Tribe Sober – inspiring an alcohol-free life!
This week my guest is Kate from the Sober School.
About 7 years ago, when I was casting about for help with my own drinking problem, I stumbled upon a blog by Kate who had already been sober for a couple of years.
She was the first person I ever heard suggesting that sobriety could be fun – rather than the grey and miserable place many drinkers imagine it to be.
I now know that she was absolutely right, of course, so it was a real pleasure to chat to Kate about her own drinking story and the work she is doing these days.
In this Episode
- When Kate looks back she realises that at University she used to drink alone in her room – even though there were numerous bars and opportunities to drink with other students!
If you enjoy drinking alone then that’s a bit of a red flag because it means that you are not using it to “socialise” – you are using it to relax or perhaps to try to calm your anxiety.
- As you heard, Kate cleverly gave up drinking at the tender age of 30 but for many of us, the pattern seems to be that we DO use alcohol to socialise in our 20’s and 30’s and then as we get into our 40’s and 50’s it often turns more into self-medication and that’s when we enjoy drinking alone.
- Kate had been worrying about her drinking for years before she actually did anything which is not at all unusual. A recent study highlighted the fact that it takes an average of 11 years between realising that you have a bit of a “problem” and actually doing something about it. This is a shame because for many of us, our dependence and our unhappiness worsen during this period.
- I think it takes such a long time to tackle our drinking for two reasons:-
1. As Kate said, society tells us that we are either a “normal” drinker or we are a raging alcoholic –if we are a raging alcoholic we must go to AA – if not, then we are fine. We do see articles about “cutting down” which make it sound simple but, of course, once we’ve crossed a line with our drinking, that becomes impossible. Personally, I spent my 11 years of procrastination trying to “cut down” so that I wouldn’t have to quit completely!
2. We resist reaching out for help because we don’t know where to find it. Many of us don’t want to go to AA or we try it and it doesn’t work – then we just get stuck. But times are changing and the modern recovery movement means there are many online solutions these days. Solutions that work for the millions of people who are not “raging alcoholics” but they are not “normal drinkers” either.
- Kate had been sober for 8 years and back then there was very little help around. However, she discovered a blog – (the blog was Unpickled by Jean McCarthy) and it resonated with her. For the first time, she felt that there was someone out there “just like her” – which is exactly how I felt when I discovered Kate’s blog. So it’s all about “finding your people” – that’s the first step in the journey.
- Her own journey to sobriety began with a blog where she connected with others on the same path and did a 100-day challenge – she felt a “shift” after those 100 days and found herself reflecting on whether she could make sobriety enjoyable – rather than something to be “endured”.
- We both agreed that doing a Dry January is too short to experience any benefits of sobriety. So by gritting our teeth and getting through it all, we teach ourselves that sobriety is a miserable place to be!
- We discussed the value of writing a Goodbye to Alcohol letter – you can check some out here.
- I loved Kate’s Breakthrough story when she was organising her 30th birthday party in early sobriety. Rather than organising a big party, she decided to do it completely differently. Accepting the fact that she actually didn’t like socialising in big groups, she organised several small gatherings – and loved them. She realised that she’d been using alcohol to squeeze herself into what society expected her to be!
- This happens to SO many of us and in fact, a whole book has been written about the subject! Do get hold of a copy of the book Quiet by Susan Cain which explains that roughly 50% of society are introverts but society favors extrovert behaviour which leaves many of us using alcohol as a coping mechanism – fascinating!
- The subtitle of Susan’s book is:-
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and she argues that: modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people, leading to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness”.
- So if you ARE an introvert and use alcohol to help you cope then please read this book – it will help you understand yourself – and your power – so much better!
- Kate explained that the impact of quitting alcohol is deep – we lose our shame, guilt, worry which is SO freeing. We also free up our mental space and start keeping our promises.
- We agreed that another advantage of dealing with our drinking problem is that we get to know ourselves so much better than people who have never had to deal with addiction issues.
- Sobriety also means we start reflecting on what we really want out of life.
- If we are an introvert and have been using alcohol to cope we may decide to embrace our introverted side and make some lifestyle changes.
- Kate completely changed her lifestyle – she swopped her life in the city as a tv producer for a life in the country running the Sober School which helps other women to stop drinking.
- You can find Kate’s blog and more info about the Sober School on her website which is thesoberschool.com
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Till Next Week
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