How do you know if your relationship with alcohol falls into the category of being a “gray area drinker”?
Gray area drinkers exist in that muddy space between two extremes of being able to ‘take or leave’ alcohol and becoming increasingly dependent on it in a problematic way.
Before Gray Area Drinking was even a term, I spent years debating if I was just a “red wine girl” who drank socially like most of my friends or if I had a serious problem with alcohol that I needed to control.
It was a confusing place to be because not only did I love to drink but I also had a successful career, a happy family, friends who drank with me, no significant negative consequences from my drinking and no one telling me I should stop drinking.
I hadn’t hit any kind of a “bottom” that people often describe when talking about someone who is has a “drinking problem”. Instead, my drinking was just a slow slide from dinner parties with wine and beers at BBQs to incorporating alcohol into almost all my social (and increasingly non-social) activities…
- Wine with dinner? Check.
- Mimosas at brunch? Check.
- Baby playdates with friends (and adult beverages for the moms)? Check.
- Opening a bottle of wine while turning on the computer to answer emails after the kids went to bed? Check.
- Anniversary weekend wine tasting? Check.
- Alcohol on camping trips? Check.
- Drinking 7 nights a week? Check.
And then the natural progression that any gray area drinker will start to recognize…
- Waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety? Check.
- Making rules that I’ll only drink on the weekends? Check.
- Telling myself that I’ll only have 2 glasses of wine but then finding myself pouring a 3rd (and eventually a 4th) drink? Check.
- Having a drink before I go out to a party while I’m getting ready? Check.
- Pouring myself another drink once I’m back home from a date night? Check.
- Waking up with a headache and bloodshot eyes? Check.
- Wondering if I have “enough” wine at home or if I have time to stop at the grocery store to pick up a bottle before daycare closes? Check.
- Feeling defensive about my drinking the night before when I’m hungover? Check.
- “Falling asleep” on the couch? Check.
- “Forgetting” the end of movies? Check.
- Debating if I just need to cut back on drinking or (god forbid) have a real problem with alcohol and need to stop drinking completely? Check.
- Trying to stop drinking, then deciding that 4 days alcohol-free was plenty + starting the cycle again? Check.
Forbes describes Gray area drinking (GAD) as “that murky space somewhere between social and destructive drinking. Slipping into gray area drinking is much easier to do than most people think—especially when you consider the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking for women as three drinks on any day or 7+ drinks a week.”
For many years, I lived in the gray area, as a drinker who’s relationship with alcohol fell somewhere in between moderate drinking and having a full-blown drinking problem.
Alcohol companies would like us to believe that there are two categories of drinkers…”alcoholics” who have a problem and can’t drink, and everyone else…(you know…us “normal” and “social drinkers” who, as long as we don’t drink and drive or drink while pregnant, are just fine to ‘Rosé All Day’).
What alcohol companies don’t want us to realize is that alcohol is addictive, the more you drink the more you’re going to need to drink to achieve the same effect and that most people who drink on any kind of a regular basis probably fall into the gray area drinker category.
Alcohol use disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to moderate to severe. So…
- Was I physically addicted to alcohol? No.
- Did my drinking fall into the category of having a severe alcohol use disorder? No.
- Was I a moderate drinker who could take it or leave it? Hell no.
- Was I a gray area drinker? Absolutely. And let’s be honest, I was probably a charcoal gray kind of drinker. I had passed any paler shades of gray long ago.
Many women find themselves in this ambiguous space where the line between social drinking and dependency becomes blurry. So if you’re unsure if your relationship with alcohol is healthy or problematic, or if you’re wondering if your drinking falls into the gray area, this episode is for you.
I asked Meg Geisewite, author of Intoxicating Lies: One Woman’s Journey to Freedom from Gray Area Drinking, to help me dive into what gray area drinking looks like and how you might identify if you’re a gray area drinker.
In our conversation, we share our thoughts on the mommy wine culture and how it perpetuates the idea that drinking is an essential part of motherhood.
As we continue this conversation, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself, to embrace self-compassion, and to reach out for support if needed. There is a vibrant community of women out there who understand and can provide guidance, encouragement, and accountability.
In this episode, Meg and I dig into:
How to identify if you’re a gray area drinker
- The 5 lies we tell ourselves about alcohol
- Practical advice for how to overcome the challenges of taking a break from drinking
- Our society’s obsession with mommy wine culture
- The unhealthy messages around us that encourage daily and binge drinking
- Meg’s drinking as a professional mom and why she decided to stop
- The community support and tools Meg used to stop drinking
- The spectrum of alcohol use disorder + why the terms “alcoholism” and “alcoholic” are no longer used by addiction, psychiatric or health professionals
More Resources on Gray Area Drinking
More Resources on Surviving Wine Mom Culture
4 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More
- Join The Sobriety Starter Kit, the only sober coaching course designed specifically for busy women.
- Save your seat in my FREE MASTERCLASS, 5 Secrets To Successfully Take a Break From Drinking
- Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.
- Connect with me for free sober coaching tips, updates + videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok @hellosomedaysober.
Connect with Meg Geisewite
Meg is an ordinary mom who found herself trapped in the mommy wine culture. She began her sober curious journey in November of 2019 where her love of science led her to discover the real truth about alcohol and its seductive lies.
As a best-selling author and speaker, Meg is changing the narrative on the mommy wine culture, the hustle culture, and our pro-drinking culture. In Meg’s debut book, Intoxicating Lies: One Woman’s Journey to Freedom from Gray Area Drinking, Meg flips the script on the five most intoxicating lies we tell ourselves about alcohol and our self-worth.
Meg resides in Delaware with her husband and two teenage children. Her family has been her rock throughout her alcohol-free journey. You can often find Meg enjoying nature on the beautiful biking and hiking trails of Delaware.
