Episode 332 – Find More Joy
One of the biggest things that kept me drinking as I long as I did was that shame circle. I would drink, do something stupid, embarrass myself, feel terrible and then drink again because I couldn’t handle my feelings.
Brett is 27 years old, lives in San Francisco, CA and took her last drink on January 2, 2020. This is her journey of living alcohol free (AF).
If you love our intro and outro music then check out the artist DJ NYE on Spotify, and that link is in the show notes. Also in the show notes are links to download, for free, our intro and outro music, That’s with my voice sampling and ET Tolle’s voice samplings.
DJ NYE on Spotify.
Intro and Outro Music.
Intro Eckhart Tolle: https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/recoveryelevator/RE_ET_Intro.mp3
Outro Eckhart Tolle:https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/recoveryelevator/Eckhart_Tolle_Outro.mp3
Today is June 28th. This Thursday, July 1st, is the start date of our intensive 13 session course for the month of July. We meet three times per week, Monday, Thursday and Sunday. Mondays and Thursdays are classroom style format, with intimate breakout rooms and Sundays are for guest speakers, Q&A, and we’ve for an AF Beverage workshop hosted by Kate (episode 315). We polled previous course participants and 72% of them remained alcohol free for the duration of our last course. How cool is that. You’ll have course assignments and daily discussion prompts in your WhatsApp groups. This course is all about connection and having fun. Go to Recoveryelevator.com/restore or click the link in the show notes, to sign up and for more info.
And don’t forget that land tortoises are the longest living animals on the planet and that TIB is still the best band in the world. One of those is fact, the other opinion but for the most part undebatable.
Okay, let’s get started -
I’m going to cover two things today. 1. The importance of purposefully adding more joy into your life and 2. Recently while traveling, I came across the most vicious sports mascot ever. I still get goosebumps when I think of the deadly mascot.
Okay, let’s talk about joy. And this may seem like common sense, but it’s not because so many of us postpone, skip, or have forgotten about joy altogether. Like the “how to” part. And now seems like a good time to insert a quote about joy.
“Joy does not simply happen to us - we have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” - Henri Nouwen
Let’s look at a sample to do list.
Now this may or may not be my to do list, and yours may be similar, And I’m referring to the order. I’ve got playing the piano last. We tell ourselves we need to get all the grown-up tasks done first. Kids, job, house, feeding the family, pets, why didn’t my sprinklers turn on last night, then last on that list is US.
Here’s my HARD ask of you. Make a point to do something every day that you find joyful. And here’s the important part. Do it first. Before all the other stuff that has the potential to zap all the creative energy out of you.
About 3 months ago, I stared taking piano lessons. I went from chop sticks to now I can the Scientist and Clocks on the piano by Coldplay. Can’t sing them yet because that’s some major rubbing your tummy and patting your head type sh$t, but I’m working on it. At first, I would practice piano at the end of the day, when my mind was sometimes ready for a nap, and the mind is in high beta brain waves… borderline stressed from the day. It worked, but some days I had to force it. Then I flipped the to-do list. I started playing the piano first thing in the morning. Before all the adulting took place. Here’s what I found. When we do something we enjoy, there’s a natural creative energy that arises, that makes things tolerable, even pleasant. Here’s the important part. This energy, consciousness, will then overlap into the next task or project. I quickly found I was more effective at all remaining tasks for the day, and they all became more joyful. So, I try to practice piano or music every morning. This flip has had a big impact on my quality of life.
Let’s tie this into sobriety. When we are doing something we enjoy, we enter into a flow state where time and our problems seem do disappear. Flow states, or when we are fully mentally immersed in a task, are healthy because we aren’t thinking about how the F, we’re going to quit drinking. Another way to say this, is the neural connections that fortify an addiction begin to soften and something else is strengthened, be it gardening, reading, hiking, or whatever. Again, our mental energies aren’t “in” the addiction, or the “story.” You’re like - “A crap, this guy is back with his getting out of the story stuff again.” And for the record, this will be the 245th time I’ve said you can’t think yourself out of an addiction.
