recovery story

Guest Blogger: Jen Yockey of SOULFUeL

Ladies and gents, I think I've found my Sober Sister Soul Mate.  Seriously, reading Jen's piece was like standing in front of a mirror, a gentle and kind and beautiful mirror.  She has such a beautiful outlook on life and I got so much from her story.  Watch out for this one!  She's going places--who are we kidding?  She's already THERE.  If you can't get enough of her, don't you worry--she'll be featured as a RePro in the near future.

xoxo,
Laura


The Audacity of Recovery

au·dac·i·ty
ôˈdasədē/
noun
1.  the willingness to take bold risks.

Addiction. Recovery. Sobriety. Drugs. Alcohol. Shopping. Sex. Technology. Gambling.  A lot of buzz words these days and like some of our favorite quotes and sayings, I think they have been used so much that we have become de-sensitized to them.  We have stopped listening, hearing and feeling what these words truly mean.

Getting sober doesn’t mean quitting things.  It doesn’t mean the fun in your life ends and that you need to move to a monastery in Israel in order to find peace and enlightenment and recovery.  It also doesn’t mean that you *wanting* to get sober means that you are currently sleeping under a bridge, haven’t had a shower in weeks and everything you own resides in a shopping cart. 

Life is not black and white.  There is a lot of grey.  Labeling people and afflictions is our need to make things black and white.  Labeling people and afflictions can make it really difficult for people to truly recover or to get help in the first place.  Who wants to be labeled an alcoholic?  An addict? A gambler? A cheater?  Not me.  We are not a behavior, *I* am not a behavior.

What would it look like if recovering from an overuse of a substance was like recovering from strep throat?  You go to the doctor, you let them know your symptoms, they prescribe a treatment and you are on the mend.  No one says that you can *only* have medicine for 7 days or 28 days.  No one says you have to label yourself as a “strepthroater”.  No one says that you have to hide out at home and not tell anyone about your strep throat. No one says that you will never recover and that you should be afraid.  People aren’t ashamed to walk in to the doctor with strep throat.  *I* am not strep throat, I *have* strep throat.  I can recover from strep throat.  This is how sobriety and recovery is for me.  It is my story.  I abused a substance.  I don’t do that anymore.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I have found the root cause of my wanting to do that.  I have recovered.  I have and continue to heal.

I have nothing against 12 step programs.   In fact, I credit those programs for my recovery foundation and I participated in these programs for the first 5 years of my sobriety. I got to a point, however, that I was able to start thinking for myself again.  I was able to trust my decisions.  I listened to that little voice inside of me instead of drowning it out with booze, drugs, men, over training, shopping, etcetera.  Little by little, I stopped being afraid; afraid that my “disease” was doing pushups in the backyard *waiting* for me, afraid of my past, afraid of relapse. 

I started loving my life.  I started investigating my core values.  I investigated my opinions on things; opinions and thoughts and “truths” that I had held on to for years that were no longer serving me.  I investigated words like co-dependency, boundaries and trauma.  I found ways to connect to myself rather than finding ways to distract myself.  I investigated and found peace with emotions and feelings.  I investigated Anger, Joy, Happiness, Sadness, Grief, Guilt, Shame, Apathy, Boredom, Confusion, Panic, Terror.  I investigated my past.  I investigated my “triggers”.  I investigated people.  I found some that I really connected with and I found some that I really needed to stay away from.

I found my inner athlete, again.  I found peace in yoga, meditation, and running.  I found that paying attention to my breath brought calm and less stress.  I found music and laughter and food and philosophy and hope.  I found others that were doing similar investigations; finding their way and sharing their knowledge.

There is hope and inspiration.  There is recovering and recovered.  There is sobriety born out of a love for life rather than a fear of what was.  There is an acceptance and a love and a knowledge of who each of us are.  There is self-awareness rather than denial.  There is a realization of truth rather than fantasy.  There is ownership of mis-steps and honoring *that* truth.  There are emotions.  There is joy.  There is sadness and grief.  There are tears. There is laughter.  There is the ability and willingness to be teachable and live with our eyes and hearts wide open.

I write all of this knowing that it may not be popular.  It may not “fit” with your recovery or sobriety narrative. However, it is my story.  My truth.  And when I first got sober, I needed to hear a lot of stories and truths.  Stories of experience, strength and hope. I needed to hear it from CEO’s and actors, teachers and lawyers, and construction workers.  I needed to hear it from those who lived high on the hill and at the homeless shelter.  One of the many nuggets that I took away from my 12 step meetings was to “take what I needed and leave the rest”.  My wish is that one person is able to see that there are many paths to recovery, that you can recover on your own terms.  This, however, does not mean that you do it by yourself. I know, for sure, that is not possible.   You will need help.  You will need guidance.  You will need people and connection in order to get your feet underneath you.  But you will learn to walk again.  You will learn to run again.  You will be able to trust yourself and others again.  You are not broken.  You have been on a path that may not be serving you anymore.  There are other paths.  Look around.  You have a choice to change the path you are on.  There are others waiting there for you.

