Your Recovery Timeline – with Nicci Cloete

Nicci Cloete is a coach, a facilitator, a mindfulness teacher and a yoga teacher.

She’s also been in recovery for ten years.

In this Episode

  • Nicci experienced trauma in her early teens when her family had a home invasion – she was raped at the age of 13
  • She had medical and legal support but this was in the 80s and there was no attention paid to the mental health impact
  • She got a few days off and then Nicci was expected to return to school and carry on
  • She turned to alcohol – stealing booze out of her parents’ wine cabinet – helped her to numb her pain and cope with the difficult emotions and the flashbacks – of course, she had PTSD although it wasn’t diagnosed
  • In the morning Nicci would grab a bottle of wine and drink it before going to school, arriving drunk at school
  • She was developing the skill of drinking undercover and nobody called her out on it
  • Despite the drinking she kept up with her schoolwork, became head of the house and got the grades she needed to go to university
  • Once she got to university,here was no longer any need to be secretive as everybody drank although she did notice that not everybody drank like she did, not everybody was having blackouts
  • After graduating, Nicci went to London and worked in recruitment – very much a work hard, play hard culture. Working from 7 am to 7 pm and then going to the pub to get hammered with her colleagues
  • She was still suffering from blackouts and sometimes did not remember how she got home
  • When she moved into a flat with a guy and his fiancé she did a lot of drinking on her own when she was in her room
  • The next morning she would emerge from her solitary binge perfectly groomed, looking like she had it all together
  • We agreed that it takes a huge amount of energy to keep the show on the road – to hold down a responsible job with a crashing hangover
  • Nicci moved to California where her wine habit continued
  • Yoga had always been an important part of Nicci’s life and she was alternating between doing yoga and drinking her wine
  • When she returned to South Africa she was thrilled to discover that she was pregnant and immediately stopped drinking – for the first time in 20 years
  • And it wasn’t difficult at all!
  • However, once her babies had finished breastfeeding she started drinking again and got into the mommy juice scene
  • Once her children were sleeping she would dive into the wine
  • Every morning she would wake up and vow not to drink that night but of course, her resolution would always crumble
  • She was in the Groundhog Day of daily drinking
  • Like many of us, Nicci would be able to drink normally at social events but once she got home she would carry on drinking on her own
  • Nicci’s turning point came one New Year’s Eve when she announced to her husband that she would be doing a Dry January – she got drunk on New Year’s Eve
  • The next morning her husband announced that he would be taking their children away if she didn’t quit – that was her wake-up call
  • She went to a GP who was very straight with her –telling her that the alcohol would destroy her if she didn’t take control
  • Nicci came out with a great analogy about moderation – trying to moderate when you’re an alcoholic is like getting into a boxing ring where you are going to get knocked out every time. You can duck and dive and try to avoid getting hit but at some stage, you’ll get the sucker punch.  The only way to avoid this is not to step into the ring in the first place!
  • Nicci got some help and did the work – she realised that she would have to lift the veil and see that her marriage was unfulfilling, that motherhood was hard and that she would have to face up and process the demons from her childhood trauma
  • We talked about how our emotional maturity stalls when we start to drink heavily
  • Sitting with our feelings is the hard thing – the mature adult hard stuff which we must do
  • One of the things that helped Nicci was being aware of the Recovery Timeline – as she said there are many variations of this but as a rule of thumb:

0-15 days in withdrawal

15-45 pink cloud with dopamine levels spiking

45 to 90 days + the wall which is when a low mood might strike

Beyond 90 days you start regularising your neurotransmitters and things begin to feel manageable

  • We both agreed on the crazy system in some rehabs where they keep you in for a few weeks and then discharge you just as you hit the wall
  • Nicki shared that people often tell her that she is so strong for quitting alcohol – but as she said the life of a functioning alcoholic is also hard – keeping the show on the road with a stonking hangover!
  • Coping with an ever-increasing dependence and all the health issues that come along with alcohol – that’s hard!
  • So it’s a matter of choosing your hard – yes it’s hard to be sober for those first 90 days but if you stick at it, your life will start changing in such a positive way as you become healthier and happier
  • Nicci is passionate about coaching and loves the fact that we all have the answers within us
  • As a coach, her role is to help her clients tap into their deepest knowing by asking the right questions
  • She’s studied coaching with the University of CapeTown and Thoughtsmith and qualified just before COVID hit
  • She has been trained to work online and is very comfortable working online with people from all over the world
  • Nicci also works in corporate coaching and teaches mindfulness
  • Her advice to someone who is struggling is to reach out – find someone who will call you out on your bullshit
  • She works with people in recovery – helping people to explore what they really want from their life now they are sober
  • Nicci’s website is com and she’s on the socials as Metta 356 coach.

More Info

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Episode Sponsor

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 7-step program and subscribe HERE

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Till Next Week

Janet x



The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

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