Am I still sober? An update on my journey with sobriety
Your Biggest Vision
Season 3, Ep. 79
I receive a lot of messages on my choice to be sober. In this episode, I want to be vulnerable and transparent about my sobriety journey. I recently had an experience in my journey with sobriety, and it has helped me with my own personal development. Let’s talk about it!
Tune in to hear:
- Why I chose to be sober in the first place
- My experience having my first drink in almost two years
- Why self trust is more important than committing to a label
- How to empower yourself in making your own choices
Go behind-the-scenes of my Leah Gervais Methodology, which has allowed me and my clients to excel to new heights time and time again. These journal prompts will walk you through the exact steps. CLICK HERE to download, and head on over to the Your Biggest Vision website and join our weekly newsletter!
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Hear the Episode
Welcome back to my podcast you guys, thank you those of you that are here for the live recording and today’s episode is personal. It is a little, um, juicy, I guess. I don’t know why I, I guess juicy is not the right word, but it’s, it’s less about business and more about my personal life and how this sort of update, I think, relates to personal development very much and how I think it’s a really important message to share.
So the topic today, and probably what you’re here to listen and hear is whether or not I am still sober as a little bit of background in January of 2021, I completely quit drinking alcohol. I had kind of a moment, a realization where it became very crystal clear to me that it was not serving my life at all. It really wasn’t giving me anything. It was only taking from me and pretty much overnight, I completely lost interest in drinking.
It wasn’t even something that really required a lot of effort from me. It wasn’t something that I felt like I was taking away from myself. It felt quite the opposite of deprivation. It felt like I was adding something to my life, which was sobriety. And for pretty much that moment on, I have just not really thought about it.
Um, now I will say that there’s been some different phases of it. Like in the beginning, it was so magical. The first three weeks when I stopped, I have now since learned, we’re called the pink cloud, which is a term used in the recovery community, where, when someone is initially sober, they sort of have this elated experience or this euphoric experience realizing how much better life is without this substance in it. And I had that sort of unknowingly. I was, it felt so freeing.
I felt so healthy. I felt so excited. I was sleeping so well. I was just excited for this new chapter. It really, really gave me this boost. And so that lasted for a few weeks and then it just kind of became normal, but then pretty quickly after I got pregnant. So I understand that my sobriety experience has been a little bit different than someone who is just completely quitting without really, because, because I got pregnant about two months into it, two or three months into it, and then something came into my life where drinking wasn’t really an option, um, in, in some perspectives that could have made it easier. I don’t really know. I don’t really know what it would’ve been like without getting pregnant.
So I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I do acknowledge that there was sort of this almost convenient, not like pregnancies, a walk in the park, but almost, uh, you know, just forced way for me to stick with my sobriety, which was, that was pregnant after I gave birth.
I’m still breastfeeding to this day. So there’s been a lot of just reasons in my life why alcohol hasn’t made sense, that it’s not really part of it anymore. So I just wanna acknowledge that because if you are curious about sobriety, or if you are, if you have quit drinking and maybe you’re thinking about it a little more than I’m expressing, you know, I said that pretty much.
Once I cut it out, I stopped thinking about it. That’s true. If you aren’t having that experience be gentle with yourself.
There could be a part of my story that was so effortless because it almost just was not an option anymore. I didn’t even have the choice to think about it. Whereas in the beginning it was very much a choice. And so I do recognize that that could have made sobriety easier. Um, but however, at this point, even though I’m still breastfeeding, you can, you can still drink alcohol.
If you’re breastfeeding. I don’t think you can drink heavily. I don’t, haven’t really researched it extensively, but it’s still certainly an option.
It’s still certainly on the table. And still every time I go to restaurants, weddings, parties, travel, whatever my answer, when people ask me about alcohol is I don’t drink. That’s just kind of my auto answer. It’s not something I have to reevaluate. Every time someone offers me alcohol or asks to go get a drink. It’s just a default thing.
Um, I also, my social life hasn’t really, I mean, I have a baby, so it’s not like I’m going out clubbing every weekend. But if I still go out to bars with friends, I still go to bars with my husband. We still order non-alcoholic drinks. That hasn’t all changed that much.
And I have no problem just keeping my kind of social plans related or adjacent to alcohol and then just not drinking. However, I recently had a drink.
