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Hannah: Welcome to Happily Ever After the podcast where we talk about life's big stories from break-ups and breakdowns to icky secrets and happy endings. It's the stuff that makes us human. I'm your host, Hannah Harvey. I'm a writer and a parenting blogger at Mums Days dot com. That's M.U.M.S.D.A.Y.S dot com. I'd be really grateful if you could subscribe and leave a review because it basically means more people can find the podcast. And I also really love hearing from you, so please do contact me through Instagram @Mumsdays with any of your stories really and you know how you relate to the episode or even questions that you may want answering. You can find all the details from this episode in the show notes.
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Hannah: Hello and welcome to Happily Ever After with me, Hannah. And today I'm joined by my podcasting bestie Katie.
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Katie: Hello, It's me, the chum. Chum.
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Hannah: Oh, I was listening back to that podcast this morning and I was like, What is wrong with me? My chum. Chum. Katie.
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Katie: I really liked it.
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Hannah: Oh, good. Well, Katie, I thought I would, um, read you a little story.
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Katie: That would be nice. I'll get comfortable.
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Hannah: Get yourself comfortable. So I'm writing a book.
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Hannah: Did you know?
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Katie: I did know about this. Yeah. Yeah. How's it going?
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Hannah: It's. It's quite hard.
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Hannah: But also it's okay because I feel like lots of it's already written because we've been talking about this stuff for quite a while and it's just kind of getting it into order.
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Hannah: Um, but yes, it's called How to Divorce Sober.
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Katie: Mhm. Very good.
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Hannah: And I guess probably the hardest bit is trying to work out what to put in and what not to.
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Hannah: So I wrote an intro the other day. Which I don't know if it'll make it in, but I thought I'd share it with you and see what your thoughts are.
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Katie: Yeah, it's nice. I'd be interested to see what your advice is on this.
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Hannah: I wouldn't say it's advice.
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Hannah: It's like a - strap yourselves in, kids.
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Katie: Is this like. Is this going to be like your tell all memoir or is it more sort of like Lessons from the Deep End?
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Hannah: I think it's going to be both.
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Hannah: Do you not think a tell all memoir is Lessons from the Deep End.
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Katie: Yeah, totally is. Yeah, totally.
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Hannah: You can either do this or this, and they're both the same.
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Katie: Yeah. That's the only options, I'm afraid.
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Hannah: Tell all or tell all.
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Hannah: Okay, so I've. This is me. Sort of like free flowing one morning when I was like, Right, I'm going to get stuck in. So I'll read you what I've done. It's called Who Even Am I?
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Hannah: When I was 26, around the time I met my ex-husband, I was going through a wild phase with a wild friend. We were inseparable and whimsical. The night we almost ended up going to see Elbow by Private Jet, we'd been hanging out with a film producer. The producer was fun and successful. He was a huge character and I really enjoyed being around him. It was exciting and I could feel the glow from him expanding onto me. We'd been to York to see a band and the drinks were flowing all night and we were very drunk and kind of looking for even more fun. We didn't end up going to see Elbow, but on the train to Newcastle, the producer looked at me really seriously. It was like he was looking into my soul. I leaned in so I could hear his words of wisdom, and he said to me. I can't tell if you're deep in interesting or completely vacant.
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Hannah: Busted. This is a question I've been pondering ever since. If you peel back all the layers. Am I actually just a vacant space? And the lovely thing about stopping drinking and getting divorced, assuming that you are co-parenting, is you really get to sit with this feeling and what fun this is. When you strip everything away, marriage, motherhood, friends, work, alcohol, binge eating, whatever it is you're addicted to. And you're sat alone on a Saturday night with all the distractions removed. It can be very disconcerting feeling. This kind of emptiness. A void, once filled with distractions, is suddenly an empty cave. So obvious, so echoey, so uncomfortable. It feels like it's glaringly obvious for the whole world to see. I am vacant. Of course, one of the big ways to fill the void is drinking. My version was to be really loud and so much fun. If I dance about over here and making enough noise, maybe you won't notice that I'm actually just an empty cave. And I did this for so many years, and the fear of quitting drinking kept me there. If I quit, people will realise I'm boring. I'll have no friends because who even am I if I don't drink? My entire personality and friendship circles have been built around drinking and then later partying. And I didn't want to be around people who didn't drink, so therefore no one would want to be around me. By the way, I did lose friends and ultimately my husband when I quit. But I also found a whole new world of deep, beautiful connection. A place where people could have a couple, as in a couple of drinks and then stop. I'm still not willing to try this out. It's not worth the risk of finding out that I'm all or nothing, which I definitely am. But yeah, a place where meaningful conversations can take place. And unlike your new best mate who's coked up to the eyeballs and the toilet, you can remember and treasure these conversations. A place where you can truly explore who you really are and what your purpose for being here is. My friend Claire calls this your soul contract.
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Hannah: Another void filler is finding a partner. A really good one who's got loads of personality and is loud enough to distract other people's attention. It's kind of sleight of hand, like look how great and shiny they are. So you can hide the fact that I've got this big empty cave. But when the safety blanket of this relationship is removed, the cave is laid bare for all to see. I am alone and I'm no ones special someone. There's something really wrong with me. Another tool that I've used is motherhood or parenting. Buy all the right gear, attend the right classes, read the right books, join the right WhatsApp groups. Do loads and loads and loads of things. And again. You're putting something in front of the cave and distracting people. Of course, it's obvious the producer was a bona fide dickhead who enjoyed his power over people and pointing out their flaws. But it doesn't negate the fact that when he spoke the truth of how I felt, there was no void filling activity that could ever truly hide it. From anyone else, and most certainly not from yourself. We know it. We feel it. We are it. And while this book is not about the void, it's about sobriety and addictions within a relationship and divorce. It's exactly what this book is about.
