Their Story Their Voice

Going viral saved my life

February 22, 2023 AO / Susan Westwood Season 1 Episode 20
Their Story Their Voice
Going viral saved my life
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Susan made me ask myself the question, yes you can beat Alcoholism but can you stop being a Racist?

This episode I spoke to Susan Westwood who went viral in 2018.

Susan explains what led her to the actions that made her feel it was appropriate to call 911 on two innocent black ladies who were waiting for the recovery vehicle in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Susan talks about how this and facing her battle as an Alcoholic made her see herself in a different light.

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

https://www.wccbcharlotte.com/2022/04/18/susan-westood-speaks-out-for-first-time-since-racist-rant/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtnOagtj8Do
https://sacredsolutions-coaching.com
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40912509
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/16/virginia-governor-glenn-youngkin-extreme-bill-police-menstrual-histories

mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues
mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Susan:

in learning the worst parts of myself, you get to become a better person.

AO:

Welcome to another episode of ChatAholic. This episode I speak to a lady called Susan Westwood. I'm just going to add, it's up to you to come to your own opinions about Susan. I have mine, but those are mine. I don't know. I think what I got from Susan is there a difference between being a racist and having conscious bias. But I'm going to leave it to you as listener to decide. But thank you for listening to another episode of ChatAholic. Also, I'm really sorry in advanced about the audio quality It was just an issue with recording it on that particular day, software issues. Hi Susan. Thank you so much for joining me. Would you mind telling me a bit about you, what you do, and anything that you are happy sharing?

Susan:

Oh, sure. Gosh, there's so much. but, you know, my name is Susan Westwood. I am first and foremost a recovering alcoholic. I'm almost three years sober and almost four years ago, I had a lot of things happen in my life that were completely my fault. That had to do with drinking a alcoholically and sort of doing what they call the hero's journey. So about four years ago, I had to begin a journey of building myself back up and recreating myself, if you will. and I think through my journey, it's one of the reasons why I wanted to help other women, in life and business to help them go through whatever it is they're going through. To become the person that they wanna be.

AO:

I just wondered, I dont know if you are happy to disclose and if you are not, that's fine. Was there a stage when you realized that actually there was something more you could get from life if you weren't dependent on alcohol? And when did that stage happen? What was the turning point? because I can't even begin to appreciate what it must be like for someone who's an alcoholic to decide to turn their life around to choose another path. So did something in particular happen that made you think, do you know what there's a better path than this.

Susan:

oh, oh, absolutely. So I had begun a journey of self-exploration and self transformation. In 2016, I became really involved in learning more about self-development. And this was, like I said, this was in the 2016 time period that I started to delve into it. But I was drinking and my drinking was getting worse. And so I was absorbing all this information, but I really wasn't taking it all in and here's what happened. It was October 18th, 2018. I had come home from a night of drinking. I hid my alcoholism. But Friday nights were my time for really letting loose. I controlled my drinking Sunday through Thursday very well. But because I was so unhappy with my work, I would just really let loose on a Friday. And after a night of heavy drinking, I came back to my apartment in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and proceeded to harass two black women that were in my parking lot that I thought were because of the color of their skin. And, and I believe that you can maybe identify with this There was a lot that had happened and you know, basically there was a video of me in this awful behavior and the video went viral. There were criminal charges, and, I lost my job. It was a very good job. I lost, I wasn't evicted, but I was asked to vacate my apartment. And, you know, I literally had to begin rebuilding my life. So there were two things that I had to come to terms with. I had to come to terms with my racism, and I had to come to terms with my alcoholism in a very public way. And I had to figure out, how do I rebuild my life? And of course, I knew what I did was wrong. A lot of time has of course passed. But what I initially did was obviously separate myself from the alcohol because I knew if I could do that, I had to do that first because I couldn't. Start rebuilding my life if I didn't take that first initial path. And then of course I had to deal with, you know, and you, we talk about it, you know, is this idea of systemic racism. What does systemic racism look like? and it looks like people like me, it looks like white privileged women who think that we're better, or, and men too, of course. But it, it looks like me in a sense that I think I'm so much better than everybody that if I see two black women at 1130 at night, they're obviously up to no good. That's horrible. And how do I, yeah, go ahead

