Transcript: Like a turtle without a shell: stepping into early sobriety

Episode 2

[00:00:00] Sonia: Welcome to Sisters in Sobriety. I'm Kathleen.

[00:00:04] And I'm Sonia. And we're ex sisters in law, brought together in marriage and bonded through our sobriety journey. 

[00:00:11] Join us as we talk sobriety, addiction, and everything in between. You're in for quite a ride.

[00:00:23] How are you doing today, Kathleen? 

[00:00:25] Kathleen: Well, I'm a little bit sick, so I've got a cold and I'm trudging through. How are you doing? 

[00:00:32] Sonia: I'm okay. Now we think we made each other sick. We're not sure where the Yeah, where the genesis who was like patient zero, it might've 

[00:00:40] Kathleen: been my daughter, but we're not sure. I think we got each other sick somehow.

[00:00:44] Sonia: I agree. So today we're going to talk about early sobriety and that's really part of my journey that's so vivid because I feel like your senses are so heightened and you have like physical changes, you're experiencing some emotions for the [00:01:00] first time. Um, and it's super challenging, but it's also super rewarding.

[00:01:04] I always like thought about it like being a turtle without a shell. Like I could feel things that I hadn't felt in so long. 

[00:01:12] Kathleen: That's a good way to put it. And today we're also going to be sharing part of our personal stories. We're going to talk about the first time we met. And I can tell you now, it was a long way to get here today.

[00:01:23] So stick around to hear all about it.

[00:01:30] Okay. To start us off, let's define our terms a little bit, Sonia. What would you define early sobriety as? 

[00:01:40] Sonia: I think it really is different for everyone. I would say like generally it's probably between like the first year and it's when you're kind of going through things for the first time. But I think it's whatever you define it as.

[00:01:52] And some people look at it like while you're still, you know, experiencing physical symptoms. And I do want to point out that if you are having [00:02:00] physical symptoms that it's important to get Checked out by your doctor and make sure that they're within the realm of normal and that they're not, you know, too serious because that can be a big deal, uh, medically.

[00:02:10] So Kathleen, how do you define early sobriety? 

[00:02:14] Kathleen: I define it similarly to you in a sense. I think generally early sobriety by like clinicians would be viewed as the first few weeks to the first few months and up to a year of sobriety. But early sobriety can also kind of last longer than that in the sense that if someone

[00:02:44] Sonia: Yeah, for sure. I feel like it really, it really depends on the person. I would say like a majority of people I work with are in early sobriety, a huge percentage are in that first year. And I think what I noticed that's common is that they're just going [00:03:00] through like a really Transformative time, right?

[00:03:02] Like they're figuring out who they are for the first time in a long time. Like, what do I like to do with my free time now that I have free time and I'm not drinking? Their relationships start to change. And so, yeah, I've noticed that for my clients. It's definitely a major transformation. 

[00:03:19] Kathleen: Mm hmm. And what did it, what did it mean for you specifically?

[00:03:23] Sonia: Yeah, for me, pretty similarly, it was such a big change because I wasn't just a binge drinker. I was a daily drinker for over a decade. And so the whole like structure of my day changed. So I was like coming home at night and all of a sudden I had all this time. And so I remember someone saying to me, like, when you get sober, you realize that there are 24 hours in a day.

[00:03:47] And so, yeah, I really had to figure out what I wanted to do, but it was, it was the start of like a totally new life for me. But what do you think early sobriety mean for you?

[00:03:58] Kathleen: [00:04:00] To me, I remember feeling in my early sobriety from drugs, I remember feeling so good, like physically so good that I never ever wanted to go back.

[00:04:12] to drugs and the way I was. And, you know, sobriety was a real turning point in my life, but it was also, it was just the starting point. So before we dive into our discussion, let's go back in time for a moment. It's backstory time. Um, so where we left off in episode one and I had just gotten sober.

[00:04:34] Sonia: And I was nowhere near understanding my issue, but it's okay.

