I kept hearing about Jenn Kautsch and Sober Sis from so many women in the community, so I had to have her on the pod! I love Sober Sis’s mission of supporting women who are beginning to question their gray area drinking. Jenn is really speaking our language!
Today, Jenn and I chat about rejection in motherhood, what it means to be ‘sober-minded’, navigating sobriety when your partner drinks, and so much more.
Check out all of Jenn’s Sober Sis offerings at www.sobersis.com
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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Hi, welcome to the Sober Mom Life podcast. I’m your host Suzanne of my kind of suite and the sober mom life on Instagram. If you are a mama who has questioned your relationship with alcohol at times, if you’re wondering if maybe it’s making motherhood harder, this is for you. I will be having candid, honest, funny conversations with other moms who have also thought, Hmm, maybe motherhood is better without alcohol. Is it possible? We’ll chat and we’ll talk about all things sobriety and how we’ve found freedom in sobriety. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic. You don’t have to either, and maybe life is brighter without alcohol. I hope you will join us on this journey, and I’m so excited to get started.
Happy Monday. Welcome back. Today we have Jen Couch, the founder and creator of the sober CIS community. You know, I kept hearing Jen’s name coming up as I sat down with a lot of the real sober moms for those chats, and so I knew I had to have her on the podcast. I love what she has created with Sober Cyst. It really is all about just being curious about sobriety. It’s not about waiting for that rock bottom moment, which you know, is exactly how I approach sobriety. She has a free, happy hour survival guide. Everything is gonna be linked in the show notes. Over 30,000 women have participated in her 21 Day Reset challenge. This is all for women who feel stuck in that, the gray area drinkers, which we talk about a lot. And so I know that you guys will love this episode.
She is speaking our language. I really enjoyed it. Also, before we get to it, just a reminder, our book club started last week. We are talking about Laura McCown’s new book, push Off From Here. That is all found on Patreon. If you wanna join, we would love to have you. There is, you know, you don’t have to have read the whole book before joining. You haven’t even, you don’t even have to have read the book. We go chapter by chapter. There are questions. It’s kind of like a therapy session. I just, I love it so much. We’re meeting Wednesday 7:00 PM Central time. The Patreon is patreon.com/the sober mom life. Come over there. It’s five, seven, and $10 levels for the $5 level. You get all of the bonus episodes and the real sober moms are coming back. They will be released on Patreon first, and so that $5 level, $5 a month, and you get two bonus episodes a week.
I do a Sunday check-in, and then the real sober mom chats will be the other one for $7. You get all of the bonus episodes plus access to our Friday meetings. It’s Friday at 11:00 AM Central. That’s where we just meet on Zoom to support each other. It’s a wonderful space. I love it. And then for the $10 level, you get all of that stuff, plus you get to chat with each other on Discord, which you guys have been chatting all day long every day, and I love to see it. And you also get access to that book club. And right now the book club is meeting every Wednesday 7:00 PM Central after we’re done with Laura’s book. So we’re gonna do that for six weeks. We will change that to the first Wednesday of every month. So all of that $10 a month, you guys, that’s like, what is that one and a half coffee? My coffee’s expensive. So I mean, for less than two cups of coffee, you get all of that stuff to support you in your sobriety journey. So come and join us. It’s linked in the show notes, and I hope you enjoy Jen couch of Sober Cysts.
Okay, Jen Couch of the sober SISs. I am so happy you’re here. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2 (04:16):
You bet. I am excited to be here and get to know you better.
Speaker 1 (04:19):
I know, me too. I, it’s so funny because in, in these like online sobriety circles and on my Facebook group and the sober mom life, I see your name pop up a lot. And um, I just had on Meg Geist White and she was talking about you. So I was like, okay, of course, I need to talk to Jen and I need to, I, I’m excited to learn your story and kind of your approach to sobriety and helping women stop this wine madness,
Speaker 2 (04:48):
<laugh> this crazy cycle.
Speaker 1 (04:49):
<laugh>. Yes. The crazy, I think we all know the crazy cycle, right?
Speaker 2 (04:54):
Yep. It really is a cycle. And you know, what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t matter if that cycle’s daily, weekly, yeah. Monthly. It’s the same cycle. And so I took a lot of breaks, but the same cycle repeated itself. And so I could make that a shorter cycle or a longer cycle, but it was the same one.
Speaker 1 (05:15):
Yeah, that’s interesting because, you know, this whole way of looking at sobriety is a little bit different, where, you know, when I stopped drinking three years ago, I was like, oh my God, do I have to go to aa? Do I have to declare myself powerless? All of these things that we’ve kind of been taught. And I love that there are people like you leading the charge of, like taking on. Did you get the, the phrase gray area drinking? Is that from Annie Grace?
Speaker 2 (05:41):
Um, I really got it from Jolene Park who has the TED Talk.
Speaker 1 (05:45):
Okay. Yeah. So yeah, really diving into that, the gray area drinkers, because I think that’s most of us,
Speaker 2 (05:53):
I’d never heard that term before. And it was so, uh, beneficial to me because I really thought that it was black or white, all or nothing. You either are or you aren’t, um, struggling with alcohol, you have to pick one. And I couldn’t pick one. I couldn’t pick a label that fit me. But when I heard the term gray area drinking and thought, okay, there really is a spectrum here, and I’m somewhere on it. I’m right really in the middle where I can physically stop when I want to. But mentally and emotionally, I’m really wrapped up in this cycle. I call it the detox to detox loop. Yeah. Because I was so super duper healthy and mindful by day, doing all the right things, checking every single box. In fact, my reward for checking those boxes was the five o’clock wine o’clock, you know, glass of wine that turned into, you know, more than one. Yeah. And because one just didn’t do the trick anymore.
