This week I posted a special series of interviews on The Bubble Hour, featuring former hosts Ellie, Amanda, Catherine and Lisa. It was so good to hear their voices again. Long-time listeners of the show have missed them and new listeners will want to go back and dig through the archives to get to know them after hearing these episodes. Lisa N. mentioned this piece she’d written and asked for it to be shared as a supplement to her interview.
THE TINY VOICE by Lisa N, former host of The Bubble Hour
I was terrified to acknowledge that I had a real problem with alcohol. The question lurked below the surface constantly, though. Especially during the 2-3 years I spent drinking before I finally quit. At first the, “Do I have a little, fixable problem or a full-on, real problem?” question was just a tiny whisper. Then it was a clear voice. Then it became a scream.
I tried to ignore it. I tried to make light of it. I tried to tell myself that I didn’t really have a problem. I tried to outsmart it. I tried to prove to anyone who would look or listen that I was a successful person, therefore I could not have a real problem.
Deep inside of myself, in the part of me that I longed to keep locked away below the surface, I was scared I would spend the rest of my life drinking alone at night. I was also scared that I would spend the rest of my life not drinking alone at night for the rest of my life. I was stuck in the murkiest of places. I felt trapped in quick sand.
I knew it was unhealthy-mentally and physically- but I really (really, really) wanted to get it “right”. I wanted to be able to drink because I loved it so much. I loved the physical sensation of a drink going down my throat and into my blood stream. I loved the mental sensation of a drink smoothing the rough edges. That was the problem. I loved it too much. I relied on it too much. I couldn’t drink like a normal person drinks, no matter how hard I tried.
For me, relief came when I stopped questioning whether or not I had a problem. I knew in my heart I did, so I stopped asking myself the question, which meant no more second guessing the answer. I stopped searching for loopholes. God knows I was good at finding loopholes, too. I stopped making excuses. I stopped caring if people close to me thought I was “going through a phase” (yet again). Instead of questioning, I started listening to the tiny voice of wisdom living inside of myself.
It didn’t happen over night for me. I had to take it all one day (or minute) at a time. I had to stop using my same tired excuses for reasons to drink. Here were some of my favorite excuses:
My job sucks.
I’ve made a mess of my finances.
I’ve made a mess of my relationships.
All my friends drink.
I have to drink this weekend because it’s my birthday.
I have to drink this weekend because it’s my kid’s birthday party.
I have to drink or people will ask me why I’m not drinking and I’ll look weak/stupid/out of place if they know the truth.
I’m going on vacation and how can I not drink on vacation?
Life is great.
It’s a holiday.
It’s the weekend.
I’ve had a shitty day.
I’ve had a fabulous day.
I had a flat tire.
I got a new car.
I locked my keys in my car.
I locked myself out of my house.
I got a promotion.
I didn’t get a promotion.
I’ve not had a drink in 18 days…I don’t have a problem or I would not have been able to pull that off.
I’m so ashamed of my drunk behavior, I might as well drink so I can forget about it for a minute.
I’m capable of modeling what responsible drinking looks like in front of my kids. I’ll prove it now.
My kids saw me fall down head first in the front yard at a neighborhood party after 1.5 bottles of wine. I have a scar on my shoulder from that fall. I’m reminded that my children saw me drunkenly fall and injure myself when see that scar every single day of my life. I need to drink to hide the scar from myself.
I had a shitty childhood.
I overcame my shitty childhood.
I ordered an entire living room worth of furniture from Pottery Barn online last night while drunk and don’t remember doing it.
I can drink reasonably and not order anything online. I’ll prove it now.
I was able to only drink 2 glasses of wine last Sunday.
I can drink only 2 glasses then stop. I’ll prove it again now.
Instead of drinking 2 glasses, I drank a whole bottle while hiding from my family in my closet. Might as well drink again since I failed last night.
So….those are just the first excuses that popped into my head while writing this. There are so many more where those came from.
Looking back, it is clear to me that my denial was huge. Of course I could not drink. I knew I couldn’t…but still I did. In the meantime, my drinking became progressively worse, because that’s what happens. It gets worse and we might not even recognize we are in the middle of it getting worse.