(Meg’s work has been featured on numerous podcasts. Meg has been a speaker at The Sober Summit, SoberSis Summit, Tribe Sober, Booze Free Females, numerous sobriety communities, and book clubs. Her work has been published on Medium on Alcohol Is Not Your Friend and in AF Magazine.)
Learn more about Meg and purchase her book, Intoxicating Lies at www.intoxicatinglies.com
Follow Meg on Instagram @intoxicatingliesbook
Follow Meg on Facebook @Intoxicating Lies: One Woman’s Journey to Freedom from Gray Area Drinking
Download 5 Common Lies | Meggeisewite (intoxicatinglies.com) for free!
Connect with Casey
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Are You A Gray Area Drinker? With Meg Geisewite
drinking, alcohol, lies, women, gray area, wine, talk, sober, alcohol use disorder, work, drinker, kids, care, feel, starting, culture, day, years, guzzling, live, gray area drinker, sober curious, self-identified space, your story is my story, self-care, self-identify, connection, journaling
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Meg Geisewite
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Today, we are talking about gray area drinking and want to answer the question or give you the questions,
so you can identify if you’re a gray area drinker.
It’s a big spectrum. I identified as a gray area drinker before I quit drinking. And I think the idea that drinking is either black or white that you have a problem with alcohol, or that you don’t and you’re fine, is something that keeps women in the drinking cycle for a very long time. Because we don’t want to be in that “drinking problem” category. And the truth is, it is a big spectrum. That goes from mild to moderate to severe and most women who like to drink, who drink on a regular basis, are somewhere in that gray area.
So, my guest today is Meg Geisewite. She is an author and a former gray area drinker who’s written a book called, Intoxicating Lies: One Woman’s Journey to Freedom from Gray Area Drinking. She is a mom who found herself trapped in the mommy wine culture, who began her sober curious journey in November 2019, when her love of science led her to discover the real truth about alcohol and its seductive lies. She’s a best-selling author and a speaker and is changing the narrative on the mommy wine culture, the hustle culture, and our pro-drinking culture.
So, Meg, welcome to the show. I’m excited that you’re here.
Thank you so much for having me. Casey, I’m really excited to talk to you today.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:15
Yeah, I’m excited, too, because this is a subject that I think is starting to enter the conversation, alongside this sort of idea of being sober curious, and more and more people and more and more women are starting to talk about this gray area drinking and what it means. But will you tell me a little bit about what your definition is of being a gray area drinker?
Sure. I like to give the analogy of somebody, like you said, there’s a spectrum and if you’re in the mild category, you may be called, take it, or leave it drinker. My in-laws are Take it or leave it drinkers. They will split a beer on their birthday, they may have a sip of champagne at a wedding. That’s it. So, they truly could take it or leave it. They don’t think about it. They don’t care for it very much. It’s just something that on a rare occasion, they might have a couple steps of. Then on the far other end of the spectrum, we have the severe category where you would need a medical detox in order to quit alcohol. And so, not you’re physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and you really should consult a doctor. You may have seizures, you’re really on that much darker end of the gray area drinking spectrum it’s really the severe category.
Everything in between that end stage drinking and take it or leave it drinking, everything in between is gray area drinking. It is a vast, large category on the alcohol use disorder spectrum. It’s a term that’s been in the medical literature. For over a decade, it was really brought on the market by Jolene Park and her work in that space and her TED Talk. And once I discovered this term, and I’m in pharmaceutical sales, I was like, Oh, wow, this has been in the medical literature, how come I’ve never heard of this. And I became sober curious, in 2019. And just like you said, in the introduction, I was very much trapped in putting people in either that white box of not drinking really at all, to the dark rock, bottom, and stage drinking. And because I didn’t categorically fit into either one of those boxes, I was told over and over again, your drinking looks just like mine, you don’t have a problem, including my own therapist, who, when I finally got the courage to tell her, I think I may have a drinking problem. She said, No, no, I think you’re thinking about it too much. And her ill-advised, my true book.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:06
And that blew my mind. Even though it’s not the first time I heard that. And in my mind, that’s almost like medical malpractice. But I think it’s also indicative that I’ve talked to so many therapists and so many doctors that they are not required to go through any kind of it’s an elective specialty, to study addiction, or addictive medicine. And since so much of the population drink, some of my private coaching clients are therapists, and doctors, they’re immersed in the same culture that we are.
And a lot of them are stuck in gray area drinking, and absolutely, like you said, they’re not really required, other than to say, how many drinks do you have per week, and really, who is honest about that? Almost every single person I’ve talked to, so I rely on that form all the time. Oh, I lied
on that form.
I did, too. And so, I think that it is a very confusing space, we go to the gym, and I can tell you, I talk about it in the book, too. I would be working out, sweating out the toxins, punishing myself for having those couple glasses of wine the night before trying to better myself. And the instructor would say sweat out the toxins. It’s okay if you’re hungover. And so, there we are at yoga, trying to better ourselves trying to get more in touch with our inner knowing ourselves. And they’re serving champagne there.
Yeah, it’s a very confusing space. When your doctors aren’t really addressing it. Your therapist may be saying it’s just fine. I’ve heard of therapist saying, Oh, just go in a closet and just hide it. That is just like this ill advice that we’re getting because we’re not talking about this vast, huge category on the alcohol use disorder spectrum. And I couldn’t find any books at the time, when I was sober curious, that were specifically describing what this is. And describing my kind of drinking, I was reading these rock bottom stories. And I was like, I’m not that, so I must be fine. And it kept me stuck. For years, I was in this constant detox to re-tox loop as Jen Couch of Services, the community I reside in. Once I saw her description of it, I was like, Oh my God, that’s me. But until I saw that on social media, I suffered silently and alone for many years thinking something was wrong with me.
