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Pod Squad, there's something we need to ask you to do today that would mean so much to us. And that is take 30 seconds to make sure you're following this show. This weird thing happened with the Apple updates and it's kicked a lot of people out of the pod squad. They've been paused. And so we need you to make sure you're not paused.


I was.


I mean, I was paused out of.


My own pod squad.


So to check to see if this happened to you Apple listeners, listen up. Open your podcast app search. We can do hard things and select the show page. In the top right corner you may see a pause symbol. Tap the pause symbol to resume, please. If you see a download symbol, you can go to the settings and automatically download episodes. And if you see a plus symbol, please tap to follow the show.


So if you do this, the new episodes just come up in your feed. And this is really helpful to you because you never miss an episode. It's also really helpful to us. It actually matters to us when you listen to the pod. It makes a big difference. So thank you so much. Go to we can do hard things show page on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, odyssey, or wherever you listen to podcasts and tap the plus sign in the upper right hand corner or click on follow.


And you know what?


Tell your friends, maybe send them a link to your favorite episode or to the show. We love you. We appreciate you so much.


Thank you, Pod Squad.




Unpause us.


I hit rock bottom. It felt like a brand new start.


Welcome back to we can do hard things. Today we have Laura McCowan. Laura McCowan is the author of the bestselling memoir, we are the Luckiest, the surprising magic of a sober life. And push off from here nine essential truths to get you through life and everything else. She has written for the New York Times and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Atlantic, the Today show, and more. In 2020, she founded the Luckiest Club, a global sobriety support community. Laura lives with her daughter and partner on the north shore of Boston. So I was trying to remember this in the shower this morning. I think the first podcast I ever did was your podcast, right?




Am I correct in that we didn't.


Hit record, shut up.


That we talked for 1 hour at least, and then we finished. And then two days later I got this very upset, apologetic, panic stricken email from you saying how excited you were to have me on and that you didn't really have me on.


It was psych.


There was no record button.


It was Holly and I, and it was the most devastating conversation. She called me. I thought someone like. She's like, I have to tell you something. It didn't hit record. Well, you are so nice, because you made sure someone on your team got in touch with us and said, glennon wants you to know she's not mad, and she will record again.


That is so sweet. So was this pre me?


Babe, this is, like, a long time ago.


This is, like.




I'm like, the technology person, so that makes a lot of sense.


Yeah. Well, no, I recorded.


You did?




They didn't record, babe.


Oh, my God.


You could have just recorded your part.


These were different days. First of all, 2017, right?


It was amazing you guys even had a podcast. I felt like it was so early.


It was. It was 2015 we started, and there were no podcasts. We were, like, the first people talking, first women talking about sobriety. We're like, what are we doing? I don't know. What do you want to talk about? Let's just.




Okay. So, pod squad, this is why you can trust this woman, not with technology, but with your spiritual growth. Okay? Because what you need to know about Laura is I feel like she understands and talks about recovery and sobriety in life in the same way that I've always understood it, which is that recovery is like a spiritual path for everyone, kind of. That it's not just about not drinking. So, for all the pod squatters that are listening right now, I want you to suspend the idea that this next hour is going to be just about drinking or not drinking. I think it's really about a way of life that can help people live with more peace and more truth and more integrity. And Laura, for many reasons, which we're going to explore, came up with nine truths that are like stepping stones, that are ideas about life that if walked and if accepted and if integrated into your life, do bring some peace and power. I'm going to read them right now. Number one, it is not your fault. Number two, it is your responsibility.




Number three, it is unfair that this is your thing.




Number four, this is your thing. Number five, this will never stop being your thing until you face it.




Number six, you can't do it alone.


That's a good one.


Number seven, only you can do it. That one pisses me off. Number eight, I love you. Number nine, I will never stop reminding you of these things. All right, Laura, I believe you because I've read the book probably several times. The reason I can say I believe you is because at first I tried not to believe you. Because I think that we're both skeptical, non joiners of things. Right?




But I think that you're right. So, first of all, can you begin by telling the pod squad this story about the hotel room and Alma and am I saying her name right? Because I've only ever read. Yes, it's Alma, right? Yeah. It's a beautiful name. And how you got to the point where you decided something had to change in your life. Just take us back.


