Pod 60 Belle Robertson
Deb: Welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host, Deb . I'm a nurse health coach and alcohol free bad-ass. And today on the show, I have Belle Robertson. She is the author of tired of thinking about drinking.
She also has her own blog and coaching and podcasts and adios and lots and lots of content because bowel has been around for while. So, thank you so much for being on the show bell. You're
Belle: welcome. But that was a sideways way of saying that I'm old. Oh, well,
Deb: I didn't read that. I think you're my age.
Belle: I'm 47 and sober.
Oh, I'm 55. So no I'm old. I'm old and sober. Both. Okay. Both.
Deb: No, I was thinking about you, you know, I'm I just read your book. And thinking about how you started off in the kind of newish modern recovery world years ago, when there were only like a handful of you doing blogs, basically in this kind of alternative a world.
Can you just share a little bit about your background and how you got started?
Belle: Sure. It's hard to believe, but 10 years ago, It will be 10 years, July 1st. So in a couple months, re 10 years ago, there was not a sober, curious movement. There was not a wellness movement. This is obviously pre pandemic.
It's pre anybody really even knowing. They were drinking too much. It wasn't in the regular media, the options for somebody who thought they were drinking too much involved online questionnaires with titles, like, are you an alcoholic? It involved AA or it involved rehab and. Outside of that. There were couple of memoirs, like the Caroline Knapp book and, or the Mary Carr book or the Augusta burrows book, but like, phew.
And this is pre Facebook groups. pre-Instagram. There wasn't internet, it did exist, but there were blogs which were incredibly self contained little pockets of the universe where you would write your stuff and then people would have to come to you to read it. So they weren't your results. Weren't aggregated in a feed like in Facebook, you had to literally know that the blog existed and go to it to read that said in 2012, there were.
A handful of us at the time, there's probably 15 to 30 people, 15 regular edition and other 15 in and out, writing on blogs anonymously or notch, depending on the. And then people would read and comment. And all of us were using WordPress as our host, which just meant that we had a free blog. It had WordPress in the, in the name and it meant that other people who had WordPress blogs would get a notification if the keyword sober was published somewhere else.
So the people who followed the blogs in the beginning were other people who had sober blogs on WordPress. So small, right? And I would publish things anonymously and people would reply with their screen name and share a bit of their story. But mostly it was the group of us who knew each other, didn't know each other, but we knew each other online.
And somewhere later down the road, I realized that there were people reading the blog, but not comment. Making up this group of what we now call lurkers, like people who watch and are interested and engaged, but don't overtly participate. They don't participate in a way. You can see them they're there, but you don't know that.
And I didn't know then how large that group was. I would've had no way of knowing. I mean, I really thought that there were 15 of us or 30 of us, I didn't know at all, how many there really were. And you know, then there was something called the booze free brigade BFB, but it was a Yahoo listserv group to begin before it was a Facebook group.
And then there were some private Facebook groups like that. And then there was Instagram, which became a huge, it has become a huge support for people. And every so often now I get an email from someone who says, I'd like to do what you do. Should I get a blog? And I'm like, but that was in 2012. Like I don't, I don't think they have a blog anymore.
And if they do, how would they find you? Because we're not all on WordPress anymore or. So now a days, of course I'm sober. The sober world is large. There are now coaches there. Weren't when I started, there are now people writing books on how to quit drinking there. Weren't when I started there was very little available except for some handful of us online writing to each other, we thought.
And then of course, finding out that. Hundreds and thousands of readers behind that also watching, but like I said, not actually not overtly commenting or, or publishing themselves.
Deb: Well, thank you for paving the way. I mean, honestly, it's, it's kind of amazing. That's been 10 years, congratulations by the way.
But just how much that's evolving and so needed. Obviously, like you said, there's been lurkers and it's just, I think it's amazing. So what, what was your experience with drinks?
Belle: I was a person who, that you would categorize as a high bottom drinker, which means I was an over drinker who didn't have many quote unquote consequences from drinking.
But what I found was that it was harder to quit than I thought it would be. And it was harder to skip days then. Would have preferred. And the noise in my head was quite loud. The voice that said drink. Now, what about now? I didn't know what that made me. I, as far as I could tell that didn't make me an alcoholic because all I knew about alcoholism was what I had seen on television and soap operas, and every other, you know, liquid, most people see on, on, in the media, which is something that's falling down and almost always involves a car accident and it involves AA, but like, that's all, you know, so.
I was a person who drank more than I wanted to make deals with myself that I would drink less or that I would skip days or that I would, you know, try to moderate. I, I wasn't using the word moderate at the time. I didn't know about this sort of language, but I knew something was up. And I saw, I made a deal with myself in March of 2012, which is months before I actually quit.
But in March of 2012, I made 2012. I made a deal with myself that I was going to quit for a month. To prove to myself that I didn't have a problem. And I got about nine days and it was way, way harder than I thought now to get nine days. Okay. You might say good. It was, it was very loud in my head. It was very, very loud.
