EP87 Addiction, Recovery, and The Human Condition with Guest Mary Tilson

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
EP87 Addiction, Recovery, and The Human Condition with Guest Mary Tilson

Mary Tilson is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach, Trauma-informed Yoga and Meditation Teacher, the Founder of Sun & Moon Sober Living, and a person in long-term recovery. There is so much you can learn by listening to Mary’s journey from substance use to recovery. Instead of focusing on your differences, Mary’s story offers a chance to recognize our shared human experiences.  Look for your common ground, and discover the similarities that connect us all.

In this episode, you’ll uncover valuable insights on healing, support, and connecting with your child to create lasting changes within your family.

Topics covered in this episode:

    • Mary’s journey to recovery
    • How to create the space between impulse and action
    • Supporting someone through a reoccurrence of use
    • What makes Mary feel supported in recovery

Contact Mary

Website: https://sunandmoonsoberliving.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sunandmoon.soberliving/

Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sun-moon-sober-living-podcast/id1603805157


Resources From Heather Ross Coaching

NEW GROUP COACHING PROGRAM – Join the waitlist https://heatherrosscoaching.com/peace-of-mind-community/

Guide about enabling – If you’ve ever worried about enabling, this guide is for you! https://heatherrosscoaching.com/perspective-about-enabling/

If you want answers and support to help you and your child Sign up for a 45-minute $17 call with me using the link below



New Learning/Support Group
Use the link below to find out about the Invitation to Change support group Heather is hosting.

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Learn More & Sign Up For The Invitation To Change Group⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠


Follow Heather on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/heatherrosscoaching

Follow Heather on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/heatherrosscoaching/

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Join the free Facebook group for parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/heather-ross9/message


This transcript has not been formatted or edited.


I’m Heather.

After many wasted years trying outdated approaches to my daughter’s addiction that felt wrong to me, harmed our relationship, and didn’t help my daughter, I finally found an effective evidence based approach that repair my relationship with her, helped me create my own Peace of Mind, and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery.


I teach you a loving and compassionate approach to help you encourage change and create connection.

Addiction impacts the entire family system.

Family Recovery is the answer.

Hi everybody.


Our guest today, Mary Tilson, is a certified Professional Recovery coach, trauma informed yoga and meditation teacher, and the founder of Sun and Moon Sober Living.

Having experienced profound shifts as a result of her decision to get sober in 2013, she is passionate about helping others find freedom from addiction so they can live fulfilling lives substance free.


She’s a strong believer in the power of community and enjoys bringing likeminded people together through her online membership, community and Wellness retreats.

Mary recently settled back in the mountains of Colorado after nearly a decade traveling and teaching internationally while living in Southeast Asia in her free time.


She loves reading and learning, hiking, scuba diving, and spending time with her family.

And the one of the reasons that I wanted to have Mary on the podcast was because I could see a lot of myself and her story when I heard her on other podcasts.


And I really love being able to make that connection where we can see ourselves and our kids and see more of our similarities and our differences.

So I wanted to share that with the audience.

And thank you so much for coming on today.

Well, thank you so much for having me.


And as you know, I have so much respect for the work that you’re doing.

And so I’m just really grateful to be able to share this conversation with you.

So let’s start with you just giving a little bit of your background and how you got into this work.



So my what led me into this work was my own addiction with substances.


So I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol when I was about 13 years old.

So pretty young.

And it’s definitely caused a lot of tension with my parents at certain times.

And I had some trouble that I got into.

But it wasn’t until later in life until I went away to college, that things started to really become problematic when I started getting introduced to.


Cocaine and ecstasy.

And I was using Adderall to continue to function at school and maintain my grades.

And that was when I started to see some real consequences of my substance use.

I started blacking out, of course, because I was using those other substances that were allowing me to stay out later and be more alert.


I was consuming a lot more alcohol and so I was blacking out.

I was really my behavior was so out of alignment with who I knew myself to be and my values.

And I would wake up with vague memories of the night before.

I would hear stories.


I just couldn’t believe the person I was becoming.

And so it was my junior year of college that I went down a pretty rapid downward spiral and had my first bottom.

And I’ll make a long story story short with my recovery because I could go into so much detail here, but what happened was I called my mom for help.


One morning I woke up and I could not face.

What I had gotten myself into the night before, it just felt too much for me.

I couldn’t even imagine how I was going to get through that day.

So I called her up in a panic and I said, please Get Me Out of here.

Get Me Out of.

