Towards the end of last year, I realized I was ready to amp up my recovery game by making more connections… in-person. As someone who struggles a great deal with social anxiety, I knew this was a demon I was not only ready to face but to punch in-the-face.
Drinking and anxiety always went hand-in-hand for me. For as long as I can remember, I never got ready to go out without my sweet escape by my side (in the bathroom, as a roadie, etc.) Even if I planned to hang with the people who knew me inside-and-out, I was always paralyzed with anxious tendencies.
Looking back, I think I pawned off the emotions as pure excitement. (HA!) But knowing waaaayyyy better now, I was one anxious nutshell! Scared of what to say, how I looked, what they might think, etc. would haunt me ALL DAY LONG leading up to an event or night out. So I would quiet those feelings ASAP with a beer (or two or three) or a glass of wine (or two or three), as I got all dolled up. (No wonder I would not remember most of the night! I was halfway gone before I even arrived!)
Moral- anxiety and me have always been a thang.
Around late Spring last year, I started to hear about “She Recovers” from some really fabulous and inspiring ladies on Instagram. What I had gathered in my quick scrolling was these ladies had attended a weekend event in NYC that revolved around all walks of recovery, and it brought about a very close connection.
I immediately said to myself, “I want that! I want to connect on a deeper level with people (especially women) in recovery!”
Flash forward to October 2017, and I’m purchasing my ticket for a one-day workshop called the “Sacred Pause Saturday: Yoga and Connection” scheduled for February 17th, 2018 in the nearby city of San Francisco. (A day away from the kids to do yoga and take in the beauty of San Fran? SIGN ME UP!) No anxiety in that moment.
Flash forward to January of this year, and I’m purchasing September’s She Recovers Event in LA (A weekend away from the family to stay in the Beverly Hilton and possibly see some celebs?!? Again, SIGN MY BOOTY UP!!!) There was some (major) anxiety in this moment.
I had locked myself in to two events. Cleared the calendars. Paid the price. And said to myself, “Ready or not, social anxiety, here I come (to conquer)!”
Based on today’s date, you can see that the San Fran workshop came and went, and WOW! I committed. I survived. I thrived. I not only punched my social-anxiety in the face- it was a KO!
The entire hour-and-forty-minute drive down to the city brought about my typical nervous-Nellie feelings. I was shaking, thoughts were racing, sweating just a wee bit… some of my standard signs of anxiety. BUT I kept reminding myself that I was going to a safe place, I wanted this challenge, and I so so so badly wanted an authentic connection.
But what made the graceful anxiety knockout possible, what comforted my nerves on the deepest level was the atmosphere created from the very first second by every woman in attendance. I’m still in complete awe of how incredible the day was and how fulfilled it left me.
Imagine walking into a room where there is NO JUDGMENT, NO QUESTIONING, NO ILL-VIBE. Imagine being surrounded by people who wear a genuine smile on their face and are ready to embrace all that is you- imperfections and thensome! Imagine a complete stranger just “getting you” within seconds. Imagine feeling FREE because you’re not ashamed or hiding another side of you. Imagine you’ve been given the freedom to be completely authentic and you actually take it.
When you take that opportunity to just be your true-self, to have no reason to wear a mask, you can take yourself and your self-love to a whole new level. And folks, this event took me to a WHOLE new level!
On this day, 80+ women showed up. They made the commitment to themselves and each other. We dove head first in saying, “Hey! I get you! I welcome you to my space in this moment!” Then we shared some pieces of us (on a microphone, might I add. I did that! TWICE!! Mega punches to my anxiety!! Whoohoo!!) It was amazing to hear the all dynamics that were brought together because we all shared the same journey… the journey of recovery.
Then we listened to leaders, to the ones who are really doing the hard work of taking the stigma away for us “addicts.” It was during this time that I learned about The Center for Open Recovery, which is a local-ish organization doing BIG THINGS to break the stereotype of recovery. Just knowing that people are fighting to shift people’s views on recovery is so awe-inspiring, and gives me strength to keep recovering out-loud.
Next, we were guided through a soul-touching yoga routine with the bountiful beauty of San Fran surrounding us. We breathed, twisted, and stretched the emotions out of us. I cried. A lot. People and thoughts popped into my head that surprised the heck out of me, but I just flowed with it. I let myself feel every ounce of those moments, and then let it go.
We were then fed a earthly vegan meal that had me returning for seconds. (I’m no vegan, but that catered meal might have nudged me a little in that direction. Seriously, so good!) Again, as I’m sitting next to complete strangers, I learn their backgrounds, their stories, their struggles. The connections were firing up and going deeper. There were alcoholics, drug addicts, overeaters, workaholics, and moms of addicts. There were long-term recoverers, newbies, and all us in-between. But none of the minute details of our backstories really mattered. We knew we shared something, and there was simply no BS about it.
One of the absolute highlights of the day, though, was when Holly Whitaker from Hip Sobriety spoke. She had just flown into town from NYC. She was exhausted. She said she hated public speaking. She cursed. She sat on the stage with her shoes off instead of faking her way through some uppity, formal speech. And most importantly, she spoke unconditionally from her heart. Although I won’t get into her actual talk, I will say that her words really resounded with me, and I’m forever grateful for those 15 minutes of pure wisdom and authenticity.
Upon closing time for the workshop, we were left to continue connecting with each other, as well as given the opportunity to step into the Shamebooth. SHAMEBOOTH is what you may or may not expect- it’s a telephone booth that you can walk into, pick up a phone, and anonymously share your shame. The idea is to free yourself and lighten (or let go) the weight of shame in our lives. The gals that put this incredible idea together were HILARIOUS and the absolute real deal.
Although I did not step inside, as time was running out (and my payment for our babysitter was racking up), I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! If the SHAMEBOOTH is at any future recovery events that I attend, you WILL find me inside. (Hope there isn’t a time limit ;).
As I wrap this post up, I must share that just writing about this incredible day has calmed my soul and brought a bright, beautiful smile to my face, once again. If you are on any path of recovery- addictions, divorce, codependency, eating, etc.- PLEASE consider checking out the She Recovers website. See if there is an upcoming event near your neck-of-the-woods, and GO! GO! GO!
If one day can ease this anxious mama and melt away so much shame and fear, then imagine what it might do for you!
Lastly, if you are going to the LA event, LET ME KNOW!!! Hugs from me are waiting for YOU!