be OK with you first


email from Sunshine (day 1):
“I want to try 30 days. Haven’t made it that far yet. Day 1 for me again.”

me: you can try for any number of days you like 😉 how about starting with 2 days, and then getting a nice sober treat! 

sunshine: “You never make me feel embarrassed or shitty about emailing you and keep me feeling encouraged. Thank u:)”

[update: she’s on day 446 today]


Question: If you were making a pledge today, and you could pick any number of days, then how long can you pledge to be sober for, for sure, starting today?

me, I can be sure, from today, that i’m not drinking until July 1st (my soberversary). for sure. for sure. no questions. i’m going to be sober longer than that, but i’m definitely 100% not drinking between now and then.

What about you? what’s your ‘for-sure-for-sure’ number of days you can be sober starting today?

~

“If you see a chance, take it …”
[original art here]


www.artsober.com

stuck in our head

we can get stuck in our head with the ‘drink-now’ voice. we can get stuck thinking that nobody understands, nobody cares, nothing will work. in fact, the ‘nothing’ language is wolfie speaking. because there ARE tools and supports. there are. there are things to do and try. sometimes it means doing 5+15 things together at the same time. sometimes THAT is what’s required. so you do it. cuz you keeping your head above water is the goal. and you alone in your head with a voice that thinks that drinking is a good idea? that’s too lonely.

even on weekends. even when everyone else around you is doing something else. it’s ok if you do what’s best for you. keep your head above water. reach for a flotation device…

 

drinking thinking

omm347.drinking.thinking

Drinking-thinking is different from sober-thinking. and your drinking-thinking is likely going to OBJECT to ideas suggested that come from sober-thinking. You have to be open enough to try the new things, even when your head disagrees.

(When i relisten to this audio clip below, i feel like it’s the KEY to what i’ve been saying lately. maybe condensed and compressed in a way that i haven’t said it before. it sounds ‘new’ or something …)

To hear this short audio message, press the blue button below. nothing to download. just press play.

Question: Did you hear something in this today? post a comment.

how to reframe celebrations

transcript from omm285. How to reframe celebrations

As you may know I do coaching calls with some of my pen pals or subscribers. You don’t actually have to be a pen pal to have a coaching call, but I do calls on the phone with people to talk about sober stuff and I had 3 calls today and each one of them presented a little nugget I think that I can talk about further as a One Minute Message.

The one I wanted to start with is: if you have a voice in your head that says for example, ‘I should be celebrating with alcohol’ …

There’s something to celebrate: job promotion, got through a hard thing, dealt with the kid thing, made the dentist appointment you didn’t want to make, your birthday. Doesn’t matter what it is.

But if your brain says, ‘I should be celebrating with alcohol’, my assignment to the person that I was talking to today, which I’m now going to share with you because you can do this too, is to do a little piece of writing, and write down 2 things.

#1 is to write down the dialog of what wolfie is telling you about how you need to celebrate with alcohol. What is the message that you get. What’s the wolfie message?

For example: How am I ever going to celebrate if I don’t have alcohol, a wedding toast won’t be the same unless I have champagne, it’s my birthday I deserve it.

What’s the language that wolfie is using?

#2 is to write down how you reframe the idea of celebrating without alcohol. What is the message you might give yourself instead?

For example: Turns out what I really want is a feeling of celebration, it doesn’t matter what’s in my glass.

And the reason I’m sharing this today is because I think that the coaching call today illuminated for both of us as we were speaking, that the reason I wanted her to write down the first part, which is – ‘what is wolfie saying’ – is to acknowledge that it exists. Not just to lay down new reframed ideas (ini concrete) on top of the old concrete, but to hear him out. What does he have to say? What is the message in there?

Because there’s nothing the matter with the message that says: “I need to celebrate.” The part of the message that needs to be dissected is: “I need to celebrate with alcohol.”

I think that wolfie’s message is exactly correct except for the word ‘alcohol’.
“I deserve it. It’s my birthday. I need to celebrate” … all of that is true. So you can’t dismiss that message in your head. You can’t dismiss it because it’s true.

The only part that’s incorrect is linking that to alcohol.

The wolfie voice that says: I deserve something, I need some me time, where’s my treat, where’s my celebration, how am I going to go to that wedding and not raise my glass … that’s all true, all valid and I think you need to acknowledge it.