I was in Boulder, away in school, and the next thing you know, I’m on a plane home.


And I’m also finding myself enrolled in rehab and treatment, which I was not ready for.

I I wanted my mom to help me.

It was like, no, come rescue me, Get Me Out of trouble, but don’t tell me I’m going to get sober.

Like, that’s not what the goal is here.

And so I thought I could outsmart everything that I was learning.


I really was filtering what I was saying because I needed to be strategic to make sure that I could get back to school with my friends and I had to learn the lessons for another three years.

I went back to using drugs and alcohol through the rest of my college experience and after I graduated when I was working, and found myself in a pretty bad place.


With cocaine in particular, I was.

Using cocaine a lot in secrecy and hiding and hit another bottom, which was enough for me to make the decision for myself to get sober.

And so ultimately, I went to treatment in 2013 and I’ve been sober since April 27th, 2013.



I appreciate you sharing your journey and what that experience was like for you, especially calling your mom, asking for help.

And it sounds like she set treatment up for you, and that you you still went ahead and went even though you weren’t ready, Like even though you weren’t necessarily ready planted some seeds of change.



I think one of the things that’s been the most important lesson, especially looking back, is that recovery begins before the day you get sober.

And there were so many seeds planted.

Even though I was really stubborn and from the outside I probably seemed very resistant and like I knew better.


It was definitely seeping in and the seeds were planted, so that was my first exposure to 12 step recovery.

I gained a lot of really valuable tools.

It was the first time that I really, I’ve been to therapy before.

Again, it was something that my parents insisted on.

It was the first time I really engaged, even though it was limited.


And my mom also started taking me to yoga with her at that time, which became a really, really important part of my recovery journey.

And even when I went back to school and I started using substances again.

I was going to yoga classes and that was like my place where I could just feel a little bit more okay with myself.


I could feel like I was going to be okay most of the time.

After I got out of treatment and went back to school and was using substances again, there was so much shame and anxiety that came with that.

It just got worse and worse.

But on my yoga mat, I felt like I had the tools to feel a little bit more okay, and that made a huge difference for me.


So absolutely, I think there was so much value in going to that program.

I felt guilty because I went to that treatment and my parents paid for it and I started using again.

But I definitely don’t think it was time or money or energy wasted by any means.

Yeah, I really appreciate you sharing that because I think it’s so easy to think that that it should just be one and done.


And if it’s not that, that time was wasted, and I liked you sharing that about even just the yoga practice, so that helped you.

You were at least adding something grounding into your life after that, like you were adding in a healthy practice, at least to help create the maybe foundation for you to build on.



I think it’s really easy, the day that someone gets sober, to see that as the moment that the flip switched and.

Things changed and we forget or we just don’t recognize the value of all the little steps around along the way.

And I think that is so important for family and friends to recognize because it can feel so discouraging when you have this person that can keeps continuing and returning to use.


And you’re thinking I’m doing all the things and nothing is working.

And both of my parents, I mean my family like.

They were doing all the things and it was working.

It didn’t look like it you from the outside it was probably very frustrating, but it was definitely working.


It was slowly chipping away, and when I was finally ready, it was like there was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

But there was a lot that led up to it.

Yeah, yeah.

And it is really hard.

And when you’re in the middle of your journey, like now when I look back and I see the changes that Helena was making and that things were, she was making progress all the time and changing.


But yet when I was in the middle of it and I just was so desperate for it to just be over with, it felt like you said like nothing was working, which I think is like one of the most painful thoughts that we can have.

But it was.

And it was just like, that’s why I think we have to have a lot more measurements for success than just abstinence.


And like, what are some of the things that, like you think were part of you building that success for yourself?

Yeah, I really like how you say that, that the importance of having different measures of success, because for me, going back to school and starting to go to yoga classes regularly was so different than my lifestyle before.


Like I I never exercised when I was at school.

I mean, the extent of it was walking to class, I went on.

One hike during the four years that I lived in Boulder in the mountains, and it was the biggest deal ever.

And so for me to be going to a yoga class and having a membership at the local studio and carving out that amount of time, even though so much of the rest of my time was spent drinking and being hungover and everything else, that was a huge measure of success.


And that also gave me a lot of confidence that was showing to myself that I could actually follow through on things.

And I wasn’t just building strength in my physical body.

I was.

Building a lot of strength and in my mind and mental fortitude.

And so I would definitely say that that was a really big thing for me was having that as a daily habit and it that carried over to so many different areas of my life.


Yeah, I like that.

