Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast

Girl Walks Out of A Bar: Recovered Lawyer & Trailblazing Author Lisa Smith

June 09, 2024 Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb Season 2 Episode 85
Girl Walks Out of A Bar: Recovered Lawyer & Trailblazing Author Lisa Smith
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
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Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
Girl Walks Out of A Bar: Recovered Lawyer & Trailblazing Author Lisa Smith
Jun 09, 2024 Season 2 Episode 85
Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb

What drives a successful lawyer to reveal a hidden struggle with addiction? In this compelling episode, we sit down with Lisa Smith, author of the acclaimed memoir "A Girl Walks Out of a Bar," who bravely shares her journey from the high-stakes world of law to battling alcohol and cocaine addiction. The book recounts her descent into and recovery from “high-functioning” alcohol and cocaine addiction in big New York City law firms. Lisa’s story launched her to the forefront of the movement to advance wellbeing in the legal profession. Lisa was named one of the New York Law Journal‘s 2020 “Trailblazers”.

We dive into the intense pressures that law students and professionals face, often leading to substance abuse and mental health issues. Through Lisa’s personal detox experience, we explore the challenges and victories of seeking help and maintaining sobriety amid a culture that often glorifies heavy drinking. Her tale is a testament to the courage of those who resist this culture and who later stand up and raise awareness about it.

As Lisa reflects on her path to self-recovery, we discuss how overcoming addiction has reshaped her life and career. From landing significant roles in high-pressure environments to revealing her personal story through a memoir, Lisa's experience offers hope and practical insights for anyone navigating sobriety. We also touch on the modern resources available for those seeking support, emphasising the importance of self-love and gratitude. Join us for an episode filled with raw honesty, inspiration, and a celebration of personal strength.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LISA SMITH

Lisa's Website

Lisa's Instagram

Lisa and Tawny's Sobriety Card Deck!

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What drives a successful lawyer to reveal a hidden struggle with addiction? In this compelling episode, we sit down with Lisa Smith, author of the acclaimed memoir "A Girl Walks Out of a Bar," who bravely shares her journey from the high-stakes world of law to battling alcohol and cocaine addiction. The book recounts her descent into and recovery from “high-functioning” alcohol and cocaine addiction in big New York City law firms. Lisa’s story launched her to the forefront of the movement to advance wellbeing in the legal profession. Lisa was named one of the New York Law Journal‘s 2020 “Trailblazers”.

We dive into the intense pressures that law students and professionals face, often leading to substance abuse and mental health issues. Through Lisa’s personal detox experience, we explore the challenges and victories of seeking help and maintaining sobriety amid a culture that often glorifies heavy drinking. Her tale is a testament to the courage of those who resist this culture and who later stand up and raise awareness about it.

As Lisa reflects on her path to self-recovery, we discuss how overcoming addiction has reshaped her life and career. From landing significant roles in high-pressure environments to revealing her personal story through a memoir, Lisa's experience offers hope and practical insights for anyone navigating sobriety. We also touch on the modern resources available for those seeking support, emphasising the importance of self-love and gratitude. Join us for an episode filled with raw honesty, inspiration, and a celebration of personal strength.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LISA SMITH

Lisa's Website

Lisa's Instagram

Lisa and Tawny's Sobriety Card Deck!

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Speaker 1:

I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you tuned in. Let's get started. Are you trying to drink less alcohol but need some extra motivation? Maybe you've tried moderation, but you keep waking up disappointed and hungover.

Speaker 2:

Are you curious about sober life? Or maybe you're tried moderation but you keep waking up disappointed and hungover. Are you curious about sober life? Or maybe you're, like us, have been alcohol free for a while and are in it for the long haul. Well, you're in the right place.

Speaker 1:

I'm Meg and I'm Bella, and our Not Drinking Today podcast is an invaluable resource to keep you motivated and on track today and beyond. We are this Naked Mind, certified coaches who live in Sydney and love our alcohol-free life and last but not least, if you enjoy the content of our podcast, please rate, review, subscribe and share it. It really is integral to getting the podcast out to those that might need it. So grab a cuppa and let's get started Today.

