“I am stronger than this pain”

From me:

Summer. Still gigantically hot here. I have a summer cold (my favourite). Today is the day where I have no sense of taste. Now that i’ve been through this 3 times before in the last year, i know that nothing bad will happen. I will just have a day where I can’t taste anything! Wolfie will leave me alone. if i wasn’t writing this blog, i wouldn’t remember …

If i wasn’t writing this blog, i wouldn’t wake up both yesterday and today to an inbox FILLED with positive happiness.  Honestly, I usually have a few “reset me to day 1” emails, but not this weekend. OK, you’re all on vacation maybe! Instead I’m getting lots of this:

Notes from my inbox

Jessica (15): I’m still here and I am still sober.  Wolfie couldn’t trick me into drinking, even though it was Friday night.  I went for a run instead.  And now I am awake and alive and refreshed this beautiful Saturday morning.  I am more present for me and I’m more present for my family.  I think I can get used to this sobriety thing.  One day at a time.

Camla (58): My birthday is Monday and I don’t think I have celebrated a birthday without alcohol in 44 years!  I’m not worried about it though as I’m committed to the 100 days

Shannon (23): Just wanted to check in and say I’m still sober. I’m almost a quarter of the way through the challenge. WOW!  I haven’t had any strong cravings. I walked to the frozen yogurt shop this evening and had to pass several restaurants and bars with people sitting outside having cocktails. I admit the thought crossed my mind that I would like to be sitting there listening to music, drinking a beer. But then I remembered that I can’t drink like those people. I would not drink one beer. I would drink many. And then I would come home and drink more, until I passed out. Tomorrow I would wake up sick, throwing up, and miss church. I don’t want to waste any more days of my life being hungover/sick. Plus, if I’m sick tomorrow, who’s gonna do the yard work I have planned to do? So, I walked right past all those drinkers, got my frozen yogurt and sat down to people watch.

Durfee (24): Tonight I took my son to Target at 8pm on a Saturday night.  I would never have been able to drive my kids anywhere on a Saturday night before the 100 day challange!

Susan (14): I was waiting for today.  I knew my old wound would come forward at some point … I knew it would come and I would have to work my way through it without alcohol.  The pain sits with me but I know it will pass. I like feeling the strength to say yes to sobriety.  I am stronger than this pain.

Tatiana (3): So much better sober!

Quill (61): Craaaaaaaaaavings.  But I’m not worried. Because I’ve been through them. So bad I thought I really was going to die without a drink. And I know that short of maybe setting my hair on fire, cravings have no power to move my limbs. They can’t make me get up and get a drink. They’re just wasted mental energy, or a flight of fancy, like daydreaming about dying my hair red and learning Spanish. They’re just thoughts.

Sara (71): Never, ever, ever could I have imagined … what a great summer this would be!

Lex (13): Sober..  Had an ah-ha type of thing … I canceled our family trip and will be taking my gals to my parents and to safe sober friends, and giving myself 10 days for sober drama free vacation.

Roxanne (95): Sober Saturday!  Cake day! Yay! (she’s 96 today!)

Colleen (87): I really wanted a drink Thursday.  This was a surprise as I haven’t been tempted in weeks!  I thought I as in the clear but the itch for a drink was back. My husband was away and it would have been a perfect set up for a few glasses of wine (or more) while making dinner for the kids after a rainy hectic day.  I texted a sober friend and even before she called back right away, I had lost the urge.  Just taking action and getting out of my head – reaching out was enough to stop my crazy thinking that alcohol would be a good idea.  But when we did talk, she helped me verbalize why I would be a sucker to drink.  The remorse, the poor sleep, hangover, irritability, feeling crappy.  Then it was gone.  Of course I was sooo happy I didn’t succumb to the illusion that I would get anything good from drinking.  It is a such a lie.  There is nothing there for me anymore.  Nothing but pain and sadness.

Deidre (28): I have been super busy with work and STILL NOT DRINKING! Had to go to another town last evening … at that last minute, and because I was sober, calm and clear headed no anxiety or crap. Went out for dinner with hubby and ordered Sparkling Water no problem, and had a nice evening. Up early this morning to meet client at  8:00 a.m. and probably won’t be home until 6:00 this evening. I woke up fresh, happy and ready to take on the day.