[00:04:41] I'm going to get there eventually. And before I do a few things needed to happen, like.

[00:04:52] Kathleen: I met him the first week of January and I had first started talking to him on the dating site [00:05:00] for a couple of months. I was traveling for business in the UK and his dating app, I, first of all, I was, I loved the title of it. So his opening line was. From chai tea to tai chi, and I was like, what's this?

[00:05:19] This is clever. And then I looked at his picture and it was awful. It was a selfie he had taken in the bathroom. There was a yellow hue on it and he just did not look attractive, but I loved his profile. And when I saw him for the first time, I was stunned to see that he was. extremely good looking. And in fact, the first thing I said to him was, wow, you do not look like your profile picture.

[00:05:49] And he laughed embarrassingly because I know he knew what I meant. And I was like, you are way better looking than your profile picture. We go on our first date and we go to [00:06:00] a pub and he orders a tea. And I thought, that's weird. Who orders a tea at a pub? And through the course of our first date, he tells me that he's sober and he had been sober for.

[00:06:19] Just over a year at that point. I had never gone to an AA meeting before. I didn't know what the 12 steps were. I didn't know anything about that. I hadn't at the time questioned my own drinking per se. So when he told me he was sober, I didn't understand what it really meant. And so I became really curious.

[00:06:43] And asked a lot of questions and he brought me to several open AA meetings and I really enjoyed going with him and enjoyed hearing the incredible stories of people and, and their sobriety.[00:07:00] 

[00:07:01] Sonia: So, yeah, my brother was, you know, really trying to figure out who he was. I feel like between. 2009 and 2011 probably. So my brother was a teacher which gave him a pretty flexible schedule. So I think he would either go to meetings in the morning or after work or both. So that was his entire life was work, His two kids, AA meetings, and that was it.

[00:07:29] We had started talking about him dating again after his first marriage, which was like, really lengthy, um. I didn't have concerns, but I was curious what he would end up doing in terms of a relationship, because I didn't. No, like what type of person could fit into this life in, I think for the first little while he kind of was trying to maintain his relationship with his kids, his relationship with AA, but I could [00:08:00] feel as time went on that he was getting stretched a little too thin on on those things and started to compromise a little bit on those things.

[00:08:12] Kathleen: The things that really stood out about him were, you know, he was funny and he was really intelligent and he had a quirky sense of humor. He wasn't materialistic in any way and He was really thoughtful and kind and he really liked music that I liked. He read a lot of books. He just had a really interesting perspective on life and At that time, I was really into meditation and yoga, and he was also really into meditation and yoga.

[00:08:49] And actually where we really started dating is we would go to a weekly meditation class together. And that was our thing. He just had a different way about him than [00:09:00] anyone I had ever dated. And he was just, A breath of fresh air to me. The first time I met his parents and Sonia, it was at their parents house and I was nervous.

[00:09:10] I remember really clearly picking out a specific blouse to wear because I didn't want it to be like too loud or showy and a little bit more muted and I was nervous to meet them, but they had. been really positive about our relationship. So I, I felt like they were really welcoming to me and that Sonia was too.

[00:09:34] And it was really amazing to meet her. I could tell how smart she was and just her humor had me in stitches and continues to.

[00:09:47] Sonia: I was living in Philly, had started my practice with my ex husband. And so we, I think almost specifically came to meet Kathleen. Like we knew this was the [00:10:00] first meeting between her and my parents. And so I was like, let's go, let's meet this girl. In terms of their relationship, I think I knew that it was serious.

[00:10:09] He never really got into not serious relationships. I do remember thinking like, this is like a professional lady with like a whole life, like with a whole set of friends, you know, a life downtown where she goes out to like nice restaurants and she, You know, goes to like bars and clubs and goes on like fancy vacations.

[00:10:35] And that was not my brother. When we talk about like getting sober, you're trying to like simplify your life and kind of like whittle it down to the things that really matter. And I was sort of concerned that this was complicating his life.

