Sobriety, Growth & Personal Development
When we change how we experience the world, we can stop trying to escape our feelings with alcohol. – Veronica Valli, Soberful
What if drinking isn’t the problem, but rather a symptom of the problem?
Is alcohol masking deeper personal growth work you need to do?
- Could stopping drinking be the first step in growing, changing and returning to yourself?
My guest today is Veronica Valli. She’s the author of three books: Why You Drink and How to Stop, Get Sober Get Free, Soberful, and co-host of the popular Soberful Podcast. With 20 years experience as a recovery coach and psychotherapist, Veronica has helped thousands of women stop drinking alcohol and transform their lives.
Tune in to hear Casey and Veronica dig into…
Sobriety as a gateway to personal growth, increased self worth and a return to yourself
- Why having a drinking problem is hard, but sobriety requires effort
5 pillars of sustainable sobriety: movement, connection, balance, process and growth
- How to find community and support when quitting drinking
- The fun, excitement, belonging and relaxation you can find in sobriety
- Loneliness and the three types of connections we need to overcome it: intimate relationships, friendships and community.
- Toxic relationship patterns and how to stop compromising yourself for love and acceptance
- Veronica’s sobriety journey and approach to helping women stop drinking and transform their lives
Ready to drink less + live more?
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More About Veronica Valli
Veronica Valli is changing the narrative on sobriety. Continuously sober since May 2nd, 2000, and with 20 years experience as a recovery coach and psychotherapist, she understands that there is no ONE path to recovery.
Author of books Why You Drink and How to Stop, Get Sober Get Free, and Soberful, and co-host of the Soberful Podcast, Veronica has helped thousands of women not only recover from alcohol but also transform their lives.
Veronica teaches that alcohol is not the problem—it’s only a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. She helps women dig deep, embrace change, and become who they are meant to be.
She works with women and men all over the world through her successful and innovative online recovery programs. She developed the Soberful program into an online subscription community; Soberful Life.
Learn more about Veronica and how she can support by visiting her website veronicavalli.com
Follow Veronica on Instagram @veronicajvalli
Join her Free Facebook Group: Soberful
Rate, Review, & Subscribe to her podcast Soberful
Connect with Casey
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ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Sobriety, Growth & Personal Development with Veronica Valli
drinking, drinking, alcohol, sober, people, sobriety, women, life, feel, work, meaningful connection, life sustaining, patterns, Veronica, perception, consistency, friends, big, months, coach, personal development, 5 pillars, movement, balance, process, growth, stop, meet, night, friendship, community
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Veronica Valli
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 bus, 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.
Hi there. My guest today is Veronica Valli. And she is changing the narrative on sobriety. Veronica has been continuously sober since May 2000. And has 20 years of experience as a Recovery Coach and a Psychotherapist, she understands that there is no one path to recovery.
You may already know Veronica, because she’s the co-host of the wildly popular, Soberful Podcast and I’m a huge fan of her work.
Veronica has helped 1000s of women not only recover from alcohol, but also transform their lives. And she teaches people that alcohol is not actually the problem. It’s only a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. So, she helps women dig deep embrace change, and become who they are meant to be. And I have to say that I was mentioning before we jumped on the podcast that I was just on a She Recovers Yoga Retreat that had been delayed for two years because of it on the beach in Mexico. And I went with one of my good friends from Seattle, who actually is in Veronica’s six month program. And she was just raving about how awesome and direct and practical and kind Veronica is and how much the program had worked for her. So, I’m super excited to talk to you. Welcome.
Oh, thank you. That’s so sweet. I know who you’re talking about. So, she’s wonderful. And I’ve loved seeing her really grown develop. So good to be here, Casey, and good to meet you.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:06
Yeah, and I’ve been following you for a long time. I know. One of the things I love is that you have been doing this work for a very long time, both in the recovery space and as a psychotherapist. So, I would love you just to introduce yourself and your approach in the work you do with your new book and sober fall.
Yeah, I’ve been sober for 21 and a half years. And it’s so funny because I got sober when I was 27. And I remember kind of thinking, like, seeing people who had 10 years ,20 years sober, I think. God, 20 years sober. I will be like, 47. And that is really like that, like, you’re pretty much done. I’m 48 now and it’s like, I only feel like I’m getting started.
