In the work that I do, something that comes up a lot as a thing widows want to change in their life is their relationship with alcohol. After the death of a spouse, especially if alcohol was a part of your relationship – and even if it wasn’t – things can get really tricky. So, whatever your drinking concerns are, this episode is for you.
On this episode, I’m interviewing Dr. Sherry Price. Sherry spent years living her life without really loving her life, and she was embarrassed to talk about the role that alcohol was playing in that experience. Sherry finally figured out how to drink the amount that she wanted to drink, and how to change her relationship with alcohol so that she no longer needed it to feel better. And if this sounds familiar, the same is possible for you.
Tune in this week as Sherry and I discuss what holds so many people back from seeking help when they know they’re not happy about how much alcohol they are consuming. You’ll discover why some of the classic approaches to cutting back aren’t as helpful as you might think, and what your options are if you know it’s time to change your relationship with alcohol.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 91, Drinking Less: an Interview with Dr. Sherry Price
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there. welcome to another episode of the podcast. I have talked to a lot of you and I know that sometimes alcohol can be more of a struggle than we want it to be after the death of a spouse.
And so, if that’s you, maybe you’re drinking more than you were before, maybe you just don’t want to drink as much as you’re used to drinking, and maybe you’re feeling a little bit of shame about it, or thinking that the only option is a program where you give up drinking entirely. So, whatever your drinking concerns are, assuming that you want to drink less, then this podcast interview is for you.
So, today, I’m bringing you Dr. Sherry Price. And Sheri knows this struggle firsthand. As someone who drank for a number of years, but in a very functional way, who lived her life but didn’t really love her life, and who was also kind of embarrassed to talk about the role that alcohol was playing in her life, Sherry finally figured out to drink the amount that she wanted to drink, how to change her relationship with alcohol so that she no longer needed it to feel better. She no longer needed it to enjoy her life.
Sherry is a life coach. She’s a podcaster. And she’s also a pharmacist and she’s the creator of a program called the Drink Less Lifestyle. She’s just a dear friend of mine and a wonderful human. So, today, we’re going to talk a little bit about the details of this struggle. And I hope it really helps some of you who are struggling and really maybe even suffering in silence and feeling alone.
So, with that, let’s jump into it. I’m happy to introduce to you Dr. Sherry Price. Here we go.
Krista: Alright, so I am so excited, Dr. Sherry Price, to have you on the podcast. So, welcome, welcome, welcome.
Sherry: Thank you, Krista, it’s super-exciting for me to be here and be with your audience.
Krista: Yeah, it feels really timely for me. And we’ll get into all of it, but it feels really timely because I’ve had so many discussions, both with clients lately and also with women who are considering becoming clients about alcohol and struggles with that. And so, it’s just perfect timing to have you come and talk. So, why don’t you just go ahead and introduce yourself? Tell my listeners who you are and what you do, all of that.
Sherry: Absolutely. So, my name is Sherry Price and I practiced as a pharmacist for 20-plus years. And in the last decade of that, I increased my drinking, so much so that I call myself an ex-over-drinker. And how I stumbled into life coaching was because I was looking for a way to cutback, not become so reliant on it for emotional support, which is what I was using it for tremendously. Because I didn’t want to be someone who drank that much.
My quantity and my effects of it, in my life, it didn’t feel like I was severe. It didn’t feel like – I didn’t want to abstain forever. I didn’t feel like I hit a rock bottom. My life was perfect on paper; super-successful, great marriage, children, just all the things. So, I felt like, what are my options?
And that’s when I discovered life coaching and realized that when you work with your mind, your behaviors changed. Because I just felt I had this habit, this overdrinking habit that I would do every night to take the edge off, to unwind, to relax, to enjoy cooking more, to enjoy my family maybe more because everything felt so stressful, so tense, and it’s just a way I managed my emotions. And I didn’t realize that.
So, discovering this and seeing the benefit it had in my life, and honestly, the ripple effect when I cut back my drinking and how much more I now enjoy my life, which I didn’t think was possible then. I thought it would be more miserable if I cut back. That I decided to switch from being a pharmacist to being a life coach that helps women change their relationship with alcohol. And I love it.