So I wanna share that because I’ve just been really transparent about my sobriety journey so far. So I wanna continue with that transparency, but I also wanna share it because I think it has an important message behind it. So I will kinda give you the little story of when I had this drink. It was a few weeks ago.
So I was, I had not had a drop of alcohol in me for about 20 months. Courtney. I see your question. I’ll answer it in just a second. So I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol in about 20 months and, uh, I was in Colorado. And for those of you that know, uh, my story and a little bit about my business origin, you might know that my dad suddenly passed away. Uh, about five years ago, almost no five, almost five years ago. Whew. And, and he, he passed away in the mountains. He passed away skiing.
I grew up in Colorado. He was a big mountain man. He passed away in Colorado. So I always feel very close to him when I’m there. And I always feel very connected to him when I’m there. And there’s a bar in Telluride, Colorado. If you ever go, then he should have this drink, but it’s the bar is called their bar. That’s what it’s called. It’s always so confusing to say.
And at their bar, there’s a drink called the Paul’s pour. Paul was my dad, that drink is named after my dad. He was a big skier. He loved Telluride. And after he passed away, his best friend who gave his eulogy, worked with the manager to have this drink dedicated to him. Now the drink is no longer on the menu, but if you ask the bartender, if they will make it for you, I guess it’s become kind of a cult classic, people either love it or hate it. It’s kind of polarizing.
Anyway, long story short, I was in Telluride. I haven’t even been to Telluride since my dad passed away, even though it was a big part of my childhood growing up. So I had the PPO. That was my drink.
Now, before I did this, I wanted to just kind of check in with myself and make sure that I wouldn’t regret this.
Right. I had kind of given this streak of sobriety so much and what I feel like I was breaking that streak. And what kind of made me feel better about it or safe about doing it was that I felt very clear about the conditions under which I was doing it.
I was one, not with my baby. That was, you know, important to me. I don’t wanna drink around him. Uh, he was with my mom for the night, my husband and I went to Telluride with my husband, which also makes me feel better. And three, uh, it was an honor of my dad. You know, it was very clearly something I was doing specifically and something that I was doing uniquely. And so long story short, I kind of had this stacked, um, logic where I felt confident that I wouldn’t do it again because I would not really be able to replicate these circumstances.
I didn’t know when I’d be without my son again. And I also didn’t know when I would just be with my husband again. And I also didn’t know when I’d be tired again. And I also didn’t know when I’d have the chance to have this strength dedicated to my dad again.
And I just shared those conditions and how that kind of mentally helped me decide to do this because I think a big fear people have when they sort of give into advice is where do I then draw the line? Or am I going to step into a slippery slope? Where if it’s like, okay, well I could do it just this once, but then why can’t I do it just this other once? Or why can’t I do it in other circumstances that replicate this? I think a good example of that is weddings.
It can feel like, well, I’ll drink at a wedding, but then you end up going new, you know, four or five weddings in a year, especially post pandemic where people are having so many wedding stacked on each other.
Well, then you’re drinking a few times a year and then it can feel like, well, if I’m drinking at a celebration, should I drink at other celebrations that aren’t just weddings? Like what about birthday parties? And then before, you know, it, you do kind of find yourself in this dilemma frequently of when is actually my boundary drawn. Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t drink at weddings.
If you want for me a big part of sobriety and choosing that was, I didn’t wanna have the mental exhaustion of re every time a drink was offered to me if I did it or not. And so I felt like, because the conditions under which I had this drink were so specific, it was very easy to say, unless I was in this kind of exact same situation again, which sounds very rare. I, I probably wouldn’t even be tempted. And I would still just say, I’m a non-drinker I don’t drink. I don’t drink at weddings. I don’t drink at birthdays. I don’t, I just don’t drink.
Right. So that was kind of my logic going in now, of course, through all of this, I didn’t know that that would, that I was still taking a risk. I guess you could say you don’t know was something like alcohol, um, what actually will happen. I will say that I never identified with being an alcoholic or being addicted to alcohol. And I do think that those conditions might not work as well. If you’re someone that is at risk of having one drink and reigniting an addiction or dependence, I didn’t feel like I was at risk of that, but I could have been wrong. I very well could have been wrong, right. Because I hadn’t drank in two, in almost two years.
