Tired of Thinking About Drinking

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Sober tools: what helps, and what doesn’t

originally published on Medium

Sober tools: what helps, and what doesn’t

(Stop fucking around with houses built out of straw)

M (day 1 sober) writes: Belle, I keep trying all these things to help me be sober and nothing works. I just spent $100 on vitamins. I’ve been to the one-day, quit-drinking workshop. I signed up for a French class. You see, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and with all the money I’m not spending on booze, I could buy a plane ticket.

You can hear M’s thinking, you can totally see what she’s saying, and it seems logical, doesn’t it. And my reply would be: “If you are continuously sober, then yes, whatever you’re doing is working. Keep doing it.”

But if you are not continuously sober — and I mean if you reset after 2 days, or 20 days, or 200 days — then what you’re doing isn’t quite enough to keep you sober. So you add in more sober tools.

Argh, I’m on Day 1 again. I’m enrolled in French class. Why isn’t that enough?

French class is something you can hang in the space that booze used to occupy. But taking a French class is not a sober tool.

Sober tools are things that help you to be sober.

Imagine this. You’re one of the three little piggies who is building a sober house, and wolfie comes to blow your sober house down.

You build your sober house out of straw or sticks or tarps or wood, and wolfie blows it over. Maybe not right away, maybe not tomorrow, but as soon as there’s a strong wind, as soon as there’s a death or a celebration or a runaway teenager or Sheila in accounting pulls her shit again and refuses to do the cheque run before end of day on Friday.

Doesn’t take much, then wolfie is at the door. Blowing. Sober house falls down.

But let’s be real, wolfie only has to knock on the door of your house made of straw to knock it over. To the house of wood, he’ll knock, and when that doesn’t work, he’ll add in lung full of hot air and a bit of whining. Doesn’t take long.

(And really, you built a sober house out of straw? You were wishi. You’re were hoping you could do the minimum. You knew it wasn’t going to be enough.)

To the house of stone, though, the house built out of sober stones set careful on a sober cement foundation — yeah, that house — well, wolfie will knock on your door. And when that doesn’t work, he’ll try to blow you over with convincing arguments as to why you need to Drink Right Now. You’ll add in a bit more cement and wave to him through the window. He’ll look for cracks, but you’ve got double-paned glass and a bug screen.

Now this sober stone house, this is your life.

Your life is worth more than the minimum. It’s worth more than straw and tarps.

The soul of you, the essence of you, the real you that isn’t anesthetized, the real you that is empathetic and helpful and has good boundaries — that you gets deserves to be guarded in a solid stone structure.

What helps to build a wolfie-proof, stone sober house?

Advice from an architect. Talking to the girl at Home Depot about the length of the nails and what’s worked on similar projects.

Pouring a cement foundation. Going as slowly as required to not have to pour the foundation, dig it up, pour it again, and dig it up again. What a waste of time that is. Do the sober foundation, yes, but if you do it too quickly, do it too rashly, try to do it with inadequate cement, or do it while doing too many other things at the same time — well, you know what happens.

You can see this example clearly when we’re talking about cement.

The colour of the paint, and the carefully selected tri-season-blooming flowers, the stony garden walks, and the breeding fruit trees do not build a strong house.

The French classes and spin classes and yoga classes and pottery classes and vitamins don’t help you change your behaviour. They’re wonderful (and necessary and lovely) things to add to your life. They are.

But they’re not sober tools.

A sober tool is something that helps you to be sober. Not paint colour.

You want to paint the room, but you haven’t built the room. You want to choose the light fixture, but the wiring isn’t in yet. You want to focus on the details all around THE THING.

The thing you want is to be sober. And so you’re online spending hours choosing the right French class?

You just spent $100 on multivitamins because that should help you be sober?

What if you’d spent that time and that $100 on actual sober supports. You don’t though, because wolfie is a sly fucker, taunting perfectly nice people with bullshit logic like vitamins and French classes.

OK. So sober tools. They’re things that help you be sober. That would include anything that directly makes it more likely that you (a) remember that being sober is a good idea, (b) soothes irritation, (c) helps you be accountable, (d) checks in on you, (e) reminds you what you’re doing when you forget, (f) reinforces the idea of the sober foundation and why you need it because you forgot again, (g) makes it possible for you to not drink.

A French class isn’t a sober tool. Just like your drinking husband isn’t a sober support.

What works?

Treats and rewards work for being sober. Accountability works. Actual sober support works. Planning replacement drinks works. Listening to sober audios works. Reaching out works.