Krista: I love it. I love it. So, how long would you say that it took you to change your relationship with alcohol?
Sherry: Yeah, that’s a hard question for me to answer and I’ll tell you why. I did it in a way that was in stages. And for my brain, I had so much fear that if you took my alcohol away, I would not like my life, even though on paper I had everything that society said, you know, “You should be happy.” I should have been happy. I felt like I should have been happy. But I was so dependent on it with my mind psychologically that I felt, if I just cut it all out, I didn’t want to be that woman, I didn’t want to live that lifestyle. I didn’t want to be there.
So, for me, it was in stages. So, I’d say I got to the place I’m at now, which I call it “take it or leave it space” with it, it doesn’t have much importance to me, much meaning in my life. I’m not emotionally attached to it like I used to be. I’d say a good eight months.
Krista: Yeah okay. I love that take it or leave it. Because I know we’ve talked about in the past, sometimes there’s this idea that you either can drink or you have to give it up. And that’s not the only option. Can you talk a little bit about how you see that?
Sherry: Absolutely. And I know we know our mind controls so much. But to me, I have to – I don’t know, my mind is so into the science. Things have to be proven somewhere on a piece of paper and in a medical journal for me to get onboard with it. I know, when I first approached this work, I had some resistance to it because I felt it was a little woo. I felt, where’s the science to back it up? All of that.
But when I started doing the research and I look at what the CDC says and they say that 90% of people who drink excessively are not considered to be an alcoholic and they don’t use that term anymore. They use severe alcohol use disorder. So, I’m like, “Wait, there is something to this.” So, I call it grey area drinking because you’re not quite at the level where you could take it or leave it, but you’re not quite at the level where you’re dependent on it and it’s the first thing you need when you get out of bed or you’re calling off work or destroying your life.
So, 90% of people who overdrink are in this category I just call grey area drinking. And so, when I saw that, that hit me on a whole other level going, “Wow, I’m not alone. Maybe other successful people feel this way too and are doing this. We’re just not talking about it. We just don’t have the avenue to talk about it.”
And I also saw that the National Institute of Abuse and Alcoholism, that they talk about there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach and it doesn’t have to be abstinence for everybody. And then I was like, “Okay, there is science here.” There is a lot that I didn’t about because my training, what I’ve learned in pharmacy school and beyond was AA and rehab and basically everything focused around treatment. I didn’t see anything about prevention. And when you’re not severe enough – and I didn’t feel I was – I didn’t feel those treatment options were that necessary at that point. And like I said, I didn’t have the goal of being alcohol-free for decades.
Krista: Yeah, and also, what I’m thinking about is people who I’ve talked to in the past and conversations that I’ve had who because they think their only option is either to drink or not to drink, and they don’t want to not drink ever. They just don’t want it to have power over them. They don’t like the idea that it feels out of control. But nobody’s talking about how that could be an option, that you could just change your relationship with drinking and have a different experience of it and it doesn’t have control over you.
And it seems like – and I really don’t know much about AA. It’s not something I have experience with so I don’t mean to talk out of turn. But the little that I do know seems to me to suggest that there is no middle ground, that it is, “You have a problem and the only way out of it is to just completely remove the substance from your life.” And I can imagine why that might really hold some people back from even wanting to make change.
Sherry: Yeah, and I think that is their philosophy. I as well have never been to a meeting, so I just want to be candid about that. That was my take on it. So, I really never researched that more. I also didn’t like the fact that in the steps, they talk about being powerless. Because I don’t feel – and I’m a woman of faith. I don’t have anything wrong with the faith aspect or higher power. But I know I was given free will. I know I was given the option to make decisions and I make decisions all the time. And I feel the power to choose does lie within me. I don’t feel powerless.
I just wanted to tap into that and have you learn that skill – because what I’ve realized is it is a skill. It is something you need to understand and how to practice and continue practicing. And I think it’s like a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. So, I did want to be in control of it rather than it being in control of me. And I also had so much fear that if you took it completely away from me, that I would resist and actually want to binge more.
