the part i never want to relive

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 18th.

 

day 1 stories:
the part i never want to relive”

from me: OK, i’ve been sharing day 1 stories, and giving away copies of the first year of the blog in collected PDF format. and yesterday’s winner already HAS a copy, so i’m going to share another story today and award the prize here. if you are NOT the winner, here’s a discount link you can use to get a copy.

Here’s story #5. If this is you, send me an email so i can send you the blog PDF 🙂

B: “I’ve never replied to an email before, I’ve been a kind of silent reader! This one piqued my interest though, as I haven’t really thought about day 1 since it happened. (Bit of background info – I’m 24 years old and I’m now 81 days sober).
My day one began with me waking up in hospital having been found passed out in the street. I had, the night before, turned up to a party in [city] that I was barely invited to (any reason to get out of the house and drink!) Anyway, long story short, my day one continued with me being discharged from the hospital, having to be held up by my dad because I still couldn’t walk. An hour later I was home in bed, dry retching and full of anxiety about how I even ended up on the street. I woke up at 7 pm that evening, and felt so scared and lost. I had lost my phone and pretty much my final shred of dignity.
I finally gathered the courage to face my parents, and they looked broken. One look at their faces and I felt like I had truly hit rock bottom. That’s the part of day 1 I never want to relive, seeing clearly for the first time the effect my drinking was having on everyone, not just selfish me.
The “tool” I would say I used was that I told my whole family and my closest friends that evening that the drinking had to stop. Mainly because I knew I would wake up the next day and want to carry on as normal. Having everyone around me know somehow made it impossible to go back on the promise I made myself.
Feels good to actually get that off my chest!
On another note, though I’ve been a silent reader of your emails they’re one of my most crucial tools nowadays. So thank you, truly, because you’ve definitely had an incredibly positive influence on my recovery.”

~

from my inbox:

moneyfortreats [penpal 2847]: “Tomorrow is Day 60. It’s a little surreal. Sounds rather impressive, I guess. I can’t believe how hard it was to make this decision and actually stop. I can’t believe how much I used to drink. The money and all the time — buying, consuming and thinking about when to drink, how much to drink, how much I drank, regretting the ingestion which turned into a definite feeling of illness and weakness in my body. Punishing myself in order to avoid the pain and disappointment life revealed to me.
Bought another candle. My place is going to be a fire hazard. Headline: “Raging Alkie Quits for health only to die in a blaze set off by Sober Treats 😝” [she’s on day 72 today]

~

KeysKathy (day 150) [penpal 2789]: “I think you rock and anyone who says otherwise is possessed. By Wolfie or another drunk demon. I still sit around at night and watch bad tv, but I am calmer and not driven to drink myself into oblivion.
Would you have thought six +years ago when you quit drinking that it would lead to this collaboration between you and your husband to do a good thing for so many people. Your words and his art are making a huge difference in so many peoples lives. What an inspiration to those of us (me) who cannot quite see where all of this will lead.

~

anonymous blog comment: “The only blog I’ve read that sells anything is this one.”

~

Dalai Mama (day 42) [penpal 7]: “Doing A-ok, thanks! I continue to be amazed at the depth of discomfort I have engaging with the world. Discomfort I drank to diminish, but obviously not an effective treatment. So, I am naked and defenseless against my anxiety and insecurities. No pain, no gain. I hope it will get easier.

me: do you think you are feeling better than on, say, day 5? like is the discomfort improving 1% per day or whatever? if you feel like it’s trending in the right direction, then you can wait a month and see how you feel. or do you think you have an underlying anxiety/depression-y thing going on.

DM: “I do think it’s better, the anxiety is a lifetime affliction but waking up with no hangover and eliminating the drinking thinking has absolutely helped 😊 I think it’s that thing, where you feel everything you have been avoiding feeling by drinking. In time I will get more used to managing the feelings and emotions that are there underneath everything, all the time.”

me: and at least we’re not adding booze to an existing underlying issue, which would only magnify the problems. and if you see an improvement at least, you know you’re going in the right direction. happy sober day today 🙂

~

 

small format art cards, 4″ x 6″, you can thanks, to yourself, for doing this sober thing. it’s a big deal. HERE.

it feels dangerous and scary

from me:

my husband was away on the weekend, and I did two things. (1) i went to see A Star is Born (my review here). and (2) i asked him to leave me some painting stuff out so that i could play, in his absence. i did one painting that night, then two the next night, but only when he was out and couldn’t see me.

i don’t think this will become a regular thing. i am not a painter. i’m not being falsely modest: i am a cake-baker. i am a caterer and a writer and a sober coach sometimes. i’ll own those nouns.