AO:

susan, I appreciate you at least being honest about what you did, especially from someone who is American because I feel like most people in different countries know that race issues are a very big issue over there. I know for most people it started with George Floyd, and that's where people think Black Lives Matter came from, but it didn't because it was around long before that, but that's where it then gained momentum again, which is great. I appreciate that you've decided to come out and speak about what you did I have a question that I wanted to ask because I know that there's going to be at least someone, or maybe there will be no one. It's just me who wonders. So I'm going to ask, if you hadn't have gone viral, do you think you would have thought to yourself, I need to address. Some of my behaviors, some of my thinking, some of my beliefs. And I'm not just talking about the drinking I'm talking about the drinking and the racism. Do you believe you would've. Taken a step back and thought, actually I need to address this. If you hadn't have gone viral, if you hadn't had the backlash that you had, because that's another thing. It's not correct to assume that if someone has a problem with substance abuse, it automatically means they can't function because you do have those people who are still highly functioning and still are able to have a job, still have a family. So I, because you had a job, so no one was aware of anything else that was going on with you.

Susan:

It's funny you should ask that because, my drinking, as I mentioned, was something that I was controlling. my employer probably had no idea that I was struggling because, like I said, I was controlling my drinking to Fridays mostly, and sometimes Saturdays a little day drinking. But I was starting to have some problems because I was spending a lot of my Saturdays hungover on the couch. I didn't feel productive. I wasn't doing the things that I used to do. Like, you know, just going out and doing errands or going to yoga class. Those things were starting to become less and less. I didn't really have a lot of physical signs of it other than a, some problems with sleep and some digestive issues. but I was starting to lose some friendships. There was one friendship that was important to me that I had lost in the 2015 time period because of things that I was starting to say, I did curtail my drinking quite a bit. But what I had done was for about three years is I just switched from say wine to beer. And when I switched to beer, it was a little bit less of a problem because it just doesn't have such a high alcohol content. What I will tell you is this and again, I'm not, I don't like to disparage, but my mother was, a high functioning alcoholic. I became very aware of her drinking issues when my parents separated in the late seventies or early eighties. Realized even as a 13 year old girl that my mother was struggling and she was having a very difficult time with my parents' divorce. But keep in mind that, uh, my problems with alcohol, my own personal problems, and I think because I was so aware of, my mother and I we kind of stressful relationship is that I didn't really drink a lot until my forties. I was not a young woman that drank. In fact, when I was in college, I probably went to two parties in my entire college career. I just did not enjoy the whole idea of drinking or binge drinking. And it was really only as an adult in my forties when I started, you know, realizing that the two glasses of wine on a Friday night were slowly, very, very slowly transitioning from two to three, to three to four, four to five obviously not slamming them down in an hour, but that it was becoming this progressive problem that I was too proud to get help.

AO:

but what happened in your forties?

Susan:

Well, I was, like I said, I had all the trappings of a successful woman. I was, you know, doing better and better financially, had good jobs yet. I wasn't terribly happy in those jobs. But yet because of the creature comforts that, you know, living in a wealthy suburb and, being successful, you know, it was all about trappings If you go and you look at this video that went viral, you see a woman I was 51 when it happened, but you see this woman that's really put together with, full makeup, head of hair extensions in her hair, well dressed. But it was trappings. It was an armor that I used and that I just wasn't happy. But yet I associated myself with all these material things, I didn't wanna get rid of all those things, so I stayed with the job that made me miserable. I hadn't had a romantic relationship in quite some time.