Speaker 1 (06:53):
Right. And so I like that you said like you could stop if you wanted to. And that generally we use as evidence that it’s not a problem. Right. That alcohol is not a problem. Nothing to see here. Keep it moving. I can stop. I stopped when I was pregnant. I can stop, you know, I did dry January. A lot of people maybe are finishing dry January and now they’re back to their wine. And it’s like, see nothing to see here. We’re, we’re good. But that doesn’t mean that that alcohol isn’t an issue on its own. Right.
Speaker 2 (07:28):
That’s exactly right. And I thought because I could control it when I wanted to, I thought I had this false sense of control when really what was happening is I was just managing it well at that time. And that’s why moderation for me ended up never really delivering what it promised. Because I could trust myself. I could trust my rules, I could moderate until I couldn’t. And I never knew <laugh> when those moments would come where I would just abandon myself, abandon my roles, hit the eject button, and it could be, you know, a really high stress event. Or it could be just the boredom and the, the minu of daily life, especially in the mom zone. Um, I really struggled the most with my drinking when my kids were kind of preteens and teenagers, because I started kind of shrinking back my mom role, trying to kind of get outta the way <laugh>. Yeah. And I, that’s when I really started playing small in my own house, in my own family, in my own life.
Speaker 1 (08:33):
That’s so interesting. So when you talk about that, because my kids are, you know, three, six, and eight, so I’m not there yet. So tell me about that, because I’m sure a lot of moms listening have those preteens and teens. And what does that mean that you shrink and get small? I understand. Like, I already see it. My eight year old, my eight year old daughter is like, I don’t need you right now. Go away. And I’m like, wait, what? Why? And so what Yeah. What does that look like on a daily basis if you’re gonna shrink and make yourself small in your house?
Speaker 2 (09:05):
Yeah, exactly. I was just talking to a new friend about this last night and I, I was telling her how in college in my twenties, I kind of played big. I played big in my life. I did some things that were just really out there, really took a lot of boldness, confidence, they were scary. I put myself out there. And then when I became a mom, that was, that was a big deal too. And then when they were little, you know, when your kids are little, they think you’re like, everything. Yes, you’re the queen, right? They love you. They’re all, their words to you are pretty sweet, you know, like, here’s a flower, here’s a leaf. And then those c preteen years come in that 12, 13, and I actually turned 40 when my oldest turned 13.
Speaker 1 (09:51):
Speaker 2 (09:52):
It was like game on. Yeah. With the 40 year old, uh, kind of angst of like, I should be more together by now. <laugh>. Like, I’m showing up at 40. And I felt exhausted, overwhelmed. I’d just been homeschooling for the past three years at that time, just due the transition in our life. And, um, so at that point, I had a 13 and an 11 year old, and I turned 40 and I thought, uhoh, this isn’t really, I’m, I’m kind of frazzled. We had just moved into a new house and it was like, that was the beginning of a five year wilderness stint for me as a person. There were many highlights, many great things during those years. So I never mean to paint it. Like it was just so terrible. Great things were happening and we had some really fun special family times. But for me, that was the beginning of a little bit of the, uh, the unraveling of my identity.
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you mentioned earlier, you know, our kids need us. Well, they started to need me less. And some of that push away was normal and natural. And I, I don’t think I was prepared for that. And I don’t think I was prepared for the way it would happen. Uh, it wasn’t, it wasn’t <laugh>, it wasn’t necessarily a Bye, mom. Thanks so much for your input. Right. I’m not really ready to hear that right now. It was, it was right back at you. And so when those words turned from, not affirming, but actually reaffirming, like, get outta here. Like, I don’t care what you have to say, or hurtful to me. And again, not their, not their issue, more mind of how I was receiving it. I gotta tell you, Suzanne, it, it kind of wounded me. And what I did with that was I absorbed it.
I took it in and I thought, well, they’re just kids. Just blow that off. But it pricked something inside of me that was a vulnerability that I had, a rejection quite honestly, that I had not experienced yet. And I thought, well, how can I be rejected by my own kids and have I put too much stock in, in our relationship or what they think of me? But I think it’s because of the way I grew up and my relationship with my own parents was so different. I, I was just that compliant rule follower. Never talk back to my parents eighties kids. Mm-hmm.
Speaker 1 (12:14):
Speaker 2 (12:15):
I’ve raised a daughter that I’m super proud of, um, who’s in her mid twenties now. And she is very strong. Yeah. She’s a strong person and she also has a strong personality. And if she ever hears this <laugh>
Speaker 1 (12:28):
Speaker 2 (12:28):
Kudos, kudos, kudos.
Speaker 1 (12:32):
I mean, those strong-willed girls, I have two of them. And like, I have to keep reminding myself like it’s going to serve them well. But it is tough to raise strong-willed girls.
Speaker 2 (12:43):
Speaker 1 (12:45):
I like that you bring up the idea of rejection and motherhood, because I think it’s not talked about a lot. And it’s a thing I, even with small kids, I remember when my baby, my first baby, I was breastfeeding her and she was nine months old and she went on a nursing strike and she would not nurse for like four days. And, and, and she would not do it. And I was not ready to give it up. And I felt so rejected. And it was like, what is wrong with me? How am I failing? Um, how am I failing her? Like what? And I think that we do feel like moms have feelings and I’m, I’m starting to say that to her now. She’s eight. And it’s like, we do have to be careful with our words because yes, I’m your mom. I will love you unconditionally. You don’t have to worry about taking care of me. Like I, you know, but also I have feelings too. And I think that that can be kind of a tricky conversation cuz you don’t want it to be this codependent relationship, but you wanna be like, Hey, words matter and I have feelings. And yet that rejection, motherhood, I think is like a certain kind of sting and it does. It’s like little heartbreaks.