Why can’t I get this under control? It looks like everybody around me has it under control. Because guess what? A lot of us don’t, we’re just not talking about this maddening chatter in our head of going around and around. I never drank during the day. I never drank to cure hangover. I never hit my drinking. I was winning awards at work. There were no external consequences. My kids were doing great. My marriage wasn’t in the throes of, my job wasn’t at risk.
Many gray area drinkers are high functioning and a pure to the outside world. Like, they’ve got it all together. But internally and silently, we are struggling. And it’s usually a self-identified space because there is no rock bottom, there isn’t anybody pushing you to say, Go get some help, or you really need to do this or you’re going to lose XYZ. And so, when we become gray area drinkers, we really have to take a lift under the HUD to look and say, What is this providing for my life? What is this giving me? And if you’re questioning your relationship with alcohol, I’m not here to diagnose anybody. I’m not a physician, but most likely, if you’re questioning it, you’re a gray area drinker. And if you feel like you’re in this maddening Groundhog’s Day of just detoxing to re-tox, and you may even take breaks for weeks months. You might do a Dry Ice January, a Sober October, but then you go back to your drinking, and your gray area drinking. And sometimes it comes back with a vengeance because we tried to fool ourselves with these 30-Day challenges, and I talk about it in the book, thank God, we have them, because it’s what allowed me to be like, oh, I’ll just take a quick look at this and pop the hood up. But it really takes more than 30 days to really explore your relationship with alcohol, but it’s just this culture that we fall into the comparison culture, where we will always find somebody who drinks more than us, always.
Yeah. And we fall again into that comparison, culture lie, and instant gratification lie of oh, I’ll just take a 30 day break to prove that I’m in control of this. And I don’t. I’m not like what we see on TV. I’m not this rock bottom. And that is why gray area drinking is so tricky. Because we’re not seeing it on TV. We’re seeing the rock bottom. We’re hearing the rock bottom. And so, that’s really why I wrote the book because I wanted and probably the greatest feedback I get from people is, your story is my story. And I know Casey, my story is very similar to yours.
Casey McGuire Davidson 11:17
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that when you said, I think the thing that I hear the most from women, and I know I said it myself is like, why can’t I drink like a normal person? Or the goal is, I just want to drink like a normal person. And what I know, and I’m sure what you know, from talking to hundreds of women. I hear from 1000s of women is, you have no idea what the woman next to you, or even your best friend or the woman at work, you have no idea what their relationship with alcohol is. And so many more women are worried about their drinking or struggling to moderate or waking up with hangovers, or not remembering the end of the night, or having a glass or two before they go to the party or having two glasses of wine at dinner or happier and coming home and opening the bottle then go. So, in my mind, there is no, the Take it or leave it drinkers are few and far between. It is much more likely that we are on the grace spectrum. And nobody wants, but popular culture says either you’re an “alcoholic”, which isn’t even a medical term. You are not, so nobody. Because there is stigma. We’re trade by popular culture with that term. Most people want to avoid that term or that designation. So, we’ll stay like you said in this gray area for a very long time. And it does us a disservice. Because our calls addictive. And it makes you feel like garbage. It’s poison to your body and it’s not required. And all the other things we know increases anxiety increases depression, makes you more sluggish.
All those things, but yet we’re sold the lie. That this is my very first lie in my book. I go over the 5 most intoxicating lies in my books as well. And one of the chapters is just completely on Gray. Are you drinking, by the way? But one of the lies is, I deserve a drink. We’ve been sold that this is self-care. I’ve earned it. I deserve it.
And the other lie is, you don’t have a drinking problem. Right? You’re fine. You drink just like I do. And I can control my drinking. That’s another lie in the book. We all think we can get this under control in some way. And I tried. Oh, I tried switching the type of drink. Drinks I had. I tried the white knuckling. I mean, we all go through those phases. The rules. Write all the rules off. Gosh, and it’s just even more of a prison and more mental chatter and more thinking and more decision fatigue and less freedom. And for women, in particular, especially during the pandemic. And I talked about that as well in the book like, drinking doubled and quadrupled for women who were taking care of kids trying to homeschool trying to work online. I know I was trying to sell to Physicians online, which is just nearly impossible. My kids are trying to do their schoolwork, they’re struggling. They can’t. I have a child with a learning disability. She’s struggling. And then, I’m trying to be in the kitchen all day cooking and cleaning and it just was like, and then? Everywhere you turned, it was like half a quarantining. Behind every great mom is a bottle of wine and it just is this trap. That is no one’s fault.
We’ve all been duped. We need to lose the shame and stigma around it and that’s why I want to talk about this space in particular. Learn, because the more we can describe it, the more we can self-identify with it. Then we are able to explore and say is this really serving me is these lies that society and big alcohol has said to me really true? Does it really make me fun? Is it really relaxing me when I’m waking up at 3am? I, why am I having a toxin with my kale salad? Like, why am I using a depressant to celebrate? We have to start asking ourselves these questions, because they’re all a myth and a lie. They’re all intoxicating lies.
Casey McGuire Davidson
Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.
The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.