AO:

I have some friends who have a parent who is an alcoholic, or both their parents are alcoholics. And I remember one of them saying to me that if you have a parent who's an alcoholic, the chance of you becoming an alcoholic, there's actually a higher chance. Apparently that is actually true. There is a higher likelihood of those children becoming alcoholics at some point in their life. However, just because there's a higher likelihood does not mean it is guaranteed because both of my friends who have a parent or both their parents are alcoholics. Neither of those people are. I don't know. I, is that an excuse and I'm not defending your actions? I'm separating the racist act to you having that experience of battling with being an alcoholic. So I'm separating those two to say that, not that I get it, but I do know that there is. higher likelihood that you could have gone down that path because of your mom, whilst also not blaming your mom.

Susan:

And so, you know, it was, I had always, of course, like I said, known that my mother had this problem, and, and I knew that as, and the interesting thing is there was a period of time when it got worse, then it got a little better, and then it got worse and. A lot of my mother's issues, I think had to do with some bitterness over my parents' divorce. I think that she, when I reflect back, she was always someone, the who took everything personally and couldn't really get out of her own way sometimes when it came to just forgiving people. but to that point, I still feel, you know, again, my alcohol wasn't becoming an issue with me until my forties. So there's still that personal responsibility, and that's what I've learned is when you see these things happening, you have, I have, I should have taken personal responsibility. I should have gone to the 12 step meeting. you know, before I'm harassing black women in parking lots, I should have gone to a therapy. I, you know, and instead of course I did that, not because it was court ordered, but because I, I really did have a sense of peace when I, when I started doing that. Um, one of the things that I talk to very openly about is, you know, obviously you see this, I see this horrendous person looking back at me, um, through the video. And, you know, of course I'd make all these efforts to get better and to do better. And I was, and so I put a lot of pressure on myself. So in 2019, I decided to start in a new city and I was fine for a couple of months, and then I relapsed and. I relapsed on August 23rd, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina with a blood alcohol content of point 17, which is just so that, you know, it's over, you know, it's doubled the, the slightly over doubled the legal limit in North Carolina and most, states in the United States. And so I said to myself, okay, I, I haven't healed, I, I haven't done enough work. and then I just, I drank a little bit after that, about a month after my arrest. And, and I just made the decision on September 23rd, 2019 that I was done, that I deserved to have. A life beyond my wildest dreams, but I c couldn't have it if I kept drinking. I just couldn't have it. because the next time, God forbid I couldn't kill somebody. I mean, who knows? Um, I often think the d w I was actually the one of my rock bottoms because if it wasn't for that DWI and the relapse, who knows where I'd be in my addiction right now? It could be pretty messy. So that's when I made the decision. and of course I was still feeling so much guilt and shame over my behaviors the year before and my racism because I just wanna be clear, what I did was, was racist. You know, I called 9 1 1 on two black women who were waiting for car service. say it, say it.

AO:

I am really sorry. I just want to say something

Susan:

say it, say it.

AO:

I guess because I said it earlier. I know America has it so bad when it comes to racism. I'm so aware of that. Everyone's aware of that. There's no reason for me to judge because no one is entitled to judge anyone else. That's my opinion. But it blows my mind that we live in a world where racism still exists and. people think that they're better than someone else because purely just because of the color of their skin, and it hurts my soul to know that there's people who would call the police on another human being who's not committing any crime just because of the color of their skin. why would we penalize someone just because they were born with a different skin tone? I dont know. It blows my mind and I just needed to say it. And I appreciate your saying. You realize what you did was wrong, and I'm glad you realize what you did was wrong. because it was.

Susan:

Well, and see this is one of the things that I needed to rectify, about myself is what is it that is, so what is it about me and how I was raised that led me to, with these actions when I was drunk? Okay. So I needed to really look at that and I needed to look, you know, into, into my DNA and see where, where that was. And that, just like alcoholism, I realized did lay in my DNA and, as part of, you know, having these charges. not, I guess they, they were what we call, I guess, I don't know, in the UK if you have this, but you can have charges expunged from your record. But there's certain things that you, you have to do. And one of the things that I did, and I was led to do this by my attorney, and I didn't even know that these organizations existed, but it's an organization called the Racial Equity Institute. And there's, they're, I believe they're all over the United States, but, but in, in more metropolitan areas. So what I started to do is I started to go to meetings and I started going to, and to all these things for like two day workshops and learning about, systemic racism. White privilege, um, white fragility. Um, and what is it and, and why is it, why is it such a problem in the United States and, you know, in the United States? We are, we're very divided. I believe that Donald Trump has something to do that do with that, but I think it started, I think Donald Trump is just a symbol of what was already percolating

