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Alcohol as a Connector and Isolator with Rachel Brady, "Shotstoshakes"

Apr 8 2021

Today I dropped a podcast episode with Rachel Brady about her sober journey. One of my favorite things she said in the episode was talking about her “surrender” period - the time period at the very end of her drinking days, in which she was still drinking, but also had realized that alcohol could no longer be part of her life and that she needed to stop. The “surrender” period - I loved this! I’d never heard it before. But I definitely had one. For me, it was the first 3-4 months of 2017. Even though my actual sober date is April 13, 2019, I think of my birthday, April 7th, as the night I really surrendered.

The “surrender” period. I love this concept. Do you have a time period before you quit drinking for good in which you surrendered? What was it like? Are you still in the period of surrender?

Listen here.

If you do listen please don’t forget to rate, share & subscribe so the podcast can reach more people it would benefit! Make sure to follow Rachel Brady on Instagram @shotstoshakes.

Full episode


Intro: Welcome to the “Sober Yoga Girl Podcast” with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.

Alex: All right. So, welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am super excited to have Rachel Brady with me today, and Rachel is one of the first people that I followed on Instagram when I got sober. I honestly don't even remember how I found you, but she is an Instagrammer, TikToker, and vlogger, and she just shares authentically about her mental health and fitness and sobriety journey, and she has a massive amount of followers 33 000 on Instagram and 88 000 on TikTok, which is amazing.

Rachel: It doesn't even feel real. Whenever people say those numbers, I'm just like, Oh my gosh, I can't even compute that amount of people.

Alex: It's massive.

Rachel: Thank you.

Alex: How are you?

Rachel: I'm good. It's a lovely day, so that's always nice. Thank you for the lovely introduction.

Alex: So, why don't we start off and you can just tell me a bit about you and like, who you are, where you're from, and kind of your interests.

Rachel: Yeah. So, I am originally from California, born and raised. I lived there for about 20 something years, so I was definitely a Southern California girl, loved the beach, played volleyball, kind of the sunny lifestyle, which is really nice. And then I ended up moving to North Carolina which is where I am right now, so a little bit of a culture shock, but I still really like it. And I am a person recovery, obviously, first and foremost, but I have a lot of other hobbies which I actually did find through recovery, because it kind of gave me the space to explore what I actually liked. So, I am a weightlifter. I actually got started into rock climbing this past year, so I've been really into that. And I love just hanging out with my husband, our little rescue dog, when times are appropriate, our friends, since we're still kind of managing Covid, but, yeah, for the most part, that is kind of my very simple life which I'm totally cool with because it wasn't always like that. So, right now, simplicity is kind of still something to get used to, but I really enjoy it.

Alex: Cool. So, tell me a bit more about kind of your drinking journey. Like, when did you start drinking and what influenced your drinking?

