174: Women in Recovery – Don’t Be a Jerk (Sort Of)

We have on Caroline Beidler, MSW and author of the book, Downstairs Church, to help us explore the world of recovery from a female perspective. We talk about the lack of housing options for women in recovery, the lack of access to treatment, lack of childcare supports at every step of the recovery process, and what we might be able to do right now to ease some of these struggles. Listen in as Caroline joins the Recovery (Sort Of) crew to talk about the challenges women face in recovery, then share your thoughts with us.

From the episode:

Caroline Beidler’s Website

Amplifying Women’s Stories in Recovery Advocacy

Downstairs Church

Episodes mentioned:

Mommy and me housing

How to find us and join the conversation:






Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.com

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason and I am not a woman and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Caroline I’m also a person in long-term recovery and today we have with us a second Caroline it’s like a Caroline clone almost uh welcome Caroline thank you so

much you know it’s not every day I get to talk to another Caroline so I am so thrilled to be here no it’s awesome it’s definitely awesome uh so today our episode is going to be about recovery and women’s issues in recovery or or somewhere around that idea um which means that it’s probably a good time for Jason and Billy to shut the hell up for a little bit uh Caroline why don’t you tell us why you’re here and kind of get us started on this topic absolutely well first off I am a woman in recovery and I identify as a woman in addiction mental health and Trauma recovery for me those issues those areas of recovery are very interconnected and I believe a piece so much of a piece of Women’s Recovery stories and Journeys that I am passionate about elevating so in my own personal um experience along with being a woman in recovery and having that part of my story that is so important and I would say integral to the woman that I am today professionally I also really dove in and am currently still diving in to the recovery field so that initially looked like you know I had a couple years sober and I decided you know what I want to help more women who are like me out there and so I went back to get my degree in social work uh initially my intention was to be in a counselor and you know how life is we have these plans that don’t always work out the way that we envision them initially and so I really found that I loved working in addiction policy and mental health policy and from an administrative standpoint creating programs and systems to really help support our Journeys you know my personal recovery started in the rooms of 12-step fellowships and then other you know recovery Pathways kind of mixed in with that but I also recognize the need for

things like quality addiction treatment and Recovery Support Services specially for women like recovery housing and so much of my professional work has been around developing those programs working on you know federal grants and things like that around what we now have kind of termed the opioid crisis although there’s the alcohol crisis and all of the crises around substance use uh in our country and frankly in the globe so I’ve done a number of different things in the area in the recovery field and most recently in the past couple of years you know I don’t know about you all but just I don’t know what it is the state of the world or the state of my recovery in the world but I was really challenged in my own Journey about two years ago three years ago I guess now in 2020 when it felt like the world around me was falling apart and what I didn’t know was when that started happening I started having a Resurgence of things like panic attacks and my triggers started increasing you know and I just celebrated 12 years in recovery so I’ve had a couple years under my belt um but you know I was just kind of rocked to my core and I remember you know talking to a good friend of mine a past sponsor and you know she’s like well you know you may feel like your world’s falling apart and your recovery is like right on the edge but we have tools today and you have tools that you can use and so I went back it felt like a little bit to the basics of reaching out and going to more meetings I did a lot of Zoom folks I am like so burnt out on Zoom right now but I love it still um you know and I started seeing a counselor again and I you know did a number of different things and at that point I really started also tapping into my kind of creative side you know and I had done a lot of creative work around program development and administration of you know different grants and things that sounds so dorky when I say it um but you know the creative side of like my writing and how important storytelling is for me and I started listening more to what was going on

specifically around Women’s Recovery stories and I felt like something was missing I wasn’t hearing my own story of being a sexual violence Survivor and I wasn’t hearing much about my own story in you know relationship recovery which you know I remember I had a sponsor tell me you know you’ve got a broken picker girl like you cannot pick them like until your picker is fixed uh just like please stop dating so anyways um but there were all these women specific issues that I felt like weren’t getting enough visibility not just in the rooms but like across the you know recovery advocacy landscape and so I wrote a book um it’s called downstairs church I organized a women’s Global recovery event on International women’s day which is coming up on March 8th called amplifying Women’s Recovery stories and that is sponsored by presented by the she recovers foundation and so I’ve just really jumped in to Women’s Recovery issues because you know frankly it’s not because I’m like some superstar in recovery that is not it at all it’s because I struggle like everyone else every day and have to show up every day uh and work my own recovery program um and and I want to do that in community you know because that’s what’s helped me and so I’ve I’ve really tried to not only tell my own story in hopes that other women don’t feel so alone but hopefully encourage others to get out there and share their story too whether

that’s you know on a virtual Global event or like in a church basement so that’s a little bit about me no that’s excellent thank you so much for sharing that Caroline and a lot to um unpack there for sure so um I guess one thing that I maybe didn’t realize in kind of discussing with you uh you know leading up to this this episode and and our conversations is is your work with the policy that you were discussing could we hear a little bit about that because that’s super interesting sure absolutely so my involvement in you know working around addiction policy has really been at the advocacy level so I had a couple years sober and a wonderful mentor of mine uh woman old timer uh I wouldn’t call her that to her face but she’s been in the rooms for like 30 years you know and she was involved in something called recovery advocacy and I’m like what in the world you know like we’re not supposed to talk about this outside of the rooms like we’re not supposed to you know anonymity and all of these pieces but she told me she started talking to me about the fact that you know early on even in when 12-step programs were developed people were going out and talking to policy makers about alcoholism and about how it was impacting families and communities and systems and about how you know about it was around the 1990s mid 90s early 2000s a group of people from across the country got together and they started an organization called faces and voices of recovery and it wasn’t something to you know like Elevate these celebrities or Superstars or break traditions or anonymity it was about advocate for addiction recovery resources that people needed because at that time I don’t know if you’re all are aware but there wasn’t what’s not what’s called mental health and substance use disorder parity in healthcare so

