Novels tend to portray alcohol use as tough and gritty, or fun and relaxing or romantic and sexy – take your pick! As a culture, we’ve internalised these ideas which has contributed to the “normalisation” of drinking.
My guest this week is trying to create some balance by featuring a sober heroine in her Cyberpunk novel “Bubbles in Space”. Sarah Jensen is a Canadian science fiction author and strongly believes that we need more sober characters in fiction. For people in recovery, sober characters are powerful and inspiring.
Sarah shares her own recovery story with us and explains how she has drawn upon her struggles with alcohol to create her fictional character:
In this Episode
- Although she dabbled in drinking during high school, and had the occasional binge at college, Sarah’s drinking didn’t really take off until she became a parent and signed up for the mommy juice culture.
- In fact, when a later diagnosis showed that she had been suffering from post natal depression she realised that she had been self-medicating with alcohol for 4 years.
- As a writer, she was also part of the creative circles that bought into the belief that alcohol fuels creativity – “write drunk, edit sober” was a popular myth.
- I discuss this myth (and others) in my interview with South African author, Eusebius McKaiser, in the Tribe Sober podcast, episode 77 – called Busting Sobriety Myths – released in January 2022.
- At the age of 34, Sarah realised that she was facing some choices – was she going to be a Better Mom – or a Drinker, a Better Wife – or a Drinker, a Better Writer – or a Drinker.
- She realised that drinking had taken up such a lot of space in her head that there was no room for anything else.
- We discussed the twisted thinking that arises due to the fact that some brilliant writers were alcoholics. Of course they were not brilliant BECAUSE they were alcoholics – it was more down to them being so driven that they were able to succeed IN SPITE of being alcoholics!
- We wondered how much better they could have been and how much more they could have written if they were not drinking excessively?
- Most functioning alcoholics are using so much energy to hold it all together that when they stop they have a surplus of energy to use for more constructive endeavours – we see this over and over in our tribe.
- Sarah talks of having an “epiphany” one day when she could sense the toxins building up in her body and realised that she was on a slippery slope.
- As a reader she turned to Quitlit – Annie Grace’s book (The Naked Mind) make her realise that she had an opportunity and a choice to save herself from a lot of pain.
- Because she hadn’t hit “rock bottom”, she felt fortunate that she was able to make such a choice before she became totally dependent.
- Sarah realised that sobriety was a gift, not a punishment.
- This reframing helps us change our mindset – at Tribe Sober we say that sobriety is an opportunity and that we will gain so much more than we will lose.
- Another book which resonated with Sarah was The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis as she wanted to understand more about how the brain works and the science behind it. As she discovered Mindfulness she read The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle.
- So, in fact, Sarah tackled the problem intellectually but she also connected with online sober communities to keep her on track.
- As she began to clock up some sober time, she found that one of the important advantages of being in a sober community was that it served as a reminder of how hard it had been at the beginning.
- We both have been blown away by the authenticity and kindness of the sober online communities – if you are looking for a small and friendly sober community then go to tribesober.com and hit “join our tribe”.
- Sarah did feel some nostalgia for the “good times” which would have been triggered by Fading Affect Bias – when our brains trick us into forgetting the bad times and remembering the highlights of our drinking days.
- I explained that we recommend to our members that they write a Goodbye to Alcohol Letter listing just how unhappy alcohol has made them over the years – something to read back over when FAB strikes. Sarah has promised to write us a Goodbye to Alcohol letter and you can find all of ours on tribesober.com/Inspiration/GoodbyeLetters – send yours in and we will be happy to publish it!
- We discussed how drinking becomes part of our identify and that when we ditch it we have to work on our sober identity – and be out and proud!
- Sarah wants to be a voice of strength and positivity – not only for dependent drinkers but for “normal” drinkers – she wants to show people that you don’t HAVE to participate.
- We agreed that there is no need to reach rock bottom – the smart people step off the slippery slope before it gets too difficult.
- Benefits of sobriety for Sarah include more mental space together with a feeling of extra brain power – we always say that Sobriety is a Superpower and it sounds as if she experienced that!
- She used her increased energy and motivation to focus on the important things in her life.
- In early sobriety, reading was Sarah’s “safe space” but she found that some detective stories and women’s fiction would trigger her.
- This made her determined to create some balance by having a sober character in her book.
- She has drawn on her own experiences to create this character who is thriving in her sobriety – rather than being miserable and relapsing as in many current books.
- Sarah wants to create a “safe list” of books to read in early sobriety -books that will inspire, rather than trigger us or give us FOMO – please send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work on this list with Sarah.
- I asked her for some advice for anyone who is thinking of quitting…
Just know that questioning your drinking is a start
Seek out others who are on the same path
Prepare for a shift in your social life but remember you are not alone in this
- Sarah’s latest book is called “Bubbles in Space” – “Tropical Punch” – you can find the info about that and her other books on her website which is scjensen.com.
Subscription membership – you can join up HERE.
20% ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT CODE ANN052022 – valid during May 2022
This episode is sponsored by the Tribe Sober Membership Program. If you want to change your relationship with alcohol then sign up today
Read more about our program and subscribe HERE.
Book a Discovery Call with me to find out if our membership would help you.
Help us to Spread the Word!
We made this podcast so that we can reach more people who need our help. Please subscribe and share.
If you enjoyed the podcast, then please leave us a 5-star review on Apple podcasts.
Take a screenshot of your review, and DM it to Tribe Sober’s Instagram page – see PS below for instructions. We’ll send you something special to say thank you!
We release a podcast episode every Saturday morning.
You can follow Tribe Sober on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.
You can join our private Facebook group HERE.
PS: How to Leave a Rating/Review in Apple Podcasts (on an iOS Device)
- Open the Podcasts app. EASY.
- Choose “Search” from the bottom row of icons and enter the name of the show (e.g. Recover Like a Mother) into the search field.
- Select the show under Shows (not under Episodes).
- Scroll down past the first few episodes until you see Ratings & Reviews.
- Click Write a Review underneath the displayed reviews from other listeners. You’ll then have the option to rate the show on a 5-star scale and write a review (you can rate without writing too but it’s always good to read your experience).