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Introducing The Sober Curious Yoga Panel: Telling Friends and Family You're Alcohol Free


I'm so excited to bring you the first ever "Sober Curious Yoga Panel" with some of your favorite Sober Curious Yoga Teachers - Matt, Jules and Leigh! In this podcast episode, Matt, Alex, Jules and Leigh answer some common questions about how they navigated friendships and family relationships in sobriety. Jules, Leigh and Matt have all been previous podcast guests and if you want to hear more about their individual stories and journeys we recommend listening to their individual episodes: Jules - https://www.themindfullifepractice.com/podcast/episode/4c9c9720/a-cup-of-decaf-coffee-with-jules-allan-sober-curious-yoga-teacher Leigh - https://www.themindfullifepractice.com/podcast/episode/4adccc6e/leighs-sober-journey Matt - https://www.themindfullifepractice.com/podcast/episode/4bc88c18/sober-yoga-dad-with-matt-ellis We are excited to record more Sober Curious Yoga Panel episodes - if you have any subjects in particular that you want us to cover, please drop an email to soberyogagirl@gmail.com or send Alex a message on Instagram @alexmcrobs / @soberyogagirlpodcast.



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Catch weekly yoga classes with Matt, Leigh and Jules at www.themindfullifepractice.com/live-schedule. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/.


Full episode


Transcript


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

Alright. Hello, everyone, and welcome to our very first "Sober Curious Yoga" podcast panel episode. I am super excited because we have across continental, "Sober Curious Yoga" panel that has come together three of-- or four of your "Mindful Life Practice" teachers, including me. So I'm here with Matt, who is in the UK, Jules who is in the UK, and Leigh, who's in the States. Who all of you have probably heard on a previous podcast episode, and I'll put the links to all of their episodes in the show notes, if anyone wants to go back and listen and hear their individual stories. And today we are going to be talking as a group about the subject around telling family and friends that you are going alcohol free. Because it's a pretty common thing that comes up, you know how to navigate relationships, how to navigate social dynamics. So I'm super excited to have the panel here, and I was wondering if each person could kind of introduce themselves and share a little bit about who they are kind of their journey before we get into it.


Matt

Hi. Hello. And I'm in the UK, live in London. I lived in London about 20 years and I have a wife and three lovely daughters. I'm in the primary school teacher and I do a lot of work with computers at school, and I'm starting to work with children who have quite difficult backgrounds and stuff like that. And I've not drank alcohol for I think it's 472 days today since May last year. So I'm reaping all the benefits of that. And it's great.


Jules

So I'm Jules. I'm also in the UK in Bristol. I live with my partner and his two children and a dog, and I work I suppose to sort of arts and well being and community development. I'm a bit of a Jack of all trades, so I do lots of different wearing of hats and I've been so becoming up to 21 months and yeah, it's been an adventure. It really has.


Leigh

My name is Leigh and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am recently retired from my work as an occupational therapist, and I worked with children with sensory processing disorder and I am married. My three children are all out of College now and living on their own and they live far away from us. So we're on a journey right now figuring out where we want to live. And, so then I started doing the yoga teacher training, and I've started teaching and that's kind of my new passion. And I spend a lot of time each day working on yoga, practicing yoga and reading about yoga. And I love it so much. So that's kind of my new occupation, I guess. And it really aligns very well with what I did before and looking at how the nervous system impacts are functioning in everyday life. And I did that with children with sensory processing disorder and helping them get into a regulated state. And so yoga kind of really fits in nicely with that. That's all for me.


Alex

I love how you put down the talking stick. You're so used to it.


Leigh

I didn't talk about my sober journey. I am a year and a half sober. I forgot to say that and I feel like it's just become so much part of my life now and it's been like a really key habit change area for me. So I love it. I love being sober too.


Matt

I like the way we've all described the length of time sober in different ways. I went for days, Jules went for months and Leigh's gone for like a year and half.


Leigh

I don't know the days unless I look at the app in.


Alex

I actually deleted the app off my computer or my phone because it was taking up too much space. And so when my most Google things like days since April 13, I Google it all the time and I really should just redownload the app. But it's amazing how the days had so much value to me at the beginning. And then as time went on, it just became part of who I am. But a big amount of days sounds cool. It sounds very impressive.


Matt

I was going to say I think that you have those milestone days. I think I've been sort of hanging on to 500 days and I think once I get to that and probably okay then not to worry about it as much. I'll think about it as much.


Alex

Yeah that's huge.