Then the reframing part is where you simply change the word ‘alcohol’ for another word.

I needed a treat. I’m going to be at this wedding. I want to hold up my glass, so I’m going to hold up my glass with a tonic and a ginger ale because it turns out that what’s in my glass is not that important.

Or it’s my birthday. How am I going to celebrate my birthday without alcohol? And wolfie will say, ‘You know it’s not the same. Birthday’s require alcohol.’ And so you acknowledge that and you say, ‘I really want my birthday to be special. I have to think of a way to make it special. I have to keep all of the same feeling of celebration just not with alcohol.’

When you’re doing reframing, and whenever you’ve got the wolfie voice running around in your head, you can acknowledge it.

It’s sort of like when the 3 year runs into the room and says but mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy I want a donut. And you don’t say, ‘Fuck you, have a steak’. You don’t say, ‘That’s a ridiculous idea, of course you’re not having a donut’.

What you say is: “I hear you. I know you think you want a donut right now because you want some kind of a treat and I totally acknowledge that you have been good, cleaned up your room, whatever the kid thinks he deserves the donut for.”

You would acknowledge all of it. “Yes, and it turns out there’s other ways to get a treat that aren’t a donut, and you’re totally right you do deserve some kind of a treat. So let’s get a sticker and put it on the chart and let’s get some carrot sticks and dip them in hummus and how about you come and help me make supper. Those are all celebration-y treats.”

I don’t think you can dismiss the original message. It’s sort of like saying ‘I want love and attention so I try to make my boss notice me.’ There’s nothing the matter with wanting love and attention. It’s the ‘but I want it from my boss’ part that you may need to disengage and plug in a different phrase.

So if your head is saying “the only way I can celebrate is with alcohol,” look at the message and figure out how you can say the exact same thing but put something else in there in the place of alcohol.

There. I’m leaving you right there. How’s that for a six-minute One Minute Message. OK, good byyyyeeeee!

things larger than elvis :)

memphis. very warm (32C). the tour of Sun Studio (birth place of rock and roll) yielded a very interesting post-tour conversation with our guide ‘G’. we were the last ones in the room (with the famous microphone, and the x on the floor where elvis stood), and in making conversation i asked G about his radio voice, his tour-guide persona, and i asked him about his way of being entertaining and commanding authority at the same time. he talked about radio and podcasts, i said i did a podcast, he asked what about … and i told him. he asked for the website name for ‘friends’. said he knew a few people who’d gotten sober after a low bottom. i said that some sites have resources to help quit drinking before a bottom. to stop early. to remove the shit that doesn’t serve us. he shook my hand. i put some tip money in his tour guide container.

stuff like this changes you. changes me. am i a super huge elvis fan? my husband is. i go for him AND i learn things along the way. large things. things maybe larger than elvis 🙂


if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off and stay off. this is Exit in mandarin. photo taken in the memphis backyard of our dumpy rental house.

here’s the direct link > https://gumroad.com/l/Exit-391

made me stop being angry

memphis. very very warm (31C). a little rough around the edges (the city and us). a dumpy rental apt which we tried to back out of and have now made coffee and settled in.

 

from my inbox:

email from Mari: “After listening to this audio [lesson 1]  I realize that I am so angry all the time. Angry that I had to listen to this audio.  So pissed that I can’t drink, pissed when I do drink, especially the next day. I remain in a state of constant anger, gives me a reason to get up in the morning and go about all my tasks, but always pissed about it all, having to live, having to do things i don’t want to do. This rage keeps me from feeling, keeps me from doing anything about my unhappy life.

When you said to close my eyes and listen, telling me I am not broken, that made me feel so much better, made me stop being so angry, made me think maybe she’s right, maybe there is hope for me.

I feel so relieved right now, like the pressure is off me, maybe i don’t have to be in a rage all the time.  Maybe………..”

Question: Do you have anger or is it (maybe) fear? how closely linked are anger and fear, do you think?


