Category Archives: Interviews

A conversation with Jean: Interview on The Bubble Hour

So I have been a long time fan and follower of both Jean at Unpickled and The Bubble Hour.

For those who  haven’t yet discovered the wonderful resource that this is here is how they describe it:

The Bubble Hour is co-hosted by Ellie S., Amanda F., Catherine M. and Jean M. – sober women who are dedicated to breaking down the walls of stigma and denial surrounding the disease of alcoholism. Alcoholism effects more than 50% of American adults, either directly or indirectly, and yet it still remains a “taboo” topic and is still mostly misunderstood by the majority of people (even those effected by alcoholism and their loved ones). The Bubble Hour seeks to inform, educate and help people identify with the stories they hear, the conversations and interviews with people who are just like they are, and let people know they aren’t alone. Nobody can take the first tentative steps towards sobriety without first getting past denial, but even once they are past denial the stigma surrounding alcoholism is so strong that people are reluctant to seek help. The Bubble Hour would like to change that stigma. Our Co-Hosts, and the vibrant community of sober people they know, will be recording and downloading this show for anyone to listen to for information, community, empathy and understanding. We are so grateful for the sober people who came before them to help them find this path; this is one way they feel they can give back. Please help us spread the word about this website and the pod casts; you may be helping someone you know well but don’t even know they have a problem. Alcoholism thrives in the dark. Together, we bring light. And hope.

They have interviewed and recorded over 200 episodes that you can find on iTunes or BlogTalkRadio.

So how excited was I to be interviewed for their 202 episode!  We had a wonderful conversation and it felt like two old friends catching up.  As I say in the discussion Jean was one of the first sober blogs I discovered in my very early days and I am so grateful to her for leading the way for me 🙂

If you want to hear me talk about my drinking (we lived in France for 6 months not 1 year – nervous brain fart moment!), my recovery and all the things I’ve been up to since I stopped 1214 days ago you can do so here:

Supplementary links to the discussion should you be interested to read further:

The Conscious Parent is written by Dr Shefali Tsabary, Clinical Psychologist.

Attachment theory where I talked about secure and insecure attachment and omitted a very important word in the insecure categories! I should have said insecure anxious-avoidant and insecure anxious-ambivalent.

Alexithymia which I described as emotional constipation!

The groundbreaking work of Dr Dickon Bevington and team: Adolescent Mentalization Based Integrative Therapy (AMBIT)

Thank you so much Jean for hosting me and I hope you enjoy listening in 🙂

Edited to add: 20th January 2017.  I didn’t mention running in my conversation with Jean which I should have done as part of my sober toolbox.  It set me on the road to sobriety when I trained for the London Marathon in 2011 and has been a vital decompression tool ever since.  Which ties in nicely with this clip from T2 Trainspotting which is released next Friday and boy I can’t wait to see this film.

Renton is so right – be addicted to something else ……

Friday Sober Inspiration: Love Warrior On!

love-warriorSo just over a week after I hit 3 years sober I share with you this little nugget of wisdom from Glennon Doyle Melton founder of Momastery who I saw interviewed by Marie Forleo recently.  Instead of sharing a tune tonight I’m going to link their interview for you to enjoy and boy it was a aha-moment fest!

Glennon knows addiction well having been in recovery for 20 years and some of her shared insights during this interview were exceptional.  I won’t spoil your enjoyment of the interview by sharing too much but here are the three that had me hastily reaching for a pen!

I am not what just happened to me, but I might be what I do next.

As you may have noticed ‘doing the next right thing’ was my mantra for year 2 in recovery and I was looking for one for year 3.  I think I just found it! 😉

Plus if you’re drinking, worried about it and reading this then this one is for you too.  It reminds me of that saying that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got’.  Why not do something different?

Shame is not true.  It’s a lie and it tells us that our experience is different than everyone else and we’re bad.

This one gave me goose bumps!  We’re not different and bad *nodding head furiously in agreement as she said the words* That critical shame voice in our head just wants us to think so.  This quote will be linked and added to my most popular blog post about drinking shame.

Writing from a scar and not a wound.

This one was both very personal and rang true because it spoke of how I share things out here in the sober blogging world but that I do so once I have processed the experience first.  That I’m not still caught up in the heat and the emotion of the triggering event as that is a safer approach for both me the writer and you the reader 🙂

So without further ado here’s the interview.  Enjoy!

It’s Different for Girls

benchgirlHave you ever seen this photo accompanying an article about women and drinking?  The ubiquitous #benchgirl photographic image from 2008 gets a mention in this excellent presentation (the back story being that whenever this image appears in the media accompanying a new story about alcohol, researchers take to Twitter with the hashtag benchgirl as it has become so well known!)