AO:

susan. Sorry to interrupt. I'm not just saying it's just in the United States. But it's just a problem that's been swept under the carpet, We don't really talk about it. And actually, unless it affects certain groups, then it's also just not spoken about. You're not really aware, and I'm not just saying it's you. I know it's an issue, but there's like most issues, racism, homophobia, going to throw in women's rights because I can't not. And these have been issues since the beginning of time, but I believe unless it affects the majority, it's just not really on the forefront of anyone's issues that things need to be dealt with or things need to change. And then we enter into situations where there's protests. People are standing up for what they believe in and other people should have been standing up for ages ago.

Susan:

I was born and spent a lot of years in Boston, Massachusetts, because that's where my mother was born and raised. She was born in a town in between Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts and southeastern Massachusetts. Um, and my father's from Indiana and they met, oh gosh, decades ago. But long story short, um, you know, in spending so much of my time in what is now a very liberal, very progressive part of our country and being in the south, cuz I've lived in the south now since 2004, I've lived in Savannah, Georgia. I've lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and um, uh, a coastal section in between Wilmington, North Carolina, so south of that, right near the South Carolina border. And now I live outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and I'm sure you remember hearing in the UK what happened here in Charlottesville, North Carolina, excuse me, Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2017, the Unite, the Right Rally at the University of Virginia where a white woman was killed because she was protest, she was protesting the right, and I can't tell you how difficult it is to find organizations here in Charlottesville, Virginia that I can get involved with when it comes to social justice.

AO:

I promise I'm not judging you. I don't feel anyone's in any position to judge anyone. I do feel speaking to you that. Whilst it might make me feel slightly uncomfortable because of your actions in the past, you are not in that place now. Now you are in a very different place. It's just, it's America. For me, it's, it's America. I don't want to be negative towards America as a nation because there's some amazing people and amazing things that have come out of America, but fundamentally America does make me sad. It makes me sad because one of the things that America, you hear, or you see is supposed to stand for is the land of the free, and that's not what I get from America.

Susan:

Well, it's so funny you should mention that I listened to a lot of different podcasts throughout my day cuz I, I do work from home and so I, like to remain educated. I try not to get all of my quote unquote news from mass media. but you know, somebody was questioning, and this was an independent thinker, and he said, what will last longer? And this ha was a lot of this came up, of course, with the death of Queen Elizabeth ii. and I followed a lot of that and somebody said, what will last more a cons, the constitutional monarchy or the constitutional republic, which is of course what we are. We don't have a monarchy. And I thought to myself we are relatively young country, but I had, I couldn't stop thinking about all of this. And I've been watching a lot of the. You know, and how, how you're honor, how you were able to honor Queen Elizabeth II and your 10, the 10 days of mourn. And a lot of it is pageantry and I like to see the pageantry, but I thought to, there's thing that I haven't since September 8th, and there's no crowds rushing Buckingham Palace and saying that King Charles III is illegitimate, or that it's, you know, what just happened was illegitimate and it's been stolen. I didn't see any of that and I thought to myself, huh, when you think back to January 6th? And I'm like, wow. They actually tried. People don't understand this. On the right people actually did try and overthrow an election, a legal election where Joe Biden won fair and square by 7 million popular votes, and they literally broke in to our government and tried to get in the way of the certification of votes And I'm seeing all this decorum in the last few weeks in the uk. All of this, everybody's remembering the queen and they're, I'm sure that there's people that don't like the monarchy or have thing, you know, but I don't see any of that. And I was just awestruck by that. And, and the people you. In the uk, the realms and the territories who just owed, you know, even if you don't like King Charles the third, nobody's breaking down parliament or breaking down the palaces. And I just, I was awestruck by it.