Speaker 1:

I am beyond thrilled to be interviewing Lisa Smith. Lisa is the author of A Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir, and this is one of those moments that makes me really excited to be a podcast host. You see, I read this book when I was trying to sort my shit out and, like me, Lisa was a highly functional, successful lawyer that got caught in a desperate cycle involving, well, alcohol binges, cocaine, a whole host of other things that, and ultimately went to rehab then transformed her life. Lisa, your memoir raw, real, vulnerable, wonderfully humorous as well. I just loved it. Welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for that those incredibly kind words about the book, and I'm honored to be with you. It's a thrill really. I'm grateful to have the opportunity.

Speaker 1:

Thank you Now, just for our listeners. Where are you based and what time is it for you right now?

Speaker 3:

I am. Anybody who read the book will know I was based in New York City where I lived for 30 years, but now my husband and I have relocated and we are just north of San Diego in Southern California. So it is 4.30 in the afternoon here.

Speaker 1:

Oh, how gorgeous. Now I believe you got sober 2004,. Book was published 2016. Is that right If I got that?

Speaker 3:

right, lisa, that's right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so one of the first quit lit books out there. Look in the legal world, where reputation's fairly important. What inspired you? What gave you the courage to write it?

Speaker 3:

I felt like you know I was hiding everything, right as.

Speaker 3:

I'm sure you're familiar with Because, like you said, you know, in the legal world something like a problem in a lot of corporates anywhere. There's plenty of settings where it's viewed as having an issue with alcohol or drugs is viewed as being some kind of deficiency or a weakness or maybe like a moral failure. All of that and I had been hiding so long and from my family and friends. And when I finally went to detox, like, and I realized that I didn't have to do this anymore, I didn't have to live like this anymore, after 12 years of a horrible descent that ended the last 18 months with alcohol and cocaine around the clock, to make me quote unquote function. Um, the relief was so huge. But I and I thought about how many nights I sat on my apartment floor crying, trying to, you know, find something, find some book that would help me or find whatever.

Speaker 3:

And when I got sober, I, you know there were very, there were a few women alcohol memoirs by women, but there weren't a lot and there was not one that told our story. You know being where's the person who didn't, you know, end up crashing their career, you know, went to the bottom. Everybody's bottom is their own, but you know there's. There was always food in the fridge, money in the bank, everything from the outside, you know. I mean my friends and family knew I would get blasted and I frequently did it with them. Yeah, but they didn't see what was going on behind closed doors and they wouldn't because everything was going well at work and all these other things. Why would they question anything?

Speaker 3:

Right Everything looked fine and I wasn't saying anything. And so I just knew, um, when I started writing for myself and to explain to them what happened, and then, as it went along, I was like I didn't intend it to be a book. And then I, it went along, I was like I didn't intend it to be a book, and then I kind of got going and was like you know what I know I'm not the only one who sat- and is sitting right now on their apartment floor not knowing what to do.

Speaker 3:

And I just felt like a really strong. That's why I used my own name and didn't fictionalize it or anything like that, because, you know, I was fortunate, I was so lucky in my recovery. I, you know, had all the right conditions and I just I really felt like the next thing to do was to, you know, try and help the next person.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, somebody wrote. One of our listeners wrote an email that I read last night. Actually, our listeners wrote an email that I read last night actually that said that often listening to podcasts, hearing recovery stories, she feels like quite a failure because many of those stories are. I had a problem and I stopped and then life suddenly just got better. And I think what struck me about your memoir is and I think we do you know, we look for the familiar, we're looking for hope, inspiration, and mine involved hospital visits. It involved rehab as well, and lots of destruction in my personal life and all the rest of it. And I just wanted to thank you because you, just you, told it the way it was, the way it was, and I know many listeners out there, particularly the ones that are silent, sort of hiding lots of their behaviours will just go. Ah, okay, someone else has a story like mine.

Speaker 1:

Before we move on to other things, I just the legal world. I just lots, lots of my clients, lots of listeners. They tend to come from that world. It's brutal, isn't it? Particularly litigation, the early starts, the competition, the travel, the conferences you're on around the clock and I think just before you went to detox, you'd actually got a pay rise, you were a promotion, you were successful there for all intents and purposes. But what is it about that world that really creates the perfect environment, the perfect storm for a substance use disorder? Because I think that is the case, that the research shows it's the case.