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Hannah: Did that make sense?
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Katie: Oh, wow. Yeah, that was great.
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Hannah: I feel like. I probably need to edit that quite a bit. Like reading it back was like, Oh, I literally wrote that and then probably didn't read it again. But
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Katie: No, it was beautiful. And you know, it's so funny because when I think about you, the last thing I think of is somebody with a void or with like a cave or with an empty space. And like, obviously you've given up those things or, you know, by circumstance, some of those things aren't in your life anymore. You don't have the drinking and you don't have the partner to fill those things that you thought were your cave. But like, I just feel like you're such a full person just as you are, you know?
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Hannah: And I think that's the problem is that. We can all act as if - all the time. But deep down it's like, do I truly feel like that? And until you've dealt with. What is going on, you're never going to be truly confident.
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Hannah: So, I mean, a lot of the stuff, you know, as I've been working through how I feel post divorce and. Well, it's it's along the lines of when you realise you have this empty cave, you need to fill it with the good things.
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Hannah: Um, and like, yeah. Filling it with light. Like you've noticed, you've got this darkness within, within you. So how are you going to turn it around and fill, fill it with light and fill it with good things and. And not toxic. Addictive.
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Hannah: Just bad things.
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Katie: Yeah. Or, you know, bad people as well.
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Katie: Not that I'm saying. You've done that. Just like it's easy to do that, isn't it? You know, fill it with all of those material things on the surface. I completely understand. It's much easier to do that than to delve down and. And figure out what it is you want to fill that hole?
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Hannah: Yeah. I mean, you don't want to get stuck there like this is We were talking to Shaun a few weeks ago about, like, shadow work and. Um. Delving into what it is you truly want to be like. What's at the bottom of that cave? Like what's in there that we're trying to hide and, and owning some of that stuff. And then. Being like, Oh, actually I'm not faking. And how fucking dare that guy say that to me.
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Katie: Well exactly. That's what I mean. Like, you're so far from vacant.
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Hannah: I just felt in that moment I was like, it triggered me so much because I realised that's what I truly thought. And I surrounded myself with big personalities and and drinking heavily as a way to pretend that I'm not vacant.
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Katie: Yeah. Yeah.
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Hannah: It's funny, isn't it?
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Katie: Yeah. Lots of feelings there.
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Hannah: I don't think I'm alone. I do think that. That's one of the big things that stops me. I mean, I don't want to harp on about drinking like this isn't a book about 'drinking is really bad for you'.
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Hannah: Like, that's not it. It's more to do with if you feel like something you're doing is having a massive negative impact on your life. You need to cut it out.
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Hannah: Personally, like, maybe other people can moderate, but I can't. Like if you're an all or nothing person like me, then this kind of thing, I think is going to resonate.
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Katie: Yeah, definitely. I can't wait for you to write the rest of that.
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Hannah: I mean, the other aspect of this, which I have not discussed. On the podcast before, but I have spoken to my ex and had his blessing to discuss it in the book is the fact that, you know, I quit drinking, but he continued drinking and it became a problem for him. And, you know, I've talked about addiction in relationships, but not how it affected me personally, because that is the reason we split up.
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Hannah: Because there were addictions on his side that were massively impacting me, and I felt that I needed to draw a line on that and leave. So we will be talking about. We? I will be writing in the book about, you know, my story of being in a relationship with somebody who's an addict. And and I want to do it with love. Like we've gone through all of the hard yards and I have had to stand up for what I believe is right. And it's been really hard. But now I think I'm really proud of the journey that me and my children's dad has gone through in order to get to a place where he's been sober for a long time and the kids are happy and secure and safe. And, you know, when we went through all the hard bits and going to court and things like that, the judge did commend us both afterwards on how well we protected the kids from that. So while it was really shit and really difficult. Um, at times. Yeah, it is possible to come out the other side. And still have a relationship, I guess. I mean, I don't know. It might not be the same for everybody who goes through these things, but that's this is my experience.
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Hannah: So I plan to share honestly that journey. And and I definitely had issues with drink myself, which I'll share.
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Hannah: Um. And yeah, we'll just see how it goes.
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Katie: Oh, I can't wait.
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Hannah: Oh, thanks.
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Hannah: So I'm not sure when it will be ready, but should hope. I mean, I'd said I'd love to have done it in time for my six years sober-versary in October.
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Hannah: So we'll see how we get on.
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Katie: Oh, well, then that's when it's going to be done.
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Hannah: Please keep telling me that.
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Katie: Working to that deadline.
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Hannah: Where are your next chapters?
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Katie: Yep. And please keep us updated on how you're getting on. Like, let's talk about it on the podcast, you know, because, um, loved that, loved that little, um, intro that you've given us their little taster.
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Hannah: Oh, thanks. And I need the accountability. You know me. Unless you're watching, I'm, like, won't bother.
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Katie: Yes. I'm watching.
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Hannah: I'm watching you.
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Hannah: Oh, lovely. Well, thank you ever so much, Katie, for having a listen to that. It's a short one, but just a quick intro to what I'm working on.
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Katie: Yeah. Loved it.
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Hannah: Cheers, love.
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Katie: Bye now
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Hannah: All right, then. Thank you so much for listening. And I'll see you again next time for another episode of Happily Ever After with me, Hannah. It would be amazing if you could leave a review and subscribe. And of course, if you've got a friend who might enjoy this episode, please do pass it on for anything else. You can get in touch with me through Instagram @Mumsdays or by my website Mumsdays.com. And did you know that I've got a newsletter? So it's the best way to stay in touch and to make sure you don't miss any podcasts or any freebies or competitions that we're running. And again, you can sign up to that through the website.