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Healing Trauma, Processing Grief and Developing Strategies to Transform Your Life with Ali Kates


Trigger Warning: This episode discusses sexual assault. Ali Kates is a sober woman, an Emotional Health Coach and Certified Trauma Coach. She believes the more we can heal from our past, the deeper we can step into our most authentic self. In this episode, Ali is extremely vulnerable in sharing her journey and story with past sexual assault and trauma that has led her to become a Certified Trauma Coach. Ali is passionate about sharing her story in order to help others.



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Alex and Ali are excited to pair up and offer a free event together, "How to Feel Safe in Your Body," Join Alex and Ali Kates for a 1.5 hour session for trauma survivors. In this session Ali will lead you through a journal prompt and discussion around how triggers land in our body. Following this, Alex will lead you through a yoga practice with the intention to calm our nervous system and bring a feeling of safety. Please note: this session is hosted as a peer-support session and is not a replacement for counselling or other forms of therapy. If anyone is in need of additional resources or support, please let Alex know: alex@themindfullifepractice.com. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/.


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Transcripts


Intro

Hi friend, this is Alex McRobs, founder of "The Mindful Life Practice" and you're listening to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world at age 23 and I never went back. I got sober in 2019 and I realized that there was no one talking about sobriety in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so I started doing it. I now live in Bali, Indonesia, and full-time run my community, "The Mindful Life Practice". I host online sober yoga challenges, yoga teacher trainings, and I work one on one with others, helping them break up with booze for good. In this podcast, I sit down with others in the sobriety and mental health space from all walks of life and hear their stories so that I can help you on your journey. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.

Alex

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast. I am super happy to be here today. I have a guest with me, Ali Kates, who is joining from California and she is a certified trauma coach. And before we get into Ali's story, I just want to mention something quickly, which is that we started a new free Sober Curious Yoga Facebook group. If you have not already joined the group yet, you should definitely get in there. We have almost 1000 members already and really amazing community and connection and sharing. So check it out. I'll put the link in the episode description. And without further ado, we can get straight into it. So welcome, Ali. How are you today?


Ali

I'm good. How are you today? It's been such a full day. I know you're just starting your day and I am ending my day. So this is such a perfect way to end my day. Thanks for having me on.


Alex

You're welcome. And it's so cool. It's the wildest thing. So for you, it's Tuesday night and for me, it's Wednesday. Like, I'm about to have lunch after this call on Wednesday. So it's so cool.


Ali

I love it. I love the technology.


Alex

And the sober social media, Instagram world, and the friends you can make and connect with around the world, it's just so cool.


Ali

It's so amazing. It's so supportive. And I feel like that's what you need when you're going through this journey is people that are doing the work with you to unlearn the conditioning of alcohol and learn how to be sober in your life. So it's so fun to be met you, Alex.


Alex

Absolutely. Yeah. So I was wondering if we could start off and you could tell us a little bit about yourself and your story.


Ali

Yeah, of course. So I actually started drinking when I was 13. I had been through some traumatic incidences in my life, in my childhood, and I think that what happened, not I think, I know that what happened is that those things started to come up. And I remember just feeling like I kind of want to disconnect from my body. I don't feel safe anymore. And other people are trying this thing called drinking. So I'm just going to try it. And I remember at 15 actually, getting heavy into drinking and ending up getting alcohol poisoning, ended up in the emergency room. It got so bad that--yeah, it was so bad that the ER doctor had told my dad, like, we need to do an MRI or it was a CT scan of her face because I had this black and blue thing, black and blue bruise across my entire face. And I thought someone took a baseball bat to me and raped me.


Alex

Oh, my God.


