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Sobriety is a good electrician

Rewire

‘Doing the work’ in sobriety doesn’t always improve our present but it does reframe our past. It builds a better future self (not slimmer, richer or with 10k followers no – more aligned to our core values.) Doing the work is futuring. It’s Beyond. Horizons arealways moving in sobriety. But instead of Boris moving the goalposts, we do.

Why do the work?

I do the work because I have realised that my behaviour has a huge impact on others both publically (hosting recovery programmes) and in my personal relationships. How about you?

You need have a clear idea of why you are sober stay sober.

Make no mistake – in your sobriety, people are watching you.

Why do the work if I lose friends? Shouldn’t they prefer the new me?

Not necessarily – if they are not doing the work. If addiction is all about the search for connections we can’t find because we destroy them with our flawedcbehaviour, then it stands to reason sobriety breaks some flawed connections. In others we choose to keep, we have to make ‘navigational fixes’ to redefine them sober.

In this way, sobriety is an electrician, rewiring your connections.

Work it

Why do we do the work?

Our sober behaviour is made up of 1000 choices every day which affect and impact others. This impact may not be as glaringly obvious as when we over drank, surrounded by self generated chaos. But instead of dwelling on how we affected others negatively (old versions of self) let’s start to really notice how our sober behaviour affects others positively. (Others may get sober, seek our advice, ‘level up’ in some way or simply stop drinking in front of us)

361

Find the one

Finally, we only need the one person to believe in us in early sobriety. If they believe in us before we get sober, this is even more powerful and rare. We don’t believe in ourselves! Who is your One? Others will come and go but you will never forget your first One. Now I challenge you to be that One for someone else. That’s futuring. That’s why we do the work.

361 activity – Write down what doing the work means to you and why you do it.

Alice is bringing 361 Sober to UK cities this summer with 361 Life Support. Find out more or join 361 Sober online Sunday evenings – an LGBT safe space for sober and sober curious people of all genders. Sign up at 361lifesupport.co.uk

Alice Smith 2021

We are beyond

Victim, survivor, what lies beyond? In some ways we are living in the beyond now.

We are beyond survivor.

We are beyond COVID.

We are beyond climate change.

With all this in mind, we could begin to look beyond our own lifetime. Futuring is beyond. We are beyond now, we are in Wonderland, we are over the edge. We are through the looking glass.

Society says we are Not Enough but I challenge you to consider this – western society is Not Enough.


Mental health mixed with art can sometimes help us to provide a vision to society of how it could be otherwise. This is futuring. When we have seen ‘over the edge’ and returned – we can bring with us positive change, if we are able to carry with us the vision we have of beyond. After trauma we can experience a huge shift from our own personal timelines to world timelines- this expansion powers futuring. Post trauma, we can begin to consider what lies beyond our own lifetime and this is transformative.


Das Gift is a one hour poem that explores what is not being said. What lies beyond. It was written a year before COVID but in many ways it is perfect for the troubled times we find ourselves in. If it is a vision of the future then it is apocalyptic. It explores what is not being talked about in society.


Das Gift urges us to see it as it is.
Seeing as it is – grieving old versions of self, others and the world we knew pre trauma
Seeing it as it is – feeling deep sadness at loss rather than instantly medicating this sadness to keep the status quo
Seeing it as it is – seeing and voicing fears instead of bypassing them with anger, alcohol, vaccines or holidays
In this way, seeing it as it is is radical citizenship.

We can choose to unwitness and not see (drink, shopping, study, work) but remember –
‘forgetting’ originally comes from the root word for lying. Forgetting is denial and choosing to unwitness and Das Gift urges ‘Show me. Let me have it all.’ We are beyond fun. It’s time to grow up. We need an ability to say ‘Show me’ and not blink. To bear witness in troubled times. nly then can we begin to build a vision of how it could be otherwise. That’s futuring for grown ups.

