AA

Re(Pro) #63: Tricia Lewis

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I chose to recover as hard as I drank and I haven’t looked back since.
— Tricia Lewis

Name: Tricia Lewis

Age: 37

Location: Dallas, TX

Recovery date: 11/14/2016
*turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges

Creative niche:
Entrepreneurship has been in my blood my entire life. I'm a 6 year + business owner but my ultimate creative outlet is event planning, most recently in the form of Sober by Southwest in Austin TX.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

nutshell.jpeg

I was a high- functioning, over-achieving, co-dependent alcoholic who had grown up around a very low functioning addict. Seeing what addiction "looked" like in that way made it so hard to diagnose if I had a real problem because I didn't realize how common high functioning alcoholism is or what that even resembled. I just thought I was anxious and needed to blow off steam... every night.

I worked successfully in the restaurant industry, worked incredibly hard, and partied even harder. I was a black-out drinker from the beginning and it progressively got worse into my mid 30's as I compartmentalized a double life: drinking every single night and spending my days making it look like I was totally fine. I had also become so angry, anxious, unsettled and generally unhappy and was waking up each morning pissed off that I had drank so much the night before when it was always supposed to be just 1 or 2.

After my 12 week swan song of a socially acceptable drinking binge (Read: I still went to work most days despite my daily drinking, never got a DWI, always kept up appearances, didn't take shots/ only drank expensive wine and liquor and made sure I didn't "look like an alcoholic") I experienced my first physical withdrawals that lasted 3 days. This is when I knew I couldn't negotiate my drinking with my body anymore. I listened to some recovery podcasts and heard a story I related to very deeply that convinced me to go ahead and try this sobriety thing. I dove in head first and tried AA, online sober groups, books, therapy, the 12 steps, a sponsor, you name it. I chose to recover as hard as I drank and I haven't looked back since.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools 

1) Community
(sober Facebook groups, 12 step meetings, other sober people I've met through social media)

2) Prayer/meditation

3) Podcasts

4) Actively working the 12 Steps

5) Keeping my mind open


 
 

Connect with Tricia

Recovery Happy Hour
Website: www.recoveryhappyhour.com
Instagram: @recoveryhappyhour
Twitter: @recoveryhappyhour
Facebook: @recoveryhappyhour

Sober by Southwest
Website: www.soberbysouthwest.com
Instagram: @soberbysouthwest
Facebook: @soberbysouthwest

Re(Pro) #55: Patrick Holbert

Patrick Holbert

Excited to introduce our next RePro - Mr. Patrick Holbert, Brooklyn-based stand-up comedian extraordinaire. I just love featuring creatives — artists, comedians, sewers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, athletes, writers, makers, shakers, candlestick makers — who tap into their creativity in recovery (or in sobriety/sober curiosity, substance-free lifestyle, you name it) .
Sending gratitude to all of you <3. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

xo,
Laura


Name: Patrick Holbert

Age: 37

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 8/28/2008

Creative niche: Standup Comedy

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol, beer mostly

Recovery story in a nutshell:

nutshell.jpeg

I drank for nine years like a frat boy. Loved partying, doing crazy things, life of the party, only some people thought I had a problem, others just thought I liked to have a good time. I was a "work hard / play hard" alcoholic who was able to show up to school and work and continue to excel and keep up appearances. Only those closest to me (usually girlfriends) knew there was something really horrible happening inside me. I eventually quit after my girlfriend at the time gave me the ultimatum.

First I went to therapy, where my therapist suggested I check out AA. I waited six months to do so and just kept track of my abstinence week by week with him. I didn't develop a whole lot of language or tools around sobriety, so the relationship I was trying to save actually got worse. I resented her so much for forcing me to change my whole identity. Eventually we broke up.

That's when I felt like I had a major choice to make- Would I want to live the single bachelor party-boy lifestyle or would I get more help and stay sober? I decided to check out AA and loved it from the moment I went. I related to the stories people shared, I loved how everyone looked, and I knew I could find a way to stay sober if I kept coming back.

About five years into sobriety I organized an Artists's Way workshop out of my apartment and working through that recovery-adjacent program led me to re-visiting my childhood dream of becoming a comedian. Now I perform every night of the week and get to express myself in all sorts of fun ways.

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1- I'm about to go to the gym right now, where I'm FINALLY feeling what everyone is talking about, how working out can improve your mood. I love it!

2- Meetings. I love AA meetings, they make me feel connected to my community and get me out of my head.