Ali

And I remember saying, like, to my dad, I remember saying, actually, that already happened. And I was drunk, right? I was, like, out of my mind. I don't remember saying that, my sister told me later on. But what hit that turning point in my life of, you know, not at the time realizing that I was trying to leave this Earth, right? I was trying to leave by drinking was that I had been raped when I was 15 and I had lost my virginity. And it's something I've actually never talked about before. So you are the first person, live. It's been always someone that-- I've always wanted to share as part of my journey. I've always been kind of hesitant to share it, but I remember that night being like, I am so lost. I don't know what else to do. And I went down this rabbit hole of drinking. Right? My parents were getting divorced. I was scared, got alcohol poisoning, and nothing really seemed to change. Like, we moved three hours away to the Bay Area, so I had to restart my life over again. And of course, you're like 16, and everyone's drinking. So you're the weird girl that's like, you're grounded for a year because you had alcohol poisoning. You just moved into a new town, and you also don't drink right now. And everyone's like, what is your deal? So then I was like, oh, it's fine. I don't have a problem. I'm going to continue drinking. Kept drinking, kept trying to shove away my pain, my trauma from my childhood and from my teenage years. And I never really felt safe. Went to College, was like, not really partying because I'm like, I don't want to do this again. I've done this in my high school years. I don't want to do this again. And then went on Semester at Sea. You know, Semester at Sea, where you travel the world on a cruise ship.


Alex

Yes.


Ali

So fun. And I remember there was like, a time where in that time period when I was, like 19 to 21, I would throw up in my bed. Like, I would get so sick and so blackout, but I would throw up in my bed and think, this is normal. Everyone does this. I'm sure you have like, you know, it's so normalized that we drink to excess. Right? And I remember it wasn't until-- so then fast forward, right. Years of drinking, anxiety, trauma coming up, past pain, all of the things I'm getting so anxious, depressed about it. My husband and I also had seven really people that were close to us die in a span of two and a half years. So those brought up all this repressed stuff that I had forgotten about. And I just kept on being like, I need a numb and I need a cope, and I need to do this stuff. And I wasn't your typical alcoholic. I didn't drink every night, but I binge drink and I drank-- the purpose behind my drinking was to escape so deeply. Right? And I remember, I can tell you the date. It was December 8, 2018. It was six months before my husband and I got married. It was SantaCon in San Francisco. I was drunk as a skunk, and I lashed out at my fiance, now husband. And it was just kind of like, Ali, you can't do this anymore. You can't keep on pretending or not pretending. But I was reacting out of my past hurt. Right. Like, my past trauma was starting to get in the way of my present for so long. And I'd been going to deep somatic therapy for three years up until this point. And every time I kind of tell my therapist about these, like, drinking nights or drinking journeys, he would just look at me and be like, do you think that's healthy? Like, do you think that that's healthy for you? And I'm like, yeah, I don't have a problem. And then it was that day where I was like, oh, no, I have a problem. This is not okay. And, like, when I look back, the more years I get under my sobriety, when I look back, I'm like, Holy shit, I downplayed it so much. I didn't tell people how bad it was. I didn't allow people to see how bad it was because I was like, oh, it's not that bad. Everyone's like this. Everyone throws up in their bed, everyone gets this drunk. Everyone has this much trauma, and they drink. Right. So I suppressed it down for so long.


Alex

Wow.


Ali

Yeah.


Alex

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing with us that story. Like, I know it's really vulnerable, and I really appreciate you opening up.


Ali

Of course. I mean, I've wanted to share that part of my journey. I'm a pretty open person, and, you know, I think what happens so often is we start to cope in these ways that we are taught how to do. Right. Like, I had a friend that had the same thing happen to her. She took up drinking as well. And it's like, you don't know any different until you know different. Right. And then you go to college or you're in high school and you're surrounded by this drinking culture and you hear stuff happen to girls. Right. They get sexually assaulted, they get raped, and they don't have the space to really talk about it or to function through it. So that instead, it's like, let's do the drugs, let's do the alcohol, let's escape. And it's not just me, right. It happens to so many women.


Alex

So many.


Ali

Yeah. It's because we don't know that, like, okay, in order to protect ourselves, we have to feel out of body because we don't feel secure in our bodies anymore after that happens.


Alex

Yeah.


Ali

Yeah. So I'm happy to share that. I really think that you know, this is bigger than me sharing my story, and I've kept it in for 29 years. You know close friends know about it. But I think it's really important to advocate and share that with women that if you are drinking because you're trying to feel safe in your body because you feel so unsafe from something that's happened, that's something to look at.


Alex

Tearing up, as you say that. And it is so true that it's so common. I just remember from my teenage and University years, like, the partying scene, I just feel was so-- there was just so much terrible stuff happening to women because everyone, it's like, not an excuse, but everyone is out of it when they're drinking and people are drinking to excess and making horrible, horrible decisions. Yeah.


