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.

Being sober is like being bald

from an new, undetermined-as-of-yet writing project

Being sober is like being bald.

At first, you look around and you don’t see anyone who looks like you.

Some people have a lot of hair, long and curly, no fuss. Other people have crew cuts. Some go bald in their 20s, some never (some people quit drinking in their 20s, some never).

Do you look around and feel pissed off that you’re going bald? Do you resent it?

Some do, not you.

Some go to great lengths to look like they’re not (comb-overs, ponytails, baseball caps, photos cropped at the forehead). Some go to great lengths to look like they’re drinking (juice in wine glasses, mocktails, fake beer).

OK, so as it turns out, lots of people have naked heads and wear wigs. But I want my own hair, you say, tears squirting from tiny tear ducts. And it’s nice that you want your own hair. But now what? You don’t have it. Yes, other people have it, you don’t.

Sheryl Sandberg: “I cried to him, ‘But I want Dave. I want option A.’ He put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.'”

So here’s to Option B. And anyway, it’s a relief to be sober (bald). You can dress up and have a nicer time with friends than you did before (you can put on a wig and have nicer hair than before). You spend zero money on booze, dumb restaurant tabs, paying for taxis, paying for rounds for people you don’t even know. (You spend zero money on hair cuts, colour, cuts, clips and curling irons.)

Moderation is like a comb-over. You cannot pull it off. You look ridiculous, it’s obvious, and in any stress (or wind) it fails.

The real you. Option B.

The real you has thinning hair and then is bald. Blame your mother if you like, might as well, you blame her for everything anyway.  Her genes.

Now you have choices. Look lame, waste time, spend money, feel bad.

OR you shave the fucker off. You can be proud and bald (if ya like) or you can hold a mocktail and say no thanks. That part’s up to you.

~ this is a different article ~

But to sit on the bus (in the restaurant) staring at the back of someone’s head (at their glass) wishing you were them, is crazy-making. Because let’s say you WERE them. They’ve got something else you don’t want. That ‘normie’ has one thing that looks positive (to you, her alcohol consumption) but has at least two other things in her life that you want no part of.

The person you get to be is you.

You’re a non-drinker. You get to keep the other things you like about you, all the aspects that you’re proud of. This is another one to add to the list: sober. You are sober and you’re done with looking at the man with the Tom Cruise Hair wondering if you could be him. Do you want to BE Tom Cruise? Didn’t think so.

You can be you. Rocking the shit out of Option B.

results: … if I disappeared

I recently sent out a questionnaire to a small group of my subscribers (n = 458) to ask about what people would miss if I disappeared.

No, I’m not planning to disappear. But it turns out if you ask people “rate these things in level of importance,” you get different results than if you ask: “if all of these disappear tomorrow, which ones would you pay to make them come back.” Again, I’m not really asking about ‘paying’ for anything, but asking the question this way helps to figure out what things are ‘worth’.

I do approximately 8 discrete sober things. My goal as to try to begin to figure out what might change if my live evolves in some way that would limit the amount of time I spend physically sitting at my desk. Like if I was travelling more to meet sober humans. or doing media stuff (ha!). or if I’m flown first class to New York for a talk show (I’ll request this from the universe, now. and we might as well let the stewardess know that I’ll take the fish, please, accompanied by a litre of tonic water. and a newspaper in English. and a non-scratchy blanket.)

The 8 sober things that I do now are:

(1) sober penpalling

(2) compiling and sending shared stories for the daily micro-email

(3) designing, receiving, packaging & mailing sober jewelry and treat boxes

(4) recording original audios (one minute messages, longer podcasts)

(5) writing original text (either for the emails, or for the blog, or for some other writing project)

(6) one-on-one sober coaching calls

(7) live group calls (like on Mixlr, or on conference calls)

(8) travelling to host sober meetups, eat in a bakery, hang out together

 

When people had to pick only 4 things from the list, then the results look like this (in declining order):

