RE 422: The Pursuit of Happiness

RE 422: The Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 422 – The Pursuit of Happiness


Today we have Susannah. She is 42 from Hampshire, England, and took her last drink on 4/29/2022.


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[03:09] Highlights from Paul:


Paul shares a blog post created by Odette regarding happiness in sobriety. He also shares his thoughts that sobriety does not equal happiness or solve all of our problems, but it does give us the chance to build a life where happiness knocks on the door more frequently. The school of sobriety is going to teach you the most important lessons of life. Love and acceptance. It will keep teaching you these lessons until you have accepted, that’s the lesson to learn.


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[10:40] Kris introduces Susannah:


Susannah is about to celebrate 10 months of sobriety. She lives in the south of England; she is married, and they have three boys and two dogs. She works in luxury concierge. In her free time, she enjoys walking and is looking forward to expanding her garden this year.


Susannah grew up as the youngest of 3 kids. Her parents drank socially but she was never exposed to any kind of alcohol abuse. When she was young, she was sent to boarding school. She was exposed to alcohol when she was around 13 but had no interest in it, in fact she was very against drinking at that time. It wasn’t until she was 16 that she started socially drinking at pubs with friends, but it wasn’t an issue she feels.


Her mother died suddenly when Susannah was 22.  Her and her mother were very close, so she was feeling quite isolated and alone after this loss. A few years later Susannah was in Thailand when the tsunami hit. These events had her questioning “why me?” and she thinks that they contributed to some of her attention seeking behavior and participation in toxic relationships. She doesn’t feel that she was using drinking to cope at this point in time but was not dealing with the traumas very well.


When she was in her early thirties, she got pregnant. She found pregnancy to be very difficult for her but didn’t have trouble quitting drinking during these times. She had several medical issues happen which caused her first child to be born early which was scary for her.


After her second child her drinking started to increase. The drinking events coming more and more frequently whether they were over bad things or celebratory things.


Susannah says she was able to stop drinking for periods of time but never with the goal of quitting completely. She tried to seek help but was told she should try medication or taking vitamins. Since she functioned well on the outside no one believed she had a problem. She kept trying to moderate, but it never worked.


After a terrible hangover that had her sick at an event in her village the next day she decided to go to AA. She met the woman who is now her sponsor at that first meeting and with a hug from her, she finally felt the relief that she was in the right place.


After about four or five months of sobriety, she feels things has shifted. She has learned so much about herself and has start dealing with all of her traumas. She is better as a wife and mother and feels she performs better at work.


[01:02:31] Kris’ Outro:


The beauty of recovery are the chances that keep showing up to put the healing we have done to good work.  What’s happened in your life that you wouldn’t have expected if you were still drinking?


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RE 421: Keep it Simple

RE 421: Keep it Simple

Episode 421 – Keep It Simple


Today we have Stephanie. She is 44 from Georgetown, MA and took her last drink on September 6, 2020.


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Exact Nature:


[2:49] Highlights from Paul:


In an age where almost everything plugs in, we as human beings do not. Often when we are feeling upset or triggered, one (or more than one) aspect of H.A.L.T is at play. Try and ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.


Paul gives us a lot of suggestions of simple ways to address these feelings and asks the listener – how do you keep it simple?  Let us know on Monday’s post on Instagram in the comment area!


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[10:42] Paul introduces Stephanie:


Stephanie took her last drink on September 6th, 2020. She is 44 years old, lives in Georgetown, Massachusetts. She is married and has two boys, ages 7 and 9, and two dogs. She enjoys walking and running and loves all things sci-fi.


She first started drinking when she was 15 with an 18 year old boyfriend. She was socially anxious, and drinking helped with that. There were very few consequences and she says it was at least once a weekend she drank, but never drank at home and wasn’t exposed to alcohol at home. She did well in school and followed the rules at home.


She drank in college and went out with her friends typically Thursday through Saturday but did well in school during the week. She was able to dodge some consequences, but the behavior continued. The drinking gradually began happening more frequently especially after she started dating someone and they spent a lot of time going out and drinking together.