Rachel: Oh my gosh. So, I actually like to kind of preface it by saying that I was really sheltered as a kid, so like, all throughout middle school and high school, I really wasn't allowed to go out or party or anything like that. And funnily enough, we lived on a vineyard in Southern California. So, I was surrounded by alcohol my whole life, so it really wasn't something that was kind of hidden from me, but at the same time, it was almost like this forbidden fruit like, I would be surrounded by it all the time, but I would never be allowed to drink. It was very strict and at the same time, I was very much feeling like, I was different from a lot of my peers. And whenever I saw them, you know, socialize and, of course, in your high school, drinking seems like the only thing to fit in sometimes. So, I saw alcohol as kind of like, my golden ticket in. I was like, Okay. Well, as long as I'm able to drink and get drunk with these people, then, of course, you know, we're gonna have to bond somehow or they're gonna think I'm cool enough to wanna hang out with, because that was kind of the thing I was lacking for a long time was feeling like I belonged, and alcohol seemed to kind of be the answer for that. So, I had my first drink, probably when I was like, 14 or something like that, but I didn't get drunk until my Sophomore year of high school. And it was pretty like, just extreme where I just started drinking as much as I could, because I didn't know when the next time I would be able to get drunk is, so I just thought, Hey, I'm just gonna drink as much as I can, as fast as I can, that way I can get as drunk as I can. So, very much kind of already red flag when it came to how I wanted to drink. And after that, I really didn't start drinking until college. I definitely kind of took the whole party scene and ran with it, especially because that was the first time I was away from my parents for a very prolonged amount of time, so I kind of, still kind of fed into that idea of, you know, if I have a social life that revolves around drinking, then I'm gonna get invited to more parties. I'm gonna make more friends. I will be seeing as attractive to guys. Kind of that whole sort of party girl façade. I was so invested into making sure I was seen, and that people liked me, like that was like, when you think about or when you first talk about it, kind of sounds superficial but it kind of, like I said before, stemmed from that feeling of just wanting to be belong and accepted. So, that is kind of how it started and it's pretty normal, I guess, for, you know, a woman in America sort of. Just to sort of start out in college or high school with experimenting. But for me, it escalated pretty quickly, so I would have a lot of red flags early on like, I would always kind of get into trouble when I drank, and I always blamed it on bad luck, but I was definitely drinking way more than my peers were, so whenever, you know, they would stop drinking for the night, I would keep going like, I would do anything to try to keep the party going until, you know, 4 am. And so, it was very tough to discern where the line was in terms of my drinking as well, because binge drinking is so glorified in college. So, there were so many times where I kind of had this gut feeling of like, I know that my drinking is kind of getting in the way of other things, but I would see all my other friends partied the same way as I did, and they seemed to be living pretty, you know, sustainable lives. I was like, Okay. Well, maybe I just have to like, learn how to balance it better or learn how to moderate better. That was kind of the beginning of my drinking career I guess you could say, and it was really interesting because a lot of my, most of my drinking happened in my early 20s, and I got sober at 25. So, I kind of went through eight or nine-ish years of just very intense both drinking and interventions, and trying to control it, and the fallout. So, even though it was kind of almost a decade, it seems like a lifetime ago.

Alex: How old are you now?

Rachel: I am 28. So, gonna be 29 in September. So, yeah. I know, sometimes I even forget how old I am, like, Shoot, yeah I'm still my 20s.

Alex: Yeah. Same. I'm 28 as well and--

Rachel: Yeah.

Alex: And I say that a lot like, back in my 20s, when I drank in my 20s, and people are like--

Rachel: Yeah, right? You're like, you're still in your 20s man.

Alex: And I totally get what you mean about the whole like, is the same culture in Canada where I'm from of like, diversity, glorified binge drinking. Totally normal. And when I look back on it, it's just like, bizarre how normalized that was. But when I was, you know, in comparison to my friends, I didn't think that there was anything like, different about me because everyone seemed to be doing that.

Rachel: Absolutely. And a big thing too was in terms of the culture. I went to school in Los Angeles, and in Los Angeles, I mean, obviously, there are plenty of places like this too, but drinking was also so highly correlated with networking. So, if you wanted to go to kind of like a, you know, place where a lot of people in your industry would be, there would more than likely be booze there, or if you wanted to kind of upgrade your social scene, or your social status, you would try to go into Hollywood Clubs and get bottle service like, there were all these different kind of status symbols that would revolve around alcohol, and it would kind of show like, Hey, I made it because I got, you know, bottle service at this one place in Hollywood, or I was able to get into this exclusive bar in Venice beach. Stuff like that. And thankfully, I kind of saw past a lot of the superficiality of it at the same time when that is just marketed towards you again and again and again, like, this is how you make it. This is how you make friends in Los Angeles. This is how you, just do everything involving relationships, even dating. It was very tough to kind of remain true to my own integrity, because everything around me was telling me like, This is the only way you can survive.

Alex: Yeah. It's like a massive part of like, the North American attribute. Exactly, what you said like it's just marketed to you as like, this is the way to be.

Rachel: Yeah, no. It was, that's, yeah, that's a huge thing especially because I feel like for people in their 20s, obviously, when you get sober, you do learn that there are other ways to socialize without alcohol, but it is so easy to not step outside that kind of boundary of, Yeah. Well, we go to the bar, we go to brunch, we, you know, do xyz, and this is how it is, and this is how it always was, and this is how it'll be. So, it's really one of those things where if you decide to go alcohol-free, you kind of snap out of this trance almost, and you look around, you're like, You know, we can do other activities. Right? And thankfully, it has allowed me to get way more creative in terms of, you know, if I am hanging out with a friend for the first time, or if I'm trying to get to know someone better, I really have to be conscientious to be like, Hey, like, I'll be more than happy to meet up with drinks for you, but we could also do this instead or something like that. So, it really has been a huge exercise in both learning how to make friends, and how to sustain friends without alcohol.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So, tell me about like, how did your drinking, you kind of talked about how it started in college. How did it escalate over time?

