RE 478: Unlocking Curiosity

RE 478: Unlocking Curiosity

Episode 478 – Unlocking Curiosity

 

Today we have Cyndi. She is 54 and lives in Denver, Colorado. She took her last drink on December 10th, 2023.

 

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[02:08] Thoughts from Kris:

 

Kris shares how recovery has ignited his curiosity. While drinking, he didn’t step out of his comfort zone very much and feels he was perfection driven to offset the dumpster fire that was happening with his drinking. He didn’t feel safe not being good at things, so he never tried.

 

Since in recovery, Kris has taken up a plethora of hobbies, most recently welding. His garage now houses evidence of his hobbies and creating new things rather than the massive amount of empties from when he isolated in there with alcohol.

 

Kris now embraces his curiosity and lets himself fail as he learns new things.

 

When asked what they like to do for fun, many interviewees respond that they are still trying to figure that out and that’s normal as we can become immersed in the drinking life and it’s hard to find time for anything else.

 

What do you like to do for fun? What have you gotten back in sobriety? Or what would you like to be able to do? What’s holding you back? If you’re still in it, is there something that you could use as fuel or motivation?

 

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[8:56] Kris introduces Cyndi:

 

Cyndi is 54 years old and lives in Denver with her husband, cat, and dog. She has worked in the dental industry for the last 35 years and enjoys playing outside with her dog, hiking, camping, and cooking.

 

Cyndi’s first real exposure to alcohol was when she was 15. She was at a party where she worked and drank a lot of beer trying to keep up with everyone. Even though she was sick a few days afterwards, she was not deterred and found drinking fun.

 

Cyndi says she was “successful” at drinking for many years, but around 2019 she attended IOP but says it didn’t stop her. Her drinking soon created issues in the marriage, finding them separating from each other for periods of time and trying to use different tools to help Cyndi quit. After a particularly rough time, she started going to AA. She would be able to get a few months at a time and finally was able to achieve two years. Cyndi’s toxic job started taking over her life and she gradually stopped working on her sobriety which found her relapsing and starting the on again off again cycle again.

 

The relapse happens long before the first drink, Cyndi feels. Work started replacing meetings. Her husband was noticing that she was more tired and unhappy, and she was starting to spend more time isolating herself from him because she was drinking again. Eventually her drinking would lead to Cyndi losing her job and found her husband working on divorce papers. They ended up having a long talk about their situations and Cyndi started working hard on recovery again.

 

Cyndi ended up finding a much better job and she is now attending five meetings a week and has a new sponsor. This new job is much closer to where she lives and the meetings she likes to attend are on the same route as work. Cyndi has started therapy which she had never done before. Communication with her husband is better than it has ever been. Her faith is also stronger than it has ever been.

 

Cyndi’s plan in sobriety moving forward: to be proactive, have a check list of things that help her stay sober.

 

Cyndi’s parting piece of guidance: don’t quit quitting. Acknowledge your problem and get help one way or the other and just keep going.

 

[51:44] Outro:

 

Kris shares a song that he came across recently:  Hi Ren

 

Whether we’re fighting with ourselves, or others, when we’re in that dark place we can’t really win. BUT we can learn. We can find a way to be healthy and bring love and light into the world.

 

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RE 477: It Can Be Done

RE 477: It Can Be Done

Episode 477 – It Can Be Done

 

Today we have Jim. He is 44 and lives in Silicon Valley, CA. He took his last drink on February 20th, 2024.

 

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[02:27] Thoughts from Paul:

 

Paul is coming up on ten years without a drink. He has attended many social situations without consuming any alcohol. When he told people he wasn’t drinking, the question he got was “Wait, you’re not drinking?” said as more of a statement of astonishment than anything. As in the impossible was happening right before their eyes and they were surprised someone could still have a good time without drinking.

 

A major factor of why ditching the booze can be so hard is that the thinking mind will tell you it can’t be done. The biggest reason for this is that an alcohol-free life lies in the unknown. The mind and the ego crave the known.

 

But it can be done. If you are on day one, a series of day ones, Paul reminds us that yes, it can be done. But for how long? A morning, an afternoon? A week? A month? A year? We are only ditching the booze one day at a time. Addiction forces us to confront the thinking mind. Addiction forces us to tease out who is who in the thinking mind. It forces us to locate and meet ourselves.

 

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[08:55] Paul introduces Jim:

 

Jim lives in Silicon Valley and is a software engineering manager for a large tech firm. He is 44 and happily married for 21 years with three young kids. He enjoys skiing, learning woodworking, and completing task lists.

 

Alcohol was a non-issue for much of Jim’s life. He tried it a few times when he was in his early teens, but he didn’t enjoy it much. He didn’t drink in high school or college and then drank very sporadically throughout his 20’s.

