SHOW NOTES: On today’s episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have Stephanie Schilling, who shares with us her experiences with a raging addiction to alcohol and how she found the path to recovery.
Stephanie Schilling is a blogger, and an aspiring writer. She has written about her battle with alcohol and drug addiction along with her inspiring journey of recovery in articles featured in the Real Edition, Sober Nation and the Elephant Journal. She’s passionate about life and helping others, and she is not silent about her recovery. She’s been clean and sober since December 31, 2011, and is grateful to give back what was so freely given to her. Join us now as she shares her story with us today!
Clean Date: December 31. 2011
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Stephanie’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Stephanie: Yes, that was so exciting. That was just … I was like, “That’s one of those God things that happen,” because I was doing this with you tonight and I got an email around lunch that they were going to go ahead and publish it. That was very exciting.
Omar: Yeah, I saw that on Facebook. I go, “Look at you. Got it published on the day we’re doing the interview.” I thought, “That’s definitely a God shot right there.”
Omar: Stephanie, tell us a little bit about how your life is today, your hobbies, exercise routine. Take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery, and tell us a little bit about Stop Drowning & Reach Out for Help.
Stephanie: I guess I would say on my daily routine I like to thank God before I even get out of bed. I’m not going to say I do that perfectly everyday but that’s definitely one of my goals, to read my daily reflections. I usually read the same one from either Hazelden or just out of the daily reflections and do my morning prayers. I have to have my coffee. I used to be really super good at dedication to my running and so I have to admit that I’ve slacked on that. Then meetings throughout the week. I don’t go everyday like I did when I first got into recovery, first got out of treatment, but that is my maintenance that keeps me on track and with a healthy mind and positive attitude. I know when I haven’t been to a meeting in a couple days, I get a little squirrelly because I’m already squirrelly.
Then talking to my sponsor. We miss each other a lot but we talk every week. It’s like we play phone tag. Maybe I might call her on Monday and talk to her on Wednesday. We don’t have a set day that we talk, but we do keep in touch. I did have a sponsee but … If she’s listening out there … She dropped me a while back and I don’t know … I hope she’s still sober but … I think she is.
I don’t have another sponsee right now but I feel like … That’s one thing I need to do, too, is go to more meetings with newcomers because it’s just good to be around newcomers a lot. What’s awesome is that my work … around newcomers daily because that’s where … I work at a treatment center. Technically not even a newcomer yet but … I work in the admissions and financial part of the treatment center and I get to see that every day. I get to see those same fearful looks that are like, “I don’t know if I want to do this or not.” I get to send them out the door with a golden nugget like a daily nugget. I feel like daily it’s just something that I can be grateful for to see those people coming in and changing their lives.
Omar: How do maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power?
Stephanie: I try to, of course, like I said, start my day with thanking God but also with him just taking control, because if I don’t open up my day with acknowledging him first then it can be a crazy day. I do know, from experience, that that happens to me. I don’t make it a habit for sure but I can say that it has happened and it’s like it feels like my day just is chaotic. Then, when I try to reflect back on what I did, like if I did my tenth step at night and I see what did I not do that day, it’s usually that I didn’t start my day with prayer and meditation.
Throughout the day, even in the shower or in the car, I try to constantly maintain that contact, the conscious contact with God. I talk to him in my head. I talk to him out loud so if I had family around … It’s just me but, if I had people around me, they’d probably say something like, “She’s crazy,” but I enjoy knowing that I’m not in control. I know that sounds kind of crazy but I’m not and so I do definitely … If I feel like I’m in fear or just scared about something, then I try to say the fear prayer. I try to just say the serenity prayer even.
Omar: What’s the fear prayer?
Stephanie: “God, I pray that you please remove my fears and direct my thoughts as you’d have them be. Amen.”
Omar: Which is beautiful. The question was, is that a recovery prayer or does that come from something other than a 12 Step fellowship?
Stephanie: No, I think it’s an AA prayer.
Omar: Yeah, we’ve never gone over it in the Big Book so I was just wondering.
Stephanie: Oh, well, maybe I just … I guess that’s where I got … I know that I got it from my AA sponsor, not anything else so I don’t know where we got that.
Omar: They certainly do pass on wonderful, wonderful things to us, don’t they?
Omar: Beautiful, so tell us real quick, Stephanie, how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Stephanie: I am working on four years. My anniversary date is December 31 in 2011.
Omar: Oh, we’re coming up on it.
Stephanie: Yeah, good ole New Year’s Eve.
Omar: And, how old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and, more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Stephanie: I remember my first drink being around 15 years old. Sometimes I feel like my cousin thinks it’s his fault or something. It’s totally not but I was on his senior trip with him and a bunch of his friends. That was the first drink I remember taking and I remember loving the way it made me feel. Even in that article on Elephant Journal, I referred to it as like liquid courage. It was like it gave me a feeling of, oh, I could do anything and, oh, I was cool.
I didn’t have those fears and anxieties or wonder, worried about what anybody thought about me. It just kind of like a energizing type feel for me, but … Then as far as drugs, I was prescribed Klonopin but that’s never … When I hear people say, “Oh, well, I’m prescribed this or that” … It starts out as a prescription and then ends up as abuse.
Omar: Something else.
Omar: Yeah, yeah. How old were you at the time?