Now that is truly terrifying to me.
If you’re on the fence, let me help. If you’ve used one or all of my tired excuses, you need not keep testing yourself. I did it for you (see excuses above).
There’s never a good time to quit, so now might as well be your time. Don’t wait until it gets even harder, because it will get even harder. That’s a fact.
The good news is that it can happen. If I did it, you can do it. There is life after sobriety, and it is good. It is not perfect, but it is wonderful in its own messy way. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Please don’t give up. I almost gave up because I almost couldn’t bother to care or to fight for myself. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I hope you’ll consider what I’m saying and give yourself a real chance at sobriety. Listen to your own tiny voice. It is telling you something important and you need to hear it.
There has never been a single night when I have regretted putting my head on my pillow and going to sleep sober. Sobriety is the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. Courage, dear heart. You can do this.
I’m here. Ugh! I’m a total “weekend warrior” and have been for decades. Mother of 3 and turned 40 this year. This TINY VOICE is getting louder and louder. My hangovers are getting unbearable, the anxiety and shame on Sunday morning after I’ve drank too much are crippling. I’m terrified I will lose all my friends and I know all my girlfriends will say things like, “you don’t have a problem!”, “you are being dramatic” the list goes on. I want to stop in quiet. To prove to my self and my 3 beautiful girls. I’m successful, have a beautiful life and husband but…this WEIGHT on my back is growing. Any MAMAS out there feeling the same? Why am I so scared if my drinking is not a daily habit? But, it is clearly a problem.
Beautifully articulated…it’s like you were in my head listening to my tiny voice 10 months ago! 😌
I have been listening to your podcast for the past 3 years since I have been trying to become sober. I am again at day 3. For me one day is a struggle, as I am a daily drinker. And I’ve tried enough to know the acute discomforts of the first week.
As I read “ the tiny voice”, I saw myself in those words and it breaks my heart. The excuses I’ve made and denial is mind boggling. One thing that Lisa wrote hit home; letting go of questioning if I have a problem. Seems so simple. In my heart of hearts I know and have known for the past 38 yrs since I first drank at age 12. I was not a normal drinker from the start.
Thank you for your honesty and the opportunity to hear yours and so many others stories. It truly helps to know I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve never shared in any way. It feels so relieving to get these feelings out. Thank you.
Sending you the biggest (((hug))) Kim. You’re not alone and I hope that seeing yourself in Lisa’s words (and others’ too) helps you to see that you’re experiencing the normal trajectory of addiction. We all hurt and heal in similar ways. You’re not alone. Day 3!!! You’re doing it! I’m sober with you tonight. Tomorrow is day 4. Onward!
I’m on day 3. I started reading this blog from the beginning. I got to 2014 but then skipped to now as I wasn’t sure if it was still running or people were still commenting. The words here and reading other people’s stories is a real encouragement. This is not the first time I’ve tried to quit. The most I managed was just over 2 weeks earlier this year.
I’m early 40s and have been drinking since I was 18. It started at Uni and was seen as the “norm” as it was a professional course for a professional career and drinking is very much accepted in my career. I’m doing well in my job but am so lucky my drinking hasn’t affected it yet. Drinking most nights. Waking up in the early hours feeling crap and thinking I can’t keep doing this to myself. Still I wouldn’t stop. I’d have a “dip”….. normally make the excuse of a hard day at work and by 4-5pm would be planning where to buy my next stash. I’d alternate where I went to buy it every night….. I was convinced it was just the one night so wouldn’t buy more than I needed for that night. But the cycle would repeat the next night and I felt ashamed to keep going to the same shop so often went out of my way on the route home to visit other shops. I have even moved in with flat mates who know about my problem and have tried their best to help me. I’d find myself sneaking in vodka disguised in other juice bottles in the hope that they wouldn’t find out. But they always did….. because despite me always telling myself I had this under control, truth is I don’t. So by the end of the night they’d always know. And I’d wake in early hours feeling ashamed, embarrassed and telling myself this day would be different.