[00:10:52] Kathleen: We met in January and we got engaged the following July and the end of July. It felt [00:11:00] fast, but it didn't concern me. And I will say that we didn't get married for another year and a half. So we had been together for two years before we actually got married, but yeah, it was definitely a whirlwind, but. But to me, it felt right, like we were mutually obsessed with each other.

[00:11:19] I wanted to spend time with him. I wanted to build a life with him and I felt like I knew that.

[00:11:32] Sonia: So Kathleen, you said that when you met my brother, you didn't fully understand what his sobriety would entail because your journey had been so different from his. Um, and I find that super interesting as a spouse and whether you're equipped to do it or not, you're going to be. A part of that support system during their recovery right at whatever point you enter the recovery and yeah, just as that support.

[00:11:56] Kathleen: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's really true of like a [00:12:00] partner or a sibling or whomever is part of your inner circle. There's a tricky thing is like there's some of the closest people in your life, but they don't necessarily fully understand what you're going through. So in the spirit of that, let's discuss a little bit what this transition can actually look like in early sobriety.

[00:12:19] So Sonia, with early sobriety, what What is the most important goal, do you think? 

[00:12:24] Sonia: I mean, really, and I tell people this all the time, it's just to not drink. And I know it doesn't sound like the most glamorous thing, like you're not making like huge like emotional changes, but you have to start somewhere.

[00:12:36] And that somewhere has to be by clearing your mind and that has to be by not drinking. And so, you know, those first few weeks can be really hard. I'm not going to lie. Like I was definitely, you know, white knuckling it at times. But the goal is to not drink, is to get to the end of that day, not drink, wake up the next morning, and let's like start this again.

[00:12:57] Kathleen: So let's talk about some of the ways to get through it and [00:13:00] come out the other side. What can you do in the first few months of quitting to help yourself? For 

[00:13:05] Sonia: me, it was really establishing new routines and rituals. You know, I tried and tested out so many things and um, sometimes it's good to think back, like, what did you like to do before you started drinking?

[00:13:16] So I remember when I was like younger, I liked craft projects and now we're going to do some adult craft projects. And then for me, a really big part of early sobriety was figuring out halt, which is like hungry, angry, lonely, tired. And so I had to manage those things in early sobriety to stay sober. So I had to eat properly.

[00:13:39] I had to exercise because it releases that natural dopamine. I had to try to get good sleep. And I think that those things for me, if I don't do them, trigger a pretty intense craving. 

[00:13:52] Kathleen: Mm hmm. I think like a, another piece and you know, I think our listeners will hear me kind of talk about this a lot is [00:14:00] the mindfulness piece and it's like the present moment awareness and sort of when you have the craving instead of saying like, I'm a craving this or I want alcohol or I want drugs kind of distancing yourself a little bit and saying like, I'm noticing, I am noticing craving right now.

[00:14:19] So it's sort of like distances. You from the thought and it just gives you that little bit of space to make a different choice. 

[00:14:28] Sonia: It does. It's like I tell people something that you told me when I was going through my divorce. You said you just have to get through the next 30 seconds. And some days that seemed really hard.

[00:14:39] And you're like, okay, then just get through the next 10 seconds. And then get through the next 10 seconds and typically find that a craving doesn't last more than 20 minutes. And so if you break that into little pieces, it gets a lot easier to manage. And I think, you know, one of the nice things you can lean into when you're getting sober, [00:15:00] especially early, is that you're kind of getting healthier, right?

[00:15:03] So you are able to sort of lean into a healthier lifestyle. And so what do you think, Kathleen, what do you think a healthy lifestyle looks like? 

[00:15:12] Kathleen: I think there's, you know, the standard things. I think movement is really important, so if movement's available to you, getting outside, moving your body, um, I think, you know, hydrating yourself, especially in early sobriety, like, drinking lots of water, eating foods that You know, nourish your body is such an important thing and like, you know, looking at, okay, what do I want to put in my body?