I guess just looking at it that way and seeing how much that was a part of your change process like that it was a process rather than an event.

And I because that’s the other thing we expect like, oh, this one event’s going to happen.


Like you said, the flip of the switch.

So in your sun and moon sober living community, you have sober and sober curious people, which I know some people have.

Draw a hard line, like you can only be a part of this if you’re sober.


What made you include both?

Yeah, that’s a great question and I think it’s important to clarify that within the Sun and moon sober loving community, I’m not teaching moderation or promoting a message of come learn how to moderate.

Like I think some people confuse that with sober curious.


I just want it to be an inclusive environment where people feel like if they’re not ready to come in and make a decision for the rest of their life today or take on a certain label, but they still have this inner feeling like something needs to change.

And they want to reevaluate their substances that they feel included in this conversation.


And they can come and have those conversations and gather those tools.

And what I found in that process is a lot of people who have a curiosity towards it.

And the reason that that’s important to me is because that’s where I was at that morning that I called my mom in 2010.

And I was like, Get Me Out of here.


I knew that there was something seriously wrong with my substance use.

But I didn’t want to call myself an alcoholic or an addict, and I definitely didn’t want to say at that age that I was going to be sober for the rest of my life.

So I just want people to feel like you can still come and you can still participate in these conversations and you can reevaluate what relationship you want to have with this substance.


And so I just the aim is really to remove the barrier that might people might have.

And the beautiful thing about that that I found is people come from a curious place.

And then by nature of being around all these sober people, they make a decision that actually I do want to be sober and I don’t have a problem with saying that this is who I am and I want to stay this way.


And so, yeah, it’s just really to remove the barrier.

Yeah, I really love that idea because it is important to remove barriers and then connection and community and like a sense of belonging and acceptance, just as you are.

And I like the way you phrased it, that if you don’t want to make a decision for the rest of your life today, right, you don’t want to decide for the rest of your life, you’re never going to touch another substance.


And to me that gives it a lot of perspective.

I think that would be hard for anybody with anything.

Yes, exactly.


Imagine if you were to make any big life decision and say I want you to decide today that.

This is where you’re going to live for the rest of your life and you’re never going to move this state or you’re going to eat this specific diet plan or do this specific workout every day for the rest of your life.


Any decision would be so overwhelming.

So and we don’t have to make decisions about the rest of our life today.

But if we can get really honest about where we’re at right now in this moment, then sobriety feels a lot more manageable and we can actually experience the benefits.

Like it’s not this daunting thing where I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to.


To this wedding sober in six months or the New Year’s Eve party or whatever it is that might be causing fear for people.


And the kid, the support of community, knowing that you’re going to have people to turn to when you do try to make this big life change.


I think that’s huge.

I mean, we need it as well as parents.

We all need community.

It’s just part of who we are.

But another thing you I’ve heard you say that I really liked was that how substance use isn’t necessarily just about addiction.

It’s like part of the human condition and how far it goes back and like how we all have a tendency to numb and distract.


So can you share a little bit about that?


That’s one of the things that I love about that behavior of change model, that concept, that behaviors makes sense.

I think that that is so, so important for us to recognize.


First of all, I was there’s a book, The History of Addiction.


I can’t remember the author now off the top of my head, but.

Looking back, I mean, how long humans have been turning to substances is pretty incredible.

But just in general, when we are dysregulated in our nervous system and we feel stressed or we’re up against some really difficult emotions, it’s a very natural response to want to seek some swarm of relief from that.


And I think that’s the thing that a lot of people get wrong when they make it about the individual, they make it about themselves or they make it about the person, is that we fail to recognize not.

It’s not about that person.

It’s about what function is this substance serving for them.


And I think for me that even in itself caused a lot of confusion because I thought when I went to treatment the first time, I thought I have no reason to be an alcoholic or an addict or struggle with addiction.

I I come from a supportive family.

I have a privileged background like this doesn’t make any sense.


So to me, I I wouldn’t even allow it to make sense, but I think just even looking at it.

On a a very, very human level of when we feel stressed, when we feel insecure, when we feel socially anxious and we have something that’s going to make that more manageable, it’s incredibly natural for us to want to reach for that substance that’s going to make us have a temporary sense of relief.


So I think that’s a really good starting point.

So we can be a little bit more compassionate towards ourselves because when we make it about me like a ME thing or a them thing then.

If that’s just if you’re a defective person, then there’s not.

That doesn’t really give you much hope for healing and recovery, right?


