SHOW NOTES: Laura Silverman is the creator of the Sobriety Collective, an online community for sober people. She’s also the host of the Bad Story Podcast featured in Chris Aguirre’s Since Right Now podcast network. Laura is now 8 years sober and joins us today to share her battle with alcohol, her struggles with ADD and OCD, and her journey into recovery.
So Laura, what is vision of The Sobriety Collective?
My vision for the collective is to have a community of awesome SOBER people, making contributions in music, film, writing, fashion, technology, business, comedy, photography/art, philanthropy, education, fitness, wherever/whatever/whoever YOU are. You can be famous, quasi-famous, internet famous, or just a regular John/Jane Doe. Heck, I’m not famous or even close to quasi-internet-anything famous but I believe I have a lot to contribute: ideas, music, love, friendship, my general quirkiness and zest for life. And snort laughs.
Clean date: July 14, 2007
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Laura’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Omar: So Laura, let’s dive right in. Tell us about how your life is today, your hobbies, exercise. Take us into your normal daily routine, including recovery and tell us about the bad story podcast.
Laura: My life today, well I’ve been sober for eight years and I think you ask later what my sobriety date is. I don’t necessarily think about sobriety on a day to day basis. I mean it’s just kind of second nature for me. So shoot. I feel nervous. No, it’s okay. Let’s go with this. Yeah, my life, I mean I have a job. I live in the Washington, DC area and my family lives nearby as well. Hobbies, I play guitar. Not very well, but I play guitar. I sing. I love karaoke and I’m usually one of the only sober karaoke people because everyone else is usually drunk during karaoke, but yeah. I’m kind of a craft nerd.
I like to knit and cross stitch and stuff. I just came back from a jog so I do like to exercise and in terms of just recovery on a daily basis, well this year has probably been my most concentrated year in a long time in terms of recovery and my life on a daily basis because this is the year that I started the sobriety collective, which is my website. It’s a blog resource, sort of a house for many things, but it’s a way to celebrate recovery and all it’s forms and it’s kind of geared towards creative people so writers, artists, musicians, photographers, just anybody who is creative who is also sober. So the bad story podcast actually comes out of the Since Right Now Podcast Network and that’s run by Chris of Clean and Sober on Twitter. So I’m actually in his podcast network.
Omar: Laura, tell us a little bit about how you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power.
Laura: So my story, which I will get into it later, the nutshell version is I’ve been in AA and I’ve not been in AA. I’ve done things a variety of ways and right now sort of the way that I feel connected to something bigger than myself is when I am in nature, when I’m experiencing the vastness of the beauty of the earth. It sounds so like hippy, just kind of new wave, new age stuff. I mean that’s where I feel connected and I don’t pray. I don’t have what a lot of people call “conscious contact” with a higher power. That’s something that I’m still sort of working to or not, but I’m happy overall right now so I don’t claim to know if there’s anything out there, but I know that it’s not just me so I take sort of a spiritual connection or get spiritual connection rather in people, in family and friends and just everybody and nature is the biggest thing for me. That’s my ramble-y answer.
Omar: That’s perfect. Alright and how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Laura: So my sobriety date or my sobriety birthday is July 14, 2007, which makes it a little over eight years now.
Omar: Fantastic. I love it. That’s a lot of time.
Laura: Yes, it’s a lot of time but it’s also one day at a time.
Omar: We only have a daily reprieve. Yes, I agree. We can screw it up real fast. So Laura, let’s talk about the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly how they made you feel.
Laura: Okay. Well alcohol was really the drug of choice or as I’ve heard of not choice in my story. I’ve tried pot a couple times in college, but it wasn’t for me so alcohol was really the only part of my story and I think the first time I tried anything was like in middle school and a friend of mine, I thought she had like coke in a bottle and it turns out it was rum and coke so that kind of took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting that. The first time I sought out drinking or trying it when I was exercising my rebellion in high school, but I was really a good kid. I was very much a goody two shoes and my parents raised me very well and they taught me right from wrong and they also taught me to think for myself and exercise good judgment so it wasn’t like they were so strict and didn’t let me do anything.
