let’s talk about continuing to do something that makes you feel crappy – drink too much, think about drinking, not feel proud of yourself, wake up feeling like a bag of shit – let’s talk about doing that beyond the point where logically and rationally and empirically we already know it doesn’t work.
the thing about over-drinking is that the problem is in your head, it’s a voice in your head that says things.
so I want you to imagine, just for a second, that you’re standing on the edge of the roof — and it’s dark, and there are lots of stars and it’s a beautiful sky — and you’re standing on the edge of the roof, and you have a head that says: “I should be able to fly. I SHOULD be able to fly! I should be able to jump off of this roof, flap my arms and fly. I should! I’ve read about it. I should be able to do it. What’s the matter with me? It must be that I’m not trying hard enough.”
You know as well as I do, that when you hear a story like this, you immediately think “whoa, psychiatric stuff!” – you know it’s a symptom of a mental thinking disorder where logical thought doesn’t enter into the decision-making process.
The hard part about dealing with over-drinking is you have to deal with the voice in your head that is illogical, irrational, and lying to you.
Your brain will say “I’ve seen other people fly. I’ve seen other people have one or two drinks and then stop.”
Then I’ll come in and say, “you don’t actually know what you’re seeing. you don’t know what they drink when they go home. you don’t know how much they drank before you saw them have one drink. you don’t’ know what kind of failure rate they have. you don’t know how they feel….”
the text above has been transcribed by me, this very minute, from archived podcast #229 called “i wish i could fly.” this audio is part of a podcast bundle you can download here ($21). then you can listen to them over and over, particularly this one. and the one called temptation. and the one about lindsay lohan. link here.
email from penpal Pearl: “Hi Belle. I’m on day 1. I don’t know how else to describe this feeling other than hopelessness. I was climbing this sober mountain and I slipped. Now, I feel tired. I keep looking towards that sober top of the mountain and it seems so far away. So much work. And I’m just so tired. Tired of this battle within myself. Tired of failing. Tired of not trudging through the hard times to get to the other side. Today I feel guilty. Of course. That’s how we all feel when we slip up and have to admit it not only to ourselves but to our sober penpal. This drinking thing sucks. It’s not even enjoyable anymore. I hate myself while I’m doing it but I just keep doing it. Why why why??? I know exactly what my triggers are but instead of reaching out or finding another outlet, I cave. This is really really hard work. So far in my life, the longest and hardest battle. I want to cry, scream, crawl out of my skin. Fuck!!”
me: I can reset you, day 2 today. the hopelessness is wolfie, and it decreases as you move away from day 1. if you slipped, then you need more supports. to add to the mountain metaphor, you need ropes and a guide and a book and more rest times. it’s not that this mountain is impossible, it’s that you have a brain that says you don’t need any of the supports to get you to the top. which of course is silly 🙂 wolfie will say “no” to everything. and you can say “I hear you, but I’m going to do 100 days sober no matter what, I’m going to try some new things, I’m going to cry or scream, but I’m not drinking for 100 days. ask me again later, wolfie. the answer for now is no.” you don’t have to rely on yourself to reach out when you have a trigger. the goal is to set it up so that you have fewer triggers, and that you have supports already moving when triggers come up. it’s about keeping your car squarely in the middle of the lane (to mix metaphors again).”
From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and am celebrating 7.5 years sober on June 21st] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”
Imagine it’s the longest day of the year (Tuesday June 21st in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober. Today can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on December 21st? Winter Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.
If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice: Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%
I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?
From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and is celebrating 7 years sober tomorrow] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”
Imagine it’s the shortest day of the year (tomorrow in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober starting tomorrow, December 21st. It can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter.
Now, can you look ahead and see yourself sober on June 20th? Summer Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.
If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%
Additional audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Here is the link for Pack #2, audios SP091 to SP180. One new audio lesson every two days for 180 days. Audios discounted 40%
I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?
hugs, me xo
[if your brain likes special numbers to get started, this might be a good one]
s’elever = to rise up, to lift yourself up, like an elevator … link > www.artsober.com
Hopeful62 is worried that her relationship with her husband will change if she is longer-term sober. She emailed me about having defined roles in a relationship, and how being sober might changes things (presumably in a bad way).
