micro-email: “Leaking crying”

Every day or two I send out a micro-email (http://eepurl.com/BqAEn) with bits and stories and anecdotes. Usually they’re messages from my inbox, and sometimes they’re longer pieces written by me.

And every so often I take one of those emails and post it here.

“Leaking crying”

From Koala Girl:

“So here’s the thing about day 15. It’s the day before 16 which is when you told me this raw red ooze of emotion might make itself slightly more bearable.

I dunno what wolfie is up to, but one thing for sure is that I’ve met a woman I’m unfamiliar with in the last two weeks. She’s not the kind of girl I have ever allowed in my inner circle. She can’t get her mascara on some mornings cause thinking about people she loves makes her cry in the bath. She cries while writing emails. She cries on the bus. In the bathroom at work. And then comes home and cries some more. Now this is not like movie crying. It’s like breathing crying. Like leaking crying. Like fuck you wine you squished me down for so long I’m coming out now that you can’t keep me corked up crying .

But this messy messy girl is starting to teach me something. I’m not that tough.

My heart is this amazing thing … I need to protect it better. Being sober lets me watch out for it.

I will admit I could do with less leaking. Day 16 is almost here. Thanks Belle”

~

Happy Day 50 to Cornelius!

Happy Day 50 to Tess!

Happy Day 50 to Fire!

Happy Day 50 to Liesel!

Happy Day 50 to Moon Alley!

Happy Day 100 to Old_dude29!

Happy Day 100 to Lindsay30!

Happy Day 100 to Julie Nicole!

Happy Day 100 to Hank!

Happy Day 180 to Kal!

Happy Day 180 to Joan E!

Happy Day 180 to Miss Lynn!

Happy Day 180 to Shannon A!

Happy Day 200 to Jeannie Yogini!

Happy Day 200 to Carrie Kaffer!

Happy Day 200 to Raquelle!

Happy Day 300 to Donna!

Happy Day 300 to Laurie!

Happy Day 300 to BST!

Happy Day 300 to Catkin!

Happy Day 365 to Sara Stef!

Oprah and Lindsay Lohan: “But you didn’t”

the wolfie voice. i watched an interview with Oprah and Lindsay Lohan. Oprah said something like “i personally have experience with addiction; i have an addiction to food.”  She went on to say, “Lindsay, i know alcoholism is a disease, but you’ve been to rehab 6 times, what is the dis-ease in you that makes you drink?”

i haven’t paraphrased this correctly, Oprah phrased it even worse than this, but that’s the gist of it.

Let me tell you, i got all agitated watching the show. I had an answer ready for Oprah that Lindsay left unspoken. I watched Oprah be moderately condescending, and then trying to be sympathetic. But she didn’t get it.

I wanted to be Lindsay sitting in that chair, and I wanted to say this:

Whether alcoholism is a disease or not, i couldn’t say. Really, that would be like asking if depression or anxiety are diseases.

I know I drank because it made me feel better. And then it didn’t.

I never wanted to quit drinking because i thought it was helping me with my depression and my anxiety. I never realized that it was actually making me feel worse. I thought booze was my friend. But booze lied to me.

And Oprah, would you ask the same question to someone addicted to cocaine? wouldn’t you recognize that while the person using the drug probably has something they’re trying to self-medicate, sure, but that the drug itself takes over pretty quickly and demands more. the drug makes you crave more drugs.

You see Oprah, I don’t have a ‘dis-ease’ that makes me drink and drive. Booze itself does that. I don’t have a dis-ease that makes me drink in public and act idiotic and get in trouble and look like a ruined child star while people are watching and taking pictures of me to sell to the press. Booze does that.

And if i remove the booze, most of my problems go away.

Sure, I might still be attention seeking, i’m in show biz. I might have 10% narcissistic in me, but i’m a beautiful model and I like people to look at me. That’s normal. You might think i’m a bit OCD about how i like my clothes folded, but a lot of very successful people are more than a little OCD about their lives. it’s how we (attempt) to manage our very public lives. we find comfort in how our clothes are folded.

But you know what? if i remove the booze, most of my big, in the press, legal, emotional, financial, and relationship problems will go away.

Sure, i might still be depressed, or anxious to some extent. But nothing like when i was drinking.

And yes, i have work to do and things to fix, but frankly removing the booze itself will dramatically improve my life. Hands down. Without the booze i’m in a much better place to be able to deal with the rest of my life.

