“cosmic reason?”

I received this email from A. today.

She writes:  “I  am usually suspicious of the type of thinking that subscribes to the notion that things always happen for some cosmic reason. I believe that most of the time, crap just happens.

However, I just had a hell of a shitty day yesterday… and I drank (please reset me to Day 1 in the challenge.) My husband and daughter forgot that it was Mother’s Day and I got very upset. (I know, I’m an adult. I should realize that people don’t do things like that on purpose and just GROW UP, but yesterday it really hurt.)

I used my upset as an excuse — a fuck everything and everybody excuse. And I spiraled into the very typical alcoholic thinking that I suck, I’m a bad mother, I’m a bad wife, no one appreciates me, blah, blah, blah. I drank because I felt I deserved to be able to drink since everything else was so sucky.

So when I was lying awake in bed this morning and beating myself up some more, I figured that I better close this email account and stop pretending that I could ever quit drinking because everyone else seems to get in their sober car and never look back — and I keep turning the fucking car around. I felt I ought to just tattoo a big L on my forehead for loser and go crawl in a hole.

Then I logged onto the computer and saw your post from yesterday…

“You may stop and start a bit, while you figure out how to get your sober car on the road. It doesn’t matter.”

 Wow — talking directly to what I was feeling (is there a cosmic reason at work?) Maybe I’m not such a gigantic loser… (although, I do have to own the fact that I failed yesterday.) I can’t say that I’m feeling confident — I’m not sure how to get there in my mind. But certainly more hopeful that I felt earlier.

And you can quote me because today, you got me back in the car.

~ from A.

My response:

I ‘do’ believe in signs, but more in the way that when you’re ready to hear something, then the message makes sense.  You might have read the same thing a month ago, but today it makes sense to you…

PS/ And those little shits for forgetting Mother’s Day! Really.  If it was me, though, I’d have been reminding them for weeks.  I announce my birthday for one full month in advance.  I also post a list of gifts on the fridge that would suit me.  Nobody fucking forgets my birthday, I assure you. Those shits…

Here are some Mother’s Day flowers for A.:

Source: Diane Turner
Source: Diane Turner, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdlttx/132626781/

 

musical bits for Monday

I have three musical bits — hip hop, Aerosmith, and Plumb — sent to me by Lane (37), Jen (106), and MG (6)…

Lane sent me a link to this video, gotta love the chorus!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zzPvR4b4ds]

 

When Jen recently celebrated 100 days, I asked her if she could describe how it felt to be 100 days sober.

When I walked into rehab three months ago, this day of course wasn’t even on my radar. Back then, getting through the next 24 hours was all I could handle. I can’t really say when I was finally able to believe that things were going to be ok again. I’m still hesitant to jump into that fire. I had failed myself so many times before that hope seemed a dangerous indulgence for me…

They tell you in rehab never get too comfortable in your recovery success. It’s that “I got this” attitude that can whack you at the knees at any time. So, as the days pile up, and life gets better little by little, I’m starting to feel comfortable saying I think I’m going to be ok now. Of course, I’ll always either be in recovery or be addiction for the rest of my life. And right now, I’m in recovery and hope to stay here until I take my last breath on earth.  I carry no shame about being an alcoholic anymore. There, see? I said it out loud! I’m an alcoholic and I can’t drink responsibly. BUT, I can live my life responsibly and that means recovery work, keeping my eyes on my own paper, and not living in the past, but never forgetting it.

… There isn’t enough being said or celebrated about “making it through”. All of us out here need examples of real life people who carry messages of hope, people like yourself and your blog about your journey. This thing you do is courageous, and needed, and appreciated. Keep doing it, Belle! Really. I know I will do what I can to help erase the stigma surrounding addiction so that there is less fear for those who suffer.

My favorite recovery song right now is Amazing by Aerosmith. The chorus sums it all up beautifully:

It’s amazing
in the blink of an eye, you finally see the light
Oh, it’s amazing
when the moment arrives and you KNOW you’ll be alright
Yeah it’s amazing
and I’m saying a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight

[youtube=http://youtu.be/zSmOvYzSeaQ]

 

And this song sent to me by MG:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/9ylnx0NA9X4]

No matter what you believe, no matter what kind of music you think you like, you might want to give these ‘sober’ songs a listen 🙂

rose colored glasses

Let there be no mistake. Getting sober is not a walk in the park. It’s not easy.

On this blog, I tend to be positive. That’s my way. Yes, at times — particularly if you’re having a shitty day — my tone will be irritating. It might look like my sober life is a fucking bowl of European chocolate covered cherries trimmed with rose petals. And that your sober life is hard and scary and freaky and soaked in dog shit.

