Transcript: Embracing who you really are: reaching emotional sobriety

[00:00:00] Sonia: Wait, wait, wait. Before we start, just want to make sure we're clear here. While this podcast talks about sobriety, mental health, and addiction, it is not meant to replace professional medical advice. All clear? All right, let's go then. Welcome to Sisters in Sobriety from Everbloom, the support community that helps women change their relationship with alcohol.

[00:00:29] I'm Kathleen. 

[00:00:30] Kathleen: And I'm Sonia. And we're ex sisters in law brought together in marriage and bonded through our sobriety 

[00:00:35] Sonia: journey. Join us as we talk sobriety, addiction, and everything in between. You're in for quite a ride.

[00:00:47] Kathleen, how are you doing today?

[00:00:49] Kathleen:  I am good today. I am full of energy. I'm over my sicknesses. I'm ready to go. How are you doing? 

[00:00:57] Sonia: You know, I've been online dating. [00:01:00] And it's a jungle out there, so that's how I'm doing today. 

[00:01:02] Kathleen: No more comments 

[00:01:03] Sonia: on that. All right, so today we are going to talk about emotional sobriety, and there are so many different aspects and ways to achieve emotional sobriety, and for me it was really the center of my journey, and emotional sobriety is really the truth that you discover about yourself, and you begin to live in, and the, you know, the pain you're working through, and the strength you find in yourself.

[00:01:28] Kathleen: I am so excited to talk about emotional sobriety today. I can't even describe it, but also today we're going to be sharing another part of our personal story. So in today's episode, we're going to talk about the seasons of our lives where we really became family. So Sonia, what is emotional sobriety? 

[00:01:49] Sonia: So yeah, if physical sobriety is just abstaining from substances, then I think emotional sobriety is feeling all the feels without numbing them.

[00:01:59] [00:02:00] And Kathleen, how do you define it? 

[00:02:02] Kathleen: I define it somewhat similarly, like I really think of it as one's ability to manage and regulate your emotional life without becoming overwhelmed or resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Emotional sobriety is really what addresses the underlying emotional and psychological aspects that have contributed to your addiction.

[00:02:26] And it's a journey, that's for sure. 

[00:02:28] Sonia: So, is it about getting to the root of why you drank, or is it about something else? 

[00:02:36] Kathleen: So I am going to have my own opinion on this. I don't always think you have to go and like rehash all of your emotional trauma. I think it's really about understanding how you move through the world now.

[00:02:53] So are you emotionally reactive? Do you have coping strategies? Other therapists may disagree with this, but I [00:03:00] think that there are ways to achieving emotional sobriety without going into all of that past trauma. Mental health issues, that's a different thing. I had undiagnosed ADHD for years and years and years, and was that contributing to my drug use?

[00:03:19] Absolutely it was! So, I think mental health issues do need to be addressed. Sonia, what might emotional sobriety mean for a listener? 

[00:03:29] Sonia: I think broadly it's really, you know, letting go of the person you were when you were drinking and kind of embracing who you really are. And so the best example I have is when I went through the divorce, I, I did want to drink, right?

[00:03:44] But in order to maintain emotional sobriety, There were things I either had to do or couldn't do, and you know this, I couldn't go on social media and, and figure out like what my ex was up to, that would have been a, like a [00:04:00] spiral, so I know that part of my emotional sobriety, right, is not spiraling into this, this hole I can't get out of, and one of those is anything that you find yourself just obsessively doing, so I really had to just I just learned to just sit in the discomfort and had to accept that it was over.

[00:04:20] And it took a really long time. And I think, you know, my way of maintaining emotional sobriety was journaling. And also one big thing for me about my emotional sobriety is constantly talking about it. And it's something I learned. during the divorce. I think I never really leaned on people. And honestly, I still have bad days and I still talk about it.

[00:04:42] And it's important to get those feelings out to say it so that someone can say to you, that's ridiculous, right? Otherwise it would have swirled in my head all day. And that's a big part for me. Emotional sobriety is learning to sort of identify what you're feeling and saying it and not being.