I think I got to 500 and then I just stopped counting, I think 500 is my-- I'm going to get there. That's my goal is to get to 500 and yeah, sort of such a point where I don't know anymore. And when I do look it up, it gets really exciting to go on, to get into 700.


Leigh

Yeah, I like that too.


Alex

I'm excited to 1,000.


Leigh

Oh wow.


Alex

Coming up soon.


Leigh

I was excited to come up to a year and a half. That was like a big one for me just recently and that was September 1. So I just got there. So now I don't know what my next one that I'm going to look forward to.


Alex

Amazing. Alright. So let's get into our subject. So I want to hear how everyone approached, telling their family and friends that they were alcohol free.


Jules

Okay. I'll do it. Cool, I'll be grabbing it. So I was really, really quiet. I didn't really tell anyone for the first, I think it was for the first month. I didn't tell anyone. Because I wanted to explore what it meant for me first before I talked to other people. It was such a personal journey. I'd done try January and try month previously and I was actually quite loud about that. I'd be like, yeah, I'm doing by January, and the whole Jan, I got lined up afterwards, whereas this time because I knew that I was like, this is going to be it now. I want to stop. I don't want to moderate. I don't want to restart. So I was really quiet and private about it. And the only person that knew was my partner and he was really supportive. We did tried January together, and to be honest, most of his drinking is very, very little. So he didn't really drink at all for the first couple of months. And then I started telling one or two really, really close friends, just to sort of sound out with them. And the really close friends are very supportive. I think I was very choosy in who I shared my experience with. And because I knew that it was very much my-- stopping alcohol was very much in connection with my mental health. So I knew that I wanted to be very conscious about how I shared, what I talked about and who I talked with. And it's only I think, I don't know the last couple of months, really, that I've just started talking about it with friends so I'm not so close to because I feel really strong now. I don't feel any sort of fear or concern or ask questions. You know, ask me any questions about being alcohol free, because I feel very, very strong in my sobriety. But it took me I think about over a year. I didn't talk about it on social media at all and I still don't on Facebook. I've only just started talking about it on Instagram and that's nerve-racking. And I think I've started talking about it because I knew I was going to do a podcast, and I just thought I'm just going to let it out now. So I'm going to be on the podcast. But for me, it was definitely a very private journey at the beginning. And then I started making lots of friends and contacts within and connections within the alcohol free world. Where I could actually talk about being alcohol free rather than sort of trying to say it to people. And then people not really getting it or thinking I've got some kind of serious alcohol problem. I was able to connect with new friends really, across the world and enable to be honest rather than like hiding stuff and going, oh, yeah, I'm not drinking. I could actually be genuine and authentic about talking about my experience because I knew that they'd empathize and understand. And now that I feel very strong in it, it's like, it's just not an issue. I just-- if somebody ask, I'm just like, if it's an alcohol, I don't explain my concept, not your business.


Matt

I find it a really complex question, and as you're talking Jules, I do have some similarities to you, but I'm at a point where I'm still sort of almost predicting what people are thinking about me and the fact that I don't drink. I find it quite a hard question to answer, because when I stopped drinking, in may last year, you know, we were sort of in this sort of lock down period of time. And I wasn't seeing a lot of people. And so I'm like of you have not said anything really on Facebook about it, but I've really create-- trying to create a space on Instagram, which I think is a nice space. And I think when I sort of took on the sober yoga that kind of handle, thanks, Alex for that. That I-- sort of started to come out through there with friends, but no one says anything to you about it. No one sort of you know, that's what's this all about. And then, the only people I really feel like you know who know about. On my next door neighbors were really good friends. And quite recently one of them said, oh, are you going to have a drink to celebrate if you were in the football because there's a big football tournament on. And my daughter was like, no, he's not. He just didn't drink. And that sort of really cemented it, you know, someone in my family noticing you know the good that's come of it. And I'm still not a point where I'm sort of say, I don't drink forever, but I'm like you Jules, I don't drink, you know, that's it. And people, I guess, know that about me. But very few people sort of comment or say what's happening with you. And, you know, maybe they'll talk about the yoga because I talk about that a lot. And then I went to a wedding recently and some old friends you know, I spoke to them and they were quite supportive of it, actually, and realize you know, how good it made me feel. But I always have this sneaking suspicion that other friends think I'm going through a bit of a weird phase of my life and not enjoying life as much because I'm not drinking. And that might be me being a bit paranoid. But I've got a sense of that about certain people, you know, like they're enjoying their life more than me. I feel that. So it's quite complex for me.