 

In his 30’s, the company he worked for would have gatherings at the end of the week where alcohol was provided. Jim says this was where he started enjoying drinking. Over time it progressed and there were some negative consequences for Jim at work and he started suffering with anxiety and depression. At the time, Jim felt like he was living multiple lives.

 

COVID era was a difficult time for Jim. He was working from home and had little to do so he found himself drinking more. When work became busy again, the distractions at home drove Jim to rent an office where he was more isolated and drinking earlier and earlier in the day.

 

On the way to a bible meeting one day after having a few drinks, Jim realized this wasn’t a great idea and decided to check out an AA meeting instead. He says that he went to several different types of meetings over the course of the year before anything really stuck for him.

 

Jim feared telling his wife about his problem, but knew he had to do it. Her initial response was not believing that Jim really had an issue with alcohol but started to feel betrayed when she realized how much he was hiding from her. Jim was determined to tackle the addiction and created his own path. This includes listening to podcasts and journalling every day. He has had a series of stops and starts in his recovery but feels that was part of the learning process and utilizes past journal entries to remind him of why quitting is the best thing for him.

 

After a recent relapse he started to feel very hopeless and knew he couldn’t continue on this path. Jim has leaned into his faith and scripture in addition to his own past journal entries to help him gain the resolve to try sobriety again. He is a member of Café RE and has an accountability partner which has helped him a lot.

 

Jim’s best sober moment: when his wife told him how proud she is of how far he is come.

 

Jim’s parting piece of guidance: if you get stuck, it’s ok, but you just can’t stay there.

 

 

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RE 476: Is Quitting Drinking Hard?

RE 476: Is Quitting Drinking Hard?

Episode 476 – Is Quitting Drinking Hard?

 

Today we have Tonya. She is 50 and lives in St Paul, MN. She took his last drink on August 21st, 2021.

 

Registration opens today for our annual retreat in the beautiful Rocky Mountains located outside of Bozeman, MT. This retreat is from Wednesday August 14th through Sunday August 18th, and it is going to be a blast! Click here for the full itinerary and to get pricing info.

 

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[02:30] Thoughts from Paul:

 

Is quitting drinking hard? It can be, yes but if you have a drinking problem, quitting drinking is way easier than riding alcohol off into the sunset of self-destruction.

 

Here are some reasons why it can be a challenge:

 

  • Your body has to detoxify itself form the chemical alcohol.
  • You are going to have to learn some new routines and make new habits.
  • You need to start building friendships where alcohol isn’t the foundation.
  • Accept that boredom is a normal and healthy life experience.

 

Here are some glorious truths about quitting drinking:

 

  • After 14-21 days you are going to get out of the brain fog and want more of the new “good-feeling” thing.
  • No more checking message to see what you said the night before, you’ll remember the book you read, less sick days at work, and more money in your bank account.
  • Your dopamine system rebalances.
  • You are living life at face value and when we do that, we can start to build the life that no longer requires alcohol.

 

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[10:27] Kris introduces Tonya:

 

Tonya has been married for 21 years and they have two children who both attend the University of Minnesota. She recently left the corporate world to be an in-home professional organizer. She enjoys her work as well as cooking, tending her plants and in recovery she is always up for trying new things.

 

Tonya was born into a deeply religious family. They attended church daily along with going to school there. She says they were forced to pray for forgiveness everyday which left her feeling like a bad person.

 

Tonya didn’t drink until college because she didn’t want to be like her father who was an alcoholic. There was typical college-age partying, but Tonya says she always went a little further than everyone else. Some of her behavior led to losing friends and being seen as a liability on their travels. As she got older and wanted to get married and have kids, she was able to slow the drinking down a bit, but still drank heavily while out of town for work.

 

Having postpartum depression after her daughter was born, Tonya found she was using alcohol to cope with life. Over time her family started becoming concerned about her drinking, so she went to rehab for the first time. She didn’t end up being able to quit and struggled with the AA program. She would attend rehab five more times and while she learned a lot about the psychology and science behind alcohol and addiction, she didn’t actually quit.

 

Shortly after her 2nd DWI, Tonya lost her job for reasons that didn’t include alcohol although she admits she was physically addicted and drinking on the job. Unable to find another job she ended up sinking into her drinking and says she spent a year doing nothing else. After nearly ending her life, she realized that she didn’t want to do that to her daughter. She was at the end of her rope and ready to give recovery and AA another try. Tonya started going to different AA meetings and got a sponsor. She is grateful that she found community because she knows she couldn’t have done it on her own.

 

Tonya’s favorite resource in recovery:  Everything AA app, the AA and RE communities.

