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Announcer: You’re listening to the overdivorce.com podcast with hosts Tom and Adrian, two guys swapping stories about getting over divorce. If you’re going through a painful divorce and are struggling with anger and anxiety, then you’ve found the right podcast. Hang with us for the next 30 minutes or so, and we promise you’ll gain useful insight and effective tips and techniques for getting over your divorce and rebuilding a better life.

Tom: Welcome to the divorce podcast. I’m Tom.

Adrian: And I’m Adrian.

Tom: We’re here to talk about the difficulties, challenges, and opportunities associated with divorce and recovering from divorce, growing through it, getting better, and being stronger. Today’s topic is escapism and escaping. It’s an interesting topic because one of the things that guys really gravitate to, particularly given the advice from the last podcast, going out, finding a restaurant, and bonding with your friends, usually that means beer, wine, spirits, and other things as well.

Adrian: All the fun stuff.

Tom: All the fun stuff. I know when I first heard about this, my first inclination was to find some solace in sweet, sweet beer, but that’s really not a good idea, is it? Adrian: Yeah, my little crutch was cigars. I really went from having the occasional cigar once a month to smoking four to five cigars a day, which if you smoke cigars, you know that a good smoke is about 45 minutes. I was smoking pretty much nonstop for five straight hours, which isn’t really the best thing that you can do with your time or resources, but it was a release. The nicotine gave me that escape, that ability to “get away,” and feel some release from the stress and anxiety that I was having. Unfortunately, I got hooked on smoking cigars, and then I started doing the nicotine gum, and then I ended up with having cigarettes, so I was chewing Nicorettes and smoking cigars and topping it off with some nice cigarettes.

Tom: Were you doing that because you knew in your mind that you were going to get a bigger, faster pump from the nicotine by smoking cigarettes as opposed to staying with cigars or even using gum and cigars at the same time?

Adrian: Yeah, I needed a faster delivery methodology than the cigars. The cigars, I wasn’t feeling it for about half an hour, and that just wasn’t quick enough. The gum was pretty quick, but not as quick as a nice, delicious cigarette. [laughter]

Tom: Did you sweat the fact that you were picking up cigarettes fairly late in life and kind of going oh, wow, I need that quick hit of nicotine, and I don’t give a shit.

Adrian: Yeah, I didn’t really get super into the cigarettes. That’s what my little rock bottom was, [laughs] was when I bought my first pack. I went through that pack, and at the end of it, I was like I’ve got to stop cold turkey, which is what I ended up doing. That was hell, just going through the withdrawal of the nicotine because it was good times. Yeah, it was a faster delivery model. How could I get the nicotine and relax me, take the stress off the quickest? But I wasn’t dealing with the root issue. I wasn’t really facing my pain and facing my fears and anxieties head-on. I didn’t want to look at that. I wanted to escape, and I took an easy way out.

Tom: It’s interesting, too, because I grew up with a dad who really liked to drink and drank quite a bit. Alcohol, I think, I’m probably predisposed to going at alcohol to numb it. What I found is, particularly as I’ve gotten, I think everybody learns at those benchmark birthdays that you just don’t process alcohol the same way that you did when you were younger. On your 30th birthday, that recovery isn’t as quick on the day following your 30th birthday as the recovery from your 20th, and your 40th is harder still. It’s like you start to realize that the cost benefit thing is really a problem. It’s important to note here that we’re not saying don’t drink. Smoking, obviously, is not good for you, but we’re not even saying that. I think at least what I would want to communicate is it isn’t going to make it better. Personally, I found that even if I didn’t drink to excess, if I just had three or four pops, I would wake up in the morning. But what I really found was interesting for me, neurochemically, was that alcohol added to the depression, and when it was really crafty about it was that it came on later. My depression from alcohol — I really think it was from alcohol — would actually kind of knock in 18, 24, 36 hours after I had had my drinks. I don’t really drink every day. I don’t even drink every other day. I probably drink every three or four days. But yeah, going down and hanging out. I’m really fortunate to have a great place to go hang out. Bartenders are awesome, and they always have that next pint of Guinness. I really had to be proactive and go “No, I don’t want that fourth one.” [laughs] That’s not going to be good.

