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Hello I’m Elliott Wald, addiction specialist. And welcome to another episode of Coming Clean with me. And here in the studio today with me is Josh Connolly. Well, Josh is going to share his story about addiction and his sobriety.

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Josh is a certified breathwork and resilience coach, author of Is There Not You? How to Break Free from Toxic Parents and Reclaim Your Story. And Josh is also a proud father of six. Wow six Josh. Well, you know Josh, that’s why I’m a resilience coach and that’s it was exciting. Josh, tell me what it was like growing up for you.

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Look, I think if I’m going to tell you what it’s like to grow up, I think it’s important to say that my reality of what I believed was true when I was young and growing up changed in my sobriety until I got sober. I believe that my childhood was sort of normal, and I did it. but in sobriety, I started to see my childhood for what it was.

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And I think particularly in those initial years and particularly the first nine, I grew up with an alcoholic father, so my dad was quite a violent, angry, chaotic man. Scared me when he was drunk and scared me when he was sober. and so it was difficult, you know, go up to two brothers. and though I can’t necessarily, like, recall a lot of the experiences I’ve got, like, a knowing that it was difficult and so shaped the way I see the world today.

00:02:04:10 – 00:02:30:21

Do you think your the reason you can’t recall some of those experiences? You’re protecting yourself from that. I think some of it is that because some of it comes back, but I think also I spent a lot of my childhood disassociated as well, because I still get it in my adulthood, just like my the my wife, the people around me will say that, I’ve got a really bad memory, but I actually think that it’s not necessarily always a bad memory is down.

00:02:30:21 – 00:02:48:01

So up in my head in the moment, I’m not actually living it fully enough for it to go in. So I think I don’t I don’t recall a lot of it for that reason. When you think about it. Incredible way of surviving in any environment I grew up in. Yeah, probably causes me a few struggles as an adult.

00:02:48:03 – 00:03:05:22

It happens so often, you know. So you said that you grew up with, you and your two siblings with an alcoholic father who you didn’t really know whether he was going to be angry or whether he’s going to be what his mood was going to be like. So tell me about what that was like for you. We become like, an expert, reading rooms.

00:03:05:22 – 00:03:28:17

Yeah, I, I, like, lived a life of hypervigilance. You always sort of that walking on eggshells environment. I could tell you exactly how my, drunk my dad was by the sound that his feet made on the stones when he walked up to the door. And if I, Yeah. Because the way that I showed up within that household as a child was reactive to the way that my dad showed up with with the ways that he drank.

00:03:28:17 – 00:03:56:09

Yeah. So, like, even the volume of the TV, the way that he breathed, the way that he looked, I was so tuned into it all of the time. And when I look back, I was always self organizing. So I only knew who to be based on how I read the room. So rather than developing like, a full and healthy sense of self, I developed a self based around the people in front of me and that’s stayed with me.

00:03:56:11 – 00:04:13:00

It stays with me still today. I have to work to not abandon myself and just work out who you want me to be and become that look, there’s positives from me as well, you know, I’ve got that sort of personality where you could put me in prison and all that, but the criminal put me in a church. I like Michael Vick.

00:04:13:02 – 00:04:33:22

yeah. You know, I mean, like, I’d be able to fit into both of them because that’s what a chameleon, a chameleon. Yeah. Yeah, very much so. And it wasn’t just alcohol with your father, was it? It was drugs as well. Yeah. Look, I, I didn’t, I didn’t know when I was a kid, it was drugs. Like, I learned that my dad did drugs when they told me not to do drugs at school.

00:04:33:24 – 00:04:51:14

And that’s one of the things that I feel like is changing now. But we have lessons on how bad jokes were, and it was only in them lessons that I was like, oh, that’s what my dad does. Yeah, like I don’t think he had, but I think it was bad with the drugs until he went to prison when I was like five and he was in prison for a couple of years.

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And when he came out of prison, that’s when we used to go visit him in, in his flat, you know, and that’s when he, when I started seeing him. Do. Your mom remarried while he was in prison in this. Right. And she met my stepdad when he was in prison. I think they, you know, they didn’t get married two years later, but that.

00:05:07:02 – 00:05:34:12

Yeah, she met my stepdad, who she’s still with now. And what was your relationship like with him? My stepdad. he’s a good guy. Like, we’re still close today, you know? I know him well, but. And I think this is important. he’s like your stereotypical man’s man, right? So he’s quite strong. He’s a build. he’s got quite, like, strong views on the ways that he sees, too.

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none of that’s an issue. Unless for the first six of your life, six years of your life, you saw a man that was exactly like that, and he scared you and made you think that those people like that were some way. So, like, I was always wary. I mean, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve stopped being so wary of men like, alpha males.

00:05:56:19 – 00:06:12:14

Alpha males? Yeah. Now, don’t get me wrong. Like they’ve always been, my mates are who I spend my life time trying to impress men. My God. Yeah, trying to be a man from. From the very moment that I started to turn into a man. I wanted to be a man like that. But I always also believed that men like that hurt you.

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And that’s it will end bad, you know? So I never had a close, loving relationship with my stepdad when I was young, and I never allowed myself to have care and relationships with men in general. And until I started doing, you know, some work on it, you know, we did. Yeah. And then and then some of you or your dad’s when you were nine years old with your brothers and, you found out that’s about was less than I found him a lot more that I was there.

