The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober + Sunshine Warm Sober With Catherine Gray
If you’ve read any Quit Lit, Catherine Gray’s book, The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober, is likely on your bookshelf or Kindle.
It’s one of the first books about giving up alcohol I recommend to women as they’re starting their journey to stop drinking.
So I’m incredibly excited because my guest today is the author of The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober, Catherine Gray.
I met Catherine online in a secret non-drinking Facebook group 8 years ago, when she was first starting her life without alcohol and she has been an inspiration to me ever since.
We’re here to talk about all things drinking, quitting drinking, the joy you can find in life without alcohol and her new book, Sunshine Warm Sober: Unexpected Sober Joy That Lasts.
Staying sober is about so much more than putting down the alcohol. It’s about recovering and reclaiming your best possible self.
You don’t have to spend all day sleeping off your hangover, you can leap out of bed at seven and go on an early morning walk, or join your friends for a lovely brunch.
Catherine Gray is a Sunday Times bestselling author of five books and an award-winning writer and editor. Catherine’s hit debut, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, was a Sunday Times top 10 bestseller. Since then she has published The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Journal and the critically acclaimed Unexpected Joy of Being Single and The Unexpected Joy of The Ordinary.
In this episode, Catherine and I chat about:
The lie that sober life is dull and undesirable, when it’s actually bigger and more joyful than life with alcohol
- Why it often takes four years between intending to stop drinking and actually quitting for good
- How to view the process of ‘slipping’ as a learning process, not a failure
The sober revolution taking place in younger generations with baby boomers now drinking more than millennials and gen z
- How to approach life without alcohol in terms of emancipation, not deprivation
- How childhood trauma informs our drinking habits
- The new research indicating that drinking a bottle of wine is comparable to the cancer risk of puffing 10 cigarettes for women
- How to unplug from the alcohol matrix
Support and resources to help you break away from wine mom culture
You can Drink Less + Live More today with The Sobriety Starter Kit. It’s the private, on-demand coaching course you need to break out of the drinking cycle – without white-knuckling it or hating the process.
Grab the Free Sober Girls Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First 30 Days
More about Catherine Gray
Catherine Gray is a Sunday Times bestselling author of five books and an award-winning writer and editor. Catherine’s hit debut, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, was a Sunday Times top 10 bestseller. Since then she has published The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober Journal and the critically acclaimed Unexpected Joy of Being Single and The Unexpected Joy of The Ordinary.
When she’s not writing, Catherine can generally be found taking twenty (identical) pictures of the sunset, wondering why she’s always the sweatiest person in yoga, fighting her ‘spend it all!’ financial urges, or scanning the body language of strangers to see if it’s OK to pet their dog.
Follow Catherine on Instagram @unexpectedjoyof
Grab your copy of her best selling books:
Connect with Casey
Find out more about Casey and her coaching programs, head over to her website, www.hellosomedaycoaching.com
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober + Sunshine Warm Sober With Catherine Gray
the unexpected joy of being sober, Catherine Gray, drinking, sober, alcohol, people, book, life, day, quit lit, feel, sobriety, unexpected, years, addicted, addiction, childhood trauma, cigarettes, joy, recovery
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Catherine Gray
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.
If you’ve read any Quit Lit, Catherine Gray’s book, The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober, is likely on your bookshelf or Kindle. It’s a book I absolutely love and it’s one of the first books about giving up alcohol I recommend to women as they’re starting their journey to stop drinking.
So I’m incredibly excited because my guest today is the author of The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober and we’re here to talk about all things drinking, quitting drinking her writing, and her new book, Sunshine Warm Sober: Unexpected Sober Joy That Lasts.
Catherine Gray is a Sunday Times Bestselling Author of five books, and an award winning writer and editor. Her hit debut, The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober, was the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller.
Since then, she’s published The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober Journal, the critically acclaimed The Unexpected Joy Of Being Single and The Unexpected Joy Of The Ordinary.
When she’s not writing, Catherine can generally be found taking 20 identical pictures of the sunset, wondering why she’s always the sweatiest person in yoga, fighting her ‘spend it all’ financial urges or scanning the body language of strangers to see if it’s okay to pet their dog.
So Catherine, welcome!
Thank you. Well done getting through that that was a lot of unexpected joy.
Well, I love it. And I have to say I almost broke out laughing right at the end about scanning body language of strangers because my daughter is seven years old and she does that all the time. And she’s like signaling to people at dinner with their dogs under their table. And I’m like, stop it.