So yeah, if you’re working as a therapist in all kinds of different modalities in the UK. And then when I came to the USA, I started working as a coach and sort of things started happening online, which is great, because you can reach them much more people through the internet now. So, the reason I wrote the book is, it’s really, I think it’s really with the rise of Instagram. I’ve seen, you know, so many people share their journeys of being sober and getting sober. And we’re seeing people that just don’t fit the stereotype. You know, they look like us and more. You know, I think that’s had a really positive effect on how we look at alcohol problems and how we look at sobriety. And I saw lots of people stop drinking, and you feel better when you stop drinking physically, you’ll just feel better. And then I’d see people really kind of get stuck like they would see all these people promise like a sub before life is amazing. But they were like six weeks over six months over nine months over and they didn’t understand why they were struggling or why they actually felt crappy a lot of the time. And I would kind of read these posts and think, Oh, well it’s because of x, y and Zed. So, I wanted to put all my experience of two decades into a book in a way that was really digestible, because what I do is personal development for sober people. You can’t just stop drinking and get on with things because drinking was more of a symptom than the actual problem. Everyone has to do personal development, we all have to, it’s just that when we have an alcohol problem, we get quite an urgent call to do this stuff. So, I wanted, you know, I’ve read these posts, and I describe a situation I think, well, that’s just because you don’t have good boundaries. If you had good boundaries in that situation, you’d feel so much better. And then you wouldn’t be thinking about drinking because you were frustrated and upset with how you’ve been treated. Or you know, I’d read something think Well, that’s because you haven’t dealt with the stuff from your past that was very traumatic that that needs to be healed, or, you know, all these things. I wanted to put it all together in a way that was really simple for people to understand, like, what is the work it this is the work? This is the work of sobriety. And again, it’s just personal development. It’s really skills and tools that everybody needs, but we need in particular.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:03
Yeah, I mean, I absolutely love that. Because I you know, I know, in my own story, you know, we drank for a reason, right? And it was for me, like people please even stress and being over scheduled and that boundaries and everything you said, and then I stopped drinking and all that stuff was still there. And you know, I got to about four months sober, I felt immediately better. I mean, once I actually got out of my first 30 days, I physically felt better, I felt more optimistic. I felt better, more capable of dealing with my work in my life. But then at four months, this huge anxiety attack hit. And I was like, fuck, I thought not drinking would fix me, you know what I mean? And like, I’d be all better. And I was kind of pissed that I still had to deal with stuff. But it was at that point that I actually went back to therapy, and started going weekly, and doing all the other things connecting with community and kind of digging into what are the other ways to change what’s not working for me without going back to a bottle of wine?
Yeah, I mean, it’s really the kind of philosophy of Know thyself, you know, we really, we default to alcohol, for a lot of things. And our culture really sets us up for that had a hard stressful day, we default to alcohol to deal with that have an argument with our partner, we default to alcohol to deal with those feelings, we want to cut loose and have some fun, we default to alcohol to facilitate that. So, we just kind of default to alcohol, to deal with a lot of emotions. And what happens is, that means we we’d never learned the skills that we needed to learn. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that when we get sober. We’re emotional teenagers, that, you know, if alcohol works, why do I need to learn to have boundaries, or how to deal with frustration or anger or anything like that, because alcohol just works until it doesn’t. And then when we don’t have alcohol, I have all these feelings, and I have no idea how to deal with them. You know, the big thing is how to have emotional mastery.
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:04
I totally agree. And I see people you know, because when you say like an emotional teenager, now that I’ve stopped drinking, now that I’m doing therapy and figuring out all this sort of small shifts to make in my life. I’m like, God, I wish I’d figured this out at the age of 18. You know, I could have kind of spared myself a lot of kind of maladaptive coping strategies. But I guess you know, you’re ready when you’re ready. Unlike you, I didn’t stop drinking at 27. I was just before 40 years old. So, I’m, I’m close to six years right now.
Yeah, well done on that. Congratulations. How do you feel?
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:41
Oh, I feel great. I mean, and what I found now is, I mean, obviously, I’m a sobriety coach and a life coach. So, I’m in this space a lot. But you know, I gather with other women who’ve quit drinking. And you know, once you get past sort of the first six months, the first year, maybe you’re too, it’s not about the alcohol, it’s just about life. You know, your partner, your marriage, what you want out of your life, what you want to do for your career after a certain point. And you know, life, they’re just a bunch of ups and downs. And, you know, for me, at least what I’ve removed is kind of knocking myself unconscious daily, and craving alcohol, but you know, you still sort of need people and connection and tools.
Yeah, because oh, can I ask you have you what, before you stopped drinking? Because the thing that I see, I think everybody has to struggle is we can intellectually get that it’s really bad for us and it’s not serving us Mother. What? But we think that we’re good if we stopped, we are going to miss out. Yeah, you discovered that you’re not missing out on.
Casey McGuire Davidson 09:46
Oh yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think like most people did not stop on my first try. And I also did not stop when I was first worried about my drinking. I mean, I was worried about my drinking when my son was six months old. I stopped for the first time when he was five and for the last time when he was eight, so it was a process. And I was trying to moderate and control it because like stopping drinking, it was terrifying because I did think I would never have fun again. And, and since I stopped and went back to it, what I realized is that the alcohol was actually bringing me to this really low, anxious, depressed place where I felt like I couldn’t cope. And once I got rid of it, everything seemed possible. And you know, I’ve been on vacations to Venice, and Croatia and Mexico and Hawaii and all the girls nights, you know, all the things that I was terrified to do without alcohol. And they are so much more fun, because I’m not hungover or zoned out or feeling guilty or pissed, or whatever it is.