[00:15:37] How do I want to treat my body? And then mental health is obviously so important. So looking at what stressors in your life. And I would say like, here's the thing, you can't make all of these changes at once. I think when you get sober. Naturally, some of these things will just start to happen, but I know tons of people who've gotten sober and then started [00:16:00] smoking like a pack a day of cigarettes, right?

[00:16:02] That sort of transferring the addiction to something else, but really getting right with your mind and also body. I think that's a healthy lifestyle. And then also, you know, knowing where your boundaries are, these are all parts of a healthy lifestyle too. Yeah, 

[00:16:19] Sonia: I completely agree. That kind of leads us into like, what other things should people not do in early sobriety?

[00:16:25] Kathleen: Yeah, I think all or nothing, thinking can be problematic. Sometimes the thought of like, I'm never going to have a drink again is almost too much. What do you think about that Sonia? Do you think that's like a deterrent in early 

[00:16:38] Sonia: sobriety? I think that having to make the decision that you're never going to drink again is just too overwhelming for a lot of people.

[00:16:47] For some people, it's actually comforting, but I think for people also in that sort of gray area of drinking, who, you know, have managed to moderate before, I think that, yeah, it's important to just set [00:17:00] really realistic goals. Your goal can really be, and I think a really healthy goal is, I'm going to take a 90 day break from drinking and it gives your body a chance to sort of reset.

[00:17:10] And so I always tell people, if you really want to feel the effect, then give it 90 days and then assess, do you want to bring back a glass of wine with dinner or do you feel really good? And you're like, you know what? I didn't need that to begin with. 

[00:17:22] Kathleen: I think there's two other things too that I, I think about and one is like, don't put yourself in situations in early sobriety where you're going to be faced with that substance.

[00:17:34] And then the other thing is getting sober is such a big deal. But if you can put off making any other big decisions during that time, I would definitely recommend that. 

[00:17:46] Sonia: Yeah. In terms of that though, you know, when I do make major decisions, I do love to like bounce it off people who I think know more or know better.

[00:17:55] And so what are some options for professional help in early sobriety? What do you [00:18:00] think can help people? 

[00:18:01] Kathleen: I do have to say that sometimes there are underlying mental health challenges, right, with addiction. So, you know, for me it was, I had undiagnosed ADHD, which felt a lot better when I was doing coke.

[00:18:15] And so I think, you know, if that is something that, you know, one of our listeners is, you know, they're kind of thinking about as they're getting sober, then definitely going to see a therapist in your own, you know, jurisdiction is a good idea. There are great support networks, though. So, you know, Sonia, you, you lead online sobriety groups.

[00:18:37] And, you know, I think you're probably best placed to say, like, what do those support groups give to people?  

[00:18:44] Sonia: My groups are really open, like there's no judgment. And so I think the nice thing about, um, a support group, it's almost like having just like a group of friends where you can just bounce ideas off of, too.

[00:18:55] I remember this summer just having a few days where I was like having some cravings [00:19:00] and one of the, one of the ladies in the group was like, Oh, you know, I've been gardening and it's been really good. It's been, you know, and I'm like, I have a garden. Why don't I try gardening? And so I think just that, like having a group of people that sort of can give you ideas and that you can bounce ideas off of, it's a great way that you're not kind of stuck in your own head with all this.

[00:19:23] You have somebody else to bounce things off of. 

[00:19:26] Kathleen: Mm hmm. And I mean, we talked a little bit earlier, if there's like, you know, really severe physical addiction and there's the symptoms of withdrawal are there, definitely going to see a doctor can help guide you to different resources in your community. I do think that that community aspect or having a safe place where you can talk and get the right resources is, is so important.

[00:19:52] Sonia: Yeah, I think now, too, there's telehealth, right? And so, if you want to talk to your doctor about options, you can talk [00:20:00] about options. There are medical options, right? Medically assisted treatment, um, for alcohol use disorders. So there are just a lot of professional options. 