Rachel: It was such a slow burn, and I think that's one thing that sometimes, people, if they aren't familiar with alcohol addiction or just problem drinking in general, sometimes they think like, Oh, like you started drinking, you know, with a lot of red flags, and that's it, the end. But it can be a really slow burn and I think that's why for some people, it is really tough to recognize if they even have a problem because it is so gradual, so like, you almost don't even have a clear distinction of, you know, Oh, this is how I used to drink. And then, you wake up one day, you're like, How did I even get here? Because it just happened so gradually over time. So, for me, like I said, I started pretty recreationally, you know, freshman year in college, trying to get drunk as many times as possible, and then it started to really, I always say that it was in three stages for me. So, the first stage was drinking for recreation. The second stage was drinking to cope. So, when I started to have, you know, problems that either were the outcome of my drinking or just, you know, regular early 20s problems, I would start drinking to cope with it, like, I had a really bad breakup that just tore me up and I would get drunk all the time and do the whole drunk crying thing because I didn't take time to process my emotions. I was in such denial and drinking was the only way my body would even like, let those emotions out. So, it looked like, on the outside, it looked like I was just a crying drunk mess, but literally, that was the only way I had allowed myself to even feel at that point. And so, a lot of red flags started popping up again. You know, I would start lying about how much I had to drink. I would start drinking in secret, so I would pre-game the pregame essentially. I would become really irritated if I couldn't drink. I think that was a big one too was if say it was a Friday night and a class was running late, and I had to go to a party that night, I would get like, straight up pissed off. Like, Oh my gosh, can this hurry up so I can just start drinking now? So, it was very like, they were, in hindsight obviously, hindsight's 2020, but there were a lot of things that I just kind of chalked up to just, you know, wanting to de-stress and stuff like that, but a lot of it was pretty unhealthy for me. And then, the last stage, when I kind of, when I knew, you know, point blank that I had a problem, I call that the kind of drinking to survive because by that point, a lot of really not so great things happened to me, and I was drinking by that point with trauma, and it was just a whole mess. So, I knew like, in my gut, I had friends give me interventions. I had people straight up tell me that they were worried about me. But I could not stop drinking because it was so terrifying. The thought of getting sober and thinking like, What is gonna be on the other side? And what am I gonna have to face? Am I gonna be the same person because it became so enmeshed with my identity? And, yeah. It was just really one of those things where, you know, if you look back, you can kind of pinpoint where things started to turning point. But now, I'm just really grateful that I was able to get the help that I did need. I ended up going to treatment for a month. I had a very strong support system in my family and friends. So, it was thankfully best case scenario, but yeah. In terms of how it escalated, it was a very slow burn.

Alex: Yeah. And I think a lot of people would or like, I relate to that of like, I think people think that, you know, people just start out drinking and they're just like an alcoholic, and it's like, No one starts that way like, everyone starts drinking normally, and then it progresses over time, and it builds over time, and for some people, it's at different rates or different speeds or everyone kind of has a different journey with it, but you're absolutely right in that, it's usually like, a build-up.

Rachel: Yeah, totally. And it depends on so many things as well like, like I said before, I was very fortunate that I was able to go to treatment and to be able to have resources like that, because even when I'm like, I will say, even when I was considering quitting drinking, there were not as many sober resources as they are now in terms of social media, like, I remember, I literally googled benefits of being sober one day after like, really during a really bad hangover. I'm sure more than enough people have done that where they wake up and really they hung for like, How'd I never drink again? And I remember googling it, and there was like, there were some articles, mostly like kind of science articles, but there really wasn't any online presence of sobriety and like, first-hand experiences. So, I think that was also kind of a huge roadblock for me was I really didn't have anyone that I saw, you know, that was like, a millennial woman ,that was kind of a reformed party girl sort of thing. Like, they were obviously out there, but I couldn't see anyone I saw myself in. So, I think that was something really holding me back as well, just to be able to look at someone that I admired say, Hey, if they can do it, maybe I can do it too.

Alex: Yeah. And that's one of the most amazing things right now is I just feel like, there's this big movement of like, people coming out about their sober journeys on Instagram like, I don't think it was, when I first quit, I could think of like, the handful of people I found. And now, it just feels like there's people popping up all the time, which is just so incredible, you know, it's amazing.