AO:

In America, from an outsider's point of view, people got hurt. We saw it on the tv, we saw it, and I don't know how long it lasted for. I just remember different people from all over the world saying, what's going on America? Because it looked like chaos and not good chaos. bad chaos like mass anarchy, and from an outsider's point of view watching it, I personally did not really understand what on earth was going on, and I get it. Trump still has his supporters and everyone is entitled to support whoever they want to support because that's what democracy is supposed to mean. when your actions start to affect those other people, surely to me that's when it becomes wrong. That's when we have an issue.

Susan:

Well, and you also don't, I also don't turn on the television in the morning and hear about mass school shootings, um, either in the uk. And here's what I think it is, and it does kind of go back to really hard topics like, you know, racism, gun control. I think that's another part of it too, that you don't see over in other countries. I love the fact that, you know, there's a lot, you know, I don't poo Whoo. Um, I understand that being an American does come with. rights. My father is a retired naval officer. He served in the Vietnam War. Um, and I'm proud to be the daughter of a Vietnam veteran who, who went knowingly into service. he was probably gonna get drafted anyway, but he went ahead and enlisted after college. But I think that we, what it is, is we do not really like to talk about the difficult things. We don't like to talk about difficult topics. It was obviously very difficult for me in the beginning to talk about my racism because nobody wants that to be branded that in this country we don't, I don't wanna be branded with that title, As I dived more deep into my own stuff and into the real history of racism, what that means. Nobody wants to talk about it. You know, nobody wants to talk about the fact that black people were, and still are, you know, haven't been able to have access to, to as good a healthcare as white people, or didn't have access to education or, or didn't have access to. Even things like consumer loans or mortgages to help build that generational wealth. Um, and it comes from all these different systems, which in the, when I say the system, we mean the government, government, education, government, healthcare, government, law enforcement. This is where it lies. You know, this is, This is, this is why, um, you know, so many black men are incarcerated in our country because they were targeted by law enforcement. And it's a shame it took George Floyd's murder to put that on the forefront. Um, it's really a shame that that had to happen, because when I, when I say this, you know, George Floyd was no different than me. He had problems with drugs. He just happened to be a black man. I have problems with alcohol and I just happened to be a white woman. Were no different. We're, we're just human beings with unresolved traumas and we turn to substances. But, but people don't wanna talk about this difficult stuff. Um, you know what an abortion is. Another hot bus button issue. I, I don't wanna get too terribly off topic, but I, I have news for a lot of young women. Roe v. Wade. Yes, it gave federal provisions, but it still up to the individual states when it came to abortion. And this has been going, this has been, you know, that's been happening now for a while. And everybody was so surprised by the Dobbs decision. I wasn't,

AO:

Why weren't you surprised by it?

Susan:

Well, I mean, again, I'm a 55 year old woman, so, I'm not, you know, I, I, maybe I'm a little bit biased because I'm kind of beyond my childbearing age, age now, but you know, with Donald Trump, he was able to put three conservative judges on the court. And so that's tipped, that's tipped it. So, so we have five conservative judges on the court and we have Chief Justice Roberts, who is kind of the independent, but he does lean a little bit. He does lean more conservative. And so, I mean, we've been, we heard this all summer that there was a leak and that, and that this was gonna be, you know, we haven't That's the, that's the thing. It's, it hasn't gone away. The right hasn't gone away. It's just. it depends on what state you live in. you know, it's, it's really that simple. If you, if you live in Massachusetts, you won't have any problems getting a, you know, terminating a pregnancy. But if you live in Alabama, uh, it's, it's just, that's, you know, I, I guess I have to sort of put my independent hat on that, that I just wasn't surprised. I mean, that this whole thing laid down and it happened. Um, and I'm not sure it's gonna, you know, with five conservative judges on the court. I, I just, I don't see that changing. And keep in mind, uh, uh, you know, some of those, some of those justices that, you know, all three of the justices that, that Trump appointed, they're, they're all in their fifties. They could very well be there for another 30 years.