So that was kind of how my brain worked. Uh, I had the drink. It was fine. It was exactly fine. it was I’m glad I had it. I have no regrets about doing it. And I have not had any temptation to drink since then. And I still consider myself a non-drinker having that one drink. And in fact, I split the cocktail with my husband.
So it wasn’t even like I had a whole drink, but I did order a drink. And that was something I had not intended on doing. When I stopped. Even with that, I still consider myself a non-drinker. You might, you might not consider me a non-drinker anymore. You might say I broke my sobriety. You know, I started over at day one, whatever. I don’t care in my mind.
It’s helpful for me to recognize that just one second guys, um, that I not a drinker and, and to classify myself that’s the here is way beyond often.
Why do we feel the need to label ourselves or classify ourselves as something in order to do that thing at all? For example, how often do we feel like we need to be vegetarian in order to eat plant based where really we could just decide to mostly eat plant based. But if we have a craving for meat here and there we eat it, that can be fine. Or how often do we feel like if we need to be someone who exercises, we need to do it daily, otherwise we’re just out of that routine.
And therefore we don’t identify as someone who exercises or same with journaling. And I think that there’s so much advice in the personal development world that so many entrepreneurs and non entrepreneurs are looking forward to improve themselves and to improve their lives. That almost gets swung too far in the other direction where it makes you feel like unless you are religiously doing something or by the book doing something or classifying yourself under a label, you’re not doing it, and you’re failing.
And I think what having this drink showed me and kind of represented is that it’s not my job to label myself. It’s not my job to be attached, to sobriety or being someone who works out versus doesn’t or being plant-based versus isn’t or being a journaler versus isn’t or anything like that. It’s my job to listen to myself.
It’s my job to trust myself that if I feel like my body or my mind wants or needs something in that moment, I will tend to it. And it doesn’t have to mean anything beyond that. If my body wants meat, I can trust that I can eat meat. And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna start eating meat, every single meal, if eating a more plant based diet is important to me. If my body wants exercise, I can trust that I will exercise.
And if I don’t wanna exercise that day, I can trust that it’s not gonna mean that I’m lazy or undisciplined, or going to fall into this spiral of, you know, never exercising again or getting out of shape or something like that. If I want to journal in the mornings, I can trust that my inner guidance or that my intuition will express to me that I need some quiet time with myself, excuse me. Um, and that I can listen to that instead of feeling like I have to either be a journaler versus not.
So I think that this is an opportunity. If this resonates with you to pause and look at where you are looking at cookie cutter, personal development advice, feeling like you have to get up at a certain time, or you have to exercise at a certain in a certain way, or you have to work in a certain way, or you have to be productive in a certain way or your to-do list as alert a certain way.
And I understand that a lot of these pieces of advice around how to do these things come from a good place, but your job is not to copy what other people are doing verbatim so that you get the same results. Exactly your job is to take what’s helpful from what other people are doing, know yourself well enough to apply it to what you’re doing, and then get the results you want.
This is why coaching is so helpful, because if you have a good coach, she will never, she or he will never tell you, you need to do this in a certain way. He or she will tell you, what’s the way you want to do this in. And how can we look at all angles and make the best decision for you? And that’s really what my experience having this drink was it was actually a beautiful moment of so much.
Self-trust where I could say I feel so sure of who I am and what I want and what I feel clear about.
And what’s important to me that I can follow my desire to have this cocktail that was dedicated to my late dad and trust that I won’t really have the desire after. And if I did, I would be strong enough to break that desire just like I did 21 months ago. And I think that that is the breakthrough, the breakthrough isn’t this tattoo on my forehead that says I’ve been sober for 21 months. The breakthrough is I’m in charge. I feel empowered. Alcohol doesn’t have power over me. Other people don’t have power over me.
My fear of bad habits or lack of discipline. Doesn’t have power over me. I am running the show. And I think when you can apply that to all of our choices, to all of the places where we have opportunities, you put yourself back into that position of power, which is what personal development is all about.
It’s about self empowerment. It’s about being the one in charge of your own life. And if you are feeling like you’re never going to find the business success you want, because you don’t have a certain planner or you don’t follow this certain cookie cutter format, you know, you’re gonna exhaust yourself. That’s not the point of it. And it’s also just not true. Right?