[00:04:59] [00:05:00] embarrassed about it, not judging your thoughts. So yeah, that's pretty much what I think it is. 

[00:05:06] Kathleen: So do you have a routine for these practices like your journaling or all the other things you do? It 

[00:05:13] Sonia: is a daily practice and I think maintaining that schedule is so important to me. And so I may not do it on the worst day, but I do it most days.

[00:05:24] So just things like working out and then my evening ritual is so powerful to me because I get in bed really early. So I like, get my humidifier ready and put some essential oils in it and I light my candles and, and then I journal. Just that act, even on a day, I will say yesterday, I had a pretty, pretty decent, my anxiety was probably like a seven.

[00:05:50] That ritual brings me down to like a three. So Kathleen, what's, what does emotional sobriety mean to you? Well, 

[00:05:58] Kathleen: emotional sobriety means [00:06:00] resilience, so being able to be resilient in the face of challenges, it means being emotionally aware. So for me, I know my, if I'm very reactive all of a sudden, to me, that's a very good sign that something's not right.

[00:06:17] It also means for me having healthy coping mechanisms, and that is present moment awareness and mindfulness. One of my foundational practices. 

[00:06:27] Sonia: So Kathleen, one of the reasons we're talking about emotional sobriety today is very relevant to our family history. Yes, 

[00:06:37] Kathleen: for better or for worse. 

[00:06:40] Sonia: Oh, I see what you did there.

[00:06:41] Um, so are you ready to jump back in where we left off last time? So we had officially become in laws. You married my brother and you were very, very pregnant with my perfect, perfect niece. 

[00:06:55] Kathleen: Meanwhile, you were beginning to think about getting sober and [00:07:00] in this new chapter, it's happening. You're, you're quitting.

[00:07:09] Sonia: The thought crosses my mind that there might be a problem when 2008, 2009, I start drinking daily and I, I knew that was a problem, but at that point wasn't willing to deal with it. My life was amazing. Like other than this sort of like inner voice. Then, you know, we got super lucky and got this offer to sell the business and with that extra time realize, okay, so now I have a regular nine to five job and I'm home at 530, not 830.

[00:07:45] And so it became really clear that something had gone off the rails in my life that I didn't have interests, hobbies, and that drinking had taken the place of, you know, healthy relationships, things like that. I just felt like I was losing [00:08:00] control a little bit more, like something had shifted in my drinking.

[00:08:04] And then, yeah, I went out one night on Saturday night and had just an epic hangover Sunday. And I went to brunch with a girlfriend of mine who was pregnant and I just, I just couldn't do it. I just, in that moment, like I'd been thinking about it and I was like, why don't I try today? And so I got through that one day and then I just kept going.

[00:08:26] The first few weeks are wild, right? So for me, it was kind of white knuckling it through dinner and then I would get through dinner and then I would just. do something weird around the house. Like I would put up like a, like a towel hook or I would put up like something like a mirror on the, like, I just had this like sort of like small collection of house things to do because I wasn't talking about it.

[00:08:55] So it felt like white knuckling to some extent. When I got sober, my [00:09:00] brother and I were steadily getting closer and I had actually never let on to him that I thought I had a problem with alcohol. And I, I wanted to tell him, but then I felt uncomfortable because I thought maybe his problem was so much more severe.

[00:09:15] And this is just sort of, this is a joke compared to his. And then by the third, fourth week, I remember I was at work and I texted him and I said, Hey, I think I need to go to AA. And he was like, call me, call me right now. And then I remember I actually left the office with my phone and like walked around the block and talked to him.

[00:09:34] And it was like, he just knew what the struggle was. And so that really. bonded us and to see where his life had gone, you know, and that he had made a new life for himself, sober with a new wife and a new home and a new child was pretty inspiring. Like he has this sort of wholesome vibe that he had never had.

[00:09:59] And I, I [00:10:00] thought maybe that some of that is in me.