Krista: Yeah, and that can be a little scary, the idea it could actually get worse instead of better.
Sherry: Yeah, I felt honestly, for me, it was a habit, it was just a behavior that I’d just become used to doing. It was like when I started dinner, that’s when I poured my first glass. And of course, I just wanted one and it led to the whole bottle, sometimes more. But I felt like it was just this habit. If I can just repattern this habit and learn how to do that, that I would solve it and be free of it. I didn’t want to be counting years, months, days. That still felt like entrapment or chained to it or a reminder that this is who you used to be 20 years ago. I didn’t want any of that. I kind of wanted to be free from it mentally and I didn’t find counting the days and all that being free from it mentally, for me.
Krista: Yeah, absolutely. So, what I kind of see – and I want to get your take on this. And I’m sure there’s more than what I’m about to say out there. But some of the most common conversations that I have with widows about drinking are that most of them didn’t drink the amount of alcohol they are drinking now before their husband died. Most of them are turning to it now more, and often in the evenings because they don’t have any other way or believe that they have any other way to feel better and they don’t want to feel the way that they’re currently feeling, so they turn to alcohol.
And then though, they don’t want to talk about it because they have so much shame and judgment about it. So, they end up doing it in isolation. I think COVID is doing us no favors here. And because they don’t talk about it, because of their judgment about it, then it makes it so difficult to break the pattern. So, can you talk a little bit about how you see shame and judgment holding people back here, perpetuating the pattern, how do we get out of that? What is your perspective there?
Sherry: I think that’s everything right there, Krista, seriously. For me, here I am, this professional. I help people at work dispensing medications. I tell them not to drink with certain medications. And yet, I felt like I can’t even follow that same advice if I was on this medication. You know, it just felt awful.
And here’s the kicker for me. I didn’t feel comfortable telling my doctor because I know things go in your medical record and I was worried that would be permanent. As a pharmacist, I get my license yanked. So, I felt not safe at all to bring this up because it’s going to hurt me professionally. It might hurt me personally if I start talking about it and people are like, you know, I was afraid what people would think of me, afraid of losing my license, my reputation at work. So, I didn’t feel like I had anywhere to go. So, that made the same more, and embarrassment.
And then you start judging yourself, like you said. Like, “Why can’t I get over this? I help other people but I can’t help myself.” And it just is an icky feeling to be there. And when you can’t talk about it and you’re isolated, I totally understand that because it makes it feel like this monster grows. It’s like your skeletons in the closet get bigger and bigger and bigger.
And it was when I was willing to – not always willing. Maybe I should use a different word – forced to or somebody brought it up to me, that pulled it out of me, even though that was so uncomfortable and even though the tears came and even though the shame was there. And you were there, experiencing part of this in the room. I was trembling. My body was just trembling because I was holding it back and holding it in so much that actually, when it came out, it needed to come out. And I didn’t know how to express it in a way that felt even intellectual. I just melted.
Krista: Yeah. And just to kind of bring listeners in on that, because you’re like, “Why was Krista in the room and what’s happening here?” So, Sherry and I met early in our coaching days when we were going through a program together that was a mentoring program for coaches. And so, she had shared with the group that the way that’s he had benefitted from coaching so much had to do with her progress around drinking. But then, when it came time to figure out what she wanted to help others do as a coach, that wasn’t the work she was interested in doing.
And the woman running the program was very insistent upon Sherry needed to help people with alcohol. And that that was help that women needed and no one was ore qualified. And that just brought up a whole lot of your own stuff.
Sherry: So, here I was, in this program with you. And then I’ll highlight some more. But I had been in control of my drinking. But then, when she asked me to share this experience with others, a whole other level of shame came over me. So, you process one level and then I was like, “Whoa, you want me to do what?” So, that was very interesting to go through and going through the layer of that shame. Because you may forgive yourself, but then putting that out for the world to see feels so vulnerable and so, “What are people going to think of me?”
So yes, the shame kept me very much stuck. And isolation does us no good, like you said, with COVID and not having a safe environment to talk this through. But once you start talking it through, once you start looking at why you’re doing it – and it’s scary at first, I will admit. It’s very scary to look at why you’re doing it at first. But just realize that that’s normal.