Yeah. And basically a dog hound. I follow people around. And I mean, lockdown was really upsetting for so many reasons, but also that you can’t then touch strangers dogs. But now I have my own. So I also don’t stalk strangers who own canines, which is a relief for everyone.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:31
Yeah, I just saw that. So what kind of dog did you get?
Um, he’s a Springapo. So otherwise known as brutal as a Springer Spaniel and a poodle. So he’s basically just really bouncy and really fun and loving.
Oh, that’s awesome. Well you know I’ve been like asking you to come on the podcast for a while because I absolutely love your books. And one of the reasons I love them so much is that your approach to life without alcohol is that you challenge the idea that when you remove alcohol, your life is boring and dull, and flip it on its head to say that, you know, sober life is actually not only good for you, but way better and more fun than drinking ever it was.
Yeah, I mean, I I knew that on some cellular level right at the very beginning, that I wanted my sobriety to feel more about emancipation rather than deprivation.
So I set out to find everything I could that was positive about it. And it has been an entirely positive experience. I just, I’m so much happier. I can’t even tell you and everything about my life is better. And not only that, but this is a universal experience. You don’t nobody regrets quitting drinking. They only regret picking back up again. So we’ve been sold this lie that drinking is a happier life and sober is deprivation. And it’s just not the case. The other way. In most cases, so yeah, it’s it’s just a big fat myth.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:18
Yeah. And it’s also I mean, I feel like the absolute hardest time is, is what so many of us go through for, you know, a couple years often of like, knowing drinking is bad for you, trying to quit and getting a few days, drinking again and beating ourselves up. That’s the really crappy part that can last a long time.
Yeah, that’s how I mean, it truly is. And I must have had about 37 day ones. And the way the shame you feel about slipping again, the having to tell people that you’ve drunk again, and you’ve busted your day one is, it’s just so all consuming.
I really feel for people who are in that process, but little do they know that that is when you do most of your learning. I mean, it feels like they’re failing, but then learning all the time, because every slip, there’s an important lesson. And if you heed it, then it can get you to a day one that sticks. So it’s so painful, but it’s where you do your most learning about how to live a completely alcohol free life.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:30
Yeah. And it takes a really long time to figure out all of those lessons, and you know what to do and what works for you. Because it really the approach that works for different people is completely different. You know, there’s no one way.
It’s as unique as every person is. And I mean, even if somebody does a very traditional way, and they go to rehab and do 12 step, even if they do that to the letter, they’ll still have done it slightly different to the person next to them in the meeting or the rehab, they still will, that have interpreted it in a different way, they’ll have used different tools within the program.
There are so many ways to get sober, just as many ways as there are people.
Casey McGuire Davidson 07:21
Yeah. And so if folks haven’t read The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober, your first book, will you tell us about that first book?
Yeah, I’ll do my best. So it’s, it’s quite hard to intense but basically, it’s about me quitting drinking back in 2013. And I wrote it when I was four years sober. And originally I wanted to call it the life changing magic of sobering up a bit like a, you know, a spin off of Marie Kondo, and life changing Magic of Tidying Up. But my agent told me out of it, she shows she came up with the unexpected joy of being sober, but I mean, it’s the same vibe, isn’t it?
And I just wanted to tell everyone what it’s actually like, I think a lot of quit lit focuses on that struggle that painful bit, before you start even trying to quit, or the bit where you do have the 37 day ones.
And if you look at it, I’ve read a study that showed that it takes four years between intending to quit and actually quitting for good. And I actually think even though, you know, probably only from when I publicly said I want to quit drinking, to actually my day one was on the surface of it five months, it was more like four years.
And so many of the books just ends when the when the day one comes along, or they maybe have one chapter or two chapters, about what sober living feels like. And so it feels like it’s all dark, there’s not enough light.
And so I flipped that and made most of the book about the light that comes after the dark. There’s still you know, a lot of gritty stuff in there, but most of it is about the, you know, the the dawn rather than the darkness.
Casey McGuire Davidson 09:29
Yeah, I love that because you do a lot of contrast in in terms of like, attending weddings when you were drinking and you know, attending with wet beans once you’ve quit drinking and dating and everything else like really showing the how different it is, but also how much better it is once you’ve left the booze behind.
Yeah, and I do that in the new book as well because I really like that tool, that kind of split screen diary tool and for me I mean, this is the thing for me it consolidates it for me as well in my own head writing these books helps my sobriety.