Finally, here are some futuring questions for you all –
What lies beyond survival?
How can we serve the times yet to come – future generations – beyond our own lifetime?
Are you alone or lonely? ‘We are all alone at this point.’
Is there a finish line? What are your futuring questions? Show me.

This is an extract from Alice Smith’s presentation at Mad Hearts Conference 2021 at Queen Mary University London. For more information on 361 Life Support go to 361lifesupport.co.uk

I want you back

One of the reasons I listen to Spotify and not to radio is that I can control my mind. Most pop music is about not being able to love or breathe without someone who just fucked off. Or how to get that person back. (I want you back.) I can’t think, breathe or sleep until I get you back. Sorry. Or if we really have moved continent then we get stalker lyrics ‘Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.’ Pop music encourages codependency.

I don’t want you back

I absolutely love music but since I’ve stopped dating I have noticed how much musical mind control there is – wherever we go. Even when swimming! Why? I swim to clear my mind…. but there it is – buy a new kitchen! A carpet! And by the way – you are the one and I want you back!How did love change from service we give to one another (family) to this absolute worship of another? Our partners have become our new Gods. We need them to breathe/live/die happily if they are by our side.

How did I not notice this about music until now? It’s a form of mind control. These lyrics have been influencing my mind since I was 14 and creating the problems of my 20’s and 30’s. We need a new definition of love that is not defined by society’s attempts to sell us music.The truth is – I don’t want you back. I can breathe really well on my own. Surprise! And I am loving my life now. It’s not – Thank u, it’s – no thanks for asking. But would that message sell? You know it wouldn’t. Why are we still buying it?

Nope. I still don’t want you back.

I don’t want you back. But I did. For years, How did I get here? The 361 recovery programme has been developed to help you get to the point where you can say ‘I don’t want you back.’ Everything will be ok. Everything will be more than ok without you. After a breakup or a divorce or leaving abuse, we need time to work out what happened. I call it ‘surveying the wreckage.’ Looking at what we did. Our part. The 361 recovery programme helps you to look at your decisions without blame. Because if we continue to blame others, recovery is not possible. We are more likely to want them back and to Try Harder. (A big trap I fell into time and time again – linked to feeling Not Enough.) By focusing on our part and our choices, we don’t get him back, we get ourselves back. Yes, you find out you’ve changed but that’s ok too. The 361 can help you to identify the new strengths you have now. Give yourself time to work out what they are before taking yourself into a another relationship. Because single, you will live, You will breathe. And you will get someone back. You. Find the one. The 361.

Alice Smith 2021

Handsome

This hand made music and grew flowers,

it held many hearts but its palm is now dark.

This hand made handprints in the moonlight on steamy car windows.

This hand held your face and kissed it…and…smiled.

Its signature spelled out a mistake made in a minute.

I drew a line under a 7 year limbo

but below limbo lie the 7 circles of Hell.

Tell me, tell me I’m still beautiful,

I’m not second class.

I sit and stare at my single self in the looking glass.

Or does it stare at me?

Next I signed away 7 more years,

the middle section of my life,

Then I signed away – with my wife hand – my peace of mind –

this strange, warped treaty between you and I.

I dis this to myself.

It’s filed with the same barren hand that killed my future child.

I signed away her future for a faiytale,

a trade made with the love of Hope,

wanting to escape society’s sneering,

unnaturally single again,

wanting to feel that tingle again,

to make mid life alive when it’s dead.

What if?

A diving board into a rough sea of maybe.

This pen is an anchor not a chain,

rattling the even numbers like a hurricane

in our steady weight gain, 5 pints, Love lane, lie back, bitter choked, tv soaked

‘lives.’

I signed away my sense of fun

but now I’m done with down sizing me.

This signature is a cancer

that will spread all over the page.

Age cheating, eating time and money and hope and those promises of yours.

I’ve been offered many cures

and yours is just as good as any other.

When the laying on of hands didn’t save me..

this hand…that hand….

it’s a back and white end.

