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Sober Special Occasions with your Sober Curious Yoga Panel

In this episode the SCY panel is back to tell you all about their experiences at sober weddings, bachelor parties, concerts, and other special occasions. Tune into what Matt, Leigh, myself and Jules were worried about on our first nights out, what we planned for, and what surprised us about the occasions.

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If you want more context into our sober journeys, have a listen to our previous podcast episode where we touched on how to tell friends and family you are alcohol free. You can join Matt, Leigh, Jules and myself for sober yoga classes every day at The Mindful Life Practice Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at

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Alex: All right. Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of “Sober Yoga Girl”. I have the “Sober Curious Yoga” podcast panel with me again tonight and if you have not listened to our previous episode, I have Lee in Ohio and Jules and Matt who are both in the UK and all four of us are teachers for the “Mindful Life Practice” so if you have not yet come to our yoga classes check them out. If you want to hear a little bit about our sober backgrounds you can listen to our previous episodes to kind of get a little bit of a background story on us. But we are going to be diving straight into our topic tonight which is attending different special events being sober. So sober weddings, sober concerts, sober-- you name it. We're gonna talk about it tonight. So let's start out with I'm just wondering if you all could tell us a little bit about one of the first sober special events that you went to one of the first special events you went to sober and what that experience was like?

Matt: Well I've been to two this year quite recently. So I've been to a wedding about a month ago and prior to that, I went to a stag do in July like a bachelor party, whatever it gets called in different parts of the world. So I've been to those two events and those are notorious for drinking, right. So I knew about these events a few months ago and I felt there was a build-up especially to the stag do, the stag weekend where you know you've got 20 guys a bunch of guys meeting up and pretty much drinking all weekend and so I was a bit nervous about it and so I've been to that one. I could talk about it more if you want to and also enter the wedding in the summer and that proved to be a bit harder actually than the stag do interestingly enough. But those are sort of life events you go to, right where previously you know I've pretty much drunk a lot until I could drop basically. So these were new things for me that I never have experienced before and it was really interesting. There's a lot of things you know to sort of take away from it. I could probably talk for an hour about it. But anyway, it will took me a whole hour about them.[2:47]

Lee: I've been to a wedding, a couple of months ago and at that point, I was about I don't know I’m over a year sober. So I think that I had the benefit of having a lot of I mean, in the scheme of things a year really isn't that long for sobriety but it is like, it's long enough to establish your like center in it and be strong enough and your result at least for me it was strong enough. Like I feel like I was strong enough going into the wedding that I didn't-- I knew I wasn't gonna drink there. I wasn't worried that I was gonna drink or be tempted but I was just worried about what options were gonna be offered there. I am not nervous about dancing. I love to dance so I can easily dance sober. So that wasn't really an issue for me. And then I also just like a couple of days ago went to my first concert and I wasn't worried about drinking at the concert but there were a lot of people drinking around me and there was someone who had an incident like an-- I don't know they were in the crowd, they were calling for the EMTs and I was like is this person drunk or what. Like and I could just hear people being louder and talking different -- you know, like I could tell people were drunk but I don’t-- the woman I guess was okay who the EMTs called. But anyway, the thing that bummed me out at the concert was there really was like no alcohol-free beer available and I actually made a note to the venue and I said to them this concert was awesome but it would have been more awesome if you had an alcohol-free beer option available for people. They had sodas but I'm not a big soda person. I don't really like to drink soda that much. I would have really loved an alcohol-free beer but I ended up just drinking water but that was a little disappointing because you can't bring your own beverages or anything into the venue. They have really strict rules about what's allowed in with you. At the wedding, they had alcohol-free beer options which I really did appreciate. And they also made mocktails because they had like an open bar but I didn't find that same kind of option available at the concert that I went to.

