Booze-Free Bliss: A Conversation with Sober Girl Society’s Millie Gooch

Photo: Sober Girl Society

With 2020 around the corner, now’s the time to start thinking about New Year’s Eve plans, resolutions, and goals for what’s around the corner.

As I reflect on 2019, one of the major themes is how many amazing people I’ve connected with and gained inspiration from- especially other sober women.

One of those people is Millie Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society. From her cheeky Instagram posts to those adorable enamel pins, Millie inspires other people to embrace their sobriety, one post, event, or booze-free beverage at a time.

I got the opportunity to ask her a few questions, from her own New Year’s Eve plans to how she decided to start Sober Girl Society (and yes, I am a proud member!).

When and why did you decide to put down the booze?

I’ve always had a very all-or-nothing relationship with alcohol. Blackout binge-drinking was my specialty because I never really saw the point in just having a couple. I could happily turn down a glass of wine at dinner but on a night out I’d be buying two triple-vodka Red Bulls and then mixing them into a pint glass.

Towards my mid-twenties I started to suffer with horrific anxiety (intensified by hangovers) and I began to realise that my one woman missions to get completey annihilated were becoming less about the party and more about a deep sense of self-loathing and unhappiness.

When I came out of a 6-year relationship at the start of 2018, my drinking escalated quickly in an attempt to patch up my heartbreak and in Feb 2018 on a particularly nasty hangover, something inside me snapped and I realised I could either continue in self-destruct mode or strap on my big girl pants and rebuild myself. To do this, I knew something had to seriously change and for me, that was my drinking.

I can completely relate to the “all or nothing” drinking. What tools did you use to help you stay sober when you first put down alcohol?

The first thing I did was listen to The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray on Audible and that was the motivational kick up the butt I needed. After that it was podcasts, finding new ways to relax (yoga, dancing, writing) and travelling.

How did you think of SGS?

I think it’s actually something I was trying to find for my own journey and just couldn’t so I decided to create it myself. Sobriety has made me a ‘see a problem, fix it’ kind of gal.

I was 7 months sober when I started SGS so I’d kind of already got past those initial stages and wanted something for the ‘what next’ to keep me motivated, hold me accountable and remind me why I stopped in the first place.

I always say SGS isn’t really about how to get sober because I’m not an expert but it’s more about staying sober and all the wonderful things that can happen when you are.

Millie Gooch

New Year’s Eve is coming up- what are your plans?

I’m actually at a wedding – 2 of the most difficult things in sobriety are weddings and New Year’s Eve – so I’m combining them because I do love a challenge.

How do you recommend other people stay sober on NYE?

Do things you actually like doing with people you actually like and if that means sitting at home alone watching season two of YOU on Netflix then do exactly that. More often than not I drank because I was anxious, unhappy, bored or because I thought it would make whatever I was doing, wherever I was or whoever I was with more fun.

I honestly believe it’s easier to say no to drinking when you’re happy and relaxed in your activity, company and surroundings.

Photo: Sober Girl Society

I’m really interested in these “booze free bars” and pop ups I am seeing in London. What can you tell me about them?

We are very lucky in London at the moment, pubs and bars are really recognising the demand for good alcohol-free drinks and some bars like Redemption (three venues across London) are completely alcohol-free. We also had Sainsbury’s (one of the biggest UK supermarkets) open a pop-up non-alcoholic pub called the Clean Vic (a pun on The Queen Vic from TV Programme Eastenders) in the summer and it was packed!

I’ve got my SGS pin to represent in the US! How can other women get involved?

Come follow us! At the moment we’re expanding our meet-ups across the UK but for those we can’t reach in other countries, we have threads where you can find your sober sisters.

There’s like countless friendships, a 30 strong group of women in Phoenix, meet-ups in Australia and a sober events company founded in Manchester because of those threads.

~

You connect with the Sober Girl Society community on Instagram and shop the goods on Etsy.

Photo: Sober Girl Society

Dream Big, Darling

As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve smudged away old regrets, lost dreams, and looked toward everything the future has to offer.  I’m ready to take on 2018… are you?

It’s easy to dwell on the past, old mistakes, or missed opportunities.  For years I didn’t even realize I was settling for less!  Instead of following my heart, I listened to the opinions of people who weren’t in alignment with me, questioned my abilities, or stayed quiet in fear of being misunderstood.  It took several years, a lot of lessons, and some encouragement to discover I didn’t need to believe in anything but myself. 