health insurance basically could be like no we’re not going to pay for that you know you need addiction treatment yeah I don’t think so um so they could make that decision we see a little bit of that still residually today but there are Advocates out there on the front lines advocating and lobbying you know in the Senators offices and Capitol Hill and all those big fancy places and their big high heels and or however they dress um but they’re advocating for greater access to health care for substance use disorder and for addiction and so really you know my involvement in policy started by tagging along you know with my with my mentor and watching what she did and you know she did trainings on how addiction affected the brain and she would go to Washington DC and meet with other folks you know just again not like because our recoveries are so incredible but because they’re not and because we all need support and we want to share that and make sure others have access to that support um and my continued interest and this is something that sometimes folks aren’t super aware of but for women I mean certainly globally but even in the United States women have less access to addiction treatment and less access to recovery housing less access to support that offers Child Care um which is oftentimes needed because we’re the ones who are primary Caregivers for not only children but extended family so fewer women are able to access the treatment that helps a lot of us get sober so uh policy work is still still very important there’s a great movie out and uh it’s called the anonymous people movie um it goes a little bit into this advocacy and how some introductory work it came out a few years back it’s it’s really helpful if you’re a person considering getting into any kind of advocacy it’s a good starting point

so I’m Bill white who is a kind of preeminent addiction researcher um just a phenomenal guy and he talked a lot about uh having in our country and globally just this fire lit under those of us in recovery to not just live our own personal stories and you know and spread the message which of course is really important but taking that a step further and how do we spread that message on a level that will help others access the support that they need um so but yeah that’s a phenomenal film I love that film so do you think Carolina you know you’re talking about the limited resources that are available to women do you think that’s because historically there’s been less women asking for those resources and are we starting to see that that is Shifting and and

you know the resources are growing or like where do you think that comes from yeah that’s a great great question so I certainly have kind of my own ideas there’s been some research lately done on the topic and really what they’re finding is a greater level of stigma Associated for women seeking help and then what I mentioned before that uh the increased levels of barriers to accessing treatment so not just the financial piece but the time commitment having to step away from caregiving oftentimes in many states and I actually I had no idea about this I was just doing some recent research and writing an opinion article but in many states women are penalized penalized for um you know if you’re caregiving and you have a substance use disorder and you say hey I need help or if you’re pregnant you can go to jail you know you can go to jail for using and being a caregiver or being a mother and so people are afraid to ask for help people especially women who are pregnant or postpartum afraid to ask for help because the reality is you can get your kids taken away or go to jail or both um and so a lot of women face these barriers that a lot of folks when we just we just aren’t thinking about it we’re not talking about it and so again that’s one of the reasons why and I’m just one of many uh women out there who are advocating for these issues that’s really interesting so um I think we’ve talked now about a little bit about some of the barriers to to getting into recovery are there any others that you would call out as kind of critical pieces great question I you know I would say along with this

afraid to ask for help not having a treatment and a recovery support services that offer child care you know that offer you know especially like recovery housing you know there’s so few houses uh open that offer also resources for children I would say that stigma piece is huge and research does show that one of the best ways that we can get rid of eradicate just eliminate addiction stigma is to share our stories so when we’re talking about addiction policy when we’re talking about you know like my book downstairs church that I just wrote when we’re talking about you know this Global women’s event on March 8th that’s by the way free uh completely accessible to anyone um you know the more that we can get out there and share our stories the more stigma is decreased I just did a post on my when I think it was Facebook or Facebook and Instagram but about this extremely startling Trend that just came out and

I sound like such a numbers person you guys and like kind of a stats person but I’m really not okay but anyways the CDC data here we go nerdy me again um that just came out says that 14 of high school girls in the US right now are being forced to have sex are raped I mean they could have just used the word raped 14 of teenage girls okay 25 of teenage girls right now in this country are recording increased levels of depression and anxiety that are off the charts okay three and five teenage girls have reported making a plan to commit suicide I mean I read this and I was like what are you are you kidding me this is what’s going on so I was like all right Instagram Facebook like I’m putting this on blast right now and I’ve had so many women since I did that posts they’re not post on the post because frankly people are afraid to it’s hard it’s hard to come out and say yes I am also a survivor of sexual violence but I’ve had people private message me and be like thank you for doing this thank you for saying this thank you for talking about these issues that so many of us women in recovery have experienced and not just women you all like I recognize men have experienced this as well and maybe it’s just more stigma that prevents us from talking about it but the more that we can get out there and share our stories about not just our addiction and not just but why you know like for me I mean My Own Story I can I can speak to my addiction started after the trauma you know like yeah I grew up in an alcoholic home and I probably had genetic predisposition but as a 14 year old when you experience sexual violence let me tell you my experience was like