My head was asking for alcohol all the time, even though I had. Basically said to myself, look, if you can't quit for a month, something's up with you? There is alcoholism in my extended family. I have a cousin who has died from this first cousin. You know, I wasn't unaware. But of course, like lots of people didn't think that I fit into a particular category.
I just was drinking more than I wanted to and found it difficult to have none. So that was March of 2012. I got nine. Couple of months go by. I'm vacationing in for the whole month of June traveling back to where I used to live to see lots of people and having lunch dates and dinner dates every day and clients and friends and people I hadn't seen in years because we had been living in France and.
There was alcohol literally, literally every day. And except for one, one evening, there was no, but one out of 30 days, literally, and as the month went on, I was sort of like talking to myself, going God, when I get home, like I have to really look, I really have to take a break from this. And somehow in my peripheral vision, I was online doing one of the many questionnaires or looking at resources or something.
And I found a blog of a person who had quit drinking, who had not had a low bottom who had not had grave consequences, someone who just quit because her head asked for too often, she didn't like the outcome and she was perfectly fine as a sober person. And. That's just sort of like stuck in my head as possible, made it seem like it was possible that somebody else could do it.
Maybe I could, then I heard about the fundraiser in Australia called dry July. And I don't live in Australia and I didn't participate in the fundraiser, but the date stuck with me and I was on this one month vacation and thought, okay, well that's July, July 1st, then July versus also Canada day. If you're a good Canadian like the July 4th for Canada is July 1st.
And it just seemed like, okay, that's, that's gonna be my day. And I got nine days in to dry. Before I thought, oh, okay, this is harder than I thought again, even after a month of drinking, more than I wanted to, even after a month of knowing, knowing that I was going to quit July 1st, I got there. I did quit July 7, 8, 9.
I thought, boy, this is actually harder than I thought. And so taking a page out of the other sober blogger that I had. I created an anonymous WordPress blog that day. So whatever day it was day nine, it might've been seven. I can't, for some reason, I can't seem to remember ever whether it's seven or nine.
So in every interview, every hear me speaking, I say day seven slash nine. Cause I don't know. And I've never checked in like that. And I created a blog post that said, you know, I begin here, I need to write this down. I need to be held accountable. I'm not going to be able to do it if I can't. I like I knew I had to change.
About what I had been doing because holding my breath and trying was not a strategy. And I knew on day nine that I was going to fail again. If I didn't change my strategy, which involved in my case, starting a free WordPress blog to make myself accountable turns out accountability was important. I didn't think I knew that.
I just knew that I had to try something.
Deb: Yeah. And, and then ever since then, like you said, that's your, your sober date?
Belle: That has been my sober date. Yes, I did. My 30 days, I got to the end of 30 days and thought, gee, the voice in my head is still loud. I thought it would've gone away by now, but I feel way better. And I didn't realize how much better I would feel.
And boy, I'm less irritated, which is kind of weird. I didn't know. That was an aspect of over-drinking and she had to sleep better and I could have, could have put that together, but I hadn't. And maybe if I just go a little bit longer, I'll continue to feel better. So I extended it to 90 days. And then and then here I am and, and, you know, it makes it seem like there were these large turning point decision markers, and they're really worked except that I felt better.
And I knew from hanging out in the sober world that a day one was hard to get, and I knew that momentum was hard to get, and I knew that being on day 90 was unusually good. And that I. Go back just for fun, because I was going to be right back where I was, and I seemed to be able to take that advice at least to inch out my goal date a little bit further, like, you know, okay, fine.
Then I'll drink for I'll drink in, in three months or I'll drink after a year. Or I seem to be always able to say I will drink again, but later, not now. And that has carried me to.
Deb: Yeah, I don't, I'm thinking about, you know, all the tools and you using the blog to help you get and stay sober, kind of like the analogy.
And maybe this isn't a good analogy you tell me, but almost like you're building the airplane while you're flying the airplane.
Belle: Well, except I had a lot of advice from other. And I, I sort of knew that the airplane could stay in the air if I just continued to do what I had been doing up to them.
And that if I touched down, I may not be able to take off again. And I took that pretty seriously. Like my fear of relapse. It was high because I didn't know what it would mean if I drank again. Cause I didn't know then how long I would wait to start and I didn't know how much regret I would feel having given it up.
And so I think, you know, a certain fear of relapse is not a bad idea. I knew that I had momentum and then my job was to maintain it. So it's sort of like I got my plane in the air, but then I had to figure out how to refuel in the. Yeah, to keep it up, to keep it going. That makes
Deb: you use another transportation analogy that it's probably better.
Or I walk about the sober car. Yeah.
Belle: Well, can you explain that a little? If sobriety is like a little sober car, it means that once it's rolling. Stop it and that you have to maintain it or it'll drive off the road. And for us the analogy works well. If you consider the fact that you're doesn't, if you're learning to drive in the beginning, you really have to drive with both hands on the wheel with the passengers at, with somebody sitting in the passenger seat, telling you what to do, because you don't just intuitively know how to drive a car.