Of course alcohol makes us feel better, of course we’re going to want to feel better. That’s how humans are designed with our primitive brain. We want to feel better. But we know, if we keep doing it, it doesn’t give us the results we want. It doesn’t give us the life we truly want.
And just looking through that process and working through that with some level of compassion, and if you can’t get there then just acceptance, at least, is one level to get to. And not beating yourself up and just saying, “Yeah, I did this for me, almost a decade. But I know I can change and I want to change and give me the space and the environment and the tools to help me change.” And yes, this is a journey, but I want to love myself along this journey because it would be so much easier than beating myself up.
So even – I never use the terms relapse, I don’t like it. I think it feels negative to me. But if we do overdrink, what can we learn from that? Let’s look at that and let’s keep moving forward. Because it’s a habit. It needs time to rewire in your brain.
Krista: Yeah, can we go back to what you said about acceptance? Because here’s what I’m imagining listeners are thinking. I’m imagining that they’re thinking, “But Sherry, if I accept it, then that’s like saying I give up and I won’t ever change.” Can you speak to that?
Sherry: I see how you can interpret it that way as well. But here’s how I think of acceptance. It’s kind of like that point where you’re like, “I love myself too much to continue to do this. And let me just be honest with myself.” So, I think acceptance is integrity and honesty with yourself because you want to improve. Not acceptance because you’re apathetic and don’t want to move forward and you think, “Fine, this is going to be my life for the next whatever…”
Krista: It’s not resignation.
Sherry: Yes, that’s a great word. I see it more as integrity and honesty with yourself.
Krista: Integrity and honesty with yourself. I like what you said, “I love myself too much.” I kind of think too, if we can go back and look at what not accepting creates in our lives when we tell ourselves we shouldn’t be this way, we should be some other way. And then we shame ourselves, or variations on the theme, then those emotions are actually what keep us perpetuating this behavior that we don’t want. And so, it seems kind of counterintuitive to say, “Well, accept it.” But what it really means in my mind is just stop telling yourself it shouldn’t be that way. Because when you stop arguing with the way that it has been and you stop shaming yourself, then you can start to look at it honestly and with curiosity. And then that’s where you can start to get some leverage over something.
Sherry: And here’s what popped into my head when you said not accepting. Instantly my brain thought of resistance. You’re resisting what is. And if you resist what is, it just persists.
Krista: It persists. You speak my language, Sherry Price. You speak my language. Yeah, I see sometimes too an emotional connection. I don’t know if this was any part of your journey or if you see this happening. But I also see specifically with widows, if there was a bond that the wife shared with her late husband that had something to do with alcohol, so they had cocktail hour or they went out or they were both wine drinkers, or whatever it was, that also can sometimes intensify. But then the idea of letting it go then seems to have all of this extra challenge around it. Which is, if I can let that go, even though it’s no longer serving me, even though I don’t like that I’m drinking alone and I don’t like what that turns into. But if I let that go, then I’m letting him go.
Sherry: Yeah, I can see how that line of thinking would perpetuate it.
Krista: A connection.
Sherry: Yeah, and we all have connection to things, people, substances, right? And there is an emotional connection. I know a lot of women that I work with – and I used to call it my friend, my comforter. You know, it feels like it’s what you need at that point in time and your brain can’t see any other way because it just becomes this pattern.
And so the brain, of course, is like, “I don’t want to think. Life is easy. Let me conserve energy. This is what I do.” But once you can start getting some space in your way of thinking about it and your relationship with the alcohol, when you cut back or if you take it away, it doesn’t have to mean anything about how you honor your late husband.
Krista: Totally. Your connection with him is not found in anything or any physical space. Your connection with him is totally found and created by your mind and the way you choose to think about him. And no one can take that from you. Nobody can take that from us because we own it. We created it. And it really isn’t about a particular behavior, or the house that we live in or the city that we live in or any of those things, or his clothes that seem so difficult to part with but yet we want to, because of all of our fear about what that means for our connection to him. I see that happening.