[00:10:06] Kathleen: So my daughter was born, uh, At the end of August in two thousand and fourteen, I felt sort of shocked actually when she came into the world. I think I never had children around me really, like not little babies. And so I wasn't, I didn't really know what it was going to be like. I remember though, there was like this beautiful moment when she was born and my husband at the time.

[00:10:34] was next to me. And I remember hearing her cry and then they put her on him and I could see that they would be bonded. It was a really beautiful moment to see them together. I remember thinking, I wonder if that will help heal him. I would like to say that I was like bonded right away. And of course she was my daughter and I loved her instantly in that [00:11:00] sense, but I, I think I was just so new to motherhood and I was so scared and I didn't really feel like I knew what I was doing.

[00:11:07] And then I think I just sort of surrendered to her in a sense and really did start to bond. 

[00:11:14] Sonia: The first time I met my niece, she was a year and a half old, so I had gone 16, 18 months without even meeting her. I had seen pictures, but I had never really, like, held her or met her. And I remember just sort of, like, being, like, fascinated by her, um, because she looked so much like the two of them that I remember just staring at her and, and looking and seeing, like, my brother's, like, knows, but Kathleen's hair and like, she also looked different from my other two nieces.

[00:11:49] It was just fascinating. So that was sort of how it started. And then, um, I think by her second birthday, we were pretty close and I had [00:12:00] gotten sober. And so it really changed how much I wanted to be around a toddler. 

[00:12:06] Kathleen: I remember the day that Sonia met my daughter for the first time and I don't think Sonia really knew what to do with such a little being, but it was so amazing to see her with my daughter.

[00:12:21] They are just so similar. They look similar in a lot of ways. They're introverts in a certain way. They have a similar sense of humor. When Sonia and my daughter are together, I sometimes feel like I have two children because they get along so well. They understand each other in this spiritual way and it's a beautiful thing to watch because no one else can have the same bond that they have.

[00:12:54] Sonia: So we had booked a holiday probably around the beginning [00:13:00] of the year and it was in Mexico and I didn't get sober until April. And I think I was like six weeks, eight weeks sober by the time we went on this vacation. And it was so hard, but so amazing. It was one of the first glimpses of like a new life.

[00:13:19] And yeah, that was a big turning point that trip. I remember actually my niece, the first day got really frightened of the toilets in this resort. So at some point on the trip, she just stopped, refused to pee. And finally my brother said like, why don't you take her? And I was like, what does that even mean?

[00:13:39] And I remember like holding her hand being like, do you want to, do you want to take your pants off? Like, what do you want to do here? And I was like, Oh my God, do I have to take them off? Picking her up and like putting her on the toilet. And so I remember thinking that very clearly too, like. I would not have even trusted myself to do [00:14:00] that six weeks before.

[00:14:03] And although it was, it was scary to, to kind of be that close to her and be like responsible for her bodily functions. It was, it was amazing because I still remember it. I really wanted to do like all the things. So I didn't want to day drink on vacation. I wanted to make. bracelets with her. I was like letting her jump into the pool into my arms kind of thing.

[00:14:26] And that was my first, uh, interaction with a, with a kid to that extent. 

[00:14:32] Kathleen: There's two, two memories I have that I really felt like I started to really like Sonia as a friend. One, we were actually like sitting up in the lounge and we were having mocktails and I just remember us laughing. And then I also remember that same vacation.

[00:14:50] It was my ex husband's birthday and she had sort of organized this big, beautiful outdoor dinner for him with the [00:15:00] whole family. And it was just, it was incredible. And it was just so much fun. I have such beautiful memories of that time. I think Sonia and I really bonded and we really got along and I think we just.

[00:15:14] I just realized how much we had in common. And then, subsequent holidays or visits, it was just like, she was part of the package. In the sense that, yeah, the holiday was exciting, but it was like, woo! I get to hang out with Sonia again. For me it felt like I was getting to hang out with one of my closest friends.