I hid my talents and creativity for years because I was afraid of being criticized.  It didn’t even occur to me that I may get positive feedback!  As a child, any recognition wasn’t worth the hurtful things I may have heard (keyword: may).  At seven years old I wrote and illustrated an entire collection of children’s stories called “Suey and Friends.”  Suey was a chipmunk who went on all sorts of adventures with her crew.  Each character had a unique personality, often based on dreams I had or friends of my own.  My mom still has those old pieces of paper somewhere back in Michigan… she believed in me and encouraged me to continue creating.  Although it was just a hobby to me, she always insisted we send them to agents or publishers.  Being the shy and insecure girl I was, I never agreed to it.

It’s been 25 years since my last Suey story, but if there’s one takeaway from this all, it’s that life is too short to hold back.

Today I would rather be criticized than miss an opportunity.

2018 is right around the corner, and I’m ready to take on the next steps of my life- whatever they may be.  2017 was an amazing year to focus on myself, develop a solid foundation, and decide what I truly wanted.  Big dreams no longer scare me, and hard work has become second nature.  The key to hard work is to follow your heart and do something you love.

Since moving on from Suey and friends, there’s a long list of things I have done as a middle finger to the people who hurt or second guessed me.  Although I didn’t do anything deliberately mean, I did my best to succeed, stand out, or surpass any doubts or negativity they threw my way.  I called off my engagement with a controlling engineer and moved to San Francisco, started a style blog in my hometown of people who bullied me, and pursued a marketing career in New York.  Things definitely didn’t go as planned, but that’s okay.  Although I am glad the anger and pain inspired my creativity, I learned one important lesson:

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone but you.

When your intentions are pure, everything falls in place.  My life often fell apart because it wasn’t acting in alignment with my soul: I was simply doing things out of ego.  I no longer hold those old resentments or fear… and I can thank my spiritual practice and support system for giving me the strength to live my life with more love and compassion.

As you reflect on your goals for the future, remember to follow your heart; it will certainly take you a lot further than acting on ego or fear.  When you set your mind to it, you can have anything you want out of this crazy and beautiful life.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

What’s holding you back?

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Today I started my Sunday with coffee, conversation and a dose of Gabby Bernstein. She has been an inspiration to me through her spiritual teachings and explanations of energy, the universe and overall perspective.

Gabby put on a free New Year Breakthrough webinar to start 2017 off on the right foot, but more importantly, to help us make permanent changes to help manifest the amazing year we want to live.

She explained how the only New Year’s Resolution you need is to discover the root of the behavior or bad habit you want to change– and work on changing that behavior or attitude. Without acknowledging the “why” to the bad behavior, it’s impossible to consistently make improvements and change.

Gabby explained the five steps to healing, ultimately resulting in a true change in both your thoughts and behaviors. I took notes of what my own attitudes and behaviors were while she went through the steps:

1- What is the core belief or wound behind the bad habit?

Abandonment and rejection.

2- Look closely at the behavior behind the feeling or habit. What are your bad behaviors?

Since I’m afraid of abandonment and rejection, I find myself pushing people away, quitting activities or jobs, procrastinating, treating my body poorly and judging myself or others. Since I have these fears, I haven’t 1) reached my full potential 2) developed a meaningful romantic relationship or 3) found my niche in the workplace.

3- Become willing to heal.

In order to make changes, you first have to want it and be willing. If I consider asking for guidance, I’m taking a crucial step in radical self-forgiveness, healing and change. Letting go of ego, a defense mechanism for fear, is a huge part of my path to recovery- I have to let the negative thoughts go. I continue to run to avoid failure, which is blocking my path to healing.

4- Tapping method- tap on the struggle or behavior.

Gabby explained the Tapping Method, which is an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Doing a conscious “tapping” on our body will help to focus our energy on our current stress and acknowledge our willingness and capability to change.

More here:

5- Forgive who we were and accept who we are today!

Sure, 2016 was rough- but it’s a brand new year! We must remember that we have to be forgiving of ourselves, know that we did the best we could for the situation that was handed to us, and act differently in the future.

We must remember it is safe to let go of the past and to give it over. If we carry resentments today, we can’t receive the gifts of tomorrow.

“I forgive myself, I accept myself, I release who I used to be. I am new.” -Gabby Bernstein

In case you missed it, you can still check out Gabby’s webinar today at 4PM EST, 10PM EST or get a full replay.