And that’s what I call the great big alcohol lie. You know, and this is what keeps us stuck for so long is if you think, you know, you grew up in America, I grew up in the UK, not drinking alcohol was never presented to me as an option. I mean, unless you grew up in a particular religion, you’re going to become an adult, and you will get a driver’s license, and you will drink alcohol, to enjoy yourself and to deal with stress, because that’s what adults do. You know, I kind of look back on that and think it was never like, I couldn’t wait to drink. Because that’s what I saw around me. That was my perception.
That’s really interesting. We have to be very clear about perception. My perception was, adults were going out, and they were drinking and being drunk. And that was the best thing ever. And, yeah, I wanted to be part of that. And our culture, and our peer groups make a promise to us. And the media as well as be part of this marketing. It promises us that alcohol is the best way to have fun, excitement, connection, belonging, to relax, to reward yourself, and to get romance and sex. Who does not want those things, right? I mean, I’ve wanted all of those things. And I remember being 15 years old. This is back in the late 80s. In the UK, where nobody carded you, you just had to look old enough. And I was in a pub, and I went into blackout. And I came to outside of the pub literally in the gutter, my head was in the drain, covered in my own vomit with a landlord throwing a bucket of water over me. And I remember thinking this, like this isn’t right. But immediately everyone around me said, You are so much fun. Like you are so wild. Like you are like oh my god run across the party girl. So, this voice inside of me that when there’s something wrong with this was just drowned out by everything around me saying, lying in the gutter covered in your own vomit with a land altering bucket, what have you is like literally the wildest, craziest, fun thing. That means, you have had the most fun in that evening. And you think that messaging is everywhere, right? Like, and it’s when you deconstruct it, it’s it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t, it was horrible. But I absorbed that, and I filed it away my brain. And the next time I asked myself, like, how can I have fun? My brain went this. Yeah, so that’s how I drank. Like, Perception is everything.
You know, if you think about all of the things, the events and when you’re sober, you see it so differently. Like if I go to a wedding, or a concert or this or that drinking and being drunk will make that thing just that much better, and more special and more amazing. And the truth is not often. Yeah. And quite often the opposite is what happens. Yeah, I remember going to a concert when I was a couple of years sober. One of my favorite bands. And I went with a couple of you who drank who had that, like, if we drink, it’s gonna make this so much better. And like we were near the front; this is like my favorite band. Oh my god, I was loving every single song. I didn’t want to miss anything. I worship these people. Half the time they were either at the bar or a bar or in the toy.
Casey McGuire Davidson 14:07
I said, Okay, first I need to know what band it is. The Cure. Oh, okay. Yeah, that’s really awesome. I did the same thing. I mean, I used to always go, obviously to concerts and drink a lot. But I went with one of my best friends when I was about a year sober to see my favorite singer, which I’m kind of embarrassed to tell you who it was. But it was. It was Billy Joel. I love him when I was in eighth grade. Yeah, I know. I feel like he’s not cool now, but I know every single song he’s ever in, and we went there and Oh, my God, everyone around me was like getting up and stumbling over me and drunk and going to the bathroom and going to the bar and I’m like, you’re missing it. You’re missing the whole thing. So, I completely agree with you. And I also, I mean, I think we’re very I’m 46. So, you said you’re 48 I’m 48. So, we’re both as a manager. Yeah, and when I was in college, that exact same mentality was there. I mean, I played rugby. And women’s rugby in college was a huge drinking culture. And it was sort of part of the ritual. And they literally had a thing called boot and rally, where you throw up and what you do to be the coolest, is immediately drink again. And it was looking back completely and totally insane, obviously. But that was where all the stories came out. And that’s where it was like, Well, last night was wild. And then when you get older, which I’m sure you saw, the drinking changes, maybe the waking up in the gutter changes, but the mentality is the same.
Now, yeah, it’s really, I mean, that’s kind of my life’s mission is to change our mindset. And it doesn’t work by saying, alcohol is bad for you, you’re making a fool of yourself, it’s really, you know, not healthy, and you look really stupid, that doesn’t work. Because the perception people drinking, don’t see that. Instead, my message is, of course, you can have fun and connection, and reward yourself and relax by drinking. But there is always a cost, always a cost. And by the way, I’m doing all of those things without alcohol, and they’re better and I have no cost you pick, you know, that’s how we have to present is like, yeah, crack on, you know, with you with your drinking there. But I just dance for three hours straight with all my friends and had a great night out. And I spent maybe 20 bucks, and I got up on Sunday went for a run, you know, like I don’t have the cost. Carry on. If you’re happy with the cost. Just know that you can have you can have all of those things. And they’re better. And that’s the irony, please. I always say to people, but this I wasn’t having fun. I’ve been dropped 20 years ago, like seriously, like, whoa, this was like 20 years of just being buried. Yeah, like, I’d have been drunk. I was going to, you know, I was 27 when I stopped drinking. So, 28 Once I got some sobriety under my belt felt a bit firmer. I was going to nightclubs because I love dancing. And I like flirting with boys. So, I would go out and I’d be the designated driver and I danced and have fun and by 12:30. Be counted down because people are getting dropped up and drunk and drunk people are very boring. And I’d go home, and I danced all night and chatted and uploaded and had a great time. And it was amazing to me, it was just so much better than being the drunk mess that I was. So, we have to show people how awesome, and alcohol free life is. We can’t tell them that drinking is bad.
