Sober Warriors – with artist Jo Roets


My podcast guest this week got sober at about the same time that I did – back in 2015 – which makes us Sober Sisters with 7 years of sobriety.

Jo Roets is an artist and I discovered her excellent work on Instagram one day.  I fell in love with a work of art called:


You can find this gorgeous work of art on the cover of this Tribe Sober podcast – according to the artist, Jo, this image “embodies the warrior qualities within the female spirit” and that’s why I decided it was so appropriate for our Tribe – yes we have some awesome guys within our Tribe, but the majority of us are certainly warriors in the battle against the booze. 

In this Episode

  • Jo’s drinking wasn’t too hectic during her college years but when she had a child at 23 she found herself feeling resentful of the way her career had ground to a halt whereas her husband’s life had not been disrupted to the same extent.
  • She had another child after a couple of years so drinking wine every evening became her routine – her way to relax.
  • Jo was working as a college lecturer but by the time it got to 4 pm her mind was filled with thoughts about drinking – where would she get her wine, how much would she get – and the first thing she would do on arriving home was to pour a glass.
  • Like many of us, Jo had no “off” switch – she would continue drinking all evening and what began as one bottle became two – in fact she graduated to wine boxes as it was easier not to think about the quantity she was drinking.
  • She felt that she was trapped and we agreed that daily drinking puts us in a kind of Groundhog Day where we wake up feeling determined not to drink but by late afternoon we’ve changed our mind – basically we’ve been in withdrawal all day and that’s why that first drink tastes so good.
  • One day Jo’s mother-in-law told her that Jo and her husband both had a problem with alcohol.
  • They were still in denial and felt angry but for Jo, the seed had been planted and it was the catalyst for change.
  • The drinking continued for a while and Jo told us the story of passing out in a flower bed in her apartment block – when the caretaker came to help her up she just gave him some money to go and buy some wine – even though she’d already had plenty!
  • One Sunday Jo realised that she would have to get some help and one of her friends took her to an AA meeting –listening to the shares made her realise that she was not alone in this and gave her a language to express how she was feeling about her drinking.
  • She felt “understood” – that’s why it’s so important to join a sober community that knows what we are going through – our friends and family will either tell us to just “cut down” – or if they drink a lot they will reassure us that we are fine and making a fuss about nothing!
  • As Jo said, you need other people in recovery to understand the “depth” of it … secrets will make you sick and there is no need for any secrets with your sober community – they’ve been there!
  • Jo threw the book at her alcohol problem – she went to 3 meetings a week and spent her evenings reading about sobriety rather than drinking with her husband.
  • Of course, those early months are tough and we agreed that the only priority is to “not drink” and to stack up those alcohol-free days – we really need a year of sobriety so that it becomes the new normal.
  • Although AA was not right for Jo’s husband he did eventually ditch the booze and follow Jo’s example – she is so delighted that they are both going to be better role models for their children.
  • The biggest benefit of sobriety has been rediscovering who she really is – Jo had lost her true self and has even discovered that as an artist she can connect with a creative force on a much deeper level than when she was painting with a glass of wine next to her.
  • We agreed that the link between alcohol and creativity is yet another myth and Jo is able to work much longer and produce better quality work now that she is sober and that alcohol is no longer sapping her energy and motivation.
  • She no longer just “has ideas” – she now actually implements them.
  • Jo still goes to meetings to sustain her sobriety and now has sponsees of her own, she’s also inspiring our Tribe members as a member of Tribe Sober – join our tribe here.
  • It’s so important to stay connected to your sober community – here at Tribe Sober we have people at all stages of the journey – we have people just starting out, people struggling, people doing well and people with several years of sobriety – all inspiring and supporting each other.
  • We have had members leaving our Tribe after a few months of sobriety as they feel that they are “cured” but then they often return and have to start all over again. The danger of going it alone is that you may get to that stage when you think “surely I can have just one glass of wine now”…  spoiler alert:  you probably can’t!
  • Even if you have been sober for months that doesn’t mean the work is done – it probably does mean the emphasis can shift to discovering new interests to make sure that you thrive in your sobriety.
  • Paying it forward in the sober community is a wonderful way to stay connected, stay on track, and to help others – that’s what Jo has done by becoming an AA sponsor – and that’s what our Sober Buddies here at Tribe Sober do.
  • Check out Jo’s amazing art by going to her Instagram page.

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