Speaker 3:

Yes, the research definitely shows that, and I would say too, there is something specific and I think you could find it, and I think the numbers would be similar in finance or in these other kind of places where the environment has always been work hard, play hard, right, that is the most toxic concept, and I remember when I was young, interviewing at law firms when I was still in law school, every single firm led with we work hard, but we play hard, and by play hard it meant we go to the bar and get smashed after, and that's the culture. So, going in, I wish it could say it's gotten much better, but I don't see those signs at all, and what it is is a lot of these issues. For lawyers start in law school. Right, there's a study that says you could take a perfectly well-adjusted college grad or whoever it is, and the minute you enroll them in law school, you have increased their risk of developing a substance use or mental health disorder to such an extent that if law school were a product on a shelf, it would require a warning label. Wow, so you know that's the competition. It's all you know. There's no. You know when you think about in college.

Speaker 3:

You know some of my friends. I was a poli-sci major. My friends were, you know, an English major, a bio major, whatever. We didn't compete against each other. Know an English major, a bio major, whatever. We didn't compete against each other. And then in law school we did yeah, and then it's that same.

Speaker 3:

You know, going into a giant law firm, everybody. You have a bunch of perfectionist type A's who tend to go to law school and they're all trying to be perfect in this whole thing and the way that everybody seemed to blow off steam and also I would say anyway it was was through drinking together. That's how people bonded. And so the fact that I was somebody who loved to go out to the bar after and hang out with you know the people who were doing shots and doing all that stuff I people thought it was fun, right, like, and you want to put on your deals. I was a corporate lawyer. You want to put on your deals, people you want to work with right, and it's awful, but it helped me get better work, yeah, yeah, and that is just a culture thing.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it is. I really hope it's changing. Some of the most bravest women and men that I now know are those ones that can turn up to those. You know those long lunches where you're celebrating and you're worrying the client and just say, yeah, no, don't have time for that right now and they're saying it's their superpower.

Speaker 3:

It is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I hope it's changing. I hope it's changing. Yeah, so your detox experience it was intense and I think I just read it with my jaw agape. How do you look back on that experience now and having to go through it?

Speaker 3:

Oh gosh, I mean, that was why, in fact, I started writing. You know, the day that I decided to ask for help because I thought I was going to die. You know I had to say to my family and friends I've got a problem with alcohol. I didn't even, you know, get into the drugs first, but you know everybody was like what happened? What's going on? You know how did this happen? Why didn't we know? Why didn't you tell us all of this in the same day that I'm getting ready to go in?

Speaker 3:

So I had no sober references. I knew no one. I didn't know where to go, how to ask for help, like what happened. I just knew, like, if I didn't check into a hospital, I knew I was sick enough that I'd have to check into a hospital and have a detox because I was so physically addicted. And in fact, I needed a full five days in the hospital. And while I was there, it was this really because my doctor alone as well, my doctor was the only one I consulted. And the moral of that story is don't ask your gastroenterologist where to go to detox, you know, because I ended up in like one of the very worst.

Speaker 3:

I took the place that had the bed and took my insurance, and the place that had the bed was known in the rehab community as the snake pit, which I had no idea. I just went and when I got out of there, you know everybody was like what happened and the story in the detox was so outrageous that I felt, for some reason, my niece had just been born and I felt like I needed to memorialize it, I like in case maybe she needed to see it sometime, and just to for me to not have to tell the story five times, for me to be able to write something and then be like hey, read this, I don't have to tell the story again. So, yeah, so that's why I mean those. That part was written immediately after I got out of there, which is why you know, even though the book was published 12 years after I got out of there, which is why you know, even though the book was published 12 years after I got sober, like everything you know was, from that moment, those moments.

Speaker 1:

I love how you've written it. I love the humor and in fact you know I like to think of myself as occasionally quite funny, but what I loved was to have that sense of familiarity, that gosh, a funny person that still is vivacious and thriving in life can actually also be an alcohol-free person.

Speaker 3:

They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Speaker 1:

I was like, okay, all right, that was the first inkling yeah, oh, I'm so glad.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, the first inkling. Yeah, oh, I'm so glad yeah.