Even though you've read the books and done the practical tasks, you still need somebody to say switch lanes. But eventually you don't need them. And eventually you can drive with one hand and eat a hamburger at the same time. Although if the weather gets bad or there's any other kind of distraction, then you know, to turn off the radio, put your headlights on, put both hands back on the wheel.
Like if you're driving through a snow storm, you're not driving with one hand eating a hamburger. So, you know, to adjust in real time. But you also know that if you don't maintain that car, it runs out. Plain and simple. And so nobody begrudges the fact that they have to put gas in their car because they like the benefit of driving the car.
So if you like being sober and what you get for it and what your, how your life improves and the things that you can build on top of, of sober foundation, like going back to school or having another kid or improving your relationships or all the other things that happen when you get sober, if you like those things, then you don't begrudge the maintenance that you have to put in to keep the car fuel.
And you perhaps even err, on the side of caution and put gas in it at every gas station you pass, whether you think you need gas or not, because. Like a little car driving on a highway are sober cars, gas gauge is faulty and doesn't give true information. And so you'll think you're fine and that you don't need to do anything and you don't need to stop for maintenance or support.
And then you get the, the, the engine light comes on on your dashboard and you're like, boy, that's not much. And people often say to me, you know, I relapsed, but it came out of nowhere. It's like, it didn't come out of nowhere, but you were didn't know what the signs were and you were doing regular stuff.
Like people don't just trip, fall and relapse once they're, once they're going, they drift from what they'd been doing that had been with. And it's very frustrating to have to do sober maintenance because cause you're sober and you feel good, so it's boring. But the payoff, like I said is, you know, nobody regret just having to put gas in their car.
The payoff is you don't have to relapse and start again. And if you could all just relapse one day and start again the next day, then fine, except that it doesn't work. That. When we relapsed, we don't know how long it takes to get going. And sometimes people lose years there years. Thinking that they're going to drink for vacation and then start again when on Monday and then years go by.
So, you know, a bit of gas in your car, a bit of sober tool or maintenance. It seems like a good enough trade.
Deb: Yeah, that is a much better transportation analogy. And I can really relate to the teaching to drive because I'm actually teaching my teenager to drive right now.
Belle: Yeah. See, I'm not sure I could do that.
I think I'd have to pay somebody the stress enormous.
Deb: You know what? I'm glad that I'm sober and teaching her to try.
Belle: I cannot imagine, but yeah.
Deb: And someone was recently on my show and had shared the quote. No, no matter how far down the road you go, you're still the same distance from the ditch.
Belle: That's interesting.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, we are all one drink away from a new day one. And but that said you can, you can avoid a relapse by not drinking. I mean, I know that seems completely obvious. All of the things that we're trying to escape, all of the head noise, repercussions, shame, whatever their issues we had with over-drinking, whatever the repercussions were subtle or significant.
They all cease and stop. If we don't drink again, like you're not going to be arrested for drinking and driving. If you don't drink again you're not gonna have to tell your partner that you relapsed again. If you don't. You're not going to lose the trust of your 14 year old daughter, if you don't drink again.
So while lots of us might leave behind things, you know, behaviors or missed opportunities, or just feeling crummy for 15 years it all stops. If you're sober and stay. But, yeah, I mean, I suppose anybody is still close to the ditch. Fine. I think the other, a car analogy though, if you factor in the ditch is that we have a car that pulls slightly hard to.
It actually pulls to the ditch side and like most highways you can't just drive with, with no hands. You still have to put both hands or at least one hand on the wheel and you have to make micro adjustments all the time to keep your car. Even on the straight highway. If you're driving in Montana, you still have to put your hands on the wheel.
And the Prairie example in Canada is in Saskatchewan. Like if you're driving in Saskatchewan to tooth's swift current, you still have to have your hands on the wheel, even though. Even though it's blue sky and really great radio reception because it's flat. But you still have to have your hands on the wheel.
And and we have a car that pulls slightly in one direction. If we take our hands off the wheel, if we don't do the basic maintenance, we will drift because our head thinks that drinking is a good idea. Now, you know that, and I know that because we wouldn't have been drinkers. If we didn't have a head, the thought that drinking was a good.
The problem is that if we stopped the maintenance or drift or stopped doing our things in our head just quietly at first, and then loudly comes back with, well, you know, one drink would be fine and it's been 10 years and surely you can now have a drink now. And then, and then stop. Like if I were to stop my, my sober sports, you know, how long would it take for the voice to come back?
I don't want to find out frankly.
Deb: I'm not interested. I don't either. I do find your explanation of that voice and you call it the Wolfie voice really, really helpful. Can you, for people who haven't heard the Wolfie voice or your description, can you share that?
Belle: Yeah. Well, when I first quit drinking, I knew I had a voice in my head that said drink now, what about now?