It’s a fair question, Oprah, to ask why the first 5 trips to rehab didn’t work and why this last time i think it has. See, Oprah, you’re not in my head. And i’d have to question if you really have an ‘addiction’ as you say. Because if you did, you’d sympathize that the wolfie voice tells us we’re not worthy, that we’re a fuck up, that we’ve failed and will continue to fail. You’d know that was the booze talking, and not really us. But you’d also know that it takes a while to learn to differentiate between wolfie and our true selves.

If you really knew what i was talking about, Oprah, you would have sympathized with an anecdote like “i know what you mean Lindsay, i decide to give up sugar for one day and i’m doing well and then at 8:30 pm i drink a glass of tonic that’s put in front of me, and suddenly realize that i’ve blown my goal because there’s sugar in tonic. So then i eat cookies, because, you know, wolfie says ‘you’ve blown it now, might as well begin again tomorrow, you can’t even do one day, cookies cookies cookies’.”

If you’d said that, Oprah, i would have nodded and agreed and would have felt relieved that you really understood.

But you didn’t.

from my inbox, the mother’s day edition

From my inbox:

Hank (day 95): “Great post today. You’re describing me, of course, like it’s all of us. When I start romancing the drink, I have to get it through my thick skull that I tried several times to go a month without drinking and I couldn’t even get past two days! That’s when I started hiding the bottles so my family would think I was doing all right. But I wasn’t all right and I’m all right now. So let’s keep it that way. Thank you SOOOOOOO much, Belle, for all you do for me! I’ll repeat what a lot of folks have said in the comment section of your blog… I can’t believe you’re doing this for a complete stranger!  You’re one in a million (or bazillion?) and amazing in a fantastically super awesome way! 😉 And as Mother’s Day weekend approaches (at least in the U.S.), let me just say thanks for mothering us all.”

Mx (day 0): “Fail on Friday. I will start again from the beginning. I was tired, stressed and at dinner with no apparent non-alcohol option. I am introvert in the extreme and our event involved 3 days of being ‘present’ from about 8am till 11pm, with about 140 people who all want to ask me questions.  I will gather my resources and return for day 1 take 2 … Much love and apologies for the fuck-up – you are the best therapist in the business, and our National Health Service (as well as that in other countries, and various insurance companies) should be forwarding you buckets of cash.”

S: “Hello Belle. I embarked on your 100 day challenge at the end of last year, and successfully made it 100 days completely sober. It was the best thing I ever did for myself, and I had never felt that clear-headed, happy, or at peace in my life. On day 102, I decided I was magically cured and would be fine drinking moderately. I have drank nearly everyday since. And the worst part is, I knew. Deep inside of myself, I knew that one drink was a bad idea. That I hadn’t felt that good in years, that I did not under any circumstances want to have to go through the beginning of the recovery process ever again. I have tried quitting twice since on my own, with no success. I can’t believe how easily, almost naturally, like breathing, and quickly my addiction to wine returned. And I feel worse now than I ever have, because now I know I have to let this go. … Anyway, it’s 1145am and I’m on my second drink of the morning…I hate this, I don’t want it anymore. I know what I have to do, I know it’s right and true and worth it, why is this so hard? I want what you and unpicked and DDG and byebyebeer and all of the other amazing courageous brilliant people have found in a fantastic life sober. I know you all worked (work) so hard to earn it and I want the same. I’m so sorry to bother you, and unload on you but I know you have been here and help so many people. Is it possible for me to start the challenge again? I don’t know if there is any policy on that, or a limit. Thanks for listening.”

Nantucket (day 62): “Happy Sunday! and Mothers Day! I suppose you are a virtual ‘Mother’ to all of us 🙂 Sober.”

~

Happy Day 50 to Helena!

Happy Day 50 to Allyson!

Happy Day 50 to Winifred!

Happy Day 50 to KD!

Happy Day 50 to Rob8576

Happy Day 50 to Hollm!

Happy Day 50 to Misty!

Happy Day 50 to Kyle!

Happy Day 50 to DavidR!

Happy Day 50 to Kevin!

Happy Day 100 to Andrea!

Happy Day 100 to Elise!

Happy Day 100 to Jude!

Happy Day 100 to CH!

Happy Day 100 to Rob!

Happy Day 100 to Colleen!

Happy Day 180 to Hazeleyes!

Happy Day 180 to Tim!

Happy Day 180 to SarahinSurey!

Happy Day 180 to Mack!

Happy Day 200 to Hana!

Happy Day 200 to Jilly Bean!

Happy Day 365 to Elle!

Happy Day 365 to Leah!

Happy Day 400 to Diane!