Jules: I had an interesting one. So I wasn't long alcohol-free and my partner's ex-wife had a hen night and invited me. So there's lots of dynamics there and I have become friends with my partner's ex-wife and we got along really well. But I was quite new to being alcohol-free and I was incredibly nervous and it was in the middle of the pandemic and it was a time when we were allowed to be out but it was still quite nerve-wracking. And I remember going and I was so nervous. I'm so nervous and everybody looked at me like this and I could tell that they knew that I was the new girlfriend. And so, I sat there and everybody was drinking and I think there were lots and lots of sort of nerves around me and my usual would be to get drunk. I can talk to anyone when I'm drunk but I've really realised that I'm quite introverted and I'm much more comfortable with maybe talking to one or two people. I'm not good in group situations and I've realized that when I look back at weddings and parties and events I'm usually in the toilet hiding or drinking and I used to smoke so I used to hide behind my smoking because it's a really good way to talk to people and be sort of feeling on the outside if you're smoking. But I don't smoke, I don't drink. So I went to the hen party and I felt incredibly overwhelmed. I really felt overwhelmed and I look at it now I just think blimey actually I don't know maybe I should have gone. But I wanted to do it because you know it's a lovely gesture but I ended up hiding in the toilet. And I texted my partner, I just went please can you pick me up. But there was a positive. There was a lot of cake which is always a winner. So I recommend going to weddings and just sitting near the cake. Just having cake at least you get some kind of treats then but yeah that was the real practice of the fire.

Lee: I definitely enjoy it there.[7:54]

Matt: I would say your life event there is quite unusual Jules because you are going to a hen party, there with your partner’s former wife.

Jules: Yeah.

Matt: Okay. I just can’t imagine that.

Jules: I think there could be a scenario where people mostly listening to this, but there could be a scenario where you go somewhere and actually you feel really uncomfortable and I think it's really important that actually we have the right to say no and previously on occasions either felt uncomfortable, settled uncomfortableness and got drunk. And maybe it made a tit out of myself or just you know fallen asleep which is what I used to do. I just used to go to sleep whereas now i just stayed for an hour and again you know it's back to those boundaries. I gave myself an hour. I gave myself permission to go yeah, I'm done now. I've had a nice time in the toilet, eating cake but I just think it's really important to know that if you feel uncomfortable somewhere in the past I'd have got drunk whereas now it's like oh, I don't have to stay here. I can go. I don't actually have to be here. You know, I've done my bed and that's enough and now I can leave. So I think if I was at a wedding or somewhere now I think I'd feel a bit more confident to be there but also to know when I've had enough.

Lee: Yeah. I think it's hard for me because my husband likes to stay till the end and he is still drinking and so I was like okay, I'm ready to go and he's like oh, really, it’s fun, let's stay a little bit longer. And as I was giving him a ride home, I noticed that a couple of times, like I've been out like at a graduation party for my daughter and my husband wanted to stay and I was like okay, I'm gonna leave. And I left him there and he was like I'll get a ride home. I didn't forget who someone that wasn't drinking was and then as soon as I got home he called and he was like can you come pick me up. But I just got my pajamas on, I'm like oh, here’s a pain anyway but I could go get him.

Matt: But that's true though isn't it that you feel that I feel now when I've gone to events or gone out and of course we've not been out as much because of COVID but that you just want to live a normal time because you know I go to bed at 10:00, 10:30. I don't want to be out past 10:00, 10:30 and when I was at this wedding in the summer by 10:00, you know I'd been there since 12:00. You know, for the wedding I've been out for 10 hours. I want to go home now. And you know when I was on the stag weekend you know, we started drinking in the pub at one in the afternoon you know at 11:30 I wanted to go home. People stayed out until four in the morning. It's crazy because you do start feeling uncomfortable actually. It's interesting you brought that word uncomfortable. And also I wanted to pick up on what Lee said about there'd been no alcohol-free drinks. I had the same problem at this wedding, this summer. It was just ridiculous. It was this beautiful venue, you know, this like, it was called Newton Hall in Northumberland, very very nice. Had this most amazing bar. There must have been well over 200 drinks behind this bar and I turned up with my alcohol-free drinks and-- but I thought there'd be an alcohol-free beer there and they said oh, we're just going to have a look there. Wasn't one and I said, you know what I've just brought my own drinks with me. Is it okay if I bring them in and this young barman was like no, you can't do that. No, they'll get confiscated. And I was like, what and that made me feel really out of it. Really out of place and so but fortunately the master of ceremony, this old Scottish guy was like hey, no problem. You know, he's like, probably like, there's no problem with that. I'm not into a Scottish accent. And he was like, you know you can bring your drinks and no problem. And I said, you know I'll pay to bring them. He said, no don't--[11:59] so he set me up with a little fridge but you know there was nothing there and that's just really really weird because you know, why can't we have fully sober weddings and you know meetups and stuff. And yeah, it was a real real pain for an hour while I was sort of stressed about it, you know and what this barman had said. Yeah.