Thirsty (23): I know I always say thanks to you, but I really do want you to know how big a help the support you offer has been. Before I contacted you, I read and reread your blog, along with a couple of others, and your voices became part of the conversation I was having with myself about why quitting really did matter and how sober really was possible, and how it was going to be better than the mess I was in. (I really was a mess.) I had been seeing a therapist, and she is helpful, but there is no help like the kind you get from other people who have been through the same thing. Reading the blogs and commenting here and there and writing a bit myself and emailing you, it’s all such a huge help. But I know the fact that you are a  real person, and you are there, and you will read an email from me every day and even offer a little support based on that, I wouldn’t have expected how enormously helpful that is. I’m reading a book about habits right now (ah, apparently I have/had a really nasty one!) and the author talks about community as an essential part of habit change. Now I know how true that is. So a huge and heartfelt thanks from me to you for all you have done. You really are a star!

Ingrid (38): I feel like I’m in a really good place! You are right on about passing the 30 day mark.  It is amazing how tough it is for the first few weeks.  Right now I feel like I do not want go back to day 1 ever again. It is not worth it.

And Happy 100 days to Simpson Sister!

She totally deserves a lot of hugs and admiration for her bravery!  Here are a few bits from the very beginning of her journey:

Day 2; “You are right, this is hard. This is so hard. I feel like I am trying to climb a mountain without any shoes …  I am sober. I haven’t had a drink in 36 hours. I slept okay last night. Sleep can’t hurt. Going to see my pastor/therapist this afternoon. I am determined to stay sober until then. I will worry about the rest of the day later.”

Later that same day: “I am guessing you are still in bed but I said I would do whatever to figure this out. Voice is loud and clear right now. Wolf/devil is screaming at me to drink.  Excuse my language. SHUT THE FUCK UP. Wow does that feel good.”

The next day: “I am not going to drink. At least not right now. I am saying that I have to give it 4 hours. So if I still want to drink at 11, I can. But God willing, I won’t want to. I can just worry about the next 4 hours. I can do that.”

and: “Yes I made it to 11!  My new goal is 3 pm. I am working on cleaning. I am moving forward and fighting every minute. I had to stand outside a couple times and say fuck you to the wolf man, but I did it.”

several days later: “it’s an angry fire in my belly. I don’t give a shit why this happened to me, why I got to the place I got. I am pissed off at what alcohol has taken from me.  Now that I have come out of the haze of a major detox, I am one pissed off chick. You can take away a lot of things from a person but there is no fucking way I am going to let alcohol take away my children. Don’t get between a mama and her cubs. You tried wolf, you tried. But guess what? You don’t get to win anymore. Because I am going to win. One second at a time. Fuck you alcohol. Man that feels good to say!”

me: go, SimpsonSister, go. I adore you. I really really do.

SS: Thank you for saying that, especially because there are not too many people that adore me right about now.

me: in  my very full inbox, this is the message I was looking for first, and I found it 😉 I read your email first because I wanted to start my day knowing that you are well. And you are. love, me

Can’t compare apples to oranges

Comparing. In response to yesterday’s post, let me say this. We all have completely different lives. Some are big, some are small, some are near and some are far. We all have sobriety as our goal in common. But the rest of our lives may be very different. You have a yard, I don’t. You have kids, I don’t. You have a car, I don’t.  And so what? I don’t think it matters. At all. We’re here to support becoming our best selves, to be sober, and to get shit done. Kids or no kids, jobs or no jobs.  Someone is spending her weekends in jail because of past legal problems. Someone else is vacationing on a boat. But we’re all trying to figure out how to live sober. That’s it.

I recently wrote this on Paul’s blog:

me: I get lots of emails that say versions of this same thing: “Where is my big sober rainbow? Why is she happier in her sobriety than I am in mine.” And yeah, there’s no perfect happy sobriety. Some days are rotten. Other days are glorious. Some situations are easier. Some kids vomit on the carpet. We’re all doing our version of the sobriety thing. Can’t compare apples to oranges AND we can’t compare our internal journey to someone’s publicly broadcasted, edited, version of truth. Well you CAN compare, but only if you want to make yourself crazy… nuff said. 🙂

and i sent this email to another sober penpal this morning:

me: We have super very different lives I’m sure. There is no comparing. And while I may be amazing (!), I’m mostly just different … I’ve got a lot of free time that I’m happily spending on being a sober penpal.  That said, I don’t read as many blogs as I used to, nor am I doing any other sober reading anymore (though I did a shit-ton at the beginning).  You’re doing your thing and I’m doing mine.  Sometimes your life is going well, sometimes I’m underwater.  Then we switch places 🙂

finally, this bit of genius from Lawyer Anne (day 102):