Rachel: Yeah. No, it's fantastic because, yeah, I've had my account since 2016.

Alex: Wow.

Rachel: So, five years, which is mind-blowing to me as it is. But, yeah. No, I remember like, there were quite a few recovery accounts but it wasn't as much as, I don't wanna say the word mainstream, but it wasn't as socially acceptable, I guess you could say. Because I think for a lot of people, whenever, like even to this day, I have a lot of friends that whenever they think someone quits drinking, they automatically go like, Oh, you're an alcoholic or Oh, you were forced to drink or forced to stop drinking. Like, there's still a very narrow perspective of what it means to be sober or in recovery. So, one thing I will say about social media, it has really expanded just the narrative on, you know, why people get sober, how they support people who are in recovery. Stuff like that. So yeah. No, even within the past like, five years, it has absolutely blown up.

Alex: Yeah, for sure. Okay. So, tell me about your sober journey. Like, how did you, what was the catalyst for that and how did you kind of move through it?

Rachel: Oh my gosh. So, I always like to say that my recovery date, my sobriety date, are not the same. Because as like I said before, I knew that I had to get sober many times like, rationally, I knew. But it was just one of those things where just, you learn as you go. And so, in January 2016, that is what I kind of call my surrender period where I knew like, Okay. I've tried to control drinking a billion times. Obviously, it's not working for me. Maybe sobriety is right for me, and I kind of had to just kind of commit, I guess, to learning how to get sober. So, for me, it wasn't even necessarily committing to be sober. It was just committing to learning and just giving it a shot. And then, from January 2016 on, I started doing things bit by bit. I think the biggest mistake, for me, personally, was just thinking that it ended up not drinking alcohol anymore, because for me, personally, there were a lot of underlying issues that I had to address. So, getting sober was just the first step. It wasn't necessarily the all-encompassing solution. So, I would kind of treat it like, Okay. Well, as long as I'm not drinking, then I'm fine, and I don't have to deal with anything else. But I learned the hard way that if you just focus on kind of white knuckling it and just not drinking, then you're still not addressing the things that made you drink in the first place. So, if I was, so for me, personally, feeling isolated, feeling alone, were huge triggers for me. So, I ended up moving with my husband. I moved from California to Florida and pretty much had to uproot my whole life. And I felt so alone, you know, I had to make friends from scratch and by that point, all I knew how to make friends or all I, although, the only way I knew how to make friends was by drinking and going to bars and showing that I was like, the fun, loud, party friend. So, it was really easy for me to kind of dip back into that because I didn't learn any other coping skills. So, from, yeah, from Florida there, so we lived there for about a year. So, I would be sober for a while then relapse, be sober all from relapse, and it kind of wore me down. So, by the time we got to North Carolina where we are now, we got here in October 2017, and I kind of, I don't wanna say I lost hope, but I was very kind of cynical about recovery at that point I think. I was very much like, you know, I know recovery is best for me but I can't even do that right, so I might as well just kind of go back to my old ways. And then, I ended up having a pretty bad relapse session in October 2017, and ended up going to rehab. And I think that was the first time it really hit me how serious it was because for a while, I kind of treated like sobriety kind of like, Yeah. That'd be really cool if I did this sort of thing like, it's kind of eating your veggies like, technically you could not get away, you get away with not doing it, but in the long run, you do know what's best for you. I kind of treated it like that. And I think rehab and just being able to be around people that really got it and were in the same position as me, it really hit home like, Wow. We obviously come from all these different lifestyles and paths, but there are so many things that only these specific groups of people like, they get it. And I think that's when I really kind of internalized that sobriety was the thing that was gonna save my life, because I straight up almost died plenty of times. So, after rehab, I just kind of went to that next level of taking it seriously and just really learned, Okay. Like, I really need to address how to move forward in relationships. I need to learn how to deal with my people-pleasing tendencies, because that was a huge thing in terms of drinking and people-pleasing. And just all these things that didn't necessarily have to do with the tangible not drinking, but were building my sobriety resilience, I guess you could say. So yeah, my official sobriety date now is May 20th 2018, so in next or, yeah, this may be three years.

Alex: Wow. Congratulations.

Rachel: Yeah. Thank you, yeah. So yeah. I always like to really hit home that my recovery started before my official sobriety date because I do believe recovery is also trial and error, it's not just the, you know, quote things you get right. It's what you learned along the way.