  • sober penpalling (this received 111 votes)
  • writing original text (either for the emails, or for the blog, or for some other writing project) 104
  • recording original audios (one minute messages, longer podcasts) (96)
  • compiling and sending shared stories for the daily micro-email (69)
  • designing, receiving, packaging & mailing sober jewelry and treat boxes     (22)
  • one-on-one sober coaching calls (22)
  • live group calls (like on Mixlr, or on conference calls) (11)
  • travelling to host sober meetups, eat in a bakery, hang out together (11)

Interesting to me was how the penpalling and the writing ranked higher than the audio stuff. And yes, I know it’s all ‘important’ but it’s curious how the written came out ‘higher’. Not for everyone, of course. And some people adamantly insisted that all 8 things HAD to stay, and that I needed to change something else, but not the 8 things 🙂

Here’s some of the comments that accompanied the survey results:

E-Z (day 270): “I vote for the one-on-one sober coaching calls. The one I had was awesome, and really helped me. I think it’s important to talk about the process of getting sober with someone who understands. Places like AA can be good for that, but I honestly hate the idea of feeling like I have to keep going to maintain sobriety, or that people will judge me if I stop. Being able to work through it one-on-one with someone was a lot more manageable and relaxing. Plus, I was able to have this call with you while sitting in my jammies on the floor of my closet, which was a big plus.

Bruna (day 47): “I love love love the OMMs sometimes I’m folding laundry and listen to 15-20 in a row.”

Carly (day 8): “Penpalling is by far the most important. Drinking is so isolating, having your voice come across the interwebs with a specific response to me in a specific moment has literally saved my life multiple times. You have a true gift for saying exactly what we need to hear, and it’s not a formula or duplicable (I know that’s not a word). Audios are super helpful. Original writing is a clear talent of yours, and important. The daily micro-emails and the jewelry could be done by someone else and we’d all survive. =) Proud of you for thinking through this! I might have to do this myself to see places I can streamline my workload as a teacher!”

Grateful Girl (day 397): “The micro email reminds me I am not on my own and gives me the feeling of being in a lovely sober club.”

Trixie (day 477): “Penpalling. I’m sure that people who are more ‘joiny’ than me appreciate different things like personal and group calls.  I think I was just too engrossed in my own shame and fakery to talk outloud to anyone at all, especially about that.”

Phoenix (day 178): “In terms of the list. I think all are very valuable to a range of people at different stages. Now that I’m almost 6 months, I love the idea of a sober meetup and it’ a goal worth striving for.”

Clear-Eyed Girl (day 911): “My starting point is that everything you do is valuable and that it would be better to involve others than to stop doing any of it. If you don’t agree with that premise, please feel free to ignore the rest of this e-mail …”

AmandaJ (day 74): “We all need help with decision making, all of us types I mean. I you didn’t need advice, opinions or need to ask for feedback –if decision making was naturally so black or white to you, then you wouldn’t be the wonderful being you are, doing the wonderful thing you’re doing. You’d probably be a hot headed bell-end of a narcissistic CEO with pots of money but no soul. And that would never do.”  me: that’s hilarious. if it was ‘all about money’ you’re right, I wouldn’t ask. I’d just maximize for profits … what a soulless kind of sober support that would be 🙁

Yogayamagirl (day 462):I would miss the penpalling the most. It is so important to me when you answer me.  One word, two doesn’t matter. I know you read it and heard me.”

Fern (day 150): “Sober penpal – I like having someone who is interacting with just me – not on a blog or through comments etc. but someone who is personal to me. Don’t think I would be on this sober journey without this.”

Coco (day 155): “Love the podcasts, audios, and one minute messages because I like to hear your voice, it makes it more real. Also, no matter how busy I am I always have time for a one minute message and they are very powerful as I often hear  your voice in my head standing up for me against Wolfie.”

Miss Kell (day 15): “I’d miss the phone calls although I do love the original writing too. I know I’ve only spoken to you twice, but when thinking about what I would really miss, the choices with personal connection won out. In your penpal emails and in the phone calls, you  say exactly the right thing every time. Off the cuff, tailored to my situation, you really get it and you really help. So while I love all of your writing (I bought the book can’t wait to get it!) I had to choose personal responses/ connection as part of my top 4.”

