The voice of a friend: Bryan Wempen’s Sober Is Better

I am honoured to share here my foreword to Bryan Wempen’s excellent new book Sober Is Better: My Note to Self.

I cherish my friendship with Bryan Wempen. He has always been an inspiration to me.

I was honoured when Bryan asked me to write the foreword to his new book, Sober Is Better: My Note to Self. “The voice you will hear speak to you through these pages is uniquely Bryan’s”, I wrote in the foreword. “Full of wit, warmth and wisdom. The voice of a friend.”

In his recent appearance on Shoan Snoday’s Sobriety Society podcast, Bryan talks about his journey of addiction, recovery and discovery, and of how it shaped Sober Is Better:.

“When you get into recovery, the further you get into it, the more work you do, you’re able to lay things out on the table that you could never do before. You start doing the work to deal with those things. There’s a variety of things, from all the different -isms, to tough relationships to things in childhood to a propensity to do X, Y or Z. That’s really what the book is. My story is in this book.”

I am thankful to Bryan for his kind permission to reproduce my foreword here. I only hope I have done him some justice with my words.

Please consider following him on Twitter or Instagram – Mr Wempen is one of life’s truly good people!

My Foreword to Sober Is Better

“Starting over isn’t a failure; it’s a smarter beginning.”

I’ve always loved these words from Bryan Wempen’s first book, Note To Self. We always have a choice, we always have it in us to improve our lives and how we approach the world, We can always do better. For ourselves and for others. Bryan’s mission in life is to strive to achieve this daily, and generously to share his words so as to help others along the way.

It has been my honour, privilege and pleasure to know Bryan for the best part of a decade. His words, his thoughts, his values inspire me constantly. But I have only met him in real life the once (in a publisher’s office near the banks of the Thames in London, on a swelteringly hot day some years back). My friendship with Bryan came about thanks to Twitter. The written word, whether it’s shared in 140 (then 280) character tweets or in book form can create powerful connections. Your outlook on life – your life itself – can be informed, changed, improved by these words. Our friendship continues to this day, enabled by social media, email and the written word. I cherish this friendship. I gain so much from it.

Gentle reader, I envy you having the opportunity to read Sober Is Better: My Note to Self  still ahead of you. Bryan writes compellingly, movingly and with great humour of his struggles with addiction (first with drugs, then with alcohol – an “equal opportunity killer that indiscriminately comforts us right up to the point it doesn’t any longer,” as Bryan puts it), and of how his complex early life lead him there. He hit rock bottom on Sunday 9 May 2010. He realised that he could go no further down this path. It was time to seek help. To opt for a new beginning, a smarter beginning. “My life started again that day,” he writes. “We all deserve as many chances as it takes to live the best life we can possibly live.”


Bryan is clear-eyed about how life lead him here, and about where he would like to go from here. He takes full responsibility for his life as an addict. He takes full responsibility for his journey of recovery. He relishes the challenges that life has gifted him: to remain sober; to overcome self-doubt, self-hatred, self-destruction; to love; and to share. And to approach this whole business of life itself with joy, with humour. Bryan writes: “My simple goals each are stay sober, laugh a lot, and love as much as possible.”

The words that Bryan chooses to share in this book are of great potential value to us all, whether addiction has touched our lives, or otherwise. Each of us has a choice, always. We can choose to approach each day as a possible “smarter beginning” to the rest of our lives. Here is another phrase from Bryan’s first book that has stuck with me ever since I first read it: “Today I’m doing the next right thing.” Is there any better goal for every one of us than always to try to do the next right thing?

The voice you will hear speak to you through these pages is uniquely Bryan’s. Full of wit, warmth and wisdom. The voice of a friend. I hope that reading his words will inspire you to look a little differently at your own life, your own challenges. To see each moment as a smarter beginning.



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