The Audacity of Recovery.  The moxie to even *think* that you can recover.  The boldness for you to be you and find your own path & for me to be me and find mine; for all of us to find peace and hope and joy and to bear witness.  I can’t wait to hear *your* story of boldness and audaciousness and moxie.  Tell it, write it, speak it.  We all need to hear it.

 
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JEN YOCKEY is the founder of SOULFUeL Sundays and a graduate of Meadow DeVor’s Yoga Church Teacher Training.  In her words:  today, I am a Mom, a Wife, a Dog Mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a confidante.  I am a Yoga Teacher, a Master Life Coach, a Woman that is on a mission to be the best version of herself AND to help others do the same.  I KNOW that this is possible regardless of your past, regardless of what is happening at this moment.  You have more SUPER POWERS than you know.

Rosemary O'Connor - A Sober Mom's Shining Light

ROC.jpg

 

I'm super thrilled and honored to introduce you all to Rosemary O'Connor, founder of ROC Recovery Services and author of A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery: Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids.  Rosemary has a clear and powerful voice, and if you don't believe me, let Ms. Anne Lamott convince you.

 

Rosemary O’Connor is such a warm and experienced companion for women trying to manage the difficult and exhilarating path of sober motherhood. She has such a good sense of humor, and a lot of both practical and spiritual wisdom.  I wish I’d had this book when I had my child in early recovery.

--Anne Lammott

CHAPTER ONE: HITTING BOTTOM

Recovery is not so bad. It’s kinda like walking backward through molasses up to your crotch with your legs tied together. 

--Anne Wilson Schaef

 

I promised myself I was only going out for two drinks. I told the eleven-year-old babysitter I’d be home in a couple of hours—no later than nine. I walked out the door on my way to a fancy charity event, the Fireman’s Ball at the San Francisco Yacht Club. I was all dressed up in a long, sequined gown, high heels, hair and makeup to the nines (for me it was all about looking good on the outside). At the event, with drink in hand, I started chatting up a guy. I was doing straight shots of tequila and quickly spent $200 buying drinks from the bar—what every classy lady does. Mr. Not-So-Prince-Charming invited me to continue the party at his place. I remember following in my car, gripping the steering wheel, trying to steer in a straight line. The next thing I remember is waking up in Mr. Not-So- Prince-Charming’s bed at ten the next morning, thirteen hours after I’d told the babysitter I’d be back.

I drove home overcome with dread, silently promising never to drink again. The scene that met me there was Dickensian: my three children were lined up on the sofa in their pajamas, eyes wide with horror, staring at me. On either side of them were my best friend, Lori, whose daughter had been babysitting, and my estranged husband. They didn’t look too friendly, either. And no wonder—I was still wearing the sequined gown from the night before, which I’d thrown up on, and my hair and makeup were in shambles.

Lori looked me straight in the eye. “You’d better get hold of yourself,” she said, and stormed out. My husband looked at me with utter disgust. I got the message in his glare: If you don’t get your act together, I’ll take these kids away.

As he gathered the kids to go upstairs for their stuff, my five-year-old son asked me, “Mommy, are you okay?”

I was not. For the first time in the twenty-one years I’d been drinking, I acknowledged there was something really wrong with me. I said, “No, Mommy is not okay.” He grabbed me and hugged me. Then he ran upstairs crying.

My soon-to-be ex-husband left with my children and went to his house. I was alone, an empty shell, physically, spiritually, and emotionally bankrupt. What I feared most was that I would continue to do the same thing over and over and lose my children. This was not the mother I intended to be. That was my bottom. And I knew in that moment that if I didn’t get help, five o’clock would roll around and I’d be drunk once again.

Since then, I have worked with countless women and I know this scene has played itself out both in multimillion- dollar homes and in tenements. Our social standing, education, and self-knowledge don’t matter. When the alcohol or drugs get hold of us, we are taken over. We do things when we’re drinking and using that make us weep bitter tears when the high wears off.

We are basically good women and mothers, and under normal circumstances we would take good care of ourselves and fiercely protect our children. We can’t imagine how we let this happen, how we could lose control. We feel disgust, shame, and hopelessness. We vow never to let this happen again.

I had made that promise more times than I could remember. But now, for the first time, I listened to a voice in my head. Ask for help, it said. I went to the phone book, found the num- ber for Alcoholics Anonymous, and called. The woman who answered the phone asked me to join her at an AA meeting. There I found women who used to feel the same way I did. At last I knew I was not alone. I stopped drinking one day at a time as other women taught me how to face life without a drink or a drug. In my recovery—fifteen years as of this writing—I have found peace, compassion, and forgiveness for myself. I respect myself and love the woman I am today. (Most of the time!) Best of all, I am present for my children, and they love me.