Leigh

I definitely had similarities to both of you. Well, I think all three of us stopped during the pandemic. I stopped March 1st. Well, sort of January 1st. But then I drank in February. And so my real stop date I consider to be March 1st. And and I felt like that made it easier for me because I didn't have to be around people socially to tell people like, I didn't have to explain why I wasn't drinking at a party or out to dinner by. I wasn't having a glass wine or whatever. I just was home pretty much. And my husband knew, and I think my kids knew right away. But I really didn't tell many other people. I remember having-- we used to at the beginning of the pandemic, have these Zoom happy hours with my girlfriends. Or my husband and I would get together with another couple and do, like, a Zoom party night at the beginning of the pandemic, and like game night or something. And I would always get those sort of pretend to be drinking. So I would either have a mocktail or I would have an NA beer, and I would turn the label so that it didn't show to the camera. And that was my way of kind of fudging that I was drinking. Or I'd pour myself a glass of red and May wine and participate in the you know, it looked like I was drinking wine. So I never had to say to anybody I'm not drinking. And I do remember, one of the-- it was like all my girlfriends at a happy hour one night, and I had made myself a mocktail, and people were all talking about what cocktail did you make? What did you make? What did you make? And I said I made a mocktail. And so, I don't remember that might have been a month in or something like that. And then another one of my friends said she made a mocktail also, and I was like, oh, I'm not the only one. But she was just-- that friend was just particularly trying to be careful because of coronavirus and keeping her immune system really healthy. So she had stopped. But she doesn't drink much anyway. So you know, it wasn't that unusual. But I think I did it that way. And so really it was the only-- then it was really important to have a community that I could talk to. But I didn't really have one. Like, I just had kind of my husband and I had a Facebook group that I was in, but I wasn't going to meetings or having any kind of dialogue with people. And I felt like that was really a void for me. And it wasn't until, like, in the end of June that I found Alex. So that was March, April, May, June. So four months then that I found Alex's group and started to do the sober circles. Then that really helped me to have a voice to behind it. And that, I think, is what gave me more courage to put it on social media. I never had put anything about it on social media, but I think that gave me more courage. And by then it had gradually leaked out like, I mean, I wasn't, like, intentionally, like, I'm going to sit you down and tell you, one of my friends that I'm not drinking anymore, just if it would come out naturally in conversation. It wasn't like I was hiding it. But there were some people I was definitely more nervous about telling. And I did find just recently having a conversation with someone who I was more nervous about talking about it with. And that person was asking me like, what was the point? What was the turning point for you? What was the point? Was there something that happened that made you stop? And I think that people try to-- they want to think they're trying to compare themselves to you. I think this person was trying to compare himself to me and see, has he gotten to that point yet or not? Like, do I need to stop? Was there, like, something really bad that happened to you that made you want to stop? And have I reached that point myself yet? So I think that's kind of interesting to look at. But that wasn't what happened to me. I just kind of heard, like, people talking about this. Well, I've shared in the podcast with Alex about Rich Roll and hearing Andy Ramage, and that was what you know, kind of that "Middle Lane Drinking" and how it's just all the benefits of it. And I thought I'm going to try this and just see. So it wasn't like there was one bad thing that happened. So I was able to share that with them.


Alex

It's really interesting because all of you getting sober in the pandemic, I think, had a very different experience from me because I got sober before the pandemic and a year before the pandemic. And so I was navigating all these parties. And I remember the first week of my sobriety. They had this event where it was like, free first round of beer for every teacher. And I was four days sober and everyone was like, come on, why aren't you coming? Because I was like, the last man standing, always doing stupidest things on these nights. Like, I was the girl serving the gin and vodka, and I literally had to not go because everyone was like, just have one. It's free. I'm like, I'm literally four days sober. This is a huge deal. I really can't come to the bar. And so for me, it had to be-- there was no tip toeing around it. And I think that probably is the contrast from who I was and who I was trying to be. Was just so great that, you know, it's not that they were trying to pressure me. They just want to meet, just to be the drunk Alex at the party that, you know, they loved. And I just didn't want to be that person anymore. And so, I found that I had to address it really quickly. And I don't know what's--you go ahead Jules.