NEW PAINTING POSTED

​This painting was selected to go to the Tennessee Art Show in Knoxville Tennessee (May 9-11, 2019) … 🙂

It’s now available on the site.

link > www.artsober.com

does doing what’s right even matter?

from my inbox:

JK: “Hi Belle: I have a sister who is three years younger than me … She is very popular and social. I am ummmm — not that. I went to college; she did not. She married at 21; I married at 31. Although we are different, we are friends and quite close. Beth’s life is not as stable as my life. She and her husband do not make as much money; two of her three kids struggle in school; she and her husband do not have good financial skills — lots of phones being shut off, credit card debt, and they actually just left their house one day and moved somewhere else. I’m sure it ended up in foreclosure. My divorced parents continue to support her and her children financially, and they try to hide it from me. … They have paid for nothing for me ever in my life since I went to college at 18 (which they did not pay for). …

I try to be happy that our family is honest and independent and teaching our two children important and positive life lessons BUT I’m upset, and it’s not fair, and I’m 43, and my sister is 40, and it continues to happen over and over. My dad has been sober for 13 years, and he is actually one of the reasons that I thought quitting drinking would be good idea, and he has been so supportive. I texted him today and said Beth just shared that you were paying for their trip to Florida. Ten minutes later, he wrote: Shit happens.

I’m a little in shock and so upset, and I want to drink because it sucks, and why the hell am I even trying to do anything right because it doesn’t even matter. My sister has done some of the stupidest shit in her life, and she continues to get bailed out! Also, I know my dad would be disappointed if I started to drink again, and I kind of want to just to piss him off because really Fuck You…

I’m not going to drink, but I’m pissed that guzzling alcohol is my first thought. Then, I wonder: Does doing what’s right even matter? I guess I want some type of reward. Like here’s a vacation for consistently making good choices. I don’t even know what I want actually. Some type of sign that I’m doing what’s right.”

me: ok. you can delete this message from me after you read it and you can hate me. but here goes.

     There is no ‘fair’ with siblings. interpersonal relationships are complicated and there is no score card of ‘you get this and she gets that’. If your parents give your sister stuff it’s because (a) she’s got issues, and they’re worried about her and the grandkids and (b) they feel guilty that she’s got issues; they believe they did something wrong by her.

nothing to do with you.

someone gets a promotion, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

someone gets money, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

you don’t want their fucking money because it would come with strings and expectations and demands and implied criticism and control. if you were your sister, I’d be suggesting that you turn down their money and take care of yourself. which is what YOU are doing. you are taking care of you and what your sister does or doesn’t do has NOTHING to do with you and your husband. this is your family now. your family is the little cool one you built around you.

you don’t email your father and say ‘what about me’. instead, you feel sorry for your sister. she’s got stuff that’s fucked up and everyone knows it. including her. she’s probably super jealous of you. even if she’s loud and you’re not. you have your shit together. AND you’re sober 🙂 you fucking rock. is that enough swearing?
love 🙂 and hugs,  me

JK: “Hi Belle: I cried when I read this message; I’m going to print it out and carry it with me and read it all the time. You absolutely nailed it; are you sure that you don’t know me in person? I want to say more, but I don’t know how to say the words. Thank you; I felt validated, yet I also understood how it’s not about me. Also, on a drinking note: totally not drinking.

 


shameless commercial link. i don’t think these links work any more. no one clicks on them. nobody gives a shit about links or clicking or shameless shit. maybe these shameless commercial links should be shame-full commercial links. links to shameful stuff like porn. How about this link? you did it, right? you clicked on the porn link… ok, how about this one then.


lunch. toasted sesame bagel, fancy mustard, turkey that actually tastes like turkey, some kind of original pickle, and iced coffee 🙂 from paysan bread (bagel) and remedy coffee, two places located side by side, and you can eat your bagel in the coffee store. they’re nice like that.


(knoxville tennessee; thanks to Gem64 via the tiny gift fund)

time to change some shit

email from capt e (day 59):  
“I was talking to my karate instructor last night, told her I was having trouble getting the moves in the next kata I am learning, she said why are you trying to learn a new kata, you need to master the one before, it’s not about how many katas you know.  Stop, don’t do anything new, just practice, practice, practice your other katas until they are automatic, then learn just a small bit of the next kata and practice that.
Hmmmm. What does that sound like? I feel like the whole universe is giving me the same [sober] advice: Don’t do too much. Practice what you know so far, the things that are working, until they are automatic, then take on only small bits of new things.
Thank you Belle, domo arigato Shee-han, thank you Universe.”