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like, essentially, I was there when he decided he didn’t want to be here anymore. I should stipulate and say to, And this is quite boring, actually, on his death certificate, says misadventure. Yeah. If it wasn’t misadventure. I know what my dad was doing, and, he he basically took a load of tablets, and, I saw him having, like, a seizure on the floor.

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my mum used to bring the phone regularly in there, and when she rang the phone and said, you know, that’s really John Kennedy picks up, my mum picks up, and we went home. And then, I found out on the Tuesday at school that they had died. And that was the Sunday. how did you process that?

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Well, I didn’t I didn’t I didn’t process it. I think like, when I, when I was young, it’s like what I remember at a funeral. lots of adults told me at the funeral to be brave. Some of them told me to be brave for my mum. Yeah. And if you think about what I say in that, the adults are saying to me, your mum has got enough on a plate.

00:07:42:21 – 00:08:05:23

Don’t you cry here. Never. So, so in many ways society told me to be, to be brave, to suppress my emotions. So I did that. But. And I think, like, again, it wasn’t until I started looking at myself when I, when I’ve actually got sober that you start to realize that you didn’t process it. I remember saying around six months sober, I’ve never been angry about the way that my dad was.

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And then a thought by enough of right, right. And then I think I’ve never been angry about, fighting a football every week from the age of 19 and fighting wherever I get a chance. But I’ve never been angry about what happened to my dad. And you see, what happens is, is that it comes at you sideways. Yeah.

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So, so so the emotions that I wasn’t able to process and listen, I think I have to protect myself from them because they were, you know, there’s such big, painful emotions that I went through. you know, I found ways to deal with them. Yeah. And also, I read from a research team that you said after your dad passed away, nobody spoke about him.

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There was no celebration of any of us users, no photos. And there was nothing to remind you of him. I couldn’t even tell you now what they what they might have done. Then I can tell you. My dad’s the day of my dad’s birthday. there’s no pictures of my dad in my house. There’s no pictures of my dad in my house.

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Maybe. Well, maybe that’s a, continuation of what we experienced, but no. Like my family. No. Talk about your choice to a picture in your house. I don’t have many pictures. but, yeah, obviously it’s my choice. Yeah. I think is that because I’ve got some and they end up in my house? Yeah, but you’ve got some.

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You’ve got them. Yeah. I mean, that’s something telling yourself. Yeah. I remember myself when I read it records to me because I remember the way my dad was killed when I was six. no one ever spoke about my dad again. There was no pictures, no nothing. If I never got a picture until I found it. No.

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I didn’t even know existed when I was, like, 40 years old. And she couldn’t stand it. And somebody said, this is who I met my aunt, who was my dad system I didn’t even know existed. And she gave me a flat, a picture of my dad that I’ve never had before. Yeah. So I know that. Yeah, that that was plainly right.

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That must be difficult. look, I think when I was a kid, it was just normal. Yeah, I didn’t know any different. I think the way that my mum dealt with it and, you know, she didn’t get any support in what she went through. She moved on. And I think it was all too painful. So you put it in the box, right.

00:10:07:17 – 00:10:26:13

but the way that the way that I look at it with my dad, right, is most people that knew my dad tell me my dad was an amazing man and drink a hold of him that I don’t remember. I don’t remember good moments with my dad. And that’s not easy to say. Yeah, but I don’t remember.

00:10:26:13 – 00:10:48:15

That’s just my truth. Yeah. And so if I think about. And I’m just exploring this as we go, but if I was to think about pulling a picture of my dad up on the mantelpiece, like, I don’t know, what am I trying to remember that I don’t have? Yeah. But do you think having that, not having good memories about your dad not having that relationship, do you think has made you a better father?

00:10:48:15 – 00:11:08:12

Do you think you’ve gone? I can speak for myself. I know that my relationship with my children is type because I didn’t have that. So was with yearning for the family I never had. Yeah. Did you find that? It has now. But I have children before I go. So. Yeah. Okay. So in look, I have to say at the beginning, no it didn’t.

00:11:08:12 – 00:11:27:12

Yeah. I became my dad. Yeah. but now, Yes. I don’t like it shaped who I was at that because people say to me all the time like, what do you want from life? Like, if you, you know, if, if, if, if, if you could think about what you want to achieve in life. I’m telling you now, above anything.

00:11:27:12 – 00:11:46:17

And I do a lot of stuff, a lot of different stuff. And, you know, I get to do a lot of amazing things as a result of the work. I do. The one thing that drives me is that when I’m gone, my grandkids and even my great grandkids, there’ll be a picture of me on the wall. And when somebody says, who’s able to say, that’s your granddad?

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And he was a good man, and let me tell you some good stories about it. And the reason I can’t do that with my kids, when they ask me about my dad, I say he was he was not wild. And he died when I was young. That’s all I got, you know? And like, that’s sad. that’s really sad.

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And we can dress that up in a new way if you want, and you can reframe it and try to make it nice. But the truth, the whole truth is that’s not nice, and it’s sad and that’s it, you know? So, it does drive me. That drives me. Yeah. And also when you, young, you go into football violence right from the age of 15, I think.

