is gigantically improved now that i’m sober.  If i gave wolfie even a glass of wine, wouldn’t he just get up on his hind legs and start SCREAMING at me? Fun? Not.

In an email to Amy this week, i wrote: “I do not plan to drink. I sometimes play games with myself and say ‘in a week’ when I’m feeling crappy and that seems to be enough to move on through.  in a week’s time I’ve forgotten and all is well again.  I seem to be able to withstand anything if I think it’s almost over.  and then the times of ‘needing’ to withstand are now getting further and further apart, thankfully.  so I can say it’s getting easier.  a lot easier.  and I’m fucking proud of myself. There’s plenty of boozing and alcohol abuse in my extended family. I quit before I had any real problems. I got out early, like folding in the middle of a bad poker game. I just cut my losses and got out.”

if you’d like to do the 100 day challenge, you can read more about it here.  Or you can do your own version. Or you can keep playing poker with a loaded deck, cheaters, liars, and phonies… Nah. No time for that shit!

Would you like to do the 100 day sober challenge?

Are you interested in doing the 100-day sober challenge?

  1. Here’s the pledge:
    “I will not drink for 100 days.  No matter what.  I can cry, but I will not drink.  I can go to bed or go home early. I might feel distressed … but I will not drink.  Bad things might happen, but I will not drink.  Incredibly shitty things may happen to someone around me, or my neighbour, or my friend’s friend’s grandmother.  But there will be no booze.  Funerals? Weddings? Amputation?  I’m not drinking for 100 days no matter what happens … No matter what.”
  2. Make a note of the date of your last drink and post a comment here to let us know.
  3. Read the sober blogs (mine and others) every day. Become involved. Post comments on the blogs. The more you reach out, the more sober tools you add, the easier you’ll find it.
  4. Sign up to get daily sober motivation here.
  5. If you’d like to have a sober penpal (how cool, can’t wait to get to know you!), then sign up for the Sober Jumpstart class. There are three versions of the class and they all come with a free sober penpal (me!). You can email me every single day, ask questions, rant, whine, and get cheerleading. I answer every email I receive. And yes, we remain sober penpals after the class is over. we’re penpals for a whole year 🙂


I send out ‘how to be sober’ emails anonymously to anyone who wants ideas. You can add your email here.

search engine results: “champagne no thanks”

Here are some of the search phrases that people have used in the last 30 days that have led them to my blog…

  • tired of thinking about drinking
  • jason vale alcohol
  • best things about being sober
  • tired of thinking of drinking
  • does behavior change after sobriety?
  • its great being sober
  • drinking in bed and fucking
  • slamming hand
  • tired of thinking at work
  • i will do today what others won’t
  • champagne no thanks
  • now that i’m sober i see what changed
  • pink cloud luncheon
  • i think this too much drinking wine is all nonsense
  • tips for getting past the drinking witching hour
  • 2’s up wolfie
  • another word for freedom
  • i get more done when i am not drinking
  • whats a good headline for being sober
  • i think i’m at that point to kill someone
  • change the behavior and the thinking changes
  • i think about alcohol all the time

Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

today i am 8 months sober. and i couldn’t be happier about it.

thankfully the first 30 to 60 days of “will this ever end” feelings have … well, they’ve ended.  The answer is yes, there is an end to thinking about drinking. At least for me. At least for now.

I’ve been riding on a pretty good sober-high since i recovered from my shitty cold x2. This is the longest stretch where I have not thought about drinking at all.  It doesn’t even register. Had a shitty day on Wednesday, super tired, disappointing, guy wanted to hire me for catering, came here and said he couldn’t hire me after all but stayed and ate all my samples – took up 2 hrs of my time – and then asked to take home the leftovers … and my response was to complain, and eat pie AND cake. I did not even think of having a drink. (ok, yes, I will later replace pie and cake with apples, but for now this is a huge and gigantic improvement of monumental proportions. i didn’t have to ‘bat away the idea’ of drinking, it didn’t even come up as a thought.)

what’s different?

sober pen pals. i wrote an email to Jenny that i’ve already posted here, but in brief it says: “Day one is behind you.  hungover, regret, disappointment, it’s all finished.  already behind you.  Day one was the hardest (and most exciting) part …  you’re already doing it.  the thing you’re waiting for is here.”

And in writing to Jenny, it seems to have firmly lodged in my own brain in a kind of concrete way.

That and Amy’s genius post about just fucking giving it up already … “Out of all the glorious things in life there is only one thing you cannot have: alcohol. Drop that shit like a bad habit.”

and DDG is in a similar place, i think, a place where we’ve abandoned the shit, and are embracing the new reality. and we are beginning to feel ‘recovered’.  There’s no big drama. I’ve adjusted to the newly found quiet in my head. And i’m moving forward… Like I told Jenny, doing the same thing today that worked yesterday.  Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

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?