So my reply? Well it includes a bit of: What if the changes are positive? What if we evolve into a better version of ourselves? Slightly less irritated, slightly less anxious. You may have better boundaries and speak up for yourself more. These aren’t bad things 🙂
And then I say this quote, but you'll have to listen to the audio to find out why... “I don’t give a shit for a millisecond what my husband thinks of croissants.”
i will continue to share stories of simple gifts, simple kindness, and simple holidays so long as my inbox continues to look like this …
Ma: “Hello Belle, I heard about you from Catherine Gray’s book, she said she found great solace from you and your writing and I can see why. My best Christmas memory is of me putting my four year old daughter to bed and Mum pretending to be a reindeeroutside, some bells and snorting, my daughter was delighted that the reindeer had come.”
Pa: “We were a family of five back in 1963. We didn’t have a ton of money … and never spent money on elaborate decorations for the home. We just had some simple old coloured lights and one green flood light. Back in the olden days, the flood lights seamed to last forever, you would plug it in and without fail it beamed bright year after year. In those days we could always count on another thing too: tons and tons of snow. One year I got a super idea to create a subject for the flood light, on our front lawn. So I worked tirelessly with my wet mittens at sculpting a simple Snoopy, then the next year I took things up a notch and created Frosty the Snowman holding ET’s hand and pointing up at the night sky. I had even got out my water colour paints to glorify the sculpture. It became a big hit. Many cars would creep slowly by our home or even stop for a while so they could get a good look at the characters in the spot light. It made people smile. And that is what Christmas is all about to me, it’s in the heart. The little things…”
We: “One year when my children were their early teens, we celebrated the solstice with a candle lit walk with friends in their woods. there was snow that year and we had a beautiful walk with fresh home made donuts after. We have continued the tradition of gathering for the solstice (with donuts), but that was the only year there was deep snow and a trek through the woods (my girls are now 28 and 26 and it is still a simple celebration that we all look forward to (I don’t make the donuts, friend does!)” [me: now i’m craving donuts, am i right?]
mr.belle has painted some cardstock that he’d usually use for magnets. but he’s done them on the diagonal, and double-sided! and with a little hole punched in the top, and some hemp cord, we have a christmas ornament (perhaps) or you can hang it from your cork board, or your car’s rearview mirror…
email from Sober in Seattle (day 210): “I relate to your penpal who said: ‘I have never used…support…i have never consistently reached out to another person…’ — not just for sobriety, but for anything. I am 54, and my whole life i have tried to tread very gently through the planet, asking little from anyone, because i don’t want to be reminded of my childhood, where all need was an admission of weakness, and any request for help would be turned down.
Of course there are a hundred million ways every day that I depend on other people. The farmers who grow my food, the writers who create the books i read and shows i watch, the folks who maintain my car and my apartment building, the police and fire and emergency responders who make my world as safe as it can be. But none of this help requires me asking for something, me putting myself out there to get what i need.
I have not written emails every day of my sobriety to my sober pen pals (Belle and Apprentice Elise), not because i am trying to hide anything, or because i don’t have time, but because i have a habit cultivated over 50 years of not reaching out to people. Not asking for anything. Not being vulnerable.”
[update: she’s on day 229 today]
stay here bracelet stay sober. stay focussed. just do today. stay here. 14 karat gold. mailed from france. complete with sober superpowers. link
first i want to say thanks. for all of the things. for being here, opening emails, listening to audios.
we’ve been going through a weird time, haven’t we? today is day 55 of full lockdown for paris, and we have 3 more days to go until the duck pond, a walk outside the neighbourhood, and being able to open the front door without paperwork to prove where we’re going.
during this weird time, you have struggled with pressures, you’ve had more than your share of anxiety, and in some cases you’ve seen illness and death first-hand (covid, suicide, alcohol-related, in-laws).
every morning i get up and i check my email to see how you’re doing. to see if you got the treat you said you were going to (take-out quiche!), or if you made the virgin lime drink for may 5th, or ordered the candle.
i have to say that after the first week or so, my inbox has settled down remarkably well. there were some large moments of ‘what the fuck’ (yeah, me too!), but we are a resilient bunch. we show up. we are learning to experience emotions in real time.