Now it'd be a good time to drink. And I made some comment on my blog, like. That there was a voice in there. And but that it was sort of. From the three little pigs or from red riding hood, like, you know, there was something trying to take me off the path that was something trying to derail me. And one of my subscribers to the blogs, somebody who commented often said, you know, that sounds like the, not just the Wolf, but it sounds like the story of the two wolves, which is a Cherokee myths story that.
If you have two wolves in you sort of good and evil, which one wins and the answer is the one you feed. And you've probably heard people refer to the one you feed into that cause even a podcast or a book with that name. And you've heard people use my word, which is Wolfie for that voice. Of course, there are still two voices in there.
Right? There's the real you, and there's the Wolfie voice. That's, that's how I've adapted that the Cherokee story or that's the origin of that story. People might then argue that they don't like the word Wolfie, find pick a different word. Doesn't matter. You have a voice in your head that thinks the drinking is a good idea and that voice is isn't you.
And I think that's the part that's significant. Now, I didn't know that there was a name for that. I didn't know that this voice had been named before that it had an official psychological term. I didn't know that no one was calling it by a name. They were calling it ARV. I don't even know, addictive reg recognition, voice something.
I didn't know. I could look it up, but. There was some name for it in the psychological world, but that's not nothing a word that I had ever heard anyone in the sober world use. So after I started calling it Wolfie, somebody said to me, you know, you didn't make this up. And it's like, I know I didn't make it up.
I named it. I named that voice Wolfie, but you could name it, Voldemort Voldemort or whatever else you would wine, which. It doesn't matter. I just found it helpful to yell at my voice basically. And just say, and like to say no, but to say no with lots of negative swear words attached to it.
Deb: Yeah. And it's, it's so helpful. W what would you say, like, does that voice ever go away? Like when do you stop thinking about.
Belle: Well, you have to remove the booze, first of all. So if you're drinking intermittently now, and then a couple of days on couple of days off, it doesn't go away. And that's a very frustrating place to be because you think that you're sober for three days and then it should be so much magically easier that they voiced stop asking.
And it's not long enough. So it's like, it's like about 60 days before the voice stops asking. But between about four weeks, 60 days. So between between 30 and 60 days, you'll start to have parts of days where it doesn't speak and it will speak, but it won't yell or it'll suggest, but it won't demand. So it's not that it stops in the beginning, but it's way easier than the first four.
So, you know, it's like month, two is easier than month one, and then month, three is easier than month two. And for me, it was right around day 60, where my head stopped asking. And I just, I just didn't know that was possible. I thought being sober meant to struggle with the desire to drink all the time, which is not sustainable when I
And I didn't know that what I'd been doing, which was. Attempting moderation was actually louder in my head than having none, because if I had none, the voice would extinguish, you could dehydrate the Wolfie voice and it would get quieter and quieter. And then stop asking what I didn't put together at that point, which I, now that I've worked one-on-one with more than 3000 people, I see now all kinds of patterns that are not just my head, but like in the world, right in the world of us over drinkers.
And one of the things I see too, is that when we don't feed a compulsive voice, it stops asking. So part of the compulsive voice says to us just one more time, this time it will be. Just once more and then I'll quit. I'll quit on Monday. It's always one more hit. One more, fix, one more drink, or I'm going to have two drinks.
Well, I'll just have one more drink tonight or I'm just going to drink for one more day or the bottles already opened. So I might as well finish it. There's the sort of like more plus more equals more I didn't know that that was a pattern that we would share as. And I didn't know that we would have this compulsive voice.
I didn't know, cause I'm not a trained OCD psychologist. Right. I didn't know that if you didn't give into obsessive demands that we would stop asking. I didn't know that I, I there's just no way you could have convinced me either. So if somebody was trying to stop. behavior and they were working with me and they were sober at least 200 days because that's my requirement.
If you want to work on a secondary thing, a secondary compulsive thing, like bulemia, once you're on day 200, we can start to work on that. And it is the same voice saying just one more time. This time will be different. It's, there's a good reason why I have to do it now. And then if you count days don't give into the voice.
You can extinguish the voice. I'm not saying anything that any psychiatrist who works in OCD doesn't know, I'm not a psychiatrist who works in OCD. I didn't know. I didn't know until I lived it myself. I didn't know that the voice would stop because anybody who's sober thinks, well, that's sorry. Anybody who could Hans contemplating being sober thinks that it's going to be missing.
And so they don't want to do it cause you know, it wants to suffer. It's like, oh, I had no, it starts suffering. It's actually relief relief from allowed head who knew.
Deb: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I mean, I tried moderation for years, you know, just looking for that magic pill and it is, there's a quote that 99% of bitch and a hundred percent is bliss.
And I'm like, yeah, that's how I feel about like moderation versus like just taking that decision away and just freeing up the bandwidth and the. Space in your mind. So you can just live a regular life without wondering, like, when's the next drink? When are you going to drink that? You're going to finish that.
Like, w where am I going to get my next fix, basically. Right.