Jules: But again, it's got a connection isn't it? That if you're going out, if you're going to a wedding party whatever the thing is, is that you're going to get drunk. It's like you're going to go out and have fun. You know, if you go to a wedding isn't it to get married and to celebrate the people that are getting married and why is it about having to drink. You know, and I think back to my wedding and oh, my God, that's all we thought about what was the alcohol and how much alcohol we'd have. And we had our party in a pub and you know that the wedding was about, you know, lots of things. But there was a hell of a lot of drinking and it's like why is it that we're going to a wedding to drink. Why aren't we celebrating the couple? Why aren't we celebrating love and people and being together.

Matt: Yeah. The socializing stops really quickly at these events and I was listening to someone talk this week they're saying, when you meet someone for an alcoholic drink, it's sociable for about an hour and then the alcohol kicks in and then all you're doing is chasing the alcohol. And there's a good model of that at a wedding. You go to the wedding, you have a little drink and you sit down, you're at the dinner table in your circle of people and you're having some good chats with people. Then people start drinking more and more and then it changes. Then everyone gets up, there's a bit of dancing going on and that's sort of all this happening at this wedding and then people just aren't talking. They're absolutely out of it. The socializing has gone. These should be sociable events but alcohol kills the socializing.

Alex: Yeah.

Jules: We went to a comedy gig for the first time. A couple of months ago. And, I love going to comedy and again I don't think I've ever been to a comedy gig sober. And we went to the first one and it was outside and it was amazing and it was so lovely to actually just laugh because again, I was really nervous that how do I go to the comedy gig, did not drink but that to me just doesn't make sense. I've been into comedy for years. It's like comedy here, comedy here, and and I actually had I think more of a good time and I really properly laughed not just like that as you said chasing beers. I was actually properly laughing, properly engaged in the comedians and then also the bits that weren't funny I was just like, that's not funny. Rather than carrying on drinking hey, it was just like, I just had such a beautiful evening. I think I was so happy to be out anyway because you know it was like dawn time and it was-- I had a proper lovely date with my partner and it was really nice. I was looking around everybody and actually it wasn't a drunken atmosphere. I think because we were outside and there was lots of spacing around us and it was really nice because you know people were getting served food and drink as well. But we were allowed to bring our own stuff. So we bought some water and I really was quite nervous about going to a comedy gig. I just really couldn't collect being sober and going to comedy but honestly, I had such a lovely time. I haven't done a gig yet, I've got a gig coming up and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens there because I do-- I collect comedy going out. Music with fear that's just in my head so that's I think the next thing.

Lee: Yeah. I definitely connect like concerts also with drinking a lot of beer. Like any of those kinds of things. Like any time I've gone to a concert before there's pre-gaming where you drink before you actually go to the concert and then you're drinking the whole time while you're there. And I've been to many concerts where I really don't remember any of the songs that were sung and this one I can look back and remember the whole set list. I could enjoy the whole thing. I, you know, I remember different parts of it. So it was awesome to be in that kind of environment. And the other thing that I noticed, I don't know if you guys have had this experience but I mean, certainly there are some people that are at these events that are over, that have drank way too much but I also am more aware of other people who are not drinking as well. And I thought everyone when I was drinking, I thought everyone else drank. That you couldn't even go to these things and I was at the concert the other night and I did notice a few people who had too much to drink certainly, but there were plenty of people around me that were just with soda bottles or water bottles and they weren't drinking alcohol. And I thought wow, I never thought, wouldn't have ever even crossed my mind when I was drinking, to not drink at an event like that.