Today is day 3 AF after a binge. I feel utterly hopeless. My flatmate told me today I might as well walk in front of a car considering what I’m doing to myself by drinking. I don’t blame him and know he only said it cos he cares and is totally frustrated with me keep saying I will stop then lasting a few days only.
I really would like someone to be accountable to. Someone who understands how hard this is
I can help. I was in the same boat as you three years ago before I stumbled across some information that made me rethink how I was going about trying to quit. Basically you need to “reframe“ the way you perceive alcohol because its FEAR that stops you quitting / makes it difficult to quit. When the fear is gone you’ll find quitting easy. Let me know if you want me to help. KR Jon
Yes please help…….
Hi … So sorry I haven’t been on WordPress for ages and I cant believe I missed this. I’m Hopeful you’ve since got the help and support you were looking for and are now well on your way to better times but if you still looking for help then please email me directly and I’ll be more than delighted to help! Jonathan.email@example.com KR Jon
Hi I was recommended to you by Annie Grace. I am following her 30 day experiment and am on Day 25. I have just listened to Lisa’s update and had tears streaming down my face. I also read Tiny Voice and it is spot on! Thank you all especially Lisa.
I am 53. I live in the UK and am by all accounts a successful lawyer. I have a very good relationship with my partner and his daughter/ grandkids.My family are around and I have fabulous relationships with them and a few great friends so why do I have a problem with drink? And yes I know I do have a problem.The tiny voice Lisa talks about has been nagging me for years.
I found a rather depressing notebook last night and there are so many attempts to moderate that have failed listed in there going back years where I largely focus on weight issues.
I am a determined person and have somehow held it together and even have 4 marathons under my belt. So why can I not get a grip on this that lasts?
The thing that Lisa touched on and hit me was her genetic history. My family all drink. We are from Ireland and love a good party into the small hours. Weddings and funerals last days and drink flows. My uncle who I was very close to was an alcoholic and died aged 52. My father has always drank but largely kept it under control. He and his other brother ( who doesn’t drink a lot) have had Bile duct and liver cancer and thankfully survived. I need to get a grip or I must be heading the same way and may not be so lucky.
I am scared of social and work event pressures. My profession is full of people who drink and clients like to be entertained with drink.I have blackouts, have fallen twice and injured myself quite badly but still I hope to have a glass of wine.
I am heading to Ireland this weekend. I will be with family and am scared I cannot do this and yet I know they are probably talking about how much I drink as I am always the one who gets most hammered. They would want to help.
I am going to focus on what Lisa said about a day at a time. I cannot believe the words of a real star from the Deep South of the States ,where I know no one,have affected me so much and that I have shared all of that,sorry for splurging.
Best wishes and thanks again
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This post was excellent. I can relate to every word.
Day 16 and still sober :-). I am truly grateful for all of the insight, advice on coping socially and willingness to share from everyone. I shared my story for the first time with someone and there was no response. I am trying to understand it but I’m sure there is a good reason. They seem genuinely concerned for so many so it hurt a little. I’m sure they were just busy.
I know it’s different this time. I feel so much better every day. The relief of waking up clear, feeling well without the heavy cloud of guilt, regret because i drank and remorse is truly a gift. I know there are difficult situations ahead but i am so very optimistic. My heart is grateful to all who have shared their story. I’ve listened to a few episodes of the Bubble Hour and it is comforting to know people have success in sobriety. The thing about this community that is so impressive is most are full of compassion and there is no judgement.
I feel full of hope 🙂
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Hurray for Day 16! Happy for you. Keep going, it gets easier.
Beginning my journey. I’ve been abusing alcohol as a binge drinker for about 50 years. Thought about quitting multiple times over the years. I’ve shared with others my concern that I’m an alcoholic but they assured me I wasn’t since I’m a fairly success business women, married to a wonderful man, have to two great kids and don’t drink every day and don’t hide alcohol. But my binge drinking has gotten the best of me and my husband has called me out on it. Last time i drank was at a wedding reception in late June. Got so drunk I fell on the dance floor – thankfully i didn’t break any bones. The next day I decided i needed to stop drinking. I know when I have one drink it leads to two and then three then ….. my best approach is to avoid all alcohol. My husband doesn’t think i can do this on my own but that i need counseling. I’m going to try it on my own and if i slip, i’ll seek out help. My family drinks, my children drink, my friends drink but most all of them can stop after a few – not me. I know it will be challenging but in my heart i believe i an do this. Just typing this makes me feel better. Looking forward to reading this blog, finding support and encouragement
Thank you for sharing, Nellie. I’m glad you’re here and standing in your truth.
