“my true self is showing up”

When Erica got to 100 days sober, I asked her to write about how she was feeling. Here’s what she wrote:

Erica: Well, it’s been a week since you asked me to write about how I feel after 100 days. I’ve put it off because, well … it’s really hard to say how I feel. I had a really long ‘pink cloud’, a good 60 days’ worth.  Where I felt amazing. Super happy, set the world on fire kind of energy, cried at the birth of spring, etc. Now I’ve kinda come back to earth to join all the ‘normal’ people.

Here’s a couple of things I now know:

I’m not awesome. I blamed alcohol for all the things I felt I should be doing.  Volunteering at the animal shelter more then once in a blue moon, writing thank you cards, being the friend that just listens instead of waiting to jump in with my perspective, set things on fire in the bedroom, do a weekly deep hair condition/face mask, clean my house…. Still don’t do any of that.

I will never be “that mom.” You know-the one that makes the awesome designer cupcakes for the class, etsy level kids crafts/projects, SAHM who drops the kids at preschool with complete hair/makeup/super cute outfit (all the while holding a 2mo/old), has kids that never hit, curse, or have a big brown blob on the front of their pants.  I would settle to be the mom that remembers to bring an extra diaper.

Not going to look like a supermodel. I knew that at a young age. Really has nothing to do with alcohol. But you just never know! At 40, I have now accepted it.

But the little things. The little things that you sometimes don’t notice ’til you’re in bed going over your day.  Like enjoying my day. My whole day.  Even the bad parts.  Because I’m there for it, my true self is showing up. The person that is showing up everyday is happy, feels healthy, has good (better) breath, less critical of herself & others, has more patience, can wear clothes that she hadn’t been able to fit in, is interested in everything around her, & has a big ol’ “what the hell is wrong with her” belly laugh for all amusements.  And I really like that person.~ Erica

And hooray for Erica, she’s on day 126 today 🙂

Team 100:  98 members, welcome to Tiffany (4).  Happy days to: Amy 180, KC (45), TMcA has rejoined the challenge (yippee!) and is on day 3, J (200), Sober Journalist (60), Brandy (28) and this is a super big deal so let’s all have a big shout-out for her, Kirst (40) her wolf is a hyena which i think is hilarious, Paula, Julz, Quillian, Dana & Sam (7), Chelsie, Erika, & Anna (30), Suzanne (10). And me (339).

monday

Happy to be mailing out the first 5 bracelets today 🙂 super powers are on the way!

I got a great email from Colleen in my inbox on the weekend:

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could live out two lives — sort of like the in the Christmas Carol?  So we could see our life with alcohol, and the one where we chose sobriety?  How interesting would it be if we could see how our lives would be played out with each scenario.  What would we lose, gain?

I play this game in my head it scares me…because I know that alcohol would take everything away — my family, friends, health, finances, looks,  I am so glad I am not on that path and am choosing sobriety — the upward path.  But I know that the downward path of self-inflicted path of misery, pain and suffering is waiting for me — hiding and ready to pounce on me at places like backyard bbq, birthday parties and other seemingly innocuous places. I am grateful that I am on the path of sobriety and I don’t want to ever give up this freedom.

Had a nice time at my friend’s party … I didn’t have the desire to drink at all and this is SUCH a blessing.  I have made it this far before, but always white knuckling it — feeling deprived that everyone could drink and I couldn’t.  It is different this time.  I feel like I am the lucky one

Team 100 update: 97 members, welcome to Gindy (58), Lex (3), Camla (3).  Happy days to: Suzanne (9), Sara (16), Rebecca (72), Mel (15), Carolyn (8), Leah (22), Jackie (40), Elle & Helene (22), Mary (10), Colleen (32), JG (31), Lurker B (7), Debbie (21), Sunny Sue (90), Lilly (31), Thirteenpointone (365!).