Matt: It depends what event you're at doesn't it. I mean, I'm going to a concert in a couple of months and they'll be the first ones I've been to sober but back at the wedding, it was quite obvious. I felt I was the only one not drinking there and probably the only other people not drinking was like a couple of women who were pregnant. Like around my table, I think there were ten of us around the table. Everyone was going for it you know and I admire this guy who had made me a little fizzy apple juice to have for the toast and you know everyone was drinking. But increasingly, as I chat to people, I am realizing there's more people who are not drinking than I thought generally in society. But weddings definitely feel like everyone saves themselves to get drunk at a wedding.

Jules: I went to a gathering for some friends a couple weeks ago and again, I noticed the people that weren't drinking and that was quite a few of us. I'd say there was a quarter of us that weren't drinking and it was really nice, the host, he had the soda stream and was like really spending time thinking about what we'd like with the soda stream and like just being would you like this drink, would you like that drink, making us feel really welcome because I think sometimes, I've felt it occasionally but you know but, oh gosh, you're not drinking. Whereas on this occasion, I really felt well cleansing[18:30]. It's like, you could try this, you could try that, and then, it was quite interesting because I thought it was like that I've gotten[18:48] and that's the other thing I've noticed that like actually lots of people just aren't bothered.

Matt: Yeah.

Jules: They don't talk to me about it. I don't know maybe it's a fear or embarrassment or they're just not that interested but it's like I was quite sort of proud of myself and people didn't notice that.[19:10]

Matt: Yeah. They don't notice, do they? When you mention soda streams, I probably shouldn't say this there, sorry I had a flashback to a birthday party I had where I tried to make sparkling wine by putting wine in a sodastream bottle because I thought it would work and it didn't work funnily enough. But those are the crazy things you do right and there's nothing wrong with laughing about those things. But birthday parties are another one, aren't they? You know, I mean, I don't remember my 40th birthday party after 11 o'clock, other than I was really sick and I'm so disappointed about that. You know, looking back on it now. Because another thing where you just black out from what happens and I was invited to a 50th birthday party at the weekend actually and I couldn't go because it was my daughter's birthday. She was on a sleepover or whatever but I was a bit nervous about what that would be like going you know because there were people there who'd know you know, you like a drink and all this sort of stuff and yeah. So I just thought, I'd remember that memory.

Jules: Well, I think, I've done so many alcoholic drinks they just end up exploding everywhere yeah.

Lee: But Jules, you were talking about the cake and I definitely, like normally, if I would go to a wedding, I'd be so involved with the alcohol that I would totally skip the desserts and at the wedding that I went to, it was so-- the desserts were so amazing. Every single one of them was vegan and they had-- they didn't have a cake actually, they just had like a whole dessert table like all these different things and it was amazing. I tried all of them. Everyone. I just-- because there were so many different ones I could just take a little bit of each one and try and they were so delicious. And I don't think I would have even noticed that, like, table. I would have been out on the dance floor and so like in my own little world. I would not have even tried the desserts.

Matt: Yeah. I agree. You notice things, don't you? Like I noticed the food at this wedding. I enjoyed it much more. It was really delicious, you know, I really savored it. That was my thing you know to sort of eat that and be really part of the meal whereas, you know previously you're just chasing the drink and it's miserable, really.

Jules: One of the things that I’ve noticed in myself is, I'm becoming more comfortable in just being quiet. I think again because I'm quite introverted on big occasions. I tended to drink in order to manage them and I'd often especially with my ex-husband, we were really party heads. You know, we lived on a boat and we used to have lots of crazy parties and actually looking back, I don't think I ever saw that at all during those parties. And I think that I actually was about fear, it actually it's because I was so nervous about being around lots of people and that when I was drinking, it was all right because you could just you know, basically this numbness. Whereas now, I'm really learning to go to social occasions and just be quiet and it's alright to be quiet. I remember going to a friend's gathering and just being really quiet and just watching and not feeling like I had to talk but also trying to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. That, actually, it's alright to be nervous and it's alright to be quiet and it's alright to be shy. And I don't actually because I tend to go into a sort of facilitated mode and start trying to bring people together and chat, you know, start chatting away and asking lots of people questions. And then I don't really want to. Whereas now, it's like, I'm much more observant and able to just sort of sit back and just allow things to happen and to watch things and to be present and to just enjoy being quiet and observant and that's quite different for me. That's something that I'm actually learning and actually enjoying.