Speaker 1:

With now the benefit of hindsight. What do you think, looking back, were the underlying reasons that just made falling into that cycle so easy?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think for me it runs in my family. I believe you know it has to do with our brain chemistry and it runs in my family. My mom's dad died from it and I also. You know, what I learned when I got sober was that you know all my life and I write about in the book how I really started with the first substance I abused at like. By age eight, six or eight, I was, you know, hoarding sweets and like, locking the bathroom door and shoveling down a box of yodels or something like that, cause I knew I couldn't. I had to be in the bathroom where it was. The door would lock because I knew if my mother saw me that would be bad and I didn't know why? But I just knew it would.

Speaker 3:

I wasn't supposed to be doing what I was doing, and so that's the shame immediately starts. And you know I but. But food was the first substance I abused and I didn't realize that. You know all the, you know I was a gloomy kid. I was always anxious that these were underlying mental health issues that I first, you know, treated incorrectly with food and then later with alcohol and then drugs, and that really what I had been doing was self-medicating what got diagnosed as major depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder. And so when I was in the hospital, when the psychiatrist there diagnosed me with that and said this is what I believe you have and I believe you've been self-medicating most, you know, practically all your life and we're going to treat it different this time, and to get that medical diagnosis was like, oh my, you mean there's a name for the way my brain works, for why I am this way Like tell me what to do. And he said you know, you're going to go to therapy and you're going to, I'm going to prescribe medication and I take medication. It's not necessarily for everybody, you know, but for me it is.

Speaker 3:

I tried going off it about a year and a half into recovery and that experiment did not work. And he said you can't drink again, you've crossed the line where you can ever drink safely and you're going to need a program of recovery. And in 2004, it was AA or nothing, right, I mean. There weren't alternatives. And so I said tell me what to do and I'll do it.

Speaker 3:

I was just so relieved to have a diagnosis and then, once I started, I refused to go away for rehab. I got detoxed in the hospital for five days and then they wanted me to go away for 30 days and I was like, no, I'm not telling my firm that I'm going away for a month. But I agreed to go to outpatient rehab two nights a week and as soon as I walked in there and started talking with the people there, I was like, oh my God, I found my people. It's not just me, there's other people whose brains work like me. And that was when I knew like I'm, I'm home.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, I felt that way about 12 step also. Yeah, yeah. So I I very much felt at home with people who were seeking long-term recovery, even though that's not what I stepped into it for. You know, I just wanted to not die that day. I didn't know what else it was going to mean, but when I learned what it could mean, you know it was I and I was done. I was done. I was so tired. It's so hard to be wasted all the time or to be trying to keep level all the time and whatever. It is so much harder to do that than to live a sober life.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, a lot of people ask you know well how do you do it, and of course it depends on the degree of seriousness of your alcohol use disorder. But for many people, some quitlets and podcasts are not necessarily going to cut it. You need more. And it certainly sounds like you approached it really seriously. It was like a job, almost this recovery program yeah.

Speaker 1:

What? I guess what were the key elements in those early days that really worked, that might help someone listening in. And when did you kind of go, okay, I've got this, I've got this.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, I think, certainly in the early days, what made it possible for me because I am, like many lawyers, a chronic overthinker and overanalyzer and what I was hearing each day was just don't drink. That's the one thing I have to do today. I don't have to do anything else like that, and I took that very seriously. You know, step one in 12 step is, you know, is admitting powerlessness over alcohol, not over everything else in your life, but admitting powerlessness over alcohol, and that's the only thing I have to do perfectly each day. And I just kept it as simple as possible, possible that I will say even to this day. I had 20 years sober this spring and I have still never said I'm never going to drink again Because there's no reason to. I'm taking a decision today not to drink and yesterday's over Tomorrow will figure itself. It's all. That's why I ended the epilogue of the book with just for today. Yeah, that is all it is.

Speaker 3:

And you know, I got a really I got a very great sponsor early on, but she was like they tell you to look for, you know, somebody who's got what you want. Yeah, and I looked at her and I was like that's what I want things to look like. And she was like okay, I'm going to be really, you know, kind of strong with you because that's how it was for me and that's how I got it. And I, I had the gift of desperation of saying I don't want to go back to what it was. Yeah, so I would. I was definitely very fortunate in that.

Speaker 1:

And what did she have? What did she have at those early days when you looked on that you wanted?