Because it I really, then there’s literally no even even a sliver of doubt that this is the lifestyle for me going forward. Yeah, because I write about it so much. And that to me, helps me work it all out. It’s like that Joan Didion quote, I don’t know what I think until I write it down. If I hadn’t written these books about being sober and loving it so much, who knows, I might have gone back, you know, to a me writing has been a therapy, and I recommend it to everyone who’s quit drinking.
Casey McGuire Davidson 10:41
Yeah, I feel the same way about the podcast because it forces you both to go back. And remember stuff that maybe would have faded out and you would have forgotten about and also focus on what’s so much better now.
Exactly. I mean, if you have to punch yourself back into moments so so like a moment, there’s, there’s one in the new book about me waking up on holiday, and not knowing my hair is wet, it might wipe my clothes are full of fans, and then the memory coming back to me of what I did the night before, and then contrasting it with waking up on a sober holiday. And just knowing exactly what I’ve done for the past seven and three quarter years, is it’s so much better. And for me, having to airdrop myself back into those moments just strengthens it all for me. Because it would be very easy because society is very pro alcohol. And alcohol marketing is everywhere. And we do the marketing for them, you know, by sharing things on Instagram of us for the dream. And the hangovers are not on Instagram.
Casey McGuire Davidson 11:52
In The Unexpected Joy you talk about how women can unplug from the alcohol matrix.
And it is shocking how much of you call it a booze pusher society is?
Yeah, I mean, even if you’re watching TV and film, if you completely remove, you know the fact that alcohol sponsors it or there’s advert breaks or whatever 80 to 95% of TV and film depicts alcohol in a positive light said this study. So it’s it’s something that we don’t see very often if if you and it can, over the years, you can forget how bad it was and find yourself inching slowly towards drinking again.
Because I mean, when I was about four years sober I remember one of my best friends he’s a therapist saying to me, but you know, you’ve you’ve disentangled yourself from dependent drinking. So surely you can drink moderately, and you know, you’re happy now you’ve sorted everything out and your life. So surely you can drink again.
And I’m like, no. The reason I’m happy and everything is good is because I’m not drinking. If I go back to drinking, then it will all become a mess.
Again, it was the way that people think about drinking, it’s almost like another food group.
Some people just find it unthinkable that you never want to drink again. But to me, that’s a giant relief.
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 actually love that. And I want to ask you more about that. Because in your new book, you talk about the idea of two different things being true, right? So you’re, you know, around the idea of like, once an addict, always an addict, that you are no longer addicted to drinking, because you’re not drinking, but you have no doubt that if you were to pick up again, it would be a serious problem. Can you talk more about that?
Yeah, I think I think it’s a really interesting thing, that these two things can coexist. At the same time. It’s, it’s more nuanced than if you were once addicted to something, then you’re addicted to it forevermore. Because I am not currently addicted to alcohol. I don’t crave it, I could, I don’t. But if I if I needed to, I could have it in my house and not drink it.
And once upon a time, that would have been unthinkable, you know, I needed a booze free bubble to feel safe.
So I’m not in any way, physically or psychologically addicted to alcohol anymore. And yet, neuroscience tells us this is true, that once you’ve done something to an addicted level, those neural pathways live on in the brain, they’re disused, and they’ve shrunk, and they’re covered in cobwebs and you’re not using them anymore. But if you pick up alcohol again, you will wake them up, and those neural pathways will fire again.
And so you will most likely go back to drinking as you did before, just in the same way as if you were once a concert pianist. If you sit down at a piano, you will play piano to the same level that you did before.
And this is really something that was really interesting to find out for the book is that neuroscientists and and I talked to four experts very in depth for this new book.
And they now say addiction is not a disease. It’s more like a learning process.
Our brains have learned to drink to this level to become addicted to this substance. And they’ve now placed it on a survival in a survival region of the brain that normally you would have, you know, eating, sleeping, you know, running away from lions, things like that.
So it’s become imperative in your brain. And so, actually, it’s, it is almost like you’ve learned to do it, and you can unlearn to do it, and learn to be sober instead.
But it doesn’t mean those neural pathways are going anywhere. So for me, that explains why those two things can coexist.
I am not currently addicted. But if I were to restart, I believe I would be addicted again.
And that makes so much sense. I’m glad you dug into that, because I thought that was incredibly interesting.