dear lurker

Belle, what do you tell a young divorced mom of two kids, who knows inside her drinking is not normal?  The mom who has been reading your blog for a while now, after finding your blog from reading other blogs about woman and their drive to stay sober. Who knows a 100 day challenge will be, in fact a challenge? The past few years have been getting worse, she never drank daily.  Now its 1-2 bottles a day, most often passing out and not remembering going to bed.  Who has hidden bottles in the trash, cabinets, and finds glasses in strange places the next day. Tell her she will survive and still have fun at parties, gatherings without drinking when everyone else is?  Tell her that her relationship with her bf won’t change b/c he will be drinking and she will not.  Who is a daughter of an alcoholic mom who quit drinking more than 30 years ago. Who no longer can get up and workout daily @ 5am b/c she is hungover.  Who is scared to tell the world she has a problem or to tell her kids she is a failure b/c she can’t handle her alcohol consumption.  How do you tell her that it isn’t just a phase she is going thru? So what do you tell a lurker of your blog to convince her it’s time to sign up for the challenge when I am already thinking I will fail and never make it 100 days???? ~ thanks, lurker.

i have to say first that i love the way Lurker refers to herself in third-person: “what would you tell a woman who …” cuz don’t we all do that – consciously or unconsciously? We distance ourselves, talk about ‘someone else’.  it’s the stereotype of going to the doctor and saying “i have a friend who has a problem…”  But frankly, it’s a safer way to ask a question. Imagine how brave Lurker is to even ask this question, to type it up and email it to a complete stranger, and say “can i be helped or am i beyond helping” (which is what i think she’s really asking).

here’s my answer:

my dear, I would tell her that she is much stronger than she thinks she is, and that the booze itself can make her feel like she can’t do it. and that once the booze is removed, the self-esteem and the will and the determination come back, too.  and why would I lie about that 🙂  us sober girls are not some secret club. we have removed the booze and found something really cool inside.

of course you feel like you might fail. but some things would be different this time. you’d have some sober penpals to talk to. me and others if you want them.  you’ll have blogs to read and comment on. you’ll have support.

and man-oh-man I think we can move mountains with support 🙂  alone? you’ve tried that already … with support? a whole new adventure 🙂

but really, I’d tell her that if she has tried other shit that hasn’t worked, it might be a time to try some new shit – like some continuous days of sobriety – to see how she feels when the booze is gone 🙂  She’s going to like it.  double your money back 🙂

love, belle xo

ps/ there’s a woman in the group who’s been in and out of treatment, marriage in jeopardy, who found it hard to commit to 4 hrs at a time, let alone days.  she emailed me every 4 hours during her first days. Today she emailed me this: “10 days, double digits!  Holy shit. Well, I have been here before. Here in the sense of 10 days sober (not many times). But I’ve never been HERE. Never with this strength and energy. Never with the resolve I feel.” Another woman, once she got about 14 days sober, turned a corner and emails every now and then to say she’s fine, but isn’t feeling scared anymore.  Someone else is on day 118.  And me, personally, i’m in no way permanently ‘safe’ but I am on day 3xx today.

edit: here’s her response:

Reading your email, I cried b/c a complete stranger has faith in me when I don’t myself. THANK YOU for responding. Everything I have done worthwhile or excelled at, I had support.  I often can’t make big or sometimes even small decisions (which I never noticed until recently) without support. I’m thinking it’s time to ask for a little support.  Funny, my oldest son who is almost 14 said to me last week, “Mom, why not let someone help you once in a while”  and that was about something so little, taking up an offer [for a drive] b/c I had to go into work early. Even my son knows I am not one to ask for help. Thanks, Lurker.

Team 100 update: 90 members, welcome to Rebecca (65), Sara (9), and Suzanne (2).  Happy days to Jen & Debra (5 months today!), Lynda (and Mr. Lynda) (70), Ellen (40 yesterday), DDG (70), Brandy (20), Lane (50 yesterday), Mr. Belle (40), Katie (7), Debbie (14), Allison (30 yesterday), Allie (7), Chelsie, Anna & Erika (21 yesterday), Helene, Mae, Leah & Elle (14 yesterday), Sam (10), Mel & Zenmeg (7 yesterday).

i’m done with struggle

stay-cation day #4. slept 10 hrs. woke at 6:30 am, saw that i hadn’t slept long enough to guarantee a good day, so i rolled over, and slept till 9:15.  that’s better.

What follows here isn’t terribly interesting, unless you’re me.

But after nearly 8 years of marriage, my husband and i are now (finally) sleeping in separate beds.