Jules

I think, I got stop drinking in January of 2020, so I had a couple of months, but I actually treated that time in his house and locked down. I just didn't leave the house. So we, you know, we had from January to March, I was in my own lock down. I basically treated myself or so. I was in some kind of recovery and would stay in the conservatory and just yoga every day and do my meditation, and journal. So even though I was actually not drinking before lock down for me, I knew that I couldn't go out. I couldn't go to pubs, I couldn't put myself in one of our situations. It's a bit like when I stopped smoking, when I stopped smoking, I decided to just not be around anybody that smokes. So I stopped going to pubs. I don't think I went to pub for about again, about three months, just because I knew that I didn't want to put myself into a vulnerable position. What I did do is I joined a really swanky gym and a swanky place where I can go and get Jacuzzi. So instead of socializing in the pub, which is what I used to do. I now socialized in Jacuzzi, so, you know, a comfy life and get Jacuzzi.


Alex

I love that. So I'm wondering, did anyone have any friends that they lost when they went alcohol free?


Speaker 2

I wouldn't say I'm that aware of it at the moment, but I sort of put myself in the position that you know, I think they feel like they wouldn't hang out with me as much. I'm thinking of some of my colleagues at school, you know, I was always the one going down the pub on a Friday after school, you know, having four or five beers as quickly as I could. And you know, I'm looking back on it. I would sort of instigate, sort of seeing if anyone to go for a drink to the pub and if they didn't go by myself anyway. And those people, I probably won't see as much. But, you know, I've met ten times as many people since from not drinking. So I'm not that worried about it. I'm more worried about the ones who do continue drinking. And you know, I know some of them should stop drinking. So I feel sort of concerned for those people that way. I'm also with men and women. It's different. I don't know. It's interesting, obviously, me being the only man here how it's different for women. There's certain men you know, I probably won't hang out with very much again in my life, you know, that's a stark fact of it of not drinking, you know, that the things I would do with them you know, would involve drinking. And that's ended. And you know, people I used to play football, with people I go to concerts with, you know, a lot of my day-off message say, no, it's really good what you're doing with your life and stuff, you know, I won't see them again. And so that's quite a stark reality of life, isn't it? You know, unless they stop drinking, that's it. So there's a little bit of sadness there is, I suppose. But yeah, in my mind now I'm thinking of names of people and I'm seeing them. So yeah, anyone thinks about that.


Jules

I think to me, what also happens is when I start drinking, I started my boundary. So I started getting really clear on my boundaries. I think my boundaries are so wobbly before I stop drinking. So I think it was an overall thing. I think it wasn't just me being alcohol free, but it was also me not being as people pleaser, as I used to be. And as a yes person. You know, somebody would say, could you do this to me? Could you do that to me? And I'd be like, yes, yes, yes. And I count to give my time and my energy and then when I became alcohol free, it's like everything shifted. It wasn't just about giving up alcohol, but it was a massive shift in my life, the way that I treat myself, the way that I reserve my energy for myself, the way that I eat, the way that I exercise, like everything shifted. And it wasn't just a big--now I'm going to stop being this, and now I'm going to do that. It was gradual. It was very gradual. But what I noticed most was when I started asserting my boundaries and advocating for myself. That's when I lost friends and people didn't like the fact that I wasn't silly, funny, drunk Jules. That actually that a lot of the time now, I like to be quiet and I like to meditate and I like to rest. And I read lots of books, and that is very different from how I used to be. I used to be very sort of wild and ferrel, and, you know, that wildness and ferrelness is still in me. But I have calm down a lot and a lot more grounded, and I think that can make people fearful. So it's not just about the alcohol free journey. It's about the self development journey that I personally feel that when I stop drinking, I apt my self development. I've been doing it before, but not at the level I'm doing it now. So my conversation changes. And the way that I talk, the language that I use, sometimes I feel I'm talking a foreign language to people. They don't speak, maybe in the way that I now-- I'm actually not able to say a sentence. You know, I often-- the things that are really important to me. I just can't have conversations with, with people that maybe aren't on that self development journey because they're-- like just they are not interested or don't get it or confused by it. So I think it wasn't just about giving up alcohol. I think it was a whole kit to be drove that the way that I've very much changed my life and that scared people. And for some people, it was too much. I think it was a fear of that they would look at me and think, well, is she not going to like me anymore? Because I'm still like this. And, you know, I didn't you know, personally didn't feel like that. This is my journey alone. I'm taking care of my self. It's just purely for me. And yeah, I think it was me starting to learn that I've got boundaries. That was actually the big shift around friendships. And I started as quite a lot of friends, but I've also gained beautiful connections and beautiful friends. And some of the friends that have had our friendships have grown and are much more authentic and are much more real rather than drunken. You know, there's drunken chats that you think you're sharing stuff that actually were just drunk.


Alex

Yeah.