This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course
Casey McGuire Davidson 15:31
Yeah. And I actually pulled up because I think it’s important. The idea of what is mild alcohol use disorder? What is moderate alcohol use disorder, because we always picture an extreme. And this is what’s in the medical literature about it. So, everyone, I know who drinks probably falls within one of these categories. So mild alcohol use disorder, drinking more or longer than intended. Yep, yes. Difficulty cutting back on drinking, cravings, or a strong desire to drink. I stopped drinking at the age of 40. These were things that I was big drinker my whole life, this is something that was always there. Continued use despite negative consequences. And of course, I say to like, I had no big negative consequences. Nobody told me to stop drinking, no work issues, etc. But then when you think about it, you’re like, except I like, when I was 27, threw up in the bathroom of my office, I’m like, that was probably a negative consequence. Or my husband would ask me how I’m feeling in the morning, that might have been a relationship problem, or health problems, like physically making myself ill, or the 3am wakeups or the like, not getting a good night’s sleep or blood. So, we’re like, No, I had no negative consequences. And yet, those are some and then reduction in social or recreational activities. I didn’t reduce them, but they certainly became more centered around activities that involved alcohol, for sure.
We’re looking for the bar, we’re looking for the drink, where’s the waiter when I no longer wanted my kids to do sports in the evening so that I could come home to my quote unquote, rewarding glass of wine. Not scared me. I was like, Wow, this thing is in control of me. And I like to be in control. And I’m not in control of this.
Casey McGuire Davidson 17:44
Yeah. Yeah. Completely. And so, what did you do when you wanted them to stop doing sports in the evening?
That that is what I say was my rock bottom. That was when I realized this is really in control of me. Like I was really the person when I walked in. It was like, where’s the bar? I’ve got to have my drink, get into a party, where’s the bar, I just it was starting to become at the forefront of I need this before I can socialize before I can relax, I have got I had to have my drink. And I look forward to it. At the end of the day. It was sincerely my self-care. And we just aren’t taught as a society how to take care of ourselves. But I don’t want to interrupt you because I know there’s probably but it’s I do have some questions in the book too, because I think these are important questions to ask yourself, your what your questions are from the book.
Yeah, so I chose Jolene Park, Jen Couch, and RIA Health’s website. Some of them are you feel concerned about your drinking, but you can never seem to quit permanently. That was from RIA health. Julian’s parks you don’t experience outward consequences from drinking but struggle internally. You have silent conversations with yourself about your own drinking. My god, that was me 24/7. You intend to have one glass of wine but find it all too easy to finish the whole bottle. And let’s face it, none of us are measuring it like I was pouring three glasses and I was like, oh, it’s only three glasses. But 3 big glasses is the bottle of wine. Who are we kidding? Jen Couches’.
Over time, I found myself drinking more, but enjoying it less. Often, I’m drinking mindlessly out of habit. And that’s another one. Like, we just fall into this habit. And sometimes I feel so anxious, and I think alcohol might be making it worse. I equate a drink at 1 o’clock to transition to being off-duty. It feels like a reward and something I think about often throughout the day, I drink to take the edge off, but I fear that I’m losing my edge because my brain is so foggy. And that speaks to exactly what we just said right? You’re doing it to escape and quiet the madness of the day and give yourself a reward but then And it actually does the opposite. And it increases your anxiety compounds your depression, it doesn’t allow you to sleep well, you wake up at a deficit. It’s just like this total backwards thing that we think is a solution. And it’s making everything harder. Yeah. So, we don’t talk about it. We don’t warn about it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 20:19
And I’m hoping that people with this podcast with your book with the conversations going out there are becoming more aware of this idea of gray area drinking. And in my mind, it is significantly less daunting than the worst case scenario because I feel like you could spend forever debating Am I that bad? Do I actually have a quote unquote, drinking problem? As opposed to saying, I feel like sober curiosity is peaking with people who are gray area drinkers. The idea of, oh, would my life be better? If I took a longer break from drinking, just questioning? Why do I feel like so drawn to alcohol and that it’s so hard to take longer breaks, even though I know I am less likely to go to my workouts, I am more likely to not remember the end of TV shows. I am like, I have headaches in the morning like all this stuff.
Yeah, I when I first became sober curious, in November of 2019, I didn’t want to break up with alcohol, I wanted to go get some tools under my tool belt to become the quote unquote, normal drinker, again, whatever that means. And I thought it will be me and maybe three other women in this group. And I got into Sober Sis. And there were 1000s of women. And I’m like, why are there so many women in here, and I think just as nurturers and caretakers, and we have this invisible labor of taking care of our family and work and the kids in the house and the birthday presents and the doctor’s appointments, and you can just go on and on. It’s like a news ticker that just never stops going through your head. And we don’t have a place to just say it’s okay to just rest at this hustle culture that we live in. And that women just feel like they have to prove their worth and keep going and earning this place to be it’s the societal permission slip to say, It’s okay, that Parenting is hard. And you can rest here, in fact, come on in with a drink. And so, then we’re like, Ah, thank God, there’s this somewhere where I can say this is hard. And this is somewhere where I can unwind and have drinks with friends. And it starts off that way, but and we buy the T shirts and the tea towels and all the things to justify it. And to make fun of it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 22:54
Did you have the T shirts, or the oh, I had the T-shirts, I had the napkins. guzzling down those lies left and right, I was posting on social media, putting alcohol on the pedestal, if I go missing, put my photo on a wine bottle to find me. I just was guzzling it down all unknowingly. And what I didn’t realize is that I was making other women sick, too, right, I was normalizing this behavior in this gray area of drinking. And I really didn’t. At the time, I just didn’t know what I know now. And it really took doing that reset, and those challenges which are good, but it wasn’t until around 100 days, that things really started to shift for me mentally, physically, spiritually, and 40 some years of drinking or 20. Some it’s takes time to undo all of the lies and myths and everything that’s etched into our brains. But yeah, I just think that it’s one of these things that especially with women, we tend to post like reading a book with a glass of wine or feet up at the beach with a glass of wine. We’re just making each other sick, and we don’t even know it. And so, I have a lot of compassion for women who are stuck in that space because I was there for a long time. Yeah, but it really is making everything harder, and parenting is and what are we modeling to our kids that when life is hard? Hey, have a drink? Don’t vape but hey, Mom’s going to go have her addictive substance. It doesn’t even make sense. What?