Lawyer Anne:   I loved your post about comparing [June 19th ]… I think it’s a good reminder to focus on our own gifts and not get caught up on comparing ourselves to others….we all have our talents and our own journey.  I think in the world of the internet, Facebook, blogs, etc … to compare ourselves to others and wonder why we can’t be more like the *perfect* person we see pictures of or read about, it’s quite an unhealthy practice in my opinion. And when I find myself doing it on Facebook I try to take a break and deactivate my account for a few weeks. If I’m not using it to connect with friends or read articles and am making myself feel bad because I’m looking at pictures of *perfect* families, then I need a break and I need to re-evaluate.

…  While I quite easily focus on the negative things happening for me — work stress, relationship stress, car falling apart, regular anxiety and feeling nuts — I think it is important to remember the wonderful things happening every day. The fact that I have the luxury to choose to be sober and when that gets tough, the luxury to go to bed early, watch TV, etc., I am one lucky duck.

 

There’s major shit going on

Stuff:

Team 100 has a lot of people in it. And every individual person has a complete life. In some cases, people have quite big lives that they’re dealing with while being sober. There’s major shit going on.

This week i’ve had the amazing experience of hearing about 3 pregnancies, 4 divorces in progress, a vacation to Europe, and one fuck-it relapse.  There’s been a car accident (she’s fine but the car isn’t), a double-mastectomy (she’s feeling good), vomiting on public transit, and one family moving internationally. There’s a mom whose husband drinks a lot which alternatively fuels her to make positive changes for herself AND makes her feel like giving up, and there are two single women who are lonely.

There’s a guy who hasn’t been sober more than 5 days in a long time, there’s childhood abuse surfacing, and there’s someone (finally) happily planting her garden. Someone is a caterer, someone works in a rehab centre feeding breakfast to addicts, and someone else thought of drinking a half dozen times before lunch this morning but is committed to staying sober today.

Some people are happily sober, others think that being sober fucking sucks and they hate it but they are keeping going. Some days are good days, and other days you find out that your colleague died at home while drinking.  Some days you have to take your mother to the Emergency Department again. Some days your father ruins a birthday party. And some days the in-laws write shitty letters to the judge.

Yes. All this and sobriety too.

Kids out of school, routines shot all to hell. Vacations that don’t quite work out. Waiters who serve you booze when you specifically asked for a virgin drink. We’re surrounded by friends who drink too much, old friends you’d rather never see again AND new friends who are struggling with alcohol and want to know what your secret to sobriety is. You tell her your secret. And she hears you, she really does. She’s not ready yet. So you nod. You’ve been there too.

But you’re NOT there now. Today you’re well aware that you want something else, something different, something better.  The lies of alcohol are transparent to you. You can see right through that wolfie fucker. You feed him cupcakes and mints and tea and pistachios.  You buy yourself reward bracelets and reward massages. You read books and you run and you get up early without a hangover.

Yes, really and truly, wolfie does stop. It really does stop. The noise, the thinking, even the cravings. Be sober and slowly (but very surely) he just stops.  And then we can get on with the business of living our lives.

S sent me this message on Monday: “Thanks for doing what you’ve been doing to help people. If karma exists you’re going to get a Lexus in heaven. Or maybe a really, really big god-hug. I wonder how those feel.”

And I answered: “I think karma exists… because I’m sober and that’s a pretty great treat :)”

Read Blog Posts in Order: 

I’ve put together a collection of my blog posts, in chronological order, so you can see where i was on day 18 and see if it’s like where you are! You can order the compiled PDF file here (easier to read in a PDF than on the blog).

Photos: 10 minutes from home:

Reminder about this week’s photography project, due Saturday, open to anyone so long as you’re sober 🙂

Team 100:

Holy mother of Christmas, there are 162 people in the challenge, welcome to new members: Durfee (14), EmilyJane (53), Marg (508), MC (1), StarGal (15), Amy-NBT (4), Shannon (13), and Susan (14).  Happy days to Carrie (130), Simpson Sister (90), Erica (170), Katie (40), PP (45), Debbie (x), ZenMeg (14), Sara (61), Tiffany (30), Donna (120), Eden & Adrian (10), and MaryPat (7).