Me: In case there is any misunderstanding, my sobriety might look ‘pretty and rosy and divine and twinkling’. But it isn’t. Your sobriety might look heinous and difficult and shitty and not worth it.  But it isn’t. We’re both doing the same thing. Trying to get and stay sober. And we’re doing the same thing in our own way.

Not all of my sober penpals are having an easy time.  Yes, I post the good numbers:  “Hooray for A, she’s on day 157!”

Maybe you can understand, but I don’t post “XXX had a drink yesterday and asked that her number be reset to day 1.” But it happens.

Me: You may stop and start a bit, while you figure out how to get your sober car on the road. It doesn’t matter. There is no right way. There is only your way.”

If you are having a terrible sober day, or you’re having a low-motivation sober week, or if you really wish you could drink today — please don’t think that that means you’re alone. You aren’t.

Those of us who are cheerleader-y by nature are also real people.

Some things you may not know:

While I usually can find a way to focus on the positive — both in my sobriety and in my life — I’m also a big crier. I cried at least twice this week about the tiny-gift-button, AND i even thought about saying fuck-it and that wine would be a good alternative to wading into a sober internet quagmire.

I bet you also didn’t know that I thought about drinking today. Not in a concrete:  “i am going to drink” way, but in a “this would be a good time for a glass of wine” way.  Then I switched channels in my head, and thought about something else.  The feeling didn’t last very long, but it was there. I think that in coming up to my one year anniversary soon, wolfie is starting to say things to me like “well, certainly one year is long enough and since you never really gave moderation a try, you should at least give it a go.”

When i say something (or when I share a quote from a penpal) that is along the lines of “we feel better sober than we did while drinking,” that does NOT mean that we’re always happy about every single moment of every single day.  There are some days that fucking suck. Some sober days it seems to you like everyone has a glass of wine in their hands, and that everyone can drink responsibly so why can’t you, and it makes you want to throw something at the TV screen.  There are days where you’ve said NO to everything and everyrone,  and now you want to say YES to some wine cuz this shit is hard.

I can tell you what I do when this happens to me, when i feel like wine would be a good idea.  These techniques have been working for me up to know, and i hope to fuck they continues to work especially as my one year anniversary approaches.

Over time, thankfully, I learn to see wolfie coming from further away, and I make changes quickly and definitively to avoid collision.  If i have a series of low days, or if I feel the irritated ‘I want to drink’ idea starting up, then I blog about it. I tell someone — even my husband. I take some action and do something proactive, like pour out the booze in the house (or move its location), or whatever.  I start running every day until I’m sure the feeling has passed. Then I go back to normal.  Sometimes wolfie is silenced with one email, sometimes it takes a few blogs and a few long runs and a couple of good crying spells.

Whatever it takes.

Please don’t misinterpret the happy tone of my blogs.  It is not all sunshine. But the good sober days are very very good, and the bad days when drinking were horrid. I’m choosing to live in the good days. Sometimes i have my rose colored glasses on.

Yes, it sucks for all of us sometimes. For example, today is only 50% good day for me. I feel a bit sick, my chest still hurts from my fall 2 weeks ago (so i alternatively think it’s a heart attack or cancer rather than bruised ribs), the weather is a bit cold, it’s sunday and my weekend is over and i’m not looking forward to this week, i think I’m getting a cold (again).

But — here’s the shiny positive shit that you hate — having a 50% good day is still better than if I was drinking/boozing/hiding.  And I count on tomorrow being an 85% good day. That’s where i’m headed. if tomorrow still sucks — and i usually know as soon as I wake up what kind of day it’s going to be — then I will take action and go for a longer run before i even turn on my computer. I’ll have a very healthy breakfast, I’ll skip sugar for a day, I’ll blog more, i’ll say something to my husband about how i’m feeling. and I’ll wait.

To drink now would mean to start again at day 1.  and no matter how today feels, i never want to have a day 1 again. Maybe you don’t either. That’s worth putting on some rose-colored glasses for, yes?

I don’t walk in dog shit (Sunday Want Ad #2)

Did you just roll out of bed after a hellish night and you feel like a bag of shit?

Are you literally, right now at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning, searching online for sober help?

Yes, you. Yes I can see you through the computer screen.

WANTED

There’s a small bunch of us. We’re doing 100 days sober. Yes, in a row.

Benefits include great sleep, return of self-esteem, elimination of hangovers. Lots of support. Save $400 to $1000 a month by not drinking. Limited quantities available.

And this week, the first 9 people who sign up will receive a fast-action bonus: SECRET HOMEWORK to help with the first few days.