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So I was involved, like, in sort of they call it county lines now. Yeah. County lines. You know what? I don’t know why. So, so, so like I grew up in a place called Swindon, and we used to have some people that would come from London with drugs and get beats or something. Okay. So, I did that until I was about 15, 16.

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And then when I left school, as soon as I got into pub culture, I started going to the pub. I was so drawn to football and then. And then, yeah, that took off. And I was like, you think that was a way of releasing some sort of pent up thing from each other? I think it’s two things. If I look at a pattern from, from like the gangs when I was a kid to the football violence, both of them, I was always trying to impress the top boy.

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So in the football violence that belong to get to the top man, I wanted him to love me. Yeah. So something I was looking for a father figure. Yeah, but both of them things gave me meaning. They gave me a sense of belonging. They gave me a sense of camaraderie. I got to get rid of those big emotions.

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Yeah, I released that stuff on the weekends when we went to football. And. Listen, make no mistake, a lot of it was bravado. Yeah, but it was, it was it was drugs. It was alcohol. and it was violence. And and make no mistake by it. I, I fucking loved it, I loved it, and I even now when I talk about it and even with the life that I live today, I can feel a part of my body light up at the excitement.

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yeah. It’s adrenaline buzz. Yeah. It was. Yeah, yeah. And how did that how did your addiction begin? How do you start? For me, it started with, cannabis when I was about 12. we used to smoke hash. I think that was about solid ash. Yes. This is going to say so. I was in Morocco. Oh, I’m about 19 years old.

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And, there was a war on. I remember I stayed in this hotel with this, guy who’s in who’s in the Air Force from, the Moroccan Air Force. And I was just like a bit of weed, but then he was so detached, and the rubbish is saying to, can you get me, like, a 10 pounds with an equivalent seven of rough?

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Yeah. like you come back with, like, 10 pounds away from the UK. You get this. He gave me these things like size of Matchbox. I was like, wow. So, yeah, I used to smash, but actually. Yeah. So that’s what you call like cannabis. Like weed as it is now. Yeah, but it came in before I quit.

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But that wasn’t a thing. I remember the first time we bought five years worth of cannabis. Actual weed. You know, there’s nothing here because we used to buy puff, but then we’d smoke it in a bong, you know, like a big pipe. you didn’t miss about. You went straight for it. Yeah. Nobody hung about down the park smoking bong.

00:15:01:00 – 00:15:29:14

Yeah. And that was like what we did. And then on the weekends, I was introduced, and like, quickly, I was selling puff because I needed, like, but not to make money to make sure I had enough of it. Yeah. And then alcohol followed very quickly and then, pills when I was about 40, my ecstasy pills were massive, you know, so we’d go down a party, you’d take loads of pills.

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and just get off. And and I lived for, and like the, the key thing here. I think this is important. My life got good. Then also this mental health thing a while back, like a children’s mental health thing. And then the woman got to do a visualization and she said, remember the first time, the first happy childhood memory.

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Yet people talk about other life and Disneyland. And my first happy childhood memory was down the park and whatnot. Yeah, yeah. And like, that wasn’t because that was I went to the wrong place. That’s when I remember. I remember like very clearly thinking like a lot, but like, as long as I didn’t end up like my dad, I like, well, you know, I’ll make sure I don’t if I go to drugs and, well, I’m going to be fine.

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I like, like the cannabis stayed constant, throughout my whole life until I quit. the alcohol was a regular thing. And then, like, you went with pills and then, like, trips and mushrooms were about for a bit, and then cocaine came in more with the football stuff. Okay. that’s when I started getting involved in cocaine, when I was probably more like 18, 19.

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Before that, I was, like, very expensive. Yeah. So, like, it just wasn’t done as much. And then it did. We all start doing it. Yeah. When I was five, 18, 19. And how did that escalate you usage of that. Cocaine was was bad because like as soon as I started doing cocaine then I knew like I wanted it all the time, like, you know, I’m more she is right.

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and so then I started selling it because when you’re selling it and you’re just somebody that uses in the way that I did, you know, 70 fucking waking up in the, you know, two days later, it’s all gone. So then I used to mix it with, they used to be allowed to come up from, from up north, used to come down south and give me a load of cocaine and I’d mix it with.

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Granted. Yeah, yeah. So you’d call it in the gym or something. Yeah. Yeah. So he was in the gym now. I used to use it. I didn’t know what it was. My dad’s, But then not getting so much bothered, I used to have the. I would pack up loads of creatine. Enough to get the train to different towns, to go in nightclubs and sell just creatine, no cocaine at all.

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And then get out of the town before I’d find you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was always in. Was always chasing my town. I got a lot in a lot of debt as a result. you know, like we used to, I think dependable now that we used to have, like, payday loans and stuff like that.

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So when you get a lease. And then, I always worked on a job in a factory. I’d have to get my wages put into my mates bank because my banks were all fucked. And so it was. It was chaos. and I had a couple of, like, me, sort of. Well, that was one bad suicide attempt when I was about 21 using cocaine.

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and I was struggling. That was at the time that you went to see your kids, and you thought, this is the last time I’m going to see them? No, I came slightly later. This was, we was in Blackpool for a football thing, and I got punched in the face, and, I, I snapped my jaw in two places on the right side, and it dislocated on the left side.