Belle: And, and, but we don't talk about this in the world, right? Like, it's not like, again on television, on soap operas, it's alcoholic, over drinking, drinking a bottle of vodka in the daytime car accident. There's
Deb: nobody on there. It's a caricature,
But there's nobody online on a TV show. There's nobody on a TV show who says, gee, I'm drinking more often than I want to. I wonder if I should stop. Oh, it's harder to stop than I thought. Like nobody talks about compulsive voices that don't lead to death in desperation. They don't talk about having noise in your head at all that you feel compelled to listen to.
Because which is what anxiety is, right? I mean, anxiety is worrying about future things that haven't happened yet in a very real way with using our actual voice. So it sounds like us, and it sounds true, even though it is our head making up worrying about things that are not actually occurring as if somehow if we worry about it in preventatively, that that will help us in our head, says it will help us.
And then you're stuck there. The same way that compulsive hand-washing is there's something Jeremy on me. If I could just wash it, I'd feel better. The problem is that washing it doesn't solve the problem because then a few minutes later, or a few hours later, you feel germy and have to wash your hands again.
So if we give into the could drink now, voice, all we've done is activated it. And then it needs to be fed again the same day or the same hour or the next day or the same. Or we're looking around for the waiter go in. Why does it take so long to get a second drink? Or we leave the restaurant and go to the liquor store on the way home to make sure that there's enough so that we don't run out.
I mean, all of that is compulsive behavior. We don't feel even like we're making a decision. It's just what you do because who wants to run out and who just has one and stop. I mean, not me. That doesn't mean that I needed to drink three bottles of wine a night, but it does mean that the voice was very, very loud and said that I needed to drink.
What I also didn't know when I started doing coaching was that the voice was the same. Whether you drank a bottle or three bottles and that quitting was hard, almost the same level of hardness, whether you drink one bottle or three bottles. I didn't know that either. I thought that everyone that I work with would be exactly like me, someone who drank three of her glasses and found it hard to quit.
I didn't know that. Somebody who'd been to rehab or somebody who drank three bottles of wine tonight, or somebody who had two bottles of wine at night, or somebody who had a cross addiction with something else was going to hear the same voice and benefit from the same stuff. I didn't realize the Wolfie voice was the same.
Deb: Yeah. So helpful. Well, can you share more, you know, just kinda more concrete, I guess, examples of, of how you help people.
Belle: How I help people. Well, I good question. I mean, I think that we do well when we think we're not alone. So I send out daily emails every day, once or twice, sometimes three times a day, depending on what's going on, those are free for anybody who's on the subscribing email list.
I have recorded about 400, one minute messages, audio messages that are available in an archive. And you can download those from my site and listen to 400, one minute messages. Wow. One a day. Or you can listen to the back-to-back. Feel the need. I recorded hundreds 400 plus longer podcasts that are a paid thing.
I have emailed one-on-one coaching 3,300 and some people in the last nine years, I didn't start doing it till I was about eight and a half months over 3,360 as of today. Not all it was, please. Don't think. Not all at once only so many.
Deb: would someone like start, you know, if someone's listening to this episode and they're like, okay, I am tired of thinking about drinking. Like, what advice would you have?
Belle: Well, if you get on the free daily email, then you see you get slowly exposed to all of the different things that I have that are free or paid on my site, you know, from all the free stuff to the $2 stuff, to the expensive stuff.
And it's all, it's all on. And when I say expensive, I mean, relatively speaking, like, you know, there's a book that's $20 and then there's, you know, 300 archive podcasts that you could purchase in a bundle, but there's also coaching calls with me individually or in groups. Like you could buy 10 at a time.
There is lots of things to read books and mini courses and stuff. I also do one-on-one email coaching Which includes the book and calls and a bundle of archive podcasts. Anybody who's on the sort of free daily email list would get, get exposed to those resources bit by bit over. But I mean, as a place to start, certainly you could sign up for the free daily emails and read my book, which is on Amazon Kindle.
It's on Amazon as a paperback. It's on my site as a candle with bonuses and it's on my site as a paperback with bonuses. Also, I recorded a bunch of audio specifically for book owners, but to get it, you'd have to order the book from me as opposed to from Amazon. But it's, I think it's the same price.
There's four freebie stuff up. Cause I can't control the freebie stuff on the Amazon site where I can on my own site. So if you sign up for the book for me directly, then you get a couple of hours of bonus audio, where I did a Q and a session for book owners. For example, who asked very specific questions that I answered that only book owners get to listen to again, if they ordered it for me.
But it is available on Amazon. You can get a Kindle version. There's an audio version as a print version and I mail them all over the world. I think also people can tell by reading the book, sort of what kind of a person I am or what my tone is like or what my style is like. And if they hear me in any of the free audio or the live radio that I do, or the podcasts or the one minute messages, they get a sense of whether or not they think that they would click with me because I am both sweet.
And I'm gonna chase you up the street at the same time. So you have to decide if that style resonates with you or not. A lot of people want someone to hold their hand while they go downhill. And a lot of people want a coach to tell them they're doing great, even though they don't change anything. And they repeat they relapse.