She ended up getting married and they moved to Arizona. Their relationship was surrounded by alcohol, and it started to become obvious that they couldn’t take nights off and that was an issue. They split up and she moved back home to Boston. While she was excited for the next chapter of her life, she ended up starting to drink alone which was a red flag to her. She met her husband and they had a lot of fun together, even though they drank. Nothing serious happened, but she still felt that she was drinking too much. She was able to quit while she was pregnant and realized during the second pregnancy that she was wanting it to hurry up so she could start drinking again. Shortly after that she moved from bottles of wine to boxes.


Around the beginning of the pandemic, she told her husband that she was going to quit, but she wasn’t able to. She started hiding mini bottles and realized she started drinking earlier and earlier in the day. She was starting to have physical pains and was saddened by what she saw in the mirror.  She was feeling more and more disconnected and realized that she wanted to change this so she could connect and be more present with her children.


Due to the pain, she was having, Stephanie decided to make an appointment with her doctor and got some alarming results. She decided to come clean with her husband and let him know what’s been going on and that she was ready to quit drinking. He was very supportive which she wasn’t expecting.


Stephanie realized that she had to do things differently. Moderation had never worked in the past, so she knew that wasn’t an option this time. Three big things she did were she told the truth about her addiction, found a community whose language she really resonated with, and ensured she consistently had an hour to herself where she would listen to podcasts and walk. She is looking forward to doing some international travel sober, which she hasn’t done before, and she is excited to continue being a more present parent and partner.



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RE 420: The Most Prolific Trap

RE 420: The Most Prolific Trap

Episode 420 – The Most Prolific Trap


Today we have Matthew. He is 49 from Phoenix, AZ, and has been a sober rock star since 12/15/2006.


Our next Ditching the Booze course is starting Monday March 20th. It is free for Café RE members. You can learn more about the course and Café RE by clicking this link.


[03:00] Highlights from Paul:


As humans, we are prone to the trap that things will be better, or we will feel better after x, y or z happens. If we are constantly attaching happiness to accomplishments, checklists, or sobriety clocks, then eventually this surface level happiness fades and doesn’t last nearly as long. Diffusing this trap is our most important task as a species at the moment. To find inner peace regardless of what is going on outside.


The first thing we can do to confront the trap is recognize it and then try to find happiness in the present moment while working towards the goal in mind. This is being okay with being okay or being okay even if you feel like dog crap. You are not doing sobriety, or anything wrong, if you have a bad day or 50.


To be fair, we do feel better when we make positive change in our lives, but it’s the balance we are going for. And not to place 100% of happiness to a future date, which is never guaranteed.


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[11:37] Kris introduces Matthew:


Matthew has just past 16 years of sobriety. He is married and they have two teenage sons. He spent many years as a radio and TV personality all over the country, but recently left the business to do podcasts, motivational speaking and is the head coach of a local high school hockey team. He enjoys doing this as well as taking advantage of the hiking opportunities near where he lives in Phoenix, AZ.


Matthew was first exposed to alcohol at a very young age when his dad would share sips of beer with him. He grew up in a family where drinking was a part of the landscape at all gatherings of any kind.


He didn’t really drink a whole lot until he was in his late teens. Later in his twenties, Matthew’s career found him doing a lot of appearances where he was expected to be the life of the party and ensure that everyone present was having a good time. This involved large bar tabs and many after parties that he occasionally had too much and couldn’t function well for his job the next day.



His drinking increased a lot after his father died. He was attending therapy to deal with the great loss and how it happened. He ended up leaving his family and traveled around the country with his career eventually meeting his wife. Things were going well and then there were major changes at work which ended up with him being unemployed while his wife was pregnant. He says that he spent a lot of time drinking at that point.


The moved again shortly after that and it was after a work Christmas party that Matthew found his rock bottom moment. That night he didn’t want the party to end but was unable to find an open bar. He ended up buying some wine and walking home. It was a three mile walk in the snow to his house. His wife and son were both crying when he got home and he just went to his room and passed out. When he woke up, he wrote a letter to his wife and son saying that he will never have another drink.


When he decided to quit, he knew he couldn’t do it by himself. He went to therapy to help him uncover the “why”. He told everyone that he was not going to be able to attend any alcoholic events for a while. Learning why he was drinking was the most important piece. He believes in living a life that he doesn’t want to escape from.


[01:02:15] Kris’ summary:


Kris reflects on the power of connection with people that you can let your guard down with. It’s important to feel seen and community is a great way to do that.