Today I am one year sober

I had read about Dry July and I’d tried not drinking before. I could usually do 3 or 4 or 7 or 9 days. i thought about doing dry july… i mean, surely i could quit for a month…

I was either travelling or on vacation for most of June last year.  There was booze at all meals, lunch and dinner. The last night of vacation (june 27) we went out for dinner at a roast chicken ‘restaurant’ like Church’s Chicken/Swiss Chalet/St-Hubert. My husband had some nostalgic childhood thing he had to fulfill, it wasn’t my idea of a nice place for dinner. We ordered a bottle of wine, had our half-chicken-with-canned-sauce. We ordered more wine. Then we ordered more. It was our last night on vacation. We had purposely left the car behind. The bill came and i reached for the $80 that i had put in my shorts pocket. But the bill was for $130. For two people, two crappy half-chicken dinners, and some seriously overpriced, marked up, not even great wine (a lot of it). I didn’t have my wallet with me. the restaurant was closing. i didn’t have time to take the train back to our hotel room, get my bank card, and return. For whatever reason, all we had between us was my husband’s european driver’s license and $80. So we left his license with the minimum wage employee on the promise that we’d go to a bank in the morning and return before our flight to pay off the bill. and we did.

then we flew home to europe. we had wine on the plane. we had wine once we got home. and i knew i was done. I specifically remember June 30th when i had my last drink. I remember that i didn’t like it, it tasted like garbage, i was so sick and tired of the whole thing. I drank that night just to be finished with it, and so that i could begin Dry July the next day.  And, well, if you’ve read the first part of my long story from last july, you know that i got to day 7 sober and then i knew i was in trouble and that i couldn’t do it alone.

fast forward. today i am one year sober.

Here’s what I know:

  1. it’s much much easier after 30 days. then it’s easier again after 90. then 6 months is rocking. then something happens at about 8.5 months and since then i’ve been riding a pretty big upswing. The first bit of being sober is the hardest, and then it’s an uphill ride of betterness.  i cannot remember the last time i really craved wine. I know that i occasionally think that ‘wine would be a good idea right now’ but it never goes any further than that. it’s probably been 3 months since i’ve had a real craving. I tried to search my blog to find evidence, and all i can find is may 6th, so about 3 months ago: “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.”
  2. sober help. i would not have gotten (or stayed) sober without help from other sober people. my help came in the form of sober blogging. your help might come from a sober penpal, or commenting on other sober blogs. i really believe now (and i didn’t think this before) that i could not have gotten sober alone. i needed help with the noise in my head. i had to learn it was wolfie. i had to learn to not listen…
  3. i am less grumpy. i don’t go to bed in tears over some misunderstanding. i think i’m more even tempered in general.
  4. i’ve lost 10 pounds since giving up booze even WITH large amounts of cake, without dieting.
  5. we’ve stopped spending ‘dumb’ money, probably about $10 a day, it’s just stopped. We actually went out for dinner this week, and two hamburgers and a large bottle of water = $20.
  6. my husband stopped drinking at home when i quit. when i was 9 months sober, he quit entirely (his idea).
  7. I made room for my passion/job #3 thingy (catering) to really bloom. I am not a morning person. i can only get up at 6 am to bake bread because i’m sober. this i know for sure.
  8. I’m more likely to follow through on a commitment now. I’m better at answering emails and keeping my inbox empty. I follow through on what I say. No more late night facebook posts, and no more (oh god) emailing clients with ideas on how to build their businesses with absolutely no follow-through.
  9. weirdly more patient. I hope that in another year I’ll be writing that i’ve got this patience thing even more ‘figured out’. But today, i’m thankfully MORE patient than i was a year ago. some of my rapid brain syndrome has eased, some of my ADD-like ‘wanting to start a bunch of things and not finish them’ has eased too. I’m more likely to have an idea for … well, for angel food cake. Nowadays i’ll look at a recipe or two, and then roll over and go back to sleep. Before… well, before I would email a bunch of clients, ask their opinions, not follow up, put the new cake on the menu without having really figured it out, and then lose sleep once people started to order it, then deliver something half-assed.  (OK, i’m using cake as an example, right?) Now I’m more likely to have an idea, process it, and then file it away. No new actions taken until other bits are lined up. So what have i learned? I am better able to picture the outcomes of things before i begin, so that i can decide better what avenues to pursue. How’s that for being superbly unclear.
  10. as of today, i have 123 sober penpals. this fucking rocks 🙂 having a sober penpal is like sober insurance for me. Ever since the 100 day challenge started in March, i have known (at least on a subconscious level that now i know in a conscious way), that i will not drink again. When/if wolfie comes calling, i will sometimes say things to myself like “you can drink later” … but as later comes and goes, i think it’s spectacularly unlikely that i will drink again.