I wanted to get escape and numb myself out like for decades after that and and as a woman in extreme active addiction that trauma cycle just keeps repeating itself and so many of us have that experience but we’re not we’re not able to talk about it and so another barrier to that treatment there’s not a whole lot of trauma informed uh treatment or Recovery Services out there you know um I work with uh just you know connect with a recovery house here in Eastern Tennessee where I live it’s a small town um I’m telling you the level of trauma that these women have experienced I mean it is just gut-wrenching like you know I was talking to him from the other day and I was like you are probably the most resilient woman I’ve ever met the things that you’ve told me that you’ve been through and yet you are here living in a house with 11 other women that you don’t know I mean just the level of courage and bravery not to like make this about heroics because it’s not but it’s about the level of humanity and resilience that you have to like step up and be like no I’m gonna choose life even though everything that’s happened to me would you know you’d think anyone in their you know right mind would not be able to make it like would not be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other um we kind of keep talking about this stuff because so many of us experience it and you know the sad truth is while there’s 11 women in this recovery home here in Eastern Tennessee a lot of us don’t make it a lot of us don’t make it I wanna I wanna preemptively like apologize or put a disclaimer on anything that comes out of my mouth I guess uh running into this concept A Lot in my own life that like women already have to explain themselves eight billion times and I don’t want that to be what it feels like here um although

better understanding and getting better understanding out to more people might be a really useful way but I just want to put that caveat on there so I don’t sound like a jerk um because I don’t intend to you mentioned the mommy and me housing and we had had somebody come on to talk about mommy and me housing and I don’t think especially as guys uh Billy and I realized before that episode that one there is like zero mommy and me housing there’s Next To None it’s barely available you know it’s it’s very like select pickings and even then there’s two different pieces of this like we have a mommy and me program that is near us that actually has like life skills or something being taught there and then there’s mommy and me housing which is really just a residence there’s nothing extra nobody’s telling anybody how to parent like and I guess for people who maybe buy more into like the generational trauma idea or this idea that like we’re passing things down that doesn’t really put a lot of safeguards in place to help the situation in general right just I mean housing is great I’m not knocking it but I guess could you speak more about that idea like that’s what I heard when you were talking about there’s not enough of these places there’s not enough resources for women trying to to seek recovery like first you got to have the person to watch your kid while you go away to the detox and then you got to go to the the mommy and me housing and hope there is one near you and then hope you can get in and then even then are they teaching you anything or is it just a place to stay like so

many challenges that I think as guys like we don’t I never thought about mommy and me housing it never even occurred to me but you know I just like to say you’re you didn’t sound like a jerk at all um so don’t worry about there uh you know and you bring up such an important point about that like you said you didn’t even think about it right you didn’t even think about it and honestly like it doesn’t not because you’re a dude um I didn’t even think about it before I had kids I mean I I have my twins uh my beautiful twin babies when I was like six or seven years sober and um we moved to another state when they were babies and I was really struggling and I’m like I need a meeting where I can bring my babies and I started making calls and I started going online and guess what there were no meetings where you could bring your babies and I was like oh my gosh you know um I had not even thought about that not even not once and so you know I don’t think like feeling bad about that necessarily I mean and and maybe I had a little bit of that too because I was like wow there’s so many folks who are dealing with access issues to support whether that’s a 12-step meeting or detox like you said that that we don’t even think about and so I think the more that we can talk about these issues we can start shining a light for policy makers and for others in those positions that are able to you know move resources in One Direction or another or just you know your average folks who decide you know what I’m so motivated about this issue I’m going to start a non-profit and I’m gonna open up a mommy and me house and there are so many of those folks out there and God bless them because that is in part how we can help support folks in our local communities is that resource isn’t there let’s not wait for the federal government to come in and fund something let’s just do it ourselves you know and that’s what’s so beautiful too I think about the recovery Community is

we see a need and we show up and we we feel that need we fill that Gap it’s encouraging to see lately how many homes for women are opening up you know and I want to say maybe it’s because more of folks like myself are talking about it maybe people are like like me you know having kids and realizing oh my gosh you know there’s nothing out here for women like me um and I can’t even imagine if I didn’t have as much sobriety under my belt or external support systems in place when I wasn’t able to access meetings I mean I can’t even imagine someone in early recovery in that situation so thank you for bringing that up I think it’s really important to acknowledge there’s so many of that type of uh those types of supports that we don’t really even think about that are needed out there yeah and it actually takes me back to you just reminded me of like a problem that I used to encounter more often going to meetings which was you would go to a meeting uh some member I guess for whatever reasons had to bring their child that night and the child usually created a lot of commotion distracted people like me who have a hard time paying attention and there was like this age-old debate about you know uh is that helping more people or hurting more people by having this kid right like obviously this person needed a meeting but maybe they could have stayed home and called their sponsor and not you know ruined the meeting for 20 other people whatever like but maybe going back to that the point is