Alex: Yeah. I love that. And, you know, listening to that, it kind of clocked me into, I remember a period of my time when I, where, it would probably be my surrender time. B`ut I was still drinking but it was like, probably the four-month period where I kind of knew it was coming to an end, or I like, knew that something had to give and I had to quit, but I've never titled it as such. But I like that, the surrender.

Rachel: Yeah. Well, it's so funny too, because I feel like, once you kind of become aware of how your drinking is affecting you, it's almost like, drinking just isn't fun anymore. And that's the reason, you know, a lot of us drink in the first place is to have fun and to de-stress, but I'm pretty sure, there's a quote and I might totally butcher it, but it's like, You know it's time to let go when holding on is more painful. And that was definitely the case for me like, at the very end of it like, even when I was kind of I had my case of, I don't wanna do or I don't care, I just wanna drink. Even the drinking in itself wasn't even fun, and that's why I always say like, my last stage was just drinking to survive, because I looked like, I wasn't drinking to have fun anymore. I wasn't drinking to socialize. I was drinking just purely out of pain. So yeah. The surrender period I think is extremely important to recognize and honor.

Alex: Yeah. So, tell me, what was like the most, the hardest part about achieving sobriety?

Rachel: Oh, man. I think the biggest thing was figuring out a way to have a social life, because that was my biggest, Well, that was the reason I even started in the first place was to feel loved and accepted. So, I kind of had to figure out a way to still honor those desires without going back to the thing that had ironically isolated me. And I think that's always so funny is, you know, this thing that I originally pursued to seek connection ended up being my worst isolator, so, for me, that was my number one concern was, will I have a social life? Will my friends still love me? Will I still be invited places? Because I had plenty of times where I would say I'm not drinking, and I would still go out without a plan, and I would just be surrounded by all these drunk people, and just be completely miserable, and all I would think is like, Oh my gosh. I just wanna drink and just be able to be on their level right now, or I just wanna go home and cry in my pillow. So, it was really important for me to find a way to set boundaries, be cool with leaving early if I need to, because I do love going out. And thankfully, I'm very fortunate to have friends that both do drink, and they're also supportive of me, so they know like, Hey, if you wanna go out and you wanna leave early, we can totally do that. So, I'm very lucky with that. But yeah, the biggest hurdle I think with sobriety was also learning how to make friendships, and learn how to be vulnerable, and not worry about whether or not they were gonna judge me for it. Because there were many times where I would try to explain my recovery or have people support my recovery, and we just didn't align, and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it just wasn't in the cards. And that came from making a lot of friends based off drinking, you know what I mean? Like, I kind of I call them bar buddies where you have a very surface level friendship and if you decide to quit drinking, they may distance themselves and that's not necessarily a bad thing. That's just life. So yeah, to kind of sum it up, I think the biggest both hurdle and breakthrough for me was learning how to both make and be a friend in sobriety. So, that's something I'm very passionate about talking about now, because I know that is a huge concern for a lot of people as well.

Alex: Yeah. Absolutely. Especially if, you know, your adult life has been, social life has been so oriented around alcohol. It's like, How do I do this? What do I do?

Rachel: Yeah. No, totally. And I think like I said before like, once you're aware of that, you're just like, Oh my gosh, everything is soaked in alcohol.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Totally. Okay. What are the best parts of being sober? What do you like the most?

Rachel: Oh, man. Well, for one thing, no hangovers is fantastic. I will never get sick of that.

Alex: Yeah.