[00:15:36] It was just, you know, something we really, We really looked forward to.

[00:15:47] So Sonia, it's fair to say that your first steps into sobriety represented a big life change, right? It 

[00:15:54] Sonia: is the single biggest life change I've had up [00:16:00] until now. And so it was bigger than any relationship starting or ending. It was bigger than any move or even any death I experienced. It was like, I was figuring out who I was, like, for the first time.

[00:16:15] In some aspects, I was stunted at the age I started drinking. And so it was, yeah, the single greatest life change that I've experienced.

[00:16:25] Kathleen: I'm so curious too, from our listeners, like if sobriety was also their single biggest life change for them too, because I think it's, I think it is a common story I hear.

[00:16:39] So when did you start thinking about emotional sobriety? 

[00:16:44] Sonia: I really had never heard the term and it had never occurred to me that there was anything Beyond just not drinking. And so, yeah, once that physical discomfort started going away, that's when I started to think, like, I feel, like, really raw, [00:17:00] like, emotionally.

[00:17:01] I feel like, when I go into certain situations, like, someone's just like, And so I knew that at that point, just not drinking and making wreaths wasn't going to do it. There was something else, like there was another layer of figuring out what my mental health issues were that were, you know, leading to the anxiety.

[00:17:24] And also kind of thinking about like, who, who do I want to be? 

[00:17:28] Kathleen: So how did you start the process of achieving emotional sobriety? 

[00:17:32] Sonia: Um, the first step, I tried meditating. I remember I like had downloaded a few different apps and so I was doing that and realized now all these other thoughts are coming up and they're not going away.

[00:17:46] And so, yeah, I know I talk about journaling a lot, and I don't think journaling is for everyone, but I think some form of expressing what you're feeling. And so it sort of, like, untangles those [00:18:00] knots that are inside and, like, helps me make sense a little bit of what's going on. I think you know sometimes, like when you're doing certain things, if something's coming up, it's something that you need, I think, either to talk about, journal about, draw about, whatever makes you feel like you're releasing that discomfort.

[00:18:21] What about you, Kathleen? What other practices would you say help with emotional sobriety? 

[00:18:26] Kathleen: I, for sure, focused a lot on my own growth and self development, so I read a lot about self development. I did a lot of workshops. For me, when I stopped using drugs, my main practices were yoga and meditation. So I need to I have like a daily yoga or meditation practice and I feel like moving my body in some way is a non negotiable.

[00:18:57] I do really think reactivity and emotional [00:19:00] awareness is super important. Being able to distance yourself a little bit from your thought and have a choice point basically of like, am I going to react to this? And I think emotional sobriety doing a lot of this work helps give you that. Space between the thought and the reaction and that space is where where we need to really strive to be able to make our decisions.

[00:19:25] And 

[00:19:26] Sonia: I love that space. And I had a meeting last night and we talked about learning to respond, not react. And I thought that was like a really great way to put it. Other than what we think of like meditation, what are some other practices that we can adopt? 

[00:19:44] Kathleen: Yeah, I think like meditation gets a little bit of a, you know, there's a perception that it's, I need to sit on a cushion.

[00:19:53] With my legs crossed and my palms up. And I think that mindfulness [00:20:00] is really being aware of the present moment as it is without judgment. Let's say we're going out for a walk. We just. Notice how our feet are moving on the ground and how we're walking or we notice a few things that we can hear What's the furthest sound away?

[00:20:18] Noticing the air that's coming into our nostrils. So I'm not sitting in a you know, cross legged position Doing a meditation, but when I go for a walk, I make a point of not having Like my music on or a podcast to at least have a few minutes where I'm not listening to something that I can just be like, where am I in this moment?

[00:20:42] So you've mentioned, um, before when we've talked, you know, turning pain into purpose. And that's something that I think I've done too, pretty well. And can you talk about that a little bit, what that meant for you and what that still means for you? 