I’m writing this in the morning of July 1st, 9:45 am local time (3:45 am eastern).  Later today there will be cake. And we’re going out for dinner.  I will update this post later with a few photos. Happy Canada Day, happy sober birthday to me. Happy day #1 of Dry July to you.

Happy Happy.

Update: 3:22 pm local time

treatlunch

Thanks to the Tiny Gift Button

love and sundays, me

To quote Colleen, i’ve been in “grind mode” and forgot to stop and have some scheduled rest time.  Thankfully it didn’t take long to reset… Went to bed Friday night, slept 10.5 hours! Yesterday already felt much much better. Went out for lunch, walked and walked with Mr. Belle, watched a movie, had some mint/chai tea. I’ve been reading a lot, computer turned off mostly, sitting outside in the sun. Today, went for a run. Sunny again. Sunny in my head. I snuggle with my husband and i say, for the billionth time, “I like vacation more than real life.”

Happy 100 days to Sun Flower today 🙂 Everyone say hooray for her, cuz she’s dealing with family and parent shit and she’s sober. Hurrah!

Quill (day 33) and I have been writing back and forth at a (sometimes) furious past with fascinating twists and turn… Here’s something I sent to her this week, seems appropriate for a Sunday post:

here’s a novel idea about your dreams and goals:
it’s all possible.
Maybe in smaller steps than perhaps you’ve been imagining.
but it doesn’t matter HOW LONG it takes to get to ‘fabulous’
it just matters that you’re upright
you’re on the highway headed towards ‘fabulous’
and you are moving forward.
go slowly
but GO
do little bits and pieces of small assignments and homework
and just (tentatively) begin
no, really 🙂
(i feel like i’ve been typing “no, really” for days and days
in all of my emails
to everyone
about everything).

love and sundays,
me

Team 100 update:  123 members, welcome to Melinda (7). Happy days to SoberinMtl (7), KC (71), Whineless (75), Victoria (31), Grace (10), Lurker M (21), Katie (21), Kriss (71), Shel (91), Marie (70), Kirst (15), Laura (50), Erin (70), Tammy (91), Em & Sarita (10), Suzanne (35), Catkin & Overndout (21), Gindy (85), Camla (30), Ingrid & Pip (10), Carol (20), Sterling (7), and Trish (21).

treats and rewards. must. must.

From me:

I am well, but tired. I say that too often. I did not get a mini-vacation this month, or last, saving money, should have done it anyway. I work hard and long and need the time off away from home, not only to rest, but also as a reward to look forward to. I know what makes me ‘tick’ and i need to stop resisting it. I resist giving myself the things i need on a Regular and Consistent basis because … [fill in the blank] … to prove that i can function with less? that I can do it without reward, without recognition (it would be like always working without pay, for free). Why? Why is that such an interesting character trait that i possess?

If i was giving myself more regular rewards, what would that MEAN? That i value myself more. that i’m worth it. that i’m doing hard work and have ‘earned’ it. that life is fun and i need to partake in the funness. That there’s a 3 year old inside me, and if she doesn’t get treats on a regular and consistent basis, she starts to temper tantrum about ‘HOW HARD THIS IS’ even when it isn’t really.

Here’s a treat, i say to her now, let me decide right now what your treats are for today.  After the big catering job of 150 sandwiches and 3 dozen cookies … Im talking to you, inner Belle. I’m serious here. Listen carefully:  go for a run after the catering is picked up even if you’re tired, make meatballs for dinner tonight (no more takeout), turn off the computer at 8 pm, take a bath, be in bed by 9:30 pm. do it. treats and rewards. Must. Must.

*NOTE: I have put together a collection of my blog posts, in chronological order, so you can see where i was on day 18 and see if it’s like where you are! To order the compiled PDF go here.

Notes from my inbox:

Carol: Day 16, halfway to one month which is where I got before, but this time there is no restarting! So many good things happening: going out on my own after only a little over 2 weeks at new job, picked up a difficult sock I was knitting months ago & realized I could easily finish it, you know — just lots of little things that make me happy. Plenty of really difficult things going on too but I’m not falling into the pit of despair, just letting them happen. I don’t have the power to make things different in any of these frustrating situations I’m peripherally involved in with family. In retrospect, all drinking did was sometimes make me act more involved & emotional, justifying my descent into the despair pit. Phew, glad I’m done with that way of coping.