(Do you think you can read books about pouring cement foundations and have the book be enough? Is a one-day workshop enough? How about a forum of other people on day 1 of cement pouring? Why are you walking around outside THIS THING acting like you don’t know what to do? You know what to do. You know that if you ask for support from people who can actually support you, you can get this done. You know that if you turn and face the resources and education and accountability that sober support provides, that you’ll learn from people who’ve done it 2,593 times that you’ll save time, feel better, and have your cement poured sooner.)

And don’t get me wrong.

If you’ve built a house out of straw AND IT’S WORKING FOR YOU then keep doing what you’re doing.

But if the wind keeps blowing you over, you’ve gotta look at having some new tools.

And paint isn’t a tool.

Neither is a French class.

Audio: Group Call

I recently recorded a one hour LIVE group call as a special bonus for book owners. And what a great call.

I spoke for the first half hour, and then opened up the line for Q&A. Questions included: how long until you feel better, when is a good time to become a vegetarian, is being long-term sober a burden, and how many bottles of wine have I not consumed since quitting drinking.

But the best part of this call perhaps is the ending.

The full audio is 60-minutes long and it is included for free for all book owners. If you have ordered a paperback copy, an e-book, or the audio version (or the bundle!), then I have already added this 60-minute audio to your library.

Comments:

Freedom: “What an amazing call! Thank you! SO lovely to hear SoberP too – it’s nice to put a voice to a name 🙂 … Thank you again for everything. For being you. For doing this whole sober online community thing. For the audios. For (you and SoberP) being an amazing penpal. And for constantly and tirelessly reminding me (and really not seeming to mind that you have to tell me the same thing over and over) that I need to keep plugging at my supports. I was so pleased that I had this call to log on to tonight. It was like a holy grail at the end of the day. I knew if I drank I’d be asleep on the sofa and miss it. And I’m here and sober and feeling much better than I did earlier.”

No More Donuts: “The book call was exactly what I needed at this point … the idea of the battery needing recharging and checking is very apt as I’m approaching 100 days. One thing I need to do more of is email you. Knowing there is someone at the other end that ‘gets it’ has been the key ingredient for my success this time round. Huge hugs Belle, you’re amazing. The magnitude at which you help people is enormous, and it really takes courage to do what you’re doing. Massive respect to you.”

Poppy: “Thank you belle. That was truly awesome. I didn’t speak but listened for the hour. I’ve never done anything like that. It did feel good. This whole exercise has taught me a few lessons. This while taking a risk, a chance, putting yourself out there, trying something new – it’s the opposite of being stuck. It’s exciting.”

~

Below i’ve posted a 3-minute extract from this longer audio.

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me

 

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select 2 blog comments and each person will get access to a podcast of their choice from the archives.

Audio: Do I Tell People I’ve Quit?

This is Sober Podcast Episode #175 for my weekly sober podcast series.

Thanks to listener ‘Out-of-the-Cab’ for submitting today’s question. She asks how to explain to people that we’ve quit drinking. So in my reply, I talk about who to tell, what to say, when to say it, and how to get support.

Do you tell your best drinking friend what you’re up to, and try to get her to understand? Do you tell everyone at family dinner that you’re going to the She Recovers conference?

Below i’ve posted a 2-minute extract from this longer audio (the complete podcast is about 20 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me

 

Download the audio podcast episode 175

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select 4 blog comments and each person will get access to a podcast of their choice from the archives.

Audio: Top 3 Factors that contribute to successful long-term sobriety

This is Sober Podcast Episode #174 for my weekly sober podcast series.

Gem64 sent me an audio question, asking what are the top 3 things that make it more likely that someone will be long-term sober.

Of course, I started trying to keep the numbers straight in my head but it turned into a bit of a mish-mash. Well anyway, the concepts are all there, but i’m not sure there are “3” things.

Thankfully podcast subscriber Ana Maria sent me this summary: “Belle, the 3 factors I understood were: (1) Do not drift from your sober supports. (2) Do prepare for potentially dangerous situations by having your tool kit with you. The key being “prepared in advance”. (3) Accept shitty days as part of life. Accept that they will come and you can get through them without alcohol.”

Below i’ve posted an extract of the first few minutes from this longer audio (the complete podcast is 19 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me

 

Download the audio podcast episode 174

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: New Years Greetings 2017

Well this is a first. A new year’s day greeting compiled from YOUR voice clips, sent in from all over the world. No kidding, how great is this! I’m going to send this out to my sober podcast subscribers, but wanted you to hear it too.