So, I also want to ask you what you think about this concept of dry months. Because I’m seeing it a lot, dry January, and somehow, it’s turned into dry February. And it makes me nervous that it’s being done with resistance and willpower. What do you think about that? Advisable?
Sherry: You know, I share on my podcast and with my listeners too that I did so many dry Januarys and so many sober Octobers.
Krista: Sober October, that’s a new one. Okay.
Sherry: Most people do Octoberfest. I would do sober Octobers. And I really thought that would be the way I would change my relationship with alcohol. Because I assumed, if you take something out of your life, it would automatically change your relationship with it. But I realized, I was just removing the substance but not doing the inner work. So, I was relying on the external to change my internal. And that never happened.
And then I wondered why February 1st and November 1st, I would binge. Wine tasted so good. I would guzzle. And I was like, “Wow, how come I want it so much, even after four weeks of none?” And I thought I was successful. But then I would overdrink. I wouldn’t be able to just have one or two. And that perplexed me until I understood I have to do the inner work.
I had to change the relationship with it in my mind. And like you say, I was just will-powering and white-knuckling and resisting the urge the whole month, crossing days off the calendar. I would actually count down, “Nine days left…”
Krista: Of course. What do we think is going to happen at the end of a countdown? Blastoff…
Sherry: Exactly, only nine more days and then I can drink again. And so, I was perpetuating my desire unknowingly. I didn’t know.
Krista: Yeah, just like adding energy and power to the desire. And then, of course, at the end…
Sherry: And I thought it all came from the alcohol. I thought, if I just didn’t like chardonnay so much, if I didn’t like cosmopolitans so much, if I didn’t like this so much – I always thought it was the drink that had so much power. I didn’t realize it was in the way I was thinking about it and that’s what creates the desire.
Krista: I’m noticing it too, just even more often in terms of popular culture kinds of things. So, I saw this the other day and it was a sign and it said, “Coffee because I need it, wine because I deserve it.” And I think there seems to be this mentality of we deserve.
Sherry: Yes, entitlement, for sure. I mean, people say it’s my reward, it’s my treat at the end of the day. And that, you’ve got to be careful with because it can turn into, I think, a sense of entitlement. Just because I had a long day, or however we talk about our day. None of them are any longer than the others, by the way…
Krista: Newsflash, still only 24 hours.
Sherry: So, you know, giving ourselves that out and that’s also, you’re right, creeping into the way that we think about deserving things and needing things to celebrate just getting through the 10 hours or 12 hours we’ve been awake. And I’m not saying using it for a reward is wrong. I just don’t know if that’s how we want to reward ourselves every time.
Krista: Yeah, exactly. I still catch myself having that thought about food sometimes, particular foods. And I think it’s just because there’s this history of celebrating with food and rewarding with food. But it seems like it’s just such false logic because on the other side of consuming whatever it is, I’d said I deserved is typically my own misery. And then it’s just like, why do we tell ourselves we deserve something that isn’t really what we want?
Sherry: Right, it’s just actually escaping and numbing, or wanting maybe the buzz. But if our life was good before we started having it, wouldn’t it not be so enticing to have the buzz, as enticing? And I think the buzz is really saying, I want to not feel in this moment, or escape this moment, or just be somewhere – I know for a lot of my women, they want to just feel not responsible. Especially if they’re raising kids and they feel in overwhelm now, especially with COVID. Kids are home, or just their life has changed.
Krista: Yeah, that is exactly what most widowed moms are going through, is that they have no respite from the demands of being that solo parent that they didn’t really ask to be. And I never had really thought about it in terms of wanting to get away from responsibility. But I totally can see that.
Sherry: Yeah, or just shutting their mind off. Like, “I don’t want to think about the school, the housework, the job, the bills, you know. So just that…”
Krista: “When I think about it, I feel anxious and I don’t want to feel anxious. Or I think about it and feel overwhelmed and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. So, if I can just shut the thoughts and feelings down and give myself an escape, then that is better. But really, not necessarily.