Shorttermnoterm (day 344): “The fact that you have been where we are and you both hold your shit together and admit it can be tough to hold your shit together is beyond helpful. So when I get a personal email from you — albeit rarely because I don’t personally email you very often, it’s like “Oh, Brad Pitt waved at me today, yes ME” – that’s how I feel. “My good friend Belle who gets me even though we have never met but travel the same road emailed me” – I also believe you need to limit this, and say “OK 20 a day, or one hour, that’s it.”

Hank (day 830): “Jewelry. I wear either my “Stay Here” or “Not Today” bracelet every day! I got one for my 100 day treat and the other for 180, I think.  They are like a secret super power.  I think they serve the same purpose as an AA sober coin –a tangible symbol of success and strength. I feel strong when I put them on and when I look at them throughout the day.  Or when I’m having a shitty day, they make me feel better. And one on one calls, when I was obsessing about wrongs done to me in the past, a sober coaching call with you did more good that six weeks of (poor) therapy, so also an excellent resource.”

Molly Jones (day 12): I love the live mixlr chats! The immediate interaction and conversation is such another good level of connecting with you and others…it’s really fun and helpful.”

Lyra (day 358): “I vote for original text, but I think your writing combined with the stories also counts as original work. You are doing a lot of awesome sifting and the comments you add to the stories turn them to gold. We get the benefit of feeling like we are sharing this journey with others without the risks of connecting directly with hordes of strangers.  (Like getting discouraged by their relapses or bad advice or shaming.)”

Unwined Gal (331): “For those of us that don’t attend AA or don’t have other social supports, receiving your insightful emails is tremendously helpful. I feel like I am not alone and know it is always good sound advice from someone that has been there. Also, you are super funny and if we can’t laugh, well, then we…”

Beachluvin’ Annie: “Sober jewelry is available on sober sites (tho not today and the subtler texts are nice), and … sober meetups (i.e. meetings) are available all over the world.  Sober penpaling and one on one sober coaching calls (i.e. sponsorship) are necessary for permanent recovery. Daily micro emails, audios and your writing are helpful for “seekers” or peeps having “moments of clarity” that their drinking is going to heck in a hand basket FAST … Prayers and kind thoughts for the book launch. Keep your focus on your sobriety as none of this happens without it. Love you, Annie”

MichelleS (day 173): “Coaching calls – I appreciate that these may be considered a ‘luxury item’ by some.  Struggling to articulate why I value these.  Maybe it’s like Oprah says: we all just want to be heard and to be validated:  ‘I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me’.”

avoidance and worth and struggle and emptiness are the same

[Late last night I sent the full book manuscript to the ‘big’ editor in the UK. Looking back on this earlier writing, i can see now that it took a LOT longer than i thought it would. and i discovered that writing is like early sobriety: shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.

Over the next couple of days, i’m going to post some of the writing that i did over the last year that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.]

~

June 28, 2015

you should be sober, i email to her. you should. you’ll feel so much better, you’ll sleep better, spend less, and you’re vain right? let me tell you you’ll have nicer skin. yeah, you be sober.

while I continue to NOT write anything because it’s too hard. The resistance. the voice. you won’t do a good job (you’ll fail at writing / at being sober), you suck, maybe you should stop dreaming and just settle (for being a non-writer / for being a drinker), your life is already pretty good. better than others. why be sober at all. high firm bottom means i didn’t have to quit. i don’t have to write a book either. i’ve written 847 blog posts, and sent and received a total of 138,723 emails in 3 years.

you’ll separate yourself by being different (writer, sober). you won’t fit in, too hard to explain. So what have you been up to? oh actually i’m writing a book. about what? well it’s based on my three years of being sober and being a sober penpal to 2198 people. <crickets>

This is just like that. every day i want to be someone else…

so today i put my yellow pad in a bag, put on a law of attraction audio (well, a girl’s gotta try everything), walk in the heat, the sun, the bustle, for over half an hour, just walking. arrive at restaurant. decide that writing can happen here as well as any place. it feels different here. i don’t know what i’m writing or where it’s going. i just begin (parallels to early sobriety much?). I try to remember what worked for me before. do all that i was doing before AND add different. if i have to have lunch in a different cafe everyday will it still be worth it? yes. is it like being sober? no of course not.

