SHOW NOTES: Today we have Dana Bowman joining us on The SHAIR podcast, the author of “Bottled: A Woman’s Guide to Early Recovery“.
Here is a blurb from the book:
An unflinching and hilarious memoir about recovery as a mother of young kids, Bottled explains the perils moms face with drinking and chronicles the author’s path to recovery, from hitting bottom to the months of early sobriety—a blur of pain and chaos—to her now (in)frequent moments of peace.
Punctuated by potent, laugh-out-loud sarcasm, Bottled offers practical suggestions on how to be a sober, present-in-the-moment mom, one day at a time, and provides much needed levity on an issue too often treated with deadly seriousness.
Clean Date: May 8, 2011
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Dana’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Tell us about how your life is today, your hobbies, exercise, take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery and tell us about “Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery”.
Dana: Okay, well I usually get up at about 4 o’clock. I nail out a 10 miler and then go have a smoothie. Just kidding. I’m not, that’s not me. I get up, I get my kids up and off to school. Nothing too exciting and I do have two little ones so we just walk down the street to the school that they attend and then I jump right into my writing. That’s what I do in the mornings. I’m a freelance writer so I try to get a little bit of time in of reflection and prayer and get some coffee injected into my system and write. I do love to run so that’s something I do, but I don’t do ten miles a day. I can’t. I think the most, like when I first got sober I did what a lot of people do. I’m gonna go run a marathon and I did a half marathon, which was enough for me and I really loved it and it rocked and I have not done one since. I keep thinking I will, but I just go putter about.
I take my dog and we go to run, but my day is pretty open since I now have two little ones off in school and I’m just writing. So generally speaking, I kind of have the day to go and do my thing, get my deadlines in, work on stuff and as far as beginning and ending my day, this might sound familiar, but I just make sure that the first thing I do when I wake up is I say thanks. I always say thank you when I wake up because for some reason and I just say it out loud, it’s kind of weird. If my husband’s there, he’s like you’re welcome. I know it sounds weird, but I have learned that my mornings can be kind of a down time for me, a depressed time and so I say thank you kind of up to my higher power and then I do the same thing at night. I say thank you and that’s my way of kind of beginning and ending my day and it sort of helps bring me back to the whole point of it all, which is just gratitude and that kind of thing. The book, “Bottled”, it’s actually a mom’s guide, but it is a woman’s.
Us moms, we are women, so there you go! It’s a mom’s guide to early recovery. I wrote it within a nine month period so literally it’s my third child. I had an article that got picked up and it kind of went viral, I used to write for Substance.com, which sadly is no longer. It was a great website for recovery and articles. I loved writing for them so one of the first articles I wrote for them was about parenting and how you talk to your kids about this lovely topic of being in recovery and it went viral and Huff Post picked it up and then I got interviewed and all this. Central Recovery Press, which is the publication company, they contacted me and said “would you write a book for us”, which is very honoring and cool. Very rare and so I just dove right in and wrote the book and now it’s out and everybody in my small town is reading it and it seems to be striking a cord with mommies.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Dana: The main thing for me was ego I think. I had an ego the size of like Texas. I thought I was smarter than this. I could figure it out. My dad had lectured me since I was little that I had a 50/50 shot at becoming an alcoholic and one person in my family already was: my brother, so it was between me and my sisters. I just really thought I was smarter than all of it and what I have found through this whole process was that I am not. The other part that played into that was fear and I was afraid of everything like I said. I had some major anxiety issues and fear was linked to that and that led to depression. It’s all like this big tangled web, but for me, learning to face some fear and deal with it, stare it down, realize what it is, the monster in the closet, look at the monster and maybe even try to pet the monster. It’s really not gonna kill me. So that was the main thing, fear and ego.
O: You’re an egomaniac with an inferiority complex or like my sponsor used to say, we are either the giants of our dreams or we are the dwarfs of our nightmares.
Dana: That’s good!
O: We live in extremes.