Elle: Day 47, write a couple sentences on why this time is different for me. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days, and I keep coming up with the same answer. I don’t know. There wasn’t a drunken night or an excruciating hangover, in fact I can count the number of drinks I’ve had since Christmas on my fingers. I’m just tired of thinking about drinking. “Should I have a drink? Then I can’t drive (my number one rule is I NEVER drink and drive). If I have a drink, will I eat everything in sight? Pick a fight with my son? Will I call someone and babble? Will I wake up at 3AM with a racing heart? Will I drag in the morning and miss taking my dog for her early morning walk? (it is so hard saying no to those big brown eyes).” I guess I’m lazy and it’s just easier to not drink.

Team 100:

Welcome to PJ (day 2). Say hello to Simpson Sister (70), Thirteenpointone (340), Erica (150) and Donna – who has only recently joined Team 100 is in fact 100 days today!

I get by with a little help from my friends

Brandy has a long history of alcohol problems, and lost her father to the disease. She joined the 100 day challenge, and she restarted on day 1 a couple of times.

On May 7th, I got this email from her: “I hate to say and was embarrassed to tell you that I am starting over again 🙁 How do you do it?”

My answer:

me: Good question. How did I do it… I accepted, I think, that the first 30 days were going to suck.  I ate take out, I did the minimum work allowable to not get fired. I slept A LOT. Some nights I went to bed at 8:30 pm just because I wanted to drink so bad. I ate a ton of junk. I drank tonic water (bitter) with cranberry juice. And I hid in bed. I didn’t go out very much and … well, I waited. I also blogged every single day. (Not that you have to blog, of course, but you could email every day or even twice a day or every three hours, whatever it takes…). Usually, if I felt like drinking (which I did), then once I blogged about it, it was like I had “told” on my inner addict and the cravings were relieved somewhat … I know you’ve been sober before for periods of time. What have you done before that worked – at least short term …

On day #9, she sent me this:

Brandy: I started feeling the urge again yesterday but I did take your advise.  I took the rest of the day off from work and I organized my closet and my daughter’s closet. Yes, decluttering it is a weird kind of calming and therapy.  I cooked a nice meal watched a movie and went to bed early! I am happy to say I am on day 9.  I will continue to take your advise to get me thru these low days.

On day #13:

Brandy: OMG… I made it thru the weekend!!  Wow:)  I will tell you that wolfie was putting all kind of crap in my head….”you can drink after a long day working in the yard” I really laughed and said shut the f&%k up! Instead I rewarded myself with some sweet treats and a good nite sleep!

On day #30:

Brandy: It’s truly a MIRACLE 🙂 Enjoying my sober life today! So many blessing have happened in just 30 days. F@$K you WOLFIE!

And then it seemed that sobriety really took hold of Brandy. And today she’s on Day 51.  I asked her to explain why she’s sober now — what’s different this time?

Brandy: I am sober today because of my higher power… I mean it is truly a miracle.  The last time I drank… I wanted to give up and die, in this despair…. I got on my knees and prayed.  While I was praying I did feel this sense of comfort and a little voice saying…”It’s going to be OK.”- Then I knew, I never have to drink and feel that way ever again!

Since that day, what has helped me stay sober is your blog, my AA (ladies only meetings), and praying every morning for the strength to stay sober just for today and at night thanking my higher power for giving me that strength.

Today, I feel like a different person than I did at day 4.  My mind is so much clearer and I have some pretty big plans with my life.  When I think back to some of my actions while drinking, I think: “Who was that person?” I am happy to be ME again… and am truly happy to have “my life without drinking”

As you know I lost my father to this disease. I am just so grateful that I can say I am sober today and can make him proud!

Thank you for believing in me Belle 🙂

This isn’t a blog post about me. This is a blog post about not giving up, and keeping going even if you feel shitty. This is a blog post about Brandy and how fucking tough she is. And this is a blog post about Team 100. “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Team 100 update: Holy christmas 121 members. Welcome to Caroline & Maggy (6), Katherine (322), & LimeTree (3).  Happy days to Lawyer Anne (80), Lauren (95), Debra (151), KT (60), LilyUK (55), Paula (30), Allie (20), JG (55), Leah (45), Sam (21), ZenMeg (10), Cam (50), Sara (40), Julz & Quill (30), Lex & CB (10), Meka (11), Cassie’s Mom (14).

Happy 100 days to DDG & Lynda :)

Happy 100 days to DDG (holy am i ever glad to see you hit this date!) and Happy 100 days to Lynda (and to Mr. Lynda who is following along, too).