3- Listening to good meditations or motivational talks on podcasts or on Spotify or YouTube... Basically anything super cheesy like Tony Robbins, etc always gets me fired up.

4- Quality time with friends. I have a hard time making time for socializing and relaxing and just having fun, and every time I do I'm reminded that it fills me up with such positivity that I need to do it more.

5- Therapy. I see an art therapist who helps me with issues relating to being a performer (anxiety, rejection, fear, business tactics, etc) and since I began my work with her, my whole career has changed. I also go to couple's therapy with my wife (who I met in recovery) and we love doing that work together.


Connect with Patrick.

Website: www.patrickholbert.com
Podcast: Comic’s Table
Instagram: @theholbertreport
Twitter: @theholberreport

Re(Pro) #49: Robin McIntosh

Robin McIntosh

In part 1 of our WorkitHealth women in entrepreneurship duo, we meet Robin McIntosh! You'll meet Lisa McLaughlin, Robin's business partner and friend, in part 2. Robin and Lisa have set out to change the world of digital recovery - and their blog features some of the biggest recovery movers and shakers (Olivia Pennelle, Lara Frazier, and yours truly). Thank you for all you do, Robin! 

xo,
Laura


Name: Robin McIntosh

Age: 33

Location: Oakland, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 12/31/2006

Creative niche:
Design, entrepreneurship, art history, art, literature

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol / food

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Nutshell version: when I was five I tried to use a kitchen knife to cut all the "bad parts" off my my already tiny frame. My eating disorder, needless to say, started before I could stitch together coherent memories. When I found alcohol at thirteen, my first feeling was relief that I could spend a moment outside my form, the "itchy" reality of daily life. A demented combination of alcohol, anorexia, and bulimia led me through multiple school expulsions, eight rehabs, and several detoxes. Finally, when I was 24 I found other women in recovery, therapy, and 12-step meetings. Last year I celebrated a decade clean, abstinent and sober, and I am so very grateful!


Top 3 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Workit Health Community
2) Writing
3) Sober Friendships 


Connect with Robin.

Website: www.WorkitHealth.com
Instagram: @robinamcintosh@WorkitHealth
Twitter: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth
Facebook: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth

Re(Pro) #47: Paula Hoss

Paula Hoss

I love Paula. She's amazing, inspirational, gorgeous, and just beacon of light. I've been using her skincare line, CLN&DRTY and ZOMG it's like my own personal spa. Share in the comments what your favorite item of hers is from her line. If you haven't tried it yet, go on an Easter Egg hunt in the post because there are a couple of links to shop with a 15% off coupon.
 So like I said, I love Paula. You will too. Read on.

xoxo, 
Laura


Name: Paula Hoss

Age: 34

Location: Massachusetts

Recovery date (turning point for substance use disorder or mental illness): 1/21/2008

My own bathroom countertop.

My own bathroom countertop.

Creative niche: Skincare Entrepreneur
[Shop CLN&DRTY for 15% off with coupon code SOBER15).

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol & benzos

Your story in a nutshell:


I began suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder when I was 15 years old and around the same time started to self medicate. I got sober for the first time at 18 and was able to stay sober for 3 years. I was active in the hardcore music scene, so I saw my sobriety more as straight edge rather than recovery.

At 20 I found myself in a highly abusive relationship, 400 miles away from home and isolated from my friends and family. The relationship ended with assault, kidnapping and terroristic threat charges against him, and I was left with severe PTSD and my bipolar disorder was acting out in full force.

Soon after, I picked up drinking again. I remember taking the first drink after those 3 years of sobriety and just feeling the whole world lift off of my shoulders. I felt like all of my fear, my anxiety, all of the trauma was being lifted away.

I was 21 and quickly spiraled into regular blackout drinking and substance abuse within the year. I again isolated myself from friends and family and moved to a city where I could live alone and drink and use without anyone's intervention.

At age 24, I hit rock bottom. [Editor's note: Me too!] There wasn't an arrest or an overdose, but rather a 6 month period where I would wake up every single morning, swearing that this was the last time and then would pick up by the evening.

I woke up on January 21, 2008 and felt more empty than I had ever felt in my life. I felt worthless, numb and depressed beyond belief. I crumbled on the floor and started sobbing and praying. I knew that I would either have to get sober or I would be dead within weeks.

I'm proud to say that I've been sober since that day, for over 10 years. In the early years, I was incredibly active in AA. I did the 12 steps, had a sponsor and sponsored other women. I got active in a young person's community and those people truly saved my life.