Happy Day 400 to Sober Journalist!

micro-email: Stone sober – I was the happiest father in the world

Every day or two I send out a micro-email (http://eepurl.com/BqAEn) with bits and stories and anecdotes. Usually they’re messages from my inbox, and sometimes they’re longer pieces written by me.

It’s truly weird, but more people are signed up to read the emails than to read the blog … but part of the reason for that, i think, was explained to me on one of my recent coaching calls; where I heard: “the emails come to me, they just pop up in my day.”

It’s that whole push-pull thing. Ask people to go somewhere or send it to them? (you know how your bank sends you an email saying you have a message online instead of just sending you the message by email). Push-pull.

So then what is it about getting a sober message by email? It’s a very gentle PUSH 🙂

Well, here’s an example. This email got a huge response from readers. What do you think?

Stone sober – I was the happiest father in the world

RM (day 131):

“Thank you. Being sober has its rewards! The guy upstairs keeps giving me these little things in my life I think as rewards for getting away from the booze.

We had a major snow storm. I do not live with my daughters so I can not always make sure that they’ve got things packed in the car for winter emergencies. Them being stupid teenagers — just like their dad.

I was sound a sleep when my cell phone rang at 4 a.m…. “Daddy, I went off the road, I am stuck and I need your help” said my scared 20 year old baby girl.

I told her dad will be there in a few minutes. I had to steal my roommate’s boots, shovel, and gloves. Then head out to clear off my car which was under 8+ inches of snow. Drive about 8 miles in the snowstorm to reach where she was at.

When I pulled up I had the one of the biggest rushes of my life. Here is my beautiful 20 year old daughter looking like a drowned rat due to the heavy snowfall. She was wearing thin pants, tennis shoes and a thin pullover. She looked like hell.

I was there able to help my daughter when she needed her father the most. Stone sober – I was the happiest father in the world. Who gives a shit she was out without winter clothes, who gives a shit she got stuck, who gives a shit about the little damage the car got.

What really mattered was I was there when my daughter needed me the most and I could keep her safe. If I was still drinking I really doubt I would have got that phone call and been able to hear her soft, scared voice call me “Daddy” …

Anyways I was going to keep it short but, why? It’s my life now and I am the telling it not the booze.

Thanks Belle for the time and effort you put in to helping all of us through this shit booze caused.”

~

shameless commercial link. cookies.

~

And here are a selection of messages I received (which I forwarded to RM):

Shell Bell: This made me tear up! I think the same thing- sober hugs, sober talks, sober dinners- it is night and day the interaction with my children- it is awesome! I know it is so different- even the tough places are so normal and do-able…. I agree, thanks Belle for giving others hope- we are forever grateful!! And RM- what a great gift any Dad could have!!! Keep up the vision, you have a heart to be the awesome dad you were created to be!

lifeasirockit: Beautiful, beautiful story. Actually a little tear!

Peggy: very cool

Dana: This is really powerful! Thanks for sharing it!

Laurel: Feel that way a lot.  I’m ready for any help needed requests now too.  When drinking I’d try to avoid them.

Missy: WOW!! As a child of an alcoholic. This story really touched me. Way to go Dad!!!!

Maz: What a great post being here when needed for our loved ones rather than being lost in a bottle and the craziness it brings is the best gift we can give to ourselves and others, much love belle

a chicken with no feathers and no skin

Will they notice if I fill up my glass again, I mean the bottle is right here in front of me. Why are they all drinking so slowly. Where’s the waiter? God the wine can’t come fast enough. Do i have enough at home to continue? No, probably not, better stop on the way home and get more. Oh forget it, I’ll get Mr. B to go. I work hard you know. He should be the one to go out in the snow at 11 pm to get more wine, not me. Why are the people at the next table so loud? God, are we that loud? That woman is looking at me like i have shit on my face. god what did i just say? i can’t remember. Nothing good apparently.

~ yes, that’s me. my real thoughts. a billion times i had these exact thoughts. for years and years. Yes I’m sober now. and yes I do remember what it’s like to be drinking more than i wanted to, and finding it impossible to moderate, or to quit for more than a couple of days. I felt shitty a lot of the time. i didn’t like myself very much. Mostly i hated the fact that i couldn’t count on myself.

You may think i live in a fabulous glass house of sobriety now that i’m past one year sober. But i remember what it was like. And if for one second i begin to get complacent, I’ve had emails from 1087 people reminding me what day 1 is like (and apparently day 1 is truly sucky).