but also i’m a bossy know-it-all and i got tired of telling mr.belle what i wanted him to paint for me (“dark to light, sort of like sunshine and rain in the same painting”) and i decided to try it myself.

yes, it’s true that we met in art class, and the last 13 years i’ve painted exactly nothing. once we started dating, i slowly stopped, and by the time we were married, i’d stopped entirely.

i have no experience with this at all. EVER. i’ve never sold a painting before this week (and when i was making tee-hee noises in the kitchen, husband said, encouragingly: ‘yes, but that’s only because you never shared a painting before…’).

so monday night he went out, and i did two more, back to back, in the dark apartment, making a huge mess on the table that i would generally not tolerate from him. i wanted to get them done before he could see me.

then yesterday afternoon he headed in the rain to the art store to buy me my own paints, little baby tester tubes. i did two squares this morning with the ‘new colours’.

it feels like play, but also it feels dangerous and scary. all the wolfie voices start up (who am i to … he’s the real artist and i’m the … what if it sucks). And while my wolfie voice is loud while i’m doing the paintings, once they’re done i’m happy again. it’s like writing for me: during the process i’m super critical. once it’s done i’m happy to have done it …

today I completed my 4th and 5th hope paintings. i’m sharing this perhaps to practise being brave. or to show how the wolfie voice can be loud but not win. or maybe it’s to say something about what happens once the booze is removed. we step out into the light.

new painting posted here >
http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/original-art/

you know me…
selling hope since 2012 🙂

*ps. i’m sending out more ‘behind the scenes’ painting stuff, and notices when new paintings have been posted, to this list here. i won’t share much of my painting stuff here in the regular emails, so if you want to see/read more, put your name on the art notification list.

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #4

these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts on November 6th than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂
~

from my inbox:

C: “Thank you for the election day notes! They are helping. Love and gratitude from Day 31.”

B: “Thank you! here in nyc we need all the support we can get..keep them comin.xo”

Brigitte: “Oh yeah. There was one election night I downed 3/4 of a bottle of wine sobbing on the sofa. I felt like extra crap the next day, and the world felt hopeless. Not gonna happen this time.”

Mr J: “Oh my god, thank you so much for this! Election evening typically turns into some kind of fucked up drinking game for me, constantly checking the results. This time, I’m going to go vote after work, then eat all of the remaining Halloween candy in the house while binging Netflix.”

Mindful Me: “love the photos💕 Something about the art, hubby’s paintings, now photos from people — art does something — different but similar to your voice talking to me … It speaks deeply, occupies space, fills it with new ideas and smiles, and shoves Wolfie into the tiny corner.”

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #3

it is midterm election day in the US today, so these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts today than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂
~

when subscribers signed up to do the Exit Exist lurker audio series, they were asked to send in Exit photos they found around them. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. get off. and stay off. because we don’t drink. no matter what is happen around us. no matter what.

~
shameless commercial links 

there are:
4 x brass Stay Here bracelets
1 x silver Decisions bracelet (unisex)
left for 2018.
If you purchase today (tuesday), i’ll also send you a copy of an extra sober bonus: a 10 minute podcast about sober + bored (what to do when the long afternoon/evening of sobriety are staring back at you, SP218 – Bored)

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #2

it is midterm election day in the US today, so these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts today than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂
~

when subscribers signed up to do the Exit Exist lurker audio series, they were asked to send in Exit photos they found around them. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. get off. and stay off. because we don’t drink. no matter what is happen around us. no matter what.

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #1

it is midterm election day in the US today, so these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts today than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂
~

when subscribers signed up to do the Exit Exist lurker audio series, they were asked to send in Exit photos they found around them. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. get off. and stay off. because we don’t drink. no matter what is happen around us. no matter what.

“I was sober for work, but hungover for my own time.”

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 16th.

 

day 1 stories:
“I was sober for work, but hungover for my own time.”

from me: a couple of days ago, i invited you to send me your Day 1 stories. How do you know it was time to quit? What tools do you reach for? What part of Day 1 do you never want to repeat again?
I said I’d choose 4 stories to share, and that each person chosen would get a copy of the first year of the blog collected into one big PDF file (easier than reading it online).