Casey McGuire Davidson 17:54
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, 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.
I completely agree because the sort of like remember how bad you are remember how bad it is, isn’t motivating in the long term right? You need to be like oh my God, this is so much more fun than drinking ever was. And that’s the truth. But you kind of have to get away from it. To see that. One question I had, since you brought it up, is a lot of women I talked to are worried about not drinking, if they’re single, they’re worried that it’ll be a liability in the market, or that they won’t be seen as fun, or it’ll sort of limit their prospects or what will they do on a date? And since you went through that, what’s your perspective on that?
Yeah, I hear that that’s really interesting. And also, kind of sad, isn’t it? I hate that I had that mentality as a woman that I had to change myself to be attractive to a man, there’s the whole thing about that. So, I think the first thing is, when I first got sober, I thought everybody drank the same way I did. So, it was kind of shocking to me, when I actually found that people, lots of people didn’t drink, just not the no reason that they just didn’t care for it. Or people just, you know, drink occasionally. So, when I met my husband, I was about six years sober. And I was like, I dated a couple of people who drank, I certainly didn’t ever dated people who drink alcoholic drinks. It’s just not attractive. I did. A couple of people drank, and when they were out with me, we had one or two beers. And we’re quite happy with that. We met on match.com. And one of the things that I really liked about that is you could actually put how much you drank. So, I put drink. And I think his option was occasionally and he’s a very occasional drinker. I mean, very occasion, maybe two, maybe two drinks a month if that. So, if people were like, I can’t remember the caste creed. But yeah, you know, love to party. I’m like, that was great, because that just filtered them out. So, I think that, for me, that’s not so much about the drinking, it’s about our self-esteem, and how much we compromise ourselves to be loved and liked. And that’s what I mean about the personal development work. And I know I did that, you know, I know I did that. And that was a big part of the work I had to do when I was sober. I had a lot of toxic relationship patterns, I tied myself up in knots to be pleasing. And I would always end up abandoned and miserable, being able to get to a place where I could stand in my truth and be who I was. That’s the work. It’s not about kind of whether you know, drinking, and dating, and all of that kind of stuff, it’s the right person will find you and find you attractive, regardless of you know, how much you drink. So that’s, it’s about the personal development work.
Casey McGuire Davidson 22:39
Yeah. And I love that, because I think you’re right, I think you’re completely right, when people are afraid that they will lose their friends or not be able to date or not be able to have fun. I mean, that is the sort of self-consciousness self-esteem, not valuing yourself as much as you should. And that’s uncomfortable, but that is the personal development work. And when you remove the substance that numbs you out or is like your crutch, then you get to evolve.
Yeah, I was three years sober. And I hit an emotional rock bottom in sobriety. And I had this pattern, very, very established pattern with men, where I, my relationships would last like six weeks to three months at the most, and then they would abandon me. And I used to, I mean, it was devastating. And I at this point was three years sober. So, I thought things are going to be better. So, I’m not drinking. And I was also a psychotherapist. And I knew about attachment and patterns. And the same thing was still happening to me. And the last time it happened is six weeks of relationship ended, I was in the black suicidal hole of despair. And it was a gift, it was the gift of desperation, because then I really worked hard on understanding why that wasn’t changing it. And you know, from I’ve been with my husband now for 15 years and breaking that pattern that I had that was so dysfunctional. So that’s that that’s the deeper personal development work that we have to do. And I also know when I share my story about relationships, it’s also very common. Lots of women who struggle with alcohol problems also have very dysfunctional romantic relationships. And alcohol is a huge part of that. I’ve seen a lot of women get so bad and go back to drinking because they met someone who didn’t approve or didn’t like it. And they wanted to fit in, and they wanted to be liked, and they wanted to be loved. And so, they drank to do those things.
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:37
Yeah, no, I I’ve seen that too. And it’s really hard. But I love that that’s the work you do, as well. I mean, when I quit drinking, I’d already been married to my husband for 16 years, I think, actually 14 We’re going on 20. This year, which is the go’s, but we met when we were in our first job at a college at 23. So, it was more like We were just moving to Seattle from DC together and then living together and then getting married and having kids and I was always this big drinker since college, and he was sort of like a catheter you would grow out of it. Like, I didn’t think it would just like continue. But I’m kind of lucky in that he was there with me the whole time. And you know, was a genuinely good guy drinks but you know, not like you said, not alcoholic Lee, unlike me, who had zero ostrich. So, in doing the personal development work, I know in your book, sober fold, that was what you wanted to help people through. So, can you tell us how you actually do that?