Yes. So, 2013, my brother's wedding in Colorado. Alma and I fly out. She is four. We fly out from Boston. I'm in the wedding as a maid of honor. Alma is the flower girl. And the wheels had really come off for me in my drinking at that point, I was a year after being separated from my husband, so no one was watching me anymore. And it was getting really dangerous. I had got a DUI a couple of months before that, but still very in denial. Very like, this isn't the thing that's wrong, it's that my life has exploded. But I would approach these types of weekends and I would have this fear because I knew how much I needed to drink in order to survive it, kind of. And my anxiety was always so high, but I didn't know what was going to happen. The night of the wedding. I had hired a babysitter for when Alma needed to go to sleep. She's four. She goes to sleep kind of early. So we started drinking at, I don't know, eleven that morning in the bridal party suites. And I remember my mom at like two or three in the afternoon.


Seeing that, I was kind of tipsy and saying, honey, just slow down a little bit. And I couldn't. We get through the wedding, the dinner and all of that, and the reception. I take Alma upstairs to be with the babysitter, and a few hours later, I come back to the hotel room to relieve the babysitter, sent her home. And I barely remember that. I woke up the next morning in someone's hotel room that was not mine, next to someone I did not know. And it was 07:00 in the morning, and my phone is exploding with texts and it's dinging. And that's what woke me up. And I have texts from my mom. Where are you? I have Alma. What are you doing? What has happened? Just the amount of horror. I'm still in this bridesmaid dress. I have no recollection of really leaving.




But I left her. I left her for the entire night and she, by a miracle, made it to my mother. She wandered out of the hotel room in the morning looking for somebody, looking for me, and the hotel staff found her. She made it to my mom somehow, because Alma remembered that she was there for a wedding. And they put together the wedding. Yeah, that was. That was what happened. And that is. It is the worst night of my life, the worst morning of my life. It was the one thing I thought I wouldn't do was put her in danger like that. And it happened, and it was public to my family, my brother, my sister in law, my mom, everybody. And so my back was up against the wall, and my mom, who doesn't get mad at me, she couldn't even talk to me that day. I was so physically ill that I couldn't even speak. I was traumatized. I can feel it in my body right now. It was just like ice cold in my bones all day. And the really crazy thing that I have to mention here is that on the drive home from the wedding that next morning, I'm riding in the back of the car like a child with my mom and my grandma in the front and Alma's with me, and I was just holding onto Alma's body, like, just clutching her the whole way home.


And we're like, going to a restaurant or something, and we sit down to have lunch. And all I can think is, I'm so mortified that this happened, but I'm so mad that I got caught. And that thought that I was more upset about being caught and that I had to actually do something now was terrifying because it was like this thing has you.


Yeah, but you said such an important word. You said when your mom said, slow down. You didn't say I didn't. You said I couldn't. And that is so important for everybody who has this problem. To hear Laura say she couldn't. It's not that she didn't.




And keeping in mind, I mean, Laura's life on the outside, besides the chaos that I'm sure was happening, looked good. Right? You had a good. Had. You were functioning very.


It was scary how much I was functioning. When I look back on pictures and I look like, together, I was a master performer.


Can I just say thank you for sharing that. Every time I read that story from you and hearing it now, it's just so profoundly important that I feel like so many of us in all aspects of our lives, but even those of us who struggle with addiction, it's like you can say all the things up to a point, but that last one. I'm not going to share that. And it perpetuates this idea that a mother's love covers all things, that you can protect yourself from yourself by that love, and it will never cross a threshold, but that's just not real. And I think it keeps people in such shame because they're like, what's wrong with me is I'm a terrible person and a terrible mother because only I could do that. Which just leads you to be drinking more because you've written yourself off. And I just really think that's such a gift to share that.


Thank you.


That'll be really hard.


I started my book that way, my first book, because, and I say this anytime I do an event or teach anything or anywhere where I'm talking to a mother, because you can see their shame is different. It is worse.




And there is a special vitriol that we have for mothers who drink and fall into addiction of any kind, but especially substance use addiction. And I always say, like, I wrote this book for anyone who needs to hear it, but I really wrote it for you because this was the thing that would have killed me, is this shame that I felt. And it's what I hear people echo back all the time. Like, I can forgive myself for all these things, but I cannot forgive what I did as a mother. I just can't. And that's because it's impossible to be a mother anyway.


But hard stop. Hard stop.