Adrian: That’s a great start, that number four. [laughter]

Tom: That’s where you go no, I don’t think I should do that, but there’s other escapes, right? Obviously, there’s prescription medication, there’s marijuana, which in some states is prescription medication. [laughs] There’re also harder things, cocaine and opiates and all kinds of stuff. I think every one of those things gets increasingly riskier and really, it doesn’t solve the problem. I think there’s a voice in your head that goes yeah, this is going to solve it. That’s why I asked you about the cigarettes because you didn’t smoke cigarettes before. How do you that that voice that’s popping in your head that goes ah, I need a quicker hit, yeah, Marlboro Reds, please.

Adrian: Yeah. Well, it’s funny, because you do feel good. It’s the shortcut. For me, it was just the nice I could cut the anxiety right in half and just feel OK and mellow and be able to be OK with this situation. The problem is that I was getting more amped up if I didn’t have my cigars. I was going through the nicotine withdrawal, and that was making me more anxious. When I would not get my hourly cigar, I would get crazy. It was adding insult to injury. By now, I’m addicted to this nicotine. I’m trying to get off of that, and I’m also going through a divorce and trying to deal with this problem. It’s not really…the deviousness of it is it does work. You do feel better, and you feel like OK, ah, I got a nice…I can relax for five minutes, but in 15 minutes, I need another cigarette, or whatever, another beer.

Tom: The other thing that’s interesting from a medicine standpoint, we live in a pharmaceutical culture. I feel like I have a great doctor. I’ve had some insomnia issues, and the doctor’s that have been helping me out with that, they’re ready with this prescription pad. In many ways, it’s the same thing. Now, obviously, they’re tracking you. They have ethical issues. We’d like to think they’re paying attention, and I think that they are. I think that they our best interests in mind. I will say that pharmaceutically, the stuff that I’ve been prescribed has been helpful. I know that this stuff is considered a threat for abuse, and I haven’t found myself dipping into the till, so to speak, during the day. But I don’t know that Ambien’s going to be the most fun thing to knock back at three in the afternoon. Regardless of that fact, I think there still is this belief system that’s really been around since the late ’50s, mid-’50s, that take a pill. The really tricky thing about it is sometimes that is a good idea and sometimes it isn’t. It’s not always even clear to us from the inside when it is a good idea to take a pill or not. We count on the doctors, too, but I think the way that our system’s oriented now, they’re kind of incentivized to say, “Hey, Lexapro. Let’s get you out of that depression, right”?

Adrian: Yeah, I think it goes back further than the ’50s. I think it’s part of being a human being, is you want the quick fix. You want to be able to quickly solve your problems, and that served us well evolutionarily speaking, where we could out and solve things quickly. Now, we’ve got too many resources where we can feel like we’re solving a problem but not really dealing with the real issues. I think that’s kind of what we’re getting at here, is that escaping into something like drugs or alcohol can be fun in the short term, but it’s got some long term consequences. For me, it just didn’t make sense to continue down that path [laughs] . When the cigars took over, I knew it was time to get off of them.

Tom: I think there’re two things. I think one is like screw the consequences. I want to feel better. Screw those guys and their stupid podcast. I’m going to go and throw back some cocktails, and I’ll feel better. How do you deal with that, and then what are the alternatives? Is there anything out there that does make you feel better? Spoiler alert: yeah, I think there are some things, and it’s important to get to them. I think first, how do you recognize that switch is getting flipped? How do you recognize that you’re leaning on something too hard? You talked about purchasing that pack of cigarettes, and that being the OK, we’re one step too far. Now, I’ve got a nicotine addiction which, anecdotally, is probably the single hardest addiction to overcome. Now, I’ve got this divorce thing I’ve got to deal with and now, I’ve got this substance issue I’ve got to deal with along with it. Now, I’ve got two things. One of the things that I know I’ve done is I’ve said to myself, “Oh, I’ll take care of these things one at a time. Now, I’ve just got to get through the day. I’ve just got to get through the next couple days.”