[00:20:56] Sonia: I would say it was a point I reached in emotional sobriety [00:21:00] where it was sort of time for me to give back and I think you see that a lot in AA, it's such a huge part of the fundamentals of AA is to be of service and you know I don't think it has to be in such a structured way but I think Um, There's a point where you sort of need to kind of step out of your own narrative and, and share your story to help other people.

[00:21:25] If you let people into sort of your struggle, it is of service. And I think that's really where I started to heal in a way. That I didn't know I needed to, if that makes sense. 

[00:21:39] Kathleen: I really liked what you said there about the power of showing up for each other, and it seemed like that played a huge part in your recovery.

[00:21:47] And looking back on the time we've known each other, it's that support and intent to help each other through the tough times that has really. bonded us and kept us together. [00:22:00] 

[00:22:00] Sonia: For sure. And speaking of which, I know this is going to be a tough one, but we have reached that turn in our timeline. 

[00:22:09] Kathleen: Oh, it's time to talk about Hawaii.

[00:22:12] It sure 

[00:22:13] Sonia: is.

[00:22:19] Kathleen: My relationship with my husband in my mind was really pretty good. We had. Some challenges, but all in all, we were pretty happy. We started going on these epic holidays and it was our second kind of major vacation with Sonia and her husband at the time we went to Maui. I'd never been to Hawaii and one day we were having this beautiful day and we were doing a little bit of sightseeing, and I remember my husband.

[00:22:55] Commenting on people who were living on the beaches and they had [00:23:00] chosen this life for themselves and I remember my husband being very quiet, like just very introspective and I again didn't think anything really of it and then that evening. We had put our daughter to bed, and we were in our own bedroom, and I could tell something was wrong, and so I asked him what was wrong, and he said, really abruptly, and with quite a lot of anger behind his, his voice, this isn't the life I want, and And It hit me like a truck and he basically said that he didn't want to live this suburban life with a child, doing this job every day, going on these vacations, like he wanted to be free and live like the people on the beach.

[00:23:50] And in the pit of my stomach, I was like, I don't know how this can be repaired. And then the conversation continued and [00:24:00] he really was placing a lot of blame on me. And so at that point, I knew this was a real problem. And I was like, I think we need to go to therapy together because this is a really big issue.

[00:24:10] And somehow the conversation ended, but I knew the issue was not over. So the next morning I woke up and I felt sick to my stomach and you know, I had a three year old. So we have to be, you know, ready for the three year old and we're also on vacation. And so we had breakfast and we didn't talk about it and he went to do something with our daughter.

[00:24:38] And. I was standing next to Sonia and her husband and I just told them, and part of me was like, maybe it's not that big of a deal. And I remember telling Sonia and her reaction was like, Oh my God. And her reaction scared me. I think when she reacted, I was like, [00:25:00] oh shit, and then I knew it was a real problem.

[00:25:03] Sonia: When she told us that he had said, this isn't the life I want, I knew. I was like, well, that's like, it just sealed the fate of the marriage. I didn't know when the marriage would end, but I knew the marriage was going to end for sure. Knowing my brother, once he says something like that, he doesn't go back on it.

[00:25:22] It wasn't, uh, fluke. It wasn't an angry moment. It was something he'd been thinking about, I think, for a while. And his behavior on the trip was so bizarre. And so he wasn't talking. He was just staring out the window. Like when we were in the car, he was, we found him like waiting in the ocean at some point, just like staring off.

[00:25:47] And he was going through something and he was clearly not happy with And also you have to think, like, if you can't be happy here, you can't [00:26:00] be happy anywhere.

[00:26:05] Kathleen: After we got home from Hawaii, I was still really shaken up by what my husband had told me. And so I did apply some pressure for couples therapy, and he said he would So we went in and then at the same time, you know, in the back of my mind, I was like, what is going to happen to our marriage? And I hadn't really accepted at that point that it was a hundred percent over, but I did call a lawyer because I wanted to understand what my rights would be.