Yes. There's no winning, but especially with this. You're not supposed to do it. It's not supposed to happen to mothers. And it wasn't until other women in recovery told me no. Like, addiction is stronger than love, even the mother's love, until it isn't that I was able to slowly let that go.


Well, that's why I trust you, because you tell that story.




By the way, that's like the sign to me of a free person, somebody who actually has chosen recovery over reputation, shame, whatever. That's the mark of freedom to me, is somebody who can say that shit for themselves and for other people.


And isn't it so important to remember that we are all capable of everything?


Oh, my.




Yeah, we are all capable of everything. And even sometimes in my sobriety now, I can find myself getting, like, in my thoughts, judgy about people who I see who are in their active addiction. And I have to remember, oh, no, you are them. They are you. You are capable of everything.




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Follow and listen to fly on the wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade on the odyssey app and everywhere you get your podcasts.


Don't you think it's interesting what you just said about it's impossible to be a mother, but it's also, it's. It's amazing how we have this special vitriol for mothers who drink. But then again, our entire culture tells mothers they should drink. Oh, my God, the mommy drinking complex. Like we mommy sippy cup. We have wardrobes made of that. Mommy should drink, but not that much. It's like everything else for women. It's like wear makeup, but not that much. Talk, speak up, but not that much. Ask for be ambitious, but not that much. What is the right amount? What is the amount that we can all agree is correct of everything for women?


The answer is zero. There is no amount. Yeah. No. That was one of the things that I got so angry about when I got sober was the culture that we were living in, especially all the moms I knew. I mean, that's what we did, and that's what we felt like we deserved. It was a one thing that was ours. I get to have this glass of wine or this bottle of wine, or we get to do this, and all the while we're completely, like, subjugating ourselves because it's a drug that pulls us out of consciousness. But, yeah, it's a wild phenomenon. Yes.


It's the shitty consolation prize for women. Like sister talks about. It's like the idea of religion is the opiate of people. Wine is the opiate of women. When we say this is the one thing we can have, it's because. Why? Because we don't have childcare, because we don't have equality, because we don't have enough power. It's like we can't have power. This is the only thing we get. Which, hey, I get it. I did it for a very long time. But then that numbs us from the rage we should have. That would actually get us the real thing.


Exactly. Or the agency or. Yes, exactly what you said. It's a complete gaslighting. Because it's like, this is great. This is fine. There's nothing wrong with it. Look, it's everywhere. How can it be bad? It's literally everywhere. Yeah, but what we're not going to tell you is that it will kill you. And it's an addictive substance, like one of the most addictive substances. We are so culturally duped about that.


Yeah, because then it's made to be addictive. But then when we get addicted, we have a problem. We are made wrong. We are ashamed for drinking. The thing that you gave me, that you made addictive, that they sold us.


Yeah, well. And it's also, for me, drinking, it got to be later about numbing pain and just coping. But at first, it's just connecting. I thought that's how all adults connected because that's what I saw, and that's what love looks like and fun and intimacy and friendship and bonding. That's what it looks like. And it actually works pretty well because it lowers your inhibitions, and it is a good social lubricant. That's why people use it. It actually works very well. So we yoke all this stuff to alcohol that is, like, intrinsically, it's connected to our most primal need to belong and to connect and to be loved. And it works. And you're like, oh, good, I found the thing. I found the magic bullet. And then you can't have it. No, you can't have it. And not only can you not have it, how did that even happen to you? And so you have to figure out how to do all that other stuff again or for the first time.


But I don't think I really put that together until I read your work, that the threat of losing alcohol is actually the threat of not belonging anymore.




I didn't get that. Like, a lot of people's families and friend groups and everything. So it's not just that you're physically addicted to it, you're spiritually addicted to it, because it's attachment. It's belonging.


It's attachment. Yes, it is. Friends. I had no idea how to go on a date, connect with men, have sex, that entire world, and that's a whole other book that I'm writing, was I didn't know how to do that without the help of alcohol. I literally didn't know how to go on a date and not drink. I didn't know how to be. It is very primal. It's not just about the alcohol. If it was, it wouldn't be that big of a deal to let it go.


And I think that your framing of sobriety, of recovery, not as much about being a no, but about being a bigger yes, is so powerful, but it's intractable until you can smell the yes.




Because if all of your relationships, if all of your experiences, if all of your connections are based on this portal of drinking that lets you access them, then the only thing you can see and feel in touch is everything you'll have to say no to.