[Anath writes: I love the [secret homework], I feel excited and motivated by it. Genius!]

[MG writes: YES – the [secret homework] is pure brilliance.  The whole *** is amazing.  Why didn’t I ever think about that? …  I am quickly gaining resolve and determination as we speak.  I was sad and depressed a few days ago, but I’m not any longer.  I’m proud of myself.”] –yes, this is an actual email 🙂

Double your money back guarantee. Operators are standing by.

PS.

Are you the type to feel rebellious, and say “Why can’t I drink? Other people can drink. I feel so pissed off that I have to give up drinking. I should be ALLOWED…”

Is that you?  (yeah, me too!)

Well, the pouting, the “why can’t I drink,” comes from focusing on not being ABLE to.
But when you flip it on its head, and you turn it into a decision, then you get to say:

“I don’t drink because it’s not good for me.
I don’t do cocaine either.
There’s a whole list of things I don’t ingest
just because other people do.
I do what’s best for me.
I also don’t drive without a seatbelt
and I don’t walk in dog shit.
I am taking care of me.”

[Team 100 has had 71 people in it. You can join now – no matter what day of sobriety you’re on. Happy Day #7 to Allie, Paula & Dawn. Happy Day #8 to Lily UK, PP & Lilly. Happy Day #20 to Marie. It’s Day #21 for Kriss, and Day #18 for Laura.]

today is the best day (part deux)

i just wrote a version of this to KT (who’s on day 9) on Friday, along the lines of “Every Day is a Good Day.” Here’s the original post, from January (when i was about 6.5 months sober):

Today is the Best Day

no matter what you think, when you’re quitting drinking, day one is best day.

it’s the day your sober car starts to roll downhill. it’s the day you’ll get to remember, and look back on, and it’s the day you’ll count from.  it’s your day one.  the first day.  It is the beginning of a parade of days that will go by, each one with its own challenges. … more here

I had an antsy feeling that I could only sum up with these words: “I want wine”

today is a good day but some days are rotten. Some days when we were drinking were rotten, and some days when we are sober are rotten.

DDG (49 days / 7 weeks!) sent me an email last week about feeling rotten, bored, antsy, irritated with the world. nothing to look forward to. and she said “being sober can be SO boring.”

as i was writing back to her (yes, some days suck. they just do), towards the end of the email i wrote out something i’d never really heard before. but once i wrote it i knew it was true.

oh I have lots of completely down days, had several this week.  just have so much to do and can’t get motivated to do any of it. right in the middle of catering on Wednesday I thought “I’m so done with this I never want to do it again.” then sometimes it think “I need a new project” and then other times I think “I should finish some of the projects I have going, like I haven’t filed my taxes yet …” There are whole afternoons lost to the internet and/or cooking tv shows.  And then there are days when I wake up, I feel better, I go for a run, I have a cup of coffee and everything seems fucking perfect.

my only miracle cures for days in the ‘dumps’ are sleep + running + cake.  oh and a bit of tea. and some sunshine …
and then when I have a good day, I’m all like super-analyzing trying to figure out WHY it’s a good day so that I can do it again tomorrow …

[last week on Thursday, on a particularly crappy day] i said to my husband “I’m going out to the store for boxes for mailing stuff and I’m going to get some wine. It feels like a good day for wine.” and Mr. Belle said it probably wasn’t.

Then I went to the store to buy boxes.  I wasn’t really even really really thinking of buying wine.

but I had an antsy feeling that I could only sum up with those words.  after I bought the boxes, I cleaned out my inbox, had tea … the moment of “wine” was really a half-formed-thought-in-a-moment. at 10 months sober, I guess I know that I won’t actually drink.

but some blah days it seems like “this would be a good time for wine” is my go-to response to ‘cover up the day and hide from all of this, are we there yet, is this over yet’ feelings.  Instead, I go to bed early, get up and go for a long run, make a new recipe.

I’m not going to drink because of other disappointing other people. Because I never want to be on Day 1 again. Because I’m afraid if I restart drinking that I won’t be able to find the door into sobriety again and I’ll get stuck out there … I’m afraid because I’m not even sure that the antsy shit I feel is even wolfie at all.  he’s probably asleep and all that’s left is vestiges, worn neural pathways, patterns, habits.  and I am NOT going to drink because of a worn pathway.

and that, she says, is a grand commiseration for bored, blah, this day has no meaning. Knowing that tomorrow will be better.  because it always is. AND THANK FUCKING GOD FOR THAT!