But if you can recognize, oh, this is a very human response, but you’re engaging and how can we strategize to find a new pathway to get you that same reward?

That’s when I think recovery starts to happen.

Yeah, you said so much there.


I’m not sure which part I want to talk about more but I do love the behaviors makes sense.

That’s part of the invitation to change model.

And then one of the things we talk about in there is what you mentioned like okay if you know why what it’s helping with the substance then you can start looking for healthier replacement behaviors like you did with yoga.


And I’m even think about myself and like how I had to learn to live without.

Like I use drinking for cause I’m shy and socially awkward and like learning to just be myself and be okay with and have fun without drinking or all of those.


It’s like relearning how to live and how to be in the world and just be okay without any of that help.

That makes it really instantly so much easier until you start having a lot of problems with it.

So just thinking of it from that perspective of how much reliving or relearning how to live there is involved in the recovery process.


Too 100%.

And I think that’s the really beautiful thing about recovery, is that it starts with the substance.

Like maybe it’s the alcohol or drugs that are really calling our attention and making it obvious, like we need to do some work here and start to bring in some new tools.


But if it wasn’t alcohol, it can be something else.

And there are so many normalized addictions in our society.

From social media to work to numbing out with Netflix.

And a lot of them are really encouraged and rewarded.

And yeah, like I said, they’re normalized.

And so a lot of people are engaging in addictive behaviors that are maybe a little bit more easily masked as not so problematic because they don’t show up the same way as a drug and alcohol addiction would.


But if you can get to the root of that if your drug and alcohol addiction is allowing you to.

Better understand yourself on that level.

It really does improve all areas of your life because again, it’s going back to that thing like this is totally normal behavior when so much of my drinking and drug use started with feeling really insecure and just not really feeling that comfortable in my own skin and in my body and always click.


Having this inner dialogue second guessing everything I said, which was just made it so difficult to just be present and engage with people.

And I just had this quick solution that allowed me to shut that off.

And so of course, I leaned into it fully.

I leaned into it to the extent that I literally couldn’t get enough of it.


And so, yeah, I think it’s important to understand that.


And I think that process for me, trying to understand more what my daughter was going through and then really looking at myself to see like how we were alike.


And then having that realization that, well, I was doing a lot of the same things.

They were just all socially acceptable, like with work and food and drinking whatever else it was.

And that there was just this such a small difference in us.

And the small difference was that my brain said stop sometimes and I had some fear of going into the harder drugs.


I was scared of that and that that was the only thing that stopped.

That was the only difference in us that I really saw.

She just didn’t have that fear that I had and that I also had the realization that it could happen to me still, right?

Like I could cross some threshold at some point if I continued down that road, or maybe a traumatic experience in my life or something else could happen.


And that’s the only thing standing between me and her and the way that I was judging her so much.

It just really gave me this, bringing it down to that humanness and help me have a whole new level of compassion to see.

They’re really just just a tiny, tiny difference, and I’d be in the same situation.


Yeah, and I love that was something that really struck me about your work when I was listening to your podcast before we connected live even was that.

It takes a lot of humility and courage and honesty to be able to turn the attention inward in that situation.


And from the perspective of someone who struggled with addiction, it really does feel like everyone around you seems to have it under control and they’re just looking at you like, what’s wrong with you?

Like, why do you always have to take things too far?

And it doesn’t really feel like many people are actually willing to take a pause and look inward and say, how can I relate to this?


How does this show up in my life?

And I think that that is so disarming for someone.

When somebody approaches you from a place like that, it opens up such a important doorway for connection that can make I think about.

I am endlessly grateful for the unconditional love that I got from my parents, despite the fact that I wasn’t listening to them.


I was putting myself in really dangerous positions.

Like I kind of felt like it was a slap in the face after I went to treatment and then went back to drinking right in front of them.

And I knew that that doorway was always open.

I knew there was always going to be unconditional love there.

And when I hear the way that you speak about that, it reminds me of what I felt.


And I I can’t imagine how different it would have ended up if if that wasn’t there and it just turned into this shame and just basically assuming I just must be messed up, I would have thought like I I should just keep going because there’s no hope for me and nobody seems to see any possibility in recovery.


Yeah, yeah, I think that we under.

Estimate how much value there can be just in showing somebody unconditional love and value and and holding that space until they can see it for themselves.

Yeah, yeah, definitely.


Because I think even though I can only speak for myself, but I was really fighting to put out this image, like, I’ve got this and I’m fine.

And I was in such denial myself.

So I was not showing the amount of, like, pain and vulnerability that I was feeling on the inside.


I actually did need help.

I really, really needed help and support.

I couldn’t do it by myself.

Like I had to go to treatment twice.

I had to go to meetings.

I needed to have therapy and support.

But I was presenting as in I’m fine, like kind of really pushing people away and the same conversation I was trying to convince myself of.


And so I think it’s so hard to be on the other side of that and really like just try to connect to that person on a deeper level beyond what they’re showing on the outside.

I heard you also talk about creating space between impulse and action, which was I loved looking at it that way because it was just another window into how we’re the same.


Because I think as parents we struggle a lot with like, we really want to support our kids.

We want to have a better like a response instead of a reaction.

We don’t want to turn everything on ourselves, like just all these different ways that we struggle with that impulse control as well.


And so that creating space between impulse and action really resonated with me as well.

Like, how were you able to do that for yourself?

Yeah, I think this is so important too.

And it it’s it really speaks to the power of practices like yoga and mindfulness based practices and things that will allow you to slow down and ground and really calm your system.


And for me, when I was still an act of addiction, I just felt like I was operating on autopilot.

Like in my mind I knew that I wanted to stop drinking and I would set this goal of okay on Monday.

I I’m not going to drink after work.

And and then it was like there was no break in between like the deciding I was going to drink and starting to drink.


It just was like that immediate, like impulse followed by the action.

And So what I learned through practices like yoga, which were having me really connect with my breath, it was like that feeling of inner spaciousness was literally separating and creating distance between impulse and action.


And suddenly I could access that space where there was actually the ability to choose.

And that space started like teeny, teeny tiny.

And over time it grows.

And I think that that is so incredibly important because most of us live incredibly busy lives and we have so much going on.


And we’re really encouraged to like, keep going and fill the space and not slow down or you’re lazy and not rest because you don’t deserve it.

And and especially like, whether you’re in a position of addiction or you’re in the position of trying to help someone and like the fire alarms are going off all the time, to find ways to regulate your nervous system is so important.


Because when we’re in that sympathetic state, that sympathetic activation like our fight or flight mode is on, it’s really, really hard to gain access to that moment of choice because we are just, we’re just in survival mode and we’re trying to get relief.


And so I think sometimes when you are in a place of stress and and panic and overwhelm, it’s really hard to create that space for yourself.

But that’s why I’m so passionate about having small daily habits and things that are part of your day every day, whether that’s going outside in nature without your phone, just to take a few minutes to breathe in fresh air or feel the sunshine on your face connect with the ground beneath you.


Having a meditation practice, taking time for yoga nidra, which is like a very deep, restorative, restful practice you can do lying down, whatever that’s going to look like for you.

I think recognizing sometimes we have to like reprogram in our mind how we see these things because we aren’t really trained to value rest in our society or like to really place value on those things.


But to recognize how essential those are for your recovery and your ability to actually make conscious choices in your life, I mean, that was huge for me.

Yeah, yeah.

I love your idea of the small daily practices too, because that is really what’s just saved me through all of this going through.


Everything with Helena, with her substance use and then me having breast cancer and her passing away, like those small daily practices that I had been working on for years were just what I do, no matter what’s happening in my life.


I mean, there’s of course times that I miss it, but if it’s more than a day or two, I’m like, this is what it just what I have to go do.

Because I know that this is what, this is part of my resilience.

This is what’s going to keep me going and I think.

I find myself talking to people a lot lately about resting versus replenishing because, like people, you take time to sleep or watch Netflix, but that doesn’t, like, restore your spirit.


That doesn’t make you feel like ready to face everything and let just fill you up.

And to me, that’s an important part of it too, is that restoration.

And I think that’s what you were just talking about.

That’s what you get out of that.



I love that you say that because there’s a woman, doctor, Sandra Dalton Smith, She wrote a book called Sacred Rest and has a Ted Talk on this.

But she talks about the seven types of rest we all need and how we often equate rest as just physical rest, like just laying down and taking a nap or putting our feet up.


But like you said, like I love how you speak about replenishing because there’s rest, like spiritual rest and creative rest and social rest that involves like, yeah, putting ourselves out in nature and experiencing our connecting with people in a deep and meaningful way.


And and that to me is so important because I think too, like when we’re doing all this selfcare and recovery and feel like we’re doing all this work and we’re fixing all these defective parts of ourselves and trying to like change, when really, like, I think some of the greatest selfcare is just experiencing joy and real connection and creativity and things that you love and replenish you like you said.