Further into my sobriety, I became a wife and a mother. I shifted my understanding of a Higher Power to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I began attending a non-denominational church and since my problem was no longer active drinking, but rather the shame and pain that went along with my lifestyle, I started connecting with and mentoring women of all backgrounds.

Part of my platform as a business owner is telling my story of surviving mental illness and substance abuse. I'm passionate about showing women that no matter where they are, no matter how far down they've gone, they can redeem themselves. That every single awful thing that they've done (because if you're reading this, I know you have that list in your head: the terrible moments that you pass off as party stories but you know in your heart that you are so ashamed of) can totally be wiped clean.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) The Big Book of AA
2) The Bible
3) Someone who is further along in sobriety than you
4) Someone is younger in sobriety than you
5) God


 
Click above to shop Paula's CLN&amp;DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

Click above to shop Paula's CLN&DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

 

Connect with Paula.

Website: CLNandDRTY.com
Instagram: @CLNandDRTY
Etsy: @CLNandDRTY

Re(Pro) #46: Jeff Stevens

Jeff Stevens

Name: Jeff Stevens

Age: 50

Location: St. Louis, MO

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 3/14/1992

Creative niche: Officially an entrepreneur w/some writing potential.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice
Cheap Beer and Cheaper Tequila. Then Mad Dog 20/20.

Your story in a nutshell:

I pretty much drank alcoholically from the very start. I come from a long line of people with this disease. By the time I was 24 I had a DUI, been to jail numerous times and pretty much was a liar and cheater and a thief to everyone I knew. I hit my bottom in FLA and while I had been going to meetings I was still drinking. But on March 14th 1992 the pain got so bad that I did something I hadn't done up until that moment. I asked God for help. I got on my hands and knees in a veil of tears and surrendered. God removed my compulsion to drink right then and I'm grateful all the time it's never returned. I came to learn that this was a spiritual experience right out the Big Book.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. &lt;3.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. <3.

Since then I've lived and experienced recovery in Florida, Chicago, London, St. Louis and traveled all over. I married up. Have two great kids. I built a career in advertising and found so much freedom that I worked on a ton of beer and spirits brands and never had the desire to pick up. I go to meetings, have a sponsor and sponsees and do a weekly recovery podcast at sincerightnow.com.

In 2016 I put together two of short list of skills (beer marketing and not drinking alcohol) into a business called wellbeingbrewing.com. We make NA craft beer. [Editor's note: You can invest in WellBeing! Jeff and his team exceeded their goal of $125-200K - but there's still room for you. Click here for more details.]

Some truths I've found to be true: The more I'm around, the less I know and the 12 steps are probably the simplest and most rewarding spiritual path you will find.

 

Top 5 Recovery / Wellness Tools:

1) Meetings
2) Yoga
3) Weekly Podcast w/The Boys
4) NA Craft Beer
5) My 3rd step minute mantra: "Take this God, I don't want it."


Connect with Jeff.

Re(Pro) #28: Lara Frazier

In April of 2016, Lara and I became friends.

What an adventure we embarked on since then.  We crammed more into one year of digital friendship than many IRL friends have in five years.  For 6 of those months, we took part in a series called 12 on 12, where, with five other bloggers/creatives in recovery (Aaron Perry, Olivia Pennelle, Mark Goodson, Cristina Ferri) we would share 12 nuggets on the 12th of the month pertaining to our recovery and reflecting on that month's theme.  We took turns hosting on our blogs, and my month was last July (anniversary month!); chosen topic was MUSIC. The magic continued online, as we provided each other support through breakups, fighting the stigma outloud, and just day-to-day recovering woman in her 30s biz-ness.

And then?

We finally met!* 

xoxo,

Laura


LaraFrazier

Name: Lara Frazier

Age: 33
[Editor's note: Lara and I both in our Jesus year - I'll turn 34 on Thursday, 5/18 and she'll turn 34 in June].

Location: Dallas, TX | Spring Hill, FL

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 2/10/2014

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
Poetry, Art, Songwriting, Marketing, Writing, Social Media

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice): 
It started with an abuse of prescription opiates, but the drug that took me out was Adderall (usually combined with Xanax).

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I began abusing prescription opiates after a minor surgery around 21 years old and began experimenting with more opiates shortly after that. I was one of those people who said I'd never do drugs and I hardly drank in college. However, over time, the experimentation got worse.