Speaker 2 (13:59):
It does sting. And that’s exactly right. Suzanne, you really articulated that well. It wasn’t as if I was needing her to be my friend. Right. Or, you know, this comrade, I’m her mother. But there is a place where it’s like, okay, I I, I’ve given you everything I’ve got and I want the best for you and like you’ve got my whole self. And yeah. If those words can, can get in there. And of course it was such a <laugh>, it’s been such a great learning experience for me about how to differentiate myself to use a counseling word cuz I have had my share, you know, just of just the inner heart work of learning how to differentiate myself even more fully, but yet still be human. I, I think sometimes we can err on the side of overcompensating and being so differentiated, so almost callous to those feelings.
And that’s what, that’s what alcohol did for me. It was a counterfeit, it was a pseudo shield that I wore, um, oftentimes in that scenario where I kind of compiled some hurt feelings throughout the day because she was younger and not a comrade, not not an equal relationship. It wasn’t as if we could talk through the same. So I did kind of absorb some of that. And my perfectionist reformer personality just kept trying harder to not let it affect me. And the more I tried to deny its effect on me, I was moving towards denial of, of my inner self and my inner work that I needed to do. And so I would kind of wait until five o’clock, one o’clock cuz it was appropriate that it was okay to be the mom that was having the glass of wine while I was cooking. But a lot of that was subduing that underlying low current of anxiety and, and rejection, which, uh, you’re really helping me pinpoint <laugh> that today.
Speaker 1 (15:58):
Yeah. I mean, it, it makes so much sense when you zoom out and when you look at moms and why we drink and why we turn to alcohol. And when you’re talking about this rejection and, you know, motherhood is such a thankless job and Sure. You know, I, it there’s always needs to be a disclaimer. I feel like it’s like if moms complain, we have to always follow it up and say, but I love it. And they’re, you know, I wouldn’t trade it and I’m so glad. It’s like, yes, of course
Speaker 2 (16:25):
This is established
Speaker 1 (16:27):
<laugh>. Yes, we know that that’s the foundation, but we also have to be able to say, this is fucking hard sometimes. Yes. And like all throughout the day, my heart breaks a little bit and, and, and my soul is crushed a little bit throughout every day. And it’s all of this taking care of and needing. And
Speaker 2 (16:48):
It’s hard to know when and how to let that show Yes.
Speaker 1 (16:51):
Speaker 2 (16:51):
Your children. And as they get older, you know, what they can handle and what’s okay to show them. So I’ll be honest, of course there were times where that sting or that prick happened and you know, the show must go on. And I, I just didn’t even, it’s almost like I took the feeling, the hurt feeling, and I didn’t have a moment to, you know, journal about it
Speaker 1 (17:14):
Or No, you
Speaker 2 (17:15):
Can’t sit down and have this prayer meditation time where I’m like reentering and regrounding. Yeah. So I would just go in my bathroom and shed a tear, wipe it off, acknowledge that like, like I couldn’t help it, like it overflowed out of me and then I would get, get right back to it because I didn’t have the capacity, nor did my kids at that time. I don’t think it would’ve been appropriate to go, okay, that really, like, I didn’t know how to do that.
Speaker 1 (17:40):
It’s so true. Like, I can’t, like to my three-year-old, it’s like he doesn’t care and he shouldn’t care because he’s worried about like discovering the world and learning his feelings. And so, but it’s still like, there’s still a human on this side of it. And so I think as moms we’re really good to our detriment at just like, okay, shoving it down and like, you have to keep going because if you don’t keep going, the house is gonna fall apart and your kids are gonna, like, we are the nucleus of our home generally speaking. And so we have to keep going. It’s just so understandable why moms turned to alcohol because all of that shit that we’ve like pushed down and not felt and couldn’t deal with, not now, maybe later. That’s hard to feel. It’s like mold in the basement. Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s gonna come up and it’s going to make itself known and it’s really, really hard to feel that stuff. It’s hard to be like, yeah, I feel rejected by my children. Like no one wants to feel that. Nobody
Speaker 2 (18:40):
Wants to say that. No. And then you, you are afraid, or I can be afraid of being misunderstood, which is one of my biggest heartaches is ever <laugh>, you know, who, who wants to be misunderstood or misconstrued or mi you know, mistyped. I’m like, I’m not that helicopter mom. I’m not that mom that, that just needs my kids. And so needy. And I think that, uh, you’re right, we start justifying and then we kind of posture and we kind of show up in our own life and our own families to act kind of easy breezy cover girl. Like we don’t really care. And then there’s a mismatch there too of alignment with being our authentic self in our own home. So that’s what I started doing was kind of shrinking, uh, because it felt vulnerable to show that softer side even with my husband and kids, because I didn’t wanna be made fun of.
Speaker 1 (19:37):
Speaker 2 (19:39):
And again, I have a great family here I go again, here I go. I just, I don’t mean to paint this picture of like this awful family Yeah. That I think sometimes with strong personalities, the vulnerability for them is uncomfortable as well. And I’m, I’m the type I do wanna dig in there, but it takes two oftentimes to do that. And so if the other person isn’t willing, ready, or of age to do that, then that’s where it becomes a really healthy thing to find that outlet or that place, you know, whether that be another mom friend who truly gets it. Uh, but what I found when I talked to a lot of my mom friends was it was a little bit like the blind leading the blind. We were all so in it, it turned into just kind of a, you know, we’d get together and wine about it. <laugh>. Yeah.