I’m an unusually light sleeper, have been since childhood. My mother says i’d wake if an ant farted a block away. As a tiny baby, my parents had to give up “checking in on me” before they went to bed, because to touch the door handle was to wake me… If you combine this genetic predisposition (because my entire extended family (paternal) is unfortunately like this, super sensitive to sound, crappy sleepers, my parents don’t sleep in the same bed) — if you combine ME with a really tall man, who just happens to snore and thrash (like the members of his maternal side of the family, they’re all shakers-and-bakers when they sleep, and Mr. Belle’s parents don’t sleep in the same bed either) — well if you put ME and HIM together in a bed, no matter how large, one of us is going to be awakened 4-6 times per night.  That person would be me.

now that i’m sober, and most days are good days, i’ve really been finding the tired days harder to tolerate.  when i was drinking, I guess i was used to being tired all the time, was used to feeling 50% shitty most days. At nearly 11 months sober, I quite like feeling good.  and i HATE it when i feel sooo tired from Mr. Belle’s thrashing. he wakes in the morning, takes one look at my face, and he knows that he has tortured me all night.

And part of the reason i’ve been doing the 24-hr mini-vacations alone in a hotel has been simply to get one solidly good night’s sleep per month.

So about two weeks ago i asked if we could try an experiment.  i had been tired for a month it seemed. I asked if i could sleep alone for awhile, just to see … and after two nights i felt remarkably better.  dramatically different.  Since then we’ve been playing it a bit by ear each night. We go to bed together, read, talk, plan the next day.  and then he goes to the other room or stays, depending on general levels of tiredness, and what I have going on the next day.

Yes, I am able to get work done when i haven’t slept well.  Yes, I’m able to set my alarm and get up for catering after 5 hrs sleep.  But i hate my life when that happens.  It feels like pushing a truck uphill.  It makes everything feel ten times harder than it really is.  If i have a Booze Wolfie that talks shit about booze, then I also have an Exhaustion Wolf that comes out when i’m tired, and he says “you’re behind, you’re never going to catch up, your stuff isn’t good enough, why bother trying. This is all too hard, this is supposed to be your passion job.  you should quit this, you should stop doing this.  This is too hard.”

on the other hand, when i have had enough sleep, I can get up early, do the catering, and have NONE of that noise in my head. Nothing. Some mornings i even forget to turn on the radio, and i work for hours in silence without even noticing.  I just do my thing.  I work without STRUGGLE.

so me? i pick sleep. I’m going into this next phase of sober life with enough sleep. I’m giving up the idealized version of a married couple sleeping in the same bed, because it just doesn’t work for us.  It didn’t for my parents or his parents either.  I am no longer holding myself to ridiculous ideas of what is ‘good’ when it doesn’t work. (i used to think that if we didn’t in the same bed, that it was a slippery slope to divorce. just cuz.) Now I pick sleep, and i am packing up this idea of struggle and i’m putting it out with the recycling. i’m just not interested in struggle any more.  (there was a certain level of chaos and dysfunction i could tolerate when drinking that I just can’t do any more.) and yes I CAN make myself work when i’m tired … but why do it that way?  Why not, instead, give myself the very lovely gift of a good night’s sleep.  and I thankfully have a husband who’s more interested in a happy wife than which bed he sleeps in.  And, to quote him, he says “it doesn’t matter which bed i’m in.  i’m asleep.”

sleep.  makes my life possible without struggle.  makes me feel even.  it can be raining but if i’ve had enough sleep i don’t seem to care.  When i’m tired, everything seems hard. very very hard. and not worth it.  When i’m tired, i surf the web and find all the information and possibilities overwhelming.  I see people blogging recipes daily and i think “i can’t do that, i could never do that, it’s all too much, i should give up.” on the other hand, when i’ve had enough sleep, I see someone blogging their recipes daily and i think — well, she does her thing, and I do my thing.  (And frankly, my thing earns money and hers is sort of like mental masturbation).

I’m done with struggle.  I’m cutting open the box of struggle, i’m squishing sides flat, and i’m putting it out for recycling.  someone else can take home my struggle if they want it. I’ve been carrying it for a long time. 37 years probably. i seem to want to cry as i write that.  since i’ve been 9 years old, my life has been too hard for me.  in my new, happier life, i am sober, happily married, earning money, and i’m finally finally getting enough sleep.  i never would have done this if i was still drinking.

i’m done with struggle. you?

Team 100 update: KC (30), Malia (30), Kriss (30), Rachel (10), Debbie (7), Tammy (50), JMM (20).

rose colored glasses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some things you may not know:

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever it takes.