we just need to hear people and provide what they need right whether it’s in the regular so-called meeting or not they need a place like people need this thing and so it’s less about like is this right or wrong and more about how can we just provide and meet people with what they’re saying they need and I feel like I’m seeing that a lot more in my life in general but like it it just shines through with this thing in particular that I used to feel feel frustrated about right like I I don’t want people to not come to meetings and yet this is taking away from my experience but I I guess now it’s just shifting more to like okay well how can I meet that need or help them meet that need while also meeting mine yes 100 and I think you know and I know for me personally I have a tendency sometimes to like when I saw those CDC statistics for example like Spiral you know oh my gosh like this is horrible this is so awful you know that this kind of me an active addiction you know I had a tendency to spiral a lot but what’s amazing today is there’s so much opportunity around these issues you talk about your own experience with the meeting you know and having a child come in and hey I’ll be honest with you before I had kids I was like when that happened I’m like oh my god oh no here we go again like those little monsters you know somebody get them out of here 100 that was me too um but it’s an opportunity for the women in those spaces not to put more responsibility on our shoulder but part of recovery we all know that if we’ve been walking the walk for a little while is part of our journey is about giving back and being of service and what a beautiful beautiful opportunity to be of service to another woman hey you know what

we’re having issues with this you know kiddo I was gonna call him little Monster again sorry I don’t even know it’s like fictitious child it’s monster um we need a place for him or her or whatever uh to go let’s create a meeting let’s create another meeting for women that’s specific for women and kids and you can have as many little monsters running around you know as possible as the room can contain but you know all joking aside like it is it’s a great opportunity for us to step up and like I talked about the community members hey you have a heart for this issue you know maybe um tragically you know I’ve met so many parents who’ve lost kids to overdose and substance use disorder so many of them have stepped up transforming and redeeming their grief into action creating non-profit recovery homes and advocacy groups and walks and vigils and all of these beautiful beautiful pictures of advocacy and service um you know if you have feel this calling in your heart and this movement like hey I really care about this issue go out do something about it you know no part of what I talk about actually in my book not to like shamelessly plug my book um downstairs Church the end of it you know it’s not just my own pieces of my own story as a woman in addiction mental health and Trauma recovery but at the end I point to like practical ways how can communities actually step up and help support women like me because we can talk about it all day long but until we have like those practical things that you can do you know we’ll still be talking about it so opportunity I see these issues as a as truly an opportunity for folks to step in and step into being able to provide services and support to other other women like me [Music]

thank you I love that Caroline um uh you know I think you’ve shared some really great advice here for people who want to get involved whether they actually want to go out and start a meeting or open a recovery house or

maybe in a little bit more of a passive nature just simply trying to break down the stigma what can what can men do what can the men do that uh that want to be our allies that want to help women with issues coming into recovery like how did they participate in this stop questioning your needs first well that’s such an important question and thank you you know Jason for chiming in because I I feel like that’s what it’s really gonna take is for everyone to care about these issues and I don’t know I’ve listened to your podcast and I know you all Veer sometimes into the uncomfortable and I’m a huge fan of that because I feel like if we don’t get uncomfortable sometimes like we’re not gonna We’re Not Gonna shift things things aren’t going to change that’s like you know in my own recovery journey I had to get really uncomfortable before I was able to commit to a life of sobriety but that all of that being said I think what men can do is men can like stop being okay here things are going to get uncomfortable all right can stop being like jerks okay so let me elaborate on that um as a woman when I walk into a recovery space sometimes I can immediately feel instantly doesn’t mean that doesn’t matter how many women are in the room if y’all start like the oogling the you know I can instantly feel uncomfortable um and you know and I understand like hey if you’re you know if a woman walks in the room and maybe you’re used to like a lot more men around the table which is usually the way meetings are a woman walks in the room and everyone’s like kind of perks up like

oh hey you know what’s happening I’m like gonna straighten my hat and like you know um maybe you’re like look into 13 step which you know there’s another one like just please stop stop doing that um but for women especially women in early recovery it can be very triggering and uncomfortable and I actually just work I just talked to the woman the other day in early recovery who spiraled for over 24 hours because a guy came up to her after the meeting and wasn’t even really hitting on her but made her feel feel that way and was like made her feel really uncomfortable and so I would say like in those recovery spaces guys out there and women too hey it’s not just a guy thing okay we can all be jerks I’ve been I’ve been there I’ve 13 stopped I’m not like pointing any Fingers um but we can all just like recognize the reason that we’re here in this space is because we have a problem with drugs and or alcohol right and we want to focus on it like that’s why we’re there and of course we can get distracted and yeah like I said I mean I’ve certainly been distracted too and probably made dudes feel uncomfortable but like let’s just try to respect the space as that as a respectful place as a safe place where we can get support for our addiction so how you know guys and gals all of us can focus on like how can we continue to keep this space safe and you know again I’m not pointing fingers and I recognize most people do that like most people aren’t jerks most people aren’t creeps Jason and Billy you guys seem like fabulous dudes like I wish we lived in the same area where we could go to a meeting together Caroline you too I don’t want to leave you out um but you know I think that is one of the main things that guys can do is like help protect the recovery space as a safe space where it’s not about sex

it’s not about attraction it’s not about like trying to date someone or like let the ladies stay with the ladies and like let’s just do old school middle school for a couple minutes right where we can just like get support because honestly like if I wouldn’t have had support from other women early on I would not be here today it wasn’t about my you know dating this one dude this one time in recovery like he wasn’t available um it was about the women in my life and in my recovery that really supported me so I hope that answers your question um protecting that safe space and and really just like you all Jason and Billy and Caroline are doing like providing an opportunity for women like me to share our stories and talk about Solutions yeah absolutely and and so I’m going to throw Jason under the bus here a little bit but uh we had a conversation a few months back where I mentioned like you know most of the time I walk into a meeting and I’m one of like three or four women in the room and that these meetings are 70 to 80 male and Jason do you wanna do you want to say what you said or should I Jason basically was like really like he hadn’t he hadn’t noticed that there’s like this massive like difference with me okay defend yourself defend yourself In fairness uh the area that I come from which is a metropolis area a city area it it generally seemed maybe not 50 50 but pretty diverse um and especially I guess the meeting place that I went to is directly across the street from a woman’s recovery house so might have evened out the odds a little bit uh for for the particular meeting I was hitting but yeah I