Speaker 1 (20:30):
Speaker 2 (20:31):
It kind of commiserate, but we were so in it at the same time. Oftentimes that’s what I was getting was a lot of identification. But I think that’s why the power of having older moms in your life who have been older mentors, guides down the way. I guess I’m technically stepped into that quote older mom role where I do have adult children who are making their way in the world. I was just telling a friend last night when we were just reflecting on the journey, my husband and I were married at the ages of our children.
Speaker 1 (21:07):
How, wait, so how old were you when you got married? So
Speaker 2 (21:09):
Take that in. Yeah, I was 24. Okay. And my husband was 22. Wow. When we got married.
Speaker 1 (21:16):
So when did you realize that the, the wine was a barrier to you just in your life and connecting in your 40 and your turning to wine more? What happened?
Speaker 2 (21:26):
Yeah. I would say really my drinking did kind of take a turn at 40. It had been kind of a social thing, the whole mommy juice wine culture, which I know you, you’ve talked a lot about. Yeah. I was just kind of into that in my thirties. It was still somewhat kind of fun. It seemed to be kind of semi working, but it was in my forties, I would say 40 to 45. That five year span, that half a decade was when I was progressively wrestling more and more inside with my relationship with drinking. As my kids got older, the more misaligning the drinking became and the more they could notice. And then that was, that was a huge like, oh no, <laugh>, we’ve got a problem now because it’s like, do what I do until five, but don’t necessarily do what I do after five. But they don’t get this five o’clock thing. They don’t get that I’m still on the clock for another five hours. Right. I’m just, just starting the second shift.
Speaker 1 (22:26):
Yeah. They’re only seeing like, mom’s different in mom’s acting like Yeah,
Speaker 2 (22:30):
Mom’s a little glassy-eyed. Uh, yeah. You know, she’s here, she’s, I’m not the crazy drunk mom, you know, out there in the world socially speaking, very in control. I was actually always the one on a girl’s night or a, you know, a girl’s trip that was kinda like, all right guys, let’s keep it down. We’re getting a little loud. We look crazy. I was always the ringleader that got us together, but the one that would always try to kind of land the plane ground us, you know? Yeah. I probably wasn’t the one up there grabbing the karaoke mic. I was in the background going, oh my gosh, we, we really looked the part right now <laugh>. Right,
Speaker 1 (23:06):
Speaker 2 (23:07):
But I loved my friends that were so free. I, I wanted that, I wanted to be that let your hair down loosey-goosey free person. But what I found when I was drinking is I actually even was fighting against that inside. I felt this physical release of like, okay, there goes the overthinking, there goes the anxiety, but the other part of me that’s like, I really do care how I show up in the world. I do have a reputation I would like to keep intact. I really wrestled inside with trying to let go and stay in control at the same time. In that in and of itself was really exhausting because I was competing constantly for loosening up and holding on, staying in control and getting a little bit out of control for just a second. My goodness. And so, um, in my forties, half of my forties, I really just went back and forth from, I call myself a yo-yo drinker during those years, instead of a Yo-yo Dieter <laugh>, I was a yo-yo drinker. I was on again, off again doing challenges whole thirties, you know, mainly health challenges, cleanses. I could do all of that. And that always helped me feel very in control, but it was kind of a false sense of control because the inside of me wasn’t really changing. I was just behavior modifying. And because I could do that, it confused me even more because I couldn’t do that with alcohol
Speaker 1 (24:35):
<laugh>. Yeah. Couldn’t
Speaker 2 (24:36):
Speaker 1 (24:37):
Right. And, and probably sometimes you could. Right. And so I, I think that
Speaker 2 (24:42):
It’s kinda the 80 20 rule,
Speaker 1 (24:43):
Speaker 2 (24:44):
Speaker 1 (24:45):
I’m the 80 20 rule with like everything in my life Yeah. Except alcohol. Because I think when you do have that 80 20 rule with alcohol, the problem is it’s an addictive substance. And so like to have an 80 20 rule with a highly addictive substance doesn’t really work. But I think that so many people are in that moderation. Hell, because it’s not this like flashing red light of like, oh my God, you’re losing your custody of your children. You’re, you got a d u i. It’s not that for so many moms, it is this like back and forth and it’s, it’s really, when you look at it, it’s a toxic relationship.
Speaker 2 (25:28):
A lot of negotiating going on. Yes. Constant negotiation of rules, the deprivation mindset, the willpower, all of that. I used all of those tools and none of them worked for me. <laugh>. Oh, oh yeah. None of them worked. I even tried the negative self-talk at 3:00 AM I call it the 3:00 AM wake up call. And it was like uhoh, oops. I did it again. Not in a good way. Um, where I’m like, it is 3:00 AM I did it again. I broke a promise to myself, I drink tonight or I had more to drink tonight than I said I would. Or even just the three glasses, you know, that’s gonna really wreck your sleep. And so I would wake up at 3:00 AM laying there in the dark, listening to my sweet husband, kind of snore <laugh>. And, and I’m just laying there thinking I’ve gotta get up in, you know, three and a half hours from now and get it going again.
And the shame and the defeat that I felt during that time was so heavy and so strong. I just thought, well, here I am, just sit in it. I’m wide awake with nowhere to go. Oh. And nothing to do with it. Yeah. But just sit there and just beat myself up and tell myself, don’t do that again. Don’t do that again. In fact, get up with those good intentions. That, that’s what fueled empowered the good intentions was fear, shame, and defeat. Mm-hmm. It wasn’t because I was trying to make this better life for myself and do all these great things. I was just trying to not do that again.