And so, really, I think that the scales tip when you can actually smell the bigger yes. And you have something to go toward that isn't just away from everything that you know.


It's like a monstera plant. What? It's like a monstera plant. Okay.


I don't know what the hell that is.


Yeah. This is going to be fun.


Chase told me our son is like a botanist. Okay. We have grand plants. At one point, he had 50 plants in his room. And he taught me that the magic of a monstera plant is that it lives in the rainforests. Yeah. And so it will grow through the darkness. All other plants grow towards the light, but a monstera knows how to grow through the darkness because it believes. The fucking plant believes. Although maybe there's another word for believes in science. But it believes that there is light somewhere else. It's going to get there, but it grows through the darkness first because it believes that there's light. Better light, bigger light, eventually.




I didn't know that.


I mean, it's probably not true. We'll have to fact check it.


It's a good story, though. I like that plant a lot. Thank you. Yes. I love how you said you have to be able to smell a whiff of the bigger. Yes. Because to tell someone who's giving up the thing that they think helps them survive and connect and live in all of those things, that there's something good coming is disingenuous, and it's not going to work either. But if you can hold out long enough to thaw out and to start to get your feelings back, which will feel terrible, but there's energy in them and there's truth in them, you have to get rid of the physical addiction, and that takes time. I mean, I wouldn't be sober. I certainly wouldn't be happy and at peace most of the time if I wasn't going towards something. And that's another thing that I got so frustrated with at the beginning, was I looked around and I thought, this is not a promising enterprise. I love AA, and I got sober in AA. But a lot of the conversations that I had there felt very fearful and closed. They weren't expansive. This is all you can hope for, but this is a really good life.


And I don't know if that's just what I heard or what was actually being said, but for me, I had a woman tell me, I have a nice little life, and I thought, I don't want a nice little life. That is not what I want. Because I had all this stuff in me that I couldn't name. I didn't know what it was, but it was in there.


You call it big energy, right?


Big energy.


What is that?


Even as a kid, and definitely as a young adult, I had big energy. I didn't know what to do with it. I felt like I needed to create something. There was so much in me, and it almost felt, and feels sometimes like a kind of mania feeling. There's this overwhelming urge to express. I think that's what it was. But I didn't know how to do that. It wasn't safe to do that in my family, and I found other ways to cope. I played sports, which saved me. I had an eating disorder, which saved me at the time. Then I found alcohol. It was like, oh, that's where I can burn all that energy down with alcohol.




It's not that it went away, but I could temper it. And when I got sober, I could not anymore that it had to find a place to go.


So, Laura, I just want to talk through how it feels so much like this is for everyone, because the name of your first book is, we are the luckiest. And it's true. It's true. I have always felt like I was extremely lucky to have discovered in high school this world of recovery. Our pod squad knows I went to a mental hospital in high school because of just what was sort of the equivalent of a nervous breakdown tied to addiction and food bulimia. But I was exposed at that point to this other way of life where you learned stuff about how to human. I was in high school learning about hieroglyphics, dying inside. And then because I was like, I can't take this anymore. There has to be something better. I went to the mental hospital, which was better, and they taught us a lot of recovery things about how to human.




And then throughout my life, I experienced more and more. I was lucky enough to have so many nervous breakdowns that I ended up experiencing a lot of recovery, the recovery world, which taught me things that other people don't know.




And has resulted in a deep peace and understanding that I feel like a lot of people don't get who can cope better with the world. Right.




So is that what you mean by we are lucky that we had a thing that was so disruptive to culture, that was so unacceptable that we had to deal with it, whereas everybody has a thing, but if your thing is, like, overwork and it's celebrated by culture, or your thing is just, like, rudeness and stoicism and your invulnerability, and you're excused by the culture, you never are forced to address the pain that that behavior is covering. And you never get to experience the world of recovery, which is sort of like a spiritual path.


Yes, 100%. And I wish everybody had the opportunity to be in recovery. I realized pretty quickly, and when I started to say, I am the luckiest, which turned into we are the luckiest, it was because I realized that all the things, I actually always wanted to feel the full range of what I was feeling, to have actual connection with people, to be able to tell the truth. I wanted so desperately to be able to tell the truth about what was going on with me and my life. I wanted it so bad, and I never could. I wanted to be able to write. I wanted more than anything to be a writer and an author. I wanted to be able to actually feel the love I had for my daughter. That was just, like, almost behind all this gauzy stuff, because I was just surviving. I was constantly intoxicated or hungover. And I knew I loved her, but I couldn't feel it. And I also couldn't show up in any responsible way for anybody. I had no dignity. And so the way we are the luckiest, or I am the luckiest, came out was just this really boring.


