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To Live and Thrive in Recovery

to live and thrive after addiction

Read How Jen Yockey Learned to Live and Thrive in RecoveryTo Live and Thrive in Recovery

Have you ever been skiing?

Well, if you haven’t, let me tell you about a term they have for when someone bites it on the mountain. When a skier or snowboarder eats it on the slopes and loses all of their gear, It’s called a yard sale.

A yard sale. This about sums up my first 6 months of sobriety. S%@t was everywhere. There was a swath of destruction that felt like a mile wide. I had no idea where I was, who I was or what the hell I was doing. When you take a spill on the slopes, it’s actually quite peaceful once the tumble stops. It’s eerily quiet as you lie there assessing the damage; making sure all of your bones are still where they are supposed to be, even if the slopes are filled with people. There were days during those first 6 months that just staying in bed and looking up at the ceiling felt like my best choice; it seemed the safest and the quietest.

During the time that I was abusing drugs and alcohol, the most damage was done to me. I don’t minimize the relationships I busted up or the financial disaster I created or the never ending drama. I take full responsibility for my part. In addition to all of the other issues, however, I lost myself. I loathed me. I dressed up in a different costume every day, every year, every decade, to fit in. When I finally got sober, I had no idea what my favorite color was or if I liked to read or what my political preferences were. My choices were based upon what I thought you wanted me to be like. There was a lot of unraveling to be done and most of it was not fun to look at and to move through. How could I possibly be 39 years old and not have my OWN opinion about ANYTHING? {ugh.}

So, the last 8+ years have been a journey of discovery. That journey has provided me a voice, an opinion, a passion, a moral compass, trust, authenticity and rigorous honesty.

The beginning of that journey was done via a 12- step program. I found a sponsor and meetings. My world got really small, intentionally. I liked to run with my dog Lucy and lie in the park and read magazines or books. I found that I liked simple food, Pac-12 football games and Before & After shows on HGTV. I realized that I didn’t care for small talk or being around drunk people and that I craved community and purpose and people with depth.

About 4 years into sobriety, there was a shift. I felt uninspired after leaving meetings. It was a gut punch every time I had to identify myself as an alcoholic. I didn’t feel *sick*, I didn’t believe that I couldn’t recover or that I was powerless. I was so torn. I met many amazing people on my journey in the 12- step community but couldn’t figure out a way to participate in a program that at its foundation, I disagreed. The same sort of thing happened to me with regards to organized religion. But here’s the thing: THIS time in my life, I honored how I felt. I honored what I believed regardless of its popularity. For me, it was more important to honor myself and my gut rather than trying to fit in and stuff down who I was, like I had done for so many years.

I found that I really liked yoga. I liked the stillness that it brought my mind as I linked my breath to the movement in the class. I liked juice and smoothies and sushi and preferred to not eat after 6. I realized that I enjoyed running but not marathons. I accepted that I needed time by myself to re-group and re-charge and that was ok and not a “slippery slope of isolation” leading me back to abusing substances. I learned to trust myself and also accept that making mistakes was part of the process and not an indication that I was a loser or flawed.

I made relationship mistakes but I was much quicker at noticing and gracefully spoke my truth. I stepped away from a business that I spent my whole life participating in and growing and decided to take several yoga teacher trainings. I stopped apologizing for who I was and what I believed. I stopped making excuses for what made me happy. I started asking for what I wanted and what I needed. I recognized that the asking was the important part… not the getting part; because, more often than not, I didn’t get it. I have become more mindful and present. This is a daily practice and I have found that there is dignity and Grace in the imperfection of it all.

I honor my emotions. All of them. I am no longer embarrassed by my tears of joy or frustration. I don’t beat myself up when I am angry and shame myself in to thinking that “good girls don’t get mad.” I apologize when it is warranted and am ok when others are mad at me or don’t care for my truth. This does not mean that my feelings don’t get hurt or that I am free from wanting everyone to like me. It just means that I do my best to honor and accept “what is” rather than fight “what isn’t”.

I occasionally still have a full yard sale. Instead of trying to quickly get up and gather my things before anyone sees, I just lie there. I lie still and make sure all my parts are where they should be. I breathe and after I feel the ground beneath me again, I slowly get up. I dust off, collect my things, make sure I haven’t hurt anyone in the process and move on.

Recovery is an individual endeavor. There isn’t one right path. The true “right path” is the one that allows you to live and thrive in the life that you have been given. I have found mine in the recovery and yoga communities. I have found mine in the people that are willing to be in the arena. These are my people, my tribe. They are the ones that keep me accountable and love me, fearlessly, because of and in -spite of my truth.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

About the Author

Jen Yockey Jen Yockey is a Coach, Mentor, Recovery Advocate, Writer, Chronic Dog Rescuer and Founder of The Recovery Solution with Jen Yockey™. Her most important job, however, is partnering with her husband to be an example and a light to their son, Lucas.

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