Speaker 1 (26:57):
Yeah. That’s such an interesting perspective on it. Yeah. And so what finally changed? So you took breaks in the whole thirties and all of this stuff and you had five years of really kind of wrestling with it. And what’s the thing that finally made you go, okay, it’s enough.
Speaker 2 (27:16):
Yeah, I was really at that point where I was so ready for change, ready to, to hear something different. I had not yet heard of this whole movement, this whole sober curious movement. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, gray area, drinking, creating a life that you love, that you don’t wanna numb out from. I’d never heard things like this before. So I really think God put some, some people and some books and some resources in my pathway that started to illuminate this to me. Like, oh, there’s a whole different conversation going on. And I started hearing words that were different. And again, there’s nothing wrong with these words, but sober recovery, addiction, addict, alcoholic, these words did not resonate with me. When I heard those words. I thought, well, that’s not me yet. And what do I need to do to avoid those words?
Speaker 1 (28:08):
<laugh>? Yeah. It seems like a, it seems like a sentence like, oh no sobriety.
Speaker 2 (28:13):
Yeah. I’m like, okay, that’s, that’s not me yet. I mean, I see how I can get that way. Yeah. But gray area, drinking alcohol, free lifestyle, curiosity, these words resonated with me. And I really am thankful for all of those who have gone ahead of us and me that have helped bring those words in a different language into the conversation. I’m trying to bring the word sober minded into the conversation because me sober mindedness is more than sobriety or being sober or abstinent from a substance to me being sober minded is being awake, alert and aware in our own lives. Yes. Does alcohol help us do that? No, it does not. It dulls us. It helps us fall asleep in our own life. And so, to me, the term sober minded encompasses a lifestyle. And, and that’s why I love saying that I’m sober minded and I’m choosing to live an alcohol free lifestyle. And the, that’s what turned for me. That’s what changed for me, was the openness to look at it a different way.
Speaker 1 (29:22):
Yes. I, I love that. I think that, you know, labels do matter and words do matter. And so many of us get tripped up by those labels of I know. I did. Like when I, yeah. When I decided to stop, I kind of decided, and then I went on that journey of like, holy shit, what did I just do? And then I started learning. I was like, okay, I can get behind this and I can get behind that. Yeah. Sobriety is freedom and not this sentence of struggling and deprivation. And, and once you start to live that, then it, it’s just momentum then, then you start seeing Exactly.
Speaker 2 (30:01):
Exactly. It is momentum. And when I first set out on this journey, it wasn’t that I was never gonna drink again. Yeah. I mean that was kind of my secret goal, <laugh>, but I thought, well, I could never do that. And that’s a little extreme. And our alcohol centric society, I thought the concept of not drinking alcohol at all by choice, not because I had to choose that. Yeah. But cause I wanted to choose, that seemed foreign to me. So I thought, well, I’m gonna take a, I’m gonna take a, a break. And that’s exactly what happened was, um, I started with a six week goal, 42 days, a thousand hours. You know, I thought that’s doable.
Speaker 1 (30:37):
Okay. Why did you choose six weeks? What, what was the, was it just kind of random? It was like, okay, I wanna do more than a month, but not like why six weeks do you think?
Speaker 2 (30:47):
Yeah, I, well I think six weeks is enough time. It, it’s funny because I run a 21 day reset challenge, so it’s half of that time. But I will say, I think it really takes more like 90 days. Yeah. Quite honestly to really create a new lifestyle. But I’d done a month before, so I think, you know, and this was April of 2017, so it was April and May really, which were for me, my like, time of Mother’s day, my anniversary, my birthday, all of it fell in this amount of time. So for me it was a real compact time of like one thing after another, can I do this? And, um, exactly. Momentum is what happened. So then I was like, you know, I think I’ll go for a hundred days. There’s something about a triple digit, 100 days of purposely intentionally learning about alcohol, mindfulness, not just not drinking.
Speaker 1 (31:49):
Yes. I think that’s so important with these 30 day challenges. Like, I, I like dry January, I like sober October. I like those things. But when, if you’re using that time to count down to when you quote unquote can drink again. Exactly.
Speaker 2 (32:03):
Speaker 1 (32:03):
Think it’s wasted.
Speaker 2 (32:04):
Yeah. Yeah. Which I had totally done many times cuz I’ve taken many programs and many challenges. And so this was different because I was trying to learn about myself and truly look at alcohol differently. That’s what I tell women I work with. My goal is not to get you to walk in to sober cyst and say you’re never gonna drink again. My goal is to say, I want you to look at alcohol differently that you can never unknow what you know. Yes. That’s a good thing. <laugh>. And then you can’t make the same choices because you’re gonna have new information. I mean, you can, but you’re gonna make it with new information.
Speaker 1 (32:41):
You take those blinders off. Yeah. And it’s like an un that that’s what this naked mind was for me in in that first, you know, couple of weeks. I would just listen to it while I was going about my day and it was like an unbrainwashing. Totally. Yeah. Once you find out what alcohol is, what it does, and when you look at what it’s done in your life, once you open those doors that you’ve Yeah. Been locked for so long and is so full of shame, once you shine a light in those dark corners, it’s like, oh wow, you can’t look at it the same.