Alice Smith 2015

Lazarus

Still breathing? Get up for a second chance.

Have you ever wondered how Lazarus got on with his life after the story ends? You know the story, right? Lazarus has died. It was ‘his time. Jesus had other ideas. After 3 days of mourning, he rolls back the stone and out he comes – ta dah! Jesus moves off and we never find out any more. But poor old Lazarus lives on we assume. He’s seen death. He’s come back. He has returned.

Every survivor knows how Lazarus felt. As survivors we are Lazarus. I call it ‘branded with an invisible debilitation.’ Try as I might to fit in (and I have tried far too much because God loves a trier) it’s impossible. Lazarus probably didn’t get invited to many parties after that. Neither do we.

‘We’re too knee jerk to sit comfortably over cake – and we can’t fit in with the fake. But we survive.’

I have done everything possible to fit in. I’ve sat in staff rooms, bought drinks, held down piss poor jobs, organised funerals, gone into pubs sober and drank tea, dressed differently to try and bond with women on the front row of dance classes. I know how Lazarus felt.

‘Since we stepped over the edge, we can no longer step in time. But we survive.’

What is the solution after a big loss? There is no solution. We must feel it. This stigma, this ‘other‘ we have become. After bereavement, other couples vanish. Family members avoid us. Friends are ‘too busy.’ It can feel as if loss is catching. Loss is not a disease. Their reaction says more about them than it does about us. Sooner or later we will all experience loss. Their time will come.

What’s the solution after loss? There is no solution – we must rest, recover, catch our breath and then rebuild. There are no quick fixes.

What if? Reframing what if questions.

After loss. we can no longer step in time. After loss, stop attending socialising for a while. It makes you feel worse. You are Lazarus for a while. Find your own beat. Step to your own time. Because loss changes your step. Loss changes your pace. Find the one. The 361.

Alice Smith 2021

Find out more about the 361 Recovery programme at 361lifesupport.co.uk

361 Sober – first steps

What are the first steps of sobriety? For me, it’s all about emotional evolution. It’s possible we have emotional gaps from our drinking, our childhood and/or our schooldays. We may have to go back and learn, relearn or unlearn how to manage and express our feelings. When we get sober, it all seems so awkward. When we were drinking it was awkward – we just didn’t notice.

4 important first steps in sobriety – how are you doing?

  1. Self reflection – facing the mirror. This replaces switching off or numbing out.

2. Taking responsibility for every action. This replaces victim mode. ‘It wasn’t me.’ It was you.

3. The beginnings of accountability. This gets harder, the older you are as your actions affect more and more people. And some of them don’t forgive you.

4. Creating a daily practice. Think of this as maintenance for when it hots the fan later on.

3 things that can trip you up in these first steps.

  1. Believing our own lies. ‘He made me do it.’
  2. Missing out on ‘FUN.’ Was it really fun?
  3. 3am – clear flashes of self reflection are unbearable. Sobriety brings a steady spotlight on our self generated chaos. Over time, this becomes more bearable (mostly…)

Join us for 361 Sober an lgbt safe space online every Sunday 6 – 7.30pm where we follow the 361 Recovery programme and chat about a sober curious life. Sign up at 361lifesupport.co.uk

Alice Smith 2021 on 4 years sober

I want love

I’ve lived my life saying ‘I want love’ and I’ve always believed that I needed it. Now. After 2 divorces, am I missing something? And what sort of love do I need?

There’s a great scene in Rocket Man (Elton John’s biopic) where he hugs himself as a little boy. That little kid had been crying. ‘I want love’ all the way through Elton’s life and he has been ignoring him. It’s not as cliched as it sounds. He only pays him attention once he gets sober and single. This scene is the closest thing I have seen to how recovery really feels on screen. Inside us is that little child crying ‘I want love.’ What sort of love does that child need?A lot of counselling takes you back to childhood and the blame usually goes on your parents. Job done. It’s important don’t get me wrong – of course how you’re are parented affects you. But how about the child? Has anyone ever asked you what your child wanted?Take yourself back to childhood. What did you want as a child? What did you need as a child? The chances are – the things she didn’t get, she is still looking for now in an adult body.