Adrian: Yeah. I agree with that. I didn’t knock both of those issues out. I was still dealing with my divorce and smoking like a fiend. When the divorce wrapped up, after that is when I decided to quit. Everyone I talked to said, “Don’t try to quit smoking.” You’re going through a divorce, my man. That is like the worst idea. This is coming from my mom and people that love me and want me to be healthy and happy, [laughs] and they’re like just handle one thing at a time. I don’t know what that trigger is, I think, or what those kind of red lights are. I also think that you need some escapism. You need to get out there and have some kind of a release. The thing is how do you keep that in check and don’t go nuts so you don’t end up with the dead hooker in the back of your car.

Tom: [laughs] That’s the worst thing. I hate when that happens. It’s like Siri, where do I dump this body? [laughs]

Adrian: And how did I get here? Tom: Exactly. Wait, who is that? It’s a bad place to be. I think that avoiding piling on and recognizing that these short term fixes, regardless of what they are, I think it’s clear that they have different levels of recovery challenges. I also think that there all alternatives, and it’s important to talk about them because one of my very favorites personally, and one of the ones that will sound the most absurd is yoga. I think if you’re a normal guy, and somebody says, “Oh, you should consider yoga. It’s awesome. You go you are out of your goddamn mind.” [laughs] I am not going to go to yoga.

Adrian: That’s hippie shit, man. That is dirty hippie shit.

Tom: Exactly, except for those compression pants on those ladies cannot be beat.

Adrian: [laughs] Yeah, there’re a lot of benefits about yoga class that go far beyond the health benefits. It’s definitely a good place to get some scenery and some decent different kinds of women hang out in yoga studios.

Tom: Well, and I’ve heard…I’ve got to say that, again, it’s anecdotal, obviously, but I’ve heard it over and over again. It’s like that’s really where you want to be. I think to extend from that is this rule about well, a good alternative, unless you’re really already addicted to it, is exercise. The data is really compelling, particularly if you are in your mid 30s or older, the data’s super compelling. You don’t have to knock yourself out. Exercise, really…and in fact, knocking yourself out’s really [laughs] not a good idea, both literally and figuratively. It’s not really super ideal to work yourself too hard. I know that some recent studies that I was looking up online, and I encourage anyone who’s interested in understanding this more to do it, but if you work out too hard, actually a stress hormone, cortisol, actually gets boosted pretty substantially. If you’re not used to working out, you don’t want to start running six miles every day, but the exercise thing’s really helpful, right?

Adrian: Yeah, that’s top of the list, I think, and it doesn’t cost much. You can get some sneakers, and if you’re not exercising regularly, just take a walk around the block. My thing is hiking. I’ve got a mountain behind my house, and I hike for about an hour a day. Just go up, and the way I started was just walking around the block. That took me 15 minutes, and built upon that. Really, in terms of data, yeah, exercise is on par with the best antidepressants without any crazy side effects. The only side effects you get are weight loss and feeling good.

Tom: I remember when I started exercising around my divorce, and I was actually really vain about it. I was actually kind of worried. I live in a pretty densely populated area. I was already feeling shunned, and I didn’t want to be that fat dude jogging around. I didn’t want to be that guy. But I eventually got over it, and the way I got over it was just getting up really early. I started going in the dark. I got up early in the morning, and I started that, and then moved on. As I grew more comfortable, dropped some weight and felt a little bit better about myself, I was able to get out there and do it more regularly. Yeah, I would be a huge advocate, not only based on my personal experience, but also based on the research that I’ve done, that it really is more about hiking than it is about running and going I’m going to do a marathon or I’m going to do an iron man. If that’s your thing, I would never discourage anyone from doing it, but setting up achievable, short goals from an exercise standpoint, I think is, really important. I don’t think it gets talked about nearly enough, because from a marketing standpoint, when they’re trying to sell you exercise equipment or weight loss programs, or they make these really extreme claims of success, these really extreme claims of results and timelines, and that’s really not what it’s about at all, is it?

