12 steps

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.


The Audacity of Recovery

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.


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.

Guest Blogger: Laura Mackay of Addiction is the Symptom

Identify with your true self, not all the crap on top of you


Self-identification is a powerful thing. Because the mind is a powerful thing. Whatever you attach to "I am" can become self-fulfilling. Makes sense, right? So what are the consequences of saying, over and over, for years on end, "My name is [your name here], and I'm an alcoholic"?

Identifying as "an alcoholic" (or "a sex addict" or "a binge eater" or . . . ) is not a great way to free yourself to be something else. Like for instance the healthy, empowered, fulfilled person you were born and deserve to be.

That's why I was psyched to see your Sobriety Collective host, Laura, in her July 10 post "Rent-a-Program Part 1", publicly moving away from “My name is Laura, and I’m an alcoholic” to “and I’m in long-term recovery.” That's progress, IMO.

The first time you say, “My name is ___________ , and I'm an addict,” it's a huge step. Change isn't possible until you get off the denial and face reality. But when you identify as “an addict” or, later, as “a recovering addict” ("in long-term recovery" is definitely an improvement), you define and even experience yourself as the very thing you don't want to be. As if the condition were integral to who you are.

The assumption, of course, is that addiction can’t be healed, only treated, the best outcome being a perpetual state of recovery. It's true that someone who has suffered from alcoholism may never be able to safely drink again. But so what? Imagine getting so far past chemical addiction that it simply is not relevant to you anymore.

It can happen.

Dr. Rosemary Brown, whose book Addiction Is the Symptom: Heal the Cause and Prevent Relapse with 12 Steps that Really Work I cowrote, once suffered from a serious addiction to alcohol, complete with a two-year relapse. But Dr. Brown, a psychologist, long ago quit calling herself "an alcoholic" or even "a recovered alcoholic." She's just Rosemary.

The irrelevance of the "alcoholic" identifier to her comes partly from not having had a drink for 43 years, thanks to developing a systematic approach to the 12 Steps that has prevented relapse for both her and her many clients and sponsees. But it also comes from a recognition that infuses her step process: we are fundamentally spiritual beings. And spiritually speaking, we are by definition perfect.

The whole range of addictive behaviors that we humans engage in, Dr. Brown argues, stems largely from deep-seated, near-universal conditioning imposed on us in childhood. Her step process is designed to bring that conditioning to consciousness. Then, it can be both understood and experienced (as I can attest) as separate from our spiritual selves. Not to mention unlearned.

One of the many results of that profound shift in experience is that you feel a whole lot better about yourself and—oh!—no longer need a drug to dull the pain of mistakenly believing yourself to be a loser. Or whatever it is you’re calling yourself on your darker days.

I like what one teacher of Hinduism said: “Perfection means . . . to be oneself—one’s true self.”

You are not your addictive behavior. There is nothing wrong with your spiritual self, your true self. What's wrong is all the garbage—the conditioning—piled on top of you. Take that thought to the mirror each morning, and try, for even a moment, to see who you really are. And then start telling it like it is. Go ahead, try it on for size:

My name is ____________ , and I am beautifully, perfectly myself.



Laura MacKay cowrote Dr. Rosemary Ellsworth Brown's Addiction Is the Symptom: Heal the Cause and Prevent Relapse with 12 Steps that Really Work. While working on the book, Laura realized that she could benefit from the process she was helping to define and describe. She completed Dr. Brown's step process in April 2014.