It was like a weeknight, like a Tuesday night. I was in pretty early sobriety. I had cried because I was always crying. And the wave passed of emotion, and I had survived it, and I didn't drink. And I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude fall over me. I was in the bed with my daughter. She was asleep, her little five year old face. I had clean sheets. There was not going to be any new destruction that night that I would have to explain. I would remember every part of the night. I would probably sleep. I would go to my job the next day. I wasn't hiding anything. All of that hit me. And I just thought, oh, my God, this is what I always wanted. And I, of course, did an Instagram post because that's what I was doing at the time. And I said, I'm luckiest. I was, like, processing real time. If I went back to those posts, I was processing my recovery process in real time there. But I felt that, and I still feel that. I can't say it enough how strongly I believe this, that it's just another invitation. Addiction isn't even that interesting.


It's not unique. We're all addicted. It's just substance. Addiction is really gnarly, and it shows up in these really unacceptable ways, like you said, and the other kinds are easier to hide and sometimes revered. This was my thing. I can't express how much I didn't want it. I mean, I told you the thought that I had after the worst night of my life with Alma where I thought I was just so mad I was caught because I didn't want to give up this thing.




And it was absolutely my invitation to everything that I wanted. And we all get these invitations. They look different for everybody. Could be a divorce, could be death.


It could be something beautiful. For me, nothing. The rock bottoms, it couldn't get bad enough.


Correct. Same.


Like, for some people, it has to be for me, it was a pregnancy test that I thought, why is the universe trusting me with this thing? I had to be invited in a good way. You know what I mean?


Yes, that's a good point.


It can be a beautiful thing.


It can be a beautiful thing, too.


The bigger yes that you're talking about is not something that's necessarily like I sometimes think people. The bigger yes seems so unattainable, especially when you look at yourself and you're like, I'm a fucking mess. Like, how dare I even think that I would be a person that could embrace a bigger yes when I can't even do my daily life right. So I think your bigger yes could be that you super know at the deepest part of you that you're supposed.


To write a book.


It could be that you just want to be at fucking peace and you deserve it. The line that got to me is when you said the simple dignity of waking up without regret.


Can I tell you one thing that is that for me, that I think about every single day? Yes. When we talk about the bigger yes being a big thing for me, I remember being in college and laying in bed, having not gone to sleep from cocaine and drinking and all the things. My life was such a freaking disaster. I didn't even know how to get out of bed and put 1ft in front of the other. And I remember hearing this roommate that I had. She was getting up for class, which I didn't do, and I would hear her putting on lotion on her legs every morning. And for me, that listening to her put lotion on her legs, I couldn't handle it because I thought, what kind of person? Like, I don't know where my car is. I don't have any relief. I burned every bridge of my life. I don't know what I did last night. I don't know. But this girl has such dignity that she has so many things figured out that she is paying attention to the moisturizing of her skin. I'm finding cigarette burns on my. I'm finding, like, I can't even.


And it would just make me want to die listening to her put lotion on. So for me, I think of the big yes every day when I'm putting lotion on my skin.




Every day.


She does it every day. I can't believe how much lotion she puts on her body.


She is all the time.


I never heard this story either. This is.


No, because it feels over lotioners anonymous. Here she comes. It feels like dignity to me.


Yes, I know exactly what you mean. My heart is just. I know exactly what you mean. Because the bigger yes, I talk about this all the time, too, Amanda, because a lot of people think, oh, my God, it has to be a career or a profession or my job. I have to have to have a purpose. And that's not at all what I mean. I actually hate that. It's just being who you are. The absolute honor and dignity of being who you are, who you already are, not who you want to be or who you wish you were. I don't like that. You could be anything you want to be because you can't. We could talk about that forever, but just, you can be who you are. You can find out who that person is. You can be curious about that person. You can figure out how to get to know that person, maybe love that person. There is an infinite well available there. And what happens when you become who you are is your whole life changes because all your relationships change. You can't tolerate the things that you used to tolerate when you were like, I was pretending I was so good at acting and pretending that there were, like, 30 versions of Laura.