Yes. The first time you go to a party as a newly sober person it’s a bit weird and tense. Yes, i remember, i was there, i did that. Yes. The first time you go on vacation as a newly sober person anxiety-provoking. Well, it was for me. I felt like — not a chicken with her head cut off — but like a chicken with no feathers and no skin. Just a crazy naked hen running around, bare naked. I felt like all of my protective feathers, my security blanket, my crutches had been removed. Did i survive? yes. do i now like sober vacations? very much so. Did i think they sucked rocks at first? yes. (and to be fair, my first sober christmas wasn’t a dream either and the second one i was in hospital / sick & recovering, so can’t really say that’s much of an improvement!)

Do i seem carefree, and that my sober life is divine? maybe. most days it is. and in the many-hundred days that i’ve been sober, i’ve had my fair share of shitty “i want to drink” days. I don’t know, maybe i’ve had 100 truly wolfie-shitty days since i started this. and every one of them i managed to get through (using all variety of sober tools, but crying comes to mind as a good coping mechanism for me, as does sleep, as does cake. i’ve eaten plenty of cake since i started this.)

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Do i want another day 1?

No.

Do I think being sober is the greatest thing since sliced bread?

No.

But it’s fucking light years better than the alternatives.

~

Happy Day 50 to LaLaLa!

Happy Day 50 to Carebear!

Happy Day 50 to Joyful!

Happy Day 50 to Nikki!

Happy Day 50 to Derek!

Happy Day 50 to Trenton!

Happy Day 50 to Momma B!

Happy Day 100 to Going2Pieces!

Happy Day 100 to Gabe!

Happy Day 100 to Anastasia!

Happy Day 180 to RF!

Happy Day 180 to Michael!

Happy Day 180 to Christine!

Happy Day 180 to Tina B!

Happy Day 180 to Pickleball!

Happy Day 180 to KnxGrl!

Happy Day 180 to Brid!

Happy Day 200 to Nicole!

Happy Day 200 to Drusty!

Happy Day 200 to Kirst!

 

 

a day looking for motivation

UPDATED, below

Today 8:53 am

Yesterday was a complete write-off. It’s one of those ‘lulls’ in sobriety. Sometimes I’m cheering hooray for the growth, the expansion, the ideas. Some days, from the moment I wake, i wonder: “is anything interesting going to happen today? no? not even any wine to look forward to? well, forget it then, i’m not going to bother.” Yesterday i didn’t eat lunch. just couldn’t be bothered. husband made dinner at 9 pm.

Wednesday. Today i wake, alone, and it’s a grey day. Today i think, fuck i can’t have another non-achieving, slothy day like yesterday. (I mean, yeah, there are vacation days but then there are sloth days where i can’t get out of my own way). today i decide i’m going to construct a better day.

Oh wait? that sound? pouring rain, just started as I type this. spectacular. going out for my run now in the pissing rain. harumph. where’s the sun from last week you bastards? who’s in charge of this fucking weather? why isn’t it done more efficiently? thunder? really? nice.

I’m waiting while a motivational podcast downloads to my little shuffle, and i’ll listen while i run. It will magically work. i will come back later and update this post with a shitload of genius that i fucking stole from someone else. hehe. like all genius, ‘liberally borrowed’.  stay tuned. genius coming up. fuck i hope so.

11:00 am

egg.bfastWent for a short run (16 minutes), it wasn’t really raining by the time i left, weather is weird. now it’s sunny. which is better.

Podcast is one with Timothy Ferriss and i don’t like it much. turns out i really don’t like TF very much, though i do try. repeatedly. i like his writing, i don’t like his person.

Shower, coffee (lovingly pre-measured tks to Mr. B, something he does in the morning before he goes to work).

What are the elements of a ‘good’ day for me? Moment by moment, trying to pick the things I know I like.

Breakfast with green stuff (asparagus, stir fried lettuce) and roughage.

Oh yes, and I always feel better when i do the morning pages (or single page). good. and I bring my book to the table so i can read that after bfast. Always feel better when i read when eating, instead of eating in front of the computer.  (yeah, the reading part lasted 45 minutes!).

12:30 pm

Responded to sober emails that came in overnight (118 messages = 61 minutes).

Email exchange with AmandaJ about whether we change behaviour and then feelings change, or if we change our thinking first and then change our behaviour …

me: I think there’s some of both … I’m a behaviourist at heart, so I do believe you change the behaviour first, and then the feelings/thinking will change. in early sobriety, I just quit, and didn’t know why or how or if I’d continue… and I just did it, and waited for it to make sense later. (it did.) but I know that as I go along in my own sobriety (after 1 year sober), there is now more of the thinking-and-then-changing as well.

