saturdays might be tough, but …

weekends present special challenges. all this free time. the gaping space that needs to be filled. i would often start drinking at about 3 pm, and that would pretty much take care of the rest of the day. now that i’m not drinking, i sometimes find myself doing things that i never would have done before. Like going for groceries in the evening. Never would have done that!

And since Saturdays can be tough, I thought we could make a list of all the things that we do now, sober, that we never would have done if we were drinking. Physical, actual things that we do. Not just feelings that we have, but what are we getting done…

You can post a comment below, or send me an email. What do you do now with all your spare time?

Lynda (day 40): doing laundry at 9:30 pm and waiting up for it to dry because I need clothes for the morning.  Answering the phone at 9:45 pm and being able to accept a work assignment and be able to remember it and look forward to it.  Taking my dog for a walk later in the evening because I want to. Offering to drive a friend home after midnight … Volunteering at our playhouse theater and driving home after the late shift and enjoying the full moon while waving to the cop at the side of the road, knowing if he pulled me over it wouldn’t be an issue.

Leigh Ann (2): girly self-care stuff (nails, facial, etc.)

Heidi (8): I get to bathe my children and tuck them both into bed. I would be missing that if I was drunk … all is right in my world. That’s amazing. Kiss my ass you damn wolf!

The biggest difference for me, now, is I’m in the kitchen more than before. I plan meals, i buy groceries, and then i actually make meals. I find ways to use up leftovers. We hardly ever go out to eat in a restaurant any more (bye-bye to all the ridiculously large restaurant bills, which were always 75% alcohol).

What about you? What physical things are you doing now that you weren’t doing before, that now fill your time, fill the space where booze was before? Everyone who finds Saturdays long/hard wants to know what you think 🙂

Oh, and apparently it was day 300 for me yesterday? i was too busy to notice! DDG is on day 40, and Mr. Lynda is also on day 40! Welcome to new members: Kirst (2), Laura (4), Debra (day 90 today!).

“how about a nice cup of shut the fuck up”

From the last 30 days, here is a sample of search engine terms that people entered into Google that led them to my blog …

  • tired of thinking about drinking
  • the upside to quitting drinking
  • 100 day sober challenge
  • witching hour drinking
  • getting sober made me better
  • i threw up on my teacher
  • can you go 100 days without a drink
  • the best thing about being sober
  • do i want to be sober
  • gigantic anus
  • how to fill out the day when sober
  • quit drinking and pursue passion
  • how about a nice cup of shut the fuck up
  • change my thinking about drinking
  • jason vale bullshit
  • anus belle
  • what is the 100 day sober challenge good or bad
  • i’m always tired – is it the wine i drink?

I never know whether to laugh or cry …

I kind of like ‘anus belle’, maybe i should get a t-shirt with that written on it. i can wear that shirt in addition to my other t-shirt ideas that i’ll stock in my imaginary sober store:

  • “Pick Good Guys, Not Turds”
  • “Wieners do not get to rule the world”
  • “Cake there shall be”

and my personal favorite

  • “Fuck You Wolfie.”

 

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.

I had plenty of similar episodes, I just never had an audience

well, it would seem like saturdays are rough. four Team 100 members emailed to ask that their counters begin again 1 after this past weekend … Being on the receiving end of so many thoughtful, touching, insightful emails from so many Team 100 members, i get emails that say “something bad happened, i didn’t do enough to prevent it, i could feel it coming but i didn’t get out of the way, i should have stayed home, can you start me again at one.”

they are NOT saying “oh well i’m on a bender now, see you next year.”

it’s like the next morning, after something bad happens, i get an email: “reset me at one. i am going to do this. i can do this. thanks for being there.”  I feel somewhat positive when i get an email right away, and if the slip doesn’t last more than 24 hrs. OK, I guess positive isn’t really the right word, but i feel somewhat encouraged. In the beginning, and until we have our tools in place … well, shit does sometimes happens.  that wolfie, he can be relentless. relapse doesn’t have to happen, and i don’t know enough about this, but i don’t suspect that relapse is unfortunately common on the way to ongoing sobriety.

And before you say something like, “well Belle you quit and haven’t relapsed in 10 months…”  all that means is that I didn’t announce i was quitting until after my stop-and-start stage.  I had plenty of similar episodes, I just never had an audience (!)…  for months before i actually tried to quit for 30 days, i would stop for a day, or two days, or three days.  i’d quit for 9 days or 6 days or for only half a day.  So yes, the last 10 months have been episode-free for me.

but you didn’t see the inside of my head the year leading up to that point…

and oh, the inside of the head. the thought processes on deciding to get sober: do i really need to, i hate that i can’t drink, why can she be a fuck up and it’s me who’s quitting drinking, why me, why this, why now. red wine, you fucker. wolfie, you fucker.

and while some people in team 100 have stopped and restarted their sober journey right away (about 27%), others are puttering along, adding up days, feeling the weeks start to whiz by (73%). Only two people out of 45 have dropped out entirely. Right this second, 43 people are sober and doing this 100 day challenge together.

Julie (day 158): “Wow, I’m glad to read that there are so many of us now …. I knew I couldn’t be alone in this struggle to quit without AA and look — I was right!!  Feeling stronger by the day and wishing I could share the energy with some of the newbies — it really does get better and easier, and if I can do this at my age (55) after drinking daily for 35 years, then we all can.”