Getting clean and sober is like dropping a single rock into a still pond and sending healing ripples out to our family, friends, and all the people who share our journey of recovery.

 


SOBER MOM’S TOOLS FOR CLIMBING UP AFTER HITTING BOTTOM

1. Take the first step: in the recovery process, the first step is admitting that we have a problem. For me, the evidence that my life was unmanageable was right in front of me that morning I came home to face my children. Using my story as an example, write about your own “hitting bottom” experience. If you’re new to recovery, it might be painful to put it in writing, but it can help you take that first step to admitting you have a problem. Even after facing my children that morning, I still had my doubts as to whether I was a full-blown alcoholic. But it was suggested that I write down my last ten drinking episodes. In doing this it became quite evident that my drinking was nowhere near normal. It was clear that when I started with a glass of wine I never knew where I’d end up or what I’d do.

2. Ask for help: this is the single most important action we can take to liberate us from isolation and loneliness. For me, and for many other women, it’s easier and more helpful to reach out to another woman. We are not meant to do life alone. If you are still trying to deal with a drinking or using problem alone, pick up the phone and call for help. You can get immediate help by calling Alcoholics Anonymous, or if your drug of choice isn’t alcohol, you may want to try Narcotics Anonymous; both groups are free and available twenty-four hours a day. You don’t have to do this by yourself. (See the Recommended Resources at the back of this book for these and other Twelve Step programs.)

If you’re reluctant to get help for yourself, do it for the sake of your children. Addiction is a progressive, fatal disease. It’s not a matter of if this disease will get worse, it’s a matter of when. Many mothers have lost custody of their children due to their addiction.

If you are still questioning “if ” you have a problem with your drinking or using, go to www.aa.org, read the pamphlet A.A. for the Woman and take the fifteen-question test.

Thanks, 

Rosemary O'Connor

Guest Blogger: Marilyn Boehm Starts at Goodbye.

I'm so very honored to bring you The Sobriety Collective's latest and greatest guest blogger, Ms. Marilyn Boehm.  Without spilling the beans too much on her story, suffice it to say, I've found a kindred spirit!  Thank you for your patience, Marilyn!  xoxo, Laura


                                           

I was not an alcoholic, nor an addict, nor a substance abuser. I was not even a “problem” drinker.
 

After all, I was a college graduate, had stable employment, lived in a decent home, had a husband and two kids, and I was a Jew [Editor's note: me too!].  

Everyone knew that alcoholics lived under bridges or in shelters. Addicts stole and were incarcerated in the finest penal institutions. And, of course, both varieties came from dysfunctional families.

Well, okay, my family was pretty dysfunctional.

Not only wasn’t I an alkie or a druggie, but also, in my career as a probation officer, I supervised them. They were on the other side of the desk. They were my caseload, and I was paid to “fix” them or to lock them up. I didn’t get arrested when I drove drunk because I had a badge.

Alcohol and drugs were my solution, not my problem.

I used them to “take the edge off,” to cope with stress and unhappiness. I used them to help me feel at ease in uncomfortable settings—and anywhere was an uncomfortable setting. Mostly, I used them to feel attractive to the opposite sex.

Getting drunk and using drugs was cool—for a very, very long time. Most people would never have guessed I had a problem. I kept that secret behind closed doors. To the outside world, I was the life of the party:  I was funny and entertaining when I was loaded. My hijinks were the stuff of water cooler jokes at the office on Monday morning. My “outsides” looked just fine.

Towards the end, drugs and alcohol turned on me. My life got very dark. I drank daily and had blackouts in which I couldn’t recall what I’d done or with whom I’d done it.  I lived a double life: during the day, I was a professional in a job with incredible authority, but at night, I drank in the scummiest of dive bars with “lower companions.” From the time I got home from work and popped that first beer until the time I crashed at night with a wine glass by my bedside, I drank. After all, I had a stressful job and a difficult home life. I deserved to drink and to smoke pot!

I got sober on January 4, 1988. It was, and still is, a journey.

I’ve had a chance to take a good, hard look at my life as an alcoholic and addict in a memoir I recently had published:  Starting at Goodbye. I worked on it, off and on, for over ten years. In the first of this two part series, I will refer to a few excerpts to illustrate what my life looked like drunk and sober. The book is also an outrageous love story and testament to my late husband, Wayne. We shared thirty years of our lives together until his death from cancer. I picked up a hunky cowboy in a country western bar and took him home that night. Wayne was supposed to have been my last one night stand.

One of the main reasons I drank was to help me feel better about myself when it came to men. I had a horrible self-image based on my looks. I’d had horrible cystic acne as an adolescent. I was ridiculed by boys in both junior and senior high school because of my skin. I just wanted to be invisible if it meant they’d leave me alone.

When I drank, I felt pretty. I believed that if I went home with the cutest guy in the bar, I wasn’t so bad looking after all.