Speaker 2 (33:18):
Speaker 1 (33:19):
Speaker 2 (33:20):
And that’s so true. Yeah. Annie’s book for me in 2017 was a huge, a huge help. And her podcast <laugh>, speaking of good podcasts. Yeah. I, I really put that in my ears at wine o’clock <laugh>. It just started really changing my routine and my kids at that time were, um, 16 and almost 19. So I still had a high schooler at home. And, um, our daughter was basically in her freshman year of college, but still coming home on the weekend she was going close. And really another catalyst for me back to the mom zone, another catalyst for me for not drinking or changing, I should say my relationship with drinking was she was about to make a big move that summer. She was about to move out of state and do something really big and amazing. And I knew that I needed to be all hands on deck mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Yeah. I needed to be ready to be in this new mom role of coach, consultant, comrade on the sidelines. I needed to be available. She was moving to California as my 19 year old and I’m a Texan. And that was a long, long way. And she was moving there basically by herself to pursue some of her dreams and some of her goals. And so during that time I thought, you know what? My anxiety was rising. The more I was drinking, the more my anxiety was rising. I was drinking to subdue my anxiety. But honestly it was, you’ve heard this before probably, but it’s literally like pouring gasoline on a fire
Speaker 1 (34:53):
<laugh>. Yeah. That’s what Laura McCowan says, right? Yeah. And it’s so true. And, and we don’t realize it because it does help at first. And so our brain, it does
Speaker 2 (35:01):
That 20 minutes is pretty awesome. Right.
Speaker 1 (35:04):
Our brain doesn’t connect the, you know, the alcohol with the rise in anxiety the next day, the next two days,
Speaker 2 (35:11):
Even days later, your cortisol three days later is higher because of drinking. So even, even when you’re not drinking That’s right. Your anxiety is higher because of drinking. So that’s, that’s huge. The science is everything. And uh, so yeah. So I knew I needed to kinda get a grip.
Speaker 1 (35:29):
Okay. So then once you started learning the truth and once the blinders came off Yeah. Then you just saw alcohol in
Speaker 2 (35:36):
In a new light. You saw it for what it was. I did. So my year of 2017 was the kind of the, the, uh, the rebuilding year of getting, getting myself back. You know, I just come out of that five year stint that 40 to 45, that 13 to 18 <laugh>. I mean, that’s just a real marked time. And I’ve learned a lot about myself too during those struggles that I really was more resilient than I thought I was. Every time I outsourced my resilience to alcohol, it was undermining me. It was undermining my ability to do hard things. And I wanted to take that back and be able to remember, hello. I can do hard things. Cuz here’s another thing, Suzanne, that I didn’t mention in my story. I really didn’t start drinking until my young thirties. Oh, wow. Um, when I was already a married mom working.
So I had all of my college years I was in a sorority at a state school, totally a party school and my twenties where drinking just one my thing at all. Like, I just didn’t really, I mean, I had a drink here and there, but it was not my, not my thing, definitely not my go-to coping mechanism at all. Yeah. And so I had a contrast. I knew a whole decade as a grownup before drinking. And so I thought, gosh, I really wanna show up at 50 different than I did 40. I want to feel like I did inside when I was in my twenties. I felt very whole. I felt like yes, life was hard. I dealt with, you know, big breakups, a broken engagement, a miscarriage, hard, hard things in my twenties, but alcohol was never present. I had to learn how to cope with those.
And, and two, my faith is really strong. My relationship with God’s very important to me. And so in my twenties I was very aligned in that way too. Really nurturing that. And same in my thirties and forties. But it, it just became this kind of two masters thing. <laugh>. Yeah. Or maybe you’ve heard it said, you know, try to chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one. Yes. That was me. I was trying to cha I was trying to kind of be, be two people mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I wanted to get back to feeling really just aligned and wholehearted. And so that’s what I did at almost 46, I began the rebuilding phase of my life, mind, body and spirit and trying to kind of put it, put it back together, but not in the same performance oriented posturing. Let me get it together, let me look together kind of way. But like, let me really feel that way. Let me stack upon, uh, truth plus time and grace is gonna equal change and I’ve gotta do that. I’ve gotta do it. And so I knew ripping off the bandaid of alcohol was gonna be the lead domino that if I could get that more, uh, in a right place, it was going to lead to other things. And so that was my goal to show up at 50 different than I did 40. So at 46 I thought, I’ve got four years. It’s gonna take that long for sure.
Speaker 1 (38:38):
Wow. That’s amazing. And I think the idea of, yeah. When we invite alcohol in, we just discount ourselves so much. Yeah. And we don’t get to prove to ourselves that we can withstand all of these things. We can withstand the witching hour without that wine. Guys, I promise you, you’re, you’re strong enough. You’re strong enough to be uncomfortable, you’re strong enough to grieve. My my dad passed away just a year into my sobriety and I, I thought the grief would break me. It didn’t. I, like, we are strong enough and there’s just Yeah. When we have to rely on ourselves and when we come through for ourselves, I think that’s my favorite part about sobriety.
Speaker 2 (39:24):
Yeah. So empowering. Yeah. And I’m like, you know what? I can do hard things. Um, I can, I can go through things instead of trying to go over them, under them, around them. Yes. It sounds like Dr. Suits. Yes.
Speaker 1 (39:37):
Speaker 2 (39:37):
Yes. You know, instead I’m like, I can go through it and if I go through it, I can actually come out more intact. And usually even like grief, grief is a huge catalyst and trigger for people to, to either, uh, heal and get stronger and, and really grow in gratitude. Or it becomes a real stunting time where it’s just this grief can go longer than it needs to if you, if you’re not able to move through it, you just end up ruminating or hovering in the stages of grief. And I think when we go through, when we literally go through grief, and again, it’s not linear. There’s not like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I know there’s the stages, but I think when we go through something, then we don’t have to stay stuck in it as long.