Here’s what Lynda has to say:

WOW!!  Thank you for inviting me on this journey.  It has been been truly amazing and I am so grateful and appreciative that I could come along and I’m planning on staying on this bus because I love the other passengers and driver. What have I enjoyed about this? Clarity in thinking and conversations, confidence, acceptance — life is like this, so just do it and move on, clear skin, brushing teeth at night … seeing people, understanding self, a calm knowing, “falling” asleep and feeling the wonderment of that, savoring coffee, playing 3 hour tennis matches, evening walks, early morning breakfasts, being of service with gratitude, not enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do, being available, increased intimacy in all relationships…. and this is just the beginning. Were/are there challenges?  You bet there are.  I choose not to list them because life has challenges whether we drink them away or not…. [emphasis added]

Now let me say this. Getting sober is hard. 

It’s really hard. When we’re used to squishing down feelings with booze, it’s so completely disorienting to remove the booze and to live life naked. (I wrote something about this to Quill yesterday).

i also think we’re all trying to be sober because we’re trying to sort some shit out.
and just because the tectonic plates cannot visibly be seen to be moving
does not mean that they’re not.
moving.

cuz they are

being sober isn’t a race or a destination or a popularity contest
it’s a tool
sobriety is a lever that we can use to open stuff up to get unstuck

and for some people being sober is how they avoid dying.
and how they get their life ‘back’
and how they keep their children
and how they repair their relationships

for me, being sober the first month was hard
and i wasn’t always sure what the point was
except i didn’t want to go back to day 1 so i kept going.

then i realized that i still was thinking that i wanted to drink at the end of
30 days, so i renewed it for another 60 days (90 total).

and here we are today, 370 days later.

i did not intend to do this. i intended to do 30 days just to prove that i could.
and something happened.
the tectonic plates shifted.
you can’t see it happening.
doesn’t meant it’s not.
happening.

*NOTE: I’m putting together a collection of my blog posts, in chronological order, so you can see where i was on day 18 and see if it’s like where you are! If you want me to send it to you when it’s finished, put your name in the box here:  http://eepurl.com/BqAEn

the blog post with a lot of links in it

how am I? i’m really quite fine. all is well in my part of the world today.

a few new sober girls have arrived in the last week, never having seen this blog before. and yeah i know, i write a lot, but there are 215+ posts on here and it’s kind of hard to read it starting at the beginning cuz blogs are in reverse chrono order, and even if you search for just July 2012 (month #1), to see what what fucking terror i was dealing with on any particular day … well this is a long sentence without much point, but basically it’s hard to read a blog in chronological order especially when it’s long. yeah. you know what i’m trying to say, right?

so anyway, i spent a good chunk of yesterday compiling my blog posts from just month #1 of sobriety, putting them together in chronological order — with a few comments for good measure — and hopefully will be able to make some kind of PDF download thingy available. Month #1 is 80 pages long. No, really. Fuckers. No wonder you don’t want to read it online. ANYWAY. holy long winded without saying ANYTHING batman. if you’d like me to send you month #1 when it’s ready, you can do this thing here. Yes i will eventually some day when the planets align have the whole thing together as a book (!). yes, yes. eventually. for now there’s this. it’s what i can do for now.

i could find things to complain about (the weather! it’s cold!) but really i’m doing OK. I’ve got an email inbox full of sober (or trying to be sober) penpals. I’ve got a few photos for the sandal project already coming in, and i’m sending off some new Fuck You Wolfie bracelets (hopefully) later today! There are 119 people in Team 100 (welcome to Caroline and Maggy, both on day 4). Whineless is on day 70, Lane, Diane, Gindy & Christina are on day 80, Sober Journalist is 81, Kirst is 10. Carolyn is 30, Suzanne is 31.  And Amy is on day 201 but she’s on vacation! Hooray for Amy 🙂

Sorry, this whole blog post today is filled with links, but here’s another one… You remember Lurker M, right?

Here’s the email she sent me just a few days ago… (she’s on day 16 now!)

Lurker M: Day 13. Sober, sober, sober.  Belle, this is truly awesome. And, it’s not even about the drink; it’s more about the space that’s left when the drink has vacated. Ironically, that used to keep me drinking, filling up all those gaps, plugging away to avoid the vacuum. It stopped me feeling empty, at a loss, quiet. Terrified wondering what might emerge from the gaps – that I’d be left staring at ME in a cold, sober, deadly silence.