Sherry: Yeah, because then it takes us away from who we truly want to be out in the world. And we feel less capable…
Krista: You mentioned earlier – I wanted to hear more about that. You said you didn’t really want to stop drinking, or even cut down your drinking because you didn’t think you’d like who you were or like your life.
Sherry: It was partly because I had the entitlement, like I deserve this. I’m running my successful company. I’ve got all the accolades. It was partly too social status for me. All my friends do it. It’s a measure of success. It could be looked at – I also gave it meaning that I was sexy on date night when I ordered a glass of wine, or I felt that way.
So, I had a lot of meaning that I put to alcohol that I didn’t realize that I was doing that. I thought it inherently came with the wine glass. Like you just look more sexy if you hold one, or you just become more fun, or my guard is let down and I become more chatty. Like, I just had all these ideas about the woman I became when I had some alcohol. And I liked that woman. It’s not like I wanted to let her go. I just didn’t know how to get to be that woman if I didn’t have the alcohol.
So, that’s what I needed to work on in order to understand how I can get there and feel like that woman, less inhibited, less brain chatter, all of that, feeling better about myself, doing the inner work rather than allowing the external wine to take me there. And I didn’t think that was possible.
Krista: Did you know it was possible before you started coaching? Or was that only something you figured out later?
Sherry: No, it was only through coaching because I believed everything I heard. It’s liquid courage. It loosens you up. I mean, I believed all the things that we hear in the marketing or we see with others, or this is how you bond with others. If you go out on a girls’ night, then four of us are drinking and I’m not drinking, I was afraid of making them feel bad about their drinking if I wasn’t drinking, or them asking me about my drinking. I just felt so awkward about it.
You know why? Because for 10 years, I had practiced being a drinker. So now, you’re going to put me in an environment where I’m not drinking. I’m like, who am I?
Krista: Yeah, and of course that’s going to be foreign. Did you ever tell yourself that you should be able to handle it?
Sherry: Of course. I had all the shoulds. I should know better. I’m a healthcare practitioner. I know this could get worse. I know I could become an alcoholic. But those shoulds made me feel lousy and made me keep drinking because that’s the only way I got the reprieve.
Krista: Yeah, I think, “I should be able to handle it,” is such an interesting one in my mind because it’s like saying, “Here’s this substance that your body wasn’t actually designed to consume, but you should be able to consume a certain amount of it. And your inability to consume a certain amount of it somehow means there’s somehow means there’s something wrong with you. And I find that fascinating.
Sherry: It is fascinating. But you know what your brain looks for? Evidence that other people can do it, even though we don’t really know their story and if they are able to handle it and if they like their own – we just have a lot of assumptions about what other people experience, what they’re thinking.
But my brain would say, “Well, she can handle it. Why can’t I? It doesn’t seem to be a problem in her life. Who do I think it’s a problem in mine?” So, I got in that compare mentality, which never helped me get underneath what’s appropriate and what felt right and good for me.
Krista: Meanwhile, then other people are probably very likely having those same thoughts about you because you weren’t sharing your struggle, and so they probably perceive that all was merry and well in the world of Sherry and did the compare and despair to themselves.
Sherry: Right, and I say this all the time. Alcohol, to me, was so glamorized and then demonized. Like, I just felt there’s no middle ground. We talk about you can either control it or you can’t. And if you can control it, then you’re posting on social media, “Look at us having fun and look at all our cocktails and look at how much fun we’re having.” So, you get this messaging that you’re having fun because the alcohol is there, or look at how much fun they’re having. And then, when you don’t feel like you can control it, you feel like now you’re stigmatized, and, “Oh, you’re one of those.”
Krista: Yeah, so there’s no examples of alcohol is neutral and you can choose your relationship with it and it doesn’t have to be good or bad or right or wrong or all or nothing.
Sherry: Right, and that was the area that I wanted to step into because I wanted to be somebody who drank occasionally, was totally in control, was happy to say no with not much desire for the next glass. And I needed to see examples where that was possible because I wasn’t seeing that. And I’m so glad I found my tribe, which helped me see that that is possible.
Krista: Yeah, do you think there’s other missing pieces or root causes that people need to hear about that we haven’t touched on?