~ this message from Ruby, so sweet:

“Thanks for the jump start, Belle. “I really appreciated having the podcasts to listen to start off my day and then again at night to reinforce my choice to stay sober. Looking back I see it as part of an excellent launch. I felt fragile and each podcast reminded me of my fragility and to respect it, to make a plan and  to be prepared to make sobriety a priority. I think I would have tried to barrel through those first weeks in an inappropriate “be tough and soldier on” willful kind of way and maybe expose myself to way too much and much too soon. That was often my MO before sobriety: over perform, max out my boundaries and hide my hurt. So, the podcasts reminded me to be careful and kind with myself.

My favorite jumpstart podcast was the one where you shared how you dealt with questions and comments about not drinking. I felt permitted to shamelessly invent and tailor my own reasons and responses depending upon how I felt. That audio helped me to grow some boundaries, perspective, and sense of humor to decline boozy beverages and probing personal questions any way that suited me. My personal favorite these days is,’That is a good question. Perhaps, once we know each other better I will unveil that mystery to you’.”

~

talk about looking for motivation, there’s this message from Isabel: “Me drinking is me not living, it’s me just waiting around to die, me just faking the shit out of everything I do.  Me not drinking is me, wonderful me, beautiful me, amazing me, I can do anything me, I can love completely me!!  Today I am so grateful to be sober.  Thanks for listening.”

3:13 pm

Things seem fine now. Really, is it as simple as exercising first thing, and reading instead of computer? from 1230 to 130 spent an hour reading and drinking tea, then had lunch and then … wait for it … i did (gasp) an hour of tax paperwork (thanks Tim) that i’ve been putting off for 5 months. I took pastry out of the freezer to defrost for tonight’s dinner. Load of laundry in the dryer. Sunny and then rainy and then sunny again.

motivation quote:

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” (Seneca)

5:00 pm

Here’s what I know. When i do things in advance I feel better, and yet i don’t do it enough. For example, at 3:30 pm i made the filling for tonight’s pie dinner. i never do this mid-afternoon. ever.

Here’s what I know. When I have an unexpected week without catering or any client meals or any hosted events then i don’t like it very much. It’s vacation week here again. no one is around. I always have catering clients and this week = zero. Yesterday, sloth day, I was waiting for orders to come in and none did. I’m not very good at rolling with intermittent lulls. Instead of thinking “oh great a mini-vacation,” i start in with “no one wants my food any more, this is all a disaster.”

Note to self. A lull in catering is not a measurement of self-worth. god. belle. get a grip. honestly. when i write it out like this it seems ridiculously sad.

I guess that’s what today is about. finding the undercurrents, making adjustments, tweaking the operating system. In writing this out, as long and dull as it is, I think i’ve figured out some stuff.

Reaching for a glass of wine to dull the ‘angst’ wouldn’t leave me with any room for clarity. And with more clarity, i get to know ME better, and I can figure out what makes me TICK.

Day 1 is hideous

From my inbox:

me:

“Wolfie does say all kinds of things about moderation. All lies of course. You may want to reread some of your first week sober emails that you sent me. Day 1 is hideous. No place for nice girls like us 🙂 Go find one of the best early emails and forward it to me.”

Hank (who is a girl) (day 89):

“Well isn’t this interesting. I went back and looked for an early sobriety email and found an exchange from Day 9. It centered around a visit to my mother’s house. And when did the brilliant idea of having a glass of wine every 100 days hit me most recently? When I was visiting my mother for the first time since February. Can you say “trigger”? … So do I keep a clear head as I keep trying to find a way to make this family thing work for me or fuel the flames of confusion with alcohol? What would Belle say? Maybe I need a WWBS bracelet! Thanks for listening and for the good advice.”

~

And here’s an excerpt from her Day 9 email:

“I’m on Day 9 of sobriety and for the first time, I’m not feeling great. It’s like the old Talking Heads song: I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax.  I’m heading off to see my family in an hour or so … I’m not afraid I’m going to drink. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to deal with unpleasant feelings, and that’s going to suck!! But I take my pledge seriously: I can feel shitty, I can cry, I can curl up in a ball, but I will not drink!!!!!  I’d just rather avoid the feeling shitty part. My escape plan if I start to stress out is to head up to the guest bedroom, call my husband, and write to you. Thanks for listening and for being my safety valve!!”

~

So here’s my challenge to you. Go back through your emails and find one you’ve sent to me at the beginning … or pick an email sent after a new day 1. Find a particularly hideous moment. And post an excerpt in the comments below. (you can put your current day count in there too if you like. to show where you are now.)

I’ll go first: