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3 'Recovery' Lessons Everyone Can Benefit From

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In May, there was landmark gathering in New York City: SheRecoversNYC. The inaugural event was held by the namesake organization, SheRecovers, a powerful organization of women in recovery, with recovery being a broad term: substances, eating disorders, work addiction, perfectionism, etc.

As they welcomed hundreds of sober women to New York, they also live streamed the event for those of us around the world. I felt I was sitting shoulder to shoulder in a room of smart, powerful, brave women. And while my brain is still spinning from all I heard, and the implications for how I will use the teachings, I wanted to share some of the messages that resonated. They are for all of us, not just those of us “in recovery.” Because honestly we all could benefit from a program that lets us look deeply within and make the changes we need to live the lives we were created for. So, here goes.

1. Most Everyone Could Benefit From a Program of Recovery — Elizabeth Vargas

Last year the ABC journalist made headlines when she released, “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction.”  I identified greatly with Vargas’ story — a journalist who drank as a coping mechanism for severe anxiety, worsened by her high stress media job. Vargas bravely went public with her story last fall, another huge stride in helping move the dialogue forward regarding the stigma around alcohol use and abuse. By saying, “Me too,” she showed the world this is what addiction — and recovery — looks like. And in her Saturday talk she hit on something I’ve learned about quite a bit during my journey: pretty much everyone could benefit from a program of recovery. Those of us who find one are lucky.

2. We Are All Made Up of “Ands” — Nikki Myers

When Nikki Myers identifies herself in public, she says she always starts by saying “Hi, I’m Nikki, and I’m a recovering _____” (alcoholic, love addict, spending addict, etc.) Then she goes on to say that she has an MBA, is a mother, a grandmother, a yoga therapist and an author. The founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery says she’ll say the same thing whether she is speaking to people in recovery, or the United Nations, which she will do soon.

“While all of those things inform my walk in the world, none of them define me.” We can be so many things all at once — we are so many things all at once — why not just claim them? Our “ands.” Also, during her talk on co-dependency, she said that two things you need to heal co-dependency are a healthy sense of self-esteem and boundaries.”We are interdependent beings — we don’t need to be co-dependent beings,” she said. Preach!

3. Honor the Wounds

The brilliant author Gabby Bernstein delivered a Saturday night address that I swear was beamed directly from Manhattan to my heart, though I’m sure everyone in the room felt the same way. That’s why she’s so good! Gabby said that the more recovery we get, the more we’re aware of deep rooted fears, what triggers us, what still brings up shame.

She said that after more than a decade in recovery, she recently realized a deep wound from childhood that just now came up — because she was ready to process it. Many are traumatized in some way or another (though in different ways) and pain points us to what we still need to heal. Surrender, she said, is not a one-time deal. It’s not just the on-your-knees “Please God” rock bottom we have, but it’s a daily, unfolding process. She said we should honor where we are today and engage in a constant dialogue of self-compassion. It’s all about reconnecting with our true selves, and that’s a long and beautiful walk home.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA‘s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Lead photo via SheRecovers Facebook page

Originally published: August 18, 2017
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