Sherry: You know, one that stands out for me, and I’ve kind of alluded to it a little bit is I see the relationship can be at any different level, or any different severity, or anywhere on this spectrum, whatever you want to call this. I don’t even want to call it a disease because I’m not even sure it’s a disease. I’m not sure I’m bought into the concept of it being a disease, personally.
Krista: That’s probably pretty controversial for a lot of people.
Sherry: Yes, it is. But I consider it more lifestyle management and modification, I guess, in my mind, rather than necessarily disease. I mean, if you don’t exercise, do you have disease? You know, it’s indicated that you should exercise, but if you don’t, you’re more likely to get disease. So, I think this is a factor that’s likely to get you some disease, but I’m not sure it’s, whatever, a disease in itself. But I like to think of it as, okay, the train is going along and we know the end station could be where it completely destroys your life, it takes over. And I think you do become probably powerless at that phase, although I’ve not experienced that.
So, I like to really reach people in this 90% grey area drinking and let’s look at ways to prevent it from getting worse. And I think there’s no push, certainly not in the medical system. But there’s no way I see this being talked about in a preventative way that we could cut back over time and find a relationship with this substance that we feel good about. And that could look differently for everybody, as long as it’s not causing harm in your life.
Krista: Yeah, and so you’re giving people the ability to choose what they want their relationship to look like and define it in a way that has them leading a lifestyle that they want
Sherry: Well, at least that they’re not beating themselves up over.
Krista: Yes please.
Sherry: I don’t go to the gym every day. But I’ve let go of that. I don’t need to go every day to make myself feel like I, or qualify myself, as an exerciser. I do it my way that works for my body type that has me feeling refreshed and replenished, that I’m getting the positive benefits, you know, bone mineralization and building up bone and preventing osteoporosis and getting the endorphins going, getting the heart rate up for cardiovascular reasons. There’s so much good knowledge and good reason to exercise. But I don’t should myself to go every day.
Krista: Yeah, because as you said before, and I firmly believe and am with you on, it’s the shoulds. They should be giant red flags. They never help us. They only hold us back.
Sherry: And they prevent us from getting in touch with what we want because we’re just adopting what society tells us we should do, for a lot of the ways we think.
Krista: Which honestly is how we’re socialized as women, in so many ways, of all of the roles that we should play and the ways that we should behave and should make other people happy and put our kids first and all of that.
Sherry: Yeah, all those shoulds, I call it wagging the finger at ourselves. And that never feels good when we wag the finger at ourselves.
Krista: Yeah, is there any shame left for you?
Sherry: I haven’t thought about that one, Krista. I don’t feel – I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through many meltdowns. I don’t feel there’s much left that I am able to uncover in this moment. Not to say there won’t be a moment in the future that there might be some underlying. But I know, like I just went out on Saturday night, had a date night with my sweetheart, my husband. I ordered a cosmo. I had peace around it. I had the drink. I stopped. I felt peace around that. I felt in control. I felt like I’m finally the woman I want to be and I could take it or leave it.
So, when I look back to the experiences now that I have around alcohol, I can have it in my house and not feel pulled to drink it, any of that. I can be around my girlfriends and they drink and I can choose not to. No, I don’t feel there’s shame.
Krista: I love it. So, it can be done, is what you’re saying. So good. And I feel like for me, I kind of – Hugo drank a lot of wine. He’s French-Canadian, and so that’s just part of the culture and very much it was a part of our lives. And I could kind of see, after a couple of nights, after he died, of me drinking more than I wanted to drink thinking, “This could become a pattern. And I don’t want this to be a pattern.” So there for a while, I don’t remember having rules around it, but I know it was something I was a little bit worried about and kind of stopped buying wine.
And then, I got to the place eventually where somehow it just didn’t seem like – I just didn’t feel the call anymore. It’s just okay to have a box of wine around and drink it when I want to and I feel very much like it’s take it or leave it. Which is the space I want to be in too, just like, yeah I like it, but if I don’t have it, it’s not a problem and it doesn’t really define who I am or my life and I know how to handle emotions and I don’t need to cover them up with stings. And I also don’t view them as problems as much anymore, which there was a time when I didn’t know that.