Yeah, so that’s in the book, what I talked about is the five pillars of sobriety and their personal development pillars. So, what we want is sustainable sobriety, which is sobriety, we don’t have to think about, you know, we, it’s in the beginning, in these first few weeks and months, we think about it a lot, right? We think about alcohol, we think about drinking, we think about not drinking a lot, and it requires effort. But it’s not like that long term. And the reason it’s not like that long term is because if we have to do this personal development work, if we focus on the personal development work, our sobriety will just take care of itself. We don’t, I don’t think about being sober or not drinking, I just, I just live my life. And I know from experience, when I continue to work on myself, not only does that keep me, you know, the best guard against ever drinking, but there’s this massive payoff where I work on myself and my life expands and improves, and in all sorts of different ways I never expected.
So, the 5 pillars are the pillar of movement, connection, balance, process and growth.
And it’s not that we do one at a time, they kind of all work together like cogs in a wheel. But the first one, movement is kind of where I start, because it’s the easiest place to start depending on where you are in your journey. And it’s simply about moving your body, that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. So, it’s just science that if you’ve drinking too much, you’re going to be depressed and low and your energy is going to be low. So, if we move our bodies and we exercise, it affects our serotonin, it gives us a lift, I will say to my clients, if you just walk 30 minutes most days for a month, you will feel measurably better at the end of it. But it’s also the other thing about movement is about being more purposeful about what we move towards and what we move away from. Because I think alcohol occupies so much of our bandwidth that we’re functioning, we’re going to work paying our mortgage, whatever. But we’re kind of drifting, we’re drifting away from our values, and we’re drifting away from what really matters to us. So, movement is about being clear on what our values really what really matters. What are we really here to do, because I know we didn’t come here to argue with ourselves about whether we’re going to have a glass of wine or not, tonight or not? So, it’s about being clear about what we move towards, and what we are moving away from.
And then the second pillar is connection. It’s that, we have to have meaningful connection in our lives. It’s life sustaining. And often a big part of having an alcohol problem is loneliness and disconnection, we can feel disconnected from ourselves disconnect from the people around us. You know, I like what you just, you know, you just went on this retreat. And I’m sure you felt so connected with me, probably not everyone but several ladies on a very deep level. Sure, you’ve had very deep and meaningful conversations where you felt really known and really seen, right? And I’m sure that they were better than any conversation you had in a bar where you felt at that time really connected. But the next day, kind of maybe a bit embarrassed or something.
Casey McGuire Davidson 28:54
Yeah, and one of the things I love is I actually love women who’ve quit drinking, because they’ve done some work, they’ve gotten, like, if you’ve not really surface and shallow is with someone else who has also quit drinking, there’s sort of this base understanding that you’ve done something that is really difficult to do that is sort of outside the normal pattern in our society, and that you’ve done it for a reason. And you know that. Plus, women who’ve quit drinking have literally the best stories like I’m so this week spending time with these women in Mexico. I mean, we had sharing circles every night. It poured rain one day and it was like we were at summer camp in someone’s room like how he old stories and then walking on the beach. So, you and the women were anywhere from, you know, sober for there with an 80 year old woman who’d been sober for like, Gosh, 30 years or something she was boogie boarding, and I was like in awe of her completely cause I was like, I’m not putting any more, the weights are kind of big. And then, you know, I was at almost six years, there are people in between a few people at like 70, 100, 120 days, and one woman was at six days. And we all needed that connection and those conversations, and just meeting other super interesting women.
Yeah, I love that too.
You know, I don’t know you or your story. But I know that you’ve known fear. I know that you have known loneliness, I know that you have struggled. I know you’ve had self-loathing. I know all of those things, because that’s exactly how I felt because nobody, you don’t get sober unless you’ve had those experiences. So, it does, it’s immediately I know a lot about you. And it just makes for deeper, more meaningful conversations. And I think that’s one of the big things I noticed, when I got sober, I used alcohol a lot to get connected, because I’ve felt lonely my whole life. So, alcohol, like that was my primary way to feel like I belonged. And that I was part of.
And really, I looked back, and I just see, it was just this very weak, artificial version of what is actually possible, because the connections I’ve had in sobriety just doesn’t even come close, you know, from, you know, my best friends, to my husband, people are just me on a retreat or something, or just have a conversation with it’s just, and it is, it’s the, it’s the juice of life, you know, there’s nothing, you know, I bet that you probably I mean, I’m sure being in the sun was wonderful, but it’s the connection that makes the experience, you know, it doesn’t, the food that the all the other stuff doesn’t matter as much as that you have really connected with people.
So, connection is a pillar that we have to work out. You know, when I got sober, I had no one, I had no family nearby, I had no friends. So, I went to a because that’s all there was back then. And I began to make connections that helped with the loneliness, and the self-loathing, and all that kind of stuff. So, we have to work at the connection level.