~

www.artsober.com

I fully recognize that I cannot go on like this

email from MDC (day 17): “Yup, things crashing down around me but the sober momentum has me in a good place and able to handle – that’s the good news. Bad news, Im having a real bad time with eating well i know, i guess i let it ride for 30 days and not worry about that. Big Holiday weekend coming up … I will stay busy!! Thanks Belle!”

me checking in 3 weeks later: just wondering how you’re doing.

MDC: “So nice to see your email today … I did not want to email while i was struggling. I’d be good for a week or more, then horrible..Now I feel beaten down. I fully recognize that I cannot go on like this, but I still do not know how to maintain a good solid period of time. I know i have to get some therapy, but this task alone is incredibly daunting. How am i going to find a perfect stranger, who is the right fit, who can help? How will i afford that? I know i can’t go on like this though. I can drink normally for some time and then comes the binge, the panic attack, racing heart and 3 of 7 nights a week of complete + utterly horrific insomnia. Why would i do something that i know causes that condition??? When i get to that point, then i get scared, like oooh maybe this is a very serious problem. I wish i could do this with your program. If i sign up for more, what would that look like? Am i too far gone because I’ve done this sooo many times??? Does that automatically qualify me for “lost cause” 🙁 well probably a lot of questions here that you cannot answer. But today im thinking that it is day 1. Thanks for reaching out Belle. Hugs!”

me: sweet pea, sober support isn’t something you earn by being sober. you don’t have to be on a certain day to email. perhaps sober support is something that helps you to BE sober. if you’re able to go for a week, that’s good, you can build on that. you add in some more supports and tools. what you’re doing now is good but it’s not quite enough. you can set up some calls with me until you get a counsellor you like. you can see your doctor about a short trial of medication. you can email 4 times a day for the first 2 weeks. you can get away from day 1 and feel better.
you’re not a lost cause if you restart, and add new things each time you restart. but you can’t just declare a day 1 and have that be enough. the noise in our head is too loud. you have to declare day 1 AND add new things/change what you’re doing.
so maybe if what you’ve been doing isn’t quite enough yet, then you can do more things. that might mean meetings. medication. calls. audios. reading. writing. treats. sleep. and a lot more accountability. if you had calls set up with me once a week for 6 weeks, that might help get you going … I know you don’t WANT to do any of this. but you want to be sober. so you do some new things now. and get away from day one. hugs


below this line you will find shameless commercial links which you should completely ignore 🙂


A: “Here’s the thing. my “stay here” bracelet  keeps me going. May 2nd will be one year. I know it’s not the bracelet itself, but the visual reminder, or visual cheerleader, is what helps.” [in gold] [in brass]


video:
 there’s a nice 3-minute video here about global magnets.
https://www.facebook.com/tiredofdrinking/videos/1124757534394128/

 

kids screaming and yelling about needing breakfast

from Kelley (day 15):

“Hey Belle. So, it’s Saturday morning and I REALLY wish I would have drank last night. I so wish I would have gotten that half hour of a buzz that I think is the holy grail, followed by hours of empty calorie consumption, getting to the point that I don’t really care what I say or do (or text or Facebook), then getting into a fight with my husband because it’s 1 a.m. and I want to stay up and watch another movie and drink more. I sure wish I would have woken up on the couch with all my clothes on at 5 a.m. because my husband gave up trying to get me to come upstairs. I really missed out on that middle of the night parched mouth so I claw my way to the kitchen to gulp down 3 glasses of water like I will die if I don’t. Man, I wish I would have gotten to experience that shameful moment when I remember that I drank way too much even though I hadn’t planned on it. And oh, boy. This morning? I sure missed my kids coming in and screaming and yelling about needing breakfast, with a pounding head and an inability to get up, so I tell them to just scrounge up some cereal for themselves while I go back to “sleep,” which is really just closing my eyes for another hour while I wince in pain and berate myself for WHY I drank that much for the millionth time. I’m really going to be sad the rest of today that I’m not simultaneously feeling all physically horrible and mentally tortured by what a terrible mother I am, all the while wanting it to be 5:00 so I can do it again! WTF? It IS insanity. Note to self: Sober is better. Now if I can just get that tattooed onto my crazy brain, that would be awesome…Day 15.”

~

shameless commercial link. i have hand-selected a collection of audios to help you specifically with the idea of “why is this hard, why am i thinking about FOREVER, i don’t trust myself, I feel nervous, but I want to keep going.”  link here