[00:20:08] Kathleen: So, why do you think it's, well, I mean this kind of ties into it, why do you think it's important to understand your triggers in early sobriety?

[00:20:16] Sonia: Triggers are everything. Triggers and tools I talk about all the time. I'm still figuring out some of my triggers and I think, you know, they could be people, places, emotions. date that remind you of something. And I think that if you know what your triggers are, you can set up a plan. And so, for example, one of my triggers was work stress.

[00:20:38] And so now if I work late, like till 8, 8 30, I have a plan. And so my plan usually is something fun. Like I will pour myself a mocktail and like watch the morning show. And so it lets you be able to sort of plan for those difficult moments and get through them. And I think eventually those plans and those habits just [00:21:00] become normal.

[00:21:00] And it's, it's good to kind of set up like a ritual. So now I know too, if I have to go to a social event that has a lot of drinking, that's a bit of a trigger. But my plan now is I leave a little bit early when people start to get drunk. And I also, when I get home, have a plan of what I want to do. And I think that triggers are everything.

[00:21:19] And some triggers start. Like a few days in advance, right? So the earlier you can recognize it and preempt it, the better.

[00:21:28] Kathleen: You know, what we were saying about triggers feels so real to me. It can be so hard in those early days to kind of relearn almost how to interact with a social environment without, you know, using drugs or alcohol.

[00:21:45] And you need to create. Different scenarios. You have to create different environments for yourself. Um, and actually this is something I really enjoyed at my wedding to your brother. It was a, a really celebratory time, but alcohol [00:22:00] was definitely not at the center of it.

[00:22:09] I knew he was going to propose at some point because we had talked about rings and I had a very specific ring that I wanted, but I didn't know when it was going to happen. And I was in the UK again for business. And I came home and he picked me up at the airport and he had flowers and he brought me back to my apartment and he made me wait out in the hall for a few minutes.

[00:22:35] And when I came in, he had had the whole apartment lit up with candles. And I came in and there was no like getting down on one knee or anything like that. But. He proposed then, and that was it, and I said yes.

[00:22:55] Sonia: When I heard they got engaged, I flipped [00:23:00] out. I just didn't even know what to say. I was happy for him, but I had such a strong feeling. that this wasn't going to work, partly because of the way the obsession kind of factor that, you know, I knew from being in relationships that that was going to fade. So shortly after the engagement, I was having trouble keeping my opinions to myself.

[00:23:25] I was, you know, making sarcastic comments to my parents and to my brother. And probably could have handled it in a better way that came from a place that sounded more like concern. But, you know, I, I said to my brother, I'm really worried about this. I think that this is way too soon. And, and he is the kind of person that he will, if you say something he doesn't like, he will cut you off.

[00:23:51] And. Interestingly, he had cut his own therapist off at the time for saying the same thing. So, I, yeah, I didn't [00:24:00] speak to him for a while, but I was still invited to the wedding, and then I started making these same comments to my parents, hoping that they could now take over and slow this thing down. And, you know, they had the same reaction, which is, why can't you just be happy for him?

[00:24:18] And then as the wedding got closer, I was really unhappy about like a couple of things about the wedding, my nieces not being there. And so I think that in an interesting move, I decided to not go to the wedding. And so they got married on American Thanksgiving weekend. And I remember just being like, So sad.

[00:24:43] And every time I had one of these types of, you know, major upsets, I, my drinking would go to a different level. And so I would be very hungover or drunk dealing with a lot of these emotions.

[00:24:59] Kathleen: The [00:25:00] wedding was beautiful. It was downtown Toronto. It was in an old city building and It was a hybrid wedding, so I wore, you know, a white dress for the ceremony and an Indian Lenga for the reception. I had many of my dearest friends and family there. People flew in from all over the world for our wedding, and I know that he had many family and friends there too.

