Christmas Audio

In this special Christmas edition of the podcast that i've just sent out to ​podcast subscribers, i talk about how to avoid getting too wound up, the things that children remember, and how to deal with attending a dinner where host is an over-drinker. 

Oh, and a good reminder, that needs to go on a t-shirt, which is: You don’t need to engage with every idiot.

I also mention Sober Party Bingo > use this link (the 10 rules for sober party bingo are about half-way down the post)

As a gift today, I am going to post the full 50 minute audio here, and leave it up until December 26th. You can begin to listen now, in 10 minute increments, even if you are not a podcast subscriber.

happy merry to you. may you have good food, good moods, and one gift that makes you smile. and a lot of sleep. and a treat for doing this sober thing. it's hard work. it's worth doing. it suits you.​

Audio will be available until December 26th. Listen now.​

[ link removed ]

​Bonus Sober Podcast C18. Christmas 2018​

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine, and tell me if there's anything that stands out for you ​​... To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

​Download C18. ​Christmas 2018​

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

​sober art thanks to mr.belle, this is painting #282 here.

facing things head on

I recorded a podcast today about having a sober Christmas. Thanks to Momma Bee (18) for the idea.

Last year was my first sober christmas, and like our first sober anything, it was a bit weird. This year we’re going to be in a hotel room on christmas day, so that’s a pretty big routine-change. It means no tree this year, no baking, no big meal, and no Christmas Eve or Boxing Day catering (phew!). It means, instead, i’ll be having my favourite kind of adventure: a vacation in a new place. Lots to look at, see, photograph, explore. And no kitchen, no baking, no cooking, no food prep, no cleaning out cupboards, no recipe testing. Oh and the apartment we’re renting has a TV. that’ll be a treat in itself 🙂

The key for me is to continuously create new routines that support me — do things, create things, set up things that make me feel better. Sometimes that means showering before 5 pm (!). But it also means (in future) going to the doctor sooner so that i don’t worry as much. It means dealing with things as they come up rather than stalling, procrastinating, waiting.

When i was drinking, i just let EVERYTHING slide – paperwork, trips to the dentist, paying my taxes. I was just too fucking lazy to do anything. (Well, i was too boozy after 6 pm to do anything.) Now that i’m sober, i’m slowly figuring out how to get things done.

and some of what i’m learning (this week anyway with my heart thing) is about facing things head on.Note to Belle: don’t be avoidant. just deal with it. call the doctor to ask a follow-up question. Wake up my husband at 5 a.m. if i feel weepy (which i did on tuesday). He said some amazingly supportive things and i could nearly cry now in writing this to describe the relief he gave me at 5 a.m.

Here I am now on saturday evening, symptoms 95% resolved, feeling better than i’ve felt in about 6 weeks. The brain space that was occupied with even 8% worrying, is now gone. Yes i could get squished by a car tomorrow. but my mortality can happily go back into the background again. where it belongs.

and lemme tell you, anticipatory anxiety is such an energy-sucker. worrying about impending doom is just sooooo depressing and never-ending. Just like putting off going to the doctor is crazy-making. Just like letting things slide (in some cases too long) is a kind of self-torture. Just like worrying about christmas instead of taking steps to ensure a good one is a recipe for disaster.

Look, it’s november 9th. lots of time between now and December 25th to get some new strategies in place to ensure that we are (I am) taking good care of ourselves. You and me both. Let me know if you want me to post an extract from the christmas sober podcast.

PS/ And yes, i’m taking it easy. i have a frozen lasagne in the oven as we speak. i haven’t cooked anything since thursday. i did shower before 5 pm. i went for a small walk to buy chocolate.