So I think that’s so important.

I love that you bring that up because it’s like we’re not just putting our feet up, you know?

It’s like, how can we replenish ourselves and actually experience the good things in life, too?

Yeah, and it’s not work.

It sounds like you do these things because you love them, and I do these things because I love them too.


And I think that’s an important part of it too, that.

Finding what you really connect with that what what feels good to do.

You don’t want to do it.

Just be.

I can’t stand how I’m feeling.

I can’t feel this way anymore.

You don’t want to do it from that.

You want to be moving towards what feels good?

Definitely, yeah.


I think about that a lot with exercise because my feelings towards exercise used to be like I have to go to the gym to fix myself.

And it was like it was so much like self loathing involved and it was like this torturous experience.

And now I’m like, I never thought I would be someone that looked forward to going out on a hike and that would be something that I genuinely enjoy and then I’m looking forward to.


But I think when we explore, like what kind of how can I move my body in a way that I actually like and look forward to?

And what if I were to make it small enough, like those tiny habits?

Like if a 30 minute hike or walk seems overwhelming?

Like what if it was enough to just do 5 and I could just put on a song that I love or, and that was great and I could celebrate that.


I think that, like, reframing my relationship with Selfcare has been really, really important.

Yeah, it is.

But that the change for me was, I heard somebody say that, like she worked out to feel good and to have more energy not to lose weight.


And my that had been my whole, you know, it was either to keep my weight where it was or it was all about my weight.

So it wasn’t fun.

But that reframe, like you were just describing, of I want to just move my body.

And I want to do this because it feels good and I like to be strong and I have stamina, whatever else it is and energy.


Then it wasn’t work anymore.

It was just a part of what I wanted to do every day.

Yeah, exactly.

Was that something that you had to work hard to reframe in your mind that was like through this process related to recovery?


And yeah.

Yeah, because that’s when I really started like getting into a lot of personal development and really like listening to podcasts and learning from other people.

So I was doing a lot of thing, a lot of exploring, trying to learn about myself at the same time.


And so reframing really just my whole outlook on life and how I approached everything and learning to do things because they felt good rather than running away from feeling bad.

And how different that energy shift is.


And so, and I end up working with people on that a lot too.

I’m sure that you do as well like that, that it actually takes effort and energy to find the things that you like, if you’ve been living your life on autopilot and doing what just feels right or what?


Taking care of your family.


And it makes me really sad, actually, to think about that.

I think a lot of us are conditioned to see exercise as a way to change ourselves and we’re given that message for so long that exercise is like purely physical and it’s about looking a certain way or getting ready for spring break.


I mean, that was my whole view towards it.

And at the same time, if we had a healthier relationship towards it for the beginning, we might not need to actually be looking towards these substances or what insert addictive behavior here like the food or the endless scrolling or whatever it is.


I think if if we were able from early on to see that there is like very much this mind body connection with movement, for example, and that that can actually be incredible tool for mental health.

And it doesn’t matter if you get the biggest biceps out of it or you know like the whatever you’re going for that actually that can spare you from so much suffering down the line.


I think there’s like, I think again it’s like being compassionate towards ourselves because we were kind of fed these messages and so we do have to do a lot of unlearning around it unfortunately.

Yeah, yeah.

Unlearning was a huge part of the process for me, too.

So I wanted to ask you about what makes you feel supported in recovery.


And like, I’m guessing it might be a little bit different now than it was in the very beginning.

And I’m wondering if you could speak to both of those.


Yeah, in the beginning being in treatment was essential for me, so I was the greatest supports in my life at that time were being in treatment, so I was in Group therapy and someone on one and also regularly going to 12 step meetings.


I also have always had the support of my family, which has been incredibly helpful for me and I confided in a couple really close friends at that time.

But I was really, really secret private about my recovery early on.

So having people in the recovery community was huge for me.


And then my yoga practice made me feel really supported.

So I did my first teacher training right after I got out of treatment.

And at that time, it was just so I had something to fill my time and I could have a better understanding of the philosophy and some of the principles.


And so that became an essential practice, and I just kind of built on that.

And so I ended up living and working at a retreat Center for a while.

I had to create a lot of physical boundaries around myself in early sobriety because my whole social life, my career, everything in my life was really surrounded by and saturated with alcohol.


And so I realized that that was putting a lot of stress on my sobriety.

It was making me feel really insecure and disconnected and isolated.