[00:25:26] I didn't drink that night. I didn't even have one sip of alcohol. I had mocktails that whole night. I was still drinking at the time, like not heavily by any means, but a lot of my ex husband's friends were sober. And it was really interesting to cater to rather large, sober presence. And it was important.

[00:25:48] for some of his family members to have, you know, alcohol on hand at a wedding and have that open bar. But then we also wanted to have a very robust mocktail [00:26:00] selection. It was a beautiful day. I never had any doubts on the day. I never had any doubts. About a year and a bit after we were married, I got pregnant and I remember telling my family early on, so even, you know, before the first trimester, I loved him so deeply that it was something I just, I decided I wanted to do and it wasn't an easy journey.

[00:26:28] It didn't happen overnight for us.

[00:26:32] Sonia: I think my parents told me pretty early on in the pregnancy and yeah, I was excited. I couldn't help it. You know, marriages, deaths, birthdays, births are like a time to reconnect. And so we had kind of used the marriage to disconnect and we were using the baby. to reconnect. So my mom was turning 65 and her birthday coincided with the baby shower.

[00:26:59] So [00:27:00] I flew down with my ex and we went to a really nice dinner the night before the baby shower where I got wasted and the shower was at a friend of Kathleen's house that was in like the fanciest neighborhood and the fanciest house I had been in in Toronto. And so I remember going into the baby shower and I was so hungover and it was an awkward experience for me because I hadn't met any of her friends.

[00:27:32] I hadn't met her mom. This is the first time I'm meeting people and being introduced as the aunt of this Incoming baby and it just reminded me how much I had missed, um, in their, in their life together and that these people that I, you know, these random people knew so much more about their current life, about my brother and about Kathleen and about the baby and about where they lived.

[00:27:57] And I was just sort of, I didn't have a [00:28:00] lot of information. I think that making the effort to go to the baby shower made my brother a little more comfortable having a relationship with me. I don't think Kathleen and I got that much closer at that time, but my brother and I did get closer.

[00:28:21] Kathleen: We knew it was going to be a girl before. Um, I gave birth and I think Sonia was really excited. She was at my baby shower and it was so amazing to have her there. I think, I don't think because she didn't come to her wedding, I don't really think I expected her at my baby shower to be honest. I feel like it wasn't in my mind that she was going to be there and then she was.

[00:28:41] And that meant a lot to me. There were no bad feelings between us. We didn't. Go from the baby shower to being besties But I think it just started to warm our relationship and set a foundation for what it would eventually become[00:29:00] 

[00:29:03] So Sonia when you attended my baby shower That was kind of the start of a new chapter in our family life together and looking back Would you say that my daughter's arrival contributed to you getting sober? 

[00:29:17] Sonia: Yeah, I mean, I remember that weekend really clearly, and I was in really bad shape and you weren't drinking, my brother wasn't drinking, and it felt like I was looking through the glass at something I couldn't touch, and I remember very much wanting to be there.

[00:29:32] So I think, you know, there were so many things piling up. In my life at that point, I knew that my relationships weren't that strong because of my drinking. My mental health wasn't good. My physical health wasn't as good as it could be. I wasn't passionate about my work. And I think I saw my niece, my third niece, as sort of like a blank slate because I did have two other nieces and I had been drinking throughout their childhoods.

[00:29:57] And so, It was like an [00:30:00] opportunity to get it right, I felt like, but it still took me another two years, I think, to get sober after she was born. 

[00:30:08] Kathleen: Mm hmm. And obviously it's not a straightforward path. We spoke about the first steps in sobriety. So what would you do on A hard day or on a day that you had like a really, a really bad craving for alcohol?

[00:30:22] Sonia: I still have hard days and my technique is, is throw everything I have at it. And so it's like deep breathing, journaling, calling you, calling other like family or friends and it doesn't always work. Sometimes I end up on the couch crying, right? Like, and so it is, I think the most important thing I'm learning.