[00:26:42] I wanted to understand what might happen to my daughter and. I also created an email address with my maiden name and I never used it. I just created it just in case. I don't know. I just had this feeling. It was [00:27:00] enough of a shock to me in Hawaii that I felt like I need to kind of just know that this is a possibility.

[00:27:06] So there was one more family vacation before we ended up separating and this one was in the Hamptons and he was miserable through that whole vacation. So in the weeks that followed, that was a turning point and it came to the point where I knew I couldn't move forward in the relationship. And so one day I just said, I think we should separate.

[00:27:30] And let me tell you, this guy had been waiting for me to say that for years, because it wasn't even a moment to think about it. He was like, okay, done. And I had been agonizing, like, do we separate? It turns out he had already, I think, made it in his mind, and then the grief came.

[00:27:56] Sonia: My brother was like, do you want to Zoom tonight, which was [00:28:00] unusual for a weekday. So we, I like open up my computer and, and they're sitting together on the couch and I'm like, what is going on? And yeah, they told me they were. separating and I was pretty hysterical. Like I was, I was upset. I said, is there anything you can do?

[00:28:19] Is there any way you guys can salvage this? Like, and then he called me after him was like, what the hell is wrong with you? You want me to work it out? And I was like, what? And he's like, shut up. I was like, okay. He's like, stop giving her ideas. He's like, I'm out. I was really afraid, um, of losing Kathleen. I think I, I really did think though there was a good period of like six months where I thought, okay, I can do this.

[00:28:47] I can be close to both of them. And neither of them had a problem with it. And then I think it's just like the messiness of divorce that it just eventually you have to pick.

[00:28:53] Kathleen: I remember. [00:29:00] That summer, arranging to go and see Sonia and her husband in the States with our, with my daughter and without my husband for the first time, and I was really worried about that trip because it was going to be like, is it okay, and I remember asking And I remember asking my ex husband at the time, is it okay that I go and see her?

[00:29:20] And he was like, yeah, no problem. And like, you know, he was really at that time really great about it. And so I went, it was an amazing time. It was so healing for me to be with her. And then I remember just bawling when I left, like being so sad.

[00:29:42] There was a lot of stuff that Sonya and I had to go through together. Um, with regards to my husband, her brother, I'm not sure when he started drinking again, whether it was like weeks after we separated. It was, I believe shortly after, but he relapsed pretty [00:30:00] hard. And so we had to come together and see how we could help him.

[00:30:06] And it was a difficult position because, you know, I'm now his ex wife and you know, she's his sister. And so how do we help him through this? But. Ultimately, it wasn't support that he wanted. And I think that's a really good lesson is the person that you're trying to support actually has to want the support.

[00:30:27] And ultimately he did not want it from us. I have, you know, such gratitude for the fact that Sonia is in my life with the fact that she's in my life is also a story of immense loss because not only does Sonia not have her brother in her life anymore, my daughter also doesn't have her father in her life anymore.

[00:30:51] So she talks sometimes about how I'm like default. She chose me because there wasn't really any other [00:31:00] choice. And, in a sense, As much as I love her by default, I chose her too because she is my daughter's aunt. And also I have this small family and if I want to create a family for my daughter, she's like a huge part of it.

[00:31:17] So while our bond is incredible and we have this amazing family together, it also came out of extreme. and profound loss for both of us.

[00:31:37] Sonia: So, that was a lot, but if you don't mind, Kathleen, I actually think there's quite a bit to unpack here, to better understand how emotional sobriety played into this situation. So when your relationship with my brother started to deteriorate, let's just call it Hawaii, did it occur to you, like, is he [00:32:00] emotionally sober or is there some aspect of, I don't know if you'd even heard the term at the time, like a dry drunk?

[00:32:07] And had you thought, Before that, that there was a major sign like his behavior was off and that it had some relation to his 

[00:32:16] Kathleen: sobriety. No, absolutely not. I, I had never even heard of the term, but I actually had a friend who, when I told her after my divorce, told me about the term and it like a light bulb just.