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:35
Here’s the thing. I was deep in the drinking culture too. And even though I was increasingly over time, yikes, I got to get my shit together. This is starting to be a problem. I was still arranging happy hours inviting people to drink making jokes about drinking all those kinds of things. Because I think sometimes And we’re trying to normalize our drinking. We want other people to be like, Oh, me too, when so you’re like, oh, it’s normal. Everybody does this, which, by the way, lots of people do this. But it’s not innocuous. There are a few, I think, really positive signs out there, which I love. I follow a lot of reports and tools, including in the wine industry, because red wine was my beverage of choice. And in some of the beverage industries, produced by the associations for wine or for beverages. The biggest growth category in the beverage group in the alcoholic beverage group, even though it’s not. It is nonalcoholic beer every big and not a colic spirits and nonalcoholic wine. But specifically nonalcoholic beer is growing like crazy to the point where all the big manufacturers of beer and alcoholic beverages are having to come out with a nonalcoholic options, Guinness and Corona and Heineken, obviously, you name it, and it’s because that’s where the audience’s going. Now, for wine. I read an article by people in the wine industry being like, essentially Holy shit, nobody’s drinking this. There was an article in the state of the alcoholic beverage industry being like, wine has a serious problem because their only growth audience is people over 60 years old. Wow. That’s a good point credible, and we were all on 40 The women after me to the women before me were sold. This lie of the French paradox and red wine is good for your heart and moderate drinking is healthier than not drinking at all. And all of that has been disproven over and over again. Like you said, we’ve been brainwashed. We’ve been conditioned to believe these lies. And it’s only now that the truth is starting to come out.
Yeah, and the dry. I think they call them the dry millennials. They don’t want to drink. They’re like they’re seeing they’re like why would I do this? What I don’t need this. Even Gen Z
is way better than them and God bless them. They’re like, we’re not interested in binge drinking. Sloppy drinking is gross. And like, yeah, we just thought it was funny.
It really was like you something you did to fit in that was like everywhere you went, and I think now I enjoy a CBD seltzer I’ll just say it and I have on my lawn a night. But it just chills me out a little bit. It’s not addictive. I don’t have it every night and truly take it or leave it. They have different I think kids like my daughter follows Bella Hadid and she’s doesn’t drink out there struggling to see these celebrities and these people that they look up to who are saying this, this didn’t work. This gives me nothing like Why go down the path. And I’ve really tried with my daughter to get her to be curious about it. I know you’re going to be at parties and you’re going to be exposed to it. But just ask yourself, do you think it makes it you more fun? Do you think you’d have better connections with your friends? People are like you said throwing up in bathrooms and passing it’s let’s just get curious about this. And instead of when you and I grew up, it was like just say no, and just don’t do it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 28:47
Or if it was going to say no to drugs very specifically, because nobody wants to question their beverage of choice, which is society as a whole. And the reason that we drink is because it does impact your mind in your body initially in pleasurable ways and then very quickly in a lot of negative ways. It is that initial enters your bloodstream and is both a sedative and rubs you up. It’s a weird combination, sedative, and stimulant all in ones and then it’s poison and it makes you ill.
Yeah, it really does. And when I read in this Naked Mind in Annie Grace as book that you really only get a 20 minute buzz and then for the rest of the night, you’re chasing it and I was like, What an absolute time suck as a busy working mom. All I’m ever saying is I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time. And here I am just guzzling down this absolute time suck for this 20 minute buzz when really I could have dealt with this need for rest really and taking care of myself and it’s 20 minute meditation, a 20 minute breath work a 20 minute walk. Like all the tools that we get in our tool shed in community and through courses like yours, where we learn other ways of taking care of this and taking care of ourselves in a healthy manner.
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:18
Yeah, absolutely. So did your husband or any of your friends, I know your therapist said, No, don’t worry about it. You’re overthinking it. But Did your husband notice the degree to which you were drinking or recovering or worried about it? Any of that?
Oh, yeah, we drinking was a we love to entertain. It was really a focal point in our marriage. We like to go out and have a good time, we drank on par with one another wine, red wine was our thing, too. And when I got sober, curious, when I was right around that 90 days, he was like, Is this a forever thing? And I was like, I think it may be. And so, he quit with me, which I know doesn’t happen. For most people, I know that most people’s spouses continue to drink. And yes, it was a tremendous amount of support on my journey. However, he has a lot of health issues. And so, it was a huge game changer for him with a lot of the things that he was dealing with, from a health perspective, he’s one of those unicorns that just stopped, just turned the switch. And I was diving into why I was drinking, and I needed to be in community to remain alcohol-free.
But a lot of the women in my group, their husbands continued to drink. And we talked a lot about that this is your journey, you do it for yourself. And a lot of their spouses started to drink less. And I saw that with my own family members that I used to drink a lot with, they started drinking last one, I quit drinking, I had friends that were looking at me when I first did it, Oh, that’s interesting, good for you. And then a year later, we’re like, I need to stop, I need your book, I need to get into a program like this is not serving me. And so, you just never know when that seed is going to bloom or who’s going to take from it or not. But you really have to do this for yourself. And everybody’s journey is different.
And many of the women in my group, they were still toying around with it three years later, trying to figure out if they could find that, as Laura McFarland says, that third door. And so, it just clicks for us all at different times. And you have to just stay true to you and really keep asking yourself, stay curious, what is this providing? What lie Do I still believe when women come to me and they say, I just can’t stop. It’s okay, let’s go through, there’s some lurking lie in your brain, that you still believe this is either a reward or crutch Institute, usually. But let’s dig into it. If it’s a reward, what do you How are you using it? Is it? And let’s really dig into this, is this really giving you that? Or is it providing anything for your life? And we know it doesn’t provide one thing? Not one thing?