Adrian: It’s about taking little, tiny steps. There’s the whole kaizan principle of taking very incremental, very small, incremental steps to get to your goal. You’re far more likely to succeed in moving forward and achieving what you want. That could be just getting and standing on a treadmill and not walking on it for a minute a day. If you haven’t exercised at all, the whole idea of going outside seems overwhelming. Running for 20 minutes, that’s a big deal, but can you commit to doing something small, like just standing on a treadmill for a minute? If you have that as your starting point, where you’re looking at really small, incremental goals, you can move from there and take other small, incremental steps forward.

Tom: There are some links that we’re going to put on the website and make available of some yoga stuff that I think is worth checking out. A lot of yoga people will sort of huff and dismiss the idea that you can get a yoga CD or watch yoga on YouTube and do yoga, mostly because there’s nobody there to tell you yeah, you’re doing it right. You can, I mean, in fairness…you really are much better off having someone help you and having an expert help you. Always, of course, get your doctor’s advice before entering into any exercise or diet regime. But fuck that. This is just a podcast. [laughter]

Adrian: All right, Doctor Barnes. Tom: Yeah, so there are really good, at least in my opinion — I’ve watched them, I’ve used them, I’ve found them extremely helpful — there’s a couple guys on YouTube that have some really good breathing techniques and some really good just kind of sit there and breath like this. I’ve done it, and I’ve been like ah, this guy looks like a freak, but I feel way better. I’m going to feel much better walking into a class of predominantly women in a yoga class and feel better about my ability to not look stupid if I’ve had a chance to know what I’m up against, know what it looks like, know what it feels like, and be able to do some of those basic things and not overreach. There are ways to get into this so that if you have issues of self worth and self esteem around exercising and around participating, particularly exercising in groups, there are ways to really go slow at this so that you’re not feeling embarrassed about it. We’re going to provide that stuff for you here on the website.

Adrian: I’d also add that martial arts is an excellent way to build up your confidence and get fit. Something like Jujutsu, Muay Thai, boxing, Kung Fu, anything along those lines, where you’re exerting yourself and you’re in a combat. If you haven’t done anything like that, it really builds up self confidence and a feeling of self worth at a time that you really need it a lot. That was tremendous for me. I was able to tap into some martial arts, and I think it really helped clear your head, get your aggression out. Also, you feel good, like OK, I can handle shit down in a bar now, and that’s one less stress that I have. I’d advise anybody to check that out. It’s a great avenue.

Adrian: I think that’s a great suggestion because martial arts is something that people don’t regularly consider. I think one of the things that we want to accomplish here is giving you just ideas about what you can do if you find this stuff intimidating. Hey, listen. If you’re an athlete and you’ve been taking care of yourself your whole life, and you’re way into it…I have a friend from high school who’s literally just been in awesome shape his entire life, and this stuff means absolutely nothing. But for people who haven’t, and I think that’s the majority of the population, finding that thing that you dig as you build You 2.0, what is that exercise that you enjoy? Because if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. It doesn’t matter what they tell you on the television or what kind of results they promise. If you don’t do it, you’re not going to see any of that stuff. If you hate it, you’re going to reject it. One of the tricks, I think, is to look at what motivates you. Where are your skills and what did you enjoy when you were younger? There’re just so many things that you can still do regardless of your age. There are ways to modify those things that you are good at. If you’re good at climbing trees, and that’s the last thing you did, go to a rock wall. Extending out some of the themes from the last talk that you should check out if you haven’t yet is that idea of getting out and meeting people, thing like yoga and rock climbing. If you just want to exercise, even some of those boot camps. There’re a lot of good opportunities to meet people, to interact, to be social, to get out of your shell through exercise.

Adrian: Yeah, and whatever you’re into, there’s a meet up group out there, too. Meetup.com’s a great place to go and find folks that into all kinds of crazy stuff. If you’ve thought about it or are into it, there’s probably already a group. If there’s not, then go start one. It’s pretty easy to do.

Tom: It just takes a couple of minutes. Let’s recap a little bit as we wrap this up,

Adrian. We started talking about substances and the quick fix and the honest pros and cons of those. Yeah, it’ll make you feel better, but there is always blowback, whether it’s legal or illegal stuff, and whatever it is, you’re going to face blowback. The alternative is exercise and sport, and to try to find that sport that really works for you, whether it’s something crazy that you haven’t thought of, like yoga, or whether it’s something that’s out of your comfort zone, martial arts, or whether it’s something you’ve been doing your whole life. If it’s been tennis or running or exercise for exercise’s sake, it works a lot better and it’ll make you feel better about yourself and it’ll really help you with that self care, which is what’s so important, right?