One day my prince will come..and go

We need to grow up! Are you still chasing the love you wanted as a child? As a little girl, I wanted a prince charming. As my body matured, my emotions did not. 361 Life Support is survivor network focusing on emotional education. Some women – like myself – need to learn, relearn or unlearn important lessons about our emotions. At 361 we call this emotional evolution. The goal is for mind, body and emotions to be in alignment. After trauma, divorce or abuse we often need to go back and learn so that our emotions catch up with our bodies. Otherwise we are adult women walking round with childish emotions. I love children but I wouldn’t allow one to drive my car. 361 Life Support is a network of support where we can learn from our failures and from each other with the award winning 361 Recovery. Find the one. The 361.

Alice Smith 2021

Find out more at 361lifesupport.co.uk

I want it, I got it

I want it. I got it. I want it. I got it. Repeat. New car. New clothes. New shoes. Holiday. Christmas. Birthday. Repeat. Repeat, Repeat. Repeat, Pause……I want it. I got it. I want it. I got it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Pause….

What happens in the pause? And when do we pause? I don’t know about you but I’ve never paused in my life – until now. Is midlife too late to pause? Or is it the most natural time? I got married young, bought a house, had a baby, new car, another baby, new house. Then divorce. Pause?No – I want it. I got it. Repeat. Men. Drink. Party. Sleep. Pause. Repeat. I never paused and I regret it now.

When do we pause? After a divorce or a breakup? No. Society positively encourages us to go out and party, drink, spend and get a new man as soon as your panicking little feet will carry you in those new shoes. I’m going to be honest. I still hadn’t learnt to pause by Divorce Number 2. I want it. I got it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Clothes. Shoes. Men. Drinks. This would have been a perfect time to pause. Hang on!

Can I go back? What was I doing? Instead of pausing, my behaviour got faster and faster towards car crash. My 360 circle spun around faster and faster until I was out of control. The strange thing is – everyone laughs at your behaviour post break up. You only live once! Mid life crises? Why not? You are one of us! No one ever suggests that you pause.

I am suggesting that you pause.

The 361 recovery programme was written and developed over the 3 years that I paused. I stopped the 360 merry go round and I got off. I moved to the sea and this is when my recovery began. It is very solitary on a beach in January. It’s a pause.

If I rest still and stop running I can hear myself, rest in fear of myself.

I had written this in 2016 – on the 360 wheel – so deep down I must have known why I couldn’t pause. If I had paused I would have had to feel pain. If I had paused I would have had to make changes. I was scared of emotional pain. I was scared of feeling anything. I was scared of change. It’s strange isn’t it? You can be really unhappy but still prefer it to changing. We all fear change. Go on admit it….Better the devil you know..

I was scared of losing the parts of my behaviour I knew the best – drinking and men. Now, 4 years on I have neither in my life and I live a full positive life. But then, I was really scared of giving anything up. And very defensive. I would not have liked the 361 recovery programme because it is an opportunity to pause. Because when we pause we gain clear sight. We begin to see what we are repeating – and more importantly why. The 361 asks – is this the version of your life you really want? I want it. I got it. I want it. I got it. Repeat. Could you march to a different beat? I did – and I had thought it was impossible for 3 decades. If I can do it, anyone can. Could you discover a way to live that would make you happier? Pause. With the 361. Repeat.

Find out more at 361lifesupport.co.uk or listen to the 361 programme on our 361 Recovery podcast.