Casey McGuire Davidson 33:16
I think one of the questions that I love to ask, and it’s very similar to what you were saying is, why do you want to drink? And you were saying What lie? Is it? What? But what do you think that it helps you with? And that’s really important information? Because what that is just something that you need to find an experiment with another solution to, right, is it that you’re bored or you deserve a reward, or it helps you turn off your mind from work or you have too much on your like, for me, and for a lot of women who listen to this are working women. I know we both were that was big part of our drinking. We had children, right. So, in my mind, it was go. When I came home, I wanted to multitask, like relaxing slash continuing the second shift. And when I got the kids to bed, I wanted to downshift really fast like I’ve got two hours or one hour to basically have time for myself or reward myself. And what I learned was, okay, I’m using this to have a party in my living room because adulting sometimes sucks, is a long job. And so, I used it to have fun. Pretend I was 27 Again, banquet, relax, etc. And also, to downshift once the kids were in bed and once you identify what those reasons are, you’re like, Okay, how else can I find joy in my life? How else Can I feel younger, I clearly need more breaks. I clearly need my kids for two and eight. I need more babysitters, so that I can go out and do something else. And by the way, I was spending 550 bucks a month on wine. When I did the math, so like, you can buy some good hours and babysitters with that amount of money. And I was like, Alright, I’m trying to downshift really fast. I need to actually decompress more during the day. So, I don’t get to such a point that I’m like, I need to go from like fifth gear to first gear within 15 minutes. You know what I mean?
So true. And I talk about it too. In the book about go back to when you were a child. What did you love to do? I loved riding my bike. I loved painting. I loved being in nature, riding my bike with a great playlist in nature or going for a walk in nature just makes that little girl come alive. I recently took a watercolors class. And it was two hours every Monday like you said, got to get the sitter get somebody to watch the kids. I’m like, I don’t have really time for this. I was when I first signed up. I was like, Why did I do this? I don’t have time. And I got in there. And it’s like the endless to do list, that news ticker of all that invisible labor just melts away. And just, my little girl came alive, and those watercolors and I just was there with my friend, and we were laughing and having the best time no alcohol and just forgot about everyone and everything else and just found pure, utter joy. And as women, I find when I talk to women, they’re like nurturers, caretakers, they’re taking care of their kids. They’re taking care of their elderly parents. They’re trying to work, and they’ve lost who they are. And they don’t know how to find the joy. They’re like, I think I’m fine. I’m like you absolutely are. She is in their fun before alcohol.
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:03
Oh, my gosh, I remember. And I’m thinking of this particularly because I just not this weekend last weekend, went back to God helped me my 30th high school reunion. And I went to boarding school on the east coast. So, I flew back with my best friend. We were roommates when we were juniors. And we both live in Seattle. We’re godparents to each other’s kids. Like, super, super close.
But I remember when I was stopping drinking, and I was God, probably 15 days sober. I went to her cabin with my family, her family, and was going on a hike with her. And I was like, I don’t even know who I am without alcohol. And she told me again this weekend, but she was like, I feel like I finally gotten my best friend back from when we were 16. She was just like, we had so much fun together. And I went back to boarding school because I didn’t drink there. Certainly, weekends away. But like 90% of the time didn’t because you would have gotten suspended or expelled and was hanging out with all these girlfriends who we used to live together in dorms when we were 15 and 16 and 17. And we didn’t drink, and it was so much fun.
Yeah. So many good memories. That is so great. Yeah, there was just this innocence that is taken by our culture that says you need to hustle and grind, and you need to drink and do all these things. And it just disconnects us from who we truly are. And I just want to say there isn’t a fixing or an improving that needs to happen. You’re already whole and complete and perfect the way that you are she that bright light already exists within you. It’s just covered by layers of Earth’s conditioning, and all these lies all these cultural lies. And we had so much fun before alcohol and it’s all she’s waiting for you to rescue. She’s in there. And she has a voice. She has an opinion. It’s like your friend said, like, when I was drinking. I either drank at things, so I didn’t, and I didn’t yak about it. I didn’t have an opinion on it. I would just let it fly. I would ask my sister all the time. Are you mad at me, and I was always looking for external validation because I was always looking outside of myself, like alcohol kept me trapped in this Drama Triangle, almost, where I was drinking either to control rescue or fix somebody or I was judging somebody like we think it’s fun. But these conversations with our friends when we’re drinking are usually very superficial. A lot of times it’s gossipy. It’s not this deep connection. Like, we had when you were saying like in your dorm room when you’re younger and there’s no alcoholic. Like, you’re up all night talking having these sleepovers and giggling and having so much fun. That is the connection we’re all craving, and we think we’re going to get it again. And when we drink, but it just robs us of that. It just steals your inner knowing the connection to yourself, and the deep connection with other people. And it really is this getting your old self back, like you have to go through the peeling of it all. And that that is the hard part to this journey. But it is the most beautiful part because you reconnect with that girl with him that has always been there doesn’t need fixing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 40:27
I was smiling when you were saying about riding your bike, because one of my first sober treats in my first couple of weeks of stopping drinking was getting my bike tuned up, which I had not written in a very long time. And we also at my company had these like six orange cruiser bikes that they just had around my office was near a park in Seattle, nobody ever use them. I had worked there for three years before I stopped drinking I never used and I went down there a couple different times, once a week. And like just took the bike and rode in the park at lunch versus keeping my head down working through lunch, eating at my desk. That’s what the decompression throughout the day, the moments of joy. And it was so fun. Like, I was just smiling ear to ear and I’m just like, oh, this is awesome.