Stephanie: I think then my memory for that is kind of blurry but I want to say it was just right after I was like 16/17. My family physician had given me that prescription and, as the years went on, it just kept getting increased and I kept taking it more. Then, if I didn’t have it, I would try to find it elsewhere. That’s just alcohol … A form of alcohol in a pill, is all it is, so.
Omar: What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Stephanie: After I was introduced to recovery, I stayed clean and sober but, before that, I think what kept me from it was probably my pride. Then the anxiety that I thought I had, that I just couldn’t cope with things without something to cover it up and to make me relax. Now, I’m just a crazy squirrelly person and I don’t care. If I get nervous then I’m nervous but I think I’m just too squirrelly. I don’t even notice I’m nervous half the time, but … Yeah, and alcohol was just my crutch. It was just like I fell back on it every time.
I didn’t think it was a problem up until the end when I started blacking out because I thought it was normal. I drank like everybody else that partied so I think that was it and just the fitting in thing.
Omar: Absolutely. Number two. At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that “a-ha”’ moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Stephanie: I would say really one of the times that I remember most is in detox, when I actually was in the treatment center that first night. It’s like, “I really think these people around me are going to take care of me and they are going through the same thing I am.” It’s kind of like you’re the cool kid again, like it’s like that’s the normal thing to do. At least in that place, so.
I think with the “a-ha” moment, it was just kind of like when I sat in the rooms for the first time, and I was in that meeting. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. These people are like me.” I think it was the very first day at the halfway house because the meetings inside the treatment center are just there but this was one of the first outside meetings. Everybody was laughing and having a good time and I really … I heard what they were saying and I related to it and I knew I did. I knew I did in Bradford but, in the treatment center, but I especially did then. It was like I just was like filled completely with hope.
Then I was filled again with the “a-ha” moment and the hope when I did my third step, which was huge for me and going into my fourth step. Doing that third step and actually letting God take control of my life and giving up my will.
Omar: Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Stephanie: That book but also I kind of have a list of them. Have you ever heard Living Sober?
Stephanie: That one was a good one and then, of course, the daily reflections in the Big Book. Then the Twelve and Twelve and then Drop the Rock. My sponsor made me read Drop the Rock after my fourth step, so like the fifth step to, “So you’ve got character defects to work on.”
Then, I was trying to think if there was another one. I like to keep, well, the daily reflections for the day. Read that to start my day or then there was one, a Hazelden book, called The Language of Letting Go.
Omar: Ooh, I like that.
Stephanie: Yeah, and so … I thought I had more. I do but I can’t remember them.
Omar: That’s good. That’s a good list.
Stephanie: That’s a lot. You asked for one I said 14 or so.
Omar: I love it. More, more, more, more. One is too many. A thousand’s never enough. I get it.
Stephanie: Oh, but wait. One more, one thing. It’s not really a book, it’s … This is sometimes given out at the halfway house I was at. It’s called Time to Recover and it was a daily planner and journal, and I am telling you that made a world of a difference. Even if you don’t just have this, you can … As a newcomer, they can make, write their meditation at the day. Then they can have a recovery checklist and kind of do like, “Okay, I did my morning meditation. I called my sponsor. I did my step work and read my literature.” Then right some gratitude for the day and then recovery goals for the day. Then you got your daily schedule and your things to do list.
Stephanie: We don’t know how to live anymore so we kind of get back on track.
Omar: What was the name of that again?
Stephanie: The journal they gave us is called Time to Recover, it’s a publication of Any Length Resources.
Omar: All right, so Stephanie, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Stephanie: Probably, well, before recovery, it was, “Get help and ask for help.” Still I like to ask for help because I’m bad about just speaking up and asking when I might need something. That, I think, really is it’s probably … I was going to say … At first, I was thinking of this question, I was going to say, “Do the next right thing,” or, “Pray about it,” because my sponsor’s always like, “Pray about it.”
Then it hit me that she also is always … because I was … I had my Big Book sitting here and she was telling me about something that her sponsor told her about how many times in the Big Book the word continue is used. It’s, of course, a vigorous action and we have to continue to do it. Continue the housecleaning. Continue, continue, continue, If you go through that book and circle the word continue every time you see it, there’s no telling how many times it’s in there. It’s a program of continuous action and you can’t just get sober and stop.
That’s true. I really don’t either.
Omar: If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would it be?
Stephanie: You will laugh again, just give it a little time. I feel like I could say that every day to the ones I see daily. It’s like, “I know you feel like crap right now but just a little bit more time. Even tomorrow, but especially two months from now and even two years.” It’s like everything takes time and I know that we hate waiting but it’s worth it.
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“You will laugh again, just give it a little time.”
Omar: Oh, my god. Stephanie, this has been phenomenal.
Stephanie: It was such a blast!
Stephanie: I’m so glad. Thank you for having me.
Omar: Oh, see, you were nervous. See, you did awesome.
Stephanie: I was! I was like, “Why am I so nervous. I don’t even know,” but …
Omar: It is your story.
Omar: Now, Stephanie, do you have a blog or something or a way for our listeners to get a hold of you or get in touch with you?
Stephanie: I have a couple ways because I have a blog on WordPress and it’s www.radiantperspective.wordpress.com and then …
Omar: Does that have your email on it?
Stephanie: It should have my email and my email is [email protected]. They have this new thing called The Real Edition and it’s actually only for addicts and alcoholics on there. Which, I’m on that page too or on that website too, and it’s a blog for … Like I said, it’s all recovery-related articles. Oh, and then Facebook, of course, and Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Stephanie!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.