Lee: Do you think that's part of like, I mean, I feel like that's part of yoga too. Like training us to be comfortable with the discomfort and sit with uncomfortable feelings and know that it's this uncomfortable feeling. It's not going to last forever.

Alex: Yeah.

Lee: And, you know. Yeah, definitely.

Jules: I check in with myself and when I'm somewhere now, I just go hey, Jules, how are you feeling. Like for really nervous, I feel a bit scared, well I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed rather than going I'm just gonna drink. I'm just gonna remind you[24:00] I have a toilet drink now I'm just like oh, I feel a bit a little bit too much. I think I'm yeah, I'm feeling a bit anxious or nervous. I'm just really owning that and then I can check in and then go, what do I need. Or what I need is just to be really quiet or what I need is just a little wink from my partner just to reassure me that I'm okay. Or you know, I remember when I first was going out, I had like a load of buddies from various communities that I would contact and I remember when I went to the hen night, I was just messaging them just going, I didn't know, that I didn't know how to handle this. So, I recommend that as well as having like a couple of like safe buddies that can text because sometimes when you're alone in a situation and everyone else is drinking and you're the only person being alcohol-free it can feel quite lonely. And I think if you've got other people that you know, even though they're on your phone you can just go oh, my God, I don't know what-- I didn't want to say and I'm really scared. You know, there's that reassurance that they've been there as well. So I think, I would highly recommend doing that is having like a, you know, whether it's a Facebook group or a Whatsapp group, but just having a couple of people that you could just be honest with and say how you're really feeling rather than--

Matt: Yeah, I had that. I had someone I was messaging on the day and it really does help. One thing that came into my mind when you're both talking there is about how-- you know, when you're sober, you have these very clear thoughts about what's happening. You know, I've been very anxious lately. I can look in and really see the anxiety clearly and really see myself with that honesty. And the funny thing is, at the wedding I went to, I ended up having a couple of conversations with people towards the end of the night who were quite drunk. And one of them was my friend's wife, who is a friend of mine as well and she was, you know, sort of talking to you about not drinking and I was saying you know I was drinking a bit too much. She said, ah, I'm not like that. You know, I don't drink like that. You know, and she's absolutely trolled at this point. You know, claiming that she doesn't drink too much and you know it just made me think of how unrealistic your views of life are when you're drinking too much. And you know, I don't need to stop drinking all this sort of stuff. Whereas, when you are sober, you just see things so clearly. And then it is a bit of a curse sometimes to be honest with you especially when you're going through a tough time mentally. You know, because yes we do know for a short period of time like an hour, alcohol does just take away some pain. And then the other thing actually, that is so great about going to these events is not to worry about feeling ill the next day. I've been at places and drinking loads and I've been thinking I'm gonna feel ill tomorrow.

Alex: Yeah.

Matt: It doesn't stop me. I said, okay I'll just drink loads of water. I'll be okay. One load of rubbish you know and it's so great just to know I'm gonna wake up feeling great.

Alex: Yeah.

Lee: Definitely. I was so happy to wake up I mean, I was tired after the concert but I thought oh, I feel-- I was able to drive myself home. I got home, went to bed, I was like, this is so great. I'm gonna wake up and I got up in time to do Alex's class the next day and it was a harder class. It was the sweat class, so I definitely would not have made it to-- if I had been drinking. You know.

Alex: Yeah.

Lee: I woke up and I mean, I was tired but I felt fine in my head like clear-headed no headache.