Adrian: Yeah. I think starting small is also key. If this all seems overwhelming, you’re going through a lot, and it seems like too much to even think about, joining a gym or finding a class, you can start small by just looking online to find out what’s around you. What are some yoga stuff or martial arts classes or rock climbing or what’s around? Another step would just be stopping by each one of those and kind of seeing what it’s about without committing to any classes, just kind of going. Building upon that until you’re with a group or a class or if you decide to something on your own, the important thing is to start small and then build on it and move forward that way.

Tom: Any step is worthy, right? You talked about that management method, right?

Adrian: Yeah, the kaizan method, which is single, little, small incremental steps lead to big improvements, big change.

Tom: They really do, and I think it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to forget that the elephant is eaten one bite at a time. You’ve got to celebrate, particularly if you’re not an enthusiast around exercise and you’re not an enthusiast around health and these things, you’ve really got to celebrate every single step in the right direction, regardless of how small. I think it’s so easy to go to bed at night and just lay there in the inky blackness we talked about in the first episode and beat yourself up about how shitty everything is. You’ve really got to take every single one of those successes, regardless of how small, and look at it as a way forward, that it does mean improvement, even when the inevitable backslide happens. Those backslides come, and you’ve just got to recognize that you’re going to focus on the success, regardless of how small. It was really interesting. There’s a very extreme weight loss program that everyone sort of dismissed, and I really should have the name of the doctor who developed it. It’s not discussed very much. It was way more popular in the ’90s, but it’s really at the root of what we all know about weight loss now, which is calorie reduction, reduction of fat and carbohydrates, and no animal proteins. It was able to reverse heart disease, and it was very successful. The problem was, almost impossible, or it was believed to be almost impossible to do it. What they found was that people did it, and when they were able to do it, it was because they focused on those small achievements. They focused on their ability to actually eat that way and have a day where they just ate vegetables and fruits and were able to get the right amount of exercise in. It was like that is an enormous achievement, and that was what kept them going, more than actually the weight loss, just the actual ability to claim success over what was a very difficult program even in the face of not being perfect, making that successful step forward.

Adrian: Yeah, you’ve got to be careful with perfection, right, because it’s always on the…it’s like the horizon. It’s always out there in front of you, but you can never get to it. You’re striving for it, and if you don’t stop and recognize some of the small, incremental gains, I think you lose a lot in the face of trying to reach a goal that you can’t ever get to by definition.

Tom: I hope that’s helpful. We’ll have some information available for you to follow up with this, to read about it, some links to support some of the outrageous claims made here. [laughs]

Adrian: Well studied and documented, thoroughly… [crosstalk] Tom: Well studied and documented. That’s the great thing about the Internet. Any time spent looking around, you’ll see that a lot of the stuff that we say, regardless of how unbelievable it may sound on its surface, there’s actually a lot of good places to go where you can find out the facts for yourself. We’ll also provide guidance for you as well. In our next episode, we’re going to chat a little bit about something that you told me, Adrian, that really stuck with me about getting out of this thing…making those first early steps and getting on the right path. It relates to that perfectionist comment you made just a moment ago.

Adrian: Yeah, my dad shared with me at one point in my life — I think I was about to go to college and trying to make a decision on where to go — he sat me down and said, “Hey, Adrian, I’ve never made a right decision before.” I thought what? What is he talking about? But he said that he’s just made a decision and then done everything he could to make it right, meaning that it’s far more important to make some decisions as opposed to wavering and not making any decisions, and letting decisions get made for you. I think next time what we’ll talk about is the importance of making decisions, as opposed to having them be made for you. What’s in your control and what’s out of your control?

Tom: With that, thanks for listening. We’ll be with you next time, and we’ll talk about decisions and making them and the importance of being active mentally as opposed to being active physically, as we discussed today. [music plays]

Tom: Good luck.

Adrian: Bye-bye.

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