Here’s story #3 (of 4). If this is you, send me an email so i can send you the blog PDF 🙂

S: “I knew it was time (my ah-ah) moment after I’d been trying to moderate for about a year, and had gotten very good about not drinking on ‘work’ nights. I won’t go into the exhausting process of moderating — constant planning, conniving, and bargaining … I had worked in my garden and greenhouse all day, and had 2 beers. Two beers! That was almost the same as not drinking, right? … Next morning I woke with a raging head ache and had a big mountain bike ride planned. I went and almost died. That was it. It just didn’t make sense to me.
We give and give ourselves to our jobs. It’s the American way of life, right? When someone asks you what you do, I could say ‘I play the ukulele, I mountain bike, I walk my dog, write poems, and dance. I’m a gardener, a wife, a friend’ — but we don’t. We immediately tell people our job titles, encompassing our identity. I was finding out the hard way that drinking robbed me of my time, and time is the one thing we know for sure we will run out of. I was sober for work, but hungover for my own time? Silly. That makes no sense. Now I’m sober both on and off the clock😀”

~

yesterday’s link: a small audio about feeling irritated, how to shift your thinking. comment from texassandradee: “Belle, not only are you giving the adults who face these challenges tools and support, you are helping change the next generation. We parents will start arming our children with these ‘stay here now’ techniques and hopefully will raise a mindful, sober, healthy generation of children.”
and i’ve chosen to share this, not because she says nice things, but because she is taking it upon herself to share this with kidlets. and when parents can model self-care to kids, as we’re learning to do it ourselves, that is a really big deal.

~

this exit is in mandarin. but the message is clear. time to get off the booze elevator. HERE.

“All The Hateful Things I Said”

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 15th.

 

day 1 stories:
“all the hateful things i said”

from me: a couple of days ago, i invited you to send me your Day 1 stories. How do you know it was time to quit? What tools do you reach for? What part of Day 1 do you never want to repeat again?
I said I’d choose 4 stories to share, and that each person chosen would get a copy of the first year of the blog collected into one big PDF file (easier than reading it online).

Here’s story #2 (of 4). If this is you, send me an email so i can send you the blog PDF 🙂

A: “my day one was a lot like many other hung-over mornings of my life — i knew my partner and i had fought the previous night. what i couldn’t remember this time was: EVERYTHING else. as he angrily told me all of the resentful, hateful things i had spewed at him in the previous evening’s “brown out,” i could hardly reconcile those statements with the person i know i am at my core. but, the fact remained, i said them. i said them, and our relationship is changed to this day because i said them. i spent the rest of that day in bed, reading every sober success story i could get my hands on. your blog, holly’s work at hip sobriety, and so many others. as my partner ignored me for several days, the only support i had in the world was writings from people like you. we/i made it through, but wow, was it hard.
turning my back on alcohol was initially to save my relationship, to try to regain his trust in me, but it’s only now that i’m seeing what a great gift it was to myself as an individual as well. i have just begun to feel hints of something i thought i wasn’t wired to feel at all: peace. i didn’t think it was possible for someone with anxiety like mine to ever find even a moment when the constant knot in my stomach would loosen, even just a little — so the answer was always to numb myself to such an extreme level that i couldn’t feel it (or anything) anymore. my day 1 was sad, full of shame and regret and humiliation, but it led me to feel this most incredible sensation: the very beginnings of peace. i now dare to wonder what else i might feel that i thought was completely off-limits for me!”

~

link to click today:small audio about feeling irritated, how to shift your thinking > here.

~

this exit is loud and clear. can’t miss it. time to get off the booze elevator. HERE.

“I Thought Drinking Helped”

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 14th.

my emails often have a gift or a discount or a give-away or a contest or a link to click or an audio to listen to. each email has a story or a motivation or entertainment. consider it an ethical bribe: i send you good stuff, you open your messages, you click on links. you win in more ways than one.

day 1 stories:
“I thought drinking helped”

from me: a couple of days ago, i invited you to send me your Day 1 stories. How do you know it was time to quit? What tools do you reach for? What part of Day 1 do you never want to repeat again?
I said I’d choose 4 stories to share, and that each person chosen would get a copy of the first year of the blog collected into one big PDF file (easier than reading it online).
Thanks so much for filling up my inbox. There was a wide range of stories, so i’ve selected a variety. 

Here’s story #1 (of 4). If this is you, send me an email so i can send you the blog PDF 🙂

L: “My day one was 6th February 2018. I have drank a bottle of red wine every night for so many years I have lost count. The wine was a habit and I wasnt even getting any pleasure from drinking it. But it helped me cope with things like the loss of my sister who died suddenly in her sleep. It helped me cope with the loss of my mum to cancer. Or I thought it helped. now I realise that actually it probably caused me more anguish than if I had not drank it. I would only have had the grief to cope with – not the grief coupled with the hangover, the fuzzy head, the remorse, the red blotchy face, and the constant nagging feeling of knowing I was not doing myself any favors by drinking. I was upsetting my daughters. They would get annoyed and worried about me – I was always falling asleep on the sofa with a glass in my hand. I remember seeing Catherine Gray on Breakfast TV and something about her struck a chord with me. She had written a book called the Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. I read it. It changed my life. She mentioned you Belle, in her book, and your Tired of Thinking About Drinking website, and I visited it and signed up for your emails and have read them probably every day since then. You are right when you say arm yourself with tools to help you. I dont know what I would have done without your emails, and the support of other sober support tools. My day one was filled with nervous excitement. I felt uncomfortable and scared but determined. And have stuck with it since then. I never want to go back to drinking. I thank you Belle for all that you do – the time that you take to pass on your stories and your thoughts and your advice. You make things easier by understanding how we all feel. I hate alcohol so much … It is for me a part of my past, and that is where i want it to stay.  Since stopping, I have bought a new house after 20 years of living in the same house. I am moving to the seaside in the next week and I cant wait. I know for certain that had I still been drinking, I would not be moving because I would never have had the energy to do it!”