Speaker 3:

She had a peace about her, she had a calmness, but she also had, you know, she was also a professional woman with a big job and so she had that air about it. She had a confidence about her and a calm, and I would hear her say things before I asked her to be my sponsor. You know, I would listen and I would hear her say things and she would just keep things. So, you know, simple and you know, just lived in gratitude. You know she was very much like I'm having a shitty day today, but I'm, I'm here, I'm sober, that's all that matters. You know, and I'm grateful for that and you know things like that. You know, I, I, I saw in her what I would like to be as a sober woman. She sponsored me for 15 years. That's fabulous, that's fabulous.

Speaker 3:

But, you know I had to take a lot of advice. I didn't want to take at the beginning Because she was like you don't have to take my advice. Maybe you want to work with someone else. I was like no.

Speaker 1:

We've had on the podcast fabulous strong women like you, lisa, that have some good, solid years of being sober under their belt. So Veronica Valli, annie Grace, jolene Park, jenly Hurst, and a question that our listeners are often fascinated with is what are the general pillars, or the daily routine, or what's the thing, the secret ingredients, that works for you? That have kept you in this wonderful phase Not phase sobriety, it's all a phase.

Speaker 3:

It's a constant phase. Yeah, the biggest you know, the one day at a time thing has been enormous and just trying to keep it in the day and be grateful each day to be sober.

Speaker 3:

But the biggest thing for me was in 12 steps. Step three is about turning your will and your life over to the care of a higher power, and I you know that for me my higher power is more the universe, like it's not. You know, I don't feel like I turn my. I believe I have free will turn that over. But what I learned in that work around that is that I'm not driving the bus right. It's like I'm not in charge here, like everything.

Speaker 3:

So much of what I drank over was drinking at situations I couldn't change. Drinking at people I couldn't change. Like learning the difference between what's actually doable, what actually could change. You know, if I get some negative feedback on something at work and then I'm like I'm just, you know, I'm pissed, I got to go drink, like yes, it's. You know I don't hold resentments. It's that learning. I can't resent situations, I can't resent people. It's that old thing they say. And my spot. I had to do a lot of work on this. My sponsor was really with me. I don't know how many times she had to say to me every time you have a resentment and you hold it. It's like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die and that's not going to happen. Right, I love it. So like to not. I learned the biggest thing for me is to not try to change what I can't control. For me is to not try to change what I can't control. Oh, I love it.

Speaker 1:

It helps a lot with air travel, I'll say that I bet yeah. What have you learned about yourself?

Speaker 3:

And what do you love about living alcohol-free? What I think, a lot of what I've learned about myself, is that I used to hold myself to this ideal standard. What I thought perfection was what it was from. You know what I felt like I should be and what I had to be, instead of spending time to get to know who I was right and what I did want and I think that was a lot of why I was able to. You know, when I, when I got my book deal, I had been at my law firm. I was in an administrative role. At that time I was. I was the director of business development and I had just gotten. I'd been there 10 years. I went there.

Speaker 3:

When we talk about it being our superpower, I had a. You know, that's why I say high functioning is such a myth. Right, you're functioning until the day you're not when you get a DUI or you miss a filing or whatever, and then also you're functioning at such a lower place than what you'd be capable of. So I got a nice raise and bonus and all that stuff a month before I checked into detox. But 10 months after I got sober, I was able to interview for and take a much bigger job at a different firm and you know, in that time I was there for 10 years. I was sober the whole time. I was there when I got my book deal and I had just been promoted to deputy executive director of the firm and I was on the management committee with the most powerful partners, you know, helping run the firm. And when I got the book deal I was like oh, they knew. I wrote they didn't know what about. And you know, people really didn't know my story, like I didn't know your partners.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, a few a few partners that I was friends with, I confided in, but it was not public knowledge at all, yeah and so. But they knew I wrote because I would go on these writing retreats, all that stuff. So you know, I think because at that time I had to take a decision to say to them you know, I got a book deal and they'd be like, hey, that's so great.

Speaker 3:

We're so excited for you and and I'd be like them walk in their office, shut the door and say now, let me tell you what it's about. And I think if I hadn't gotten to know myself through that time and feel comfortable and confident and proud of who I was by then and what I had done, you know, I wouldn't have been able to do that and I was also able to say look, if they have a horrible reaction, I'm going to have to accept that and figure it out from there. But I'm not going to not do the thing because I'm afraid of somebody else's reaction. Because I'm afraid of somebody else's reaction.