[00:30:43] still learning is how to have self compassion and say like, this is just a hard day and it's okay to not get it right. Some days it's like if watching Queen Charlotte on Netflix gets me through a really bad couple of [00:31:00] hours, then that's what I'm going to do. And one thing I'm learning more and more about every day is self care.

[00:31:04] And I think that It might be helpful for you to define self care because I am still working on self care and self compassion.

[00:31:12] Kathleen: Okay. And I'm actually going to add another self in there, self esteem, because there's a great quote from kind of a really seasoned couples therapist that I trained with named Terrence Reel.

[00:31:26] And he says,

[00:31:36] And I love that because I think self compassion is really understanding that realization and treating yourself accordingly. So knowing that you're going to make mistakes. That you are human and not beating yourself up over it. And you know, really giving yourself grace and for me self care is not about bubble baths and chamomile tea, [00:32:00] but self care is.

[00:32:02] It's really how do you take care of yourself in this world? And that can mean many things to many different people. It can mean, you know, knowing that you need to stop working at a certain time. It can mean having rest days or rest hours. It can mean exercising. It can mean meditation. It can mean all those things.

[00:32:23] things, but I think self care is like a broader definition is really about how do you take care of yourself in a world that is sometimes hard to take care of yourself in? So let's talk about more of the hard stuff. And so what do you say to someone when they've relapsed or slipped and, and had a drink?

[00:32:45] Sonia: Yeah, I mean, I definitely like to call it like a slip. So for example, like with AA, right, it puts you back at the beginning. And so I think that sometimes that is really daunting for people. So they'll have a slip on a Saturday and they'll be like, I don't want to go [00:33:00] back to AA Monday because I'm gonna have to start at the beginning.

[00:33:03] And so they turn that slip into like, A three week bender, for example, and it's going to sound funny, but I love a good slip to be honest. I think there's so much valuable information in a slip because you're already being mindful, right? Of your drinking. You're trying to kind of either stop, moderate, whatever it is.

[00:33:23] And if you slip, there's so much to figure out about what triggered it. Right? And so I think that it's a huge opportunity for growth and to find triggers. And I usually tell people when they have a slip, let's go a week back or a few days back from when it happened. Like, can you sort of start to see this sort of where it started to kind of descend, right?

[00:33:45] And so I think there's just so much information that we shouldn't shame a slip and we should really lean in. 

[00:33:55] Kathleen: That's a really good point. So how does self compassion play a role [00:34:00] when someone slips?

[00:34:00] Sonia: I think the best way to be compassionate to yourself is to be honest and tell people. And I think that's, you know, one thing I really encourage people to do at Everbloom.

[00:34:12] And so when, when someone, you know, comes on a call and says, I drank yesterday, we're like, Let's go, let's talk about this, let's figure it out, like you're the special guest star of the meeting because you have like some information about your triggers and so, yeah, I think the best way is to just really tell people and not be ashamed and realize it's just a huge opportunity for growth.

[00:34:37] But from a therapist perspective, what is a slip? 

[00:34:41] Kathleen: Well, I think it's, you know, it's a way to also think, okay, how can I strengthen the support around me? And I think it's a great opportunity to look at your toolbox of, you know, when you say triggers and tools, like what is working for you in your toolbox and what is not working for you?[00:35:00] 

[00:35:00] I think that's a really important piece. 

[00:35:02] Sonia: Yeah, I agree. Or also, sometimes, why didn't you use these tools you knew that you had? Sometimes you're just in this moment where you can't even access the tools. And so, even in that case, like a practical matter might be like, why don't you have your tools written down somewhere?

[00:35:19] And so, when you're going through a tough time, you can be like, okay, journaling, not going to work. Bubble bath, not going to work. Netflix and chill might work. And so, I think it's good to have a list of tools. So Kathleen, what can you do to minimize the risk of a slip?

[00:35:36] Kathleen: Well, I think staying connected to a support system is absolutely key.