AO:

I can't imagine living anywhere where I'm told what I can and cannot do with my body. that's so, so, so, so wrong. It goes back to really who are you preventing from actually having abortions? Because if I earn a certain amount of money, I can travel to another state where I can legally have an abortion. So again, it's the inequality of where you live, your income. America just blows my mind, blows my mind.

Susan:

I came back to Virginia. I've lived in Virginia before as a young woman. but I came back here, because my dad and he is still living. I did lose my mother to cancer last year, but my dad is still living and he lives about an hour from me. But, you know, and, and, and I came back because I'm an only child and, and I still have my dad and he's. he's here and remarried. But, um, one of the reasons why, you know, Virginia is a little bit different. We used to be blue and now we're purple again because we, you know, they elected, um, you know, youngin, who was a presidential, helpful as a conservative, didn't allow, align himself with Trump, but he's still a conservative now. Virginia, I think, is still, you know, if, if, if you need to terminate a pregnancy, you can, but you literally, if somebody is in some of these southern states where there's a lot of restrictions, that a woman who's who's got a problem with her pregnancy and, and, and is in could die because of an issue with her pregnancy, literally has to get in a car and go to a state where that procedure can be performed. Or a, a woman that's been raped or is a victim of incest that's living in one of the states, has to literally figure out how she can go to a state and, and have a procedure performed where her doctor won't go to jail because he's about

AO:

okay, so just a correction, something Susan mentioned when I spoke to her, I spoke to Susan last year in 2022 and I've recently read an article, I have put the link to the article on the show notes about the governor of Virginia and actually in Virginia. Yes, whilst it is legal for women to have abortions, look, there is a cutoff and that cutoff is the 27th week of pregnancy. So I just wanted to make a correction there. So, I don't know if he is maybe as purple as Susan thought or said when I spoke to her, but I just wanted to make a correction on where Virginia actually stands when it comes to abortion rights.

Susan:

another thing too that I've learned is that in this country, when discussions get really uncomfortable that we retreat, we retreat to our corners because we just don't wanna talk about the uncomfortable stuff. We really don't wanna talk about the stuff that, and why, you know, and, and of course it's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable to know as an American that my ancestors and I did my, and I did my, my ancestry and, and I'm 80%, um, I'm 80% English, Scottish, I mean, my ancestors at some. Came over to this country and most likely did bring slaves with them. They, I mean, it's, it's, it's undoubtable where I come from, especially since, you know, half of my DNA comes from Massachusetts in the Boston area and looking at my DNA that on both sides of my family, there's, there's a, a distinct possibility that, that one of my ancestors brought slave slaves over and that these, and that what we did in this country is we brought black people to this country and they worked literally for free for 350 years. And even to this day, depending on where, you know, where you are in the country, may not be making as much money as their white neighbor. You know, we were talking about the gun issue a little while ago. I, I'll never, never understand the, um, our fascination and it seems to be, especially in more conservative states that have a fascination with guns.

AO:

I don't understand gun control. Full stop. I understand that it's one of your constitutional rights, the right to bear arms, but I don't understand it because I know that, the guns aren't the issue. but putting those weapons in the hands of human beings definitely becomes an issue. So no, I just don't understand that constitutional right of right to bear arms. I understand at the time when the Constitution was written why it was in there, but I don't understand why it's still in there now.

Susan:

I don't know that I'm interested in owning a gun. Um, I appreciate if somebody can use a gun and is trained to use a gun or protection or to protect their home or their person. I don't know that I would ever feel comfortable carrying a gun with me. That's just me. I don't feel comfortable having a gun. I don't know that I would feel comfortable, even if I was trained and I would be trained, I would obviously train on how to fire it, but I've always become my temperament. If I'm in a situation where I feel in danger, I, I, I would be the kind of personality that I would probably freeze and I'd be afraid that the assailant or the perpetrator would take the gun from me and use it on me anyway, because I, I just would freeze up. That's just my temperament. I get scared. So, um, that's kind of where I am on it. Um, I don't know. Um,

AO:

Before what happened? Happened, did you always have these strong views and strong opinions on certain things?

