It’s hard to quit, no matter what. You can be single or married. It’s still hard. People who are single say “I wish there was somebody supporting me.” People who are married say “I wish I didn’t live with someone who drank.” It’s hard to be sober no matter what. Your voice in your head will tell you that somebody has it easier than you, but everybody has their own weird, particular challenges. We think we’re all special and broken and deficient and that our situation is worse and more difficult and more heinous. You have a voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do it because your situation is worse. And that’s not true. You have kids? Somebody else says “I could be sober if I had kids” while you’re saying “I find it hard to be sober because I have kids.” I want you to know that all of that is wolfie. None of it really contributes to how hard or easy it is to be sober. It’s a distraction. [listen to this as an audio]
* if you’re following on facebook, you maybe saw my first facebook LIVE video – it’s an experiment (and a badly lit one at that), where I record a short message and you can see my christmas tree (ha!). you do NOT have to be signed up on FB to see the video, nor do you have to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ — but if you DO follow the page, i believe it’ll tell you the next time i’m live…
when you think you’ll sell 10 books a month, and you start selling 10 a day (december 31st was 32 books that one day). when you order 7 new FUW bracelets for january and they’re claimed within hours so then you swiftly point out the silver Stay Here ones instead. when things change, under your feet, without you even realizing it.
it’s just like being sober, isn’t it. you go along, you go along, some days are easy, some days are hard. and you THINK you know where you’re going, but then …
well, I’ve always equated being sober with driving across the country, from Maine to San Francisco (or from Plymouth to Inverness-ish here).
you start off, you head in the right general direction, you make a bunch of small decisions every day. you adjust your course every day. you look at maps, aim, recalculate. you add in more sleep when required, more fuel when required, and you have faith that if you put in the days, let the calendar pages flip over, one after the other, that you can arrive in a new place.
and, importantly, it’s a new place that you can’t see when you begin AND you cannot adequately know or understand until you get there.
the advantage to having a day-by-day approach, though, is that you can do all the small adjustings required. you’re not just plopped in the middle of the new place, unprepared. you get to practise your self-care each day, refining the process. you get to deal with smaller hurdles before larger ones come. you learn about prelapse so that you can prevent it. you learn when to put gas in your sober car and when to have a snack.
it’s in the travelling that you are preparing. it’s in the travelling that you’re learning what you need to know.
and then some day you’ll wake up on day 2,384, having worked individually with 2,914 penpals. you will have no idea HOW this happened, except by repeating one successful sober day, repeatedly, and showing up, and making the small adjustments required. you’ll get ready to post the 299th sober painting since the end of august.
it’s like writing a book, right? page by page. you can write a book 100 words at a time. You can build a sober life one day at a time, one page, one story. keep layering. keep adding to what you’ve built before. continuous days. they count.
you’ll arrive somewhere lovely and unexpected.
from my inbox:
here are a few messages that are quite literally in my inbox this morning, wednesday
Lace (day 10): “Yesterday was grim. I didn’t drink but it was a close run. Daughter has taken up residence at home as her mental state has imploded. I am trying to be supportive and caring and that leaves little room for me to care for myself. Self-care and self-love is an alien concept for me. I need to compartmentalise but it’s hard. I know we all have shit stuff to deal with, so I will walk the dogs and tune into one of your podcasts. Very down.”
S1: “Hi Belle, I’ve read your amazing book, and it spoke out to me. It sounds stupid but I felt like I was talking to me: similar situation and similar way of talking. I was inspired, really fucking inspired. I know what I need to do now, I’m there. But I keep making excuses, especially around 4pm when I’m feeling normal again now the hangover is a distant memory and have to face the noisy, awful kids-bedtime routine. That my main excuse. What do you suggest I do at witching hour when wolfie is telling me the evenings are hard and wine will make it easier? Because I’m tired and still need to plough through it somehow. Any techniques for the witching hour? Thank You and I’ll get there eventually, I know day 1 will happen for me very soon.”