There’s something for you in here. I guarantee it. And if you don’t laugh and feel touched at the same time, i’ll be surprised. Thanks to everyone who submitted an audio clip. Really. So great to hear the voices from everywhere together in one sober place.

hugs from me

(click little white arrow below to PLAY audio)

 

Download the audio podcast episode N17

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: Christmas 2016

This is a longer Sober Podcast Episode C16 for my weekly sober podcast series about how to deal with this time of year.

you know, what to consider, what to do, how to ‘check out’ without alcohol, and support looks like.

Usually i only put up an extract of the podcast and then tell you to go buy the whole thing and/or to sign up for the monthly podcast subscription.

But today I’d like you to listen to this audio in its entirety (36 minutes). I’ll leave this up for 48 hrs. You can listen in sections if you’re pressed for time. But make time to listen. There’s something for you in here.

My only request is that you leave a comment. Feedback is crucial 🙂 What did you hear in this audio that you haven’t heard before, or what’s the one big take-away for you that you can carry around with you for the next few days?

hugs from me

[ audio link has been removed ]

 

Download the audio podcast episode C16

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: Celebrations

This is Sober Podcast Episode #173 for my weekly sober podcast series.

Thanks to rosalita for today’s question.

Is it possible to celebrate without alcohol? what about ‘raising a toast’ – what about acknowledging hard work? what about good days and bad days and any other reason your brain thinks that drinking might be a good idea?

Below i’ve posted a 3-minute extract from this longer audio (the complete podcast is about 15 minutes long).

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me

 

Download the audio podcast episode 173

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: The Melbourne Radio Interview

This is Sober Podcast Episode #172 for my weekly sober podcast series.

OK, it happened. The radio interview i’ve been talking about has been recorded. Here it is.

Triple R Radio (RRR 102.7 FM Melbourne), on the show ‘Multi-Storied’ with Elizabeth McCarthy & Louise Irving, recorded live December 7, 2016

I’m glad it’s done, and I’m glad I got to practise with so many of your questions in advance. It went better than I thought it would, which is good, considering i didn’t sleep much the night before!

Usually i only put up an extract of the podcast and then tell you to go buy the whole thing and/or to sign up for the monthly podcast subscription.

But today I’d like you to listen to this audio in its entirety.

Listen now 🙂 My only request is that you leave a comment. Feedback is crucial. hugs from me

 

Download the audio podcast episode 172

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: Interview Practise Part 3

This is turning into a marathon session of interview practise! I’ve been working on a longer audio, and I have finished recording Sober Podcast Episode #171 for my weekly sober podcast series.

This audio is a bit tighter that parts 1 and 2. There are fewer stories, and my answers are more ‘informative’ — i think therefore this audio is ‘dull’ but that’s just me 🙂 I guess if you’ve never heard of me before, you’d be curious about these questions … and perhaps less interested in being ‘entertained’ by my hilariousness.

~

Questions answered: 

Do I think I’d still be sober if I hadn’t started the blog?

Can I pick one quality that makes someone more likely to be successful at being sober…

And finally, what advice do I give the most often, and what do I say that makes the difference to the most people.

~

Usually i only put up an extract of the podcast and then tell you to go buy the whole thing and/or to sign up for the monthly podcast subscription.

But today I’d like you to listen to this audio in its entirety.

i am posting the whole audio (15+ minutes long) and I’ll continue to make it available for you for 48 hrs so that you can hear the entire audio even if you’re not a podcast subscriber. So please listen now. right now. My only request is that you leave a comment. Feedback is crucial 🙂

 

Download the audio podcast episode 171

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

Audio: Interview Practise Part 2

So i’ve been working on a longer audio, and I have finished recording Sober Podcast Episode #170 for my weekly sober podcast series. You’re familiar with the one-minute audios. These are longer, meatier.

This part 2 of the “me pretending i’m being interviewed” podcast. I’m obviously very bad at condensed answers. at one point in this one, i basically have to go ‘offline’ to tell you stuff that didn’t fit into the prepared response. you can let me know which bits in this are necessary to keep in, and which parts i can ditch.

Usually i only put up an extract of the podcast and then tell you to go buy the whole thing and/or to sign up for the monthly podcast subscription.

But today I’d like you to listen to this audio in its entirety.

i am posting the whole audio (30+ minutes long) and i’m going to leave it up for 48 hrs so that you can hear the entire audio even if you’re not a podcast subscriber. So please listen now. right now. My only request is that you leave a comment. Feedback is crucial 🙂

 

[ link has been removed ]

 

Download the audio podcast episode 170

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

 

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