Heidi (day 3): “I am one pissed off chick and I am not going to let alcohol or this damn wolf steal one more second of my life. I am in control and I can do this. Fuck off wolf and fuck you alcohol.”

The geek: “… the real trick is in the support of others who feel the same. I truly believe that there is nothing more powerful than another human who understands where you are coming from.”

Team 100 update: 45 members, 2 missing. Welcome to newest members: Mr. Lynda (36), and Anathu (day 2). Erica is day 84, DDG day 36, Ellen 26, and K is 40. I am on day 297, i have my sense of taste back, i went for a run, and i feel better than i have in a long time!

under-promise and over-deliver

I know from all of the emails i’ve received from Team 100 members that the disapproval of husbands can be quite grim. your husband or family might be disappointed with you. your husband or other family members might say something like “why can’t you just drink like normal people” or “why can’t you get your shit together.”

here’s part of an email i wrote to one of my sober penpals about husbands:

your husband (probably, I’m sure) loves you but he’s (probably, quite probably) scared.  He may seem ‘angry’, but for men, angry often means scared. he’s scared of what might happen if things don’t change.

but what he doesn’t know or understand (yet) is who you are becoming. the new you that is taking shape already in these last few days. the old you is going to slowly peel away and he’s going to see the new you. there aren’t many words to explain to him what will happen, it’s more something you’ll show.

those of us who drink too much are great at over-promising and under-delivering. now you’re going to get a chance to do the reserve:  to under-promise and over-deliver.

how do you achieve that? for now, you say “yes honey I know you’re right, and I’m working on it, you’ll see.” you stay at home a bit more rather than tempting yourself by being out with all the drinkers.  for now.  you can get enough sleep – for now. You’re making a GREAT choice for you.  fuck everybody else (for now!)

and slowly bit by bit you’ll do two things.  you’ll show YOU that you are someone who can be counted on.  and you’ll show HIM that you can be counted on.

I like the quote from the biography of Rob Lowe, as he was leaving rehab, they said to him “you can be the kind of celebrity who goes in and out of rehab, or you can get sober and stay sober.” Me, I’m just competitive enough with myself that I want to be the latter.  🙂

so now? patience. do what you’re doing. rinse, lather, repeat.  he’s scared/angry, and this will pass.  you’re tired and overwhelmed and this will pass.  make sure you have enough sleep, cake and sunshine.  in that order 🙂

in rereading this now, i think i’m always writing these messages to myself as much as i’m writing them to anyone else.  My husband had never said he was disappointed in me.  but truthfully, he never would have said anything. that’s just who he is. and i think i relied on that for too long. like, if husband never complains, it can’t be a problem…

the other thing i think i understand now, even more since writing this email, is that the process of getting sober is a slow process of proving something to myself:  that i can be counted on. that i’m reliable. that i do what i say i’m going to do. that i under-promise and over-deliver and not the reverse. that i can count on me. that i’m reliable. that i do what i say i’m going to do.  and as I prove that to myself, the rest of the world can’t help but notice.

Team 100 update: We are 43 members now, 1 missing. Welcome to PP and Chris, both on day 1. Lawyer Anne is day 14 today (cake!), Kate is 17, Lynda is 35, and Jen (mommy) is 40. And i have my sense of taste back, and i’m on day 296 apparently. who knew!

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.

100 Day Challenge (update)

To the best of my knowledge, and not taking into consideration time change (i.e. it’s tomorrow in Australia already), I’m happy to report that 13 people so far have signed up to do the 100 day challenge.  Leigh Ann is 7 days, Carrie is 11, SoberInMtl is 49 (hooray tomorrow is 50!), and VP is on day 10.

I’ve had a great week with lots of great messages from sober penpals. Some just email and say ‘sober’, while others are more chatty 🙂

I had a very interesting email from Carrie (day 11)… and with her permission, I’m posting an extract here:

it’s been a huge help to be reading blogs, writing emails about it and generally feeling part of something which is bigger than just me and the desire to stop, all by myself. The challenge is brilliant too. I am going on a trip this weekend to see a girlfriend who I would usually associate with a big drink up. Dinner/wine/chatting/wine/movie/wine and the most HORRENDOUS hangover the next morning … followed by lunch/wine blah, blah, blah. Anyway on the phone I almost didn’t tell her that I am not drinking. I was dreading the disappointment in her voice. But when I thought about the challenge, I just told her I wouldn’t be drinking. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to start again or of having to say I couldn’t overcome the first real hurdle. It wouldn’t have even involved anything major, just the sound of a disappointed friend … really what is so bad about that? People get upset, let down, disappointed all the time. It’s not my responsibility to protect them from that?!

So, I will go on my trip and I won’t drink. If it hadn’t been for the challenge, then I probably would have postponed my precious sobriety again. So, thank you for that.

anyway, i just wanted to share how genius i think carrie is. it is super amazing to get an email like that, i can assure you.

All-round, the universe has really been rewarding me this week. thoughtful emails from (virtual) strangers. Kindness everywhere.  I even had a client in the US mail me (out of nowhere) the two things i can’t get here without huge expense: mayonnaise and canned cranberry sauce. with a note that says: “thanks for helping me to become a better version of myself.”  sniff.  it’s just one of those weeks 🙂

and every message I get, every email i send, every blog i read, every comment I make, and every random box of presents I get from a stranger — all add up to a happy, sober girl.  I even had cake for breakfast.  Really, this has just been the best day!

Go Team 100, Go 🙂