Ali

Yeah. I was drugged. Like, they put the-- and I was 15, and he was 18.


Alex

My God.


Ali

And I think what was, not easy about it, that's the wrong word to use. But I didn't have to go back and see him because I left the city that we were in. Right. So I moved three hours away. So I kind of was like, oh, I can reinvent myself. I can be this different person, which, of course, I was the same, but all my stuff didn't come with me. Right. And my heart goes out to those women that have to go back and see the person that hurt them. Let's see the person that took advantage of them. You know, if someone is drunk, do not have sex with them. There's just so much, right. We could go down a rabbit hole. So what really shifted for me was in my journey of sobriety, that day that I got sober, I had been living so outside of my body. Right. And I've been doing somatic therapy. So I've been working with a Somatic practitioner for three years leading up to when I got sober, because all of my stuff came up really hard one day, like, so hard, like, all that trauma. There's a couple of things that I also don't share publicly, but just all of that stuff from childhood, et cetera. And it was the next four months that I had never been-- that I never lived that deeply in my body. And that was when I got diagnosed with late-stage chronic Lyme, Mold Toxicity. All of these things we're talking about before. And I think the reason why that I've been in chronic pain for years, is I was misdiagnosed for 15 years from Lyme, and I just had endometriosis surgery in September. Like, you know, that's a whole other story. It's the medical part of the things. But I think what happened was that because I was creating that safety again in my body, because I wasn't numbing out on alcohol and other things, it allowed me to be like, oh, something is really off with you. Something is really off with your physical body, and you need to advocate for yourself. And so it's been this interesting journey of, like, getting back inside my body and learning that these symptoms and these feelings that I feel are actually not normal.


Alex

You mentioned that you were doing some somatic work, but what were your main tools? Like when you went alcohol-free, did you do it alone? Did you have a community? Like, what were your tools in place?


Ali

Yes, such a good question. I think that AA is incredible. I've never been-- I've had family and friends go and they just talked about it. But I was really lucky in that my husband and I got sober on the same day. So the same day, we were like, okay, we're not doing alcohol anymore. And so it was nice because I had this built-in support where we were in it together. We were navigating, we were engaged. Right. So I went through my Bachelor party sober, went through our rehearsal dinner, wedding, honeymoon. We were in Thailand for a honeymoon. And it was so-- I know.


Alex

I just got shivers because you think of these special occasions where you miss them because you're drinking. And I just think it's so beautiful that you guys had that together. Sorry for interrupting you. Go on.


Ali

I love it. Thank you. It is really nice. It's really enjoyable because I look back at, like, friends' weddings that I have been in, and I'm like, I don't even remember standing up with them or like, the party or anything afterwards because you're just like, it's the culture. You just get hammered, you know. And so, yeah, it's really nice because I look back at our wedding or our honeymoon, and I'm like, oh, I can remember those things for the most part. You know, I was really sick right before our wedding is when I got diagnosed. But, yeah, it's just so nice. I'm like, oh, I remember my Bachelor party and my bridal shower and all these things. It's really, really nice to look back and be like, good job, 25-year-old Ali.


Alex

That's so amazing. So you had him and did you use any other sober communities?


Ali

I did not. I actually had a mentor that had been-- he'd had, like, 30-year sobriety under his belt. And so I was seeing him every week just for mentoring. And so he was a really great resource. Let me think, what else did I do? I mean, I was doing the somatic therapy. I think what also helped me was trying to find these different techniques that really helped me create safety in my body. So like, yoga, breathwork, meditation, Pilates. I took up running for one point because I was like, this helps me stay in my body. You know, I was trying to figure out how to create that safety again, because I think for so many of us that do struggle with alcohol and are alcoholics, it's like we are trying to escape something. Right? And so creating that safety, having that ritual in your life is so key, however that works, if that's AA, a sober community online, or you know, whatever your thing is. Right. Everyone's different.


Alex

Yeah, totally. I have another question for you. I forgot what I was going to ask you. Yeah, okay. So when did you become a trauma coach? Was that something you were doing before all of this? What was your background before getting into coaching?


Ali

Yeah. Great question. I thought that I was going to be a sports agent when I got out of college?