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RE 419: Boredom & Sobriety

RE 419: Boredom & Sobriety

Episode 419 – Boredom and Sobriety


Today we have Joel. He is 42 from Lawton, OK, and took his last drink on November 28th, 2022.


Join Recovery Elevator in Atlanta, GA over Memorial Day weekend. Registration opens March 1st, and the Sunday evening event is for everyone, and you can find more information about it HERE!


Exact Nature:


[2:18] Highlights from Paul:


Boredom is a completely normal and natural emotion, one of the many all humans have. In today’s world, we are were unconsciously wired to feel inadequate if we are not stimulated 24/7. But boredom is healthy and what is needed for a creative spark.

Big alcohol has done a great job of convincing us that we cannot have fun without alcohol, and part of the sobriety process is finding joy or fun again – without the shit.

We can learn to leverage technology and maybe start researching something that we are interested in. And everything becomes a possibility when you quit drinking. It takes our body time to find a heathier homeostasis but with time and practice, boredom becomes the invitation for us to be open to whatever wants to come our way in an alcohol-free life.


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[12:01] Paul introduces Joel:


Joel has 51 days of sobriety at the time of this recording. He is manager of a large automotive retailer. He is married and they have a 14 year old daughter. He enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and at the lake.


Raised by a single mom and had addicts in his family. He didn’t really know his dad until he was 13-14 years old and doesn’t really have contact with him anymore. Parents had a toxic relationship.


Joel feels that this time in sobriety is different. He has tried many times and it seems like it gets harder every time. This time he feels that some of the signs he was given were different than before. He started realizing that he was allowing alcohol to take more and more control of his life. He was drinking on the way home from work, his wife hated his drinking so he was hiding it, and finally he realized it was becoming a huge problem.  The last few weeks found him having some red flags that made him realize he really needed to stop.


Joel says the first few days were exciting and full of optimism and then about day 3-5 found him full of anxiety. He knew it was part of his healing, and found he needed to stay busy to keep sober.  After two weeks he started feeling better, seeing some physical improvements and getting positive feedback from his wife. He feels very motivated to keep the momentum going and finally feels free.


He says he has always been a fan of routines, but now has a much healthier one without alcohol. Exercise has been a huge help to him as well as being reflective in a quiet space. As soon as he feels any anxiety he goes for walks regardless of where he is.


Thinking of the future Joel says he wants to be a role model for his daughter and live a happy life with his family. His mental health is important to him, and he has no interest in ever drinking again. Joel is in some sobriety groups and enjoys listening to podcasts. He and his wife also talk a lot about his journey, she is very understanding and supportive now.



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RE 418: Serenity Now!

RE 418: Serenity Now!

Episode 418 – Serenity Now!


Today we have Bethany. She is 34 from Michigan and took her last drink in January of 2021.


We have partnered with Sober Link. You can find some tips and can sign up for a $50 off promo code.


[2:15] Highlights from Kris:


Kris enjoys living in a small town where everyone helps one another, and the pace is rather consistent. He and his wife were recently on a trip to the city, and it was busier than usual which created sensory overload for Kris. He found himself in the candle section of Target taking a moment and saying the serenity prayer. It helps him shift his thinking that it’s all about him and reminds him that he can exist better with others.


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

The wisdom to know the difference


It doesn’t fix everything right away, but it assists with pausing and choosing how to react going forward.


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[10:15] Kris introduces Bethany:


Bethany is 34, has two kids and a fiancé. She just graduated college last year, works as an account manager for a car parts company. For fun she likes to play video games and plays often with her fiancé. She also enjoys running, camping, travelling and quality time with friends and family.


Bethany wasn’t exposed to alcohol much growing up. She had her first drink when she was 14 and got sick so she didn’t try it again for a while. Started going to high school parties but didn’t drink when she was playing sports. She found herself in a toxic relationship with a boy she met in church. After a messy break up she stopped going to the church and ended up feeling the loss of community as a result. After going away to college, she started partying as a way to escape her depression.