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I will say my doctor was my first drug dealer. When I was in graduate school, I went to a psychiatrist to tell him I believe I was becoming addicted to prescription opiates and he sent me off with another prescription. This time it was for an anti-depressant, Xanax, and Ambien. He didn't seem to care that I was abusing pills - he wanted to treat the symptoms of my withdrawal from the pills. The symptoms were depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep.

I stopped abusing prescription opiates for a few years and I didn't really abuse my other prescriptions. However, I was involved in a car accident in 2009 and I was prescribed a plethora of opiates and other pain killers. When I lost a job in 2010, and called my psychiatrist to tell him I wanted to die, he told me he had the answer for suicidal ideation in a pill. He didn't ask to see me. He just prescribed me something and when I went to pick it up the next day, I discovered it was Adderall, which is an amphetamine. It stopped my depression for a short while, but then it led me into a four year addiction and a lifestyle that involved institutions, homelessness, and loss of self.

Left to right:   Lara's shero,  Holly  Whitaker,  Lara , and  Laura  McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

Left to right: Lara's shero, Holly Whitaker, Lara, and Laura McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

I entered long-term recovery in 2014, about four years after I was first prescribed Adderall. I started in AA and worked all 12 steps. However, I started feeling like I had stopped growing. I felt that there were problems that AA and prayer weren't solving. I left AA, with the help of Hip Sobriety School and Holly Whitaker. I developed a holistic program of recovery that involves prayer, meditation, self-awareness, essential oils, empowerment, fierceness, art, creativity, passion, service, inventory, friendships, love, kindness, and a whole myriad of other tools.

I began my blog in early 2016 because I found the power of truth-telling. Many women went before me in starting to be open about their sobriety and their recovery. And I honor them always, for telling the truth and for their ability to be raw and vulnerable and real. (You were one of them) xo
[Editor's note: awww, I love you, lady! <3


*WE FINALLY MET!

Image 1: Carolyn Monticelli, Lara, me.
Image 2: My and Lara's wrists, #soulstamped.
Image 3: Lara, Carly Benson, me.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Service

2) Prayer

3) Connection

4) Self-Awareness

5) Constant Growth/Self-Improvement


Connect with Lara.

Website: www.laraannfrazier.com
Instagram: @sillylara
Facebook: @laraannfrazier
Twitter: @sillylara


Re(Pro) #18: Claire Rudy Foster

I've got a major girl crush on my fellow July '07 member, Claire. I'm SO SO SO excited to read her new book (details within).  She's a phenomenal writer and expresser of thoughts--and a warm, supportive, lovely friend.  I'm not much of a betting woman but I'd put money on a major legacy this gal will leave, and Claire is quickly making her mark in this space.  Viva la recovery revolucion!

xo,
Laura


Name: Claire Rudy Foster

Age: 32

Location: Portland, OR

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/06/2007

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):

I’m a writer and a lifelong reader. I fell in love with reading when I was young: I was allowed to read whatever I wanted, even the books and magazines that my parents read, so reading was an early, illicit pleasure. In reading, I explored places and experiences that made me believe that adulthood would be wonderful, bursting with interesting people, gorgeous meals, and excursions to every corner of the map. In recovery, I’ve found those people and places, and they populate my novels and short stories. 

It might sound trite, but sobriety has made my dreams a reality. When I was drinking, and deep into my heroin addiction, I was trying to write and just going in circles. I saw a few stories published, and knew I had potential, but when I was using, it was just that: potential. Nothing more. Inevitably, I couldn’t write because I had to be high all the time and when I was high I could barely form a coherent thought, much less tell a story. Once I got sober, the pieces starting coming together again. Next month, my first book is coming out, and that’s a dream come true for me. 

I never thought I’d have my name on the cover of anything; I thought that I would be one of those tragic, unacknowledged writers who OD’d in her apartment and nothing to show for her life except a trunk of unpublished, not-very-good pages. A few times, that was a real possibility, and I think it’s my pride that kept me plugging along. I’m not gonna fucking die without accomplishing something, I always told myself. And here I am, with a book, and I don’t want to die anymore and I’m not going to overdose or drink myself to death. How’s that for a plot twist?