 

Tonya’s parting piece of guidance: Time. Things will get better in time. One day at a time. Get involved in community.

 

 

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RE 475: Almighty Ceiba

RE 475: Almighty Ceiba

Episode 475 – I See You Ceiba

 

Today we have Shari. She is 60 and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. She took his last drink on December 31st, 2022.

 

In two weeks on April 1st, registration opens for our annual retreat in the beautiful Rocky Mountains located outside of Bozeman, MT. This retreat is from Wednesday August 14th through Sunday August 18th, and it is going to be a blast! Click here for the full itinerary and to get pricing info.

 

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[02:56] Thoughts from Paul:

 

Paul shares with us how the idea of Sober Travel first came to him. After a trip of a lifetime that went sideways for him, he knew the only way that he could do alcohol-free travel in the future was with alcohol-free travelers.

 

On the most recent sober trip to Costa Rica, Paul and other members of the cohort traveled to see a Ceiba tree that is at least 350-400 years old. He shares with us the history of the Ceiba tree and what they mean to the people that live around them.

They also got to witness live sea turtles hatching and were able to release them into the surf. Quitting drinking is like the release of the sea turtle. Your new life awaits, and anything is possible.

 

Thank you to Sober Link  and Athletic Greens for partnering with us on this event.

 

[09:46] Paul introduces Shari:

 

Shari is 60 years old and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. She has been married for 34 years and has furry children rather than human children. She works in consumer-packaged goods and operations and for fun enjoys cycling, hiking, and walking.

 

Shari took her first drink when she was 13 and it resulted in a blackout and being extremely sick. She went through her teen years drinking whenever she had the opportunity, which was always problematic.

 

Shari had multiple DUI’s by the age of 24 and with her second one was forced to go to AA and take a yearlong course in alcohol education. It was then that she realized she was an alcoholic. She didn’t want to go to AA but she did find some nice people there.

After a few stops and starts she was able to get and stay sober for 8 years and used hosting meetings as accountability to stay sober. Over time she started to slow down her attendance at meetings and started drinking again during a particularly stressful time in her life.

 

Shari was putting parameters around her drinking after she started again and was able to maintain it to a degree. She would have varying stages of abstinence, and this continued for the next 20 years. Shari says she didn’t work very hard at AA during this time, and limited the connections she was making with other people.

 

When she moved back to Santa Barbara 10 years ago, her parents health was deteriorating. Watching her father drink problematically reminded her that she didn’t want to go down that path. Shari started looking for other modalities to help her quit drinking. She started reading quit lit and joined The Tempest sobriety course with Holly Whitaker. She started listening to RE where the idea that we can’t do this alone really resonated with her.

 

Shari loves that there are so many more options in the recovery space now. She recognizes that everything she does these days is for her recovery. Therapy, exercise, eating right, connecting with people and reading – they all feed her soul and keep her grounded. Finding community and attending more meetings with fellow travelers on the journey was initially uncomfortable for Shari. But she knew she needed to get out of the comfort zone and join the conversations.

 

Shari’s best sober moment: the breathwork she participated in at Bozeman last year.

 

Shari’s parting piece of guidance: never quit quitting and you shouldn’t do it alone.

 

 

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RE 474: If You’re Serious About Change

RE 474: If You’re Serious About Change

Episode 474 – If You’re Serious About Change

 

Today we have Nick. He is 36 years old from Grand Rapids, MI. He took his last drink on January 19th, 2021.

 

In two weeks on April 1st, registration opens for our annual retreat in the beautiful Rocky Mountains located outside of Bozeman, MT. This retreat is from Wednesday August 14th through Sunday August 18th, and it is going to be a blast! Click here for the full itinerary and to get pricing info.

 

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[02:41] Thoughts from Paul:

 

Paul likes Instagram because it’s a platform for artists, for teachers, for musicians, for dancers, and more to showcase their talents.

 

Paul shares with us audio from a video he found while on Instagram. Here’s the scene: It’s a busy city street at nightfall, when a gentlemen comes to a skidding halt on his electric motorbike wearing a microwave as a helmet. When his motorbike comes to a stop, he pushes the open microwave door button, and begins to speak. Check out the video here.

 

If you are serious about change, there will be shitty times, but trust the process because in the long run you’re going to be a better person.

 

The biggest gift Paul gets while doing Recovery Elevator podcast is witnessing the change made daily. This change, added up over many days, months and even years, results in quite the transformation.

 

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[08:40] Kris introduces Nick:

 

Nick is a real estate agent in Grand Rapids, MI. He enjoys outdoor activities in his free time. He has a boyfriend and a dog that he takes everywhere with him.