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And so I got a taxi to the hospital and, I had a load of cocaine on me because I used to take money to, like, sell. Everyone’s had all I could get for the weekend. Enough money. when I got there, they said they had to transfer me to Preston because I had to have this emergency surgery on my face, and they couldn’t do Blackpool.

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And then they gave me intravenous morphine to deal with the pain went away, and then I just. Well, I got enough cocaine. Yeah. If I do all of it. Well, I got morphine going in May. It’ll probably do the job. and so I went in the toilets and did it. And then I had like, a seizure in the ambulance on the way to Preston.

00:19:19:11 – 00:19:37:14

And then I literally woke up the next day. They’d done the surgery on me. They said they were concerned about some things that happened, and they wanted to keep me in for a few days. And then I just got out, they’d like, I got metal plates in my jaw and stuff like that. But I remember just being so disappointed that it didn’t work.

00:19:37:16 – 00:19:58:16

what age did you hit your peach of addiction and what were the negative consequences of that? So my first daughter was born when I was 18, and I think up until that, up until I had kids, there was no obvious consequences to me. And I’ll be clear. Yeah, like prison didn’t scare me because a prison appealed to me.

00:19:58:18 – 00:20:25:03

So I used to just sort of think, at least I’d be in a, like institution and like, every day, like I said, I never ended up in prison. I don’t know, I’m oversimplifying it, but that’s the way I used to see it. So up until I was 18, there was loads of bad stuff. Like I had some some real near-misses with, particularly ecstasy, because I lived the life I remember, like somebody said to me, how many pills drinking you’d have to take at once for you to kill for it to kill you.

00:20:25:05 – 00:20:42:02

And so said, I reckon if you did 10 in 1 go it would get close. So I did it. I was like, well, let me see. That’s how I lived. Like so there was less consequences there. But I was perhaps more erratic. Once my kids were born, things got bad and I would spike and go down this sticky thing.

00:20:42:02 – 00:21:03:07

And I like I think, people often think that addiction is this, like, constant, like you end up just doing it all day, every day. And I would have periods like that and then periods where I would sober up, stop everything for a couple of weeks providing the problem, and then I’d be, you know, try and keep it under wraps again for a bit after that, and then it would all take off again.

00:21:03:09 – 00:21:23:10

The one constant was cannabis, and I kind of was never really causing any issues. but alcohol was bad. The alcohol was bad. But what? Once I got to the 24, I had four kids in that that previous marriage, that broken down, I was 17,000 pounds in debt. I was on a fault up at my mum’s house.

00:21:23:10 – 00:21:40:23

And that’s when. That’s when they responded. That’s when I really, really woke up every morning. No. Wanted to be. Yeah. That’s when you’re in a dark place. Yeah. Yeah. And what was the final straw that made you decide right off I it right. This is time to get sober now it was a series of like a series of events.

00:21:40:23 – 00:21:56:06

That thing that happened with my jaw, it happened. And all of the lads that I thought had my back and were like that for me, you know, that I used to go to football with. They would left me in Preston, so when I woke up they didn’t go. So I had to go home and I was like starting to think, like I’m on my own.

00:21:56:06 – 00:22:14:03

Yeah. I’d also another would be to go into it is a boring story, but it’s quite traumatic at the end of my foot off in the machine of work I could. So I was going to get, a big payoff for that, which would have cleared my dad and got me set up. And so I was living at my mum’s house, drinking every day.

00:22:14:03 – 00:22:32:20

But hopefully when I get this money, everything’s going to be all right. And my best mate said to me things right. He said, when you get that money, you will, you will pay that. That is, are you going to be going to it out? Will, you know. And I was like, yeah, I used to fantasize about getting money and booking into a hotel for a week and just going out in a blaze of glory, you know?

00:22:32:20 – 00:22:49:19

That’s why that’s how I saw it. so these series of events happened, and then literally the last date I drank was the day. I don’t know if you’re a football fan, but when I was going to be honest, because I have another guest in today who’s a football pundit, I know nothing about football, so that’s all I know.

00:22:49:19 – 00:23:15:12

I know, I know nothing about. I know people know that. in 2012, a Guerra mansi striker scored a goal in the last kick of the game and it won mansi the league when they were about to lose it, I and it was carnage. And I was in the pub that day and the landlord of the pub happened to be, an ex compulsive gambler and he’s about 18 months free, and he took me to a 12 step meeting on the Monday.

00:23:15:14 – 00:23:39:14

I haven’t used alcohol jokes since since that day. And that was 14. The night 2012, 2012. Yeah. So just celebrated 12 years. That’s fantastic. Yeah, that’s mustaches. Yes. Yes. It’s an interesting story, sir, as well as I talk to many people about Slim Jim. Before we go any further, let’s make a me. Let me show you this.

00:23:39:16 – 00:23:58:14

We should have. This is a guy from Doctor Richard Madden who creates new linguistic programing. He’s a very, very good friend of mine. He’s super intelligent. I think he has five PhD, something like 100 books. Right. And he taught me this. So and this is my own thing, right. You take the four corners of the universe, just do this for me so you can see four corners in between your fingers.

00:23:58:14 – 00:24:23:22

You got that? Yeah. Okay. So I’m going to do this. I’m going to tell you the joint. You know that. God, it’s. Yeah, man. It’s fucking good shit, man. Hold up, hold on, hold. Yeah. yeah, I remember you saying. So you want me to show you the be before? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let me explain something. Right. Yeah.

