Giving Voice to Recovery is designed to encourage, inspire and educate people who are seeking help with addiction and for those who are already recovering. In addition to monthly interviews, Elizabeth is hosting a weekly episode of "Just Sayin", a short podcast discussion about recovery concepts and the language that helps us heal.
We cover these subjects in broad terms and focus on solutions, education, support and community. We challenge the stigma of addiction and encourage healthy living. We are determined to thrive in recovery.
Join us as we share our stories about surviving addiction and thriving in sobriety. Follow Singer Songwriter Elizabeth Edwards as she interviews artists, authors, comedians, musicians, advocates, experts and inspirational figures from a compassionate and heartfelt solution based perspective.
Giving Voice to Recovery celebrates those who have found purpose in using their voice to change perceptions and challenge stereotypes while inspiring hope and providing awareness to those still seeking solutions.
"There is a healing power in sharing our personal recovery journeys."
Love Without Martinis - Chantal Jauvin Interview
Chantal walks us through the six practices outlined in her book. She shares the stories conveyed in her book that I think many will be able to relate to. If you are building or rebuilding an intimate relationship, my hope is that you will feel empowered by this interview and by Chantal’s book.
The Interview With Recovery Coach David Malow
Join Elizabeth as she interviews David Malow Recovery Coach.
David's mission is to provide a bridge of guidance and support for individuals and their loved ones who are struggling with chemical dependency, while helping to facilitate the action steps which are necessary to maintain a happy, healthy sober lifestyle.
David enjoys long-term sobriety and is a current member of CAADAC, CCAR, Recovery View, and The Sober Living Network.
The Windshield & The Rearview Mirror
The next important piece of the puzzle for me in any decision or change is to focus on where I am going instead of focusing on the past. There is a reason the windshield is much larger than the rearview mirror. There is also a reason we have a rearview mirror. Can you imagine what it would be like to drive down the freeway looking primarily at the rear view mirror? You would have to go very slow, stop often and probably end up in a collision. That is exactly what it’s like to go through life focusing on where you have been instead of focusing on where you intend to go. You might be in the car, pointed in and possibly even moving in the right direction but if you are over focused on the rear view mirror – you are doing it the hard way.
The Gift of Giving Thanks
For those of us that are blessed with recovery, gratitude becomes a daily practice. Developing an attitude of gratitude is a powerful spiritual principle that helps heal our mind, body and soul.
I believe that substance use disorder (addiction) is, among other things, a soul sickness. The remedy for soul sickness is a spiritual awakening. Spiritual connection, regardless of how you achieve it or what you call it is an important part of the healing process. I respect all forms of spiritual practice because what might work for one person, might not work for another. The most important thing is that you find what works for you. Gratitude and the act of giving thanks is a universal spiritual practice because it works for almost everyone. I believe Gratitude is the simplest and most sincere form of prayer.
In early recovery, gratitude was a foreign concept to me. Giving thanks was an occasional reflex from my upbringing, but most of the time I was either stewing in my “victim story” or simmering in self-pity and self-loathing. I had become a “taker”.
When I was very newly sober the holidays were upon us and I was super broke. Showing up sober was sure to be an improvement but I was really unconformable. A wise woman suggested to me that I offer to bring something, that that would make me feel better. I told her I barely had enough money for gas to get me there. She suggested that I find something free that had value that I could bring.
I was living in Northern California, the Sierra Nevada Mountains at that time so I went out and found some really beautiful pine cones, I put them in a basket that I had and that was the gift I brought to the dinner. The pine cones were appreciated and placed in the center of the table as a part of the center piece. That was my first sober Thanks Giving and that was thirty-four years ago.
Something really important happened for me that day, that simple act of giving flipped the switch from being a taker to a giver. I had acted my way into right thinking.
We all have something to give and when we start living from a place of abundance and gratitude we start to create our amazing, abundant recovered lives.
I am a blessed person and I am so grateful for all my blessings big and small. This year has been a challenge for many, including myself. I am especially grateful for all the hard lessons that I hated at the time but they gave me the learnings that I didn’t even know I needed. Now I do.
That’s right, I’m grateful for the hard stuff as well as the fun stuff. My difficulties have and continue to make me a better version of myself. It was my difficulties in life that taught me compassion, resilience and resourcefulness. So when I say that gratitude becomes a way of life in recovery, this is what I am talking about.
And just in case I haven’t said so, I am grateful for you!
I’m Just Sayin’
The word Stigma was borrowed from Latin meaning "mark or brand”.
Stigma in English first referred to a scar left by a hot iron. In modern use the scar is figurative: stigma most often refers to a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society has about something—such as the stigma associated with addiction.
Words are powerful. How we talk about ourselves and to ourselves, matters. Negative labels such as – Addict, Alcoholic, Drunk and Junkie become part of our identity. People tend to label a person by their behavior, fair or not. It is natural to act congruent with our identity. Identity has a big impact on self-esteem as well as ongoing behavior.
example, “I can’t help but get drunk, I’m an alcoholic.”