Let me answer some questions here. Courtney, do people ask you why you don’t drink? That was a question I got a lot during a point in my life when I don’t drink. Yeah. Um, sure. You know, I think that you not, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I will say that. But typically what happens is if someone doesn’t know I don’t drink and they offer me a drink and I just say, no, thank you. But I don’t drink.
They’ll either say something they’ll kind of be very quickly responsive because they probably don’t wanna sound rude or something like that. So they’ll say something like, oh, how long have you been doing that? Or why is that? Or is that new or something? They’ll just kind of ask like a knee jerk question. And I can just pretty easily say I, you know, I stopped doing it about year and a half ago. I realized it wasn’t adding anything to my life. I had really important goals with my health, with my business.
And you know, now I’m a mom. It just didn’t feel like something that was in my best interest. And I pretty much ended at that.
You know, and that take might be a little bit more aggressive than some people are comfortable with. Because I do know how it can feel to be telling someone that as they’re there holding a glass of wine and you’re basically saying like that added nothing to my life, I had way more important things to do.
So I cut that out and you might be kind of putting them on the spot. I don’t really care, um, to be truthful. I mean, I try not to say it too aggressively or too judgmentally, but it’s my truth. And I expect people to have intentions around their choices.
So if they’re choosing to drink, I expect that they have thought through that that’s a conscious choice that they’re not just doing it out of default. And if they can stand there consciously saying, I’m happy, I’m having this glass of wine. This is adding to my life, all the power to them.
And to that extent, they wouldn’t be triggered by my personal experience of it not adding to my life.
So the only time you’ll really trigger someone, if you share that alcohol just isn’t in your value system is if it’s unconsciously also not in their value system, but either they haven’t had the courage to admit that, or they’ve never thought about that or they’re struggling with that.
And really honestly, that’s not your material. So that’s kind of my stance on it. Um, that’s kind of the position that I take. Yes. Okay. Courtney. Yes. Black and white thinking. There’s always a gray. Yeah. And what if the label is just I’m me? It’s not that I’m sober. It’s not that I’m an exercise person. It’s not that I’m an entrepreneur. It’s not that I’m, I’m just Leah .
And what if that was your label was just I’m myself and I’m so tuned into who I am and what I wanna be that I make decisions trusting that I’ll make the right one.
And to that end, I get to make different decisions. Every day I was talking to my coach Lacey yesterday, who I recommended this book called quit, like a woman to her about a year and a half ago or two years ago.
And she also, and her and I were like, she was having wine at dinner when we were talking about it. And um, so she was, you know, a very casual but frequent drinker to, I, I shouldn’t speak for her. I, I don’t actually know her cadences drinking, but the point of this is she read the book and she also stopped. She hasn’t had a drinks and sent, but we were on the phone yesterday and she was saying how, you know, she went to Napa. She would totally like have a glass of wine. I feel like I could probably get done with that too.
I was just in Paris and I wasn’t, I, I would maybe live. I said, I wasn’t tempted to have a glass of wine at some point, but I did not. Um, didn’t really cross my mind not much, you know? So it gets to be what you wanted to be, I think is, is the point I’m trying to make.
So anyway, I just wanted to update you guys. I wanna be transparent about this journey. I’ve had so many of you reach out to me about sobriety. It really is incredible. How many sobriety, curious there are people there are out there. If that is you, my advice is to stop drinking for a week or two weeks, and then you get to re decide. You don’t need to.
I think the intimidation comes from what does it mean for my life if I never ever drink again. And then you just kind of never stop because it is so hard to wrap your mind around that.
So you can just stop for a week or two and then see how you wanna go from there. That’s what my best friend did. She, she stopped drinking about three or four months after I did. She did a 30 day thing and she still to this day, hasn’t doesn’t drink.
So you could do that. And just being your power to remember, you can always decide again, if you miss drinking, you can go back to it.
If you prefer sobriety, you can stop. Um, it’s up to you. But the worst thing you can do is nothing because you’re afraid of what’s on the other side at any point in life, the worst thing you can do is nothing because you’re afraid of what’s on the other side. So hope you guys enjoyed this episode and I will talk to you soon.
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