multiple pathways

Guest Blogger Amy C. Willis: The Sobriety Smörgåsbord

sobriety smorgasbord

I went to a women’s only Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting this morning with a sober gal pal of mine. It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve been to an AA or Al-Anon meeting and to be honest, I wasn’t necessarily super excited about going. That said, I was open to going because I think there’s value in checking in on things periodically, even if you previously felt it wasn’t for you. As a woman and as a sober woman, I have evolved significantly since I last attended a meeting and I think with evolution comes the opportunity to hear old information with new ears. So I went.

And I’m glad that I did! I love that I got to occupy space with other women in recovery. The women in the room were diverse in age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic location, duration in recovery but what brought us together was our individual and collective commitment to sobriety,  which is incredibly special. What I also found special is that despite our vast differences, we were able to come together and find common ground, which is sacred. I also LOVED that it was a women’s only space. I also can see the value in co-ed spaces but I’m grateful that this one was not and that women’s only spaces within recovery exist because they are necessary. I wholeheartedly believe that women’s experiences with alcohol are fundamentally different than men’s (of course there are similarities but also considerable differences - more on that in another post); as such, creating women’s only spaces in recovery is essential.

After the meeting, my friend and I de-briefed on what we took from it, what we liked and didn’t like and so on. During this debrief, she said something really interesting which was (and I’m paraphrasing) that in trying different approaches to recovery (she is relatively new in her journey), she’s able to stand back, take what she needs from them and also recognize their limitations. I thought this was so poignant and so accurate and I really appreciated hearing her perspective from newer recovery eyes (next month, I celebrate 3 years of consistent sobriety).

I think it’s incredibly powerful to be able to recognize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Once upon a time (not that long ago!), the only option for folks seeking sobriety was AA. And if AA didn’t work for or jive with you, you either had to suck it up or go it alone. Thankfully, so many different options exist for recovery including AA, SMART Recovery, rehab, online communities, coaching, She Recovers, counseling, blogs, podcasts, books, and so on.

I have always felt that a multi-method approach to recovery made a lot of sense, especially given that each approach does have its inherent limitations. For example, as a Holistic Health Coach, I provide 1-on-1 coaching to women who struggle with their drinking, supporting them to enter and sustain sobriety, while also designing lives they don’t want to escape from. I love this approach and have found great success with my clients. It allows for a high level of support and accountability, an in-depth connection, deep and lasting transformation and the creation of sustainable healthy habits. That said, it’s also a paid service which means it may not be accessible for everyone and because the work is 1-on-1, it does not offer any community elements. Conversely, AA meetings provide tons of community support and are free and frequent, making them much more accessible but don’t necessarily offer the same level of transformation or habit change that’s possible through coaching. Neither AA nor coaching is a better or worse approach to recovery; they are simply different avenues to reach the same destination.

For those considering entering sobriety or recovery, I would strongly encourage you to approach recovery like a buffet. Try different methods out and see what fits. If AA is your jam, incredible! If you find that a combination of online support groups, blogs, meditation, movement and therapy work best for you, amazing! The idea here is there is no “right” way to recover and our approaches to recovery are just as unique as we are. Fortunately, we live in a world where there are more options than ever and we have the luxury of really taking what works for us and ditching the rest. If you haven’t yet found the right combination for you, keep trying! And if you find you keep trying the same thing and it’s not working for you (aka you’re relapsing on the regs), for goodness sake, try something new! The right combination of resources, tools and support is out there for you, it’s just a matter of discovering it.

For all the reasons listed above, I created the Lose the Booze 100 Day Challenge. I wanted to provide another option to support women in their recovery journeys, that landed somewhere between 1-on-1 coaching and online community groups. Yes, there are other 100 day alcohol-free challenges but none like the one I created. Because I know how important accountability is, especially in the early stages of sobriety, I built in daily email check-ins to keep the challenge and not drinking at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I intentionally kept the group small because I believe so strongly in the power of connection and community-building, which is really hard to authentically create when you’re one of thousands in an online group.

 
lose the booze
 

*program starts August 1st! sign up today ^^*


amy c willis

Amy C. Willis is a certified holistic Health Coach, soon to be certified Life Coach and the founder of HOL + WELL, a brand that focuses on all things holistic wellness. Amy is in recovery from alcohol use disorder and has been sober for almost 3 years. Through her own journey in recovery, she's been inspired to support other women in their path to sobriety and does so through her coaching practice. Amy is an avid reader, loves writing, travel, community-building and moving her body. When she's not coaching, hanging out with friends or spending time outside, she's teaching indoor cycling. Amy lives in Toronto and works with clients globally.

Connect with Amy:
website: www.holandwell.com
instagram: @msamycwillis

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.