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

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

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

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

This is my best, my friends. And it is good enough.

i guess i want to say that i am feel awkward about the Awkward post. Yes, i did spend days trying to figure out what to do. Yes, i did consider a bunch of alternatives. Yes i looked into a post office box. Yes, i really did try to think this all the way through from a bunch of different angles.  Yes, I considered just saying “sorry no gifts allowed.”

I was asked if I could receive some thank yous, and I didn’t know what to do with this. I fretted for several days and then i figured that in the world of the internet, that paypal was the simplest solution.

This is new to me. There are no manuals. There are no models to follow. There’s no book written called “sober blogging and how not to get caught in a shit-storm if you mention money.”

Yes, ok, I am trying to meet everyone’s needs.  Of course, you can have an opinion about how i do that, but please know that i have already tried to consider this from all sides.  I’m a thoughtful and careful person. But if you want to buy me a coffee, I have no intentions of hurting your  feelings either by saying “no, really, I don’t need anything in return” or “well, ok, sure,….but I really don’t want it.”

I did get a number of private emails that were very supportive about my Awkward post 🙂  But in general i have to say that I really don’t want to take any shit about someone sending me $4 to buy a latte 🙂

Yes, we get weird when money enters a conversation. Well, tough.

I think this is worth talking about head-on because we’re dealing with big fucking issues here, like sobriety.  for some people that can be life and death. I am not dramatizing my role in this, i’m talking about the people who are reaching out for help. I hear this: “I didn’t want to email you again because i’ve already had two relapses and you’ve wasted enough time on me already. How can i repay you?” And i keep saying “really, you being sober is enough.”

what i’ve learned is that some people, with where they are in their addiction, have so much shame and pain that they can’t easily take any help without feeling guilty.

You can judge that if you want. You can tell me i should say “get over it.”

Those of us who have been sober for awhile can engage in long conversations about how ‘they shouldn’t feel that way,’ but after I’ve heard it for the 8th time from 8 different newly sober people, I feel like I have to do something. Please don’t judge how i’m trying to handle this. I really am doing my best.  Yes i’ve tried to think of all of the sides to this.  But to suggest that i should donate 2 hrs of my time per day and refuse the offer of a coffee in return is saddening. If someone is truly not reaching out because they feel like they’re a burden, I want to address that.  I certainly didn’t put up the tiny gift button to ‘get rich’.

And here’s the truth and it won’t come as any big surprise. I’m not great fan of this. I really am trying to do my best. You may think i’m a blowhard shit.  That’s fine. You may squirm when i put up the tiny-gift-button.  I may not be doing this well enough or good enough for you. I’m sorry. I really am.

so that’s what I’m feeling.  protective. and i hope i’ve already cried enough about this.

This is my best, my friends.

And it is good enough.

Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing

I have a cold. my colds are never very bad, or long, 3-4 days maximum. they thankfully don’t turn into ear infections or require antibiotics.  they’re just garden variety head colds.

But having a cold is NOT good news for me, because i’ve had 2 before, since getting sober, and i know that both previous times i got a gigantic case of the ‘fuck its’ and decided to drink again. i set a date 7 days into the future and said “i’m drinking then.”  and then the cold goes away, and the date comes and goes, and i remain sober.  thankfully.

But there’s something about being sick that gives me a feeling of despair and woe-is-me.  i usually still run if it’s only a head cold (versus a chest cold). and running always makes me feel better.  I usually still work, jobs #1 and #2 and my passion job #3 thingy.  having a cold doesn’t keep me from getting things done, but the internal dialogue, the noise in my head … man, it ramps up into a frenzy.

During my 24 hour mini-vacation on the weekend, i could feel the cold coming on.  and i had an mini-anxiety attack to go with my mini-vacation… “oh no a cold is coming, you know what that means, better get prepared, get some meals ready, get your sober supports in place, get the catering wine out of the fridge (done!).”

Today is day 2 of said cold.  and while last night i had a very teary, despairing moment about this blog (!) and about the AA ideas of ego (what do i know about that? i’ve never been to AA!), and fleeting despair about the sober challenge … well, let’s just say i got scared.  I tried to explain it to my husband but he’s a normal drinker so he just doesn’t get it, though he does try really, really hard.