Susan:

I think I always have. And what I, what happened was I. Being raised in a traditional household. Like I said, full dis your full disclosure, my father's always been very progressive. Um, always leaned more democrat, always just been very open-minded person. My mother was more of a traditionalist and you know, I, you know, I mentioned her issues with drinking, but she, she just was a very traditional, kind of Catholic, um, person, A woman who, who believed in traditions, and I always, but I always felt like I leaned more towards my dad a little bit because we're both introverts, we're both readers, we're both introspective people. But I used to. I find myself getting a little bit more stifled. Um, my mother would stifle me her, um, she raised me in that timeframe of children should be seen and not heard. what alcohol did, was it, it took me to extremes where super opinionated or on the flip side, I also used alcohol to, you know, um, you know, I sort of, I guess, and a lot of people do, I used alcohol to be more relaxed, more attractive to the opposite sex. Um, and, and to appear to be more interesting. And of course, you know that obviously over time, that that kind of falls in on yourself because you're actually talking to people and you're being mean and rude and a bully Cause that's, that's what alcohol does. It takes you to the next level. So what I've learned, and, and quite honestly, I'll tell you since my mother's death and, and in all this internal work that I've done on myself, I, I guess I do have strong opinions, but now I just don't care if they're not well received. life coach, there are things that I'm going to say and things that I'm gonna ask my clients. I may need to ask them tough questions, but it's, it's because we have to get, we have to peel away these onion layers to find out who we really are and all this self interest and all this self introspection. You know, I, I find it really difficult to be quite honest with, with you, and I love living in Charlottesville, Virginia, because it is more progressive. But to my point, I still have a hard time having these kinds of discussions with people that are really deep. So I, I've always been a person now that I'm so completely sober and three years sober and I'm, you know, um, is there is, and I think we've touched upon it alot. I don't know if it's the pandemic. I don't know if it was the war in Ukraine, the economy inflation. It's like people don't wanna talk about hard, the real hard things. It's just the sound bite that gets your attention. You know, the school shooting, the inflation, the gas prices, the food prices, the high interest rates. Of course abortion that came up, of course, that was a big one over the summer. Um, we have a hard time in this country, and I'll say, and I'll keep saying it, we have a hard time talking about the real hard things, We kind of wait for the unicorn, the magic, and most of the problems that we face. are actually solvable. I heard that a couple of weeks ago. I don't know who it was. Maybe it was another coach. You know, we, we, we tend to think that things aren't, we have to wait for some divine intervention and really most of the problems that are in front of us at any given time are solvable. Um, one thing I'll share with you is, you know, of course, going back to my own situation, my own spirituality, you know, I, I did obviously, I, I, when we were in court, I, I apologized to, Mary and Lisa Garris, who, who were the women that I, you know, um, had. The altercation with that evening and that obviously I knew I was gonna apologize in pro, you know, in the, in, in the court. Not because I was asked to do it, but because I wanted to do it. But, um, you know, my point is I actually did an interview. I requested an interview with a reporter out of Charlotte, North Carolina. of course, a lot of reporters wanted to interview me and for legal reasons, I didn't speak publicly, you know, but I knew that there would become a point in time when I would wanna speak publicly, and I did that just this past year. I did it in April, and I did it because I wanted to be the person that has, could publicly apologize and publicly talk about these things in a forum that maybe hadn't been done before. Because you know, you, he, there's things that have happened here since the incident and other people, other women that have called the cops and other women that have done certain things and it gets public notoriety, but I never. Nobody'd ever apologized publicly. And I wanted to do that, not just for myself, but to show the world that it's okay to be vulnerable and it's okay to feel guilt and shame, but to not let it forever trap me in suffering. And I was suffering quite a bit.