[00:32:30] Clicked for me because all the practices that we've just talked about he did not have those for the most part and I Quite frankly didn't even know the difference Have there been times in your life when you thought I'm not emotionally sober and what are the signs of that? 

[00:32:46] Sonia: Yeah, there were times where I was spiraling, like I was getting stuck sort of in a loop.

[00:32:53] And that is when I know that it's, I'm not emotionally sober. And you said [00:33:00] something about that in general, you said, what is true? Like what do you know to be true? And what are you just making up in your head? And so let's just focus on what is true. And so when I sort of start to spiral like that, then Yeah, instead of drinking, right, I have to say, what is true here and what do I know to be not true?

[00:33:24] Right. And so, yeah, there's a component for me. And that's when my anxiety is just unmanageable. And so for me, part of my emotional sobriety is not getting to that point and catching myself before it happens. And that is something that really grounds me now. And it's something that you Is. Oh, 

[00:33:46] Kathleen: I'm glad to hear that.

[00:33:47] And I, I use that all the time with clients and I always ask, what's the story you're telling yourself because we make up stories in our head all the time. And then a lot of our [00:34:00] anxiety and emotions, it's because we're wrapped up in the story. that we've made about a situation that isn't even based in the truth.

[00:34:09] Sonia: So what signs do you see in other people that they're struggling with their emotional sobriety? 

[00:34:16] Kathleen: Reactivity. That is such a big one. So lack of self regulation. That's what that means, like instantly responding. Most of the time negatively. So I joke with my partner sometimes that sometimes his default is Dick.

[00:34:32] So he just doesn't respond very well. Sometimes he's very like reactive. And once he gets some time to think about things, then he has a better reaction. So I think reactivity is a big one. One of the things that I often see with some clients is like, they just don't have any coping skills. And so. Right away I know if there are no tools in their toolbox, then we got to get some tools in the [00:35:00] toolbox One of the things that you know was true in the case of your brother He really isolated himself, which is not always a bad thing But when it's like isolation to the point of not having supports then that's a problem and then there's the flip side of that when people are just wanting to surround themselves with people all the time and they can't take a moment on their own.

[00:35:22] So I think, you know, you can look at it from both sides too. Yeah. I 

[00:35:27] Sonia: think what's tough for me about my brother is that I was sober when he was kind of, you Like, getting a little bit less emotionally sober, and I saw it, but I kind of categorized it as like, paranoia, but I feel guilty because I didn't really understand the signs of emotional sobriety.

[00:35:53] I wasn't there yet, for sure, and actually, I think my real journey of emotional sobriety was [00:36:00] when his physical sobriety lapsed, because all of a sudden my support was gone, and so I Yeah, it's really interesting, those signs. So what can you do to encourage someone to work on or take a look at their emotional sobriety?

[00:36:16] Kathleen: The first step is understanding that there's emotional sobriety and physical sobriety. So those of you who are listening, good on you because now you know the difference. And I think that Just knowing that someone cannot be using a substance and still lack emotional sobriety is super important. And to know that that sets them up for a slip.

[00:36:41] And so in order to encourage them to, you know, work on themselves, like there's so much more to it. So, you know, someone might be celebrating that their partner or their friend is like no longer. Physically addicted to a substance. Great. There's more to do there. So I think [00:37:00] encouraging, you know, even sending someone this podcast might be a good idea.

[00:37:04] So if you have a slip, again, I mean, we've, we've just kind of mentioned this. Does that mean that you weren't or aren't emotionally 

[00:37:12] Sonia: sober? No, not at all. And this is sort of where I diverge a little bit from, like, the thinking of AA. And so, for example, yesterday, I was not emotionally sober for 30 minutes.

[00:37:24] And did I drink? No. But I wasn't emotionally sober. And so, I think that, I just was able to maintain, somehow, that physical sobriety. But emotional sobriety? No. Like, it's not, it's not something I can maintain all the time. And so, yeah, I think that all that work isn't voided after a physical slip. So all it is is a sign that you need to work on that space that you were talking about between a trigger and reacting.