00:24:23:22 – 00:24:38:01

Here’s the interesting thing. You can start to feel your tingling, your head, or just a little touch, right? Yeah. If you should be used to smoking weed right now, the brain has an ability to remember everything you’ve done. And you only ever done that with a joint. We’ve done that with a joint. Right. So your brain. So you remember.

00:24:38:02 – 00:24:57:03

Let me show you. I can taste a step further. So your finger in the thumb. They are watching you do this. I have to do this. And then I see a mango sweaty mango. I love that I take that, yeah, because the only person who ever done that is in Leith. This is when you’re in the dentist. You need an injection so you can replicate the screen.

00:24:57:05 – 00:25:17:12

Join it. Yeah. Are you feeling right? It’s done. You’re like my man. My face is go numb because your brain relates and associate to everything is done. Previously. And that’s why people get high just from sucking in it just for men. Listen, you two, a breathwork talk to me about breathwork. It’s like me coming down that path. Yeah, well, that’s like the,

00:25:17:14 – 00:25:36:09

When we was just doing that thing, when I was breathing in, I was like. That’s the kind of feeling I get from breathwork, you know, I discovered breathwork, like maybe 6 or 7 years ago. And I think similar to some of the stuff maybe they just talked about that I did. I’ve done a lot of talking and rationalizing about my experience.

00:25:36:09 – 00:25:56:17

You know, I talked to the cows, come in, but I knew that I was still missing a lot. I still knew that it wasn’t really I wasn’t reaching into the depths of what I’d experienced and what I did. Breathwork, conscious, connected breathwork for the first time, I really got into my body. I’d had like a profound experience from being in my body.

00:25:56:19 – 00:26:32:00

and it was one step. Once I’d done, a new, very, very quickly, I wanted to bring it into, to what I do. And so, like, I think I’ve been certified now for 4 or 5 years, but, and it’s incredibly well received, right? Yeah. I mean, look, one of the things that I really pride myself on with it is I think what happens when people get into things like this is, everybody says they want to they want to take it to the normal average person on the street, but then they dress it all up in, in like, tie dye and fucking weird language.

00:26:32:00 – 00:26:53:18

Right. And I always try and think about the guy I was when I was 24, because I’ll talk about in a second. But when I was 24 and I stopped drinking, life didn’t get good. It got fucking horrible. Me life quickly. Yeah. at 24, I ain’t go into some bloke who’s talking about transcending consciousness and and wearing those shoes and socks, and he’s got tie dye trousers on.

00:26:53:18 – 00:27:10:23

Yeah, I ain’t it. I fucking love that stuff now. And I’m up for it and I’ll go do dumb things. I’m in it and I love it. But when I needed it the most, I ain’t going there. Now, if a bloke does talks to me in the language that I understand. So when I say breathwork, I say that we’re going to do this for 25 minutes.

00:27:11:04 – 00:27:26:23

By the end of it, you’re going to feel like you’re off. You’re not going to have an experience. But I feel like you speak to the 24 year old me who’s going to go, I’ll give that a bash. No. Once they got their foot in the door, then they can go and they can do the tie dye stuff and go wherever they want with it.

00:27:27:00 – 00:27:45:17

But ultimately, the power is in the breathwork. The breathwork does the job. and so I’ve always prided myself on wanting to make it as reachable as it can at the first session I did on like 70 people turned up like by the third one, I think that was like 2500. Wow. I’m like, yeah, it’s not a thousand.

00:27:45:17 – 00:28:12:03

Yeah. Impressive. Yeah, yeah. I really I really get what you say about the tie dye trousers and the spirituality that can turn people off until they get into it, because I remember being about 27 years old and, I was doing huge seminars, motivational seminars, and, I saw Tony Robbins do this thing where people over 1,000 pounds at the end of it, and I thought, wow, I’d love to have that at the end of my seminar.

00:28:12:09 – 00:28:28:15

So I hired someone to do, and it was cost a lot of money before let me figure out how to do this myself. So I found this guy called Tony Burke in Sweden who taught Tony Robbins. So I went out to Sweden to study with Tony Burke. And and he’s very spiritual. Remember one day he says he lives in the forest right?

00:28:28:17 – 00:28:45:06

We stayed in these tents and we had, like, sitting around and like, you eat our brains just like, you know. But he fires fire on me. And I was you filthy. I haven’t washed, you haven’t slept. And one day he says, I’m going to go into my first want to hug trees with you in my fucking home. Trees.

00:28:45:08 – 00:29:08:01

And we can go on trees. Which trees you want to always treat? You want to hug? I’m like, what the fuck in my life? So I find that a real turn off. But the way you’ve put it to say this to me, breathwork and you get off. You’re not just like a painting, right? Yeah. You’re you’re talking the language and I think, like, we need to normalize spirituality as just being being one with myself and being as present as I can be.

00:29:08:07 – 00:29:31:11

Yeah, all of the other stuff is just how you’re wearing it and how you dressing up. And I think, listen, I went through a phase probably in my early recovery where I was trying to, you know, lean into spirituality. So, and so I, I started talking different and I knew where that came from. But today, a new way, I, I have a very I have a deep spiritual practice.

