The Herren Project SHAIR Laurie McGarvey
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Today we have Laurie McGarvey joining us on The SHAIR Podcast. She is the founder of Recovery Management Solutions, and Laurie is currently fundraising for the Herren Project for this Boston 2016 marathon.

Sober Date: June 13th, 2008

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The SHAIR podcast YouTube channelOmar: So Laurie, tell us about how your life is today because I’m assuming it’s very busy, give us your daily routine and how you squeeze in recovery.

Laurie: Okay. Let me just say that for me, this alcoholic recovery is my routine, so everything that I do, whether it’s from when I get up in the morning and I get down on my knees and I say, “God’s will, not mine, be done today,” and that’s how I have to move. When I don’t stay with that routine, you know what? Quite honestly, I get negative. That’s not who I’ve learned to be. I really try and stick with my daily routine of prayer and some type of …

I’m not real good at meditating because it’s tough for me to sit still so I try and do more of a walking and gratitude list even before I move into the day, get into the workplace. I have 2 kids. I have a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old and a dog and they’re very active. I try and keep something, like I use my phone a lot, and I keep everything, all my devotionals, all things like that, and I work through it throughout the day. I’ve learned to pause before I go into situations and it allows me to be who God needs me to be in that space rather than thinking about me and my ego.

Omar: Got it. Absolutely. I totally got it. My next question was going to be how do you maintain your spiritual condition, the conscious contact with your higher power, but it looks like you already got that covered.

Laurie: You know what? Yes, I have. I was taught well. However, I get stuck. I get stuck a lot, and I’ll be honest, I’ve been stuck the past couple days, and I’m fighting my way back to my higher power and it’s ironic that I happen to be doing this particular talk with you on this day. God has a reason for everything. There’s a page in the Big Book that I live out of. I’ll say, “This is really how I live out of,” page 417, and it talks about acceptance. Acceptance is the answer to all our problems. There are no mistakes in God’s world. You know, this alcoholic will resist reading that page and keep herself miserable for a good 48 hours and then finally I’ll just say, “You know what? I’m just going to read the page,” and everything goes. The spirit comes back. I’m still rebellious. 7 years sober and I’m still rebellious, so I just say to myself, “Laurie, keep coming back.”

Omar: Why in particular today? What you got going on right now that’s so pressing?

Laurie: I made a transition in August. I took a new job. I was traveling globally. I’m a management trainer and coach and I took a job where there’s no travel, home all the time, and I’m back at a university. I used to be the dean of a college when I was not sober, but I’m back at a university. I think it takes me a while to get settled. Starting a new job, not knowing people, brought back a lot of the insecurities that I had. Here’s what it was I realized. It was the first new job I had since I got sober. Actually, it’s the first job I’ve ever had where I’ve been sober the whole time, I mean, if I’m going to tell the truth though and hopefully I tell the truth these days.

I know God’s asking me to slow down. It’s hard for me because you know what? When you slow down all of a sudden, you think about something, so it’s forced me to do some things. I have to step up my meetings and I have to go back regularly and see my sponsor. One of the things that I’ve always done since, I would say, going into year 2 once I’d found him and he took me through the steps, he knows absolutely everything about me, is that I pretty faithfully had gone for the past 4 years or so every Friday morning at 6:30 in the morning because I wasn’t traveling then. We would read or we would check in, and that’s my accountability checkpoint. With all this transition, I stopped doing that.

All of a sudden, I felt really off my spiritual foundation. I felt like I was just swimming in uncharted territories. I’m not a negative thinker since I’ve been sober. This negativity was coming back, and I thought, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is just not who God wants me to be.” Little by little, I’m getting back. Sometimes, when I’m asked to speak and I do, it’s always at a time when something had been going on, and I realize that I have to stay connected to where I came from, what caused it and reach out to people and ask for help. Another thing that, oh, I dread to do because I’m supposed to know it all. I ask for help and say, “You know what, I’m struggling now.” I called a girlfriend today and she right away knew. Everybody … We know what to say to each other.

Omar: Tell us how much clean time you have and when’s your anniversary date?

Laurie: Okay. I have, by the grace of God, I have 7 years and my anniversary date is actually my son’s birthday, June 13th.

Omar: Beautiful, beautiful. I love it. June 13th. What year is that?

Laurie: 2008.

Omar: Number 1, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?