So in your first book, in the unexpected joy of being sober, I just want to hype it a little bit, because I loved it so much. And it’s so helpful for women when they’re when they’re starting out. You’re chapter two, in learning to be sober. You outline 30 things that got you through your first 30 days, huh?
Yeah, I’m trying to remember what some of these were.
Casey McGuire Davidson 19:06
Oh, of course, I got them in front of me. They’re just so you know, within the in the spirit of everyone has a completely different path. I just love that you gave an example of like the big things and the little things that really helped you from you know, crying your eyes out to taking long baths to you know, how you went to sleep and carrying around my little pony to the big stuff like addictive voice recognition and joining 100 Day Challenge.
There is so much that goes into putting together the tools you need to get through the first 30 days which are really the hardest.
Yeah, they really are that they’re so tough. If you look at the first test days, honestly, I think they are the equivalent of the whole of year four. They are just so savagely difficult.
But also you even in the first 30 days, you start to get the limits of what it’s going to be like later on, you get these kind of little surges of euphoria.
Just little things like when I was three weeks in, I think it was, I started sleeping through the night, which just had not been a reality for me for so long. Because halfway through the night, the alcohol would start leaving my system. And that wakes you up because basically, you’ve gone into withdrawal.
Everyone should just try everything, and keep what works, and they’ll find their 30 tools that will help them.
But the best advice I would give anyone is to treat it like you’re studying for a degree, you know, you are trying to learn how to undo something that you’ve done, probably for at least a couple of decades, because most people don’t quit until they’re in their, you know, late 30s.
That tends to be about the average age. And if not 40s or 50s.
So if you think about it that way, I’m trying to unlearn something that I’ve done for decades, you understand how much time you need to put into this to break that. So it just read everything, you can do everything. You can try everything, you know, tapping, meetings, whatever, and keep what works for you.
Casey McGuire Davidson 21:39
Yeah, absolutely. Well, so your new book, you said that the first 30 days was sort of the whole of your Year 4 in terms of challenges and, and things you were going through and learning. And your new book is is basically Years 4 to 8. Is that right?
Yes, I’m in year eight at the minute. Although I’m not, I’m not eight years sober, if that makes sense. In my eighth year, I’ll hit eight years in a couple of months.
So I didn’t expect that I was going to learn so much in later recovery, I just I kind of thought I’d learned all I was going to.
The things you learn in longer term recovery don’t seem like they’re to do with drinking, but they are to deal with drinking. Because if you don’t tackle them, then they can lead to resentments, that leads to thinking about drinking that leads to drinking.
So things like setting boundaries with people digging through childhood trauma.
I mean, a lot of us will see the term childhood trauma and think oh, that doesn’t apply to me, that applies to people who’ve had a really rough time, you know, that’s not me. But if you actually do the test, the adverse childhood experience test, you might find that it does apply to you. It did apply to me.
And it’s the chart tracking predisposition for later addiction. It turns out that having a tough time in childhood trumps anything else, you know, genetics, and drinking under the age of 15 is also a big one. But that only makes you four times more likely.
Childhood trauma makes you seven times more likely that you’ll be predisposed to later addiction.
So it’s 100% the predictor of later having a dependency issue.
Not everything that you expect, right, in terms of childhood trauma, you know, yes, or anything like that. There’s a lot more in there.
Yeah, so one of the I’m just doing this from memory, but one of the questions on the questionnaire that determines if you have four or more of these ACEs, what they call them is were you consistently shamed or humiliated by a caregiver? You know, and I wouldn’t have thought of that as you know, name calling from a caregiver, I wouldn’t have really thought of that. So traumatic childhood experience, but it is.
Another one is was some, you know, a caregiver or an adult in your house addicted to something while
you’re growing up. And again, you wouldn’t really think of that as necessarily a traumatic childhood.
When I think of trauma, I think of, you know, the really dark stuff, you know, bereavement and sexual abuse, and of course, those do feature in that question, but some of the other ones are less likely and more surprising.
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:48
Yeah. And in the book, I think you say that staying sober is about so much more than putting down the alcohol right so you get away from the, from the physical or habitual or emotional addiction.
And then you’re left with everything else that you kind of led you to do that in the first place.