(well, not god, per se …) but you know what i mean

hugs, Belle xoxo

Team 100 update: welcome to new members Lily UK (day 3), Moonbeam (2), JMM (6), Dawn (2), Paula (2), Clare, Allison (10), Allie (2), JG (3), TheDryCork (1), Colleen (4), Chelsie (1).

Celebrations today for: Jenni (day 99!), Sunflower (45), Lynda (49), Ellen/Whineless (20), Victoria (45), Kate (31), Lawyer Anne (28), Brandy (21), Lane (30), Katie (21).

wanted

WANTED

Lurker interested in completing 100 days sober. Yes, in a row.

Benefits include great sleep, return of self-esteem, elimination of hangovers. Lots of support. Save $400 to $1000 a month by not drinking.

Limited quantities available.

ACT NOW and receive a gold plated welcome email.

Operators are standing by. The next 5 people who sign up will receive a fast-action bonus: HOMEWORK to help with the first few days.

Double your money back guarantee.

[Team 100 has had 59 people in it for two days. And, you know, just for the sake of even numbers, it’d be good if someone else joined. Not OCD at all.]

this time

This time it’s different. I tried to quit before, on my own, it never worked. I could do 2 days or 4 or 7 or even 9 days. But never longer.

Until things changed, and I finally opened myself up to asking for some help. I made my first post on this blog…  And because of that, i am TEN months sober today!

no, i don’t think that blogging is itself the solution. I just think that reaching out is key. Do you have to blog to be sober? Certainly not 🙂 Can you get sober alone in your head with your own best thoughts without outside ideas and support? No, probably not.

Shel (day 31): “This time — because of course this is not my first time quitting — something is different. Alcohol is not an option, gone, off the table, thinking the drink ALL the way through when the little voice starts up.  Last time the bottle was always hovering in my peripheral vision… something shifted, and I feel great. Thank you for being there.”

Simpson Sister (12): “I don’t have room in my head for all the thoughts of the past and all the what if’s of the future.  I only have room for the things that will help me stay sober.  I have freed up space in my mind and that has allowed me to devote the time and energy that it takes to fight off the demons in my head.  It’s working.”

PP (10): “Thanks so much for your support.  I don’t know why, but once I committed to the hundred days.. so far, easy. Of course I could be delusional… and I felt a bit scared this morning… knowing how easy it is to go back and I haven’t come very far. But it is a start and it feels good.”

Lawyer Anne (23): “Thanks for creating a support space for the non-joiners of the world :)”

Team 100 update:  56 members. Welcome to new members: Debbie (day 3), KT (3), and Kristi (2). Let’s have cake for: Victoria (40), Terri (120), Erica (92), Shel (31). And me, i’m day 305. My first sober day was july 1, 2012. Amy votes me most likely to be sober at 11 months. Because I am in such good company, i would have to agree.

I don’t want to do early recovery again

As I was writing on DDG‘s blog this morning, as recently as last night i thought about having some wine.

Belle: … out for dinner, tired, the couple next to us was having wine, and i thought, yeah i want some too. i had to literally turn my head away, talk to husband, and distract myself. then the urge faded. It might have lasted a minute. which is a long time when you really feel like drinking. now it’s the next morning, and after 11 hrs sleep i feel fine (again). and i know from what everyone ELSE says, that it gets easier and easier as even MORE time goes on. i don’t think they’re exaggerating. and i want to get to where they are. where it’s even better than this.

I don’t drink because of this comment that Number 9 / Catholic Alcoholic posted on my blog:

Number 9: I’m almost to six [months] … I had three years sober and then without a sober network or tools in place I slowly picked it back up. Moderated at first, but only to prove something to myself. After about three months I was back into the drinking game and it took three years to get sober back. Ugh. I can’t even entertain the idea. I have too good of an imagination and my brain who romance me right back out there. At 43 with 2 children I just can’t risk it again.

I don’t drink because of this comment from Katherine this morning:

Katherine: Today is Day 259 for me and when I look back at those early days of sobriety, I was feeling scared, angry, stupid, guilty, sad, shaky and all alone.  Wondering how I made my life such a mess?  This isn’t what I wanted or wished for when I grew up!  …  I don’t want to do early recovery again, I don’t want to ruin my relationships, I don’t want to be the mom that drinks, I don’t want to hide how much I drank, I don’t want to be controlled by alcohol EVER again!  For those who are doing the 100 day challenge…you CAN do it…it will get easier and better!!! The support here is one of the greatest reasons I don’t drink anymore!  Thanks Belle!

I don’t drink because of this gem from Paul:

Paul: Relapse is part of alcoholism, not a part of recovery.  For this alcoholic, I could have another drunk [binge] in me, but I don’t have another recovery in me.