Matt

Jules, do you think that people think you're a bit more boring now? Because that's what I feel about people with me, I think. And it's really weird, actually, because I keep thinking about my neighbors next door here, and I keep thinking that they just think I'm not as happy. Is my projection of what they think. And it's just not true. I mean, I still go through the anxieties of life and you know dips, but I'm way happier. You know, everything's clearer, everything makes sense, you know and I can see it. And you talk about saying no and knowing your boundaries. Yeah. I'm so clear. I've been saying, actually, today. You know, I just need to not be as nice to people because I help. I'm a people, pleaser. And the alcohol fuels that. But I do think in a sense it might project has not been as happy and joyful of person, but it's more of a complete person, right?


Jules

Yeah. I feel much more grounded and calm. And when I was drinking, especially at the sort of the height and my thirties, when I was very wild, people might perceive me as someone that was really out there and doing stuff really wild and crazy. But they didn't see what was hidden underneath, which was a lot of you know mental health issues and a lot of things I wasn't able to understand. Whereas now, it's like I feel much more calmer and grounded. So when I'm actually, but in my happiness, it's much more like a gentle happiness. It's like a softer happiness. And I can still have that wildness and craziness, but a much more, I don't know, just loving. I'm just so much more loving and more to myself. And I don't put myself in danger. You know, I think about some of the things that I used to do, which were not boring. They were[inaudible 00:27:34] really dangerous, and I look, now, oh, my God, I would never put myself in that position.


Leigh

Yeah. I don't feel like I lost friends. I was really worried I wouldn't get invited to things. And of course, there really haven't been many things to get invited to, but I was worried about that. I do think that the friendships that I have are a little-- have gotten to a different level because of being sober and not just like what Jules is saying, not just the sobriety but the introspective journey that I'm on and journaling and learning about different things and thinking about philosophy and spirituality and all of that, that has come along with it for me. So I definitely think a lot of my relationships have changed. I just recently spent a month, a lot of time with my son and his girlfriend, and they don't drink. And it was really fun. Like we would have dinner and then we would play a game almost every night, some kind of-- our big fun game was Monopoly deal. It's a card game and it's just silly. But, you know, it's like I used to think like, I thought about the time that we spent with them, and I thought I would have probably when I was drinking have thought of people who would do something like that is kind of boring. Like, how could you sit through a game night without a glass of wine or without drinks or something? And yeah, we had a lot of fun playing just simple games together. And I thought it was really nice. But I did have recently someone did tell me that they missed the part of me, the drinking me that was a little wild and crazy. I was the dancing, you know, bunkers person, passing the shots of fire you know, I have a bottle of fireball and be passing it around to everybody in the room and dancing to the fireball song. And pretty wild. And so I think people who I've done that with kind of missed that. Although I did dance to Fireball at the wedding I went to recently. So, I still love to dance sober. So I don't have an inhibition about dancing, but I'm just not pushing alcohol anymore while I'm doing it.


Matt

It's really interesting knowing people as sober, because I can't imagine that of you Leigh, you know because you know, we sort of all know to that as non-drinkers, thought of these kind of l fault of people, probably. And the way we talk and think about life. Yeah. And you sort of get that sense that wasn't the real you and I don't even know you then. Yeah, maybe our friends are discovering what the real us is and it's not pleasant for them. I've certainly had that with people where they're talking to me and they just to find their drinking and the things they do has been sort of okay. And looking for that reason why, you know, I stopped drinking. Yeah.


Alex

Well, that kind of leads us into the next question, which is, how did people's relationships change, when they quit drinking?


Matt

Yeah. Silence. There's a lot of silence. In terms of relationship with people I'm really close to, you know, they got a lot better. You know, my family you know, think I'm a much better person, and I was a pretty decent person before, but I am a much, much better person. So relationships are closer, you know, the sort of more sort of genuine love and kind of, you know, gratitude for life and everything I have. Some relationships are better. They're more real and more genuine. But actually, they're with a lot of new people. And I'm starting to see my life is sort of phase. You know, this is quite a big chunk of my life now. It's a new life. So I'm making a new relationship with people being more genuine. And then yeah. I mean, I suppose I would imagine probably half of people I used to hang around and they will go. So I'm rambling on a bit here. What was the question again?


Alex

How did your relationships change?


Leigh

I definitely think I'm kinder to my husband in particular. He's a person who always takes the brunt of you know, when I get irritable or annoyed about something, it feels safe to me or it has felt safe to me to take it out on him, and I find-- and I don't think it's just sobriety. I think it's also doing a lot of mindfulness and meditation and stuff that I think before I act, not