I said “what if i start drinking again? this team 100 thing? it’ll be a disaster.” And husband is like “yes, but you won’t.”

Me: “But i feel sick, so maybe i’ll just start opening the wine and drinking.  i could do that right now.”

Husband: “and you won’t.”

And he’s right. i won’t.

i think i learned something concrete last night:  Being afraid of relapse is not the same thing as relapsing.  In fact, being afraid of relapsing is probably a good thing.  it means i’m aware, i’m conscious.  I start to circle the wagons sooner.  i’m afraid, and therefore i read blogs online, i get the house cleaned up, and i get my cold medications ready.  i empty the fridge of catering wine and i go to bed and sleep 11 hours (again, last night).

i also know, deep down, that i won’t drink. But i gotta tell you i really hate feeling like it’s a possibility — even if the feeling is temporary.  I have a good cry and and big sleep and it goes away.  thank god.

Today is day 290 for me.  That’s 6,960 hours of sobriety, give or take. i’ve had 2 colds already and i have survived. i will survive this one.  This is not the zombie ap0calypse. it’s not worth drinking over.

frankly, nothing is worth drinking over.

hooray, cold medicine is working well today, and after 11 hrs sleep i feel significantly better than i did last night.  and that’s good news.

And every day I wake up to a some delightful sober messages, like these ones, please keep emailing so i can keep sharing:

J: “You know, in all the years of trying to quit drinking, your advice of going to bed RIGHT NOW is the most effective I’ve ever heard – sounds silly but it absolutely works, so thanks!”

Julie: “Ok, Belle, I’m sorry, but I laughed at “evil pig fucker”!  You (we) made it through … fuck you wolfie.”

MG: “I can’t describe this feeling.  It’s just an uber calm and peaceful sense.  Like I can’t believe how many years I was an anxious dreary mess.  And how excited i am to be moving on with this new me.  Again, the church message (hard to explain unless you were there) was kinda alluding to that “one thing” that you know needs fixing.  And I have heard that message time and again and WANTED to do something.  And finally I feel like I am.”

Terri: “… The question of whether I will stay stopped or not is still rattling round in my head … I joined [the challenge] because my original goal of 90 days was looming and I couldn’t figure out what to do next … I still get pangs sometimes, but compared to the beginning when it was a white-knuckle ride, I can brush them away much more easily.  At the moment because the answer to this eternal question is not definitive, I am not drinking.  I don’t want to throw away what I’ve achieved unless I am absolutely certain I can either manage it or jump back on the wagon without falling off a million times.  I read a great quote the other day – alcoholism is just death on an instalment plan. That is powerful and really stopped me in my tracks.  So in answer to the question what is better now than it was in the beginning – not having to work so hard to surf those urges is probably the best, waking up clear, sleeping more soundly and feeling better about myself for finally keeping a promise I made to me.”

Team 100 update:  We now have 36 people on this sober vacation, welcome to newest members: Lauren (23), Brandy (7), Sunny Sue (42), and Cindy (who is on day 2). I’d like to hear again from SoberinMtl, Vivien, TMcA, and Leigh.

you being sober is enough (or, Take the support already)

ok. so we’re doing this 100 day challenge thing, right? There are 35 people signed up now which is pretty awesome. I am on day 289, Amy is 130, MG is 9, Heidi is 35, and Sunflower is 24.

I got an email from K, but she’s not the alone in saying something like this: “it feels really strange to email you and not be giving anything back to you in the way of support! you are like a cheerleader to me and i so love getting encouragement from you!”

A few people have said that they’ve stopped sending their daily emails because they were worried they were ‘bothering’ me … 🙂

And I’m thinking, “WHAT?” It’s hardly a bother bother to hear that you’re sober. It lights up my day. Every morning I get up to an email inbox with 5 or 10 or 20 sober messages. It’s tearfully wonderful to hear from you, every day, as often as you want to write. Even when you’re having a bad day.

In fact, i think of this team 100 challenge as my own personal sobriety insurance.  Like, what are my chances of willfully relapsing now? zero. i’m not kidding.  it’s really a big zero. that’s a big gift for me. Money can’t buy that kind of insurance…

Did i know that being your sober penpal would be such a big deal for you? No idea.  None. I still barely understand it. I’m super glad, of course, but i’m perhaps as surprised as you are 🙂

You saying thank you is enough.

You being sober is enough.