I do think you are speaking to something that so where I was going with this when I said stop questioning women’s needs right this this idea that women feel like they constantly need to explain themselves and then when they ask for something it’s like hey um I feel uncomfortable hugging men when I first come into recovery because I’ve been like a part of sexual violence for years now while I’ve been trying to be an active addiction um I’d prefer like an all-women’s meeting or for men to just not hug me and then you got guys like me three years ago who questioned why we have women’s meetings because that messes up the sanctity of [  ] whatever the hell I was saying right so like being able to learn and hear better like the the first step the problem is when when you all say hey the world’s not equal for women um we get paid less we get treated shitty we’ve got all this systemic oppression that’s in our our systems and we all say oh no no no we took care of that that doesn’t exist anymore so it’s like you have to [  ] argue that it exists before you can get your need met and if we could just shut the [ __ ] up and let y’all like just say what you need and then maybe try to help meet it or at least just get out of the way I just think that’d be a much better starting point I love that that’s good I got nothing after that so I’ll even I’ll take it one step further right so as as a 20 year old female coming into recovery um no kids so that was not my issue I was not struggling with I was very fortunate that um you know I basically had no responsibilities at the age of 20 and could could kind of Go full steam ahead but um I was used to seeking certain kinds of attention right and so if you had seen me in a meeting with two months clean you would see that I was seeking that kind of attention I would say for our members that have a little bit of time under their belt think about why that girl might be wearing that super short skirt or that low-cut blouse like that doesn’t always mean that that that you know you should be going up to her um I think you know

a lot of times we come in and we we’re coming from a world where that is almost our currency right like that’s how we’re getting through that’s how we’re getting through the world that’s how we’re functioning and we come into the rooms and um we have to relearn that like that’s that that’s not just something you don’t just like walk in the door and realize oh I have value outside of my appearance and I don’t have to put myself on display it took me it took me time it took me recovery it took me other women in recovery right to learn that but um you know for our members that have a little bit of time and and a little bit of recovery hopefully like recognize that that like maybe that girl needs her space maybe she doesn’t need you you know whispering in her in her ear about you know your great recovery and uh you know come come over and read my basic text in my recovery house uh room with me like give it some space that was I feel like that was like the Netflix and chill version of like recovery houses 20 years ago come read my basic text in my recovery house room with me that’s all that’ll happen it might still be like that too by the way um it might still be like that but probably yeah probably you see to a great point and I love when you say like when you bring in the community of women aspect too because it’s a great opportunity you know not just to be like hey guys like watch yourselves but also like hey ladies when you see that woman coming in when you see her coming in like you go up to her like Flock to her right and I’ve had that experience

too or those women kind of on the opposite end of the Spectrum which was actually me baseball hat giant flannel like I had like 14 layers over my body um giant you know sweatpants like hiding hiding hiding um when you see that woman coming in too she’s she’s dealing with the same stuff so really recognizing any any new face that we come in and you know a lot of us already do this but getting outside of our heads and ourselves and our own stories to be able to I like look at that woman and say hey I understand her story like I am showing up for her um and not leaving her alone I think it’s really important can I ask your opinion on a certain thing that maybe is kind of around this topic absolutely yeah shoot you uh you mentioned the broken picker idea earlier and you know I think this is one that if you’ve been in the recovery world for a while you’ve probably heard it there’s something about this idea like I agree like we probably are not selecting the ideal candidates to meet our happiness levels uh you know early in recovery and and maybe just in life uh maybe this is a struggle that people have picking partners that remind us of you know familiarity from our our existence I guess which feels comfortable even if it’s not necessarily good for us or all that comfortable in general um and one of the things that occurs to me like I’ve I’ve heard this broken picker idea and it makes me feel like oh okay well I’m like broken or flawed

or I got to figure out nobody’s ever said how to like make it a better picker necessarily like keep recovering I guess and somehow that that picker just straightens out I I guess for me at this point in my life knowing a little bit of outside information and especially a lot of information from like the therapy world and going through a lot of therapy it would have been a lot more helpful for me if somebody would have maybe been able to point to more of what I think that is that broken picker more of like the attachment stuff that that goes on underlying us I feel like that would have been a lot more beneficial if somebody said oh hey you know why you keep picking that same type of person that’s maybe kind of toxic when you end up with them in a relationship it’s because you got this other stuff and maybe you can go look at it and talk about it do you think that maybe there’s places like that or like you know you mentioned sexual violence and we’ve had uh a gentleman from medication assisted recovery Anonymous come on and he talked about how in their fourth step when it gets a little more intense like stuff like sexual violence they kind of Point people towards getting a therapist instead of sharing that with their sponsor like can you share about are there maybe some small shifts or adjustments we could make in our 12-step world that might make Women’s Recovery a little easier and maybe everybody’s really great question you know for me so my

