I started using alcohol at age 15 and it felt like the perfect solution to my childhood trauma and dysfunctional home life. My values changed almost immediately, and I went from having LDS background to the other end of the spectrum. I got a DUI when I was 16 and many underage alcohol misdemeanors. I was kicked out of high school and was ashamed that I had a GED and not a high school diploma. I was pregnant at age 18 and was able to stop drinking but started again shortly after my daughter was born. I didn’t have any more legal consequences after that first DUI, mostly because of luck. My biggest consequence from drinking was that it stunted my growth as a human being.
My recovery from alcohol has really been about recovering from the reasons why I drank, which I can address now that I am not drinking. My threshold for being unhappy was fairly low, in comparison to others’ stories. This is not to undermine or deny what I went through. I had withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, shitty relationships, and no sense of self. When people in AA say, “If I drink, I will die,” I don’t entirely relate. If I drink, I may die eventually and my disease will continue to progress, but more likely, I will be miserable in my existence. I won’t achieve my purpose, be connected to a higher power, or have fulfilling relationships. I have learned that my addiction to alcohol is a symptom of trauma, and drinking was merely a coping skill. Alcohol worked very well to numb my pain and it helped me disassociate. I didn’t even know I was disassociating until I started my recovery journey. It becomes more and more apparent that I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings or know how to be comfortable in my skin.
My personal work and successes have been on self-forgiveness and love, forgiving others, learning healthy boundaries, and being the best mother possible. I am in recovery from alcohol and co-dependency. I am learning how to feel my feelings, cope with life, and stand up for myself and my worth. I live in Idaho, and I am a single mom to 3 amazing, beautiful daughters. I am so proud of myself for breaking the intergenerational patterns in my family.
My curiosity about sobriety started about 3 years ago. I started listening to podcasts in the beginning of my recovery and found The SHAIR Podcast with Omar Pinto. I loved his voice and his energy. I have found his interviews to have a profound impact on my ability to see my addiction as an opportunity and not a dirty secret. I eventually became a member of his FB group and then joined the SRC where I have connected with so many amazing people in recovery. I feel the SRC group has kept me sober.
I can access meetings via Zoom which has been crucial to me since I am at home with my kids and haven’t found an AA group in my community where I feel connected. The connection with others in the group has saved me from loneliness and isolation. I have found a sponsor in one of these groups who was willing to complete the 12 steps with me which has been transformational! I am almost 5 months in my recovery from alcohol and 95% of the time, I don’t even think about drinking. I am so grateful for the SRC, the SHAIR podcast, my sponsor, the step work, and online recovery.
Claire Rudy Foster grew up closeted at home and bullied at school. Alcohol was his way of releasing his anger. Claire also wanted to become a famous writer, and getting drunk and loaded on heroin were all part of the romantic artistic persona.
The problem was that he was always too high or hungover to ever write anything.
In 2007, Claire found recovery and discovered that getting clean didn’t mean all his problems would go away. Misery was the true gateway drug, and Claire had to make peace with his anger and his identity before he could be sober and happy.
Today, Claire has proved that a writer doesn’t need alcohol or drugs to be a brilliant creative. He’s become a lauded published author who also co-wrote American Fix with Ryan Hampton from Mobilize Recovery. And this is just the beginning.
Listen to this powerful story of gender identity, freedom from addiction, and living a life true to yourself!
Misery is the gateway drug.–Claire Rudy Foster
Claire Rudy Foster
Claire Rudy Foster is a queer, nonbinary trans writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Foster writes fiction, nonfiction, personal essays, articles, reported news stories, interviews, book reviews, cultural commentary, full-length books, screenplays, TV and film treatments, speeches, editorials, blog content, and letters. They also work as a ghostwriter.
Foster is the author of short story collections Shine of the Ever (Interlude Press, 2019) and I’ve Never Done This Before (Klen+Sobr, 2016). More writing also appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and many other journals. Their work has been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize four times, as well as several small press awards for excellence, including a Speculative Literature Foundation’s Working Class Writer Grant, an NLA-International Nonfiction Writing Award, and an SFWA Writing Award.
Foster has been in recovery from alcoholism and addiction since 2007. They co-authored American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis and How to End It (St. Martin’s Press, 2018) with activist Ryan Hampton. Foster’s contributions to the recovery movement include speeches, letters, and articles supporting equal rights for people with substance use disorder. Their work can be found in the Library of Congress and has been read on the floor of the Senate. Foster developed, wrote, and hosted two seasons of a leading recovery podcast called “Addiction Unscripted,” described as “This American Life” for people with substance use disorder. Their writing about recovery frequently goes viral in The Huffington Post and elsewhere.
They are a graduate of Reed College and also hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University, where they studied with Jack Driscoll, Pam Houston, Benjamin Percy, Claire Davis, and Kellie Wells.
Shine on the Ever
By turns tender and punk-tough, Shine of the Ever is a literary mixtape of queer voices out of grunge-era Portland. Claire Rudy Foster’s linked short stories are moving, powerful, and heartfelt.
“‘[W]e are a mass of bliss and fury and love and pain and truth and sound,’ Foster writes in the first story of this polychromatic collection of short fiction set in and around Portland. Queue up your Sleater-Kinney records.”
—O: The Oprah Magazine
Shine of the Ever is receiving stellar praise, with Pete Rock, Benjamin Percy, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Foreword Reviews singing its praises. This collection of short stories from Interlude Press explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up, and learning to forgive themselves for being young and, sometimes, foolish.
“Shine of the Ever is a compassionate ode to a Pixies-infused era. With its mix of fear and fearlessness, it deftly portrays love on the fringes.”