Speaker 1:

Did you feel supported? Did it open up doors for other people to talk? What was it like in?

Speaker 3:

those early days, in those days, yeah, with the book. Wow, as you know, the book is extremely raw. We had partner meetings, partner lunches every other week and, in my role, I would sit at the front of the room with the two chairs in the firm and we'd be telling the other partners about here's how your billing rate's going to change, here's what we're going to be doing on this and that. And I had to have authority and, um, I had to just let go of it all because I knew that those mostly white middle-aged men in there had read my book. So they'd read about my breast reduction. They read about, like bad sex in college. I had to just really be like I've got no X to give Right Like and. And they were supportive, like I really expected them to be sort of like, oh, okay, sort of treat me with kid gloves, and they weren't. They knew me for 10 years by then. They just promoted me. So I was very comfortable with that. And you know, what was amazing was that they didn't just sort of say, oh, good for you that you did that or whatever. They actually were like they.

Speaker 3:

I couldn't get through my story before someone would say like, oh, my law school roommate, my, my cousin, my kid, you know, and they would have questions, like I remember sitting with one of the major partners at the firm and he interrupted me. He was like wait, I have a question. My brother-in-law just got home from rehab and he's coming for Thanksgiving. Is it okay for me to serve wine? Like that's what happens. And I tell those stories a lot when I speak because, yes, it did make people it's not this boogeyman, we think it is, especially not after COVID when everybody talks about all this stuff. So you know I do and people contact me a lot, you know, and even at the firm when I you know it was announced at the firm generally because I had an, an op-ed on this study on lawyers and substance abuse and mental health come out in the Washington Post and the two chairs of the firm circulated that to everyone in the firm and said we're really proud of Lisa and blah blah, blah, blah blah and that set the tone.

Speaker 3:

They set the tone from the top. So you know, I don't know, and you know the chair of the firm said to me I can't say what every partner's reaction is going to be, but I can tell you that from the perspective of the firm, you have 1000%.

Speaker 1:

Yep, yep.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I similarly also have gone back to like the law society and law firms and spoken about alcohol.

Speaker 3:

Yes, it's important right. And you raise your hand like me. This is what it looks like it's not some, you know stereotype, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about it. So what, who cares? Let's just recover. And it's a lovely counterpoint to that anxiety and sheer shame that you feel in those early days in rehab where you think how am I ever going to live in this world? And then suddenly you're out loudly, proudly talking about it. Lisa, you're not a lawyer anymore.

Speaker 3:

No, no Well, I stopped practicing really when my legal practice became inconsistent with my ability to drink, because I was doing just fine Everything was going great, but I was about to have to take on more responsibility and really be on the partner track like that, and I wasn't going to do that. So when I had an opportunity at the firm that I was at first I was in law firms for 30 years but I had the opportunity to jump over to the administrative side and do business development, working with the partners to grow the business, and that's what I kind of stayed in after that. And then I went to this other firm for the last 15 years of my career.

Speaker 1:

And what are you doing now? Yeah, what are you working on now and what's life look like for you?

Speaker 3:

I'm incredibly fortunate to be in California, um, and I also have a podcast with, uh, tawny Lara, who is like a best friend and also 20 years younger than me, totally different background, professional background, totally different way of recovering and all that. But we kind of bonded over rock and roll and so we have this podcast called Recovery Rocks and we talk about our different. Yeah, you should come on if we can order the, you know, if we can figure out timing, because our timing gets tricky because she's in New York and our producers.

Speaker 1:

I'd love to. I'd love to. We should try and figure it out. Oh, it's hilarious, it's edgy, it's cool. You had Jolene Park on, didn't you?

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, I love Jolene. I've known her for years. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's brilliant Listeners. You've got to tap into this amazing podcast. I'm going to put all of this in the show notes. Sorry to interrupt.