Here’s an excerpt from the book set early in my relationship with Wayne:

He flashed me his adorable smile and sexy wink, and I was toast. My anger melted like snow on a sunny day. I knew he was attracted to me for the security I offered, not to mention my cabinet filled with booze and a steady supply of pot. He needed my strength and stability. I needed him needing me. No matter what I did or said, he wouldn’t leave me. My weakness filled me with disgust, but I couldn’t really understand why I stayed. What was missing in me? Where was that empty space he filled? Why didn’t I believe I deserved someone who was my equal educationally, socially, and financially?

We shared a desire to avoid reality. Although I managed to go into work most days, I found myself calling in sick more often after suffering worse and worse hangovers. With Wayne, I was drinking more than ever, matching him shot for shot. On weekends especially, we’d spend hours sitting around the dinner table sharing intimate feelings while candles flickered.

“No one asked me to the prom,” I said. Tears plopped down my cheeks as I sipped sloppily on a glass of Gallo.

“I’da asked ya if I’d known ya then.” Wayne leaned over and patted me on the hand.

“No one wanted me. I was so ugly with my pock-marked skin. And all the boys in high school were so damn short. Some of the meaner ones teased me in front of everyone, called me a giraffe. I sucked it up and cried later, all alone, in my bed.” I took another sip, knocking over the glass accidentally.

“Ahh, baby. I think you’re beautiful.” He jumped up to get a sponge to wipe up the mess and got out the crystal decanter to pour me some more wine.

On nights like these, after I poured out my sob stories, we’d stagger upstairs and pass out on the bed. Often, with the room spinning, I’d puke my guts out first….

I hated feeling so desperate. I questioned my attractiveness. What’s wrong with me? Wasn’t I pretty enough? Passionate enough? Feminine enough?

The answers lay in the bottom of a liquor bottle. Once I was drunk enough, I could push down the pain, postpone the issues, and ignore what was happening in my life.

Because I was a functional drunk and Wayne wasn’t, it was easier to focus on him as the alcoholic. His father suggested that I attend Alanon with him. Here is an excerpt of my first Alanon meeting:

At 6:30 on the dot, Nathan arrived to drive me to the community center in Costa Mesa. A sign posted on a door declared “Alanon meeting here.” We entered a brightly lit large room with dozens of metal folding chairs arranged in straight lines. Slogans with trite sayings like “Let go and let God” had been posted on the walls. A woman dressed in a conservative, navy suit stood at a podium on stage. I surveyed the audience, composed mostly of middle-aged women in dowdy lounge wear with worn, beaten looks on their faces. This is going to be a laugh a minute.

 The leader read aloud some material from Alanon literature, which was followed by enthusiastic clapping. A parade of others stepped up to the podium, announcing their names, which were echoed by the audience—“Hi Loser!” Each told a tale of woe about husbands, boyfriends, or adult children who were out of control from alcohol. There was continuous mention of “the alcoholic,” as if he or she was an inanimate object.

 They had no sense of humor regarding “the alcoholic,” that’s for sure. I had to stifle a desire to laugh out loud on occasion hearing them describe some pretty riotous drunken antics. If they could’ve read my mind, they’d have booted me out of the joint. I didn’t want to humiliate Nathan, so I kept my feelings to myself.

 They ended the meeting by joining hands and reciting some stupid prayer with which I was unfamiliar. I think they said it was the Lord’s Prayer, which lent the whole shenanigans a clearly Christian slant, adding more icing to this unappetizing cake. I’ll give them a piece of my mind if they try to convert me, Nathan be damned.

 After the meeting, we were steered to a table which held Styrofoam cups, a big coffee urn, hot water and tea bags, and an assortment of pastries and cookies. Nathan nudged me in the direction of a group of women who had congregated in the area, and he suggested I talk to them about Wayne. One woman who appeared to be the head sob sister was surrounded by a group of fawning women. I approached the bunch timidly as they formed a spontaneous opening to allow me into the circle. I found myself tattling on Wayne, focusing on his sporadic work history, and recounting tales of outrageous bourbon-related incidents. The head sob sister swept me into her arms and hugged me tightly. Her cohorts made sympathetic tsk-tsk sounds while patting me on the back and muttering jargon.

 A tear slipped down my cheek as I grew more comfortable with this new role of victim. I began to embellish the stories, culminating with a synopsis of the SWAT blow-out.

 “How awful, you poor thing,” one grey-haired matron said, locking eyes with me. “Keep coming back!”

 I was beginning to relish being the center of attention. Hey, this isn’t so bad!...

Is this what the future holds in store for me? Sitting around with a bunch of pathetic losers talking about “the alcoholic”? Might as well shoot myself now and get it over with. Is being with Wayne worth it? I need a stiff drink.

Stay tuned for Part II, where Marilyn deals with her realization that she, too, might have a substance abuse problem....