but avoidance and worth and struggle and emptiness are the same. is feeling resistance to writing a first-world problem? yes. and yet the sense of hopeless – where do i start, how do i keep going, can someone do this for me, i wish i could wake up in 100 days with it done – is that the same? i think it is. and it sucks rocks.

i am all of these people, all of the time

[Yesterday I sent the last section of the sober book to the intermediate editor, and will submit the whole book to the ‘big’ editor on Friday. Looking back on this earlier writing, i can see now that it took a LOT longer than i thought it would. and i discovered that writing is like early sobriety: shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.

Over the next couple of days, i’m going to post some of the writing that i did over the last year that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.]

July 29, 2015

who are all these voices in my head. it’s like there are a cast of characters. let me introduce them:

Wolfie: “you suck, you won’t finish, you won’t discover anything, you’ll abandon, his book will be better than yours, don’t even bother.” Wolfie likes to make you feel small.

Fiona Fearful: “you’ll find out things you don’t like, you’ll be too afraid to take action.” She’s too nervous to ride the elevator up.

Sally Sunshine: “it’s all about the positive thinking, the difference between where you are now and where you want to go is all about positive thinking.” She likes to visualize.”

Worker Nancy: She puts her head down and gets things done. She rides the bus to work early, ploughs through all the work, very hard working, efficient, no easily flustered. She says: “just work, anywhere, it all needs to be done eventually. so just start here.”

Slothful Sarah: “you can’t make me, i don’t want to use my talents.” She’s a teenager, defiant, over eats, sleeps 12 hrs, plays video games, avoids responsibilities until some external force comes in to say ‘do it now’. she has no plan. That is her plan. to be plan-less.

Adventurous Abby: “let’s go find something new, let’s try different. novel is good. let’s have an adventure. let’s go. let’s see what happens. Ride the ferris wheel. what’s the view from there?” she’s carrying a camera. she’s in search of new.

~

now given these 6 different voices in my head, when i look at my current non-writing situation (and this could be any situation where you want to take action, but aren’t), here’s what I hear my 6 voices saying about the following fact.

~

Fact: I’m not writing, and i want to be.

Wolfie: you’re going to fuck it up if you change anything about your schedule. the business will fail. the book will be shit. you don’t have time to write anyway. don’t change anything or you’ll lose it all.

Fiona Fearful: there’s too much, you’ll never get caught up, there’s a lot to do, you’ll do a bad job and then wish you’d never tried. you will lose your anonymity and wish you’d kept things the same.

Sally Sunshine: look it’s just a matter of sleep + food + exercise + accountability. Your energy will level out and you’ll feel better. when you feel better, it’s easy to do all these things on the to-do list with no angst.

Worker Nancy: let’s get right to it, if you work hard all week you can blast through most of this, a couple of 12 hr days and then boom a bunch is done.

Slothful Sarah: what are you, high? the key is more downtime, more off time. Cancel something, give up all responsibilities, do less, make your life like vacation all the time. go to portugal. This work thing is so un-fun.

Adventurous Abby: this is such a cool process, can’t wait to see what happens next. maybe write in a different coffee shop each day. maybe start 4 projects at once and see which one has wings. maybe it’s time to test a new recipe. what’s novel about today?

~

I am all of these people, all of the time. I shift from one to the other, sometimes mid-sentence. I feel most drawn to Sally + Nancy + Abby. The rest seem like things that drag me down, like they’re all wolfie just with different voices but the goal is the same: to turn away from this goal that you want.  Wolfie says: just give up now.

 

drinking regret

from MichelleS: “I can picture an entire blog post full of quotes and comments from folks who made their goal, decided to drink, and then regretted that decision. I would find that to be a great tool to have available when I reach some goal, or the thoughts to drink become exceptional loud.  I don’t need to reinvent the wheel, if I can absorb/learn from others who have gone before me.”