Which one did you know? So my relationships weren't real. Most of them. They definitely weren't as deep and connected as I wanted them to be. My job was all wrong, and so it was. Yes, I wanted to be an author, but I was just really paying attention to what was already.


There's. You want to know what my dignity moment is? What happens to me every morning, every single morning when my alarm goes off. This is not a joke. This happens to me every single morning. The feeling of not being hungover every morning. And it's not like I pop out of bed. It's like I have this wave of like, good job.


Yeah, good job. It's an absence of shame. And in that absence, there's just this peace. Yeah.


And I have it also. Sometimes when I go to sleep, I'm like, damn, you are going to be so fine waking up tomorrow morning.


Good job.


I had one yesterday because my major dignity. Big yes moments. Okay. Do you remember when we went to dinner? We actually went out to dinner.


Yeah. We went on a date.


And do you remember how I had on a shirt and a jacket?




When I have two things on, I'm like, I cannot believe that I am the type of person who can put two layers of clothes on. The dignity of that. I used to look at people who layered clothes and would be like, holy shit, you have your shit together so much, I can't even.


I know.




I love that. I feel like I have those moments all over the place. I went and renewed my inspection sticker. That's like phd level dignity. But, yeah, the coffee. Every morning, that first sip of coffee where I'm not hungover, I don't wonder what happened. I'm waking up next to a person that I genuinely adore and that knows exactly who I am and vice versa. My daughter is safe. She thinks I'm boring, and that's amazing. And I get to have that sip of coffee and it's like, I'm good.


I think that's what that woman meant in AA. That's what they mean when they say, I just have a good little life.


Oh, yes.


I actually do relate so much to that because that is what I'm most dignified and proud of in my entire life, is nothing big that happens. It's like, I cannot believe that I am the type of person who is running this little world with these little people in honesty and integrity every day. I cannot believe that.


I know. I get it now. And I talk about that in my book. I hated what I heard when she said, I have a nice little life because I didn't understand. Now I understand completely. And I love my nice little life. The best part about my life is just what is happening right where I'm sitting, what's right in front of my face.




And I think all of this connects. When you are an addiction and you're fucking up everything around you, there is so much pressure that you feel and that you're given to stop torturing everyone that loves you. You can't make their life so torturous. And I think that is true. And also, we missed the big central piece of that is you, too deserve a life that isn't torturous. It isn't just to fix what you're fucking up outside of you. It's like you can live inside of you untortured.




And that is actually the most important part. And if you get that right, out from that flows the non torture of everyone else.


Yes, that's why I had number three. It's unfair that this is your thing. That's why I said that. Not because nobody expects life to actually be fair, but we operate as if it should be. And when it comes to addiction specifically, we are given no allotment of grief. There's no compassion there for us. There's no one that's really looking at us. Unless you have other people in recovery looking at you. Most of your friends or family are looking at you and saying, what the fuck? Please just stop and stop now. Fix it now and go do it somewhere else. And you are causing us pain. And there is no one looking at us and saying, I see your sorrow and I see your pain.




And I'm so happy that this is happening to you. I'm so sorry. And it's not fair, and you don't deserve it. That's the big piece, too. Is like, you don't deserve this because you're bad. You don't deserve to atone forever about your addiction and all the things that came from it because you're bad. You have to take responsibility, because those things happened. We bypass that whole step of I'm just sorry. This just sucks. This sucks for you. And it's not fair. It's good.


That's your quote of the first question is not why the addiction, it's why the pain?


Can we talk about that?




So we're going to explain why we have a thing, and then we're going to come back and we're going to go through the nine things and blow everyone's mind. Okay? We have a thing. Laura, you're so brilliant at explaining this. If everyone's thinking of their thing right now, all pods players are thinking of their thing. Whether it's like drinking or gossip or over shopping, social media control, betrayal or things that. I'm not talking about the thing that happened to you. I'm talking about the thing that you do to avoid thinking about the thing that happened to you. Okay. I'm not talking about the trauma. What we are talking about is a behavior that we are all engaged in. We all have a thing that is self soothing. What did you say, Laura? You said that another word for addiction should be like ritualized.


Ritual. Comfort seeking.