Rachel: Even like, I remember, there have been a few times, obviously, within the past three years that I've wanted to drink so badly like that. It doesn't just go away magically, but literally, sometimes, the only thing that can seem from not drinking is just thinking of the hangover. Like, my hangovers were so bad by the end of my drinking queer, I would literally be in bed and for like, the whole day and just sick to my stomach like, I couldn't eat anything, it was awful. So like, sometimes, even just thinking about that has completely like, cut my craving like, full stop. So, definitely, no hangovers is lovely. Being able to, like I said before, I get creative with hobbies and just outings, so I started rock climbing in this past November, and a lot of my practice times are weekends. Especially weekend mornings. So, sometimes, I'll be, you know, climbing and I'll just think, Oh my gosh. Like, if I was still drinking the way I was, I would not even make it to this gym. I would be still in damage control mode. I would still be waking up with a, you know, anxiety attack thinking about what I did the night before. So, just having that moment of, Wow. Like, I'm able to just move forward with my life and not have to worry about what I did the night before, is so just, it will never get old for me, especially because my life was pretty much a whole cycle of damage control when I was drinking. Like, I would promise myself to not drink as much. Obviously, once the first drink hits, it's all bets are off. I would either, maybe it would be a normal night, maybe I would black out just be a complete idiot of myself, and then I wake up the next morning probably have an anxiety attack, have to text people apologizing for how I acted, and then just go the whole week worrying about what people thought of me. And literally, not drinking and just working on myself took all that out of the equation, and then you're left with all this free time, you're just like, Oh. Like, I can actually pursue things that make me happy, go figure, so that's also really lovely. And then, I think another thing, and this is actually something that I didn't really lean into until this past year, and that is just being okay with simplicity. Especially during pandemic, I think a lot of people were forced to slow down and I think a lot of people understood that, Hey, you know, being available all the time and, you know, being on our phones all the time and all this stuff. Yeah, it can be distracting and it can be a good escape, but sometimes, you know, being busy doesn't equal being happy, and I think sobriety has really allowed me to just look at things face value, and be able to be cool with the present, because mindfulness is something that I'm still working on actively. I mean, as someone who practices yoga, I'm sure you know all about mindfulness and how tough it can be sometimes. So, that is something that I'm like, to this day, still actively working on.

Alex: Yeah. And sobriety kind of gives you the, I don't know like, for me, I practiced yoga while I was drinking, and I look back and I'm just like, I don't know how I did that. Like, being hungover in classes. I don't think I was ever properly meditating like, because I always had alcohol in my body, and, you know, the hangovers and the anxiety and all that jazz. And so, obviously, it takes like lots and lots of practice, and I'm not perfect at it, but I feel like, with the alcohol gone, it's like you can finally actually just like, lean into the present.

Rachel: Absolutely, and yeah. Like there's there's something to be said about, you know, fitness and just mindfulness and being able to just really be in tune with your body, because I was the same way like, I was a huge fitness person while drinking, and it was such a cognitive dissonance moment because I would love lifting, I would love getting strong, I would love seeing my body could do, but, you know, I would be lifting in the morning and then just completely destroying my body with alcohol the night of. And for a while, I could work out hungover but after a few years, working at hungover was impossible for me. So then, I would then, I miss workouts and I'd be mad at myself because I would literally see firsthand like, alcohol is taking away this thing I love so much. So yeah, I remember actually when I took your class, you said something about like, clarity and contrast. And just how-- Yeah. I know. I remember that.

Alex: I say it all the time.

Rachel: Yeah, and it stuck with me because it's so true ,where like, you really don't sometimes have those aha moments unless you've kind of experienced the polar opposite, and even if like, say, you've been doing yoga or weightlifting or whatever like, the whole time, you see so differently how much you can actually get out of it once you've seen what you don't want it to be like.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, clarity and contrast. It's like, I never will forget like the first, there was the first morning when I like got through the withdrawals and I remember like going to work and I don't remember like, where along, it was maybe two weeks into it, but I just remember like, driving to work and being like, this is what it feels like to not be hungover.

Rachel: Yeah.

Alex: In the morning, and it was like, the most beautiful thing I've ever felt.

Rachel: Yeah. No, it's fantastic. Like, people always make fun of people saying like, Ah, you you never shut about not being hungover. I'm like, Yeah, because it's fantastic. Especially after you spent like, a decade, you know, kind of going through many withdrawals like, thankfully, I'm very, very fortunate that I didn't have, like severe withdrawals, but like, I would straight up shake during when I was hungover. Like, I would have the shakes so bad and there were so many times where I just, I literally felt like I was dying, like, you feel like your body is a sponge, and it's just been ringed out. So yeah. No, the whole clarity and contrast concept is just, it's unexplainable to other people sometimes, but it's so powerful.

Alex: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay, so tell me a bit about how like, how did you get into blogging and TikToking and Instagramming and like, this whole persona or like, presence, I mean, how did that come about?

