“High achieving type A millennial women are really good at having a goal and grinding it out and making it happen even if we’re feeling internally tormented.”
🦩 The shame cycle of high functioning alcoholism.
🦩 How negative habits like alcoholism are created.
🦩 How to find your worth away from your conditioning.
Are you worried about how your alcohol intake is going to impact your fertility health when trying to conceive?
In this episode of the Finding Fertility podcast, we speak with Michelle Kapler a Certified Life Coach, specializing in overdrinking and alcohol freedom. She works with individuals who identify as women who want to live an alcohol-free or alcohol-reduced life... She is on a mission to create a modern conversation around drinking, alcohol culture (especially in motherhood), and how we think about using alcohol to cope with stress.
Listen in to learn the importance of healing your traumas and the conditioning that creates alcoholism to redefine your relationship with alcohol. You will also learn the importance of acknowledging your worth to unlock the key to self-love and appreciation.
“If we can see our conditioning as what it is, we can start to experience self-compassion.”
Connect with Michelle:
🌺 Download your FREE Guide: Top 3 Steps to Maximise Your Fertility That Your Doctor Isn't Talking About
Hello beautiful and welcome to finding fertility. I'm your host, Monica Cox from finding fertility.co And I created this podcast to help get you to start thinking outside of the box and realise that your infertility might have nothing to do with your lady bits rooted in functional medicine and personal experience. Finding fertility is all about looking at the whole body and finding the root cause of your infertility. Finding fertility does not diagnose, prescribe or treat any issues of infertility. But what we do is take a holistic approach and improve your diet and your lifestyle to get you steps closer to creating your dream family. Just by being here with me listening to this podcast, you're already going down the right path to making your dreams come true. Let's do this together. Happy Friday. Oh,
welcome back to another episode of finding fertility. I'm here with Michelle today. And she's gonna give us the lowdown on one of my personal hardest things that I had to conquer alcohol. So welcome to the podcast.
Hey, thanks so much for having me. It's great to talk with you.
Yeah. So like really interesting thing, though, is that you actually are a fertility acupuncturist? Yeah, yeah. And I
would say like my day job is that I just stick needles in people to help them with their fertility. I've been doing that for 12 years.
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot more science behind it. But yeah, that's for sure what it Yeah. And how did you get into that?
Um, I started well, acupuncture is actually my second career. And I got into it, because I had my own struggles with reproductive stuff. I didn't have fertility struggles, but I had other stuff that I went through, and I found acupuncture to be so helpful. And then also, I just think more people need to be talking about women's bodies and women's physiology, because it's just something that's still kind of taboo to talk about in our culture. And I'm just really into talking about like periods and hormones and libido and sexuality. And so it just made sense to specialise in that. And then 12 years later, here I am.
Yeah, no, that's awesome. I know a lot of our, our listeners use acupuncture reflexology use those methods as amazing support. And I do believe in all the science behind it. But I mainly say it basically makes you Slow the fuck down and sit for 45 minutes, like you wouldn't otherwise. So like, just the fact of that alone is amazing.
100%. And I think the other aspect to it and different acupuncturist will run their practices in different ways. But for me, and this kind of bleeds over into my coaching, my coaching practice, as well as that, sometimes, a lot of the time actually, when somebody goes to see their acupuncturist, they're the only person in their life that they really get into what they're going through with them. So it's that conversation, it almost becomes like a counselling session almost where people can just come and spill all their stuff and cry and then lay on the table for half an hour and get up and feel relaxed after. So yeah, that in and of itself is huge.
Exactly. It's a because just like my coaching practice, you ask questions that traditional medicine doctors one don't ask don't know, to ask and actually don't have the time to ask, like our intake forms. And I done acupuncture. So I know your intake forms. They're very, sometimes can be embarrassing. You're asking really, you know, detailed questions about, you know, yeah, sex and poo.
Like, Hi, I just met you five minutes ago. And tell me about the clots in your period.
Yes. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, you just got to be real open. And I think that that opens even more doors, right. When you're vulnerable to allowing someone to come into these conversations, like you say, you don't have with anyone else. It's I think it just builds a special relationship.
100% Yeah. And that's something that I certainly don't take for granted. As a practitioner. I feel so honoured that I get to know people so quickly and so deeply because of the subject matter that we're discussing. And I just feel so privileged to be able to go on a journey like that with people. Yeah, exactly.
So with your coaching, how did you get into the alcohol coaching?