But, guess what? It’s liberating! I can feel myself re-emerging from that place. It was a self-induced solitary confinement which annihilated all my feelings and potential. So now … now I am making friends with myself again and re-acquainting myself with who-I-am. Some of this is uncomfortable, but those thoughts are far outweighed by a sense of relief and excitement at what-I-could-do!

All this new time, all this new energy, all this beautiful reflection that I’m now longer rushing to obliterate with alcohol. What an opportunity.

It’s my version of ‘The Great Escape’. Yup, that’s me, Lurker McQueen, excavating Tom, Dick and Harry tunnels, making new passports, eluding that Wolfie jail guard, roaring off on my sober motorbike. Can you hear the whistling theme music?!  Da da. Da da da dah dah dum.  Go go go!!!!!

And you my friend showed me the keys to escape. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

and here’s a great Quill-Quotable (she’s on day 28 today). I especially like the part about chicken sandwiches:

Quill: I feel, like a mild headache or a tickle in the throat — constant but not incapacitating — utter self-disgust. I don’t think there’s anything remotely worthwhile about me and most attempts at self-improvement are pointless because I am inherently broken and scummy. However, I am these days able to be 75% sure that is my depression talking and not actually the truth, which is a huge improvement (much like I think the people who say they like me actually do like me but are just poor judges of character, whereas 10 years ago I would have thought they were just straight-up lying).

I miss booze. Oh well. I miss good chicken sandwiches and a decent college football team, too, but I’m not going to move back to Tennessee, and I’m not going to have a drink today either.

Happy Tuesday to you. four more days until i have a long weekend. sorry did you say something? i’m too busy crossing off days on the calendar … are we there yet? is it summer yet?

drink my koolaid! come towards the light!

An email exchange that i’ve been saving, that i want to post right now, early Saturday morning. this is about Feelings and it’s about Landscapes. you may agree with me or think i’m completely full of shit (both opinions at times valid), but there really is something amazing about being a sober penpal. it’s glorious, built-in sobriety insurance for me. I get to write to you (and really i’m writing to myself half the time). AND i have front-row seats on amazing sober journeys while you do the hard work and i do the cheerleading … yeah, it’s win-win.  really it is.  Here’s how I know:

From Lurker M:

Thank you … I’m in awe of you and your achievement and your resolve. And your patience in replying, instantly and gently to me. Jesus, Belle, how do you do it? Fit in all these messages to all these people? I am on a journey. Early steps. Learning a lot, trying to stay with it. Got to keep with it and understand the landscape. I feel like a novice and a silly schoolgirl. You’re a bit of a guru for me which must be weird to accept when you’re ordinary in your own life and extraordinary in mine. Don’t give up on me. You really are extra-ordinary.

From me:

I never gave up on you because you didn’t give up on you 🙂

it must be weird to think that I’m obsessing about not drinking – when I’m really not.  somehow doing the blogging and the emailing makes me feel connected to people, and not alone, which is very calming, even when some people’s lives are dramatically shitty.  But being your sober penpal never makes me think about ‘drinking’.  I think about the feelings I had, but never about the actual alcohol.

maybe that’s it.  maybe alcohol is just a blunt instrument we use to regulate feelings, and once the booze is removed, we’re all just left talking about our feelings. which was at the root anyway. anyway, I seem to be able to do that (talk about feelings) happily and without making me feel like i want to drink 🙂

the only thing I can say with some confidence, is that the sober landscape that you mention makes no sense until you’re further in.  everything seems weird until the booze has been gone for a while.  the answers come later.  the clarity and the lightness comes later.  and thankfully it begins to get better quickly, get to day 10 and it’s better, get to day 16, and it’s better still. Then day 30 is pretty remarkable, as is day 50.  And then it’s onwards and upwards from there …

The only thing you need to begin, is the feeling that there’s something out there better than obsessing about drinking.  And there is.  and those of us in the sober cheering section will all say the same thing.  it’s better over here.  we’ve been there (where you are), and we’ve been here.  it’s better here.

[that sounds a bit culty! drink my koolaid! come towards the light!] 🙂

Team 100 update: 117 members, welcome to Trish (13) and Sarita (2).  Happy day 50 to Lilly! It’s day 75 for Lawyer Anne, day 90 for Lauren. Let’s have a parade for Roxanne (60), Debbie (40), LilyUK (50), JG (50), Colleen (51), Rebecca (91), Jessica (10), JT without JB (14).