This was a webinar entitled ‘It’s different for girls’ presented by Soberistas and featuring Dr Sally Marlow a research scientist from King’s College London.  Dr Marlow is also featured in the excellent documentary film A Royal Hangover.

Within this 50 minute presentation Sally discusses:

  • Perceptions about women and alcohol
  • The truth about women and drinking
  • Differences between men and women when it comes to alcohol – biological, including the telescope effect;  psychological, including the self-medication hypothesis and social.
  • Stigma, shame and barriers to getting help
  • The abstinence violation effect (which I discussed here)

It is an excellent discussion, very informative and I highly recommend 🙂

Please do share your thoughts and comments below!

Veronica Valli & I (16) discuss Step 12

Today Veronica & I discuss the last of the 12 steps – Step 12 which reads: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The final step is discussed particularly how a spiritual awakening as meaning ‘seeing everything differently’.  Something internally shifts Veronica says and you see yourself and the world differently.  What’s not to like about that? 🙂

We are planning on discussing sponsors and sponsorship and the 13th step I’ve heard about once Veronica returns from maternity leave.  Is there anything that you would like us to discuss?  Please feel free to email me at or leave a comment, anonymously or otherwise, of other topics for us to chat through and share.

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

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Veronica Valli & I (15) discuss Step 11

So today Veronica and I discuss Step 11 which reads: Sought through prayer and meditation o improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

How can we apply Step 11 to our lives? What does prayer and meditation mean? These questions and more are answered.

In one word we need to GROW.  That’s it, or put another way, ‘change or die’ as the lovely Carrie Armstrong reminded me recently in this post and who I’ll be meeting today at the press/industry screening of A Royal Hangover!!  A write up post to follow 🙂

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280


Veronica Valli & I (14) discuss Step 10

Step 10 reads:

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong  promptly admitted it.

So this discussion takes a look at what Step 10 means and as a practical step how you can apply it to our life.

This is all about the importance of emotional sobriety.  I assumed when I stopped drinking that once you stopped it was ‘problem solved’ but as I soon realised this was just the start of the process!!  Recovery is about two things – physical sobriety, as in we don’t drink alcohol, and emotional sobriety which is addressing why we drank in the first place.

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

Veronica and I discuss (11) steps 6 & 7

What are character defects? Why do we need to get rid of them? We discuss how character defects such as fear and selfishness block us form becoming the best version of ourselves.

The full list of character defects are: selfishness, self-seeking, dishonesty and fear.  As Veronica says ‘this is the beginning of a shift in our perception’ because these four things are limiting to us and block our growth.

This is all about ‘if you love something let it go’ and being NATO – not attached to the outcome – two things I really struggle with and have to work very hard to manage invariably muttering the serenity prayer under my breathe at the time! 😉

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280


Veronica Valli and I (10) discuss Step 5

Step 5 sounds really scary, what does it entail? We discuss how to approach Step 5.

So Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

As Veronica says: choose wisely and carefully who you do this work with – you want to feel safe.  If you don’t feel safe, trust your instincts and don’t share with them.

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

Edited to add: oops – it always helps if you actually include the Youtube link!  Apologies folks – having a rough week!



Veronica Valli and I (9) discuss Step 4

So this was a marathon conversation between Veronica and I with 3 Skype discussions as there was so much to talk about.  Here we discuss Step 4 which reads: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  I post this with a warning as some of the information (particularly part 2) discussed maybe a trigger for you.  Proceed with caution.

Part 1 of our discussion on what Step 4 means and how by examining our resentments we can become free of alcoholism.

Part 2 is a discussion on resentments and the inventory process helps us become free of them

And then finally part 3 where we have a discussion on what it means to do a fear inventory and sex conduct inventory.

A lot of what this process does is very similar to what I am learning at Cambridge.  Yes truly!  What she describes in part 3 about putting things down on paper and moving from the unconscious to the conscious is us ‘labelling’ them.  Taking the emotional heat out of them by engaging our higher cognitive function as we discussed in the flipping our lid post here.

I appreciate that Veronica covered a great deal of ground and so I’ve written some notes for the key parts of what she said that you can access here: Step 4 with Veronica Valli notes

Just having this discussion with Veronica was hugely cathartic for me and I am now really beginning to understand the power of the 12 steps if done well with a sponsor (and a secret wish that Veronica was my sponsor!)

We’ll be back in a few weeks discussing Step 5.  We do hope that you are enjoying these and finding them useful and please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Veronica Valli is an Addictions Therapist and the author of Why you drink and How to stop:…

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280