along with that helped walk me through the rest of the steps where I feel like that was a was a huge uh step towards adjusting that uh picker but there was another thing that she said to me around that same time which was hey if you want to shift things if you want to get healthy in your relationships stop focusing on what that other person can be and she was like I want you to sit down and write a list not like what your ideal mate you know right like six foot three you know dark eyes dark hairs like all those things focus

on like what you want you how you want to show up in a relationship how can you be the ideal person for someone else and when you’re at that point and certainly no one is perfect and she was like you’re never gonna you know be perfect or be a hundred percent ideal but once you start hitting some of these characteristics in yourself then you might be able to look out you know into the world or attract those people who are at that same level so maybe when you’re at the point of being able to have integrity to be honest to be able to think more about someone else in a relationship uh in healthy ways than you know getting your own needs met and those types of things and for me that was that was key that was so important uh and you referenced this she also pointed me in the direction of other resources specifically mental health care to address my trauma and I 100 firmly believe that most of us have experienced you know trauma in one form or or another and most of us can really benefit from sitting down and talking to a professional about those deep-seated traumatic issues that you know I don’t want to freak anyone out but if you don’t address them if you don’t address them they are going to keep coming back and it doesn’t matter how much time you have it doesn’t matter how much time you have sober um so you know her guidance and Direction was so helpful for me in that you know look you need to focus on how you can show up in a relationship and you know what’s going

to help you do that along with talking to me and working the steps it’s seeing a mental health counselor and I saw a trauma specialist and she we did some real deep real painful real healing work together and that was transformational for me so I feel like you know the 12-step Community we can all be more helpful in pointing people to other resources in the community yet another reason why having those quality resources accessible to everyone including women is so important and I think breaking down some of the stigma around addiction helps that a lot it’s becoming way more common in the conversations for people to understand that most if not all addiction is born out of trauma and that you know maybe we aren’t ready to deal with that in our first year or two of sobriety or recovery but that that is a crucial piece to deal with if we want to continue long-term recovery yes yes 100 and I wanted to share two you know sometimes for some folks that looks like that really deep work with a mental health professional counselor therapist psychologist psychiatrist yes and sometimes that work can also be done within a recovery Community I mean for me that was the first part of my trauma healing was showing up and hanging out with sober people like that was it connecting with other women letting myself trust again feeling safe again all of those things kind of building up to being able to do that deeper work so but yes I agree foreign


thank you to shift a little bit so March 8th 8th is international women’s day and there’s and I guess an event sponsored by the she recovery Foundation can you tell us a little bit about that yes yes yes I would love to so this is our second annual event I’m so excited amplifying women’s stories and Recovery advocacy presented by the she recovers Foundation which is an incredible organization and last year we had over 1200 folks register from around the world it was live translated in three languages um this year it will be accessible in even more languages and we have speakers from Nigeria and England I’m going through the list testing my memory here um France uh Peru El Salvador just all over the place and you know the feedback we got last year was it is absolutely incredible to turn on your computer uh get logged into

zoom and see women from all over the world who are passionate about recovery and that is what this event aims to do is really connect us on a global scale and amplify women leaders in recovery and they’ll also be opportunities for folks everyone attending to connect and breakout sessions so you can go to sherecovers.org and find the events link I’m also happy to provide you all with the link as well to share but it’s going to be a great event and most importantly uh it’s free and accessible to all we want to make sure that every year it is a free event and so donations can be made so she recovers Foundation but not necessary at all really excited to be there I have the opportunity to be the host of the event so really thrilled and hope to see you all there is it going to be like mostly motivational is it training is it teaching like is it a hodgepodge tell us a little bit about what to expect when we get there yeah absolutely so this year’s theme is all around storytelling and ample buying our stories to help like we talked about today you know breaking down those berries or stigma educating the community and others about issues related to Women’s Recovery so ultimately it will be you know we’ll be hearing from these women speakers and leaders in recovery and supportive of recovery all over the world about the impact of Storytelling in their own journey and also how that the impact of Storytelling from others hearing and receiving those recovery stories has propelled us to go out and change our communities and you know be of service so love love this year’s theme of

Storytelling and I think it’s so important for those of us who want to go out there and help reduce stigma and you know help increase opportunities to build more recovery support services for women so it’s going to be a really fun day you know it’s super chill bring your coffee tea sweatpants like you could be on camera off camera you can be as involved in breakouts as you want to be you can just come and listen but I hope you do and it’s not just for women I mean everyone is welcome and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about Women’s Recovery and I would just say that for any gentleman that happened to wonder if there would be any purpose of listening to that the more I have sat and listened to women the more I pick up these little pieces of like oh [ __ ] people question them all the time when like in situations where people would never question me right like hey I think I’m gonna go get gas and get lunch oh you sure you want to do it in that order like it’s just ridiculous how often women get questioned and it’s this would probably be a wonderful opportunity to to sit back not feel any pressure to be right or wrong about it you could sit in your own living room and just listen right and just maybe you’ll hear some ways that women get treated or have to deal with being treated in the world that you’ve never considered and you’ve never you know that whole invisible uh knapsack of privilege idea like maybe if you’re just a little open-minded listen you’ll hear some of those things and you can start being better to the the Mothers Daughters wives girlfriends uh neighbors co-workers in your life Caroline you did mention your book downstairs church do you want to give us the the elevator pitch on uh on on