Yes. It's like a comfort seeking that you have ritualized in your life. Okay, so good. Like, I sucked my thumb into, like, 6th grade. I had a blankie that I brought to college with me. I have always been a self soother, so it's easy for me to see that. But everybody has a soothing mechanism. The soothing mechanism can become maladaptive and turn into addiction. Right. Why do we have a thing, Laura? And why do we need to address the thing? Because it's like recovery is ripping off the band aid under which a festering boil is, right? Okay. Why do they need to address their thing?


We have a thing because we are animals. One of our most primal needs is to be connected and to be attached to belong, let's just call it attachment, to people that love us. We also need food, shelter, water, all of those things, too. And if you are not getting those things, you are going to adapt somehow, right? If you're not getting fed as a child, you might steal from your neighbors or you might steal the kids food at lunch. Not because you're a terrible little shit of a kid, but because you're hungry. And it's actually very intelligent to do that for me. I have a very angry father, unpredictable dad. And it was not safe for me to just feel how I felt and to express that. So I started pretending very early that everything was fine because I figured out that's the way to get my needs met. I will survive this environment. And you're not thinking that it's totally subconscious. That's what I want people to know. This isn't a choice. It's never a choice because it starts so young. You don't start drinking young, but you start to find ways to survive your environment, to adapt, to figure out how to keep those attachments and to not lose what you have.


Sometimes it's about basic needs. Sometimes it's about status. I want to be seen in a certain way. So I'm going to do certain things to my body. And I'm going to try to look as good as I can. So, I mean, that was it for me. If I want the love that I want from a man, which was like the holy grail, as far as I understood, I have to be a certain way. So you create all of these mechanisms to do that, and they're almost always subconscious. Some of them are adaptive, and they don't cause that much pain down the line. Many of them are adaptive, and then they become maladaptive, like lying. I have had just as much of a thing with dishonesty as I did with drinking.


Yes, me too.


And you view them as distinct?


I would say so.


I had to learn how to tell the truth. They're related. I had to get sober before I could do that. But they are different things. And that, I would venture to say, is a lot of people's thing, and not because they're bad people, but we don't really like to see the truth here. Most people don't want to hear it. So back to your question. Why do we have a thing? We have a thing because we adapt and we grow in the ways that work. And when they outlast their use or they become more maladaptive or destructive than useful and take on a life of their own, we have to find a way to let them go. And it's like letting go of air. It's like letting go of something you don't know how to live without. You don't believe that you can. And that's where everything is. Right? Because the boil is underneath. The boil is actually a funny but real example. It's like the alcohol is just like, no, cover it. Just cover the pain. Just cover it. Just more neosporin, more bandaids. Let's wrap that thing with gauze. Let's put a cast on your leg.


Still got gangrene, and it's about to fall off. And you think, you can't live without alcohol until you take that cast off, and you're like, okay, this burns. Or whatever your thing is. Alcohol lying. Whatever it is, this fucking burns. And I want to die. But there's possibility here. It's like pain that actually has a purpose.


Yeah, because the wound is exposed.


Yeah, the wound is exposed, and it can finally get air and it can breathe. There's actual healing possible and available to you when you let go of your thing.


Right. So that is the key here. Pod squatters is like, when you remove the behavior, which is the band aid, there's something underneath it. That is what I have been amazed by in this new recovery of mine with anorexia is like, oh, the food control stuff was self soothing because what I really had to get in touch with is a lot of old shit. The wound beneath was a lot of old childhood family trauma.


Yeah, but you didn't know that all.


You didn't have a clue.


Subconscious, unconscious fear, shame, whatever it is, you can't. Your body, your mind, everything. And he just goes, no, this is what we're doing, and it works enough.




So we're going to keep doing it.


And so I guess this takes us back to, like, I just love. We are the luckiest to take the positive version of, like, I'm an alcoholic, right?




When I think about the symptoms of alcohol abuse, because that, to me, is what it was. I mean, I'm seven years sober, and I am now just starting to get to the under belly of what the symptom of alcohol addiction was for me. What it's been pointing to. I do wonder, because so many of us aren't privileged enough to have the therapy to figure out what these undercover wounds are. And also sometimes those symptoms aren't as what they appear to be maladaptive. So whether it's, like, social media addiction, do you have any ways in which somebody can uncover some of these kind of silent things that they are? Because so many people who are listening right now don't have a drug or alcohol. How do we uncover some of these other maybe, like, silent.