Yes, and it’s also the machine, you know, the giant marketing machinery around alcohol, like, for instance, that I’m sure it’s the same in the States, but the alcohol brands are still allowed to sponsor sports and they’ve done something really interesting this year and that they’ve started, you know, using there’s zero proof that you know, zero brewed beer, it but I think that’s a preemptive strike. I think it’s because they know that it’s, it’s the, the net is closing in, because a lot of countries have now outlawed any sort of alcohol sports sponsorship, because, obviously, alcohol, we know, it’s really bad for our health, it’s, it’s practically on a par with smoking. So a lot of countries have outlawed it now, but we haven’t here in the UK. And I know it’s still going on in the States.
I think, well, it’s a very clever way of then saying, well, hang on, you know, we’re we’re promoting a zero proof brands. Let’s still promoting that. That name, you know, when people see zero, I won’t mention names, but you know, zero proof, whatever beer brands, they they’re still marketing that beer. Yes. It’s not like it’s not like them marketing, say for instance, Seedlip, which doesn’t have an alcoholic version of it. They’re not in enhancing that brand awareness.
Casey McGuire Davidson 26:41
Well, I think it’s so interesting. You mentioned the, you know, how inherently bad it is for you. And one thing in your book that that sort of blew my mind, because I actually didn’t know it. You said in a 2019 study, a bottle of wine a week was compared to the cancer risk of puffing 10 cigarettes for women.
Yeah, and five cigarettes for men. And I mean, that study was obviously huge. It’s, it’s a hugely shocking thing to learn. And yet, it really didn’t get the press, it should have
Casey McGuire Davidson 27:17
I drank a bottle or more of wine a night, 365 nights a year. So I was basically smoking 10 cigarettes a day, every day!
Yeah, that’s what that’s that’s what the study found.
Because it increases the incidence of seven different types of cancer, especially women.
So it’s, it’s a really shocking thing to learn. And yet we have alcohol without health warnings, don’t know what the case is in the States. But here we have no health warnings on alcohol. And yet, cigarettes are hidden away. They’re not promoted in any way. They’re not advertised, they’re covered in health warnings and pictures of disease lungs, and alcohol is is not in any way.
So and the most recent research here shows only one in 10 Brits knows that alcohol is related to cancer, that alcohol can cause cancer. So obviously, the education is not bad, and it needs to be done. But it’s not being done.
So all of these things, it’s not just on a micro level, you know, keeping yourself sober. It’s also on a, it’s on a macro level, realizing that a lot of this is wrong. A lot of what’s going on is corrupt. And once you know that once you can kind of see the man behind the curtain that the reason why we’re not getting the whole truth about alcohol, you are much more immune to the marketing, because you can just see that it’s nonsense. It’s just smoke and mirrors to sell alcohol.
And the memes in lockdown were unbelievable. You know, lockdown rules are airport rules – start drinking at 11am if you want to. And all the homeschooling mommy juice memes as well. They were everywhere.
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:13
Yeah, it’s like this circular firing squad, right? Because, you know, we’ve been conditioned since birth, to basically believe that we need to drink. It’s part of being an adult and bonding and, and then there’s the marketing and then your friends keep reinforcing it too.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s from all sides. So in order to stay strong and resolute and clear, and in the midst of all of that storming around you, and you need to immerse yourself in it and know about it and know that it’s wrong that you know, we don’t know that a bottle of wine is the same as 10 cigarettes in terms of cancer risk. It is pretty much the same as in the late 90s, in the early noughties, when people started turning their back on cigarettes. And then of course, the smoking ban came in and the health ones came and the advertising was banned, and all of that, and that will all happen. But alcohol is just a matter of time.
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:31
So do you feel like there is a sober revolution going on?
Yeah, the figures back it up. The younger you are, the less you drink, which is just completely the opposite to how it’s traditionally been. I mean, the biggest drinkers in in the UK are baby boomers who are aged 55 to 70. And so they’re drinking more than their teenage children.
So millennials who are sort of late 20s into the late 30s, I think a third of them don’t drink now. And then when you look at Generation Z, which is kind of teens and early 20s, they are drinking even less again.
So it’s clear that it’s beginning to die out just like smoking did. And we’re just really early adopters.
Casey McGuire Davidson 31:33
You stopped drinking before I did. I didn’t stop till about six months before I turned 40. Despite, you know, worrying about it or trying to moderate or all the things for a good decade before.