the book and when it’s I think it’s coming out or it’s just come out it’s it’s very fresh right yes yeah so it comes out Actually March 28th this uh just a couple weeks almost a month from now it’s available for pre-order now but in uh my book downstairs Church finding hope in the grit of addiction and Trauma recovery really explores the problem of addiction and Trauma for women for women like me today and then highlights freedom and hope that can be found in the downstairs church or recovery community and in the book you know along with bringing this community awareness to these issues that we’ve talked about today regarding women’s access to recovery support services and quality treatment I wanted to highlight in the book The Radical vulnerability I just I love that phrase the radical vulnerability that I personally found in the downstairs spaces of addiction recovery and I believe whether you’re in recovery from addiction or not I’ve you know my personal opinion is we’re all in recovery first from something um but I feel I I just feel in my heart that everyone can benefit from learning a little bit more about what happens in recovery spaces that vulnerability and that when we share our stories in real ways when we can show up authentically when we can be honest about our struggles and where we’ve come from that’s when transformation can happen and so ultimately I hope the book helps to decrease that stigma out there for women helps point to like practical ways that everyone anyone uh can get involved in this addressing this issue and shine a little bit of light on what happens in the downstairs spaces of recovery I’m assuming that’s March 28th the uh the print copy is coming out is there an audible version or an audio version and is that coming soon there will

and I have yet to hear from my publisher about what’s happening there um I’m I’m pretty old school I like the feel of like a book in my hands and the pages and like you know all of that but I Know audio is awesome I would I might like to record myself I don’t know we’ll see like recording your own book is kind of daunting a daunting thing but um yeah if enough folks are interested I would love to be able to provide an audio version as well so I’m curious and maybe through your experiences and and all your studies in this area you could at least speak on this you know I don’t know that we’ll have a definitive answer but one of the things I’ve always noticed in recovery is that when I and for a lot of other people it looked this way too when

we removed our substance or our choice method of finding relief in our world right we were still left with that discomfort and the next best thing that felt available or accessible or legal to us was relationships like they are a powerful relief bringer you know when you’re you’re not feeling good about yourself with that understanding whatever recovery spaces be better separated out better where there’s not that I get that we can’t just do men and women right there’s a lot more going on in our world than that but would removing Temptation or uh you know attraction assist people in their recovery process like would they have less to chase for Relief to where they would kind of have to find some other maybe more healthy healing methods is that something that would actually be useful or or maybe not um well you know I talked about just appreciating uncomfortable conversations right and I think we I can speak for my own experience I have been able to grow and learn when I’ve been in those uncomfortable places and so as much as it’s hard to walk into a recovery meeting that’s mainly dudes and you know get some of the looks and some of the this and of that as long as I have support when some of those things happen and I have the tools and know how to like call my sponsor and say hey I’m feeling uncomfortable or go out to eat with the ladies and like turn that one dude down you know um in terms of going out with him like as long as I can make some of those healthy

choices I want to say like just splitting it up completely I think there’s an opportunity there that’s lost because we can learn from each other um regardless of how you identify you know what gender you identify with we can all learn from each other uh so you know I think having those separate spaces is also important though at the same time so maybe a combination of both I mean I think it really just depends on the person and I know for me personally like yes I needed those separate spaces especially early on and I’ve also grown when I’ve been uncomfortable too so I’m not sure if I answered that question for you but I just wanted to share a little bit for my own experience well I think you’re talking to the point of like speaking up and being vulnerable and being uncomfortable and you know maybe maybe when we’re all in the parking lot after the meeting and a few of us are off to the side talking about uh old creepy Joe uh maybe we need to start calling old creepy Joe out and be like dude hey stop doing that like we want these women to recover or you know what I mean like maybe we do need to start putting words to this instead of all kind uh saying oh yeah that’s how old creepy Joe is you know and just moving along and not doing anything yeah that’s great I mean stepping up and yeah really being an ally I mean really being an ili and that’s you know when we can come together as a healthy Community you know whether that’s around like sexual relations or really any of it

right when we can be a healthy Community we can all recover uh in a healthier way and that’s just going to impact the whole Community you know not just women but but guys and all folks as well before we kind of like give our wrap-up list of all the best practices for how we can assist people uh or or how people can assist themselves and find better spaces is there anything that you were hoping to express or talk about today or any topics or points that haven’t come up yet well you all this has been a great conversation I feel like you know everything I had on my heart to share that I didn’t even know about I’ve been able to talk about um so unless there’s other you know things that you want to address but I just I feel like this has been a great conversation and really important points brought up okay so um and and we can feel free to like rehash the ones we’ve already mentioned I know quite a few have come up already um but just to kind of have an ultimate list and if anybody has extra like some of the more specific things that I have seen in my lifetime um obviously women’s meetings are a useful place a couple of different times I’ve seen meetings take it upon themselves to decide they need child care right um so they’ll have some kind of back room I’ve seen it work in a couple of ways I think one group took actually a sent around a donation basket to help fund somebody to watch the kids and and the other ones it was like either a service position or somebody’s teenage daughter or whatever and like I thought those were really specific great ideas and you know