Joy solo is great, for example playing the violin. But if you have the option, play the violin with another violinist, or a cellist - bonus points.
You know how most dogs are a nudge away from playing? That’s how human beings are as well, we’re just living a life that’s been filled with so much muck and noise that we must make a point, and effort to get back to this natural state.
If you’re like, “Hey Pablo” I recently quit drinking, and I have no clue what I like to do for fun anymore. Well, that’s the work. Find out again. Rule 22. Have fun and lighten up.
Okay, one more thing I want to cover, and I’m trembling with fear while I write this. On my way back from our Atlanta Meet-up, thank you Alan (episode 267) for such an awesome weekend, I saw a bunch of large dudes, in the security line at the airport. They were all wearing matching jackets, and sweatpants, so I assumed they were part of a sports team that probably involves physical contact. On the crest of the jacket was the logo… the mascot. When I finally saw it, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was as if I was frozen, unresponsive. No, it wasn’t a ferocious eagle, hawk, wolf, shark, or bear, it something much worse, much deadlier, something that would perhaps cause the other team to not even take the field. I can image players on the other team saying, my uncle died from that beast, their mascot has destroyed my family, and so forth. So, what’s the mascot? It was Martini glass. It was the professional Los Angeles Rugby team “The Giltinis.” If you want to pick a mascot that leaves a devastating wake of wreckage on society, well then, they nailed it, because my google search of has an “eagle” or “hawk” ever killed a human being, came up with nil. But alcohol on the other hand….
Okay, now let’s here from Betterhelp and then we’ll here from Brett.
Today’s show is sponsored by Better Help.
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[10:38] Odette introduces Brett.
Brett took her last drink on January 2, 2020.
[11:07] How are you feeling?
Brett says she is feeling good. Drinking feels like a very long time ago in a good way.
[11:40] Give us a little background on you.
Brett is originally from Rhode Island, but currently lives in San Francisco. She is in tech consulting. She is 27 and in a relationship. She loves going to the Farmer’s market, reading non-fiction, NA drinks, attending to her MANY plants and she hopes to adopt a dog this year.
[13:04] Tell us about your history with drinking
Brett had her first drink at 12 or 13 and was pre-gaming with her sister for her high school senior prom. Her sister and a friend were drinking a clear liquid and laughing and getting a bit gigglier. She looked up to her sister, she was so cool, and Brett wanted to be part of the crowd. At 14-15, alcohol became a social thing. She went to a small Quaker school and early exposure to alcohol came from older siblings. Peer pressure was a big thing. Alcohol was a staple at all the parties.
Brett thought everyone was blacking out and it wasn’t until age 21 that she understood you could drink without blacking out. Her parents would pick her up from parties, then ground her and make her write essays on alcohol, how it was made, where it came from, etc.
[16:41] Where was your heart and your emotional state?
Brett said the cycle of shame kept her drinking for a long time. She would drink, do something stupid, embarrass herself, feel terrible and then drink again because she couldn’t handle her feelings. She was going through a lot as a kid and has since been diagnosed as bipolar 2. She was experiencing all those symptoms as a kid and didn’t know what to do with them. She was scared and wondering what was wrong with her, but not sure what. She was also rebellious.
Value Bomb – Emotional regulation is something we don’t learn about early enough.
[19:34] What happened after high school?
Brett said during her junior year, her dream was to get as far away from Rhode Island as possible (a geographic). She applied to Hawaii Pacific University but ended up at Loyola in Baltimore because nobody from her school was going there. It was the party school and Brett had a fake ID and she was the party girl. She had good friends, nothing bad happened and she achieved a 4.0 GPA. She transferred to Northeastern and found a good group of drinking friends. She had her first depressive episode and called her mom during a complete panic attack. The school psychiatrist suggested she had bipolar 2. She was in denial. She tried to manage her ups and downs with alcohol and cocaine. She really hurt some people during her episodes and needs to make amends.
[23:02] Can you walk us through what a bipolar cycle is like for you?