I am new to this forum yet old to the subject! So happy I ran across this page and this article…Just for today I will listen to the “tiny little voice of wisdom” and through it remind myself of the freedom from myself when trying to convince me with the all to familiar conversation of – “hey you haven’t had a drink in several weeks – how can you possibly be an alcoholic” Thank you for sharing this story!
Hello, I have been listening to the Bubble hour for a few years now and I can’t tell you how you have helped me through my recovery. After 2 years of sobriety I am stumbling back to some bad habits recently and I know I need to work and focus on my recovery. How do woman in recovery work on themselves when their husbands are not always supportive.He verbally says he supports me but does not want to disrupt our social life where alcohol is always involved. I cant make it always ‘about me’ and avoid social situations or people that cause me stress . I have listened to many of the Bubble hour podcasts and cant recall topics or discussions that address the relationship changes with your spouse, and how women in recovery have worked through them…or not.
Hi. I have a question. After many previous unsuccessful attempts at quitting drinking I quit drinking a couple of years ago (April 2017) by eliminating beliefs I held about alcohol. My experience has been that, by getting rid of these beliefs, this time around quitting drinking was incredibly easy in the sense that, since stopping, I haven’t had the slightest craving, desire or inclination to want to start drinking again. I’m aware from my own experiences and from talking to others who have tried quitting and failed (sometimes after they’ve stopped for many years) that often its the “desire” to just want to have a drink, that derailed their success. I’m just wondering what the best way would be to share what I’ve learned about beliefs with others (specifically the role that beliefs play in creating the “desire” or “inclination” to want to drink alcohol in the first place)… to see whether the approach I used would work as well for them as it has done for me? KR … JP
Hi Jon, it’s so great that you want to share your experiences with others. That’s the heart of recovery, sharing and learning. You can easily start a blog, and spread your message out over a number of posts. Or if you just want to get it out in one single effort write an article to submit to thefix or medium. Start a Facebook or instagram account and use memes and posts to get the message across. So many options!
Hearing the voices of Lisa, Elle, Amanda and Catherine was like visiting friends and feeling that connection again. I especially connected to Lisa. Your words and this post Tiny voices really came when I needed it. Jean you are my guardian angel, when I get down you swoop in to lift me up again. I too am struggling. But when I read Lisa’s words it gave me strength today.
Take heart! The life you want is waiting for you, it’s yours to own. I’m honoured to know that the podcast is helpful. Keep your tools close and use as needed. You can do this and you deserve the happiness and peace that comes from freedom from alcohol and anything that’s holding you back.
Thank you so much Jean for your encouragement and support. It means the world to me and so so many. I got a bit chocked up when I read it. Thank you💕
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I’m doing it! And I’m feeling so so much better. I got rid of any alcohol in the house. I bought LaCroix and starbucks hot chocolate to have at night. Getting past the liquor stores is a temptation but its seconds and I’m past them and I’ve learned to have a go to the bubble hour to listen too while that’s happening. The highlights I went to see the Rolling Stones sober. No hangover, no drinking at the concert, no drinking after. I totally enjoyed it because I was totally present and was so inspired by their performance. They are all a lot older than me and have had their demons and wow! So I’m goin to start me up! and continue to stay sober. Thank you Jean your
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I love this especially the part “the greatest gift I ever gave myself was sobriety”. That is beautiful!
Did I write this post?? There are so many of us that can relate to everything that Lisa has expressed here. Unpickled is where I began my alcohol free journey and I still enjoy reading these posts. I’m at about 7 1/2 months without alcohol, best, decision, ever.