And there’s 3 types of connection, there’s intimate connection, there’s friendships, and there’s community.
And we have to have all three of those to not feel lonely.
So, when I was in England, and I put my husband in, we weren’t married then. And I had my great group of friends and my community. And then we got married and moved to Illinois. And all of I had my husband, but all of the other things fell away. And I felt very lonely. I had a baby I postnatal depression, because I just didn’t. And I had to, like I was going to mother baby groups, I actually was going to mother and baby group before I had my baby. I contacted a mother baby group said, I’m pregnant, and I don’t know anything about this. And I have no friends locally, can I come and just ask them questions. So, I would come when I was pregnant to these wonderful women who like because when you’re pregnant, you have 100 questions about what to do. And that’s what I mean, you have to work at the connection, you people are not going to show up at your door going, Oh, you seem like nice, come over, you have to show up in places consistently for people to know you. Because it makes such a difference that we have to work that pillar for, you know, and to have all of those three levels of connection.
And then balance, you know, balances and lifelong art. We all are circumstances will change, that’s a fact, nothing will stay the same. And as our circumstances change, how we meet our needs, and balance our needs, has to adapt to that. The best example was the pandemic, you know, when we locked down, you know, all of a sudden, I’m not able to go to the gym, or my yoga class or coffee with my friends or a 12 step meeting, or any of the things that helped me feel in balance. So, I had to still had those needs, but then I had to find different ways to meet them. But that happened to me, like, like before and after children like before I had kids, you know, I was doing all kinds of exercise, running and swimming and blah blah blah and going on retreats and meeting my girlfriend’s every week. But then I have kids and I can’t do any of those things because it’s just exhausted and but I still and I had to work out like once a month I had a mom’s group we went out for dinner and, and I would I had to walk with my stroller to get some exercise.
So, well. We all have these needs – of health, of spiritual needs, of emotional needs, at work and career needs, of creative needs. All of these different things that we will, as our circumstances change, we have to look at where we’re out of balance and look at how we can meet them. Because if we get out of balance for too long, we feel uncomfortable in our own skins. So that’s when you when you’re uncomfortable in your own skin. The answer is something is out of balance. And, and then we have to look and see what it is and what action we can then take to meet those needs. Not getting enough sleep not eating right. You know, it’s like having a break from your kids, you know, going to Mexico for a week, or just having a break from your family. So, you can come back and, and, you know, love them and all of that kind of stuff. So, it’s when we feel uncomfortable in our own skin, it’s usually because we’re out of balance somewhere.
Casey McGuire Davidson 35:29
Yeah, and I love that you said that about when you had kids, you felt really disconnected. Because I think for a lot of women I work with, that’s when drinking kind of scales up. And I know it did for me. You know, before I had my son, I you know, I took guitar lessons. Every week, I went to Pilates, I went to work out classes, I went to the gym at lunch. And then after I had him, I needed to like really buckled down at work, leave at five o’clock to pick up a daycare before, you know, they closed and then go home, and you have this whole second shift. And it’s brand new, like you said, you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s stressful. And so, I think that the way I sort of said, I’m still fun, and I’m still independent, and I’m still the person I used to be, and more than working and being a mother was drinking, right? Because you can kind of multitask when you drink, right? You’re sort of having a party in your living room while still building Legos every night. And yeah, it scales it gets, you know, it’s definitely problematic. And like you said, it doesn’t work and increases stress. I was having the full 3:00 am wake ups. It wasn’t the connection that I was seeking.
Yeah, I mean, this whole “Mommy needs wine” culture is such a massive disservice to women, mothers and children, all of the memes, all of the, you know, tech parenting is so awful, we need to be in this digitized to pair it. And I just, you know, see examples of this everywhere. And all honestly, I see women and making, you know, hitting the gym or whatever. And the truth is, you scratch that a little bit and those women are not okay, that are motherhood, especially in America. It’s like, I’m just gonna say this country is almost like anti motherhood, it doesn’t in any way support mothers. So, we default to alcohol. We’ve default to alcohol for the connection that we’re craving, because we’re so lonely, and to deal with the stress of just never feeling like you’re getting anything done. And you’re a terrible mother. Because there’s no childcare. There’s no I mean, I had postnatal depression, I have a black belt in mental health, like I’m really good at this stuff. And it was surprised it shocked me and I didn’t even realize until after like, I had postnatal depression. Yes, it was horrible.
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:49
You know what I found not with my first child. But with my daughter. I actually felt very lucky because I had also moved to a new town I was, had left all my work friends, I used to live three blocks from my best friend who had kids a couple years older than me. And I moved, you know, across the bridge in Seattle, and then finally joined this group called fit for mom. And you know, when the kids were really young, they had this thing called Stroller Strides, which I was like, I’m never going to do well. You know, I had my daughter, and it was fun. Like, we got exercises. We had our daughter’s there. I met people with kids. My age, you know her age. And then after she was eight months old, I joined, you know, this thing body? Well, where you didn’t bring your kids, but you worked out at 6:00 a.m. And it was all moms. And the women who work out at 6am are not the biggest drinkers, right? Just by definition. So, it was a great way to meet other women in the neighborhood. We talked about our struggles, justice, we passed, you know, working out just talking as we were running, but it was, and you see them enough and you are connected. You know, I’ve actually I’m still doing it. And my daughter is seven years old. So, I’ve been a member of that group for seven years.