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): 

Heroin and alcohol. I stuck with the classics. In a perfect world, I would have been blacked out at all times. I loved blackouts at first, because it was like being in a time machine. You walk in one end and come out the other, and you’re in a totally different spot, with new people and better music and hopefully more of whatever put you in the blackout in the first place. The problem was that the more I drank, the scarier it got. I would come to and I’d be with people I didn’t recognize, in dangerous places, with bad things happening. It really frightened me. Whenever I think I miss getting loaded, I remember those times: the sensation of falling into this dark, dark pit and not knowing who or what was waiting for me at the other end. There’s nothing romantic about it, and as awful as it was, I’m glad I spent so much time at the bottom. Heroin may love me, but I don’t love it back. And I don’t love who I was then, either. I think part of me was addicted to suffering, and getting loaded was a more efficient, dramatic way of getting into that dark place. I’m grateful that I don’t live there anymore.

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

In a lot of ways, my story is boilerplate. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. Like I said, there was this void inside me, a hole that opened up and was impossible to fill. I was a really lonely kid---that’s not a reflection on my parents, or my family, I was just that way. I was a dreamer and I think I figured out really young that there was no place in the world for people like me, and instead of believing that things would get better, I gave up hope. You can only weather so much. And I wasn’t brave then, and I didn’t know who I was, so I was basically like “fuck it” and pulled a vodka blanket over my head and refused to come out. I started drinking and using fairly young, and it felt right to me in a way that was scary. You could say that it was my first love, and I had absolutely no interest in fighting it. I didn’t realize how deep my addiction went until I finally tried to quit on my own. I couldn’t stop. I tried everything, from moving apartments to switching substances, to therapy and yoga and being a vegan and getting married, and I was still an alcoholic and a heroin addict. I could dress it up and say “it’s because I’m a writer” or “it’s because I got raped,” but neither of those things are completely true. “I’m self medicating.”

I ended up getting sober at 23. I think that everyone has a few windows of opportunity, when it comes to addiction---and the longer you wait, the fewer opportunities there are. For whatever reason, I jumped through this one and I haven’t gone back. I got sober on my own, detoxed in a tiny studio apartment I shared with my then-husband, and decided I could just muscle through it. I didn’t know anything about addiction or alcoholism and figured I was just insane. I thought I would have to go on a mood stabilizer or antidepressants---in fact, I was prescribed both of those things by a well-meaning psychiatrist in my first few months, because I described my symptoms and they were concomitant with bipolar disorder. (Of course, I hadn’t told this doctor that I’d quit drinking and getting loaded, so she thought I was having a mental break of some kind.) I stayed sober on my own for close to three years, and my life got smaller and smaller. I lost all my friends and I was so lonely. I rarely left the house, and I was afraid to walk down the wine aisle at the store. Finally, I got a suggestion to go to an AA meeting, and that’s where my recovery really started. 

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) AA meetings
For me, staying physically sober wasn’t enough. I needed to learn how to grow up, work on myself, and be brave, and I learned all of that in AA. I’ve been sober for almost 10 years now, and in AA for more than 6. The contrast between having a community and trying to go it alone is like night and day for me. I don’t think AA is for everyone, but it can help anyone. It was exactly where I needed to be, and I use what I’ve learned in the rooms every day.

2) Writing
I keep a journal, write letters, and stay creative. Cultivating the playful, imaginative part of my mind is critical for my recovery. I was surprised and pleased to learn that getting sober didn’t turn me into a different person: it’s helped me to live up to my potential. I was a writer when I was drinking, and I’m a writer now: a sober one. A few years into my recovery, I went to graduate school and earned an MFA in Creative Writing. It feels like such a gift to not only be able to finish what I start, but to say “writing matters to me,” and be able to invest in myself.

3) Friends
Where would I be without my people? From AA to the #xa community on Twitter and the awesome friends who have come into my life over the past decade, I feel loved, supported, and seen. When I was drinking, I felt invisible: like I didn’t matter, and that nobody would miss me if I disappeared. Now, I have friends who fill my days and nights with laughter, music, and fun. I have a man in my life who makes me feel like I’m full of stars. I would also say that, in sobriety, I’ve learned how to make new friends without feeling nervous or inhibited. These days, I’m grateful to have quality friends I can count on, and who keep me honest and grounded.

4) Naps
Enough said.

5) Hope
Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is a thing with feathers.” That’s how I live today. I have heard people describe hope as a kind of faith, and I think that’s true, too. For me, recovery is what happens after the initial pain and excitement and drama of early sobriety has passed. Life continues to be life, and I continue to learn. I try to go forward believing that good things are possible, for me and everyone. I write about my hopes, talk about them. I remind myself that my best days are ahead of me, and that if I stay sober and keep going, I’ll get where I need to be. Of all the things I rely on, I’d say that hope is the thing that has truly given me wings. One day, I decided that I had trudged far enough; instead of giving up, I learned how to fly.