Rachel: Oh my gosh. So, it has been such a, I don't even know how to describe it, because I always like to say so from my Shotstoshakes Instagram, I started that originally as a fitness account, because like I said, I was super into fitness. So, originally, I just kind of used it. I started a year after I graduated from college. And it was just kind of my little, you know, space on the internet to post my gym selfies and whatever I was thinking. Just kind of like, a little diary, if you will. And by this point, I was about four months into my recovery journey, and I talked about it here and there, but not necessarily wanting to be a recovery account. But I was like, Hey, if this is something that's going on, I might as well, you know, talk about it and, you know, I'll throw in if I'm working out. If I post something about workout I'll say, Yeah. I'm super happy I'm not hungover. And I would start using all these hashtags, I'd do a sobriety and it would kind of just ping me to all these different accounts, and that's when I started to notice that there were sobriety accounts, and this was the first time I ever saw anything like that, I'm just like, Oh. People are, you know, documenting their journey because, I mean, it made sense to me because, you know, people document their fitness journey, why wouldn't they document their recovery journey? Because they're both deeply personal and people can find inspiration from it. So, I started talking about it more and more, and honestly, it was kind of this organic growth where, you know, I would talk about what I was going through and I didn't necessarily have a before and after at that point. I don't think I ever really will have a true before after. But I was just kind of talking about what I was going through, and that attracted people, and it was just kind of that ebb and flow of both learning from and talking about what I learned. So, it sort of turned into this recovery account, I guess. And then, in terms of blogging and TikToking and all that, I've always found writing to be super cleansing and super healing for me, because they're honestly like, sometimes, I don't have the words verbally to talk about stuff like, I went to speech therapy when I was little, so sometimes, talking and just expressing how I feel via my mouth is really tough. But when it comes to writing, it just feels completely effortless. Like, I can put all my thoughts so consistently and concisely on paper or screen, I guess you could say. So, it just totally made sense that I would, you know, kind of document my recovery through writing. And it was also a really good way for me to sort of look back and be like, Hey, this is what I learned. This if, you know, I was in a pretty bad head space, I could look back and be like, Okay. Well, this is what I was writing, so this is like what was going through my mind. And then, in terms of just turning what it is then into what it is now, it was honestly just taking what people had taught me, and amplifying it, and just being able to just embrace all the parts of recovery, because I feel like, sometimes, it's really easy to post the highlights of it like, Hey, this is my sobriety milestone, this is, you know, me not being hungover on a Sunday morning, which is all great, but there are so many different parts of it. You know, you have the resentment of recovery, you have the pink cloud, you have, you know, being angry at your past self, like, all these different aspects that I think a lot of people experience, but we don't really talk about. And so, that was really a huge part of just being able to write freely and with my TikTok, that's kind of more the humor part of it where I like to just kind of laugh at the the silly things I did, laugh at the kind of mindsets that we think are totally rational, but then we talk like, talk to our therapists, we're like, Oh, definitely not rational. So, that was kind of the humor in it because I always say like, If you can't laugh at yourself, what's the point? But yeah, in terms of that, it has been such an integral part of my recovery just because it both gives me a channel to express myself, and it allows me to find other people in recovery that I align with.

Alex: Yeah. Oh my god. Your TikToks are hilarious, I would say.

Rachel: Thank you.

Alex: So, I'm relatively new to TikTok. I just joined like, maybe three months ago, but I have been following you on Instagram since like, the very early days.

Rachel: Yeah.

Alex: And I love that TikTok is kind of like, it is like a different side of things.

Rachel: Yeah. No, I love it. It's one of those things where like, yeah, you can only put so much, so many things in writing, and I think, you know, recovery and humor are so closely intertwined, especially for people that have been through so much, and just to be able to like, look back and find the humor in things is so important because, you know, it can't be doom and gloom all the time.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. You have to bring like, I think also bringing just like, light and joy to it is inspiring for people in dark places as well.

Rachel: Oh, absolutely yeah. Like it's definitely not to say that it's, you know, sunshine and rainbows all the time, but like, sometimes, you just have no choice but to laugh at yourself.

Alex: Yeah, or you cry.

Rachel: Yeah, exactly. Or you can do both. Whatever.

Alex: So, if someone wants to get sober, what advice would you give to them?