From Marilyn's Amazon page

MARILYN BOEHM has previously been published in an anthology "Spiritual Journeys." She also won First Prize in a writing contest sponsored by Silhouettes eyewear. She retired from a thirty one year career as a deputy probation officer with L.A. County Probation Department, State of New Mexico Corrections Department and Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Orange County Probation Department. She is remarried, has two adult children and two adorable dogs, and she lives in Huntington Beach, California.

Visit Marilyn's blog and connect with her via email or Facebook.

Sarah Talks Food...and Recovery!

Anyone who starts an email off with "I am a big fan of your work and how you are improving the world" gets a vote in my book! <3.  Sarah Roberts, gorgeous health and nutrition beacon of light who runs Sarah Talks Food continues: "I am a 43-year old recovering alcoholic living in Ottawa, Canada. I first got sober in 2002 and am still on my journey and excited for what's to come. I am passionate about helping people to know that they are not alone. My blog is an evolution of my journey, with a focus on health and fitness as well as finding my people and sharing about my story and sobriety. 'The Decision' was the first post I wrote, and the one that finally freed me. I shared it above and would welcome a conversation with you if you believe it could have value for your readers."  So without further ado, I'll let Sarah take it away.  Happy reading, and thank YOU, Sarah, for sharing your radiance with the world.   xoxo, Laura.


The Decision…

I am finally officially writing my first blog post! I am actually doing it!!

I have wanted to launch this blog for over a year, but I’ve been stuck by the thinking and over-thinking that comes when I want something to be “perfect”.  I have been passionate about it being something that truly serves people, and not just a place for me to call my own. And so although I don’t consider any of that time “wasted”, I am simply going to start here. Period. I am making a decision and I have decided that although this blog may end up becoming something that I can’t envision right now, NOW is the time that I am embarking on this journey.

The only time is now. Perhaps we’ll discover that this is the exact right time for you to join me, too. 

Life is a journey, and we never arrive at a place in our lives without making a series of decisions. Everything starts with a decision. We decide what to think. We decide who to spend our time with and what we will do with that time. We decide where we will work. We decide what to eat at each meal. We decide whether or not we will exercise…

Decision after decision after decision.

The Truth

I made a big decision when I was 29. I’m afraid to share it with you because I’m uncomfortable with judgment and criticism. It’s another reason it has taken me so long to launch this blog, and although I’ve even shared this truth on television, I have told very few people about it personally. Even some of you who think you know me quite well may not know what I am about to share. But if we are going to be friends, I want you to know who I am. And if I am going to use this space to share my opinions, thoughts and beliefs, I had better get used to judgment and criticism. Plus, I feel stronger whenever I push myself to grow outside my comfort zone. So, here goes. Deep breath…decision.

When I was in my twenties, I was what is labeled a “high functioning alcoholic”. I had a good job, made good money, sat on boards, volunteered, went to work each day, had an active social life, and generally looked like I had my life together. But behind closed doors, I drank. In social settings, I drank, too, but I always tried to keep it together until I got home. Then, I would drink alone until I passed out and woke to my alarm at 6:30 the next morning, where the cycle would begin all over again.

At 29 years old, I had to admit to myself, to my family, and to a select group of friends that I was an alcoholic. I hated the label, but I also needed it to keep me accountable. I relapsed only 4 days after quitting and then again a few months later. The relapses only lasted a day each, and I feel like I needed them to remind me that the more I wanted the drug of alcohol, the more of an addict I was. Those relapses ended up empowering me to stay strong through the next stage of my life.

The Plunge

I needed to create a whole new life. I had to disassociate with several friends who were essentially my drinking companions. I needed to become a whole new “me” as I felt myself floundering, wondering who I even was without the mask of alcohol.

I decided to quit my job and enrol in business school. On the first day, after my first class, I made the decision to take this seriously. Really seriously. I had not taken high school or my previous attempts at College or University seriously, and I needed this to be different. I needed it to be different or else I didn’t know how I could justify the not drinking.

So, I decided to kick ass. I busted my butt working at those diplomas. Studying and working hard had never come naturally for me, so it took enormous self-discipline and focus for me to accomplish my goals.

The Journey To Health

I lost weight immediately when I quit drinking, and I used the weight loss as the impetus to start working out seriously for the first time in my life.  Throughout my time at college, I went to the gym 5 days a week and began to really focus on my fitness and nutrition. I quit smoking, a habit I’d picked up in my youth, because I knew that if I wanted to truly live a healthy lifestyle, the cigarettes had to go.

I felt good in my body for the first time in a very long time. I felt energetic and healthy. It felt great. Instead of AA meetings (of which I did attend a few, but never resonated with), I chose school, exercise, and healthy eating as my recovery plan.

I completed 3 diplomas in 3 years and I loved every minute of the experience. I tutored other students, I acted as a mentor and I graduated at the top of my class. As I stood in front of 2,000 people accepting the award for the highest achievement, I spoke about my passion for the experience and how I would pledge to always work to my potential, something I had struggled with until then.