Yeah, and that’s what mothers need. So yeah, I think that alcohol is just been the, it’s just been placed in so many places, that it’s just so easy to use that to get a distorted and less fulfilling version of the thing that we actually really do want, which is meaningful connection to be seen to be heard all of that kind of stuff. So yeah, yeah. So, the other two pillars of the program are processing, growth. And process is you know, as a psychotherapist, we all have to understand our past and what shaped us, and we all have to understand why we feel the way we do and why we respond the way that we do to the world. It’s all about patterns. Everybody has patterns of behavior because that’s how subconscious programming works. So, for me, it was the relationships it was like this was I knew this point when I was three years sober, that this was about Brandman, when my father left, and I was recreating that, but it couldn’t stop myself, even having the knowledge of knowing what I was doing, I couldn’t stop myself until I had done some deeper work on my own, really the spiritual side of things. So, everyone has patterns in relationships in all kinds of behaviors, and some of our patterns are really unhealthy and don’t serve us. Process work is really deconstructing and changing those patterns so that we can have patterns that serve us better.
Casey McGuire Davidson 40:34
So, with it looking at, like you said, like things that keep repeating, and your part of the behavior in that are, how do you kind of start to do that work.
So, the first thing to do is really begin to look at our limiting beliefs and the negative language that we have. So, we all have limiting beliefs, I mean, that they are a kind of, of their programming. So, we have belief systems about what we’re capable of how much money we can make, how successful we’re allowed to be. We have limiting beliefs about, and the thing is, these are easy to spot and other people. So, you can spot them in other people, like if you say x, they’re always gonna say y, but we have the same thing. So, we discover our limiting beliefs by listening to the negative voice in our head, the voice that saying, overall, if you can’t do that, or stupid, I have dyslexia. And that’s been a big thing for me, like, with writing or that kind of stuff, like anything academic, immediately, the voice will say, you’re gonna look stupid, people gonna think you’re stupid. If you do that, you’ll expose people think you’re stupid. And you’ll get laughed at because that had that happened to me in the past, when I was young, before my dyslexia was diagnosed. And I know I know that that voice is gonna show up around certain things.
First of all, I know, here it is, there’s that voice. And I have tools and strategies to be able to maneuver around that. So, looking at our limiting beliefs is really important. The negative voice and the patterns, relationship patterns is the big one. We all have patterns in relationship. And it’s just being curious. It’s like, Why do I always end up with that result? And because I, you know, like, what I used to do is I used to blame circumstances is that person’s fault, or it’s this, but actually, I’m the common denominator here. It’s a different circumstance, but I’ve ended up with the same result of what I don’t want. So, understanding our patterns, that’s what process with essential work, every human being has to do this, it we cannot fulfill our potential, or be as happy as we’re capable of being unless we do process work to understand our patterns.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:46
Yeah. And that’s really interesting, because it was something I actually realized or sort of put together on this retreat when I was talking to the women. One of the things that I sort of believed in that helped to help me back from stopping drinking for a really long time, was the idea around why people like me, right, and so in my mind, based on my parents, and, you know, my early relationship with my husband was the, the messages I always got is, what I love about you, is that you are so positive and happy and competent and self-sufficient. Right? So never complain, never need help. No, you know, mental health issues, because both with my husband and previous relationship, and with my sister and my family, they had mental health issues and struggles. So, I was the antithesis of that, right. I was the girl who was always okay. And so, as my drinking per guest, not only did I drink so that I didn’t feel those things, and so I could be happy. But also, I felt that by admitting that I had an issue with alcohol, I would show that I was not that person who was together and happy and competent and stable. And so, it was like this chicken in this egg where, you know, I wasn’t allowing myself to be supported, because I thought that that was why they liked me, you know?
Yeah, I mean, it’s really the journey of sobriety is ever we have to return to ourselves. And a big part of that is, and this is the work I have to like myself, yeah, I have to sleep in my head tonight. And that’s where it will things like boundaries and people pleasing behavior, all of that stuff has to change because I don’t like myself. When I compromise my values or twist myself up in knots to try and get you to approve of me. I don’t like myself. And that was a big thing I had to realize. I was you know, I all I cared about was that people liked me. And then I would compromise my integrity to make that happen. And that was a huge part of my work is that having boundaries, of what other people think about me is none of my business. And that I have to behave in ways that mean that I can live with myself. And that meant I had to change a lot of things. But when we get there, it’s priceless, though, isn’t it? I mean, being comfortable in your own skin and liking who you are. There’s no high better than that. There’s no boss better than that. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 45:23
And what I found, though, is, is with myself and with other people, they’re like, No, I like myself. Like, they’re not digging in or realizing some of the, you know, insecurities or the issues or what they’re masking. And I know, I was kind of the same way. I mean, I went to my therapist, and I was like, I don’t know why I feel this way. Because my life is good. I’ve had a great life. I have no problems, you know, and you’re sort of like, I’m supposed to be fine. And nothing. That traumatic happened to me. So why am I not coping? You know, and it takes time to I mean, I love that you’re a therapist, because you see that every day. Right? That, that it takes time to get into that?