[00:37:56] And then I also have clients who very intentionally [00:38:00] will have a drink. And very intentionally say, I'm going out to dinner tonight and I'm going to have a glass of wine. And for me, that can be an emotionally sober decision if you're not using it as a crutch, right? If you still have your coping mechanisms.

[00:38:15] Like that's, you know, that is emotional health. And so for listeners out there who feel like there may be so much work ahead of them and it's daunting, what would be your words of advice? 

[00:38:26] Kathleen: I say one minute at a time, small improvements or small changes in your life. Little by little, they add up to huge changes.

[00:38:35] So I think one thing that people will say is like, well, I have to do all of these things all at once, and I have to journal and I have to meditate and I have to go for nature walks and I have to not drink either, or like it's too much. So it's like, what are the small changes that you can make in your life?

[00:38:53] And they add up. There is a great psychologist. You may know her. [00:39:00] She's the holistic psychologist on Instagram, but she really promotes making one promise to yourself a day, but keep that one promise to yourself for a month and then add on to that promise. And I think it is those little steps one by one that really add up.

[00:39:18] What about you? 

[00:39:20] Sonia: Oh, that's so, yeah, that is so what I say to you. You know, I love the concept of atomic habits to kind of achieve sobriety or moderate your drinking. And that's exactly it, right? Is pick manageable goals. And so I think emotional sobriety is about that and it's do it on your own timeline.

[00:39:39] And there are some weeks or days or months where it's just about staying physically sober and working, you know, through certain traumas. And so some things work against you. When I found out that my husband was, my ex husband was cheating, like, no, I simply could not process it. But there was like so [00:40:00] much other stuff I needed to work through before hitting that.

[00:40:04] And so that's okay. Right. It's okay to not have all the answers and everything at the beginning. And, and there's time, there's time to work through these things.

[00:40:19] Okay. So Kathleen, we just finished talking about emotional sobriety. What resonated with you 

[00:40:26] Kathleen: the most? I think this like concept that, you know, sometimes you can be physically sober and that's like.

[00:40:42] Um, and I think that there's, you know, what also resonated with me is, It's you really have to figure out what things are going to work for you, right? It's looking at like, what are all the tools available to me and what will work for me the best? What about you? [00:41:00] 

[00:41:00] Sonia: What resonated with me was thinking that.

[00:41:02] We knew, right, that he wasn't emotionally sober. I don't blame us for not, you know, jumping on it, but we knew that, and it preceded the, you know, physical slip by maybe years. And so I do think that it makes me realize how important emotional sobriety is. And what's amazing is that you do have time, right?

[00:41:28] Most people have some time before a physical slip, but it's a sign. It's a sign that you really have some work to do. Not a huge amount. We're not saying a profound amount of work. We're saying like day by day, there's some work that you need to do.

[00:41:47] Kathleen: So next episode, we reached the final chapter of our personal story. story. So the next one, you'll definitely want to tune in because we finally come back all the way to the present time and you know, I like [00:42:00] to think we are the best we've ever 

[00:42:01] Sonia: been. We definitely are. 

[00:42:05] Kathleen: Plus, we'll talk about support and sobriety, what it is, why you need it and how to get it.

[00:42:10] So don't miss out. Thank you for listening to Sisters in Sobriety and we'll see you next week.

[00:42:26] Sonia: This was Sisters in Sobriety, a podcast brought to you by Everbloom. where we help women change their relationship with alcohol. Thank you for 

[00:42:34] Kathleen: listening and being with us today. 

[00:42:36] Sonia: If you want to learn more about sobriety and meet your community, find us at joyneverbloom. com. 

[00:42:42] Kathleen: Are you a sister in sobriety?

[00:42:44] Then reach out on social media. We'd love to hear from you. If 

[00:42:47] Sonia: you're feeling generous, leave us five stars and a review and follow us wherever you listen. 

[00:42:52] Kathleen: You'll never miss an episode. Until next time.[00:43:00] 

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