AO:

I think sometimes people can do bad things that affect people in a negative way. Sometimes it's deliberate. Sometimes it's not deliberate. I guess maybe someone actually feels remorse for what they did, which is what I'm getting from you. You did something. you are not proud of. You felt shame, you felt remorseful. I am not gonna completely blame the alcohol, but I agree. Alcohol does make us, not all of us, but it makes some of us different people. sometimes the worst version of ourselves. But now your, you are a life coach. because you wanted to help people. that's what I'm going to take from this.

Susan:

Well, and that's one of the things why I wanted to, um, become a life coach. I wanted to become also a business coach that uses life coaching techniques because I want to show women in particular that no matter what we go through in life, whether it be something like this, Divorce or bankruptcy or addiction or whatever it looks like. And, and, and for me it was a couple of those things, but whatever it is that you're going through is, it's tough, but you have to go through the, the darkest points of it to come out on the other side and public doing, making the public apology and not just to the Gareth sisters, but to the black community was the, the hardest. But once I did it, I was so glad I did it. I was so glad. And I, I wanted to show that we can have these difficult conversations and talk about these, these, these difficult things. um, and, and get through it. And I think that sometimes we numb ourselves and we go in our corners and we get quiet and we get silent and we take those red pills and those blue pills, as we say over here in the States. Um, and then we stop talking about it. But, but having that ongoing dialogue about all these, these topics, it, it's important. It's essential.

AO:

Thank you for speaking your truth and being honest, and thank you for wanting to open up the dialogue, as I always say to everyone, including my white friends, that I'm only one black female. I'm not by. Any means representative of every single black female. I also thank you for acknowledging that yes, there is white privilege

Susan:

oh gosh, no. Ooh, I, yeah. Um, for sure. Um, yeah. And, and, and the reason why people don't understand white privilege, I think too is because if you're a part of it, you don't have to think about it. That's why people don't understand it, is because you're, if you're white and you're middle class or really class, you're, you're part of it. You're in it. So you don't have to think about it. And so that's why going and doing the research and going to the workshops, you have to dive deep because that's where it is yeah. digging deep and, and know what, what that looks like for everybody. Um, you know, is where that lands.

AO:

So what is next for you in your journey, in your story?

Susan:

Well, you know, professionally, I'm continuing to grow my coaching business. I love working with female entrepreneurs to starter scale a business, and I love bringing the net, the life coaching techniques into it. as I come up on the four year anniversary of, of that event and that unfortunate incident. I'm gonna be turning a little bit more into civil action. Um, civil rights. I'm gonna be talking about this a lot more and getting more vulnerable, um, and hoping that people in the United States pick up on this a little bit more and just being more honest about it and talking openly about it more. Um, like I said, my, my period of suffering is over and I just wanna spread the message.

AO:

Congratulations on your sobriety. I know from people that's not an easy thing to be able to battle with, and it's not an easy journey. And some people get there and some people, unfortunately, they don't.

Susan:

Take care. You too. Bye-bye.

AO:

So I've put the links for the YouTube clip where Susan went viral, and in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't look at them before I spoke to her. because then I feel like I maybe would've approached her in a different way because I would've already had an opinion. And not looking at them. And not seeing them meant that actually I didn't have an opinion of her before. And when I look at them now, I do have an opinion of that version of her. That version of her, it's just not a very nice version of her. And what she did to those two ladies was completely unacceptable. I have to stick to, in a world where there's so much hate, If someone puts their hands up and asks for forgiveness, should we not just accept that? Just wanted to say one thing Susan did say to me when I spoke to her is we all have a higher power, and they talk about that in the 12 step meetings and your higher power is whatever that is for the individual. And she said when she says higher power, she means your understanding and her in her words, she believes that even atheists and agnostics are looking for enlightenment and that she believes that we all want to be enlightened to do better in different areas.

(Cont.) Going viral saved my life

Podcasts we love