Alice Smith 2021

I believe my own lies

I  know I am here for the day now. The whiskey weighs me down like nothing else. I know it’s not the whiskey really – it’s the shame of Day 1 hiding underneath the smack on the lips and the familiar aaagh on the back of the throat. I have missed all these things and I have been relieved that they were not there at the same time. The drinker’s dilemma. Do we feel better without the drink? In truth – no, because  then we see ourselves in all our ugly truth and who wants that? We all need mirrors. But we all need friends too and alcohol is and always will be my best friend. The sort of friend who parties with you then leaves you when you fall over and rip your tights. The sort of friend that looks good with an ugly heart. A friend with a filter. A false friend. ‘It’s better than no friend!’ I say out loud as I take another swig. My coordination is already off and I miss my mouth and laugh. 

It’s taken hold quickly after 21 days off the roller coaster and now it’s time to belt up and admire the view. The up is the up and on the up there is no future planning for the down. When you’re drinking you’re in the moment. Isn’t that what the Power of Now is all about? I laugh again at my own joke because the drink may be a friend but it never laughs along so my lonely, hard laughter echoes down the hall. When I drink, I count down the hours and the minutes and the seconds of my life because it seems so monotonous but at the same time it can be divided by drinks. Without a drink, life seems less ordered and more like a long stretch of time to fill. With a drink you have nothing to lose but time. I don’t know why I do it and that’s a lie. I do it to lose the time I have been given because maybe I don’t feel I deserve it.

I do it because I can’t not do it. I believe the lies I tell myself and that is why you will never win an argument with an addict. Please believe me. I believe them totally….Or is that another lie? I believe them with my mind drenched with the drug and sparking up the familiar neural pathways to Hell.  But in my gut, my heart, my spirit, whatever you want to call it – that other place where survival comes from – the clues we have from some other source – the intuition – I don’t believe any of them. Luckily, that place is firmly locked off and ring fenced for the alcoholic and if you dare to step in and point it out there is only one next step – anger and indignation. Who do you think you are telling me? So here and now, a quarter of the way down the remaining whiskey, I believe my own lies. 

Outside the wind has been howling all night. like a warning of something. Nature roughly tackles you if you walk by the sea on a day like this. I will go out later so that the oxygen can speed up the rush of alcohol in my veins and stave off the bottom of the bottle low before the new bottle high. Another binary. Addiction exists only in binaries – to drink or not to drink? Red or white? Small or large glass – ha ha do you have to ask? Single or double? There is a chain pub on the front, painted in grey, where no one ever looks out on the balcony except to roll up cheap tobacco and frustratingly suck it dry. There, the only question your brain will be forced to consider is – do you want to go double for 50p and who ever says no? In time honoured fashion they will keep serving until they have filled you with so much knock off cheap shit out of date alcohol that you can’t stand or see straight then yet another guard will throw you out onto the dog shit stained streets where you can add your body fluid of choice and maybe try to box with your imaginary foes who look just like your brothers. 

Extract from novel in final draft.

Alice Smith 2021

Beauty Hunter

You beautiful thing

Believe in beauty, believe in it when every ray of sunshine shows you cobwebs, when everyone tells you there is none and it has gone, don’t listen. Grasp beauty that no one else sees. Hold on to beauty, carry it with grace. Search for beauty, look for it daily. Look for it in your  dark death throes. Find the beauty in the everyday grey days when everyone has turned their back on you, don’t slack! Think upon beauty, live with it instead of with someone, it will replace and fill that sacred space. Make beauty out of the dirt and do not examine your fingernails, carry beauty in your light spirit with a kind eye and always think the best. Care about beauty and defend it. Illuminate it with your smile and your mind, never being unkind to those who abuse you. This will make you ugly.

And don’t think too much – but if you do……think only of beautiful things. Beauty fills us with life force when we feel weakened by abuse. It gives us strength to believe in ourselves. Beauty make us aware of our presence in the world after we stayed small for protection for so long.. 
Find the beauty, Look hard.

Alice Smith. Beauty Hunter. Optimist. April 2021

More at 361lifesupport.co.uk