So the folks who are in my audience tend to be people who. Are exploring the fact that being sober is what they want and are at different stages on that continuum, for sure. But they're only in my orbit if they know that they've tried, that moderation is not an option like that, it's going to have to be a period of time with none to get any true measure of how you're going to feel better.
Cause there are some sites that support moderation and support abstinence and. Whatever. And, and I don't mind, my site is really about having none only because it's easier. And I've seen only misery from people trying to well, and I mean, you know, from lived experience, trying to moderate is exhausting at least 15 years.
Deb: Yeah. Yeah. I get where you're coming from. I mean, I am more of a. Practice not drinking and harm reduction and probably on that continuum of change where you're, you're in the action phase, but not, but you're still wrestling with moderation, you know, like, oh, maybe I'm just taking a break versus I'm done with this shit forever.
But I did listen to one of your podcasts where you explain why. Take the stance that you do, which is if I described your I'd be like, well, bells, no BS where you take more of a hard stance and, and you. Describe painfully why? And part of it was because you had a client who had died.
Belle: Oh God. I've had to now.
Yeah. I mean, I've had two that I know of now. Now that doesn't mean that more people don't die from this because I know they do. I just only have had two where their parents have like gone through their emails and contacted people in their inbox and told them that's only happened twice. When you have a pen pal who dies from over-drinking and she was somebody who appeared to be getting it and didn't look like as if it looks like anything, it didn't look like she was at risk.
Certainly not a death. Then you realize how easy it is to die of over drinking by having two drinks and passing out in the bathtub. I mean, we think that we fall asleep, but in fact we don't, we pass out and if you pass out and vomit, then you will die. And if you aspirate not necessarily die, but you will aspirate and cause all kinds of problems for yourself, including death.
If you can pass it in the bathtub, it's relatively easy to do. You can go outside for a cigarette and sit down and hadn't but it's below freezing and you pass out outside on, on your back porch of your own home. People die of hypothermia at one of my pen, pals died of hypothermia. And you just think that's just like so unnecessary, you know, it's so tragic.
And for somebody who didn't seem again, quote unquote, did not seem to be that bad, whatever that. So it made me realize that people who say all the right words and seem to be getting it, but still repeatedly relapse that I can't go by what they say. I can't go by and neither should you go by this time?
I feel different. I mean, that's not a strategy or that's it? This is my last day one. That's not a strategy. Because our moods change and our determination can change the same day within an hour. I mean, how many times did you and I pledged to not have more than one drink. And by 6:00 PM we were pouring our second I mean, D daily, daily, how many times did we plan that today?
We were going to skip the day, but then, you know, by dinner time, it's like, okay, well I'll have one and one was three or four.
Deb: Oh, yeah, I know uncountable. What would you say to those people that are just those CRA chronic day ones just, and they don't want to moderate, like they, they're saying like, I'm, I'm done.
I want to quit. This is my last time drinking and then they drink again. And then, you know, w what do you say to those people? Well,
Belle: the answer to the did the, how can I quit drinking and make it stick is that you have to actually try different things than what you've been trying, because holding your breath and hoping that this time is different.
Isn't a strategy just like determination isn't district. Just like yoga, isn't a strategy. Yoga will help you be calm and be centered, but it is one part of a larger program that would need probably five separate components, including something to do with self-soothing and. You know, self calming, which yoga does fall into, but you would also need self-care things which is making sure you've eaten enough and had enough sleep.
And then you would also need treats and rewards to reinforce the behavior that you're trying to promote. And then you would also need you know, some period of time away from day one, continuously away from day one. So you can get momentum, so you can start to feel better so that you can, moods can regulate a bit so that you believe that it's worthwhile.
So you need hope and then you need accountability. Which is you need a person who's keeping track of you so that you, because otherwise whether today is day one or tomorrow is day one. If nobody's paying attention to you, it doesn't matter. I mean, we can't keep a deal to ourselves. That's the problem with compulsive behavior.
That's the problem with over-drinking. If we could just say to ourselves, that's it, I'm having two drinks. We would do that. It doesn't work like that. And so we need some kind of accountability. Oftentimes when somebody is repeatedly relapsing and you say, you know, if you'd like to get some traction, it's going to mean trying some different things, including things your head doesn't want to do.
Most people will add on more of what they've already been doing. So if they've been reading, then they'll read more. And if they're listening to audio, they're listened to more audios. They won't branch out from. And audio not, or, and, and audio and a live meeting where you don't speak, you just listen and something with a person who's paying attention to you and getting enough sleep and canceling a bunch of social events and adding in treats and rewards.
People try to do this with like three tools starting over and over and over again. So most of the time, if you're in a group online where people are repeatedly relapsing, what you were watching is somebody restart with the same three tools or they add another tool, which comp supplements, what they're already doing.