I went on to get my degree in Business Management, and continued to exercise 5 days a week even during the busiest times. I felt connected to the fitness and connected to the idea of being healthy, which also helped me justify not drinking. A healthy person can more easily say “I don’t drink” in social situations, and that is what I did. Instead of telling people I was an alcoholic, I was trying hard to just make abstaining from alcohol “normal” in a society who reveres it, values it, romanticizes it and tends to judge people who don’t do it.

The Move

At 34 years old, I decided to pick up my life and move to Ottawa, Ontario. I was still finishing my degree at the time and I got a job at a local restaurant. I relapsed with alcohol within a few weeks of being in the city.  This relapse lasted 22 days, and it crept up slowly. At first, I avoided the house parties and bar nights by telling people I had to study or I had to work early the next morning. Then, it was one drink after work with new friends. Then, a few drinks at the pub down the street. A week later I was buying wine at the liquor store to have at home, “just in case”. I just couldn’t bring myself to stick with “I don’t drink” in this new city. Plus, I really wanted to give drinking another shot… “maybe I’m not really an alcoholic. Maybe I just needed a few years away from it”, I told myself. Even at the time, I knew I was in denial about my disease, but there was a part of me that was hoping that my new life in this new city would allow me to escape from my demons.

One night at home, I finished a whole bottle of wine to myself. I looked in the mirror and I hated what I saw. I told myself that this was the last time I would ever have a drink. I told myself to go and make something of my life, to not waste all those years of hard work and sacrifice at school. Because I knew, deep down, that if I allowed this to go on much longer, that I would die. I knew that I could never live the life I wanted as long as alcohol had a place in it. I haven’t had another drink since. That was almost 9 years ago.

My Spiritual Awakening

As I pursued career options, working in marketing for a local realty and then later in sales for a full service marketing agency, I also embarked on a spiritual journey and became aware of the law of attraction. I watched and read “The Secret”, I studied Napoleon Hill’s work, “Think and Grow Rich”, I became aware of Bob Proctor’s work, I read “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace Wattles, I learned of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s philosophies, and I was forever changed by “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle. I can recommend many more resources on the law of attraction including Michael Losier’s exceptional work “The Law Of Attraction”, but the fundamental thread that binds them all is this: We are all connected to the same source energy. Thoughts become things, and if we become crystal clear and laser focused on the things we want, we can manifest our deepest desires. This realization and clarity gave me strength and determination when I was alone in a new city, and it reminded me that I could do, be, and have anything I wanted if I just got clear.

My Health 2.0

I began connecting with experts in the field of health and wellness, meeting with chiropractors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, my own doctor, and various others who had a knowledge base and opinion on health, nutrition, fitness and exercise. I didn’t know where all my research would lead me, but I knew I was passionate about it.

I used the same discipline I’d used in school, and I became a ‘regular’ at bookstores reading voraciously on the subject of health and fitness. I watched documentaries on the condition of our food supply and what we are doing to our health through or food choices. Although I can honestly say I have never been “on a diet” in the way that society uses the term, I realize that we are all “on diets”, meaning that the way we eat IS our diet. So, throughout my research, I have tested and tracked various diet and exercise plans.

I was raised by a stay-at-home mom who valued home-cooked meals and healthy choices, so my foundation in food and nutrition was solid, but I began to develop a passion for all things health-related.  I found that the more I learned, the less I understood and I realized that others must feel the same way. With the sheer volume of information and number of divergent opinions, I felt the need to find a common thread among all of my research.

Although I am by no means an expert, and don’t claim to be, I have logged what worked for me and what didn’t, and after 13+ years of trial & error, I feel I have finally found a balance that feels good, and I am so excited to be able to share my findings with you.

The Meeting (or, the law of attraction in action)

I met my partner, Roger, at a networking event, and shortly thereafter I quit my job at the marketing agency and began working in his family’s business in the health industry. Now that you and I are friends, I can share with you that I manifested him as well as my new career.

Not long after my relapse, I wrote down a list of 100 things I wanted in a partner. When I met Roger, I felt like we had met before, and I realized soon after what had happened. I showed him the list and he agreed that it was remarkable the number of characteristics that I had asked for that he possessed.

I did the same for my career. As an exercise at an event I attended called “Just Say Yes”, I wrote a letter to myself 3 months into the future. I wrote about how I worked with people to help them reach their health and fitness goals. I talked about my joy and passion for sharing knowledge and inspiring action. It was amazing when, less than 2 months later, I was setting up the studio with Roger and I began helping clients on their health journey. Amazing. Thoughts become things.