00:29:31:11 – 00:29:54:00

Right. But I’m also not that guy, so I don’t need to I don’t need to beat up. I don’t need to. I don’t feel the need to prove to everybody that I’m spiritual by saying using words that really don’t resonate with me. So I talk and we talk, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the work I’ve done has resonated with people.

00:29:54:01 – 00:30:10:05

Yeah, because I’ve tried as much as I can to stay myself. What do you think’s been your greatest achievement the last 12 years? My greatest achievement in the last 12 years.

00:30:10:07 – 00:30:33:21

Probably. Probably being the dad I become in the relationship that I’ve got with all six of my kids. My oldest will be 18 in July. and I guess, let me put it simply for you so that I can answer the question, can here be the greatest achievement of the last 12 years is to have any of my six kids went through the most unimaginable problems.

00:30:33:21 – 00:30:54:10

Even if they caused it themselves, they would phone me very quickly. It’s nice. You know, since, you’re an ambassador for. Do I pronounce it Nico? Is that how you pronounce Nicola? Nicola? So, yeah, National Association of Children of Alcoholics. And you’re passionately involved with them. So a little bit about that. I discovered them in us by. Yes ago.

00:30:54:10 – 00:31:18:05

Right. And so for me that about 25. Okay. Yeah. So I think it’s important to say you alluded to earlier the weekend that I had with my children, but that’s what changed everything. up until nine months into sobriety. I pretended that I loved it. I fucking hate it, I hate it being sober. I was 24, 12 years ago, and it weren’t, so I learned a lot.

00:31:18:06 – 00:31:35:12

So the community is great now. There wasn’t that. I was fucking weird in the eyes of everybody. Yeah. and I didn’t like being sober. I hate it when I went to meetings, I would say things like, you know, I love being sober. It’s great. I’m so glad I’ve got my support. I didn’t mean it. It was easier.

00:31:35:14 – 00:31:59:10

And I was nine months, so I say it took me, like, 12 years to nearly drink myself to death, to be nine months to nearly sober myself to death. And that was because I couldn’t deal with when you suddenly got the reality of everything that you’d been numbing out. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And not just not right. Not just that, but, when I started feeling the things that I thought alcohol was causing, that was hard.

00:31:59:12 – 00:32:15:15

But let me tell you, when I started behaving in some of the ways that I used to say, I did that because I was in and I’m starting to do that creeping in when I’m sober. Then I just think, you know what? I’m a terrible person. So that’s when I made the decision not to be here anymore. And I went to see my kids because I knew I was going to die.

00:32:15:17 – 00:32:39:10

The past became irrelevant, future was non-existent, and for the first time ever, I was present with a couple of my girls. I’m feeling it in a way that I never experienced, you know? And that’s when I changed my mind. And after that weekend, I made a commitment to being honest with myself. And when I walked into the Cove, that’s when I started to realize that so many of the ways that I found actually make perfect sense.

00:32:39:10 – 00:32:57:24

When I see my life in its entirety, I wasn’t crazy, there wasn’t something wrong with me, and I’d been reacting to the world in the best way that I knew how, based on the the tools that I’d been given. And so when I found The Cove, there was no plan in government to support children affected by past drinking.

00:32:58:01 – 00:33:17:20

there was no specific funding. We campaigned over years. I gave the lecture the House of Commons seven years ago. Six years ago, it was on the front page of the national papers the next day, and eventually we secured funding for children, specifically children affected by parents drinking. the government had just cut a pay cut that two years ago.

00:33:17:20 – 00:33:44:13

So in this country, there’s no specific funding for children affected by that drinking. But the cover is predominantly a, a free anonymous helpline to anyone affected by parents drinking can call and speak to a trained helpline counselor when we get children as young as five years old coming up. Wow. Yeah. It’s heartbreaking. Yeah. I don’t want to glamorize using drugs, but people like to hear some of the crazy stories of come and share a crazy story with me.

00:33:44:15 – 00:34:06:12

You want to cry? I’ll give you. Give me a crazy story. This story is so crazy. People are going to think I’m making it up right here, right? so I came out of a nightclub, and at the time I was selling ecstasy pills. One, I came out of a nightclub, and I saw somebody that I sort of knew get beat up, and I.

00:34:06:12 – 00:34:24:11

His phone dropped out of his pocket when he was on the floor. No, because I was pilled up. I was all loved up. And, so I’ve gone over to the place. I’ve gone. I’ve seen it all. I fucking love him. Like anything you need. Take my number. I want to help him. Gave one over to the place.

00:34:24:13 – 00:34:42:17

Went back to a house party in a place called London. It’s about how seven in the morning. We’ve been up all night. Yeah, my phone goes. It’s the place I’ve called. Sorry, Mr. Connelly, if we woke you up, I’m like, no, I need to sleep. They said, we want to act fast. You want to catch these people? Can you get a statement?

00:34:42:21 – 00:34:58:03

Oh, so this would be a living. That’s like going through the motions. There’s like, can we come and get you? I was a call. No, you can’t come here. I said pick me up at the end of the road. Yeah. So I went and waited at the bus stop on my own. Right. So I’ve gone up to this person and then I’m trying to my mate not go in when they get you.