S2: “I don’t think I will get a reply to this as we are not penpals. But if you read it I will be pleased enough. I’m on day 7. I think you would say that I made the decision to quit while I still had a high bottom! but it was still all-consuming in my mind. Finding you and your book seems like fate! I’ve wanted to find a way, but never really considered actually stopping altogether. I want to do this. I’m 51 and turning 50 was a bit of a wake-up call in terms of realizing that we only get one life. I was fed up of not feeling as well as I knew I could and thought I was going round the twist waking up in a panic every time I drank. You are currently helping me more than you know. But is it normal to feel like crying every time I listen to a podcast? Partly it is with relief I think. That you understand, that I’m not on my own. Friends are proving to be tricky, I have only told two. One is totally supportive even a little in awe I think. The other, well she says ‘you don’t need to do that just drink at the weekend’ — I was tempted to ask her if her middle name was Wolfie 🙂 She wasn’t really listening I don’t think, but it has made me realize that I might need to choose who I tell my truth to. My hubby knows. and he suggests that I just tell them it is because I have events to train for and then I don’t have to explain anything.”
S3: “This is the second painting I have acquired. I LOVE it!!! And I thank you for helping me & being a part of my days in your own way. You are a gem! And Thank Mr. B for his paintings, to help us out here to not only have a more beautiful decor, but at the same time remind us of how we want to live – sober. And we can have that reminder in our face and enhancing our space without anyone else having to know it or judge it. Thank you seems minor, but it is heartfelt & what I can offer.”
Dallas: “i’m on day 1 for the last time, i’m trying different, i will email when i feel good AND when i feel bad. i will NOT wait to feel bad to reach out. i will fucking do it in advance, wolfie, so that i can get some fucking traction, wolfie, cuz this waiting around to feel better ain’t getting me anywhere, wolfie, and so i’m going to try different which means emailing and listening to audios when i feel GOOD. oh, and wolfie, you can blow me. love, me”
Mrs. Bobby: “Belle, I’ve right royally messed myself up, straight away. After my 60 days sober, I had a few drinks on Saturday night and enjoyed them – as I said in my email. But then I had more on Sunday night. My husband and I had some drinks together, which, for me, turned in to a bottle of wine, at least, possibly more as there was some left from the other night. my hangover yesterday was excruciating … But you know the thing I am most ashamed of? I felt horrible late morning yesterday and my brain said – “alcohol will make you feel better”. And I listened to it … I am now full if self loathing and I am upset I have wasted so much time and energy, and for what? When I compare how I feel now with how I felt for the previous 60 days sober, there is no contest. I want that life back. I don’t want this. Sorry Belle, just feeling the shame and self-loathing today. I just want to get back to where I was. And the voice in my head is still saying – ‘alcohol will make you feel better’. But I’m not listening this time. Bobby xx”
so i have a short audio with a collection of voices for you … people from all around the world, readers of my daily emails, sober folks (and sober hopefuls), everyone coming together to make a compiled, mosaic of good feelings 🙂 I think you’ll like it. it’ll make you smile. press play. see the big blue button? you can’t miss it. free. press play. it’ll start just like that!
In these audios, I talk about getting started, how to THINK about the idea of quitting drinking, advice on tools and supports, and we’ll talk about how to get ready to begin (and how to keep going if you’re already going).
If booze is an elevator that only goes down, it’s time to find the exit.
Exit → Exist [audios for lurkers, sober-curious, not sure sobriety is for you] > Sign up here.
there is a ‘chat’ feature on my site (here in the top-right corner), that you can use if you have a technical question, can’t find something, or are wondering why you can’t find the ‘forum’ on my site …
here’s a transcript from a chat from yesterday. ~
Me: Hi there, can I answer a question for you?