==

OK, so here’s your chance. Please leave a comment below IF you have done 100+ days sober, and then drank again. Tell us your story, what happened to you.

When you write your comment, you can leave your name blank (not all blogs allow anonymous posting, but I do). Want to hear from you.

==

~ hugs from me

One Minute Message: Regret

just added #22 to the one minute message library. you know that tendency we have to look back with regret? today’s message is about how every day forward is one day closer to the new YOU over here.

>> listen to the one-minute messages here

Sign up for the One Minute Sober Messages. Free. Portable. Useful. Mini-doses of sober inspiration. Did I say free? Sign up now (for free!) and get access to the entire back catalogue of one minute messages. You will be happy you did.

>> listen to the one-minute messages here

the price is zero. you’ll get an email with a link to the audio. You can listen online, download the MP3 file, and/or the audio will arrive in the Gumroad app on your iphone.

oh, and P.S., i just checked and i’m on day 1300 today. is that 1300 bottles of wine not consumed. what would that amount look like if i put all of the bottles together in one room. oh god.

you tell who you want, when you want, what you want

from my inbox:

Potato Girl (day 158):

HI Belle, I have a question that I have gotten advice from out-patient recovery support groups, and my therapist, yet I a still struggling with. I am having a hard time telling friends that I have quit drinking … over the last 2 years I progressively isolated myself because of drinking. I told myself friendships change because of marriage, kids, jobs etc which is true but ultimately I know I have hurt friendships and I am scared to talk about it. I realize I am still feeling a lot of guilt and shame and to be very honest it scares me to think of never having another drink with these friends. One of my friends that I have been texting with wants me to visit next summer … she texted “we can drink A LOT of wine! I need a break!”  I know she will be supportive of me but I am really avoiding telling her. After discussing this in group therapy I learned that I have way more anxiety about this than others in the group … I feel like my recovery is going really well in most other areas, but this honesty with friends is really holding me back. Have you come across this issue with others in the challenges? Thanks for listening as always. I know I have said it before but I truly wouldn’t be over 5 months without you, your blog, emails and podcasts. THANK YOU!”

me:  I’m not a therapist or a counsellor. i’m not your sponsor, and I don’t know you IRL 🙂 but here’s what I’d say: you tell whoever you want, what you want, when you want to.  you tell any version of the story that suits you. I have long-time boozing friends that I haven’t seen since I’ve been sober.  One friend in particular that’s just like your friend saying “we’ll drink a lot!” … I haven’t told her anything yet. I’m not in her daily life and I’m not visiting tomorrow. If I was visiting tomorrow, I’d say beforehand, by email or text, “can’t wait to see you tomorrow, I can stop and pick up some some wine for you – I’m not drinking these days so I’ll bring tonic for me.” and then when I arrive, she’d ask and maybe be mock-disappointed. and I think I’ll say something like “I’m doing a 100 day leave of absence from alcohol to see how my life is different.” … And then, only if she asked how far into the 100 days I was, only then would I say “I’m on day 600 … turns out I like being sober more than I thought I would.”

that’s it. I, personally, don’t feel that telling anyone that I had a ‘problem’ is useful. instead I say things like “I found that when I drank, I slept badly. and once I quit drinking I slept through the night. my doctor had even put me on hormones to try to fix the sleep. So with all the catering I do, it just doesn’t work out even having a bit of wine.” and most people leave it at that. really.

I talk about this more in my jumpstart class (it’s audio #3) and i’ve written about having a “yeast infection” on the blog. hope that’s helpful 🙂 hugs from me

Potato Girl: “You really have helped me to realize I have the power and control to tell who I want, when I want and how I want. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and pressure from group discussions telling me differently. Telling me that I wasn’t being completely honest if I didn’t share this info, or that I was hiding it so I could drink with these people someday. Well, I know that neither of these things are true. I talked with my therapist more about it and between what she said and what you have written and your blog posts I feel much better about this. I don’t need to broadcast how many times I was hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal, or how I would take shots of vodka at 7 am, etc etc. I have different relationships with each friend and a couple close friends I can share a little more because I am closer, and I want to make some amends for my absence over the last year and a half and hopefully work towards a stronger friendship. For new and casual acquaintances I don’t want to share that I had a ‘problem’. Thank you for pointing that out and helping me see that I can trust myself and my instincts with this.”