00:34:58:05 – 00:35:14:19

I’ll just tell them exactly what happened, and then they drop me back. It will be will be fine. Right. And then I kept coming back. Random. The girl I thought was that wasn’t even that. I was tripping over that part yet. Anyway, the police said the they got in the car. They took me to the station. I have no idea how long I was in this interview, right.

00:35:14:19 – 00:35:32:01

But I do remember I kept going, what was that? And then they would, like repeat it to me, and then I’ve got to go and use the toilet. So I’ve gone in the toilet at the police station. I feel water on my face. I’m trying to get myself to back to some kind of normality. So I got a cold water splashed on my face.

00:35:32:03 – 00:35:52:21

The next memory I have, I’ve come round and I must have gone off on a bit of a rush and I’m soaking up to the swimming pool. So I’ve gone there and just took care of the bags. So I’ve gone up to the door and I’ve pulled the door back like that to check what I’m thinking. I’m going to run and I’ve opened the door, to, to and then right everything.

00:35:52:23 – 00:36:08:04

And they put me straight back in the police car and they drop me back at the end of the road. And I walked back into that house by and walked in, that everyone was it was literally because everyone’s off. Then, it was literally like, Josh, how was your police interview? And I said, yeah, good thing.

00:36:08:06 – 00:36:26:14

And it wasn’t until the next day, I would love to hear from them police officers. I mean, they must have been they must have had the right Cockney about that. And I promise you that a true story. Yeah. That’s crazy. We do some crazy things under the influence though. So tell us about your upcoming book, How the 11th Joy.

00:36:26:15 – 00:36:48:04

it’s true. It’s there. You know, you how to break free from toxic parents and reclaim your story. So I wrote this book last year. and throughout the, you know, I’ve supported thousands of people who’ve grown up in dysfunction, and I’ve supported just as many people who’ve grown up with what I would call toxic and abusive parents.

00:36:48:05 – 00:37:12:13

And I think we all know that if somebody is in your life and they are emotionally abusive and they’re relentless with their emotional abuse, everybody would say to you, get that person out of your life. You need to get as far away from them. You were a victim of abuse. Official parent. For some reason, in our culture, people still think that you have a sense of duty to have to reconcile with that parent, regardless of whether they change or how bad the abuse is.

00:37:12:15 – 00:37:38:08

And so I realized this a few years ago, began supporting a lot of people through the, to even reconcile their relationship if they’re, if if it is reconcilable or, in, in lots of cases, people who have to go no contact. and so, yeah, I teamed up with, every penguin and it comes out in July is out a pre-sale now, right now.

00:37:38:08 – 00:37:56:22

So I don’t get a song. You can have a signed copy. you can come along to the book tour in July as well. I’ll happily be there. Yeah. And I have a little flag for. Yeah, but interesting thing about the book, let me just say this, is that each chapter finishes with, a QR code that you scan and that will take you to a brief look to some of the work that you’ve done.

00:37:56:22 – 00:38:14:18

So going to the book will take you on a journey. Really. it’s based on an online program that I’ve run where the government, of, of that program, and it’s based around that. and I’ve seen the change in people, the changes other people’s lives as a result of that. So the book will take you on that journey.

00:38:14:18 – 00:38:33:18

So if you grew up in any kind of dysfunction or difficult parents and, the book’s definitely going to be a it’s funny talking about when you say that just because they’re a parent, people feel that they maybe should have some sort of relationship with that parent, even though it’s toxic or abusive, and they don’t realize that they can step away from it.

00:38:33:18 – 00:38:50:13

Because I remember myself, you know, I told you this time that 14 and half from a very abusive upbringing and I didn’t really have anything to do with my my mom ever again. And then I was about, I want to say, somewhere around about the age of 30 ish. And obviously I’ve made it, if that’s what you want to say.

00:38:50:13 – 00:39:11:11

And, I can get my details out. The incident, quite simply. And, my mom sent me an email, so she’s obviously going to have have found my manager, sent me an email off my website, and she’s written, if you don’t allow me to see your kids, I will cut you out of my will. So I’m going to show you that my mom is very, very wealthy, extremely wealthy.

00:39:11:13 – 00:39:34:13

And I’m thinking, I’m not sure you these years, you never saw this man doing the things he did to me and I. But I didn’t want to just respond. I sort of faster and, put my words behind. I stopped and I thought about it for a second, and the next time I answered, no. And if you can tell me why you let a man who wasn’t even my father beat me, kindly piss on me, etc., Then I’ll let you see my kids.

00:39:34:15 – 00:39:54:07

And she sent me an email back and this is really telling. She sent me an email back and she had cut and paste the statue. She though it wasn’t illegal to kind of channel, but then when I went to look and that was it. Yeah. That’s it. And I mean, firstly, that’s how wrong and right. That’s how wrong.

00:39:54:07 – 00:40:18:10

And I think a lot of people struggle to comprehend that especially a mum could be like that. Yeah, eventually. And I think that’s what drove me to addiction. Yeah. Yeah. Like look did you know government too. Yes. Yes. Yeah I see it coming in. My book feels funny and I have you yes I have he’s he’s excellent. He’s a he’s a good man.