Speaker 1 (40:24):
Definitely. I think that’s the case probably with all of those big emotions. It’s like we’ve, we’ve gotten so used to as a society, not, it’s like, okay, if you feel pain, take a pain med. If you feel anxiety, take anxiety meds. And this is coming from someone who’s on anxiety meds. And I get it. And, and if the anxiety is bill debilitating, you know, that’s one thing. But there, these are signals that our body is telling us. And it’s like the pain, if I took pain medication every time I felt pain, I would have no map. I wouldn’t know how to heal. And it’s the same with anxiety. It’s the same with discomfort. It’s the same with anger and with sadness and all of these things, all of these big emotions that we’re afraid to feel are, they’re there to guide us and, and to help us figure out what we need and what we want. And I, I think that what I mean, what alcohol does is it numbs those and it gets in the way of us figuring out what we need and what we want
Speaker 2 (41:30):
That is. So Right on. That is so true. And I couldn’t ask for what I needed. I didn’t even know what I needed.
Speaker 1 (41:37):
Speaker 2 (41:38):
Because I was, I was using this blunt tool <laugh>, like just alcohol, just to shut down so much of that feedback loop. Or even socially, you know, was I having fun? I don’t know. Right,
Speaker 1 (41:51):
Speaker 2 (41:52):
Is it because it’s really fun? Is it because the people are fun? Is it because alcohol’s numbing the fact that it’s lame or boring? What’s going on? I think being sober minded allows us to get that feedback we need. That really does become that map and guides us like, I do wanna do this. I don’t wanna do that. This is fun. This is life giving. This is a drain. This is just sucking the life right outta me. I don’t wanna do that. We don’t know.
Speaker 1 (42:17):
We don’t know. And I think that that is the, that’s the work of early sobriety and that’s why those like 30 days, 60 days sometimes. I mean, it took me, it’s taken me years and I’m still figuring out, I say it’s like learning a new language. Like I’m learning the language of me and like my gut and what I need and what I want and what I don’t like. And and when you’ve been numbing that out and when you’ve not listened to that for so long, it takes a while to figure it out.
Speaker 2 (42:48):
Yeah. So I turned 50, well, two summer ago now. I’ll be 52 in June. And so first
Speaker 1 (42:57):
Of all, you look amazing.
Speaker 2 (42:58):
Why Thank you. I did curl my hair for you.
Speaker 1 (43:00):
You do, you do, I guess.
Speaker 2 (43:02):
Yeah. So I, and I feel, you know, it’s, it’s like in, in your fifties, I just, uh, I’ve just did an interview with a awesome organization called Pro Age Women. They have a digital magazine.
Speaker 1 (43:15):
Speaker 2 (43:15):
It. It’s this whole concept of pro age. Yes. You know, take the wisdom that you’ve learned from the hard knocks of life and the experience that we’ve talked about today and apply that to your life, but feel the youth inside because I wanna physically feel the best I can take what I’ve learned and use it to help others. And, uh, and I just, I’m really finding that I have such a passion for young moms who are just about to step into what I call the, the danger zone, the wilderness. And then I also have such a heart for empty nesters, because that’s a whole nother season where drinking really reenters, um, or amps up because of that, what we talked about earlier, just where do I fit? Where am I needed? What’s my new role? What are my passions and purposes?
Speaker 1 (44:03):
Yeah. Who am I?
Speaker 2 (44:05):
Who am I?
Speaker 1 (44:06):
Yeah, I think that that’s such a, it’s scary, but it’s such a, it’s just such an exciting adventure that you’re going on in sobriety and in figuring out what you like.
Speaker 2 (44:17):
I think if I were still drinking, um, which I could easily could have been, uh, a 50, you know, something drinker that’s, you know, kind of hitting the patios knows where all the happy hours are. Um, my husband is a drinker still. Um, it was a major activity for us. So I think we would’ve been professional, <laugh> professional, happy hour drinkers. Like, come on babe. I know the coolest new bar that has fun. You know? Yeah. I, I would’ve made it a thing because I was making it a thing for us because I thought it was connecting us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I thought, oh my god, say connector. But as the night went on, what I found was alcohol was actually a disconnector. We’re really just seeking connection, but we’re losing connection. First off with ourselves when we drink, we are really disbanding from our, our authentic self. Yes. We’re losing connection with that feedback loop, like we talked about. And you’re actually becoming less and less present. And so that’s what would happen with my husband and I. We’d go on these fun date nights, you know, got a babysitter left the kids at home once they got old enough and it was our night out. And that’s when oftentimes we would end the night really disconnected. Usually it was me.
Speaker 1 (45:30):
Yeah. And those fights that just, you wake up the next day and you’re like, okay, I know we fought, but like what about, you know?
Speaker 2 (45:40):
Oh, totally. Yeah. So many of those scenarios, and those were the years where we really needed each other’s support more than ever. And I think we were, again, kind of outsourcing our connection to something that was disconnecting. And we didn’t even know it. We didn’t even realize it. And I think we could have had more heart to hearts minus the alcohol and gotten to a deeper place than inviting alcohol on our date nights as a guest of honor, almost like, okay, get the party started now alcohol is sitting here with us now we can really talk.
Speaker 1 (46:15):
Right. Oh my God. Totally.
Speaker 2 (46:17):
And so it’s been so much better in that way to, uh, to really hear each other’s. And sometimes, you know, because my husband is still a drinker sometimes I say, babe, tonight for our date night, like, if you’re drinking with your friends or you’re, he’s a cyclist. So a lot of times athletes drink after they Yeah.