In recovery, it’s important to “identify”. First to make sure we are in the right place so we can get the help we need for specific substances. Secondly, the honesty and acceptance it takes to “own” the nature of our addictive patterns and substances is an important first step to change.
In the rooms we celebrate when people are able to say to the group, “I’m Elizabeth and I’m a …(fill in the blank)”. When we do this, it changes the meaning of that word. It goes from being a negative to a positive, because when we own it, we can change it and not until then.
When we “own it” and we tell the truth about ourselves we start the process of recovery and our identity begins to change. One of the things I started doing when I realized the importance and impact of language was I started identifying myself differently both inside and outside of the 12 –Step rooms.
In the rooms I say “I’m Liz and I am a recovering … I do this to let people, especially those who are new know that we can and do recover and that it’s an ongoing process. I am also telling myself, “Hey girl, you are still in the recovery process, you are not “cured”. Over time It became important to me to identify as a recovering person and a lot of times I will throw the word “grateful” in there, because I am!
Out in the rest of the world, I say I’m Elizabeth and I am a person in long-term recovery.
When I am outside of the rooms talking about recovery to business people, media professionals or politicians (people who are in positions to make decisions that affect us), I have found it very helpful to eliminate the stigmatized language and labels.
Recovered Substance Use Disorder doesn’t look anything like active addiction, in fact it looks normal. Most recovered people don’t openly announce this about themselves without a reason and some people have good reasons to keep it private.
For me, my music naturally brought me to advocacy work. My songs reflect my life; my life reflects my recovery. Music brought me to advocacy work but it was advocating for the person who is still suffering, the person right in front of me on any given day that brought me to a deeper level with my songs. Every time I told my story to another person in hopes of connecting and helping, the wound beneath “my scar” lost a little bit more of its pain and shame. Over time the pain was gone and something amazing was in its place – purpose.
A scar left behind from the burn of a hot brand is the perfect metaphor for addiction. Active addiction is painful and destructive. It is often publicly humiliating for ourselves as well as our families. It leaves emotional and sometimes physical scars. Scars can be ugly and look painful long after the trauma. When that scar heals, it identifies us but now it represents strength, courage, honesty and grace. It’s that very scar that let’s others know, “if you are struggling with substance use or addictive patterns you can talk to me because I know where you are”. This is how we transform our pain into purpose, this is when our greatest liability becomes our greatest asset. This i
Moments of Clarity
My worse day turned out to be my best day. It was the day I had my moment of clarity. It was the day I woke up from my “story”, the story I told myself every day, the story that justified self-destructive behaviors.
It was the day I woke up from my lie, the lie I had been telling myself for years. “My drinking doesn’t hurt anybody.” “If I ever get as bad as so in so, I’ll quit.” “I can quit anytime I want.”
Up until that point, I had referred to myself as “a wine connoisseur with bad taste in men”. Since I never let the glass get empty, I was always on my first drink. The diet pills and cocaine were necessary to keep the weight in check, “everyone does that”. This is how I saw it and I believed it one hundred percent.
I believed it in the face of, and contrary to, a lot evidence. I brushed off the many comments from people who loved me and tried to help me. I literally couldn’t see it even though, on some level, there were times I feared something was really very wrong with me. I saw myself as a victim and I lived my life through that filter. Drinking and self-medicating seemed to me to be the solution and not the problem.
For me, it was a quiet moment driving down a canyon road in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Feather River Canyon in Northern California. It was after a long blackout drinking weekend in which I had managed to piss everyone I knew off, again. I was baffled and that was the beginning.
Protected by my defensive “woe is me” victim story, a simple thought popped into my mind and it took root. The idea that maybe they were right, maybe my problems were due to my drinking. For years’ people had suggested this to me and I had completely dismissed it. Drinking was not my problem, people were my problem! It sincerely looked and felt that way to me. “If you had lived my life you would completely agree.” I would say as I explained my trials and tribulations to anyone who would listen.
For some reason on that particular day, the thought “maybe they are right” just kept popping into my mind. I started remembering what I’d heard in the 12 step groups I had attend a few years prior. I had already been there but not because I needed help. I was there to support someone who really had a problem. I would say “I’m Liz and I’m a visitor.” I would think to myself, “this is so great for these people.” I did not see myself as one of them.
As I drove down the canyon road, it was dawning on me that having a drinking problem explained a lot. A few more synchronicitic little miracles happened soon after and I found myself back in the rooms. I heard “You can’t see until you can see” and “you can’t hear until you can hear” and I knew exactly what they meant.
Today I celebrate that day, October 13, 1986 was the day I woke up. That strange combination of pain, bewilderment and hope cracked my denial wide open and I have been on the most amazing journey ever since.
I'm Just Sayin'