Yes, your soul comes alive. Like it’s so fulfilling. Like, it’s just, we’re just always moving on to the next thing and doing and what we need to do is slow down and enjoy these walks and these bike rides, or just sitting and listening to ourselves and resting. But we’re when I see women take breaks on social media or with whatever they’re doing. I’m like Bravo, bravo, we need more really successful women saying, now I need to rest. And I find when I rest, my creativity comes back and triple fold. It’s when I know that I’m no longer inspired to post on social media. That means I need a timeout. And I get quiet and still and just remove myself from it for a little bit. And then all of the messages come flying in. And it’s so we need to take this time. It’s not something that we deserve. We need it. It’s like it just as part of who we need to be. But as women we’ve taught we’ve been taught, and I know you had The Perfectionist Guide To Losing Control. Catherine Schaeffler. I loved her book, because and this whole thought of like that we deserve a treat or reward. This goes back to the wind, right? No, it’s like you we need rest. And we don’t it’s not something we deserve pleasure and joy. It’s just something we should have in our lives.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:51
I know so many women, I worked in corporate for a very long time. And almost every woman I knew in that area was like Gold Star Girl, right had done everything right had gone from high school, to college, to your first job to trying to get promoted, trying to get that pat on the head, doing everything on the checklist of what is supposed to make you successful and happy getting married, having kids, whatever it is for you. And they were all like quietly honestly, when we were going out for drinks at happy hour being like, Am I just supposed to put my head down and grind for 15 more years before I’m able to retire? And like my joys are like happy hour and drinking too much or my vacation a year that I like playing for and get drunk through like we are using alcohol to it’s a really shitty consolation prize for what you deserve. And we’re like settling for the dregs of the coffee that we’re told like you said with the intoxicating lies that we’re told this is what will make you this is what you deserve. And the truth is Holly Whitaker says this so well and quit like a woman there they want you to shut up so they’re telling you to drink as like a pacifier they use for baby when they’re crying right oh this is inconvenient for you to scream at it at lunch or wherever you are as to like quick stuff this in your mouth and then you’ll be quiet and happy.
A keep alcohol keeps you small quiet and checked out. That’s exactly what they want and Dawson, right? Until you get angry. It’s your docile till you get angry. But yeah, you don’t even remember it and you don’t get it out.
Right and the thing is, just like what was we’ve been talking about this whole time, which is like the very solution to your stress is only adding to your exhaustion right You are exhausted because you’re grinding and hustling, and you don’t have any joy. And you’re just keep your head down and keep going to what you just basically have a breakdown.
Casey McGuire Davidson 45:08
Oh, yeah, with a lot of alcohol. I had panic attacks at various points, I had a lot of anxiety. And I of course at different moments was like, taking anti depression meds while drinking a bottle of a depressant every single night of my life.
Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t make any sense, does it? Yeah. When you look at it, and you’re like, Wait, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? Because it’s only making everything so much harder. It just doesn’t even make any sense. And I just when people are like, do you feel deprived? When you go out to a bar and everybody’s drinking? And you’re the only one not? I’m like, No, I actually have total compassion for them. Because it’s not judgment. It’s Oh, I know the truth. They just still are under the illusion of the intoxicating lies; they haven’t woken up to it yet. If they knew the truth, they wouldn’t want it. And this life is so much better. There’s all and magic and wonder and joy and pleasure and fun. And all the things we could go on and on and about all the wonderful things, great sleep, great skin, great relationships better at work all other things, if they had just a taste of it, they would be like, Oh, see it later.
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:16
And I agree with you that 100 days is what I recommend as well for the taste. Because I find I also love the 30 day breaks. Because I think that’s a very helpful starting point, right? Yeah, to get you to experience get some distance from alcohol, and experience. Once you get past the first two, three weeks. Okay, I’m starting to feel clearer. There’s also that fading effect syndrome, right, you get further away from it, and you’re like, Oh, it wasn’t that bad. And I also think that getting past your first month is the absolute hardest, you hit that milestone, it gets better. I have a client the other day who’s actually a writer of TV and movies. And I forget whether she was at like three weeks or 30 days, she was like, oh my god, I woke up this morning with all these creative ideas. My mind was buzzing, I was writing stuff down. I haven’t felt those ideas come that easily in years. And I was like, hold on to that. Hold on to that when you go to a bar it because it gets you can’t see the truth about alcohol while you’re drinking. It just it has a really strong pole. And you need to get away from it to be like, because while she was drinking, she thought drinking helped her you know what I mean? Drinking helped her get creative. I used to always write with a glass of wine next to me at night. And yet, she’s well I’m three weeks, four weeks removed from it. I haven’t had this many creative ideas in years.
So beautiful. And it’s so awesome. You just have so much more energy, so much more creativity, you’re so much more in tuned with your intuition of what’s a full body, hell yes. And a full body, how now. And it just all the things that you didn’t think you had time for now you’ll have time for them, the writing, the reading, the whatever sewing, cooking, whatever it is painting, and it’s just this endless. Sobriety is just this endless gift; it just keeps on giving and giving. And you just want you want it for everybody. I know when I was like when I decided I at a year like to publicly announce it on social media. I was like, I want everybody to have this because it’s such a better way of living. And I think I just applaud you. Thank you for having me on here. So we can talk about this space that so many people are trapped in so that they can say, oh gosh, I really want what they’re talking about. Let me just pull over and examine this for 30 days, maybe then you go 60. Then you go 90.