Speaker 3:

Lisa, thank you, yeah, thank you. But I do a lot of speaking. I speak regularly at law firms, at law schools, at bar associations, at lawyer conferences, so I do a lot of that. Yeah, at lawyer conferences. So I do that. I do a lot of that, and Tawny and I actually have a really fun project coming out in December. We have a card deck called the sobriety deck, which is basically, yeah, yeah, you can Google it, it's on Barnes and Noble and Amazon and all that. Now, it's not coming out till December, but it's out therees and noble and amazon and all that. Now, it's not coming out till december, but it's out there for what's it?

Speaker 3:

all about. So it was sort of it was tawny's brainchild and I was like it's not gonna work. But, um, you know, you know how there's all these decks out there for like inspiration and gratitude, whatever.

Speaker 3:

All that yeah there's no, there's no sober support deck or like maybe one or two that are different than us. So we kind of we wrote this big pitch to sell it to like it's basically taking the podcast and our vibe from the podcast and making a support deck of cards out of it. So it's. There are five categories of 10 cards each, and so the first 10 are sobriety, toolkit, right. So there's a card on people, places and things. There's a card on find your community, there's all whatever it is. Second card is on, or the second group of 10 is on knowing yourself and like the inner work. The third set is on relationships, like interacting with people in the world and some dating, some work you know in there, just tips and ideas and whatever how we do it and make things easier.

Speaker 3:

The fourth one is showing up because, like I couldn't even take my laundry across the street to the cleaner without drinking before, so I had no idea how to show up in the world.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, hairdressers, you know, right, right.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah. And then the last set of 10 cards are on experiencing joy.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, yeah, I love it. That's our deck.

Speaker 3:

It's really cool, we've got a glossary and resources. Yeah, and they did. I mean it's coming, it's out from, or it'll be out from, penguin Random House and their designers just did like a really cool job. They captured the whole vibe Like we're really excited about it.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I love it. Lisa, just before I ask you know, just sort of a last question, which you know, is what would you say to somebody who is struggling right now? And if you've got any sort of last words that you'd like to share with our listeners, Just a quick question how do you now respond to that question if you're in a big, loud, crowded room, they don't know that you're sober and you know drinks are being offered around you? Is it different now, decades on? How do you respond to that? Yeah it gets easier.

Speaker 3:

It definitely gets easier, but at the same time, it's always there, right? So you're always going to get the question, or you're going to be sitting at a table with a group from work and the waiter is going to go to pour wine in your glass and you're going to be like no thanks for me, yeah, and yeah, I mean what I? What I generally say is I'm just not drinking tonight. Yeah, you know, and that works really well. And you know, it's also the idea of I've seen enough now, like watching how people in a work situation or in other situations just start to degenerate as night goes on and you're drinking, and watching what happens to other people when they drink helps keep me sober in those moments.

Speaker 3:

Right, it's the best advertisement it is. It really is, and I do think more and more people are taking the decision to not um, to not drink, and particularly on a particular night. Like you know, we did a big um, we did a big event for um clients and alumni and everything for the firm's 100th anniversary. We did it at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

Speaker 1:

It was a whole huge thing.

Speaker 3:

And at the door we offered like a signature pomegranate margarita. But we also offered us like a signature non-alcoholic mojito, a virgin mojito, and it was a Tuesday night and the mojitos flew. Because we always, I always think everybody thinks like me about alcohol. Like everybody is like yeah, of course I'm going to be drinking, and why wouldn't you drink and why are you not drinking? But most people it's not on their radar. No, no, you know what I mean. So they're like oh, I kind of like mojitos better, I'll take the mojito. Like they could take it or leave it and they're not.

Speaker 3:

And I've had a client come up to me at that event and say you know, just want to thank you guys for having that option, because I'm getting after this, I'm getting on a train and I'm going home to help my kid with his homework and I really did not want to drink tonight Like. I would have I would have, because I wanted to be at your party and celebrate with you. But thank you for making me not feel like I had a drink alcohol tonight.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's a credit to you being on that organizing Well now I think we're seeing more and more of it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah, I run around screaming about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, workplaces listen, because I know the people I work with. You know it's a large part of workshopping and anxiety about these future networking events and conferences, right, people really stress about. Well, do I need to call the bar? Yes, do I need to work out what's there? What am I going to say? How do I deflect the comments? Yeah, is it?