Chat: Good morning. Is this Belle? Me: It is
Chat: Nice to meet you. you have a great site! It’s been a LOT of help Me: well that’s lovely 🙂
Chat: Do you ever put sober people together to be penpals? Me: My site is about one-on-one support, me working with penpals. you’re going to find it most useful when someone is (much) further along than you. There are lots of other sites with forums, i’m not sure they work as well as people think they should…
Chat: I’m sure you are right. I just read your email with someone on day 1 … I believe they and I are on the same day. Thought maybe we could support each other as well. Me: Right, the support you need is from someone who’s done it successfully who can help you navigate the hard stuff. you can’t really help someone else until you’ve got your own sobriety figured out. it’d be like two people who don’t speak english trying to learn together without an anglophone present 🙂
Chat: Makes sense Me: also, when the other person relapses, it can make you focus on them, and it makes it seem like relapse is contagious. to begin, your focus should be on you 🙂 you have lots to learn. and then you can help others 😉 sober first and THEN you can take on the world!!
Chat: I know I have relapsed because of other people before so what you’re saying makes sense. It does help to have someone in your corner though. This “getting sober” thing is a very lonely road. I appreciate your help! Me: your addictive wolfie voice will tell you that you should focus on others, instead of focussing on you. this happens all the time. your addictive voice does this ON PURPOSE so that drinking will seem like a good idea.
Chat: I’m sick of Wolfie Me: i have some links to supports that might help if you want me to send them to you, just need your email address.
Chat: Wolfie is selfish and a liar. 😉 I do get your emails, and appreciate them! I won’t keep you any longer. I just was thinking about Day 1 again.
this message brought to you by today’s Shameless Commercial Link:
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there is a live chat thing on this site, where i can answer questions and help you find things. here’s a copy of a chat from yesterday:
Me: Hi there, can I answer a question for you? Chat: Hi I’m interested in signing up for sober support pen pal. Day 1 again
Me: Have we been penpals before? or this would be a new support for you 🙂 Chat: I’ve not had a penpal before. I currently subscribe to Belle’s podcasts & emails
Me: This is Belle 🙂 Do you need the links to the penpal-sign-up page thingy? Chat: Hi Belle 🙂 Yes please
Me: here you go > http://www.soberjumpstart.com . it’s ‘open’ now, but it’s often ‘turned off with a waiting list’ when things are busier, which is what i’m expecting for new year’s day … so actually now would be a good time to begin.
and here’s another chat that happened JUST NOW while i was typing this message to you!
Me: Hi there, can I answer a question for you? Chat: Hello … I have just seen a link to your site … I just want to make sure it is legit?
Me: legit 🙂 yes, it’s really me. this is belle. smart of you to check it out though! Chat: Oh hello … I am desperate to get off the booze. You have amazing reviews … I will sign up then … New Years reading … lol
Me: i am, in fact, a genius. Chat: lol … you are funny too. I’ll get going on it and hopefully write you another amazing review. Wish me luck.
Me: Did someone share with you from facebook? Chat: Yes. An old school friend … its that time of the year isn’t it. Would you like me to share also?
Me: that would be awesome 🙂 you can confirm that i am, in fact, a real human and not a robot! Chat: I will do that … chat on the other side. Happy New Year.
Me: hugs from me xo
If ever this happens to you, where you can’t find something, or you need help with a transaction, or you need some kind of technical question answered, you can always drop into the chat, too. If i’m online, it’ll say “Chat with us LIVE” in the top right corner of this page.
I cannot do ‘sober coaching’ by chat, but I can help you find things 🙂
a few months ago I was interviewed on the radio in Australia (in Melbourne). the ‘green room’ where they make you wait before you go live, it actually had green painted walls.
we talked about sober things (of course) but also about how stories can help us feel not-so-alone. for today’s gift (day 28!), i wanted to share some of the transcript of the interview, AND I’ll put in a link below where you can PRESS PLAY and listen to the complete interview.
When I started the blog (tired of thinking about drinking) it’s because I knew that I couldn’t be sober on my own. I wanted to quit for a month — that was my original goal — and on my own, I could quit for 7 or 9 days, and then I would think: “well, drinking is everywhere, I’ll just drink, what’s the big deal.”