Serving Others

I loved being able to share my passion for food and fitness with our clients, and I was thrilled to help Roger shed over 40 pounds eating more than he ever had before! I felt a connection to those with food addiction, as I could relate to their addictive traits and their shame, and I began sharing my story with them. I was able to connect on a deeper level through our common struggle with addiction. I felt my own shame lifting, and I felt exhilarated knowing that I was helping others, but I also felt stifled by the job of running the studios. When Roger’s family announced the decision to close the doors on the business, there was a sense of sadness but also relief. Roger and I were able to get back to our roots in marketing, becoming entrepreneurs in the industry. We opened our video studio, combining my passion for health and fitness with the new marketing strategies and technology that Roger was learning, and we connected with some important health professionals whose businesses we were able to help grow.

That brings me to today. Roger and I continue to work together, where his passion lies in helping expert entrepreneurs share their message and build and online business. I am passionate about the same, and I target experts in the health, wellness and fitness industry. I also aim to help fellow entrepreneurs achieve optimal health, creating the energy they need to live their dreams and serve the world using their unique gifts.

I hope to use this forum as a source of information, inspiration and comfort to those who may have struggled with diets, weight or managing to live a healthy lifestyle. I want to save you the trial and error of all those methods I tested because I know how busy you are and how overwhelming it can be.

That feeling of overwhelm is the impetus for this blog.

My Mission

I am on a mission to help you look and feel better than you ever thought possible. I want to share the thread that connects all of the information that makes the most sense to me: that if we prioritize our health and realize that it is our decisions that create our bodies and our lives, then we can enjoy vibrant health for years to come. We just need a plan and the belief that it IS possible. Because if an alcoholic, smoker, and non-exerciser can turn her life around, you can do it, too.

One thing I know for sure is this: Our secrets keep us sick. Until I was able to start sharing my truth and saying the words out loud, I was stuck. I feel so blessed for this opportunity to share with you who I am and the struggles I have had in the hopes that it might help someone else who is struggling.

In A Nutshell

  • Creating a healthy lifestyle can be simple (and fun!) if we have a plan.

  • Understanding that what we put into our bodies truly does become who we are, will cause us to change the way we look at our diet.

  • Moving our bodies simply must become a habit if we want to live fully and well.

  • Our bodies and our minds are one. Thoughts become things and we decide what it is we want by putting our focus on it.

  • There is always hope. No matter what we have done in the past or how dire things may seem, we are not alone and we can overcome anything we put our minds to.

My Vision

What I see is a place where I can share my own experiences and where I get to introduce you to some of the amazing professionals who have helped shape my health philosophy. I envision meeting new people who can share their journey and beliefs on health with us. I imagine freely discussing and discovering differing points of view (some of which will resonate with you and some of which won’t) and I wish to be a vessel, someone who is serving, in a way that helps make this crazy business of eating and moving and living just a little bit easier.

My blog won’t be for everyone, and that’s ok. But for those of you who stay, my hope is that you will find something that speaks to you in a way that pushes you to take positive steps towards better health.  The universe rewards action, and the only time is NOW.

It all starts with a decision. I have decided. I hope you decide to join me on this journey, too!

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time,

Sarah

Be friends with Sarah.  All the cool kids are doing it :)  Connect with her via Facebook , Twitter and Instagram

Addiction: The Food and Alcohol Connection (K.A.M.'s story)

With all the amazing recovery blogs/websites out there (The Real Edition, The Recovery Revolution, Sober Courage, The Rooms Project, Veronica Valli, After Party Magazine, etc.), I'm always honored when someone finds The Sobriety Collective and resonates with my message.  And on top of all that, wants to share with our little community here!  So without further ado, I bring you the beautiful and soulfully self-aware Katherine Arati Maas of Within the Flow.


Ever since I was a child I remember never being satisfied - I constantly wanted something more to help me feel safe and secure. That safety came in the form of food. Being raised in the 1980s in America, I was addicted to junk food and watching TV. I would sit close to the television; watch it for hours alone by myself. Nothing was off limits and I loved the adult talk shows. I loved eating and the way it made me feel (just like alcohol would soon do).

I don’t remember when I started to turn to food to make up for the lack of safety I felt in my young life. I was afraid of death while lying in my bed at night. I was simply afraid of everything. I started binge eating at a very early age, although I didn’t recognize it at the time. I ate anything that tasted or looked good. I remember eating peanut butter from the jar with my hands in frenzy, wiping my pants, as I was too much in a hurry to use a napkin. I ate crazy flavored salad dressings and spray cheeses- basically squeezing them in to my mouth when no one was looking. I ate sour cream out of the tub on taco night after everyone was finished. I used to lock myself in the bathroom and chug Pepto Bismol. Loved that stuff. I ate vegetable shortening because the container had a picture of a cherry pie on it. I would eat candies and crackers I would see on the carpet at church- nothing was off limits.