Speaker 3:

going to impact? Yeah, I get it, and at the same time, you're trying not to drink. Yeah, particularly if it's early days, it's crazy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, you know what I do still, because I know, just like I don't, I'm fine Somebody's drinking at dinner. My husband is a normie, he has you know whatever Um, and. But I know for me, if I'm going to be at a party, if I'm going to be at an event like that, I always go. I always eat something real before I go, because when I get the worst cranky whatever's when I'm hungry, right, and a lot of times like that was the best trick that helped me early on when I realized it doesn't matter that you're going to this fancy closing dinner tonight, don't go there hungry, eat something real.

Speaker 3:

And you'll eat less when you're there, but you're not going to have that. You know I used to drink more. I would tend to stop drinking as much when I was full, so like I just would head it off. That's a great tip. And I totally went for desserts. All about the desserts, the sugar.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I never gave that up.

Speaker 1:

No, no, and look, you've got to keep some things there to enjoy. Lisa, what would you say to somebody who is just in the throes of a cycle and needs to pull out? And is there anything you'd love for our listeners to hear as just some parting words?

Speaker 3:

Sure, sure, I mean, I think if you're really struggling and you want to do it but you're afraid to let it go, it's whatever. It's a challenge, I think you know. Just try it for a week. Just do a week. See how that works. Go to one event and decide I'm not going to drink at this event. See how it feels Like there is this idea because we look at it as like this, like looming iceberg, right Like I'm going to have to get my arms around this whole thing.

Speaker 3:

It's like, no, you don't, let's you know, try a week, see how you feel you drink, that's fine, start up the next day, it doesn't matter. Like these ideas of I have to tackle, especially for for women who are perfectionists, and all of that, like I'm going to go tackle sobriety full on, no, no, no, just maybe skip a drink tonight, See how you do.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, wear it loosely, be kind to yourself, be gentle, you know. Yeah, so I that's what I would say to them and to everybody, like in general, what my parting words would be, um would be really, you know it's, it does get better and but and everybody, you know there's no one way to do it right and there's no one, there's no one sort of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you're you're looking for. You know what you do get.

Speaker 3:

One of the biggest things for me was cleaning up my side of the street. Like I used to do shitty things and I used to be not a good friend and not a good kid and all that stuff. And now I get to. You know it's worth it to hang in for the self. Like my self-respect was gone. It comes back. You know I could. I used to look in the mirror in the morning, when, when I was in the worst of it, and just say I hate you. And then, little by little, each day, I would look in the mirror and be like, hey, you didn't drink last night. Wow, you know, be kind to yourself.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, lisa, just thanks for being one of the very first writers of the Quit Memoir listeners. You've got to go grab this or listen to it on Audible or both. Thank you.

Speaker 3:

Your story resonates and we need more people like you, just really revealing that, all of it, and and showing how you know how you can progress and stay alcohol free you know, you can live in this world happily you, because I mean every time something like this happens where I'm like I I'm gonna to be talking to a podcaster in Australia to recover it.

Speaker 3:

And I think back to who I was in 2004, where it was like go to AA or nothing, like there's this whole, the gratitude I feel for what you're doing. People like you doing these podcasts and having these conversations they're so important. People like you doing these podcasts and having these conversations, they're so important and really breaking that because there's nothing to be ashamed of. You know that it is just. It actually becomes your superpower.

Speaker 1:

Agreed, oh, thank you, thank you, and we're going to put all of your details, including this card deck, in the show notes links to all of this. But if people want to learn more about you immediately, where's just the first point they should jump to?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I have a website, lisasmithadvisorycom, and I'm mostly off social media. That has helped me tremendously.

Speaker 1:

Ah, yes.

Speaker 3:

But I'm on Instagram and I'm at Girl Walks Out.

Speaker 1:

Wonderful Lisa Smith. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much, it's really been an honour.

Speaker 1:

If you don't already know, in addition to our podcasting work, we are each sobriety coaches with our own separate businesses helping people to drink less.

Speaker 2:

If you or a loved one want to take a break from alcohol, we invite you to have a look at our individual websites.

Speaker 1:

Meg's is glassfulfilledcomau and Bella's is isabellafergusoncomau, so take the next step that feels right for you.

Exploring Sobriety and Success in Law
Challenges of Law School and Recovery
Recovery Journey Through Sobriety
Navigating Sobriety
Overcoming Addiction and Finding Gratitude