Yeah, so just to kind of give a an idea of what I do. I'm an I call myself an alcohol freedom coach and what that means Is that I help people, women, in fact, redefine the relationship with alcohol. And so for some people, that means that their objective is to quit completely. And for some people, it means that they just want to reduce the amount that they're drinking and feel a little bit more in control of what they're doing. And I help them do that through a programme of cognitive psychology and thought work. And we work together to basically rewire their brain so they don't get that craving for alcohol anymore. And the reason why I do that work is because that was my own story. So I wasn't one of those people who had my first drink in high school. And I was like, oh, it's instant love, it was kind of a slow burn for me. And I ended up, you know, realising in my mid to late 20s, that I was just drinking a lot, like a lot more than I should be. And of course, like so many of us, it was fear therapy, that I realised that my addiction was rooted in trauma. And it's something that we're kind of talking about more and more of these days. But that's very much what it was for me. And so I was at this point where I was drinking about a bottle of wine every night. But for me, it wasn't bad enough that I was getting these big rock bottom moments in my life, like I wasn't going to work drunk, and my husband wasn't like cleaning up my vomit every morning, and my kids weren't getting taken away. And my family wasn't staging interventions. And like my on paper, I was highly successful. I was this acupuncturist and I owned a clinic and I was creating jobs for other women. And I was helping 1000s of people better their lives. And I had this amazing family and the kids and I was doing really well. But inside I was just totally consumed with the shame and the self doubt and the what's wrong with me? And the am I an alcoholic? And you know, why can't I get a handle on this, it was just a daily grind of like, being hungover or beating myself up because I'm hungover. And it all kind of came to a head at the beginning of the pandemic, actually. And so what happened was, we were about, I don't know, three or four weeks into COVID. And my level of self medication like so many of us just kind of went to this next level. So no, not only was I like drinking a bottle of wine every night, it was also I was eating three cupcakes and bingeing on Tiger king. And like just doing everything I could to cope with the stress of what was going on. It was just like this huge, like next level comfort measures, self soothing, buffering, numbing kind of situation. And it almost kind of became this meme that everybody was just doing that, because we were all just like, What the fuck is going on? When is this going to end? Oh, my goodness. And I think a lot of us caught on pretty quickly that this just wasn't going anywhere, anytime soon. And so I kind of had this conversation with myself where I said, Well, I either need to just lean into being okay with doing what I need to do to be comfortable in the moment and stop beating myself up about it, because like, I would do this every night. And then I would wake up the next day and be like, what's wrong with you, like you're a healthcare practitioner, you should not be doing all of these behaviours, you should know better, blah, blah, blah. So I was like, I need to make a choice. Either, I need to just stop doing that, like, stop talking to myself that way, and just have compassion for myself that this is what the world is going through right now. Or I can, you know, make a change in the other direction. So I decided to stop drinking. And it was actually in a therapy session with my husband, and we weren't working through anything major, we were just looking to improve communication. So you're going to couples therapy together. And, and he made the statement, and it was, I think I like you better when you're not drinking. And I was like, Oh, I think maybe I like myself better when I'm not drinking as well. So after that it was kind of this windy path of therapy and reading lots of books and finding people that were doing what I wanted to do and just like looking at what they were doing and figuring it all out. And then I find life coaching and coaching tools were really kind of the thing that sealed the deal for me that helped me take everything, everything to the next level. And then I ended up in this place where I was like, wow, I haven't had a drink for a year I've had all this bad stuff happen. The world is still on fire, and I've managed to not have it have to drink to cope with all of this. And my life is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. There's just so much space in my brain. And I really want to help other people. Mainly people like me, you know, high achieving women who look great on paper but are tortured on the inside. I want to help other people do the same thing. So I got certified as a life coach and now I'm helping other people do it too.
It's such a story that I think so many people can relate to. Because I come from a family of functioning alcoholics. So that's like, what term I use right. And yeah, especially my mom she Still a functioning alcoholic millionaire, right? Like she has the life. And it was interesting when I was going through my infertility issues, obviously, I had to get sober, right like, and not just sober, but like really asked myself because my issues stem from my gut, so really had to focus on healing my gut, there's plenty of studies out there that show even just one drink messes with your gut microbiome. So that was my focus. And that was like my big shift to really get off of drinking. But it also comes back down to the mindset and I had to keep asking myself, what's more important? Do you want to family? Or do you want to drink and sometimes the drink was more important, but you know, like, really talking to yourself about it. And so I was sober for a while to two years, you know, with our pregnancies, you're sober, right? Breastfeeding, those type of things. And I always thought, like, I caught it, man, I've done it for a year, like drinking done, like, I can, like control the habits, I'm not going to be this like, like person who has to have a drink at five o'clock, you know. And then I moved to Hawaii, with two little kids. And you're like, Well, I'm on holiday, I don't have to go anywhere, I don't have to drive, you know, I'm not going to get like so intoxicated, where, like, I can't deal with things. But even a bottle of wine or even like three beers every single night, starts slowly adding up and you get back into those habits. And especially when you let you know, I got to a peak of health where I restored, my fertility got pregnant naturally, I don't have an autoimmune issue. I don't have symptoms of my I had an old Surrett 17, you know, wasn't getting those issues. I was feeling good. My my cognitive function was like excelling. And when I got back into drinking, and obviously stress levels as well, because they're all associated, like you could dramatically see the impact in your own ability to function. Right? So yeah, your high achieving still. But you know, you see that you're like fumbling your words, you're not clear on your message, you know, like, just so many little different things. And I think this thing that you were saying too, about doing it waking up and having that guilt.
Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. There's nothing like viral. Yeah, it's it's the shame spiral that happens the day after and in, which inevitably leads to more drinking. Yeah, at least it did. For me. It was like, You're, you're feeling the shame all day? What's wrong with me? I can't get a hold. I can't get a handle on this. Am I an alcoholic? What's going on? Do my kids know that my does my husband know is anybody noticing? I should be doing better. Like, we all have this kind of perfectionist fantasy that we could, you know, do everything perfectly. And then, you know, by the end of the day, you can't stand it anymore. And so you have another drink to take the edge off? Yeah, totally. Me too.
With the trauma, because I think this is a big thing. It's part of like my practice as well of like getting down to the root cause of why you are functioning the way you are. Why are you type a Why do you lean towards food? Why do you lean towards alcohol? Like, why aren't you making sleep a priority? You know, why are you a workaholic? And so, obviously, you know, the research points to your childhood traumas. But for people who like myself, and I think a lot of people move through this, and that's why there's so many questions with millennials of like, well, we had a pretty decent childhood compared to like our parents or grandparents. We weren't for most of us. We weren't beaten. We weren't sexually abused. You know, like, we didn't have the raging alcoholic parents. Why? What like, where's this trauma coming from? Like, I don't have these big traumas. Did you find when you started unpacking your trauma, like, was it like, what was it like for you?
Yeah, that's a really good question. It's a it's a really big question with so many answers and it's all going to be individualised and so you know, to speak for myself. I would say that I always recommend that if somebody has, you know, like capital T trauma in their life, that they seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor before they attempt to do any kind of like coaching or stuff on their own, like there's kind of a minimum baseline that You need to get to you before you can, like, move forward and in any kind of extra way. So like that would be my first statement right there that if somebody has an ongoing PTSD or some kind of trauma response, that's, you know, creating pathology on an ongoing basis, that they look to resolve that with a therapist first. And so I will say that I did therapy for years. And so I worked on that for years with my therapist. But the thing about therapy is that it's really great at kind of diagnosing pathology and getting things back to a minimum baseline. But then to kind of take things to the next level is a bit of a different conversation. And that's kind of where I think a lot of us are aware, we're highly functioning, and we look great on paper. And we've achieved a lot because us high achieving type a millennial women are really good at just like, having a goal and grinding it out and making it happen, even if we're feeling kind of internally tormented. And so the idea that we can, you know, get there, but we still know that there's something kind of missing that we could be taking things to another level, that we could be living our lives in a different way and producing different results. Like that's kind of the arena that I work in. And, again, to go back to all those kinds of little behaviours that you talk about all those over those over ism. So over drinking, over eating, over working, over Facebooking, over online shopping, overuse of pornography, like any of those behaviours that we use to kind of numb out and buffer, I think at the root of all of that, is just that we're really not great at feeling negative emotions, at the end of the day, like we're really not well equipped in our culture to process those things. And I think there's also this combination with external messaging that we get, especially as women, that according to the perfectly curated Instagram influencers out there, that we should be living these lives that are picture perfect that look just so that and we're getting this very, what's the word I'm looking for? We're getting this very selective view of people's lives. And I think that makes people think it kind of gives them this subliminal message that if they're experiencing anxiety, or self doubt, or fear, or any kind of emotional pain, that something's going terribly wrong. And we've taught our brains that the quickest, easiest way to deal with that is just to have a drink or eat a cupcake or buy something online to make that feeling go away. And that's how the habit is created. Does that make sense?