00:40:18:11 – 00:40:42:13

Yeah I got tired of it. Yeah I cried coming up so and he’s like yeah. He’s like one of my favorite teachers. But he said that when he was working in Vancouver that a lot of the drug addicts that when they talked about taking heroin, they said that it was like a warm hug. Yeah. And I think that if you think about if you go to some of the most deprived areas in the world, you’ll find two things that, right, lots of off licenses.

00:40:42:13 – 00:41:05:24

And there’s often lots of like spiritual places, churches and stuff. You know, that’s because they both offer the same thing. And yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. Absolutely. you said some genetics loaded gun. Your environment pulls the trigger. Experiment. Look, I don’t believe that anybody is born destined to be an alcoholic or to be a mother. I don’t think anybody’s born destined to be that.

00:41:06:01 – 00:41:29:02

Yeah, I think that we all have characteristics and traits that even lend themselves to it or don’t. Yeah, I know that I am highly sensitive when I say highly sensitive. I mean, I’m really intuitive. I’m very in tune with my surroundings, right? That can make the world seem quite difficult for me. I believe that that is a genetical factor.

00:41:29:04 – 00:41:55:14

Yeah. however, I think if I grew up in a loving, nurturing environment where I had at least one, but preferably more emotionally available adults to help me express my emotions, to feel comfortable to myself, to help me build a life and a brain I didn’t want to escape from. Then I think I would have had much less chance of being an alcoholic and not I like because I think the environment doesn’t know.

00:41:55:16 – 00:42:12:21

I’ll add to this and I’m going to say stuff is important. We know that. We know that our brain does a lot of its development on the outside. Right? So so, the brain does a lot of its development based on the environment that we live in in those initial years, for sure. That’s pretty basic science, though. Yeah.

00:42:13:02 – 00:42:32:01

I think we know that scientifically. I think we know that intuitively. If you are around a baby that is a newborn or anything, even under four years, you can feel a sense of how delicate they are, of how whatever you do, whatever interaction with them, like a get this right, man, because they are fucking taking everything. And I think we know that scientifically.

00:42:32:01 – 00:42:59:02

I think we know it intuitively. I think the reason it’s not talked about a policy level as in the government level, because if we admit how important those first, particularly for but maybe to nine if we admit how important they are the solution to what we call mental health, the solution to addiction would be to adequately fund children’s services, to fund people, to support children, to properly from the schools, and to fund families when they’re when they are raising young children.

00:42:59:06 – 00:43:22:02

That would be the solution. Yeah. And I think that we exist in a, in a world at the moment that the government sit at the same table as the people that profit from the distress caused by not adequately doing that, or there’s no question over that. What about the person that, that is grew up in a loving environment, financially secure, and still ends up in an addiction?

00:43:22:04 – 00:43:41:01

I would say look harder. I would say recover, like, like I don’t it’s a red flag to me when somebody tells me that they grew up in a perfect environment, you know, I I’m gonna say this to you because I’m on the same page as you. But I mean to say this, this is a fact.

00:43:41:03 – 00:44:00:06

You are more likely to become an alcoholic if you have a genetic gene of having blue eyes because of the chromosome reaction to alcohol. Myself, as a pee wee blue eyes have a slightly higher genetic predisposition to becoming alcoholics. Doesn’t mean you. Because you blue eyes. Well, I want to get a little blue eyes. That’s not the reason.

00:44:00:06 – 00:44:12:03

But there is a slight increase in the genetic, the potential of that becoming alcoholic. So my final question for you, Joyce. sure. I’ll join.

00:44:12:05 – 00:44:38:01

You, that’s very, my final question to you that I ask every single guest on my show is, to anyone listening who’s struggling with addiction, what advice would you give to them? Contact you if that’s the advice of you. and the second advice, the first thing I would say is, like, well done for finding a way to get through, finding a way to deal with life in a way that the you experience it.

00:44:38:03 – 00:45:02:14

And then secondly, I would say if you ever want to explore it, you don’t have to think that I’m going to give it up for good, necessarily. Treat it like an experiment and say to yourself, let me do a period where I’m going to really give it a go, and I’m going to try and stop it because when I look at where I was when I was 24 and I stopped drinking alcohol to where I am now, my life is immeasurable.

00:45:02:16 – 00:45:26:14

And every fear I’m worried that I had about going sober, it’s just come to nothing, you know, there’s usual fears and people talk about like, do you lose your friendship groups like what, what, what the evenings like, are you still able to go out? Is that not even the not even questions, but people ask me them. I’m like, it’s not even on my radar.

00:45:26:16 – 00:45:51:05

My life is so full and so amazing. I don’t know, like whether or not I can go out on a Friday night. I’m like, I’m out all of the time doing what I love, you know? So and I think that’s accessible to anybody. And if you do do it to people that I meet in recovery, a the greatest people I know, the ones that have been the they’ve been to the edge and come back to the greatest people in life.

00:45:51:06 – 00:46:15:21

So you got more resources, experience in your life to enrich your life. final note where for people who want to find breathwork, how can they find you best? Please go to my website or websites, just Josh but you can find me on all socials on Josh underscore f w everything’s there. I’m offering a free, mini retreat to anybody that preorders my book at the moment.

00:46:15:21 – 00:46:33:20

Nice. and the book tours out there. So if you want to come and try to press book, we’ll be doing that on the tour as well. Fantastic. Josh, it’s been a privilege and a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much for coming to with me and joining us.