Yeah, but I really do agree with you giving your body 100 days you will feel shifts that you just cannot feel in those first 30 days and the first 30 are the hardest. And then it gets easier, and the gifts start flowing in.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:23
Yeah, an alcohol effect when you think about I am drinking because to some extent I’m stressed out and unhappy. Yes, I love my kids. Yes, I love my spouse. Yes, I have a good life. And yet why do I feel like this is something I need at the end of the day. Alcohol itself truly impacts your serotonin and your dopamine in a very real way. You feel unhappy unless you’re drinking and that’s because the alcohol has lowered your body’s feel good chemicals. And Anna Lemke who wrote dopamine nation says, it takes 30 days for your dopamine levels to reset. You, as you hit that 30 day mark, you are just starting to get that baseline of Oh, without alcohol. This is how I feel like it’s higher and happier and more content and more joyful that in a way that I was only getting that when I in my first 20 minutes of drinking.
Yep. Yeah. And then we’re just spending the rest of the night hustling it down for nothing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 50:38
Yeah. So, if someone’s listening to this, and they feel like they’re in that gray area, and again, I’m betting that anyone listening to this podcast is in some area of that gray area. And what I love about that term is that there is no, I don’t believe any judgment or stigma around it, it opens the conversation with your best friend, or your mother or your sister, or your husband about a there’s this great area of consuming this addictive substance where the poll gets really strong. And the more you consume, the more you want it. And that’s the substance working as designed. So, I know in your advice, you have some tools. In your book, you have some tools of where women might want to start, if they’re like, I think I’m in this gray area.
Yeah, I would, I would encourage you to get into with a Coach, like you said, you’re going to be saving so much money, it’s worth the investment or a community and or community where you can get the tools so you’re not white knuckling it that would be my first piece of advice. Just knowing that you’re not alone. And that your story find people whose stories are similar to yours, where you can feel seen, loved, heard validated, because that’s going to continue, like you said, you have this fading bias effect that happens down the road where you think, Oh, I’ve got this, I’m fine. And we have to stay in a community that reminds us like, oh, wait a second. Remember when and journaling? When we journal, we can actually go back to day one. And I love on the first day looking back, Why did I want to quit? What did I want, and I wrote I want to sleep better. I don’t want to spend so much money on it. I want to have better relationships. I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Go back to that page. And the growth that you see when you journal is such a beautiful thing. I like journaling first thing in the morning. And I like doing it where I get all of the thoughts out. Sometimes it’s cussing, sometimes it’s drawing, sometimes it’s an intention that I’m setting for the day might be something I’m calling in, surrender, manifesting, whatever it is. And so, I get that all out of my head. And then sit in silence and listen to what your mind body and spirit are telling you really get quiet and listen to your inner knowing. And take some deep breaths really calming your nervous system.
And the other thing I love to do is called, find the beauty in the day. If you follow me on social media, I posted. I can. I don’t believe in absolute perfectionism. Almost every day, but not every day. A flower, a sunset, a tree, a blush, it could be anything. In fact, I collect rocks in the shape of hearts. And when I see these things, the beauty in the day or the heart shaped rock. It’s like it shifts something in your brain where you have an attitude for gratitude. And you know that you’re being held and loved in this journey when you see these things because life is so beautiful. And when we slow down to just take these moments of awe and wonder to see what it’s there when I was drinking. I was too I was always working off a slight hangovers to check it out. Or I would skip the workout, skip the walk. So, getting into nature and just reconnecting. So, grounding. And I just encourage you to find the beauty and the magic in the day. So those are just a few of the tips.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:19
You know, it’s funny when I was in my first couple of months, I met on this online community, a group of women and someone was like, Oh, we’re who wants to do a photo of the day. And I remember I quit drinking mid-February. And I know we did it May, June, and July. And there would be a prompt for every day like it would be like under my feet or in my kitchen or herbs or a color green or whatever it is. And every day I would be like looking around for it like taking pictures on my feet at the bus stop or taking pictures out my window but so would everybody else, and you just write a line or two, and you got to know these women, so well, but at the same time, you were noticing those very small details. And it was just a really joyful thing to do.
Yes, again, the joy, right, finding the joy and the beauty in the day, it’s so important, because we’re just so busy in our lives, and we need to take these little they can. Sometimes, I’m going to say. Sometimes I’m in my journal for two minutes. And sometimes, I’m only sitting there for two minutes. But it’s okay, I know that I filled my bucket up, and I have this little space in my house in front of a window. And so, no matter how hard the day is, and there are moments where it’s that epic moment, like, Oh, my God, this is when I would have drank, I go up to that little pillow and I sit there, and it may only be two minutes. And it’s just deep breathing that I’m doing. Or it’s cussing in the journal and getting it all out. But take that time for yourself or pull over on the side of the road and just take the two minutes, like you said during the day to decompress, because then you come back, and you show up and you’re so much better off to your family and your loved ones. And I love that my kids, they’ll see me having a hard day and my son has said to me, Mom, do you need to go for a walk?
Oh, yeah, walking me just getting outside and moving or even just being outside like, laying on my front porch on the extra roll on my back on the front porch closing my eyes listening to the birds, it’s so soothing and movement is medicine. And when you can do it in nature, it’s like double fold.
Casey McGuire Davidson 56:39
And by the way, so much better than drinking three glasses of wine and being unproductive for the rest of the night. And then craving more and all that or adding cycle the vicious drinking cycle.
So, tell us where people can find your book where to find you all the good stuff.
So anywhere books are sold, you can find Intoxicating Lies, and my website you can sign up for my newsletter is intoxicatinglies.com. And I am primarily on Instagram, it is attached to Facebook. And that is @intoxicatingliesbook. So, all one word intoxicating lies book. And I just thank you so much for having me today is just really a great conversation that I hope reaches as many people who feel stuck in this space.
You’re not alone. There are many ways and many avenues to getting out of it. And there’s just such a better life on the other side of it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 57:34
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for being here.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.