~

link to click today: my husband is making sober support paintings, and we’ve been mailing them all over the world (Singapore – Australia – Washington – Edmonton – Japan…).  go here and look.

~

from M: “Just got Mr. B’s art in the mail yesterday, in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. Thought I’d take a picture of how I’ve framed it and let you know that between the two of you it’s helped me in my resolve of going 100 days no drinking … like to read the ‘merci’ as ‘mercy’ — a reminder to be to be compassionate to myself: kind, forgiving, and thankful. I’ve done this before but it’s time to be the change I want to see in the world on a *permanent* basis. And the art from someone, somewhere in the world, who understands, helps.”

 

How Do I Make It Stop?

These short message were sent to subscribers by email october 9th.

Transcript.
OMM277 > How Do I Make It Stop?

Dear Belle, I was wondering if you could tell me how to get this voice in my head to stop? You know, the one that thinks that I should drink. 

And Belle says, “There’s no one thing. There’s no one pill. There’s no onething to think. There’s daily, repetitive reinforcement of tools, supports, and accountability. There are bits and pieces that you do every day. There’s no ‘way’. There’s no ‘thing.”

How do I get this voice to stop? You know, I don’t want a penpal and I don’t want to go to meetings and I don’t want to take medication, so can you just tell me the thing I need to think to make this stop?

And I say, “Daily, repetitive, accountability, support, tools.” You need to be able to talk it out with somebody who knows what you’re talking about. And you need to be able to get support from someone who’s done it, who can say, ‘Yes that’s normal. Yes, you’ll be fine.’ Because you know what? You’re not going to take that advice from someone who hasn’t done it. If you went to a boozer and you said, ‘How do I get this voice to stop?’ Would you trust their advice? They maybe have read all the books on the planet and maybe they have the right advice, it’s about your subconscious not processing it properly.

Your wolfie will say, ‘Well they don’t actually have a problem. They don’t actually know.’
Right?

So how do you get between your head and you?

You brace it open with a crowbar and then you feed it with new tools, accountability, support that is external to you. It’s not about what you think. Well, it’s about what you think, but it’s not about what you think alone, when it’s just you at home alone in your head with wolfie. ‘Could you just tell me the thing that will help me get me through the witching hour?’ I can’t give you an answer that will work permanently.

But I can work with you every day and talk about it. We can come up with a strategy every day. You can email me 4 times a day. We can tweak it. You can do a little bit of this and a little bit of that and then check in. Accountability. If you don’t have accountability, you’re running around in your head with wolfie driving the car.

There, I’ve mixed the metaphor.

(I’m not actually yelling at you. I’m yelling at your wolfie voice that thinks for a second that I can just tell you a ‘thing’ and it solves all of life’s problems.)

‘Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what’s the solution to my husband putting the forks upside down in the drawer.’ OK well, there’s like a whole conversation we have to have. There’s no ONE-THING solution. There’s a part about about your perspective, and how you approach it, and how you talk to him about it. There’s something about how he sees it, and about how he sees you.

I can’t do it in one sentence. I can give you a perspective. You can listen to me talk for a long time. You can pull bits and pieces of it. Or you can ask me direct questions every day when things come up. That’s what this whole penpal thing is about. If you’re trying to figure out how to do this without having a penpal, my answer is have a sponsor. Have somebody else external to you. It doesn’t have to be me. Please, go find somebody. You’re just listening to my audio [reading the trasncript], so I’m telling you about me – that this is a thing that I do.

Because if we could do it alone in our heads, we would have done it already. And that you asked the question: Can you just tell me one thing … I already know that you need more than that. Of course you do, because need more than that. I need reinforcement every day. So do you. Where are you getting your reinforcement every day? And maybe it’s time to do that. And maybe it’s about time 🙂


 if you hate the paintings, that’s ok. just enjoy the view. if you love the paintings, that’s ok, you can order one and put it up beside your bed, so that every morning when you wake up, you can see it there. reminding you. about potential. potential that is reinforced when you’re sober.