Yeah, well, I think that’s really common. I would if I could guess if I could pin, as guesstimate at the median age, I would say it’s probably about 37 or 38. I was 33. But just just circumstances, I mean, I think if my life had if things had been different than I probably would have drank for longer, you know, I suddenly found myself in a situation where I was freelancing in a terrible toxic relationship and could drink all they ever wanted to. And it just, you know, just the circumstances around it created almost like perfect conditions for my addiction to dig its cause and really take hold. But if I hadn’t been in that situation, if I’d continued in full time work and been in a happy relationship, and that kind of thing, I could totally foresee that I would have drank into my 40s and beyond. It just depends when it all comes to a head, you know,
Casey McGuire Davidson 32:43
The sad thing with that is you’re just putting off the joy of being sober. You’re just putting off the feeling of freedom and happiness and contentment of life in full color without hangovers. That is out there for you. I spent so many years trying to hang on to drinking, and didn’t realize how good I was going to feel once I finally gave it up.
Yeah, and I mean that that is what we can do to help the people coming up behind us is obviously, you know, attraction, not promotion, don’t preach, because that really turns people off. So if people are curious, and they ask about it, tell them the truth, tell them how much better it is.
And why not talk about it on socials? Now that’s completely socially accepted. When I when I yeah, it just wasn’t I didn’t come out on Facebook until, I don’t know, it was three years even when I joined Facebook groups that were full of people in recovery. I used a pseudonym at first because there was still this real shame and stigma attached to it. And that’s not the case anymore. I mean, that has really receded and died out. So it’s it’s definitely something that’s shifting and changing. It’s been quite glacial, but it’s finally really, really happening.
Casey McGuire Davidson 34:09
Yeah, well, I have to tell you, you were a huge part of me deciding to quit drinking.
I don’t think you know this story. But when you quit drinking in 2013 that was the first time I quit drinking for a year as well.
We were in one of those secret not drinking Facebook groups, the BFB. You were posting quite a bit and I was reading everything you were you were posting and loving it. And then I was sober for a year, I had my daughter and I went back to drinking.
Big mistake. But I went back to drinking for two years. I quit when she was about 22 months old.
And the entire time I was in the BFB, one of the women who just first name Jen, who you’re good friends with, I also talked to in my first couple of weeks, we were like a week apart, the first time we stopped drinking.
And so basically three years after I stopped for the first time, you went to San Francisco with Jen and a bunch of other women in your gratitude group. And you posted in the group, and you guys were riding cable cars, and you were biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, and you were drinking tea on the other side.
And you looked so healthy, and happy and lovely.
And I knew all you guys I knew, because originally, we were all around the same time period. And I was hung over on my couch for the like, month three in a row. And I actually saw that picture of you and Jen on my phone (not to be stalkerish). And I was like, This is what I want.
Oh, that’s so lovely. Thank you for telling me that. And I mean, that’s what I did as well, I went on there. I mean, because I when I went on there, or additionally, I don’t think I what had found my day one. And so I was very much looking at other people and thinking what they’ve got, you know, I want that I want that glow. And I want that fun without alcohol.
And so we can all like give each other a little leg up when we when we’re out and open about being sober. Even if it’s in a closed group, you don’t have to do it. But you know, where your workmates can see or whatever. But it really does pass it on and pass it down. And that’s the best service you can possibly do.
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:53
It was such a contrast, right? You talk about this even the name of your book that, you know, you’re pushing back against this stone cold, sober propaganda that when you stop drinking, your life is sad and depressing.
And I just remember that image of you guys that you were posting. And you were sober and healthy and happy and exploring and having adventures and I the drinker was hung over on my couch. You know what I mean? Like it was just such a contrast.
Yeah, I mean, because one of the things that people don’t necessarily know, and that puts them off, is that they think, oh, there’s so many things I won’t be able to do when I don’t drink, you know, away those pity parties, I won’t dance, I won’t be able to date.
And obviously, those things are all challenging, and it takes time to learn how to do them. But say, for instance, on that holiday, if me and that gratitude group had been drinking, do you think we would have you know, ridden cable cars and ridden bikes and all of this all this exploring and all this fun outdoors stuff, I don’t think we would have, I think we would have sat in the place that we’d rented and drank.
Yeah, and then potentially, you know, gone out for, you know, a slap up brunch the next day with mimosas and posted a picture of that. But we would have been dying .
The next day, we wouldn’t have wanted to bike across the Golden Gate and go Sausalito and eat ice cream and go on a ferry, you know, that just wouldn’t have been any of that.
Or even if we had done it, we would have been absolutely crucified.