Good question.




How do we know what our thing is if we're not waking up in jail all the time, waking up in.


Hotel rooms with strange men when you're done right, or you're not getting duis. That's a great question. As you were talking, the first thing I thought of is, you just have to be still first for, like, a minute.


So is there any other way? Let's move on to the alternative to that, Laura, because that's the most horrifying. You don't have, like, a Buzfeed quiz? No, that's the only right answer. You make us an app, Laura.


Yeah, there's no apps. It's the most boring thing in the world. You have to be with yourself for a few breaths at first. You have to be with yourself enough to know and to be able to see instead of just the doing that we do. Because we can skate across the top of life, like, forever. Yeah. And most people do because, like Abby said, the consequences aren't that dire or they're actually applauded the workaholism like, oh, I'm a workaholic. No one feels shame when they say that. They're like, it's kind of a badge of honor.


That's a humble brag that I view. Humble brag? Yes.


It's a humble brag. Yes. There are so many things that just never get bad enough. But I have to think, and when I ever get. I get to talk to people. I've never met an individual who didn't know somewhere in there, this little voice was in there saying small, like, almost one word things like, stop. No. Yes, do that. Those whisper. I think of it as, like, your soul voice. Your soul speaks in very simple statements. It doesn't say a whole lot, but it's like, not that, yes, enough. You have to be in your body and still for enough to just hear that. And that costs no money. That's right. Quiet. Like some kind of quiet. I mean, even if it's just you're sitting on a subway and you put headphones in and you put on a meditation, which can just be a YouTube, like, silence for 5 minutes, and you just think, where am I? What am I doing? Is this what I want to be doing? How do I feel? Okay, two basic questions. How do I feel? What do I want? If you could just ask yourself those two questions, really ask yourself and let yourself hear the answer, that would start to change your life, and that would start to wake you up to where you are, where your things are.


Okay, so, pod squad, go do that. If you are brave enough to come back, the next episode is going to be where Laura takes us through the nine truths that will walk us through the next steps after our soul tells us what we want and how we feel.


And also, when you're doing that exercise that Laura just said, you cannot do the thing where you only give yourself reasonable answers or things that you can immediately work out. You don't say, I want to not live in this state, but that's absurd because it would take x, y, and z, and that will never happen.


You listen to the first answer.


Yes, the first answer, regardless of how ridiculous it is, because you're not trying to figure out how to do that thing right now. You're trying to figure out whether the bigger yes even exists in your world.


100% yes. Because what you will think is, oh, no, if I feel that way, if I hear myself say I'm in the wrong marriage, then everything explodes. If I hear myself say that alcohol is a problem, well, then everything. I will never have a relationship again. I'll never have friends again. I know that's too big, but that's the small voice things. It'll point right to it.


Yeah. Okay. Good luck, Pod squad. We love you. You can do hard things. See you next time. If this podcast means something to you, it would mean so much to us if you'd be willing to take 30 seconds to do these three things. First, can you please follow or subscribe to we can do hard things. Following the pod helps you because you'll never miss an episode, and it helps us because you'll never miss an episode. To do this, just go to the we can do hard things show page on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, odyssey, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and then just tap the plus sign in the upper right hand corner or click on follow. This is the most important thing for the pod. While you're there, if you'd be willing to give us a five star rating and review and share an episode you loved with a friend, we would be so grateful. We appreciate you very much. We can do hard things is produced in partnership with Cadence 13 Studios. I give you tish Melton and Brandy Carlisle.


I walked through fire I came out the other side I chased desire I made sure I got what mine.




I continue to believe that I'm the one for me and because I mine I want the mind because we're adventurous and heartbreaks on that a final destination we stopped asking directions some places they never been and to be love we need to be known we'll finally find our way back home and through the joy and pain that our life bring we can do a hard game I rock bottom it felt like a brand new start I'm not the problem sometimes things fall apart and I continue to believe the best people are free and it took some time but I'm finally fine because we're adventurers and heartbreaks on that a final destination we stopped asking directions the places they never been and to be love we need to be known we'll finally find our way back home and through the joy and pain that our lives bring we can do hard venture and heartbreaks on that we might get lost but we're okay stop asking directions the place is they've never been and to be loved we need to be known we'll finally fight our way back home and through the joy and pain that our lives bring we can do hard things yeah we can do hard things yeah we can heart things close.