Alex: Yeah. My first sober event was my sister's wedding and it was at summer camp. It was a summer camp weekend and our summer camp friends were notorious for-- we would hike out to the end of the trail and ride a school bus into town and just get completely wasted. It would be a truth or dare night. We would do all this crazy stuff. People would like, steal stuff from the bar, steal the cat, steal the anchor, like it was just nuts and so this was basically what was happening at her wedding and I remember leaving, I was just at like whatever .It was 1:00 A.M. on the first night. I was like okay, goodnight guys I'm going to bed. and I just remember the next morning there's like ten of us in a cabin and everyone just waking up and just feeling like crap. And I was like, this could not be a better first sober occasion because they couldn't get out of bed to go to breakfast. And I was like, bye everyone. And then, they missed like a bunch of the day because they were napping. You know, in the middle of the day I was around setting up the wedding and then the same thing happens again where they just get destroyed again and then they feel like garbage the next day. And I'm like, wow, I had the best weekend because I'm not hungover, I actually like enjoying this being outside. And so yeah, I totally connect with that.

Matt: It makes me feel ill thinking of the time when people talk about it. About the times I've been like that. You know, and also times I've kidded myself you know, I've had some panic attacks before and one of them I remember was when I'd been out sort of on a boys weekend in Manchester and I was on the train coming home and I almost passed out. You know and there was, you know, I'd say an ambulance called when I got back to London and all the way I never thought it was because of the alcohol. You know, it's like yeah, you know I went to bed, I woke up I was feeling okay you know because I'm training myself to try and power through. It's so awful to think of that you know and it was all the alcohol you know so much a part of it. And then when you see other people you know trying to like in a hotel after a wedding, trying to eat their breakfast and they're so ill.

Alex: Yeah.

Matt: What are we doing to ourselves? You know.

Lee: Yeah and as that next morning, I remember always being like I just needed another drink in order to like, get me a bloody mary. That'll make me feel better and it did. It did make me feel better for a little while anyway, you know like it took those-- that shaky awful hangover feeling away a little bit.

Matt: But it's the most awful sort of science, isn't it Lee?

Lee: Right.

Matt: You know, scientifically it does something to you. You know, chemically what you've done to yourself is you recovered yourself with the thing that's made you like that and it's just a horrible thing to think that we were doing that to ourselves.

Lee: Do you guys ever remember, like going to bed, like after a big binge weekend. Going to bed like that Sunday night or whatever like after the weekend and feeling like I just can’t wait to wake up tomorrow without a hangover. Like if I hadn't drank on that Sunday or whatever the end of the time like--and it actually would sometimes take like two or three days before I really felt good.

Matt: Well the thing is, I remember it, sorry, I remember it as being you know when you start to feel a bit better and actually what that feeling is, is that you're recovering from illness. That's essentially what it is. It's like a recovery from having a Flu or something. You know, you have a Coca-Cola and you start feeling a bit better and you can eat something and you're like oh, yeah but that's all you've done. You've made yourself sick and you know you're recovering and sometimes like you say sadly we've used alcohol to help with the recovery. But you know, that's what we were doing to ourselves and yeah.

Jules: Yeah. I think my hangovers were just getting worse the most and I just realized even when I wasn't drinking very much because over the years I gradually decreased drinking and it got to the point where even if I'd had one glass of wine I was getting really bad hangovers. And then I tweeted, when I stopped drinking, I did 30 days without sugar and I realized that actually I've got an intolerance to sugar so it wasn't just the alcohol it was also the sugar. Because I was not drinking and if I had any chocolate or cake but I'm not a massive sweetness and I was getting hangovers. And I was like oh, how can this be. How can I not be drinking? Well, I'm still getting hangovers. I think one of the things I've realized is that unless-- the more I've not been drinking the more actually that I've got more intolerances to so many things like caffeine, and sugar, and just everything.

Matt: It's because you've been physically well for so long you've actually treated your body properly. And I was talking to someone yesterday and they told me they've had a bit of bad health lately and they're just checking if their liver is okay so they're gonna have 30 days off not drinking see if that helps. And I just like-- because it's gonna help. Yeah. I can guarantee he'll do something for you. Yeah.

Alex: Well, I asked us one question and we seem to have answered all the questions. But it shows--

Matt: Any ten more.