I started to read other sober blogs — I didn’t even know they existed — and once I found one, I thought “this is really interesting, there are lots of other NORMAL people out there, who quit drinking, who don’t have particularly low bottoms, and they just decide that drinking doesn’t suit them …”
Imagine that you’re going to an all-expense paid vacation There’s all these things that you can try Snorkeling Tennis All kinds of fancy 3-star food Drinks included
I left a big pause there so you could think about what that means Here’s the world: The world is just like an all-expense paid vacation All these opportunities for you
Now think about the vacation
I left that space so that you could consider the following These events, these places, these all-inclusive places They’re familiar with people who don’t drink The will always have extensive sober drink options.
Because not everybody drinks Some people are sober Some people are muslim Some people are pregnant Some people are mormon Some people don’t drink So you don’t need to worry about the fact that these people won’t have thought of you They will There’ll be something there for you
But also An all-inclusive vacation Is like an all-inclusive life It’s filled with opportunities and Things that you can take advantage of That you cannot possibly enjoy If you’re drunk
You go to an all-expense paid cruise vacation to Jamaica Bahamas Caribbean Something You go to Spain You go to Portugal And what, you drink the whole time?
All this loveliness around you Just like in life In this all-paid vacation
All this loveliness around you And you are in a room with a bottle Not paying any attention to what’s going on around you Not really being present Not really enjoying All of the possibilities
Now you might say But I don’t like snorkeling That’s like saying Well if I’m sober, then my life sucks.
There’s a whole fucking world of things out there To do Be Experience Have Eat Why don’t you just go to that 3-star Michelin restaurant And eat their food They’re familiar with people who don’t drink There are lots of people, high-end people Movie stars There are lots of people who don’t drink in the world
You can be one of them Because to waste your all-expense paid trip through life Being alone in your room with a bottle Is sadness When there’s so much sunshine, warmth, experience and possibility Waiting for you
And you know what? You’ve already paid [for this life. it has been delivered. it’s here] You might as well take advantage Of this cool life that’s around you
SusieQQQ (day 66): “December 26th, I was on solo parent duty while my husband worked. I took the kids to see Mary Poppins Returns, which was better than I expected but also brought up unexpected grief around childhood memories. Then I did sister Christmas with the sister who lives nearby that I’m not terribly close to … and then had to go deal with my dad’s broken computer and figuring out his new living situation. So, by the time I got home at 5 pm with two reallllllllllly cranky kids, I was TAPPED OUT. When the idea of drinking flitted by quickly, I knew that it meant that overwhelm had hit so I just pulled up Amazon Restaurants on my phone (which I NEVER do) and ordered the most guilty pleasure meal I could think of for my husband and me (Thai noodles and crab rangoon) and scarfed it down. It’s so funny how I still need to read your mails every morning (like today’s) where YOU say that you are resting or doing “nothing” in order for me to give myself permission for ME to treat myself like this. When will I just realize I can give my own self permission? That letting myself off the hook for cooking or being perfect is the only way I will get past this hurdle and onto the next one…”
me: well I think that take-out thai food sounds lovely and a worthwhile treat. and maybe you’ll learn to give yourself permission as you go along. it’s a muscle you learn to use. for now you’re doing it, and it doesn’t matter if the reminder comes from an outside source. I still do this: I listen to ‘motivation’ kinds of audios to get my head straight sometimes. you’re right, too, that being sober is the foundation for all the other ‘work’ you want to do. when you’re kinder to yourself, when you give yourself permission to take care of you, it’s WAY easier to take on other challenges. you need this foundation in boundaries, saying no, figuring out what you can and can’t do, and easing up on the push-push. it’s like sobriety 101 = self-care 101. and then you use all the things you’ve learned here to go out and take on the world 🙂 but you do this part first, solidly. you do this part with a solid concrete foundation. before you go building shit on top of it!
i asked you to send in pictures of fuzzy slippers as a reminder to take time for yourself when the hard things are over.