some of the more General ideas we’ve talked about today just like being open hearing women uh not being a creep or being aware of yourself you know more self-reflection what other kinds of like specific and general things should we put on this list of best practices like how can we help well I just so appreciate that you’re asking the question and I think that’s a great place to start I mean I think you know in my own recovery I’ve learned this and I’m sure you all have too like when we can come from a humble place of like honestly just showing up and honestly being like how can I be of service you know where can I feel a need where can I fill a gap how can I help and sometimes that is just listening and sometimes that is just asking the question you know and you offered some great examples of having those women specific meetings and seeing how you know Child Care can be involved we talked a little bit earlier on too and just the more that we share our stories and certainly it’s not for everyone you know recovery advocacy um but the more that we share our stories in other spaces outside of meetings whether that’s a recovery Rally or you know a picnic or writing a letter letter to your legislator um the more that we can talk about our stories and our needs and the strengths of the community the more that we can advocate for things like addiction treatment and quality recovery support services so I think storytelling and advocacy is huge for those of us who feel moved uh in that direction I talked a little bit too about you know for folks who have been impacted or touched in

some way around the issue of addiction and maybe that’s not your own personal Journey but a family member or a neighbor if you feel pulled or called to get involved in creating a recovery support service or at least sitting around a table and being a community stakeholder uh someone interested in supporting um donating money to those resources in your community I mean there’s so many ways that people can get involved and you know I want to joke I’d like to just like create a shirt that says don’t be a jerk and like we can just all wear them into meetings um but holding each other accountable you know um not putting it on the women to be like hey creepy Joe you’re a total like creep and please stop um but stepping up and like protecting each other in a sense keeping each other accountable um ultimately you know we’re one big family right and if you’ve got a family member that’s sitting at the table that is being a jerk like we want to say something in a loving way of course um but you know helping us understand like recovery spaces whether that’s a 12-step space whether that’s another type of meeting you know whether that’s a recovery home these are sacred safe spaces where we have shown up to heal and to change our lives and like that there’s weight pad like that space is it is it is sacred and we need to protect that today so kind of whatever we can do to make sure it’s safe for others I think we need to start doing and finally you know for women you know I don’t want to just keep pointing fingers at the guys but like for women we have a responsibility to step up and step into the opportunity that’s out there you know like Caroline you mentioned this woman coming into the meeting who visibly like she is like screaming help you know like she’s like help me you know help me please no I’m like we can’t just let those women come in and out anymore because you know what when they go back out a lot of times they don’t make it back in and so every time you see a woman like that a woman like woman like we’ve been at one

time or another in our lives if you’ve been in the rooms longer like don’t let her go back out without saying something to her without giving your number without getting her number without calling her later we have a responsibility to the women and Recovery that today and real quick speaking of Storytelling and kind of women’s empowerment can you tell us real quick about your bright story shine blog that you do you’ve been Googling me haven’t you um yes I would love to so I did start bright story shine which is just a storytelling platform it’s a Blog where women can come and share their stories of recovery and resilience and you know for my own personal story like I mentioned I wrote a book downstairs Church writing is a huge part of my release and relief and I just I just get so much from sharing my story in writing and so I wanted to you know have a place where women can talk about their stories and share those stories so I’ve just been so just honored to hear from women you know all over the world who’ve submitted stories and and I get to post some of those so if anyone’s interested in sharing your own story I would love to connect you can go to my blog website brightstoryshine.com and there’s some submission guidelines on there but it’s a great place too for women who might be seeking recovery who just want to learn more about Women’s Recovery issues because you know go to that front page and there’s a lot of stories of women like me who’ve experienced uh undoubtedly things like you know some of your listeners today might have experienced as well I don’t want to put any extra work on them because I know like life is busy for everybody but we have two incredibly smart talented amazing women Caroline and another lady Jenny that would be excellent to write a story for that and I I hope they both choose to yes I would love that absolutely love that uh one one thing I think that came up for me when you were sharing the list of what we can all do is this idea of like if you see something that doesn’t feel right for you in the world don’t give up right don’t accept the answer uh that’s just the way the world is that’s just the way this works you know they’re they’re at some point probably was not women’s meetings there at some point was probably not meetings that watched your kids in the back room like don’t give up keep working towards making the change that you want to see right because it’s only been since I’ve decided I will not accept feeling worse or being treated worse that my life has really really taken off and improved and I just we all need that man don’t settle for that’s just the [ __ ] way it is because you know what yeah that changes too the way it is changes so beautiful Caroline thank you so much for coming on and helping us explore this topic um go out and and seek out Caroline’s book when it comes out on March 28th it is called downstairs Church uh and that’s you want to pick that up you want to read it we want to all email Caroline so that I can get an audible copy and listen to it because that’s just way better for my life um but again thank you so much and uh we wish you continued success and just thank you for being you in this world we need more people like you um thank you so much it’s been such an honor to be here and the same for all of you as well thank you for the work that you’re doing awesome have a great day yeah [Music] [Applause] [Music] did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoverysortup.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on Facebook Twitter Instagram Reddit YouTube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us [Music]