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Sounds like me. Thank you. I needed that. Yet again another brand new Day 3. It is imperative that I succeed being alcohol-free for the rest of my life. Jean told me I might love meetings. And I do. Finally checked out the meetings offered in my community for the first time. I got a Sponsor on Sunday. Meetings, Bubble Hour, this blog, SheRecovers events, yoga, walking, Annie Grace, a new personal coach (thanks Bubble Hour interview with Casey!) and finally being honest with myself that I can’t outsmart this one. I have been trying for 5-10 years to do it with reading, listening, watching, attending. I think Lisa really summed up what my hurdle has been in her opening 4 paragraphs here! Thank you my friends. – Leslie A.
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Sending you love, Leslie. You are a ray of light, my friend.
Thank you thank you thank you!
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Hello from the French countryside again! I’m on day 436 and I’ve spent the year driving over teeny country roads (drop off, pick up son at school 15 miles away) and I can’t tell you how much your voice has soothed me and sustained my sobriety. I sobbed over the I’m Sorry poem, and now Lisa’s list of excuses felt so close to home that I had to reach out. It’s hard being sober in a country where alcohol misuse is still very much a taboo, but i don’t feel quite so lonely when I listen to your wonderful podcast.
Thanks you to the founders of the Bubble Hour, and thank you Jean for continuing to be a beacon of light.
It’s an honour to know that our conversations are reaching across the ocean to keep you company and help you find your strength. You’re doing great and you are definitely not alone!
Hi Elizabeth … RE: Your comment that its hard being sober in a country where alcohol misuse is still very much a taboo … a quick question for you … do you believe its possible to drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation? (As society … including french society) would like to have you believe. I used to believe this myself as well. However, I now believe differently, and ever since Ive had total peace of mind that I made the right decision and have never found it difficuilt staying sober or doubted my decision … not even once. If you want any help on this “mental reframing” aspect of staying sober let me know and I will be delighted to help. (With the site owners permission of course)
Hi Jonp3, thank you for reaching out. I think there are plenty of people out there who can just have just the one drink on occasion, but I’m not a part of that small segment of society. I am not even tempted to think that I could moderate now that I have about 18 months of being AF under my belt. In fact the further I get from my Day 1, the clearer I am about never having another drinK. I don’t have a problem with reframing my views on alcohol as much as I do with sometimes being quite lonely as a sober person….I don’t know if this makes sense. There are vibrant sober communities all over the English-speaking world, but that is not the case here yet. Thank you for your offer of help though
Hi Elizabeth, No problem at all you are very welcome. Yes I completely understand where you are coming from. Delighted to hear you are not tempted to think you could moderate. So many people who successfully quit drinking make that mistake …. only to end up right back at square one again where they were to begin with, which is the point I was trying to make about the importance of “reframing” ones views on alcohol. You see, I believe where most of us get it “wrong” when we quit drinking is we start off with the wrong goal. We start off thinking our goal should be to never drink alcohol ever again. This shouldn’t be what we set out to do. Most drinkers do start off with this as their goal, but the problem is that they then spend the rest of their lives feeling vulnerable or slightly unhappy or deprived or lonely or as though they are missing out on the fun, or as though they are living a less satisfactory life than other people etc. But whats the real difference between people who drink and people who don’t drink? If you don’t know the answer I’ll tell you. Teetotallers have absolutely no need, no desire and no inclination to drink or want to drink. Teetotallers do not miss drinking. Teetotallers do not have to motivate themselves not to drink or remind themselves of the reasons why they don’t drink. Teetotallers don’t need to exercise willpower or self discipline in order to refrain from drinking. Teetotallers don’t even need to avoid the company of other people who drink. Teetotallers just don’t drink … and they are HAPPY they don’t drink and find it EASY not drinking (as opposed to difficult not drinking) because teetotallers haven’t got the slightest inclination or desire to want to drink in the first place. And I believe that this is what all of us SHOULD be setting out to achieve when we quit drinking.
This post came at the best time for me. I have a lousy hangover after too much wine with my husband….again. I know I need to quit. I can only have a couple of drinks on occasion but too often it’s way too much. Thanks for a great message.
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