Speaker 1 (46:35):
Ride. Which is funny. Which
Speaker 2 (46:37):
Can find ironic. Yes. Uh, I know, I’ve been to the yoga and champagne afterwards. Uhhuh combos. I, yep, I get it. That doesn’t bother me at all. His drinking doesn’t bother me. He’s got a whole different relationship with alcohol than I did. But what does bother me, I guess, or something that I speak up for now, is when it is just the two of us and we are trying to intimately connect. It’s a date night. We’re trying to really share our hearts. Something that’s really important. I ask sometimes he’s like, Ooh, I’d really love a cold beer. I’m like, you can, I’m not here to control you. I don’t have these expectations on you. However, for me, not for you, but for me, would you consider maybe not drinking tonight? Because I really just wanna be on the same vibe. It’s like, even if you have a beer or two, you’re cool. I get it. But we’re now, we’re not on the same vibe. We’re not on the same frequency. Quite honestly. We’ve gone from sober minded to mind altered. Yeah. Even ever so slightly. But a beer or two is gonna do it. And, and he’s so great. He’s like, absolutely, of course. Because he would rather connect with me. And I do find that respectful and honoring, but it’s me. It’s not me trying to change him, it’s me asking for what I need. Yes. And that’s been a big game changer.
Speaker 1 (47:55):
Yes. I think that’s so important for the moms and the wives to hear, because that’s probably the biggest question I get is, does my husband still drink? And how do we figure that out? And, and he does. And it’s about figuring out what’s important to you and what you need for connection and to feel safe, to feel heard, to feel loved. And so, yeah, I think that takes some time to figure it out. Like you said, you were fine if he drinks away, but if it’s a date night and you wanna connect, and I think that that’s such a great way to approach it. It’s to say like, I wanna connect with you, rather than it’s about like, well, no, you can’t, don’t drink. I don’t want you to drink. It’s like, but guys, generally speaking need to hear <laugh>, those reasons. And it’s because I wanna connect with you. And when you have one or two beers, even though that’s fine, and it doesn’t seem like much to you now we’re not on the same level. And I don’t feel like I can connect with you like I can when we’re both sober. I think that that’s really helpful. Yeah. Okay. So your passion now is helping young moms and empty nesters, and so you created the sober cis, right? So tell us all about that.
Speaker 2 (49:08):
Yeah, so after almost a year of this own personal journey where I was just learning, growing, absorbing, taking it all in, reading all the books, listening to all the podcasts I possibly could, and it was an incredible year. And, and quite honestly, you know, I’d found little groups to be a part of, but I could never find my people, my group where I felt like, okay, I can bring my whole self mind, body and spirit. We can, we can talk like a, like a sisterhood. So it was 2000, well actually it was Christmas day of 2017. And, uh, hubby and I were sitting by the fireplace and I’d made it, you know, I’d made it like through the holidays.
Speaker 1 (49:52):
Speaker 2 (49:54):
But because I wasn’t counting days or ticking the days till I could go back to drinking again, <laugh>, I was really trying to build this new lifestyle. I was just so excited about my own freedom that I turned to my husband. And I just said, babe, I wish more women just like me, kind of like the girl next door. The, I mean, I’m just such an ordinary mom. I wish more women like me could hear my story and maybe if they knew what I knew, they would wanna make different choices too. But I was really still getting my voice and learning how to share my own stories and my own experiences that brought a unique element to the table. So women started taking my 21 day reset challenge, which I’d written in early 2018, and really fine tuned all the way through, um, in 2019.
And I started doing these monthly challenges where hundreds of women were, were signing up every month, and then I’m giving the content and creating facilitation for other women to talk about it together real time. I think what, what Sober CIS has become is more of a sisterhood of real support. Um, there are so many great programs out there, but a lot of times with programs, you do the program, you take the program. Right. This is more than a program. This is a true, uh, relational situation where we really dive into connection, I would say is our secret sauce.
Speaker 1 (51:19):
I love it. I I love that you’re creating something or you’ve created something that you needed. Yeah. When you, when you first decided to, to question and examine your relationship with alcohol. And I think that that’s incredible. You said that you’re an just an ordinary mom and you’re not, you’re an extraordinary mom, <laugh>, who is helping others, uh, figure out their relationship with alcohol. And I think that there’s probably nothing more important, no better work to be doing now that you know, more moms than ever are turning to wine. So you are an inspiration. I just can’t thank you enough. Thank you so much for, for coming on and sharing. And I’ll make sure to link everything too in the show notes. All of the links and, and where can we find you? On Instagram?
Speaker 2 (52:03):
Yeah, on Instagram. My handle is at sober SISs. One word. And, um, I love sharing alcohol free options on there. Keeping it fun. You know, I didn’t sign up to be somber minded.
Speaker 1 (52:18):
Speaker 2 (52:20):
Sober minded. And really just wanna bring that empowerment and that positivity to this alcohol free lifestyle. Or just even being sober curious.
Speaker 1 (52:29):
Yeah. Well, you are, you’re just like a breath of fresh air and, and that’s amazing. So thank you so much for being here and sharing all of your wisdom. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (52:39):
Speaker 1 (52:40):
Having me. Thanks Jen.
Speaker 3 (52:46):
Speaker 1 (52:46):
You so much for listening to this episode of The Sober Mom Life. If you loved it, please rate and review it wherever you listen. Five stars is amazing. Also, follow me on Instagram at the sober mom life. Okay. I’ll see you next week. I’m gonna go reheat my coffee. Bye.
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