It doesn't add in anything new. Cause somebody will say to me, I've, I've I'm going to do yoga and Pilates and it's like, yeah. And accountable. And, and maybe you could see your doctor and maybe you could go to bed and maybe you could get a treat and maybe you could dial into a meeting and maybe you could read, and maybe you can listen to audio.
In, in fact, in the appendix of my book, I challenged myself to write a list of 60 sober tools all the way from go to bed. Which is a legitimate sober tool because
Deb: it's not that one chair genius, lots
Belle: of times where I was in bed fully clothed at 7:00 PM because that's how I was going to not drink.
Like it's a totally legitimate strategy underused and that's at one end of the spectrum at the other end is inpatient treatment, which nobody wants. But nobody wants to be a drunk or a Boozer or fall down either. And w w we want us for the voice in her head to stop. So, you know, if we were to err on the side of caution and walk into this with 15 tools, and if we relapsed went right to 30 tools, we'd have better progress.
Instead, what happens is that people start with one and a half tools inefficiently applied, then they relapsed. Then they say, oh, it's not working for me. It's like, You got to go from one and a half now to, I don't know, 30, 15, 50. I had a, I had a coaching call with someone today where I said, you know, this is a, there's a list of things that you could do.
You've told me you don't want to do any of them. You don't want to do this or this or this or this or this or this. So I'm in a heartbeat. Because you want to be sober, but your head isn't going to let you do some of the things that would actually make it easier for you. So, you know, and you know, I mean, I don't know if it's too late in the podcast to drop the real bombshell, but you know, we don't actually want to quit drinking.
What we want is for the consequences of over-drinking to stop. And we keep screwing around trying to find some way to drink a case of. Or some way, whereas if you simply removed it for a period of time, I don't say forever. I never say forever. I say for a period of time, starting with 100 days, if you just removed it for a hundred days, then see how you feel because you might actually realize it's easier to have none than to play around with stop star, which is where the whole idea of having a challenge came in.
There was, there was nobody talking about short-term it was all quit. I mean, it was one day at a time was the AA motto, but there was no challenge. There was no first goal. So I had introduced the a hundred days over challenge. I had introduced the Wolfie voice. I had introduced one-on-one coaching where people could email and get feedback in real time, you know, daily get to hear, have somebody replied to them.
I started doing coaching calls. I started doing live radio. I started doing podcasts, not because anybody else was doing it because it seemed to work for the people who are standing right in front. And help me to be sober. Cause obviously as soon as I'm recording a podcast about being sober, it helps me to be sober.
It reinforces to me what I'm doing. It's not all altruistic. It couldn't be, it couldn't be, it has to help me also, or, or you it's not sustainable.
Deb: Yeah. I agree. How, and, and, you know, you have helped thousands of people. How do you. How do you take care of yourself? Like if you're doing micro coaching and you're emailing daily, like that's a lot of giving of yourself, how do you take care of bell?
Belle: I have an apprentice who helps with the daily emails and Alyssa's been sober for years and she's been pen palling with me for like three. So she, or more so she's. She's a huge help because obviously it's not just one person typing all the time. Also. You and everyone will remember that because I have 23,000 people signed up for the free daily emails.
It doesn't mean that I emailed 23,000 people a day, obviously. The number of penthouse we work with one-on-one at a time is quite small. It might be 25, maybe or 30 ish during the pandemic. It was a little bit higher, but you know, it's, it's a small, it's a smaller number. May might've might be as high as 50, depending on what's going on.
And who's in the group, but you know, 25 to 30 is probably a more normal-ish number of active people, you know, at any given time. To take care of me. I'm a person who needs a lot of sleep. So, you know, I'll never stay overnight at your house. I'll never sleep on your floor. I'll never drive overnight.
I won't fly overnight if I can help it. I need sleep. And I don't drift very far from my sober stuff. If I have other things going on in my life, I still do some amount of sober stuff every day, because I want to err on the side of caution because I'm not interested. Figuring out where my ditches, I don't want to know where the ditch is.
I don't want to know how far from the ditch, my car travels. I'm not interested. I know that it's safe in the middle of the road. And so that's what I do. And it's too exhausting to keep checking where the edge is. It's just easier to, you know, eat enough, sleep enough, stay plugged in, keep your eye on the road.
Yep, exactly. And you know you can't fall. And ask for help when you need it and to take every possible gas pitstop that's available. You know, I think the biggest challenges that I have, have to do with, you know, trying to do too many things at once, but that's a common over drinker trait as well.
So I've learned a lot from my pen pals about volunteering for 12 committees and saying, I'll do that when I really can't end or I'd love to, but I can't. I mean, I'm sure everyone can relate to reading the want ads in the newspaper and seeing so many places needing staff and thinking, well, I can do that.
Well, I can do that. Well, I could help them. It's like, no, you can't. Have you looked out for all your day is no, you can't.
Deb: What do you what else do you think we should cover for anyone listening to this?
Belle: I think if I could bypass you and speak directly to your audience, I would say that you're not alone. And that you have a voice in your head is the same as everyone else in the group. And that you find it difficult to talk about it isn't uncommon.