~ 27th day of gifts. I have a $150 podcast bundle to give away today. the reason for this prize is because i need some help. i’ve been sharing the original sober art that Mr. Belle has been making for us on this page here. What’s missing at the top, though, is some sort of explanation as to what the page is for … you know, something like “Sometimes you need a visual reminder to get off the booze elevator” or “On this page you will find …. and why that’s important to being sober …” I’m asking for a bit of ‘creative writing’ from you, but also something that will help to convey the emotions. It’s hard, right? it’s so hard that I need some help. I know that you might write something – a phrase or an idea – that will spark what I know I need it to say. Or you’ll write a paragraph that completely encapsulates the whole thing and i’ll use it as is. either way … go and have a look here, and then give me an example of some of the text that could go at the top. If you’re a PR/marketing/creative writing person this would be good for you. or maybe you’ve purchased a painting and so you know what it means to you … I’ll read through the ideas today and will pick one to receive the podcast bundle, so you can start off the new year with 50 audios ready to press play! ~ hugs, and thanks, from me
oday is boxing day. it is a day to decompress. you might be travelling today. you might be lounging. you will still plan a sober treat, either way. you plan for a bath and then you TAKE a bath. it’s not just ‘maybe if there’s time – it’s “this is non-negotiable because being sober is more important than …” whatever else you’re doing 🙂 the reward for doing a hard thing, it can be as simple as a bath. so long as you then TAKE a bath. otherwise it’s just a promise you don’t keep. and you’re not doing that. no sir. not you. not this year. not today. you’re taking care of you. if you’re flying, then you’re planning for some special snack mid-flight. or you’re aiming for a 10 pm session of the Ellen special on netflix (ok, it’s funny in places, but i thought it was dull, but you know – dull might be just what you need, soothing in its dullness). plan and implement rewards and treats. non-negotiable. cuz you being sober is a big fucking deal. and you’re here. and you’re protecting it.
we need daily reminders that what we’re doing matters. we reach out for support AND we cheerlead for ourselves. we exit the booze elevator. this is exit 286. there is only one.
if you’re like me, then as soon as one thing is over, you’re already trying to fill the space. have you ever planned lunch while still eating breakfast? yeah, that’s me. I arrive post-christmas and think “i should go to culinary school in january, i should finish my novel, i should make every recipe in this book.” those are all my examples of thinking from the last 24 hrs. as part of decompressing after big things, we need to remember that our heads take a while to un-tense. we sit there and think “i can’t just sit here I should be doing something.” and then we sit some more. head: do this and this and this body: are you kidding me? i’m sitting on the couch, thank you very much. while you and i are both familiar with push-push, there’s a time when it’s ok to take the lead from your ass as it sits on the couch. you might need this. you might need to do less. especially after a big thing. go for a walk? great. lounge on the couch? great. sober? required. so far today husband made 6 boxes for paintings sold over the weekend. he then took them to the post office, and bought us cream for coffee. i remain in my jammies. i did 3 hrs of emailing and then an hour of pastry-textbook-reading. i am contemplating going for a walk, but then my ass returns to the couch. where it just might stay.
email from C: “Having a SUPER tough Christmas morning. Usually about now once the gifts were open, I would have a mimosa (or 6) as a ‘job well done’. Got this gift from my 11 year old daughter though. I’m on day 8 (had gone 46 before Thanksgiving) … this and lots of deep breaths will get my through a Tuesday! Thank you for your emails ❤️”
it’s ok to leave early. it’s ok to get up and go for a walk, to play with the baby, to snuggle with the dog. it’s ok to sit in the bathroom and listen to an audio. it’s ok to leave early from any event (at any time, always). if you’ve gotten to here, then that’s enough. you don’t have to stay for dessert. you can excuse yourself and say that you have to go and lie down, have been up since early, have a bit of a headache. it’s ok. you’ve gotten to here. you protect this now, going forward. that’s your job for today (and any day).
we don’t drink. we exit the booze elevator. we take exit 284 and we get off now.