Sherry: Yeah, and this is crazy for me to say, Krista, because if you were to play this recording to me three years ago, to say my life is so much more fun and I love it. Fun on a different level. Not fun where I’m drunk and down and, you know, taking silly pictures. I mean, I’m still silly at times. But now I’m able to appreciate emotions that I was drowning out that bring me joy. Because you know, I love how Brené Brown says, “You can’t just selectively numb.”
We’re numbing the anxiety. We’re numbing the overwhelm. We’re numbing the busyness. We’re numbing feeling inadequate and incapable. I get all that. But when I was drinking and my daughter would kiss me goodnight before bed, I’d get annoyed. I’m like, “Why are you kissing me? I just want to be left alone.” And I remember thinking to myself, “Am I cold-blooded? Why doesn’t that light me up? Why doesn’t it bring me joy like I hear other moms? I should…” here it goes, Krista, “I should enjoy that kiss.”
But I couldn’t because I was already a little inebriated and it was numbing the bad feelings, but it’s numbing the good. And I wasn’t feeling the joy in my life as much as I felt on paper it should be so much more joyful.
Krista: Yeah, I think you’re exactly onto it, which is that if we learn how to feel all of it, it gets so much richer and more meaningful and it’s not just this muted – the highs aren’t muted. The lows aren’t muted. Everything is richer.
Sherry: And I also was worried what my friends would think, because your friendships are precious. But nobody’s ousted me out. Nobody’s made a big deal of it. Nobody seems to care. But I was caring so much in my head and I didn’t realize all the assumptions I was making. So, that feels freeing. And I actually feel closer to these women now because I’ve been through the journey with them.
And when you share something meaningful with somebody, especially in our pain or especially in a place where we’re not feeling good about ourselves, and they don’t turn on us, they support us along the way, man I feel those relationships really became so much richer.
Krista: I love that. Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about or tell people that maybe I didn’t know enough to ask?
Sherry: I just want women to know it’s possible, wherever they’re at. Because I know, when I was there, there were times when I would go to my husband and say, “I don’t want to change the type of drinker I am. I just don’t see how it’s going to be better over there.” And if you’re there, just give yourself some compassion because sometimes life is tough and it’s not always the right time. But also hear that if you’re even contemplating it, if you’re even getting that stirring inside going, “Yeah, I do want to talk about it at least,” hop on a call with somebody, like a friend, Krista, just reach out because sometimes you just need somebody to support you a little but along the way, to show you it’s possible. And then the motivation or the momentum starts to pick up.
Yeah, it’s possible. And what I hope they hear too, just to add onto that, Sherry, is that if you’re feeling shame, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you if you feel shame. Shame is a human emotion too. But don’t let that shame be the reason that you don’t ask for the life that you want.
And so, I want to normalize that it’s okay to have shame, but that also it’s not something you have to settle for and it’s not something that has to be there forever. Because it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. But it is totally common to think that there is. So, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way? How do they find you?
Sherry: Well, I have tons of free resources. And if you want to dive into any of that, you can go to my website sherryprice.com. My name is spelled just like the red wine sherry, because my dad was in bartending school when I was born.
Krista: I never thought of that. That’s funny.
Sherry: I know. So, sherryprice.com and you can click on resources. There’s a whole host of things; eBooks, masterclasses, my free Facebook group that’s private to help this journey with other women. It’s only for women. I just don’t want people to feel alone, especially nowadays, connect. People develop accountability partners in my Facebook group. People find people they connect with and I just don’t want you to feel alone and I want you to feel supported and have the tools to come out of this, because it is solvable.
Krista: Yes, thank you so much for being willing to come on my podcast. I really appreciate it.
Sherry: Thank you, Krista. This has been such a joy to spend time with you.
Krista: I know, maybe when COVID goes away I’ll actually get to hang out with you in real life again.
Sherry: That would be so fun.
Krista: Wouldn’t that be nice?
Sherry: That would be so fun.
Krista: Oh goodness, alright. Well, thank you so much, Sherry. Really appreciate it.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about, even after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so you can move forward with confidence.
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