With permission, here are quotes from three of my sober penpals:

Lawyer Anne: “I feel like my perspective is different this time. Usually I would feel like I was missing out on something and feel jealous when my husband has a few beers in the evening. This time I realize I’m not jealous of him… There is nothing to be jealous about because alcohol does me no good. I am not missing out on anything, but making a good choice for me. … As each day passes I am feeling energized and relieved by my decision to finally just stop. Not take a break or a month off to see how I feel. But to shift focus back to living my life. It sort of takes the stress off a little to make that final decision. I’ve not felt this before and I’m hoping it means this time around is different. I know I have the power to make it different.”

Lawyer Anne is on Day 7.

Carrie: “Something is different this time. I don’t feel like I am harboring some dark, dirty little secret anymore. I don’t feel like I am unique. Because i told you,  that I can’t drink normally and I reached out for help and I’m getting that help from you and Team 100 and everyone who blogs bravely about this fucking shameful secret.  I found someone who understands and now I don’t feel alone. It’s a little about accountability, but it’s a lot about finding empathy and support and advice that I can draw from when I am faced with difficult situations. I have real people who share my problem and we are all rooting for each other now. That’s what’s different and it makes it a ten times easier than before. Taking the problem out of my head and putting it into an email was all it took to change my journey.”

Carrie is on Day 36.

Brandy: “Alcoholism runs deep in my family … my drinking got worse since my dad passed away in December 2009.  I recently went to treatment, and have relapsed 4 times since January 2013.  I  literally just have a little over 24 hours sober time [at the time of writing this email].  I would like to participate in the 100 day challenge and am ready to finally have My life without Drinking. I am soo happy I found your blog!  I will pass it on to other people I know who are struggling.”

Brandy is now on Day 6.  She emailed three times yesterday, sounding better and better as the day went on.

Do you see what I see?  Can you imagine how fabulous it is to get to know you?

OK, enough cheerleading, now it’s time for me to rant a bit.  Take the support! Are you really looking at this and saying “not sure i want to email her it might be bothering her.”  Take the support already [you knew i couldn’t end this without a metric ton of swearing.  here’s more…] you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, of course i want to hear from you. you’re super amazing.  yes, you’re an introvert, or yes you’re not blogging.  any possibility that i like hearing from you cuz i like you? Really? no chance? of course I like you.  You’re honestly telling a story of you.  What’s not to like? Do you think you’re “not worthy, and who’d want to get to know you?” Enough already 🙂  There’s is at least one weird (sober) chick here who gives a shit, who cares if you’re sober or not.  But in fact, there’s a whole bunch of us here in Team 100. We’re all cheering for you. and waiting to hear from you. and to hear about you. and learn from you. and share with you.

there’s no numbness in one glass of wine

My good god i have so much to share. so many fan-tabulous emails, comments, insights. Let’s start here.

In explaining why she wants to be sober now, KC (day 22 today) wrote to me that she’d been sober for a long time (5 years?) and then …

… This cool guy was asking me out for beers after work, and I did the club soda thing for a long time.  Then I figured that clearly I had no problem anymore, and it snowballed pretty quickly to where I would’ve been if I’d never stopped. It’s always been about the anaesthesia, the wrapping up in cotton wool. Pitiful little urchin looking for a liquid hug, someone to say it’s all going to be fine. Yeah yeah, got it.  So now it needs to be about facing life head-on, no more insulating away.

What I would do differently this time: remember I CANNOT DRINK.  I’m not afraid of it, like some AA messages seem to want me to be. I will not cower down in fear before it. I just can’t do it, it does not work at all, same as how I can’t eat this food I’m allergic to.  My only focus during drinking has ever been to get numb, so I will never be able to moderate. Drinking is for other people.  I’ve already drunk enough for 4-5 lifetimes anyway – already put waaaay too many miles on that chevy.

[underlined bits are my emphasis]

KC said i could share this because it’s so damn lovely. i’d never heard the expression ‘liquid hug’ before, but it’s perfect, isn’t it.  really really perfect.

also the idea that if you want to get numb, then moderation is never going to do the job.  there’s no numbness in one glass of wine, there’s only irritation that we can’t have more.

i love this.  I know that i need to learn this lesson over and over again.  and so i’m glad to be writing this today.  I see it now.  I see it more clearly now.  Thanks KC.  Moderation is never going to do the job.