 

Nick says he started drinking in high school when he and his friends would pillage the parents’ liquor cabinets. He enjoyed alcohol because it freed his inhibitions. As someone who was coming to terms with being gay in a conservative city and kept it a secret for a while. The internal struggle drove Nick to enjoy checking out and alcohol was the way he chose to do that.

 

In his late teens, Nick started working in the food and beverage industry. He felt very welcome at the gay bars he worked in but didn’t have good role models. He knew in his early twenties that his drinking needed to eventually be addressed but wasn’t ready at that time. Nick says he was very functional but drank daily. He feels he was just surviving at that point in time.

 

Nick started thinking about quitting when he was in his early thirties. He says he was stuck there for a while trying to determine if he really had a problem. He started utilizing his ADHD medication to help him be able to drink more. The planning and rituals became exhausting. Drinking progressed beyond “only after the responsibilities are done” to finding reasons to start earlier.

 

Nick’s first stint at sobriety was in 2018 when he joined a local IOP and AA and was able to remain sober for about four months while learning a lot about addiction. His partner at the time drank heavily and eventually Nick gave up his sobriety. His rock bottom came when he was hiking with his dog hungover and realized how miserable he was and questioned if this was how he wanted to live his life. The next day he went back to AA.

 

After working the steps with a sponsor, Nick felt empowered. He says he went on a quest for sobriety and tried out other modalities. When a sober travel trip to Costa Rica with RE coincided with his one-year milestone, he decided to go and feels he gained a lot from that trip.

 

Within the past year Nick has changed careers and feels the best he has ever felt. Going forward, he plans to keep growing in his career and nurturing his sobriety.

 

Nick’s favorite resource in recovery: Recovery Elevator podcast

 

Nick’s parting piece of guidance: the harder you fight addiction, the more entangled you are so just let go.

 

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RE 473: An Easier Softer Way

RE 473: An Easier Softer Way

Episode 473 – An Easier Softer Way

 

Today we have Lee. He is 43 and lives in the United Kingdom. He took his last drink on August 17th, 2020.

 

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[03:41] Thoughts from Paul:

 

There are a million reasons why people drink. One reason is relief. Now thank you alcohol for providing myself relief when I needed it most. Then there came a time, and it wasn’t overnight when the source of relief became less effective. Alcohol then provided no relief at all. Then it became a source of discomfort itself.

 

Now the most excruciating part of a drinking problem is when we reach for alcohol to seek harmony, but it only brings pain. Now the conscious mind knows the outcome, it knows it won’t work. But in the unconscious, it is still inscribed like a commandment on a clay tablet that alcohol will deliver the goods.

 

So, listeners, the seed I want to plant with you today, that even though we live in a world full of messaging and imagery saying that alcohol will enhance your life, in reality, the truth is an alcohol-free life is the easier, softer way.

 

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[08:33] Paul introduces Lee:

 

Lee is from Birmingham, UK where he lives with his wife and two kids. He works for a paint manufacturer and for fun he enjoys exercise.

 

Lee’s first taste of alcohol was when he was 8 and he thought it was terrible. Around age 14 he attended a party where there was alcohol, and he enjoyed the buzz he got from drinking until the next morning when he felt hungover. It was a few years later before he started drinking regularly. Lee utilized alcohol to combat insecurities and be more social.

 

People told Lee that after he was married and had kids that he would settle down, but Lee says his drinking got worse. He says he selfishly thought about how he could go home and drink in the house alone while his wife may be staying overnight after the birth of their second child. Even after wrecking his car while drunk, Lee did not see that he had a problem. Instead of going to the hospital, he left for the shop to get more alcohol.

 

The drinking started putting a strain on his relationship with his wife. The cycle of arguments and Lee leaving the home for a few days only to return asking for forgiveness went on for about six months. After a particularly bad event where Lee couldn’t remember the events of the days he was gone from home, he had an anxiety attack. Lee finally admitted to himself that he had a problem and reached out to AA.

 

Lee started attending AA meetings via Zoom and was still drinking and just listening. He started to see what everyone had, and they seemed happy. At that point he decided to give quitting a try.

 

Lee says the first few months were horrific. He couldn’t concentrate and was very irritable. He kept going to meetings and listening to everyone tell him it was going to get better but struggled to see it. The next several months found him sleeping better and feeling 95-96% less anxiety. After 18 months to 2 years, he has been able to forgive himself for things I did when he was drinking. He feels he is no longer to try being sober, instead he is living a sober life.

 

Lee’s best sober moment: getting his family back and being more present with them.

 

Lee’s parting piece of guidance: take it one day at a time. If you can’t do that, do a half day, do an hour, you’ll get there eventually.

 

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