As 2018 fades into the distance and I start 2019 with more than 200 sober days under my belt, I am feeling a deep gratitude for Belle. One of her daily emails just popped into my inbox and I felt a strong wham of gratitude and thought how this is so much of why this sobriety thing is working much better this time.
Last spring I was bouncing around with 4 or 12 or 42 days without alcohol and then, collapse, fuck it, some beers, and then some more weeks with beers until the next attempt to quit. I would count days and then quit counting in frustration, saying counting days was stupid, too black and white, too demoralizing when I was on day 19 for the 53rd time, I’ll just stop drinking and go along in a sea of unnumbered days, that’s just as good and less demoralizing. But I kept falling into fuck-it moments, diving into a collapse and getting those 17 minutes of dopamine that I craved.
I do a lot of driving (north to south, 348 miles each way, once a month) and delightedly binge-podcast the whole way. Among my favorites was HOME podcast, I imbibed it, loved most of the episodes. Then it ended abruptly. I missed it. It wasn’t keeping me sober (obviously), but I relied on it. After it was gone, during the next frustrated re-drinking phase, I very directly realized I wanted a new podcast to hook onto. I’ve sampled a few other sobriety ones and don’t like them much. I’m someone who gets very hooked on specific things and settles into what I guess we call a rut 🙂 CDs, Netflix, podcasts. (Having a partner who’s much more wide-ranging reminds me of how narrow I am. When I bought my first CD in 1999 (late adopter), I had to buy a CD player so as to play it, and then proceeded to listen to that CD exclusively for three years. (She’s an amazing fiddler, but still.))
So I say to myself, I need a new yummy sobriety blog/podcast that I can consume. I’d heard people refer to Belle but I think I confused her with someone else I wasn’t interested in. Not sure. But this time I somehow made my way to her website (http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/) and within the space of a day or two had signed myself up for the full-blown Sober Jumpstart class. It was kind of comical, because I’m a pretty sensitive, skeptical, judgmental person. But I was frustrated. And none of my “fakey” “sales-y” “forced” antennae were going off. So I jumped.
And something about the whole shebang really works for me. Something about the combination of the actions — daily emails, the audios (the core thing she produces), the me emailing her (if you sign up for a sober penpal) — and her attitude/philosophy/approach. Don’t try harder, try different. The concept of sober supports, and picking or inventing your particular combination. The concept of sober treats. Her sheer volume of experience, starting from being a single individual quitting alcohol and expanding to having had conversations/email exchanges with 2800 people and counting. I’m so grateful. Including that I like her style. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have stuck around, and I’m really not sure if I would have found someone/thing else, at least by now. (To sensitive, skeptical, judgmental above, you may add infinitely picky and typically reliant on logically reasoning my way out of problems, which only works for some problems.) Kind of like I’m grateful for my partner being exactly who he is and for picking me out of a crowd and building this thing with me. I honestly think I would likely never have “settled down” (ha) with anyone — except that in that case I would have been quite happy with that outcome, whereas with the overdrinking, not so much.
While I’m so glad to have gotten to 200 days without alcohol, the truth is that I still think about it a great deal. (Very nice evidence that I did have a problem, which I keep in my back pocket when the Wolfie voice comes around saying that my amount of alcohol consumed wasn’t enough to really have a problem.) Belle’s concept of sober supports is something I feel like I’m only beginning to integrate. Perhaps because it’s fairly easy to see what those are in the early days, but harder, for me anyway, as this drags on. I mean, becomes a lifestyle. As I roll down the sober road.
One of the keys for me is so simple, the act of emailing someone at the end of every day and typing “sober.” It’s helpful that that person has heard a lot of stories from early sobriety and so has some unusual wisdom. But I think that even emailing someone who doesn’t would have quite some value. I’m a little superstitious, even at 7 months being okay. Same punctuation. I’ll probably be here sending that tiny little email every evening in 9 years. That’s all right. There’s some mystery to this whole thing of quitting an addictive escape. Probably because there’s some mystery to this whole thing of walking around in a human body on a tiny green clod of dirt circling a ball of fire.
Happy 2019 to you. Sending you hugs and love and warmth and a “you go!” wherever you are on your journey. If you’re still just pondering quitting alcohol, jump on in! The water’s fine.