I remember, there was such a juxtaposition as well biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, were on that particular trip because I done it. And I want to say maybe four years earlier, when I was so hung over. And I did not enjoy it at all, I was just a bit shaky and fearful about being on a bike. And I actually fell off when I got to Sausalito busted my face open had seven stitches in my face. And then of course, I use the injury as the excuse to start drinking again, even though it was about two o’clock because you know, I’d hurt myself, I needed a drink, and then carried on drinking through till 11 and ruin the next day as well.
So it feels like such hard work keeping alcohol in your life, that when you finally let it go, you realize everything is actually easier.
And I have time and energy and money to do things that I didn’t do before. Or even if I take them before I can now fully enjoy them. Because I’m not hung over or jonesing to go to a bar instead of be on this bike.
So it just changes everything and you find that your life opens up rather than stays in this very small little circle where the only thing you really truly enjoy is drinking.
Casey McGuire Davidson 39:51
That comes through so clearly in all of your books and and that’s why I love recommending them to women because It really is the flip side, you You almost take every argument that we all have that we all hold on to about why we don’t want to stop drinking.
And you flip it on its head to show, you know, you’re actually keeping your world really small and missing out on things by drinking.
It’s so true. But there’s it, you can’t, people will often say, Oh, your book got me sober. But that is just not true. I, my book did not get them sober. Because for a start, they wouldn’t have picked up my book unless they’ve been thinking about quitting drinking, first of all, and then they go on the journey, they do the work.
All you can do is hand someone a torch and say, you know, here’s how I did it. Now you go find your way, you can give them a map of how you did it, give them an idea of the rough terrain, but you can’t walk that walk for them, and they have to be ready for it.
So it’s until people are sober, curious, genuinely, unless they’re seriously sick of being sick and tired and sick of their drinking, then they they can’t get there.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:23
Yeah, but I think you’re right that like eight years ago, you know, the first time when you quit drinking, when I started quitting drinking, nobody was talking openly, certainly not on Instagram, or social media, or people I knew about having loved drinking, quitting, and that life was actually awesome. On the other side, no one was talking about that openly.
No, it really wasn’t a narrative that I could find anywhere. I mean, apart from as we’ve talked about, at the very end of Quit Lit, where it was like, and then I quit, and everything was great by the end.
And I was hungry for it. I wanted to know why exactly, it would be worth it. I wanted to know why. Exactly, I should go through this savage withdrawal and how of having to relearn how to socialize. And I needed the carrot, I didn’t want the stick. I’d already you know, I’d had been living in the dark side of the consequences of my drinking for so long. And the stick wasn’t going to get me sober. Basically, I needed to see or have some idea of how I was going to feel when I was four years sober, like, why my life was gonna be better. So for me, that’s what I tried to provide is just a big, fat, juicy carrot.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:49
Yeah. In a lot of people, because you’ve talked about how the way it’s presented is that you remove the alcohol and then you kind of live your life and penance for having not been able to control or moderate this addictive substance.
Yeah. And I think, yeah, I think I think some people do live their sobriety, forever missing alcohol, and not fully exploring what it took away from them and how hellish their life was. And that’s a real shame, because I think it is 100% something that drags us down. Even when I think that to the day is a very, you know, when I very first started drinking, there was there were, there was a price to pay even then, but then the price just got bigger and bigger and bigger. And the what I was getting from it got smaller and smaller and smaller. You know, it’s it’s just as time goes on, it takes away so much from you. And so yeah, I find it really sad when people forever miss alcohol. But of course, some people do. And that’s, that’s not wrong. That’s just what their journey feels like that for me. I didn’t want it to feel like that. So I did everything I could to positively affirm sobriety to myself. And it’s worked.
Casey McGuire Davidson 44:34
And I think there is what you bring forth is so many positives about, you know, walking away from this one liquid, right? It’s just a beverage, and you put that down and you get all these other amazing things on the other side and life really is great.
Yeah, and I mean, like anything in life that is that is worthwhile. It takes an awful lot of effort. They’re an awful lot of grit, and no anything, setting yourself up in the career that you want, or buying a house or having a family or not having a family and going traveling around the world, anything that is magical and life affirming takes an awful lot of effort. And this is just like that. And that if you can hang on in it through the beginning, but it’s so so so so worth it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 45:35
One thing I love that you wrote in sunshine, warm sober, was that instead of calling what you’re doing in life, where you are right now, instead of calling it recovery, you you call it discovery? Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah, sure. I mean, I think it did feel a lot like recovery for, I would say, the first four or so years, because my brain and body was been so bashed about my alcohol, and your brain literally has to recover.