Connect with Claire / Win a Copy of Her Debut Book!

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Re(Pro) #15: Cristina Ferri

Yay! &nbsp;Here we are! &nbsp;We look like we could be sisters! &nbsp;Or cousins :)

Yay!  Here we are!  We look like we could be sisters!  Or cousins :)

Cristina Ferri is a beautiful, gorgeously fierce, fighter of a soul--who is sassy to boot.  I mean, come on--ALL THE UNICORNS!  I had the ultimate pleasure of hugging my sister in sobriety a couple months ago at the I Am Not Anonymous portrait shoot in Washington, D.C. and we wore our matching #SOBER necklaces (designed by love, lori michelle for yours truly).  Let's throw some unicorn confetti in the air and welcome none other than Ms. Sober Unicorn


Name: Cristina Ferri

Age: 39 -- EEK!

Location: Plainville, MA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/24/15

Creative niche: Photography & Singing

If applicable, drug of choices (or not of choice): Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

My recovery journey started a few months before my actual sobriety date. I started working with my therapist on the difficult internal issues and mental health problems I had been self-medicating myself with and casting aside for years. Soon, I began really seeing that a lot of my issues were burning hotter by my alcohol use. But when I made the decision to stop drinking, there was really no turning back. I realized really quickly that I needed a support line, other than my therapist, and I tried to find local AA meetings. Even though I always brought something home with me from the meetings I attended, I didn't feel as welcomed as I felt with the online recovery tribe I was also starting to build. These people rapidly became friends to collaborate with, vent to, laugh with and lean on. Staying sober is really only one part of my recovery journey. I am also currently working on my co-dependency, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and CPTSD, eating habits and relationship with food, body image, spirituality and relationship with my higher power as well as learning to just be human.

Every morning, I start my day with gratitude and try to journal my thoughts, which allows me to share a positive and healthy attitude towards everyone I interact with throughout the day. I worked with a health coach who truly helped me lay a foundation for success in creating a safe, nourishing place for my recovery. I also started a blog to share my story, and I'm currently having growth and interest in it to the point where I'm in the works of creating a new outreach program, revolving around recovery and art, that I hope to be announcing by the end of the year. I began volunteering with Girls On the Run & recently joined a church where I have been invited to be a part of their praise team! My recovery has truly changed my life. But it's something that I literally have to keep choosing every day, and every minute if necessary.

 

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) My Blog

2) Prayer & Meditation

3) Church & my relationship with my higher power

4) My Online Tribe

5) Booooooooooooooooooks


Connect with Cristina.

Re(Pro) #6: India Dunn

India found me through Instagram.  She had been looking for a photo of my hairdresser, a woman named Alix Maya Clymer, owner of the Unicorn Tribe Salon!  When she found Alix's post about my new flamingo pink/fiery red hair and my community at The Sobriety Collective, here's what the darling India had to say:

Falling into the rabbit hole that is Instagram and found this post.  Love love love and so happy to have found @wearesober.  

And so our friendship began. 

xo,
Laura


Name: India Dunn

Age: 43

Location: San Diego, CA 

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 4/23/07

 Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
I am a Creative Compassionate; a hair dresser/artist/empath and I coach others who are like me on how to embrace their unique qualities through encouraging selfcare and healthy boundaries as part of their path to service.  

If applicable, drug of choice (or not choice...): booze 

 Recovery story in a nutshell: 

If I had ever been truly honest about my appetite for alcohol I would have said "I want to open my mouth and just keep pouring it in." I first found food, then I found boys and then discovered alcohol.  And I abused all of them 'til none of them worked any more. I knew I had a problem with alcohol at a very young age. I can remember one of my first drunken moments at 13, ending up in a kitchen drinking someone's codeine cough syrup I had found in a cabinet. Whatever there was it was never enough.  I would black out or pass out.  I would "come to" full of remorse and self pity and that overwhelming feeling of "impending doom."

I figured out that I could binge and recover enough to make it through a few days of work.  Then I would try to control it and end up on a bender. Later I would come to understand the "great obsession" and see that if I was controlling my drinking I wasn't enjoying it and if I wasn't controlling it I was enjoying it. 