So I actually chose to live in an environment for a year, retreat center where I was working and and I just felt like I could rediscover who I was during that time and build confidence with the lifestyle that I was living without that temptation all around me or the social pressure.


And as my recovery has progressed now I feel supported by a lot of different communities that I engage with that aren’t necessarily supported or aren’t necessarily centered around recovery.

So I connect with people who are just have a lot of shared interests and are interested in wellbeing and some of the things that I like like.


Since I moved it back to Colorado, I found this ice bath and breath work community and like to go to group visit.

I feel really supported by being surrounded by other people and now it doesn’t have to just be related to recovery.

And I do think it’s essential for me to have connections with people in recovery who really understand my struggle and aren’t wondering why 10 years later.


Can you have a drink now or you know people who get me and can show up for me through all the different things that come up in life?

Yeah, well, I appreciate you sharing that.

It’s changed over time because I think that that’s scary for people to watch.


Like you see somebody doing practices in the beginning and then put that worked.

And there’s this fear if they change in any way that that means things are going to get worse.

But I think it’s also a part of just growing and evolving and.


Like change is natural.

I think it’s a natural part of growth.

And that’s what I was hearing in your story, like as you’ve grown and gotten more in touch with what?

Matters to you and who you connect with like that.

Your recovery process has changed as well, absolutely.


And I think what it comes down to is, from the beginning, it wouldn’t have been safe for a smart idea for me to be in social situations where alcohol was present.

But I started to build that confidence.

And I think the most important thing is when your recovery starts to change in the sense that you’re losing touch with some of these core principles and people describe like emotional sobriety, which is like the practices that you do in recovery that are beyond just removing the physical substance.


I think that’s when the red flag kind of goes up.

I think some people, they’ve been in recovery for a year or two and then they start to get really confident and they don’t do their daily practices anymore that we’re supporting them and staying sober and.

And that’s when I think that there’s reason for concern.

But I do think that when you can feel really solid in these practices and your recovery and you’re working a daily program, I think you start to build the confidence to do things that maybe you couldn’t do early on in recovery.


I hope that makes sense that I’ve just.

Said it does.

I’m thinking like everybody can understand dieting.

And I think about like, when you’re trying to change your eating habits, just staying at home, right, instead of going out into a restaurant or to a party where you’re going to be more tempted.

Until you have confidence that okay like this, I’m doing this, I can do it.


So I’ll try going out to eat and trust myself to order something healthy.

Yeah, exactly.

Because I mean, you’re you’re developing new habits and we’re really easily going to slip back into our old patterns.

We’re in high pressure situations and something is new.

Like our brain is always trying to bring us back to what’s familiar and comfortable, even if that thing has caused us a lot of suffering.


But when you start to program yourself with new patterns of behavior that are related to your recovery or related to eating healthy in that example, then the stronger that you get then the easier it is to, like, really stay committed to those practices.

But I do think we need to create a safe container around ourselves, in a sense, in order to solidify those habits and make it our new default setting.


Like to me, I mean, sobriety is my default setting.

Now it the thought never crosses my mind.

When I’m out in a social situation, do I want to drink?

The craving isn’t even there.

It’s completely gone away.

So to me, I feel totally comfortable being in that situation where if it was a few months in, I could easily tap right back into that same narrative.


Like you need this to be social, you need this to be fun.

And and all of that could have pulled me back a lot more easily than now, where I feel very grounded in where I’m at with it.

So when you’re working with somebody and they experience a reoccurrence of use, how do you, like, work through that with them and support them through that?


Because I know that I’m asking that question because parents just worry about it so much.

And there’s like all this, like everything is lost and it just means all these horrible things if it happened.

So what’s your approach to working through that with somebody?


Yeah, I had to break away from that all or nothing mentality because I used to really think that way and that’s what happened to me as I thought I blew it.

I might as well go all in.

And I think that it’s incredibly important to recognize that the person is already going to have a lot of shame in that moment and a lot of self criticism and really being coming really start coming down on themselves and that can be a huge trigger to drink.


That’s a really shame, can be a huge trigger to want to drink.

So I think to be able to be compassionate with that person and be kind and be supportive and try to understand them better can be really helpful because what I like to do with people is to see it as an opportunity to learn.


So, you know, some I’ve heard people refer to slip ups as data points and data collection.

And I think a lot of times if we look at Okay, there was a slip up.

You know, there was a return to use what happened in the hours or the days or the weeks leading up to this?

And a lot of times we can start to better understand, oh, I stopped going to yoga class or I stopped going to meetings or I was so overwhelmed that had four deadlines to do.


