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Sober Coaching – what is it, who are you, and why should I be interested?!
We are constantly surrounded by adverts for booze, both explicit and implicit. Had a hard day? Have a glass (or a bottle) of wine! Celebrating a win? Have a glass (or a bottle) of champagne! Had a big shock! Have a glass (or bottle) of whisky, brandy, cognac! Going clubbing? Don’t forget your vodka, or your cocaine! Off to the pub? Buy 13 pints, the next two are free!
If you’re well-prepared, you’ll put the bucket, water and aspirin next to the bed before you even go out, and pre-order your delivery of greasy food for early the next afternoon. Hangovers are a rite of passage! Nah, you’ve not got a problem – everyone feels like this. It’s normal. This is how you PROVE you’re a teenager / adult / hard worker / successful parent / real person. Everyone blacks out now and then. Of course it’s fine to go out for one drink and come home 6 hours and $200+ later, not remembering where you went or who you talked to. It’s normal, mate … what you need is a hair of the dog.
I lived that, for so many years. It was a way to be one of the Kool Kids (I smoked Kool menthols too – Double Kool, *eyeroll*). A way to make new friends, to bond, to have fun and take the pressure off (I didn’t always know how to have fun in a Kool Way, but getting drunk made me care less about that). All through college and university, then from the moment I moved to France … alcohol was by my side all the time. It just made things so much more fun, you know? It didn’t matter if I didn’t really like the first boy I dated, because he was a big drinker too, so at least I didn’t have to pretend to be fine splitting a (single!) bottle of wine over Tuesday night dinner, we could both “hold our drink”, and so we did! Numerous drinks. Why bother getting on top of my marking when I could go out with some students and make them think of me as a fun friend instead of respect me as a teacher?! What do I like about the culture in Paris, or in Lyon? Well, I like the cheese, I like the bread, and I really like the wine and cigarettes and the fact that nobody judges you (openly) for indulging in them.
I gave up alcohol for Lent, once. When I realised that mocktails weren’t included in the 2 for 1 happy hour that alcoholic cocktails benefited from, my inner cheapskate took over (encouraged by the Booze Bitch), I switched the Virgin Mojitos for slutty ones, and never looked back. Any other attempts to quit boozing or smoking fizzled out after a few days (tops) – life’s too short, non? Life is for LIVING! Living like I did with my weekends, when I didn’t leave my house, alternating between the bed and the sofa and the bathroom. Living like I did when I had to cancel class after class due to “anxiety and IBS” (turns out? over 90% hangovers). Living like I did when people asked me what I liked to do besides going out and drinking – there was certainly no dying inside at those moments, oh no.
And then in October 2019, I decided to cut out alcohol for a month, to give my fledgling coaching practice some of the famous alcohol-free firepower it needed. I ended up turning the sober-powers I acquired in on my own personal life, with benefit after benefit showing through. More energy, better sleep, more at peace, much lower anxiety, truer laughs, increased focus and concentration. Meeting likeminded people, fighting through the dull days together and celebrating each other’s wins, encouraging each other through losses and stumbles. I kept on extending my “challenge” because the challenge, and the group of people I was fighting alongside every day, kept on opening new doors to possibility and potential for me. Bright eyed and bushy tailed in more ways than one, able to deal with heartache and hardships because I’m sober, not despite it. Surviving a form of long-COVID, thanks to ditching a nearly 20-year addiction to nicotine which in itself was possible thanks to having thrown out the booze. All that to say? It is WORTH IT. It’s worth every single minute, every single doubt, every single moment spent fighting the Booze Bitch, every single fucking comment along the lines of “let me know when you’re drinking again, we’ll go out and celebrate then!” – because I’m drinking NOW, I’m just not drinking booze! And yet.
And yet. And yet. I know how hard it can be. I’m lucky that I found my group at the right time for me, and that I was able to find my voice and my tribe within that tribe. I’m lucky I’d already trained as a coach, that I can understand the interactions between people, the links between addiction and “coping mechanisms”, the beliefs that can stop us from really, truly letting ourselves go full throttle. I’ve been through therapy, and I’m having some more now – not in an admission of defeat, but in a celebration of reaching a point where I need some outside help in order to grow more and go further. And this brings me to sober coaching (finally, I know). It is not an admission of defeat. If you work with a sober coach, it is not because you are a raging alcoholic or about to become one (and if you are and you want to work with me or any other ethical sober coach, there will almost always be limitations as to what help a sober coach can offer, and we would always recommend you be followed by a medical practitioner before making any big changes to your alcohol consumption) – it is because you recognise that you need some outside help in order to grow more and go further.
What can a sober coach help you achieve?
My coaching experience is based in Transactional Analysis and Neurolinguistic Programming, with an emphasis on gentle strength (being gentle in how you look at and talk to/about yourself is in itself a sign of strength), of knowing intimately where you want to be, and working out the regular achievable steps to get you there. Other coaches may help you get the abs and the perky boobs you’re looking for – my style is more to help get the head and the heart in alignment, as well as getting the feet into those walking shoes. I aim to be militantly inclusive of all bodies and the humans who inhabit them, be that according to size, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, differing abilities or other.
I offer sober coaching online and on the phone, to individuals and small groups (next group adventure starts in November 2020), and continue to offer some subsidised places in my practice for those who want to do the work but can’t afford the full prices at the moment. If you’re looking to change your relationship with alcohol or other substances which are holding you back from living the life you want to lead, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Whether you’re on Day -1, Day 0 or Day 100+, if you’re ready to do the work and want someone by your side cheering you on, celebrating every success and working through each stumble, you can do this. Let’s start this adventure!