Brett said, bipolar is difficult to diagnose for many reasons and it presents differently for different people. Her alcohol and cocaine use augmented the ups and downs and made diagnosis more challenging. Brett’s experience was feeling exhausted, tired, and unable to get out of bed. She would rather pee in a cup than go to the bathroom. She had muscle soreness and lots of tears, crying for no reason. Suicidal ideation would come 2-3 days in, and she would circle a drain of worthlessness. The booze turned the dial up and made the episodes longer. She also had blips of hypomania including high bursts of energy, talking fast and urgent shopping among other things. She wasn’t ready to hear about her diagnosis, but had challenges functioning and felt shame and guilt as a result. She went to a dual-diagnosis rehab, which was very freeing for her.
[28:36] What led you to rehab?
Brett said she frequently texted her family members accusing them of not loving or caring about her. In 2020, she messaged her parents, and her parents became alarmed. Her mom called, bought her a plane ticket, and offered to come pick her up. Her Mom was researching rehab programs. Brett had severe withdrawal symptoms and called the rehab to understand the rules. She described getting to the airport 12 hours early because she had no concept of time. She did go to the ER to address her withdrawal symptoms. A few days later they were in the car on the way to a rehab in Massachusetts.
Brett said the life she built for herself in 15 months of sobriety is what she always wanted when she was drinking and using. She had been drinking and using for 15 years. She appreciates how wild, weird, and wonderful that is.
[34:20] How long were you in rehab?
Brett said for two weeks, and she would go back if she could. The food was amazing, and the staff was talented and supportive. She said it saved her life and she enjoyed most of it. Insurance only covered two weeks. Brett wondered why things had to get so bad that she to put her life on hold to get better. Figuring out the fundamental things has prompted her to check in with herself daily. She said we can’t be afraid to prioritize ourselves.
[40:00] How was leaving rehab and what was it like for the next 30 days?
Brett said after treatment she went home to her parents’ home for over a month. She took time away from work and it was a safe bubbled space. She explored AA and Smart Recovery meetings. She returned to work part time. Upon returning to San Francisco, she entered her bedroom and the whole room was in shambled. There were bottles and mess everywhere because she was in a blackout when she left. It was hard, but not triggering. She took it slow and found a therapist and a psychiatrist. After the pandemic hit, she turned to Instagram. She found Carla and Sober IRL (https://www.soberirl.com/) and that kickstarted her desire to stay sober. She continued the medications that were prescribed at rehab and the medication journey was a short one.
[43:30] What tools worked for you?
Brett said in the beginning fear of withdrawal was a huge motivator. As she got more time, AA meetings, podcasts (Café RE and Recovery Happy Hour), reading (This Naked Mind, The Four Agreements) and the Instagram community helped. Brett said when you put yourself out there, people take you into their arms and help you find your people.
[46:36] What helped you overcome cravings?
Brett said she didn’t have any physical cravings. The itchiness with herself can be triggering and she learned to play the tape forward in rehab. She leverages her sponsor, exercise, and leverages TIP exercises (https://dialecticalbehaviortherapy.com/distress-tolerance/tipp/) and baths/showers and cries. Saying out loud she wants a drink and getting it out of her head gives it less power.
[49:42] What is your favorite NA beverage?
Brett said her current favorite is the Mikkeller Limbo Raspberry NA beer.
[53:10] Rapid Fire Round
I’m proud of you, it’s going to be okay.
Sleep is restful
More money, disposable income
Ben & Jerry’s Tonight dough
Just do it, you are worth it!
You may have to say Adios to booze if …
You have accumulated so much debt, you must Venmo borrow from yourself to get alcohol.
Odette reflects upon a recent reading of Gabor Mate where he says, ‘we continue to treat people who struggle with addiction poorly. If you think about it, addiction is not a problem. Addiction is a solution to a problem: our trauma, our suppressed emotions, our unhealed pain.’ Odette is grateful that Recovery Elevator is part of the solution. We see you and we are here for you. It all starts from the inside out.
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