[00:35:40] Make sure that there's someone you can, you know, reach out to. And I think setting boundaries, oh gosh, this is a huge topic, but it's okay to say no. And if there's a certain situation or group of people that you feel increases your risk of a slip, then it's okay to distance [00:36:00] yourself from that. And that can mean avoiding certain gatherings or letting go of friendships.

[00:36:04] I mean, I lost quite a few friends when I stopped using drugs because I was no longer the fun life of the party, the person who organized all our nights out anymore. And that was okay to me. I think it's really easy to become complacent, especially after, you know, a period of sobriety, but recovery is an ongoing process.

[00:36:28] And I think, you know, having a plan, knowing what you will do if you feel like you might slip, that could mean like attending a meeting, calling a friend, seeking professional help. It's okay to. Seek that help. I mean, I think if you have a good support network around you, that is invaluable. I think it's just precious.

[00:36:50] And, you know, you talked about milestones a little bit, Sonia. For some people, it's really, really important to celebrate those milestones, no matter how big or small they were. [00:37:00] And I remember when you got sober being like, I've been sober for a week. And like, I didn't really understand at the time because I didn't really know at the time you had a drinking problem, but milestones were important for you, right?

[00:37:11] Sonia: Yeah. For me, I am a bit of a like day counter because I am a very like number goal oriented and You know, you can also just celebrate wins if you don't want to celebrate dates. So, I think, you know, if you get through a wedding without drinking, that's a win. If you get through, like, a Christmas with your family that's a bunch of heavy drinkers, that's a win.

[00:37:36] And so, I think that your milestones are personal. And so, even if you Have a slip. There's so many milestones you can celebrate. 

[00:37:46] Kathleen: Mm hmm. You know, what's really strange is yesterday was the first time that I remembered what my sober date was that I hadn't thought about and it was November [00:38:00] 15th, 2009. Girl, 

[00:38:03] Sonia: that's amazing.

[00:38:04] Had you never gone back and looked to see what the date was? No, 

[00:38:07] Kathleen: I never went back and you know what happened? I got a Facebook memory, you know, those like memories that pop up. And when I, like I had a Facebook memory of the sort of last crazy night I had before I stopped using drugs and I figured it out and it was November 15th, 2009.

[00:38:27] Wow.

[00:38:34] Sonia: So Kathleen, what resonated with you the most about this talk about early sobriety? 

[00:38:40] Kathleen: I think there's so many things that we talked about that resonated with me. I think that triggers are such an important thing and also how self care can be defined in different ways. And so really understanding what that means for you.

[00:38:55] So self care is self compassion also. So what does that look like [00:39:00] for you? And I think that those were some key pieces for me. What resonated with you the most? 

[00:39:07] Sonia: Um, I think when we talk about slips and the triggers and tools, because I think it is really, really important to look at what triggers you. And there are things I don't even realize it sometimes until a few days later, I'll have a craving.

[00:39:23] And then a few days later, I'll be like, what triggered that? And I'll realize it was like, I over committed to like, you know, a number of things on a day. Or I. It's just little things that pile up that you don't really acknowledge that can really affect kind of the strength of your sobriety. And I'm still learning, um, what my triggers are.

[00:39:48] Kathleen: Next episode, we delve further into Sonia's decision to get sober and how we came together as a family, how we really became sisters in law. And we'll talk about [00:40:00] emotional sobriety and break it down. What is it? How to get it? Let you know what it can mean for you.

[00:40:13] This was Sisters in Sobriety. Thank you for listening and being with us today. If 

[00:40:18] Sonia: you want to learn more about sobriety and meet your community, find us at joineverbloom.com. 

[00:40:23] Kathleen: Are you a sister in sobriety? Then reach out on social media. We'd love to hear from you.

[00:40:30] Sonia: If you're feeling generous, leave us five stars and a review and follow us wherever you listen.

[00:40:34] Kathleen: You'll never miss an episode until next time.

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