With all of the opportunities you have had to unsubscribe from sober support (who’s got time for self-care during a pandemic!, you might ask), you did NOT unsubscribe. you’re here.
it’s been so great to see the lovely and continued support for the sober art that i share in the daily emails. i haven’t talked much about how mr.belle has been dealing with the confinement as it’s not my story to tell. he’s a bit more nervous about health things than i am, and has really been missing his concerts and seeing his ‘concert friends’ (he’s usually out 4 nights a week). his motivation, to begin, wasn’t great. go to work every day, come home, go to bed.
and then the paintings started to sell again. we’ve been selling on average one painting per day. isn’t that amazing?
he paints and shows me what he’s done and i pick the ones i like. i photograph, upload, edit, and create the button to purchase. you open the emails, click the links, pick the paintings that want. then he varnishes them.
over time we run out of canvases, and then run out of frames. he’s out of white paint. then black. And then the complete tragedy of running out of cardboard for shipping because the fridge store is closed. We order more canvases, more frames, and we break down and BUY cardboard for shipping 🙂
and still the paintings are going out, one per day. we ran out of regular paintings, and so i posted other framed ones, like the lemon one, or the starbucks ones, and they sold. he produces a set of 10 journals with painted covers, and i’m in the process of posting those.
every day he makes a box, or paints something, and goes up and down the stairs to the studio. every day even weekends.
every day we talk about what to do first (this one has been waiting longer, so it should be varnished first, this one is in oil so will take 4 weeks to dry). i know that art doesn’t make up for missing concerts, but let me tell you, it’s close! it’s art at home 🙂
so when i show up every day, and you ask how i’m doing, and you’re worried about me, you have no idea how ‘good’ things are for me. for us. really. Paris is fully locked-down, more than most places. and we’re fine. i’m emailing and editing audios and making lime cheesecake (that was today’s project). today he made 4 boxes (at 45 minutes each), then i printed the courier labels, then he went to the post office and waited in line for an hour to hand them over (they were prepaid, that’s just how long the line takes to advance in the line). then he came home and went back upstairs to continue.
motivation is hard to find in a pandemic. sleep is erratic. concentration is fractured. our brains are busy processing even when our bodies are still. it’s tiring 🙂
and every single day you show up and support us. and i just want you to know that it doesn’t go unnoticed 😉
i’m happy to be here, doing this. supporting you. you supporting us. anyway, just wanted to say thanks and now i’ve written a book!
many many hugs from me (and him). the non-contagious kind. the best kind. love, me
this is #614
if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you want to exit; now would be a good time
Particulars: Acrylic & ink on paper. Dimensions: 30 x 42 cm (11.75″ x 16.75″) – this is standard sized A3 paper and will fit in an A3 frame from amazon.com
Shipping: Mailed flat with 3 sheets of stiff cardboard (carton) so that it doesn’t bend in the mail. Mailed direct to you from France.
Original or print? Original paintings, so there is only ONE available.
I’m going to say some things that you know are true, but that you have perhaps not thought about in this exact way.
The problem with the moderation thinking is: If we could do it, we’d already be doing it. We wouldn’t be here reading this. I wouldn’t have quit drinking at all, frankly, if I’d have been able to drink only at Easter and Christmas and special occasions, or only on weekends, or whatever the rules.
You may not have called it moderation.
You might email me and say, “But Belle, I never tried moderation. Maybe I should go try that now, I’ll be right back …”
And I’ll say, “That’s what you’ve been trying. You just didn’t CALL it moderation.” If you are alternating drinks with water, trying to slow down — if you make rules with yourself (only on Thursdays, only on Fridays, only on special occasions) …
this means that you’re trying to contain it.
You’re trying to contain something uncontainable.
“Maybe if I only drink bad alcohol, then I won’t crave it as much. Maybe if I only buy expensive stuff.”
You’ve tried this.
I tried this.
I remember once I bought a case of wine, mistakingly thinking that if there was more around, then I wouldn’t obsess about it. I thought my obsession about ‘running out’ was about quantity. I didn’t realize that it had to do with wanting to drink in every available moment, from the second I was ‘allowed’ to drink (when was I allowed? well, at wine-o-clock, some days it was 6 pm, or 8 pm, or when on vacation or Christmas morning it could be 10 am) – I was waiting to drink. And I was always trying to make rules on how to navigate all that.
[this is extracted from lesson 2 of the 5-part Exit → Exist audio series, you know: Exit the booze elevator so you can Exist. all you have to do is sign up and you’ll get the first audio right away. thanks to donations, three-quarters of the price has been covered for you, so this series of audios is $10 US. one payment. not recurring. nothing weird. just 5 audios for you. yes, that’s my voice. you’ll hear me — talking directly to you. Sign up here.]
One New Journal Each Day for 10 Days
spiral journal, 100 pages/50 sheets 6″ x 8.5″ (14,8 x 21 cm) front cover hand-painted in acrylic mailed in a padded envelope from France