It starts to become a little bit more clear that again, like that idea of the behaviors makes sense.

And so rather than it being like, all right, you’ve messed up, you can’t do this.

This is all.

This isn’t even worth it.

It’s sort of like let’s problem solve this so this doesn’t happen again.


Because when I think about that all or nothing mentality, if you were to decide, oh, I blew it, I’m back to day one, I might as well go all out.

But you’re failing to recognize that you’ve built up these sober muscles.

So say you’ve been sober for three months.

Leading up to that, you are in the strongest place you will be at to get back on to sobriety and to return to your practices the next day.


If you go drink for three months after that, you’re going to be in a way worse off position.

So I think seeing it in that way can be really helpful.

And I know some people find that when they are in that pattern of slipups that counting days can create a lot of shame and be put them in that cycle.


And so they choose to look at it more as a percentage of saying, okay, well, I did drink on this one day, but if I look at the bigger month, then I haven’t drank for 30 out of 31 days.

So that’s almost 100% of the month, which is pretty good if you’re used to being someone who is drinking every single day.


I love that, yeah, because I can remember trying to reframe it for Halana and I would just be like in the last 18 months, even though you have had a couple of instances of use you couldn’t have imagined going 18 hours without.


Using in the past and you are living your life completely different than you had in the years leading up to that.

And I love that.

Like that high percentage of you haven’t drank 30 out of 31 days and that’s that’s huge.


That’s just like a totally different outlook and feeling.

And I think that having a sense of success is important to continue working on something that really takes a lot of work, definitely.

And I know it’s been studied too.

One of the most significant parts of behavior changes like celebration and being able to recognize your successes.


And I love that.

What you mentioned earlier about what are some of the other measures of success, I see this happen with people where they’re making these incredible changes in their life.

They’re starting to commit to these daily practices.

They’re waking up early, They’re doing the journaling, doing the meditation, doing all the things.


And then a slip up happens and all the sudden it’s like the entire focus goes on the fact that I drink and I can’t do this and.

And it’s we missed the bigger picture of like look at everything you’ve done.

Look at all of these other successes.


Like these are incredible transformations you’re making in your life.

And if this one slip up happened, maybe there’s really good reason for it.

Maybe something really significant is going on here that we need to address so that this won’t happen again.

But I love that you say that because that’s not what I was exposed to the first time I went into treatment.


It wasn’t.

It didn’t feel like that to me at all.

It felt like how many days do you have and you’re starting back at square one if you have a slip upper relapse and and there’s a lot of shame that can come along with that and a lot of kind of fear of being the one walking back in with your tail between your legs like I relapsed.


It can be hard.

Yeah, yeah.

It’s so hard.

And I think we do have to have a lot of compassion for that.

This went by way too fast because I have so much more I want to talk to you about.

But let’s end with you just sharing a little bit about, like what you offer for your community and how you work with people, so that anybody who’s interested can at least have a little bit of an understanding of that.




So I have an online membership community, which is a monthly subscription.

And so as a member, people can take part in a whole library of ondemand classes and trainings.

We do regular workshops.

There’s always replays of the whole history of workshops that we’ve done in there.


We have a book club and we have live weekly meetings, which I really think is the heart of the membership.

It’s an opportunity to connect with people.

And so every month we have a new theme that we explore.

This month, for example, we’re talking about boundaries.

We’ve talked about nervous system, regulation, all different types of really important topics for recovery.


And it’s just a space for people to connect and really, you know, work through these practices and have vulnerable conversations.

And so that is something I feel really passionate about.

I also do one-on-one coaching and I have a podcast, The Sun and Moon.

So we’re living podcast and have recently been doing some in person retreats too.



Well, that sounds amazing.

I’ll put your website in the show notes for anybody that wants to reach out to you.

And I just want to thank you for sharing this everything so openly today.


And I always really just appreciate our conversations because I learned so much just just gives me a better and understanding of like humans in general and more of that realization of like how much we’re just all the same.


So thank you so much for everything you do.

I completely agree.

And thank you so much for all that you do.

Whenever we’re talking, it makes me realize like, no matter what side you fall on this.

And I think we all engage in addiction in different ways, in our own personal lives and with our loved ones.


And we all need recovery.

We all need community and support.

So thank you so much for the work that you do.

And I’m just really grateful to have been on and chatted with you again.

Thank you for listening to this episode if you want to learn more about my work.

Go to heatherrosscoaching.com If you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction.


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Talk to you next week.