Team 100 update: Lilly (Day 31), Carrie (30), VP (28),  Ellen /Whineless is traveling and she’s on day 12. Welcome to Erica and Kate, our two newest members. We are 29 members today. If you’d like to join the 100 day challenge, read more here … even if you already have a bunch of sober days, you can commit to doing 100 more.

toxic

My sober penpal Lilly asked me a good question about our crazy brains.

Her question was about amnesia, how we forget the feeling of being hungover. and why do we continue to drink (or to crave drinking) when we know it’s not good for us.  It’s like we forget all the bad parts as time goes on.

first, i must give my standard disclaimer. I am not a counsellor 🙂 I know nothing about nothing.  I am only 8.75 months sober.  I know nothing.  There are lot of people out there a lot smarter that I am, with a lot more experience.

but my first gut reflex is that drinking is like being in a toxic relationship (with a man, in my case, but you can insert your own appropriate gender!).  Yes, there are good days when you’re dating a bad guy. there are promises of improvement that don’t materialize. there are moments when you realize with certain clarity that you have to leave. and then later, you believe his stories. because you want to believe. because you’re not ready to leave yet. Because you think you’re broken and he’s probably the best you can get. and he really does have his good points.  He has such nice hair, and he can sing in tune (!).

we stay in toxic relationships because it’s not easy to see what needs to be done when you’re in it. Which is why the sober blogs are so damn helpful, as I can rely on the genius of others who’ve been there to see right through my lame rationalizations.

we stay in unhealthy relationships because we have low-self esteem  on some level, probably not consciously, we don’t think we deserve better.  clearly, if we deserved better, we’d be out there ensuring that ‘better’ happens to us.  instead we hide.  we pull the tent flaps down around us, and we say ridiculous things like “next time…” Next time I’ll make sure I eat something first.  Next time I’ll have a glass of water every second drink.  Next time I’ll stop when everyone else stops.

we stay in abusive relationships because our vision of reality becomes warped and we can’t really see what is right and what is wrong. we have moments of clarity, hungover desperate moments, and then once the sun is shining and he’s cleaned up for you, and he’s smiling that smile, you say “oh it wasn’t that bad.”

and while I got all jiggy on the blog earlier this week about me NOT being superhuman, one thing I think I DID do, that perhaps other people don’t do, is I decided to improve my situation BEFORE it got bad.  I got sober early. I didn’t wait till the last minute, I didn’t try to find ten hundred different ways to continue drinking. I figured that getting out was probably worth trying, and once I was out, I realized how much better I felt, and how much stronger. yes, I do deserve more. yes, I was previously hiding in a tent (yes, someone who owns a company or two can still be hiding in a tent, not really facing all the glorious things the world has to offer).  I decided that it was better to be ‘single’ (sober) than to be in a ‘bad relationship’ (spending every evening with a bottle of red wine).

and everything else we believe about booze, when we know better, are just excuses. because we don’t think we deserve more.

and really, really, you do.  deserve more. tons and heaps more.

we may not even realize it, but in trying to quit, it’s like we’ve already raised our hands and said: “Me! Me! Hey, look at me! I want something else.  I don’t even know what it is yet, but this thing I’ve been doing ain’t working. I know I need something better/different. I know that something better is out there for me.  I’m going to go out and find it. I’m not going to wait in this shit hole any longer, thinking it’ll magically change. Holy I have no idea what I’m doing, at all.  All of my usual coping strategies have been left behind.  But I’m doing it anyway.”

Another thing, and i forgot to mention this, but i think the booze itself made me depressed.  I don’t drink because I was depressed — the booze made me feel lethargic and like a bag of shit.  The booze itself got into me and changed me. And then there’s wolfie …

Thanks to Lilly, cuz I really do love questions like this. They make me think hard.  I was in a toxic boy relationship before I met my husband.  we only dated for 6 months but it was like train wreck from start to finish.  why was I there? I must have believed that it was the best I could do (I was 35ish). I believed his lies (and it was all lies, including his name). He (literally) had an AA tattoo on his shoulder and he told me it “wasn’t his.”  hahahahahahahahaha … but oh, he was cute and could sing in tune.  and said such nice things to me… Thankfully my husband, who can’t even tell white lies, is also cute and can sing. and isn’t a gigantic jackass.

What do you think?