It was years and years of knowing I had a problem, years of trying to control and enjoy, years of watching my fellows drink with impunity and years of failed relationships.  Still there was success and some happiness. Still I had enough people who drank like me to make it seem as if maybe I was just like them, not knowing the difference was that they didn't think like me. Still there was enough that seemed normal in my life that I could pass for just a party girl. But I knew. I knew I was a fucking pussy for not being able to handle my drink. I knew I was a fucking weakling for not just driving the car off the side of the bridge. I knew there was only so much longer that I could keep up the facade. There was a therapist who helped, but I railed against her mention of AA. It wasn't for me. Organized religion wasn't my gig. 

Again I tried to quit with a New Years resolution.  Three months later I thought I could take a drink... and I was driving my dearest family around town in a black out. I was so sick and tired...

I had a client who was sober and asked if he would take me to a meeting.  He agreed. As they asked if there were any new comers who would like to introduce themselves my body/soul took over and stood me up and a voice came out of me "my name is India, and I am an alcoholic." And I have not had a drink since. I did all the wrong things in early sobriety: dated, made big decisions, dated, sold shit, dated. And luckily none of my mess was messy enough for me to take a drink. And I cleaned it up, did the steps and helped other alcoholics.  Service and more service was my saving grace. What I wanted was not what I got and what I have is exactly what was meant to be. I am more free than I thought I could ever be.  I get high on life and high on gratitude. I'm so in touch with the energy of the moment that I can feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me. I love life like I always wanted to and thought was not possible. And I still get shitty in my head, so I talk to another alki or I pray to get out of the way.  Or I try just sitting in it because now I know my feelings won't kill me. 

Top Five Tools for a Happy Recovery:
1) Get God, Goddess, Spirit(what ever you call it) between you and your thoughts; 2) be gentle; 3) be of service; 4) share your the message, not the mess; 5) and find the gift in it ALL. 


Connect with India.
Website: www.indiadunn.com
Instagram: @indiadunncoaching
**

Re(Pro) #5: Robyn Joy

Robyn is one of my new favorite people.  I love love love love her and you will too.  The End!
xoxo,
Laura


Name: Robyn Joy

Age: 39

Location: Vermont

Sobriety date: January 1, 2016 

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 

I've recently gotten really into zines, both as a reader and creator. I got a small grant from Long Distance Love Bombs and have written and published two issues of "Best Intentions" since I stopped drinking. I used to be a painter/assemblage artist and I am finding my way back to that slowly. I have been a performing musician in years past, but I'm currently working on quieter projects at home and using my kitchen as a creative vegetarian studio. I'm also getting married in July, and doing everything DIY including all the decor and my dress, so at the moment I am surrounded by papier mache and heart garland and lace.

Drug of choice (or not of choice...): Booze Booze Booze. So much booze.

Recovery story in a nutshell: 

Erg. This is hard to describe in a short blurb. I was a drunk for a million years, or possibly something like 25. I started drinking when I started forming my personality, discovering my sexuality, exerting my independence. Boy that all turned into a gnarly mess of a girl, but a functional one. I got involved in romantic relationships with the opposite of what my parents hoped for me more often than not, put myself in dangerous and harmful situations because I hated myself so much, and played the victim for as long as I can remember. I drank to feel complete, to feel validated, to feel pretty, to feel confident, to be the fun girl that everyone wanted to be around and love. It didn't work out. It never does, right? I had a lot of continual disasters (sexual assault, self harming, financial trouble, divorce, loss of friendship, etc), but I didn't quit because I hit rock bottom. I hit that a couple times and drank harder. I quit because I was tired and sick and if I wasn't super embarrassed or ashamed by my drunken behavior, I was scaring myself. I went to rehab after I realized I had been blacking out every single night for longer than I'd care to admit or think about. I talked to my job and my fiance and my family and friends through shaky voices and tears sometimes. I spent 3 weeks there. The first two were life changing, mostly because I was taken out of my booze soaked environment. The third was mostly frustrating due to a lot of circumstances, so I ditched a week early (on Thanksgiving day). I was sober for a week at home, but then thought I could try drinking like a normal person. I now know that I do not drink like a normal person and to try is only going to awaken my little gremlin-wolf-snake-beast who's thirst is unquenchable. My last drunk night was new year's eve 2015. I drank lots of wine. I staggered to the store and came back to the apartment with a ridiculous amount of more wine even though I was already slurring. We went to a party and no one was mean or judgmental, but I could feel and see on everyone's face that I was as expected - wasted before 10pm and heading for a train wreck. I got a ride home and was in bed by 11pm and woke up in the morning with a new feeling. I actually wanted to be sober instead of just saying I did. My fiance took me for a walk and he made a video of me dumping the last bottle of wine over a cliff. I haven't had a sip of anything since.