Rachel: Oh, man. I think the two biggest things I would say is, number one, tell someone. Obviously, it doesn't have to be like, you don't have to go into full detail like your full story, but just have someone that can help you hold you accountable, and this can be someone you trust, it can be a, if you're in 12 step, it could be a sponsor, it could be a therapist. It can be someone that just, they don't necessarily have to get it, but just to be able to speak it out loud, I think, is so important because I don't know about you, but for me, if I was able to keep it in, I was able to justify it that much more. Because I had that thing off, Well, no one knows about it. So, you know, what's the point? So, you know, if I lied and said, Oh yeah. Like, I'm totally sober knowing damn well that I didn't tell anyone that I was having crave things or triggers or anything like that, then it was really easy for me to like, Oh yeah. Like, I'm fine. Even though I was definitely not. So, I think the biggest thing to, or one of two things is to tell someone. And then, the second thing is to dive into recovery resources. And this can be, you know, whatever like, depending on if you are sober curious, if you are an active addiction, because there obviously are different ways to get sober, and there are different ways to why you're getting sober. But there are podcasts, there are books, there are videos, there are, there's so much available at our fingertips now, and we're living in an age where it is so, it's definitely not easy, I never wanna say it's easy, but it's very, it's way more accessible than it used to be. I think that's the right term. So yeah, even if you aren't, "Ready to get sober", I feel like listening to people's stories and listening to how they did it, and what hesitations they had. I think it's really powerful because it allows you to really take a step back and say, Okay. Like, what did I identify with that person's story and how can I apply what they did to my life? So, I think those are the two biggest things that I would say in terms of advice is to tell someone to find a way to have accountability, and to dive into recovery resources.

Alex: Awesome. Yeah, those are great suggestions.

Rachel: Thanks.

Alex: And I totally agree with you on both points about like, building your community, both. You know, finding someone you can share with, and then also just like, learning from others. I know that was a turning point for me. In my surrender phase, I was starting to get targeted ads.

Rachel: Oh my gosh.

Alex: About quitting alcohol. Probably because I was up at night--

Rachel: No way.

Alex: Yeah. I think I was up at night googling like, how to quit drinking. And then I was getting targeted ads for One Year No Beer. And they were people's stories and that was like, that was the nugget. And then, I didn't wanna like the page because I was like, I don't want anyone to know, but I would just go to the page and read people's posts and that was--

Rachel: Yeah. No, it's so funny how, you know, it can have such a domino effect because I was the same way. I forgot the website. It was definitely not like a full-on recovery website, I think it was same thing as One Year No Beer, where just like, Hey, I went alcohol-free. That's what happened. But I just poured through that, and there were so many things where I was just like, Wow. You can do that? Like, just so many benefits of going alcohol-free that I didn't even think about, and yeah, it really planted a seed. So, even if you're not ready, just being able to consume that and just have that exposure to life without alcohol, because like we said before, so alcohol's so normalized, so whenever we read something about, you know, going against the norm, we're just like, Oh, you can do that? It's like, no one's stopping me from doing this? This is wow. Yeah, no, it's so fun to read stories and just see how people did it.

Alex: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay, can we play a quick round of Either Or?

Rachel: Oh, absolutely.

Alex: Cool. Okay. I'll try to come up with some fun ones.

Rachel: Okay.

Alex: Okay. NSYNC or Backstreet Boys?

Rachel: Oh god. I'm gonna say Backstreet Boys.

Alex: Me too. I saw them in Dubai. They're amazing.

Rachel: What? I'm so jealous.

Alex: Yeah.

Rachel: I know everyone was, I was NSYNC, but Backstreet Boys were my original favorite.

Alex: Yeah. Good choice. Okay, Backstreet Boys are Spice Girls?

Rachel: Honestly, I never listen to Spice Girls.

Alex: What?

Rachel: I know. I always tell people they're like, No way. I'm like, I don't know, I just, I never, I was team Backstreet Boys apparently.

Alex: Good team to be on.

Rachel: Yeah.

Alex: Okay. Let's go with more 90s artists. Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Rachel: Oh, I'm gonna have to say Britney, man.

Alex: Yes.

Rachel: Yeah. I mean, Free Britney.

Alex: Yes. Oh, I need to watch that. Have you seen that?

Rachel: It's really good. It's really good.

Alex: I'm gonna put it on my list.

Rachel: Yes.

Alex: Okay. Swaying from the music, Love Actually or The Notebook?

Rachel: Oh, I'm gonna go with The Notebook. Because I have a funny memory of I was in college and I was studying and like, I was in my zone, I had my headphones in, and I didn't realize my roommates were watching The Notebook outside, and I walked out to like, get something and ask them a question, and it's right in the middle of this like, the ending and they're all just sobbing, and I'm just like, I'll just leave you alone. So, I love that memory, so I'm gonna say The Notebook.