Surprising Lessons and Bonds from an Addiction Recovery Retreat
“I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
— Lucille Ball (1911-1989)
Lucy was a wise, wise woman. And I recently had the chance to see what her “everyday religion” looks like in practice.
AN ANNUAL HONOR
For each of the past three years I have been invited to speak with and conduct private sessions for women in recovery at a springtime weekend retreat on the East Coast. My topic is usually something from my “Finding your Passion” series. Engaging with these ladies is an honor I look forward to every year.
These ladies choose to do the hard work of overcoming addictions, and they choose to help each other along the way. While the battles each wage can be similar, no two are alike. Each travels a path of struggle than can elicit a staggering emotional toll. Some of these women face the burden of having to restart their entire life. Others find liberation in a sense of finally living their life for the first time since beginning recovery.
COURAGE IN ACTION
These ladies show up to my workshop completely open, and open to each other. These women have found each other and created a sisterhood based in an unlikely common bond. Without their addiction, it’s hard to say if they would have otherwise found each other. Their backgrounds are diverse – a powerful reminder that money and status do not stop addictions nor recovery.
These women – my sisters – amaze me. They inspire me. Their stories are incredible. They entrust me by sharing them and they are beautiful in their vulnerability. That’s no small matter. Most women need to get to know me to be that vulnerable.
I have taught many, many groups of people. Few are willing to go as deep, as quickly, into self-awareness and transformation, as these women.
AN UNLIKELY BOND
It may be that they trust each other, literally at times with their lives. It may be they have seen what not welcoming change can look like. It could be many other factors. Whatever it is, speaking with them and watching them do the exercises I include in my workshop reminds me anew of why I choose to become a Life Coach. There are few other places that I see such willing transformations in a short amount of time I speak.
After my workshop, I am taken back by the gratitude they share with me, approaching me one by one to say grateful they are that I was there. I am the one who is grateful. The strength of these woman is clear.
A GIFT FOR ME
This year that gratitude began the moment I arrived.
As I was getting out of my vehicle a sweet woman I met last year approached me.
“I don’t know if you remember but last year you and I went for a walk and chatted,” she said. “That conversation saved my marriage.”
We shared a hug and she kept on walking.
I sat by myself for a moment and cried. Were they tears of connection? I don’t know.
I was just deeply moved.
What she shared with me was a gift. It allowed me to understand three things:
1. I am exactly where I need to be;
2. My work makes matters and impacts the people I serve; and
3. The women I work with, here and elsewhere, are breathtaking in the work that they do to create the life they deserve.
I may have given guidance or understanding, but she had to go home and apply it.
We each have a story. We each have great excuses as to why we can’t do something – a reason we can’t overcome something. Thank you, ladies, for showing me that for some people, those excuses can just be motivators to accomplish anything.
Same time next year, ladies?
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