How you stay sober / Tools for a happy recovery:

Reading.
I read a lot more than I used to. I've incorporated reading into my nightly routine, which is so good for me for so many reasons. I listen to books on tape sometimes too. I listened to Alan Carr's "The Easy Way to Control Your Drinking" in my first few weeks of sobriety and felt brainwashed, but in a good way. Currently I am about to finish "Recovery 2.0" by Tommy Rosen - a MUST read if you like the idea of a holistic recovery process, and I'm going to start "Dry" by Augusten Burroughs. There is also a vibrant community of people in recovery on the internet that I read and I look to for further recommendations. And I am an avid reader of recovery zines (or "perzines") and it's easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of wonderful writing there. One writer recommends or mentions another and so on. I am adding to the pool with my own and feel humbled to be part of such a powerful bunch of voices.

Diet and drinking.
I keep myself well stocked with seltzer, either with a full tank in the soda maker or a full 12 pack in the fridge. I make a ritual out of pouring it into a glass and adding fresh lemon, ice and non sugary juice if I am feeling fancy. I know that when I am out, I order a soda with a splash of cran and a lime. I was already eating relatively well, but drunken nights often used to lead to late night junk food binging, laziness, and a lack of concern about my body. I gained 50 pounds in the last few years and continue to struggle with that and ongoing body image issues I was born into. I try to cook a healthy dinner most every night, which is quite a thing sometimes, but it's an important thing, and my skills and creativity constantly improve. Actual diets to lose weight or change my habits drastically tend to make me obsessive and overwhelmed, so I have learned to not be tempted by their promises. I am strictly vegetarian, I read labels and educate myself, and I try to eat whole foods as much as possible, and I think that's the best possible scenario for me. 

Yoga.
This is an imperative part of my self care and growth. I have always enjoyed it, but have never stuck with a routine for very long. In rehab, we had a free yoga and meditation class once a week, and it helped me to remember that I really like it (and once a week is not nearly enough). I came home and committed to spending the time and money on a local yoga studio. I don't always go as often as I would like, and the cost adds up, but lately I have been able to get 3 classes on a regular week and up to 5 or 6 when I am truly on my game. I'm hoping to find a balance at some point and still continue with the studio some, but get a home practice too. I have yet to meditate regularly, other than when I am falling asleep at night, but it is in my future goals as well. 

AA Meetings.
I go to one AA meeting every week. I love this group of people and I don't know that any other meeting is like this one, and I don't honestly care, because I feel like this is all I need. Tommy Rosen's book broke down the process of working the 12 steps and I will most likely give it a go sometime soon, but I haven't gone there yet. People who are way into the program will continue to insist that I get more involved, go to more meetings, devote myself to being of service, blah blah blah, but right now, it is a small piece of my pie.

Therapy.
I have been in therapy for years, so this isn't a new thing. The catch phrase I hear a lot now is "dual diagnosis" - having an addiction paired with mental illness.  I no longer have access to benzodiazepine because of being in recovery, and that can be really hard for me. I do take an anti depressant that also helps with anxiety, but sometimes I have to really pull myself away from panic inducing situations and rely on safe tools I have learned to self soothe. Breathing techniques I have learned in yoga are indispensable, but I often just avoid being in places that I know are going to threaten my mental health. After a lot of reading, I suspect my depression/anxiety and PTSD are actually Bipolar II, but I no longer see a psychiatrist because I don't really like where that leads me. I had a drug/alcohol counselor before rehab and then another one when I came home. They were fine, but very clinical in their approach, and I didn't find either of them super helpful. But my regular therapist has been life saving.

More Self Care [editor's note: YAYYY!!!]: 
I am learning about taking care of myself ahead of everything and anything. I am a die hard codependent person. I become whatever I think will make the most people pleased with me. I don't know how to make choices about simple things like what music to listen to or what shirt to wear or what food I like. I participate in social things for the sake of making people believe I like the right things that will make me the most likable. This is all changing for me in sobriety, and it is both amazing and excruciating. I am REALLY emotional a lot. I want seclusion and independence a lot more than I ever have before, but I also want to fall back into the old me and be taken care of and not have to think for myself. But I have to do what serves me best before I can be a good friend, lover, sister, teacher, or anything. Being sober has been the best thing to happen in my forever healing process so far.