Laurie: I think it’s twofold. I think that I had an incredible physical addiction. I didn’t go to detox, I didn’t go to rehab, so the physical situation was challenging. The other thing was I did not want to not drink. A year before I got sober, I made a prayer to God, and I said, “God, please, do me a favor. Just make me a social drinker.” You know what? That was not in God’s plan quite obviously. I never not wanted to drink. I wanted to find a way where every day I’d be able to have alcohol. I mean, that’s the insanity of who I am. Then, once you realize that deep down, because you know, I believe anyway, you know, deep down.

Omar: Absolutely.

Laurie: I couldn’t admit it, I couldn’t … How could this be? How could this be me? I criticized my father, I criticized other people. I was judgmental. The ego, the pride. Okay, pride. That’s what I would say. Pride held me back.

Omar: Absolutely. It does that for so many of us. As somebody in the rooms would say, “The ego is not my amigo.”

Laurie: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s true.

Omar: It’s true. It’s very true. All right, so number 2. At what point did you have that 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 the hope that you could recover?

Laurie: I think after I had stopped drinking, I was traveling for work. I had to go to Argentina and I got there. I don’t really speak Spanish very well. I went in. I think I was 3 months sober. I got to my room that they got me. It was gorgeous and I opened it up, and it was all the little vodka bottles. I was like, “Oh shit.” Oh, I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t curse. 

Omar: No, no, no, no. You can curse.

Laurie: I thought, “Oh, this is going to be a nightmare.” I called the woman who was sponsoring me at the time because this was before Nick. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I got a mini-bar.” She was like, “Oh, I’m not worried.” I’m like, “You’re not?” I said, “Well, how does that work that you’re not worried?” She said, “Well, I know that you know how to pray.” I’m telling you right now, at that moment, I got down on my knees and I said, “God, I don’t want to drink this. What am I going to do?” The next thing you know, I went out, it was like a out-of-body experience, I went out and I said to the …

I wrote down to the front desk because I didn’t know how to say “alcoholic” in Spanish. I said, “Listen, I’m an alcoholic. Can you please take out the alcohol of my room, please?” It was like, “Oh, oh, so sorry, so sorry.” Next thing you know, out they go with all the bottles. I go back in and I said, “Just put water in there.” They left one bottle, right. I brought it right back out. That to me, that was it. I was like, “You know what? That woman told me I know how to pray. I prayed and the next thing you know, I’m honest and they’re getting rid of the alcohol.” Honestly, that for me was like, “I’m powerless over this. This is going to always be around but I have God.” I believe that for me what comes between me and taking a drink is my relationship with God. God is always there for me, always there, always has been. I walk away from him sometimes.

Omar: Number 3. You mentioned earlier Breathing Underwater by the Franciscan monk.

Laurie: Richard Rohr.

Omar: Other than that book, okay, that you’ve already mentioned, what books would you recommend to newcomers in early recovery?

Laurie: Oh, as a newcomer, I can only tell you, from my experience, it took me a really long time, probably 2 years to read and be able to really embrace it, retain it. Early on, I found I couldn’t get overloaded with things. I couldn’t be reading too many different things. I really stuck with the literature that was in the rooms and I really benefited from those daily devotionals because they were short and I could retain it and it was just like a little shock. There was a little … I was used to taking shocks, so it was a little shock every day, right?

Omar: Right.

Laurie: I tried to work it that way, like, daily reflections. For me, that 24-hour day book because it has a thought for the day, prayer for the day and then a meditation. Even when I couldn’t completely understand what was said or what was going on, it settled me. It settled me. I didn’t have the ch-ch-ch, racing, racing, racing. Those devotionals were very, very helpful. I think the stories in the Big Book are great. I believe that it’s important to read through the first 165 pages. The only reason why I say that is because it was a beautiful experience for me. I don’t know that that’s the right way but it worked for me. I think early on, the other book that made sense to me, I remember this, was the, it’s called the 12 And 12. I learned later that that was really Bill’s walk through the steps. That was great.


Omar: On that note, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?

Laurie: Connect with an alcoholic every day, a recovering alcoholic every day. When I’m struggling or when I was struggling early on, I would just text, I was never so grateful for texting and I would text someone and just say, “Just checking in.” They’d text right back. It’s free.

Omar: Yeah, all right, and then the final question, number 5. If you could give a newcomer only 1 suggestion, what would it be?

Laurie: If you decide, and you have to decide, you will never have to hurt like you have hurt from drugs or alcohol if you decide to begin the path of recovery.


“…you will never have to hurt like you have hurt from drugs or alcohol if you decide to begin the path of recovery.”

Thanks again for your SHAIR, Laurie!


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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.