From my inbox:

Brett (day 3): “Belle, Zenmeg’s e-mail really hit home for me.  I struggle so much with finding happiness.  I think that’s why it’s so hard for me when I pass by others laughing and enjoying a glass of wine.  I immediately think it’s the wine that’s making them happy.  But it isn’t, and that realization is a wondrous yet terrifying revelation for me.  If it’s not the wine, then, ultimately, these people are just genuinely happy?  I have been turning to wine searching for happiness for so long, and it’s not there.  So that means I have an awful lot of work to do, to undo the wine = happiness fallacy and to redefine happiness for what it truly is.  The problem is, I don’t know what that is yet.  But I have a teeny little positive voice in my head that tells me someday I will find out…”

Matt S (12): “Every time I get here I start thinking about moderation also. It is such a mirage, such a myth. It’s like when you are in a fancy store and you wonder aloud how much something is because the price isn’t marked and your friend tells you ‘If you have to ask it means you can’t afford it’…. Moderation is the same way, if you find yourself thinking about it, it means you can’t do it.”


Turns out the holidays were harder than i thought they’d be.  Yes, sober. But had to think about not-drinking more than a few times. Went to bed at 9 pm more than once just to save me from me (insert counting crows lyrics here: “i can’t keep myself away from me.”)

I didn’t realize how many booze associations Christmas was going to bring up, this being my first sober noel.  You know, decorate the tree with a margarita in hand like every year … make homemade eggnog and buy a special bottle of dark rum. oh yeah, vacations = start drinking at 1 pm.  oh and what about my personal favorite:  how do you fill all these evenings without booze?

i did a few things to cope.

  1. made a deal with myself that i was going to start drinking again when i got to 6 months … or 12 months.  I changed my mind a few times as to the actual date. Thankfully i continue to be able to resist and therefore know that I will not make a decision in haste.  i may drink again ‘later’ but not now.
  2. as mentioned, I escaped to bed as early as necessary.
  3. i voiced out loud to my husband that i wanted wine. he’d smile and nod. and then he’d change the subject. i think i was waiting for him to say “have some then.” But he didn’t. So i didn’t. I realize this is completely girly-co-dependent-weiner-style-deflection, but it’s working for me and i hardly ever ask him for big-time moral support so he’s giving it and i’m taking it …
  4. i did something completely brave and had a very very nice on-the-phone conversation with another sober chick who i admire. and it was really helpful. a lot.
  5. i have continued my daily penpal correspondence with not-so-newly-sober Amy. (She emailed me out of nowhere and said she was reaching out for help, and i suggested she report in every day by email, even if i couldn’t always answer, and yet i have found the time to answer, and it’s been very helpful for both of us i think – well i’ll just speak for me, shall i?)

i have very slowly been coming to a new realization about being sober that didn’t strike me at first.  Yes, i’m a slow learner. here I am months later and i’m JUST NOW beginning to wake up to the fact that i drank to fill time because I hate being bored. despise it. run from it. used to drink so that i could fill a whole evening when there was nothing to do.

i don’t yet know what boredom ‘means’ to me… it’s not “you’re not good enough” and it’s not “you suck.”

Boredom, for me, i think is saying something about wasting talents. some kind of guilt thing that goes like this: “The Biggest Sin of All: Not Living Up to Your Potential.”

i’ll write more about this as it becomes clearer.  part of it is parental messaging, however unintentional. i was brought up to believe that it was a tragedy if you had a talent that you didn’t use. like a “call-the-newspaper-we-have-a-headline” incident.  the guilt of not using your talents, the criticism, the complaining…

and so what if you’re good at three things.  and there’s not enough life to go around. and so you pick one of the things.  and your parent (and others, to be fair), says “you should be using talent #1. Talent #3 is great, but you’ve got talent #1 and you should be using THAT.”


How about I drink instead.

of course, it’s not as linear as that.  and this-girl-who-can’t-make-a-point-without-a-hyphen isn’t sure what it’s all about.  why does a successful chick with a business or two feel the need to drink as much as I did? yes, the booze gets you and drags you in.  but i knew what was happening and i let it happen. i stood by for a long time and watched the booze leak in, fill space, get in all the cracks. i watched it fill up entire evenings, days, weekends, vacations.

for what? so that i didn’t have to use talent #1?

good god. not that this makes any sense.

ok.  reset.  Hi y’all, i’m through the christmas season and i’ve come out the other side relatively unscathed.  i’ll leave the rest for closer examination another day.