By her sophomore year she stopped going to classes and for the next year, her drinking escalated a good bit more. She met her ex-husband around this time. She ended up getting pregnant and then they got married and had another child. She says they weren’t compatible, and they didn’t have a healthy relationship. Bethany feels she didn’t have a good real-life example of strong relationships growing up because her mom died when she was four and her dad never remarried. Her husband was in the military where the drinking culture is very normalized, and they drank a lot. Towards the end of the marriage, she realized that the drinking was getting in the way of her parenting, and it was hard to take any breaks from it. Everyone she was around drank like she did, so no one ever said anything to her about it. For a while she stayed stuck in the cycle of drinking too much, taking a few days off and then starting back again.


She met her fiancé at a friend’s party. He is a normal drinker and would sometimes call her out for her drinking. Bethany says her behavior towards him and others could be abusive, so she started trying to set rules around her drinking. It wasn’t until an incident that had her feeling bad about not being present for her kids prompted her to think about trying to quit drinking.


A Google search led her to finding RE and she discovered a few episodes that really resonated with her. For the first time she realized she wasn’t alone and felt hope for the future. She joined Café RE for support and accountability and started reading a lot of Quit Lit. Soon into recovery she found herself enjoying life without alcohol and enjoying her children playing sports. Her grades improved and she graduated with honors. She has started making friends that she enjoys spending time with.


[52:25] Kris’ Summary


Telling our stories is a brave thing and can help a lot of people. Reach out if you are interested in sharing your story:


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RE 417: The Best and Worst Place to be With a Drinking Problem

RE 417: The Best and Worst Place to be With a Drinking Problem

Episode 417 – The Best and Worst Place to be With a Drinking Problem


Today we have Jenny, she is 36 from Hudson, WI and took her last drink on 2/16/2020.


Shout out to our Café RE hosts!  They do an amazing job.

If you are interested in joining, click the link and use the promo code OPPORTUNITY to wave the setup fee.


[02:45] Intro Summary:


When Paul describes the best and worst places to be with a drinking problem, they both look a lot alike.


That realization that alcohol no longer serves us, but we can’t imagine life without it can be a scary place to be. Alcohol has us right where it wants us. It may feel like part of you is dying, that feeling is grief.


But on the flip side, when we realize that alcohol no longer serves us, we can see that as an invitation to live the life we were meant to live. We are at the tipping point about to embark upon the greatest journey in our life.


We are all right where we need to be. Life will keep giving us the same lesson until we are ready to learn or make a change. By making that first jump into the unknown, you give others courage to do the same.


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[10:15] Paul introduces Jenny:


Jenny is 36 and lives in the small town of Hudson WI.  She is married and they have one son together. She works in education and enjoys the outdoors – camping, backpacking, she also enjoys gardening, yoga and in recovery she learned that she likes to read.


Jenny’s drinking started when she was just 11 years old. A traumatic event that she didn’t share with anyone had her feeling alone and out of place. Jenny realized she loved drinking right from the start. She grew up aspiring to be the bad girl with the tough persona because it helped her put up a guard to protect herself. She enjoyed drinking and was willing to try any other drugs.


When she was 20 her and her boyfriend moved to Montana. She thought she could escape her issues, but that didn’t work. Her addictions got worse and while she would quit some things, the alcohol remained which helped her believe that she didn’t have a problem because drinking was socially acceptable.

At age 30, she lost a pregnancy and her drinking evolved from drinking for fun to being self-destructive.  She later got pregnant again and her son was born 18 months later.  She still struggled to quit drinking during pregnancy and since her doctor told her it was ok, she saw that as a green light to keep drinking.


When their son was 7 weeks old, they moved back home from Montana to their hometown to be close to family. In debt, postpartum with no job, the lived in her in-law’s basement and her drinking got really bad. No one called her out because drinking was all part of the culture.


Her turning point was after Super Bowl Sunday when she had crippling anxiety the day after and ended up staying in bed for two days with very dark thoughts. There is a history of suicide in her family and that is what stopped her from that path.


She says she was sober from alcohol for the first 14 months but doesn’t feel like she was in recovery. She ended up going to AA in April of 2021 and hasn’t looked back.


To her, there is a big difference between being sober and being in recovery. She is doing things that she likes to do instead of just not drinking. She feels like every day is a victory and she counts every day as it helps motivate her. At first, she had a hard time letting go of the old persona, but now she has let go of that and has redefined who she is. She loves mornings now and is doing well in her job. She also loves yoga and attends AA meetings frequently as well as other online community events.




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