Much like my dinking behavior as an adult, I was secretive and possessive about my eating. Frenzied eating to fulfill something within came as second nature to me and made me feel safe, protected, and nurtured. Eating quenched a deep hungering need within myself, a need I didn’t know how to deal with or understand. Taking care of this need was shameful and private and felt as if I had a dangerous animal living under my bed that kept growing in size no matter how I tried to pacify it.

Eating “the way I wanted to” became a very secretive behavior, which later naturally turned into drinking “the way I wanted to”.

Consuming food or alcohol made me feel full, secure, and satisfied. As a child I saw the fast food we often ate as entertainment and fun. I loved the high food gave me and I couldn’t get enough. I simply always wanted more.

I remember sipping from my Dad’s beer when he let me try it once, but like a lot of kids, I thought it was gross. Alcohol never played a role in my life through high school when other kids were experimenting. I drank a few times when I was 17 or 18, but started on a regular basis when I was about 21.

It really has never occurred to me until now that the very first time I ever drank, I blacked out. I never saw that as an indicator of a problem because isn’t it normal that young people experiment with alcohol and get a little crazy? Apparently not! Guess I missed that memo…

Around the time after high school I started to restrict myself with food.  I restricted and binged, never understanding how to feed myself properly. I would resist the temptation to eat very much, restricting myself and then would inevitably binge on junk food. I taught myself early on that food was something either to abuse and cover up feelings with or to deny yourself completely. If I could control myself not to eat, I felt strong and powerful. I used foods to make me feel good because I guess that was the only way I knew how.

Food took on a role more than nutrition- it was medicine. Much like alcohol, I felt the need to do my binging in private and felt uncomfortable eating and drinking in public because I felt I had to “hold back”.  After getting my fix I would feel numb and physically stuffed. I can honestly say that while this was happening, I had no idea that what I was doing would be considered an eating disorder because in my mind an eating disorder was about purging into a toilet and storing the vomit in jars in your closet like in Lifetime movies or being sickly skinny. I was neither of the two.

As an adult, I just never knew when to stop or at least I couldn’t stop.

At the end of a ten year addiction, alcohol had taken over my entire life- it was all I cared about, but funny enough I never thought I had a problem. No one ever gave me an intervention, I never went to jail or lost a job. Even though I have had a lot of scary and embarrassing moments, I never really reached a climatic “rock bottom”. Things just stopped being funny and started feeling scary. I remember one morning after a pub crawl, trying to tell my friend that my hangover wasn’t that bad and everyone got crazy the night before she said, “everyone was drunk last night but you were by far the drunkest.” Why was it always that way?

Not all women who have issues with food, abuse alcohol, but it seems that whenever alcohol is an issue, food is often as well. Why? Is it a way for us to feel we are in control?  To conform to a body image our culture pushes on us although we all despise it? I turned to food as a kid because I was nervous and scared for reasons, which are unknown to me. Somewhere down the line, I decided that the feelings I had were too much to handle and I had to gain control somehow, so I restricted my love for eating without even realizing I was doing it. I went into autopilot and the addictions slowly took over.

I am now sober and have come a long way in reshaping my relationship with food, however the restrict and binge behavior affected other areas of life, like fitness, money and work. These days I often have to make it a point to eat a proper lunch because otherwise I will forget. The thing is though, the more that I try to be a militant tyrant in my own life in any way, the more out of control I will get. The more I try to push the contents of the volcano down, the more powerful and destructive the eruption will be.

I was reading the super insightful and wonderfully written blog, Unpickled, the other day. In one particular post, Jean was asked what she does to relax or deal with a difficult day when she can’t have the alcohol. She said something along the lines of “I no longer live my life in such a way where I need to indulge in destructive habits to calm myself down or check out.” This resonates with me deeply. I have always turned to food and alcohol to numb me out, however as I have learnt to live my life in a more gentle, self compassionate way, I feel less and less the need to imbibe in destructive ways of coping.

I have realized that sometimes my self-compassion has been conditional. For example, if I had worked out and ate well, I would feel good about myself and allow myself things. However if I had “fucked up” and been lazy, had not exercised or ate a lot then I had a failure mentality. The only hope I had for myself was to wait for the next day to make up for the mess I had made.

Recently I read a blog post by Isabel Foxen Duke, which really woke me up. She said something like, even if you eat 10 boxes of donuts a day for the rest of your life, it doesn’t mean anything about your worth as a person. Many people have lived meaningful, fascinating lives regardless of how they ate. I thought about it, my diet choices and the diet choices of others do not measure our self worth. Sure, we should take care of ourselves and eat well, but our worth comes from something much greater.

Our worth doesn’t come from the amount of stuff we have, the money we have, the food we eat or the way our bodies look. being deserving of love is not conditional. It comes from deep within because at our core we are love.

Happy Holidays everyone,

Make sure you take extra special care of YOU this season.


Katherine Arati Maas is just a regular girl with something to say and trying to live authentically one day at a time. She writes about sober living and meditation on her blog at www.withintheflow.com.