And interestingly, one of the ways that you can accelerate that is through exercise, because that really helps your brain recover from years of heavy drinking.
You’re, you’re patching up damaged relationships, you’re repairing frayed connections with work colleagues, you are recovering who you were before drinking sent everything off course.
So it really does feel like you are recovering that then once you get beyond that bit, once you’ve done all that work, it feels more like discovery because you’re you’re discovering who you can become like your full potential.
I really feel now that I’m fulfilling my potential, whereas before, I was just squandering it. And that’s such a beautiful way to feel because, for instance, my birthdays, I used to hate birthdays, because I felt like another year had inexorably rolled by and I still hadn’t, you know, done the things that I was always intending to do. I was always writing lists and not doing them. And I still write this and don’t do them. Don’t get me wrong. He do like a quarter of my to do list on any given day. But, you know, eventually I get through it, because I just have so much more wherewithal, whereas before it was being completely sucked out by booze. So yeah, I prefer to think of it now as discovery rather than recovery.
Casey McGuire Davidson 47:53
I think one of the most beautiful parts in Sunshine, Warm, Sober, that I read was where you talked about at the end, kind of I probably won’t continue to write books about sobriety. And yeah, I loved what you said, I have a big, beautiful life to lead. We’re allowed to move beyond our addictions to enjoy our newfound wild and precious freedom.
Yeah, I mean, I think you can get into a place where you are only living in the fact that you’re a non-drinker now. And I don’t want my life to feel like that. And I don’t want to only write about that, even though I have doing so has been, honestly the best thing that I’ve ever done career wise, it’s just been so rewarding, and so healing.
But there are other things out there that I want to explore, hence, discovery, right. And I feel like if you if you feel like you’re always going to have to live in the non drinking space, then you don’t get to go off and do all those other cool things that you want to do, which was part of the whole reason why you got sober.
So I think it’s important to be allowed to move on, while also recognizing that, you know, if your thoughts are straying back towards drinking, then you need to immerse yourself again.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:24
I just love to think that “not drinking” is the foundation, but not the goal, right? The goal is not to just go through life, not drinking, the goal is to let go of that shit so you can get unstuck. So you can live your big, beautiful life.
And I think it’s what’s interesting is we, we tend to forget the fact that, you know, I started drinking really early. I started drinking when I was 12. But for the first 12 years of my life, I didn’t drink.
So drinking is an addendum. It’s not a default, it’s something we add, it’s an appendage.
And so if you start thinking about is that, that you are just removing something that you’d added, rather than living without something that we should all do, it, rewires it a little bit. And this is I just don’t believe that, you know, teens should be treated as if they’re definitely going to grow up to be drinkers, because they’re not a lot of the time.
You know, we already know that 20 somethings have heard and don’t drink. So it’s something that is beginning to become an option.
It’s an addition, rather than a default. And I think that’s a really healthy place for society to go to.
Casey McGuire Davidson 50:44
I love that. That’s beautiful. Well, so if anyone’s listening to this, and is just in that really hard place of starting and stopping or starting again, or, you know, trying to get some days, but going back to, uh, do you have any advice or anything you’d like to say to them?
Yeah, I do. And this is so important, because I’ve read about this a lot.
One of the things that drives the further slips, the further relapses, whatever you want to call them, is the shame of having slipped. And it’s so so so, so, so important that the family and friends of those who are embarking upon this sober journey, to know that it’s completely normal, and expected that people will slip.
99.99% of people do, it’s just what happens.
And it’s not a failure, it’s just that you’re trying to break something you’ve been doing for decades.
And of course, you’re gonna get pulled back, of course, it’s going to be difficult. Of course, there’s gonna be multiple, dozens, maybe even hundreds of day ones.
But you literally cannot fail if you don’t stop trying.
I often think of it is like Edison, who invented the light bulb.
You know, there must have been hundreds of times when it didn’t work, but then they tweak it, they retry it, they learn something from each time, it doesn’t work. And eventually you have a light bulb at the end of it.
You know, it’s it’s like that it’s more like inventing than it is failing because you are learning something from every single slip. And as long as you heed those lessons, the time in between the steps will become longer. And then one day, it will click it really well. And it’s often when you least expect it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:52
Yeah, that’s a perfect place to end this. I love this. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. And I love your new book.
Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you, Casey.
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.
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 Sober Girl’s 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 Sober Girl’s Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.
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