What I’m trying to say is that even though they raised me well and I knew probably that I shouldn’t be going out and drinking under age, I wanted to, I wanted to so it was the summer before my senior year of high school and that’s when I tried beer for the first time. I think I got drunk off of like a beer and a half and let me tell you, it’s the same story for so many of us, but I felt that whatever was missing before, I have anxiety. I have panic attacks. I have OCD and ADD. It’s always going a mile a minute and sometimes it just feels like it’s stuck, like my brain is locked and so all that was going on back in high school, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to express that. So when I first drank and felt sort of the effects of that tipsiness, I felt like this was the answer. I have to do this more. I have to feel cool. I felt cool because I was constantly bullied as a kid. Even into high school I was teased a lot so I suddenly felt more popular and looser and I didn’t really drink again until my high school graduation, but that was the first time that I drank and I really liked it right away. I loved it.
Omar: Alright, number one. What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Laura: The short answer is that when I first got introduced to recovery I stayed in recovery. I have not relapsed and there was really nothing keeping me from getting or staying clean and sober. I wanted a change. I didn’t know if it was going to be for the rest of my life, but I knew that I needed to drastically change things. So fortunately there wasn’t a lot that was keeping me from staying sober.
Omar: There was no resistance.
Laura: Not really. I was at that point of desperation. I couldn’t continue the way I was going on. I was scared that I would never be able to drink again and 24 years old not being able to go out for drinks on dates or go to bars with my friends, but I think having a life, an actual life where I could be alive was way more worth it to me and this being in recovery, although I don’t think I necessarily called it that at the time, I needed to just be serious about it.
Omar: Absolutely. And number two. At what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?
Laura: I think it was that time in NYC. Something changed in me because, I mean, I’d been hospitalized for alcohol poising before and nothing changed after that, but this time, I just didn’t want to drink again and knowing there was, I felt there was some sort of guardian angel or something cheesy like that. Some HP right? Something was watching out for me because I was unscathed from that whole debacle except for my pride, dignity and a couple of small bruises. I do want to say though for the newcomer or someone relatively recent to recovery, the spiritual awakening term kind of put me a little bit on edge when I first heard it and I don’t necessarily love it still. I guess for me, it’s just what is it, what changed in me. It doesn’t, what I’m trying to say is that the newcomer, you don’t have to have like God shining a light down on you. It doesn’t have to be that dramatic. It can just be like when you feel like you’re ready to do something to take a step forward in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be like white light experience and I just want people to know that it’s okay. It doesn’t have to be like this amazing experience for the ages.
Omar: So Laura tell us. Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood – Koren Zailckas
Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety – Sacha Zimmerman Scoblic
Blackout: Remembering Things I Drink to Forget – Sara Hepola
Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster – Kristen Johnston
Laura: How funny that you ask O because I do. I have several books that I would recommend, but I’m gonna give the newcomer two that completely changed my life. The first is called Smashed – Story of a Drunken Girlhood by a women named Koren Zailckas, and when I read it, I felt like I was reading my life. It was, I mean all the emotions behind everything. It was amazing.
So that was a book in early recovery that I read that changed things for me and then there are a couple of books that I read since, also recovery memoirs that have been extremely poignant and just relevant for me, but those were Unwasted, My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Zimmerman Scoblic and more recently Blackout by Remembering the Things I Drink to Forget by Sara Hepola, those three memoirs were big. Guts by Kristen Johnson is really good memoir too.
Omar: Alright so Laura, tell us what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
SUGGESTION FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Keep an open mind. If something works for you, go with it. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that recovery isn’t for you… just find something that does work for you…”
Laura: Keep an open mind. If something works for you, go with it. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that recovery isn’t for you or that you know life isn’t for you. It doesn’t just have to be recovery related, but in terms of the best recovery suggestion, just find something that does work for you and then go from there.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Laura!
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.