And that you think that you're the only person who hears the same language, including this time will be different. Or I have to because, or just one, a mental stop or all the negotiating and stuff. We think that we're very unique and at least now the internet has helped us to find other people like us.
And if you read other people, not just me, I mean, I am a genius, but read other people's stuff and listen to other people's audios. You'll find somebody who resonates with you, who seems to talk about at the same time. Makes sense to you and who's had some success make sure that if you're looking for a coach, that you find somebody who's actually coached people, not just themselves, that's not, they're not just, you know, a person who is sober.
Therefore they think therapy coach. You need to work with somebody who's worked with people. Who's actually coached people successfully. And and you want somebody who's, longer-term sober every so often. I hear from someone who's working with the sober coach and their sober coach. Isn't. It's like, well, I would watch for that too.
Seems like a self evident question, but make sure that you're actually taking advice from somebody who has the thing that you want. Those are the people whose advice you take someone else on day. One is not as helpful to you as somebody who is four years sober and has been where you are and has been where they are and can see the road to travel between the two and can point out the things on the road that you can watch for it.
That's a, that's an immeasurably helpful. Whereas two people on day two is like two people with no driving experience trying to drive a semi-tractor trailer. It's it seems like you should be able to encourage each other and it turns out we don't just need encouragement. We need skills and we needed.
We need to be told what to do when and what lane to be in and how fast to go and whether or not to attend that event and what to take if we do attend and what to say, the literal words, what to say, when somebody asks a question, we need actual training, which you can get from anybody who's further along sober and it's free.
If you go to AA and get a sponsor, nobody wants to do that, but it is, but that's available. That kind of support works because it's somebody further along than you, who can give.
So absolutely there's that's my, my short version would be find somebody that you resonate with, who doesn't seem like they're full of complete absolute baloney and who is actually sober that I have to say that, and isn't promoting moderation, even tangentially. Isn't permissive about moderation. Isn't suggesting that moderation sometimes can be like, just, if you want to quit drinking, move into a group of people who want to.
Deb: Right. Decide, like make your decision.
Belle: Well, you've already tried moderating. How many years has it been? I mean, I tried to control how much I drank for probably five or six years. And for most of my pen pals, the answer is between five and 30 years years, a way of knowing that something was up and trying to fiddle around with it alone in our heads.
Yeah. One successfully.
Deb: I was just going to add to, to what you said, so lovely and just, you know, you aren't alone and it's better. On the other side, it really is. It's
Belle: just easier. And, you know, that's, that's the thing, those of us who were longer-term sober would not stay this way unless it was either. Unless it was, and I mean, significantly easier, right.
Because alcohol is everywhere. And so it's not that I don't want a glass of wine. It's that I don't want any of what comes with it. I don't want any, what comes with it. I don't want any of the noise and I don't want to have to quit again. And I don't want a new day one, and I don't want to have to give up my day count.
I'd have to wait. How long to get back to here again. No, thank you. Absolutely. So you know what I'll drink when I retire, I'll drink. When I'm 70, I'll drink when I'm dead, just not between now and then.
Deb: I'm done. I'd like to say a divorce it, but I, but you don't have to sit you. I mean, you're so right. You don't have to say you're quitting forever. You don't just for now,
Belle: you know, in fact, lots of people get stuck on forever because if you're going to quit forever, then forever should start Monday. Right.
Just three more times. It's just three more days to three more drinks to, I'm going to quit. May 1st. Can I sign up for your program and quit me first? It's like, sure, you can, but May 1st it's going to come and you're not going to do it. So why don't you start now? Because now is the same as me first and now it's easier because really the sooner you start, the easier it is the sooner, because the sooner you start, the sooner you feel better.
Yeah. The hard
Deb: part those first days, those first 30 days, like that's the hard part. And then. Keep going.
Belle: But I gotta say, though, it's still easier to be underway than it is to be on day zero. It is still easier to do the first 30 days sober than it is to say tomorrow, because then at least you are underway, then at least you were making progress and at least you're moving away from day one.
Otherwise you're waiting to start and that lasts.
Deb: Okay. People you heard, you heard bell. If you're listening start now, where can people find you? Where's the best way to find you about
Belle: tired of thinking about drinking.com? I have an Instagram, but I'm never post. I have Facebook. I never post anymore. I have archive stuff on both of those.
They're totally fascinating. But the real things are happening in the email list, which you access from. Tired of thinking about drinking.
Deb: Okay. That's fabulous. Thank you. Thank you so much for being on the show. Fun.
Belle: We probably didn't cover any of the questions that you wanted to talk about. I know. I do too, like in a year or something,
Deb: I'd love to do a part two and just like pick your brain.
Belle: Well, you know, sometimes what, what might be a good idea would be if, if anybody listens to this and they think, I wish they talked about this or a question for either of us, then, you know, we can do a Q and a response audio. Another time.
Deb: I love that.
Belle: Yep. Okay.
Deb: Well, thank you. Have a great day
Belle: thank you.