Alex

Wow. So what was your degree, then?


Ali

My degree was a Communication major and a double minor in Marketing in Spanish. So I was like, I'm going to be the next Aaron Andrews. I was like, this is my game plan. And then, you know, I got out of college, somehow ended up in produce and like, the supply chain buying. I was a buyer for a while, literally didn't know a lick of anything, supply chain. I'm like a scrappy human being. You give me a task and I'll eventually figure it out, you know.


Alex

Yeah.


Ali

Yeah. You're like, I know what you mean. And then when I got sick, I was actually working for a nonprofit in the Bay Area that I absolutely adored. I was like, this is it because I always have this deep knowing that I wanted to help people in a way, and I didn't know how that was going to play out. When I went on Semester at Sea, I went on Semester at Sea because I was the President of a club that supported an orphanage in Ghana, Africa. And so the whole reason I went on SaS was to go and see this orphanage in person. And, you know, being supporting that orphanage throughout college, I was like, I want to help people, but I also want to be a sports broadcaster. So I'm not really sure how this works. So fast forward. Add a nonprofit. Absolutely love it. Get sick with late-stage chronic Lyme. So then after we got home from our honeymoon, I sat in an IV room, had a port put in my chest, and I sat in the IV room three to four times a week, six to eight hours a day, trying every single damn thing under the sun, forward line. And I just got sicker and sicker and sicker. And on my good days, right, I had six months of sobriety under my belt at this point. And on my good days, I would tell myself, like, the universe is breaking you down to lift you back up, Ali. Something is shifting here, right? And I just kind of walked out of the IV room. I was there for nine and a half months. Nothing ever shifted. Got worse. And I just remember thinking, I want to help people go through grief. I want to help people go through hard times. I want to help them move through this because we had lost seven people in two and a half years. And every time we went back to their funeral celebration of life, I saw the difference of when people were able to cope effectively and move through their grief versus when they didn't have the tools to do that. And I was like, why don't we have more knowledge and space about this? So then I went down this kind of, like, path. I was like, you know, a lot of people have trauma, a lot of people don't know how to work through it, and instead they turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. So, like, what if I can support them to try and find healthy coping mechanisms? So that's how it started. I would never picture my life to be this way. I never thought I'd be a trauma coach, never thought I would be talking about it. You know, never thought I'd be putting some myself out there and my story out there to help other people. But we're here.


Alex

It's so amazing. And it's funny the way life ends up. Like, if you had asked me if I would be a sober coach, like, five years ago, I would be like, no. And it's just funny the way you just end up. It's almost like sometimes your life purpose just finds you, you know. It just appears in front of you.


Ali

1000%. And I feel like the more that you stop, I'm curious if you go this way, like, the more that you stop pushing it, it just falls into place. And you were like, I'm just going to let it flow and it's going to happen the way it's going to happen.


Alex

100%. Yeah. Absolutely. So what does a trauma coach do in comparison to, like, a counselor or a therapist? Like, what's the difference there?


Ali

Yeah, great example. Great question and examples. So a trauma coach is there to really just be a support. And also in trauma coaching, we look at the person as a whole, right? Like, you are complete on your own, and it's really about helping you create that safety. It's almost like I'm your buddy, I'm walking alongside you. I'm helping you learn these coping techniques and these strategies also so that you can learn how to be safe again so that you can learn how to be in your body. And where I think you know, I've been to many years of therapy, talk therapy, EMDR, Psychotherapy, Tapping, done all of it. Done all of it. Connoisseur and all mental health care. And I really think that you know, what works for one person might not work for someone else. That's where trauma coaching can really come in. It's like, what are the tools and techniques that really resonate for you? Because often, we kind of like try on what other people do, and then you'll be so thrown off when it doesn't work. Like trying on someone's pair of jeans and you know that they're not going to fit you because jeans are damn hard to fit into, you know, everybody, type of girl, men, gay, like all of it. And that's where I think trauma coaching really comes in, is like, I help empower people to be like, okay, let's try on these techniques. Let's do this. Let's set up a foundation for your life so that you can build a beautiful home, step into your confidence, and invite people over to dinner feeling confident and secure in your body again.


Alex

Okay. That's a great exam