Yeah, yeah, it does take time. And it’s worth, you know, people say this a lot. I hear this a lot, like getting sober is so hard. Like, it’s really hard. And I always push back there. That’s No, it isn’t. Having a drink problem is hard. That’s really hard work. Have you been to work on over if you don’t talk to small children hungover? That’s hard work. Sobriety requires effort. And that’s a very different feeling, you’re going to have to put some effort into this.
Whereas all of that energy you’re putting into your drink problem. It’s not. There’s nothing great at the end of that. But all the energy you put into sobriety, there’s some great stuff, there’s a payoff. Yeah. So, we get a good return on the investment of the effort and energy that we put into sobriety. And to be honest, I think that’s why I kept going, you know, I work the 12 steps, I kind of quickly saw, like, there’s a return on this. Like, this isn’t just going off into the ether, like, things happened, like changes happen, opportunities happened, and I could see a direct relationship between the work I did on myself, and the things that changed and improved in my life. And that was, as soon as I saw that, I’ve never stopped because it’s been amazing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 47:15
Yeah, I love that. Well, so that is the last one. The pillar of growth.
Yeah, so the pillar of growth is that we’re all getting called to grow. You know, getting sober is a call to growth that day that you wake up and just think I can’t do this anymore, there has to be, that is something inside of you calling you to grow. So, when you get sober, you’re going to get called to grow. Like I bet, you know, I can’t imagine that. Like, here I am 21. And like I didn’t, I had no idea I was going to end up here. When I first stopped drinking, I just wanted a job and somewhere to live and peace. That was it. So that’s because I kept getting this course to growth, you know, it could be in my career, it could be in all kinds of personal it’s that fit that little thing that ignites inside of you, you know that I’m sure you had that. Like when you came across coaching, you were something ignited, right. And you were like, oh, and that’s a call to growth. Now, the thing that happens when we get the quarter growth, we get that kind of something ignites inside of us, and we go forward, and then we will hit fear and resistance. Because pharmacist, he can’t have growth without fear. And then what I used to do sabotage that growth, I meet the fear and resistance and be like, Oh, I can’t do this. And then I just stay stuck in a holding pattern.
So, part of the work of sobriety is learning and there’s simply skills that we don’t have, how to navigate around the fear and resistance. So, it’s really, it’s doing it anyway, we will you’re going to feel fear, you’re going to feel resistance, but we’re going to go forward anyway. And we’re going to use these skills to quieten down those feelings, because then this thing that’s calling us to grow, it’s a new thing. It just then becomes our new normal, and then another quarter growth comes along and that never ends until the day we die. And I want to tell people, that is why you are here that is the point of life. The point of life is to listen to what is being ignited within you and go forward. That’s why we were all here that we did not come here to lay in the gutter public bomber.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:15
Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. And so, if someone is listening to this if a woman’s listening to this and she’s in that really hard place of like, going back and forth Should I stop drinking? Wait It’s not that bad. Is this a big deal of what am I going to you know do hanging out with my friends? What is your advice in terms of the first best next step?
number one thing is find community what however, I mean when I got sober it was aa but that’s all there was there. Now there’s lots of different things in person and online. You can’t do this alone. If you knew how to do this, you would have done it already. So, find your community of people you know she recovers is fantastic. I have a group called Sober For Life of community to people all over the world, there is a there’s women for sobriety, there’s so many different organizations now find a community of people.
And the other thing is consistency. I see this a lot of people saying, you know, keep trying to keep failing? The answer is consistency. It’s to keep going, no matter what consistently, imperfectly, keep showing up and work a program. And those are the things that make the difference.
Casey McGuire Davidson 50:29
That’s awesome. I love that. And your book is a wonderful place to start. I read it this last week, it is such a great practical model for going through the steps and for what you need to build a life you really happy with without alcohol. So, thank you for writing it, it just came out. So, what’s the best way for people to find it to follow up with you to learn more about your work?
So, you can find the book anywhere that you buy books like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, that kind of stuff. I think there’s a server for book.com has all of the links. And you can find me if you just Google so before I have a website, so cool.com And I’m on social media, Veronica je Valley, Instagram and I have a Facebook group called so before as well. Yeah, in your podcast, your podcast. Oh, yeah. This I have a full podcast too. Yeah. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:22
That’s great. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I’ve loved this conversation.
Thank you so much.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
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.