~

update she’s on day 742 today. and i’m on day 1202 🙂

~

 

i just stopped. i just did.

From JenniferKay, who was worried after session #1 that her therapist wasn’t a good fit:

“I had my second therapy session today. She said that we need to examine the reasons why I stopped drinking. She said that it was very black and white thinking. She said that I did not drink in excess. She said that online support people probably were drinking much more than me. She said that stopping drinking was a control issue. Basically, she said that I need to journal about my reasons for not drinking and that I needed to be more confident about not drinking and giving specific reasons not to drink.

On day one, I told her that exactly the truth about how I felt regarding drinking. I said that I didn’t like hangovers; I said that I didn’t like drinking each night; I said that I worried about all the rules that I would make for myself and break. She said that those were good reasons, but I needed to go deeper on the issues of why I just stopped. I started crying and said: I just did.

I’m upset. I am feeling so anxious. I was so excited because she seemed like she was totally going to support me.

I’m not going to drink … but I felt stupid in the therapy session, and I couldn’t think of what to say, and I wanted to leave, and isn’t not drinking a control issue for everyone? I mean if I say I’m not drinking, I’m controlling that Ugggghhh

Also, I was talking to my husband, and again, he said: ‘I’m not going to say anything, but I’m still not really sure where you’re going with this, but I want you to be happy.’ Then, he cracked open a beer.”

me: yeah, maybe that therapist isn’t for you. and that’s fine, there are lots of therapists in the world. you want someone who understands what we’re doing. those of us online are probably drinking more? where does that even come from? that’s not an informed comment, clearly. drinking more than people in AA? I don’t think so 🙂

it’s ok. If you were trying to find a ‘dentist’ and if the dentist makes you cry then you don’t go back to them and you find another dentist who gets it.

what a shitty thing for her to do. really. she’s not validating what you’re saying you want. like really, we all need to be drinking? like no one can decide not to drink and be happy about it?

oh god.

if you want to talk to ME (ha!) I have one spot open on Friday, let me know.

love, me

the fun is short lived, and the fun isn’t even fun

from my inbox:

yaj (day 44): “I’m keeping the reality of my drinking at the very front of my mind – the fun is short lived and the fun isn’t even fun – it’s alcohol turning me into a person that doesn’t even exist! A person I hate and that wakes up in the early hours riddled with anxiety and regret and remorse. I (the real me) wants to have fun, I want to remember it all and I want to push past my need to use alcohol to feel comfortable and chatty. People can take me as they find me and that’s fine because it is the real me and I would rather be judged on that instead of the drunken, boring, impulsive and often argumentative person that alcohol turns me into.”

Ms_Red (day 178): “had a dream last night that I drank a beer. It was so weird. Initially, I was at the bar and said that I’ll just have water. Then later in the dream, I look down and I’m drinking a beer. I was devastated – the first thought I had was Oh no, I’m going to have to tell Belle to set me back to Day 1. Maybe I should just pretend it didn’t happen.  I felt so shameful and disappointed in myself. When I woke up, I was beyond relieved that I didn’t mess up. Thanks for helping me – even in my dreams. ha ha.”

Mila2.0 (day 181): “I just have to tell you, the whole disclaimer thing made me kind of mad. If I was slowly bleeding out from a wound and someone was kind enough to offer to put pressure on it so slow the bleeding, I wouldn’t assume they were a doctor.”

MJP (day 100): “It’s Day 100, feeling good. I went to a big extended family function yesterday, and previously I would suck back a number of glasses to make it through. Not yesterday. I had a way better time, and have zero regrets today. I am so happy to be part of your community of the emailed + supported, it really helps. I just know AA is not the place for me, but it’s good to know there are people out there. I liked listening to your No More U-Turns audio yesterday. Someone commented that I looked a lot younger and I feel it’s the not drinking plus the expanse of time and opportunity it gives me. So thank you again. xo”