Yeah, totally. I mean, I think for me, is like, I kind of understood why I got into alcohol, because both my parents were alcoholics. But they're both smokers. And I never got into smoking. So I was like, well, maybe that's not the reason, right, like, and I think when I started, when I started unpacking things, it was this underlying self love and self worth. Hmm. And it obviously stems from all the small, traumatic events I had growing up and the way that I was spoken to as a child, like, you know, like, Don't whine, don't cry, don't show emotion. And, yeah, like, you know, our parents did better than their parents. And, you know, we're very grateful. But still, they had a lot of shit to clean up themselves that they never got to. And yeah, I just found that. It definitely is a habit like a physical habit. You know, like, you want that feeling in your hand, the heavy you know, the drink the eyes, the wineglass, whatever that is the cigarette in your mouth. But then it's that, you know, the self love and the self worth. Like, I'm not worthy to have everything I actually want. Even though I look good on paper, like you say, I can have a better life meaning not more money, not the perfect IG account, not the perfect career. The happiness like the just pure love and self worth in me and being able to be present because I think that's a part some of part of the alcohol where you you drink to kind of get away, right? Yeah, you drink to numb. The boringness
or the irritation
or Yeah, yeah. And you don't want to necessarily sit in it because like you say it feels uncomfortable. But yeah, I if I when I got real with myself. It was very hurtful. Right like what I don't love myself. I don't think I'm worthy enough. So therefore I need to like numb it out every night. Like, yeah, it's harsh.
It is. And I would say the antidote to that is a couple of things. The first one being just understanding where it all comes from. I mean, I tend to come to this work with kind of an intersectional feminist perspective. And what I mean by that is recognising the conditioning that all of us have, especially as women or other marginalised communities. And so that would be things like, for us, for example, people who are socialised as women were explicitly and implicitly taught from a very young age that our inherent worth comes from a, our ability to please other people with our looks, mostly the opposite sex, and also our ability to have children, our ability to reproduce, like those are kind of the two things that women are that make a woman inherently worthy is those two things. And it's kind of subtle and insidious, but it's everywhere in our culture. And I think we're really waking up to that message. And we're kind of starting to say, actually, I don't buy that anymore. But that's definitely a deep part of our conditioning. And so if we can see that for what it is, we can start to experience self compassion, like, of course, I feel unworthy. That's the message that I was told my entire life. And then the next step is, well, what do I want to do with that? How do I want to think about that? How do I want to process that it's gonna be different for everybody? Yeah.
I think to like, like you say, when you're in high school, or even college, if you start drinking, then no one loves it, right? Like, it tastes like shit. Like, like, no one's first drink of alcohol, they could say it was like, Oh, this was glorious. I loved it. Right. And it was just like, the pressure around you. Like, if you didn't drink, you weren't cool. And it just makes me think of like, it like it breaks my heart for like all the like all of us girls who were there that were hanging out with other broken girls, other girls who were insecure and didn't feel the love or the self worth. And yeah, a lot of it get, it just like, manifests into a big shit show. And this is what I think happens for a lot of women with their reproductive health. They're not just they're trying to get pregnant, but their periods, their thyroid health, and all that is not only are you throwing yourself into a gut health issue with the amount of drinking, but the impact of all that negativity and low self worth. And so low self love is just emotionally draining. So instead of re focusing all that on healing, we've put it into our work, and
100% We got that's, that's my client to a tee, you know, like, it's just, you know, we're, I think it, it also comes from this, what I call a rival fallacy, which is a term that I use for one from one of my teachers, Carlo Antheil. And it talks about, she talks about this idea that as kind of modern, high achieving women on a mission to change things or help people or just to achieve in general, we have this idea that if we just do enough things, if we just get enough gold stars, or get the promotion, or get the education, or meet the husband and have the kids and have the house, or I don't know, win a Nobel Peace Prize, or get some other really high achievement in your individual field. But if somehow if we do all of these things, then then we will be able to consider ourselves worthy of love worthy of self love worthy of self appreciation. But we also exist in a culture where it's there's just never enough the to do list is endless. There's always going to be something else to achieve. And so really, the key is just to decide that you're enough in that moment, because you're never going to be able to do your way out of that feeling of inadequacy. You just have to kind of look at actually my self worth doesn't come from things I'm externally doing it has to come from within. Yeah.
And I think especially if you're when you're dealing with fertility issues, obviously, the whole in my worthy of being a mother comes into it. And I'm definitely a poster child of your children aren't going to make you worthy. Right, like, if anything, they're going to expose where you feel lack even more, right. So it's a very slippery slope. And you know, we always try to encourage people to To get to a certain point, have that self love and that self worth before the children, you know, like you are worthy with or without. And that's a huge conversation within fertility just like you said, because we're conditioned that one of our main roles is to produce and be moms.
Yeah 100% We're
going to pause today's clip and make it a double episode. So I hope you are enjoying this conversation that me and Michelle are having and tune in next week to listen in to the second half.
Thing thank you once again for tuning in to the finding fertility podcast. If you're loving this podcast, please leave us a rating and review and let us know how this podcast is supporting you to get steps closer to creating your dream family. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and we will see you next Friday for another episode of the finding fertility podcast.
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Anything written or said about health and diet are my opinions, that I have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for me may not work for you. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Product recommendations are based on what I used during my infertility journey or wish I had.
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