Dana: Yeah. It was pretty miserable honestly to live like that. To feel like you have to control the world because you have to have this world and perfect place and then realize that you can’t at all times, it’s like a constant you suck. No I don’t. You suck vs. I’m the best and it just never works out.
At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Dana: You know for me, it was probably not even at that very beginning when I started going to meetings and at that point I was still like I want to quit drinking. Maybe I’ll try this for a year. I still had all those crazy thoughts that I’ll get clean for a year. Three weeks in, three months in, six months in… I had these big things happen at around six and nine months that always sort of gave me these ‘aha’ huge learning things. At about three weeks in after going into a lot of meetings and finding that one where I felt I finally fit, I was looking around and they were all laughing. All the people at the meeting were laughing and I felt really irritated because I thought this is serious people. We’re talking life and death so why are we laughing?
And then I looked at their faces and I thought laughter is important to me. I write funny. My blog is funny. I try to be funny because I love it. I just really felt at that point in my life as much as I was gonna get sober, it was just gonna be this long grim horrible apocalyptic story of grim despair and I was looking at them laughing and so joyful and then I got the giggles and I could not stop laughing. It was almost to the point where it was almost embarrassing and I though “I’m gonna be able to laugh again and it’s gonna be real laughter” and I’m finally gonna know what that feels like because honestly I hadn’t laughed like that since I was a kid and that moment, I can even tell you where everybody was sitting in the room. It’s like a Polaroid in my head. It was such a blessing.
Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Dana: Yes, I have two. Actually I have three. The first is obviously the Big Book and like I said, that is just a comfort to me. I have even found myself falling asleep on it. Like I will just grip it to my chest and just fall asleep in the early days because it just felt like a life preserver really literally. So anyhow, I consumed that sucker and then there’s a book called “Living Sober” and it’s this book that they’ll give you that looks like it was written in 1972 and it’s really ugly cover and I don’t know. I mean the one I had was really like this looks interesting and oh my gosh, that book spoke to me in so many ways because what it was literally talking about was the practical nuts and bolts, ins and outs of how do you deal with getting sober.
Like at the very beginning, that kind of stuff and that’s kind of what I did with my book because I felt when I kept reading, I kept trying to find mommy books about drinking that weren’t these horribly grand depressing drunk-a-logs that had practical advice and I couldn’t find them. So I kind of went back to living sober and thought okay, but it just took me through the stuff. It talked about sugar and it talked about how to deal with have some candy handy and stuff like that. I would just sit and read it because it just helped me stay sane and then so the third one is Carolyn Knapps “Drinking: A Love Story”, which is not from the perspective of a mom, but it is a woman and it is probably the best. I think she had one of the first books out there about a woman in recovery.
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Dana: I’m gonna take it from my dad and my sponsor. My sponsor says “do the next right thing” to me all the time. I get very mired down in details and future tripping and trying to figure it all out. I still want to control the world so she just says that and I just kind of shut up and go “okay, do the next right thing. What would that be? Wash my hands. Okay, I’m gonna go wash my hands and now I’m going to eat an orange” and then I just kind of forget. After that I’m good and then my dad told me this when I got engaged. He’s really intense and he gripped me by the elbow and he’s like “I want you to know something about marriage. No expectations”. I’m like “what? That’s the most depressing advice. No expectations”. This is my knight in shining armor. I need to have some expectations. He’s supposed to save the day. My dad’s like “no, no expectations. Have no expectations” and I have always gone back to that. We need to deal with our own shit. Sorry about the language and we need to do it with our own life and stop expecting stuff from others.
If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“you will laugh again”
Dana: I guess the main thing I would say, I got this all the time from an old guy that said “go to meetings. Don’t drink in between and try to keep it really simple” but the suggestion or the word of wisdom I would give is that you will laugh again. It’s not gonna be this horrible deadly boring dull existence without booze. Booze was just a symptom for me for some stuff that was underneath and once I started to deal with the stuff underneath, I have found laughter again in a way that I never thought possible so it will happen. It just takes time.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Dana!
CONTACT: Dana Bowman – Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery:
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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.