That my friends, might be all that’s keeping me from drinking again: fear of regret, fear of not being able to restart. Fear as a motivator is probably a good thing. That and the relief I feel: relief that i slept 11 hrs last night (guess i was tired!). relief that i’m going for a run today. relief that i know that i’m going out for dinner again tonight and that i’ll be the only one not drinking and i’m fine with that.

Team 100 update: 50 members! 1 missing, 1 rejoined. Welcome to newest members: Rachel (3), Christina (19), Shel (25), Marie (4), and Roxanne (2).  Sober Kat is on day 199! Sober Journalist Kate is on day 20, Mr. Belle is on day 8, and Katie on day 10.

fuck you wolfie, in very small print

Rinse Lather Repeat. I know i’ve written a blog with this title before. You’ve been sober for a bit? figure out what you’re doing that works and keep doing that thing. if it’s a mishmash of AA and blogging and reading, then do that. if you start to feel like you’re heading down a slippery slope, then do something soon, early, before you get derailed. i wrote this recently to a team 100 member:

… the slippery slope can escalate quite quickly, don’t take it lightly. in fact, take it heavily … 🙂 blog, call someone, go for a run, go to bed.  yell out loud at wolfie. fucking pig anus.  no no not this girl, no no no. not me not now.

for me, when i started getting a cold last sunday, i put on my big girl boots and waited.  i know that being sick is a gigantic trigger for me. i get woe-is-me-ism and i start to plan to drink. I don’t actually drink, but i start to bargain with myself … “if i feel like this in 7 days i’ll drink then.” Then the time comes and goes and i don’t drink and all is well.  But it’s the bargaining that i don’t like, that makes me feel quicksandy.

so this time, i knew what was coming, or i thought i did. taking my own advice, i blogged and emailed and told my husband. i prepared for the day that always arrives in my headcolds where i can’t taste anything, as that seems to be the trigger point.

i didn’t know it, but something had changed. I am in fact on DAY THREE of not being able to taste anything (!). and i’m actually doing fine.  Well, fine might be an exaggeration.  i’m cranky as hell, i hate my husband, i have a low grade headache, and all i want to do is sleep.  So sleep is what i’ve been doing (12 hrs at a time). i’ve been outside, i’ve been on the couch, i’ve been upright and i’ve been downright.

BUT wolfie is quiet.  The idea of saying ‘fuck-it let’s drink’ has not surfaced. not once.

i remember reading on someone else’s blog, someone who has much more sober time than me, and she said that something bad had happened (death, catastrophe) and she didn’t even think of drinking.  and i remember reading that, and i was like “yeah, I would be thinking about drinking for sure if that happened to me, no matter how sober i was.”

and yet, i didn’t. i haven’t. i’m not. holy shit when did this happen? sometime between my last cold (feb 14) (8 ish months sober) and now (april 21) (almost 10 months). Sometime in the last 2 months i have stopped linking wine as the solution to a dip in energy, a flagging of enthusiasm, a pit of despair.

ha! fuck you wolfie. no really. fuck right off with you.

[on a side note, I’m thinking of having some jewerly made for us, sober jewelry, that says “fuck you wolfie” on it, in very small print, so that only you know it’s there… no, I’m serious.]

so does it get better? the obsessing, the cravings? apparently yes 🙂 does it get easier, thank fucking god, yes. is it possible to get a cold and not think that the world is ending? yes and who knew?

Heidi: I realized that every moment sober is so much better than even the best moments drunk.  Because the time I have spent drunk has not been enjoyable.  Sure, the first few moments I feel the alcohol run through my veins provides a feeling of calm.  I feel relaxed.  I feel like I can finally turn my brain off from all the craziness of my life.  But those moments quickly disappear.  They are followed by shame, guilt, anxiety and fear.  Don’t even get me started on the hangover, the headaches, the vomiting and shakes.  So yes, the whole “not drinking” thing is going much better than I thought it was going to.  [husband] asked me what is different this time and how I have been able to stay sober.  Here is my answer:  I am able to not drink by doing just that — not drinking.  Whatever I need to do to not drink.  Every day is different.  Sometimes I read.  I watch TV. I cruise Facebook on my phone.  I call a friend.  I play with my kids.  I lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes.  I read sober blogs.  I email you.  I play games on my phone … I take a deep breath.  I walk up and down the stairs a few times.  I look outside.  I close my eyes.  I do anything — except for drink.  It has worked so far, and I am going to keep doing it.

Team 100 update: 41 members; 2 missing. Welcome to KS, who is on day 1. Sunflower is on day 30 as is Victoria 🙂 Mumscriber is on day 14. Erica is on day 82. Julie is 156. I am 295.