Category Archives: Inspiring Recovery books

Recovery Rocks – Carl Jones

Carl Jones is 40 years old & originally from Staffordshire in England. He is a support coordinator in a homeless hostel in Suffolk, UK. From a completely hopeless case he has transformed his life and become a fully functioning part of society. Carl’s story is a great example that not only can you overcome heroin addiction you can become the person you were always meant to be.

Carl Jones - 10 points if you can name his favorite band.

Carl Jones – 10 points if you can name his favorite band.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’

I had many rock bottoms during my using days but my last one was a few weeks before I went into rehab. I had recently been evicted from a homeless hostel I was living in in Stoke on Trent for flooding my bedroom after overdosing in my room with the tap running. I moved home to my mothers house and she finally informed me that if I did not go to rehab she would have no choice but to wash her hands with me.. My bridges had all be burnt. While I was at my mothers I went for a hepatitis test at the hospital and found out that while I had been sharing IV equipment I had contracted Hepatitis C. I remember breaking down in my mothers kitchen. I cried & cried and I believe it was at this point I had finally hit an emotional rock bottom.

2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?

My first 30 days were incredibly difficult. I felt extremely anxious, fearful and paranoid. I had very little sleep due to the cocktail of drugs I had come off. My thoughts spun around my head like a washing machine & I would obsess about using for most of the day. I think that my desire not to return to my old life, meetings, reading literature and other people in recovery got me through them first 30 days and picking up my 30 day key ring was one of the proudest days I had had in years.

3) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?

The best things that have happened to me.. That is a difficult one to answer. I have had many great experiences since I got clean. I managed to go back to college after years & years of drug addiction and after that I went to university and got a degree with merit in counselling. I am in a loving relationship with my partner who is also in recovery and I am now in full time employment. Better than all that though is the way I feel. I hated myself before I got into recovery and today I don’t.. I’m actually ok

4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
What would I tell myself if I could go back? I’m not really sure what Id say as I don’t think the old me would have listened. Maybe I would have suggested 12 Step treatment at a younger age, as I seemed to bounce around detox units & government ran agencies for many years.

5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
The most useful things I have learnt about myself? I guess being able to look at my own part in situations has helped me massively in my life. Before I got clean I did not have that ability, so it was always somebody else’s fault. The blame would always lie elsewhere. Having the ability to take my own inventory is an amazing gift, although sometimes an uncomfortable one.

6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.

Graduating from University was a truly amazing experience. Standing with my fellow students and seeing the joy on my mother Sian, Aunt Wendy and Daughter Mia’s face was priceless and an experience I shall never forget. I would never have had the commitment, patience, dedication or determination to pass my degree if I was still using.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
My favourite slogans are. Feelings pass, just for today, trust the process and keep coming back

8) Why does recovery rock?
My life has changed beyond recognition. I was a miserable hopeless drug addict and now I am a productive member of my community. The more I put into recovery, the more I get out of it. I thought life would be boring without taking drugs and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Recovery hasn’t turned me into a boring square, I have fun, I take part in life, I have choices & freedom. Recovery is the best thing that has happened to me and I cherish it

An interview with Matt and Amy Baumgardner

A little while ago I was asked to review an extraordinary book called: From this day forward, A love story of faith, love and forgiveness by Amy and Matt Baumgardner. I had interviewed Amy Baumgardner previously for my Recovery Rocks interview series. Amy just has one of those jaw-dropping stories of recovery. Her story is so extraordinary that she was featured on Oprah’ Life class with Iyanla Vanzant.

Amy Baumgardner with Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant

Amy Baumgardner with Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant

Amy lost all sight of what was important to her and her drinking took over, one day she packed her kids into the car and drove them whilst she was drunk. She hit a tree and the accident left her 5-year-old in a critical condition. This was the beginning of the end for Amy, finally realizing she had a problem she began the long painful and guilt-ridden task of getting sober. But how does a family recover from this? How does a husband forgive his wife for almost killing their child? How does a mother forgive herself? How can you repair a marriage with this kind of devastation and pain?
The answer is you can. Which is why Matt and Amy wrote their book, it documents the almost destruction of their marriage and family, and how through faith, love and forgiveness they managed to put it back together.
After reading their amazing book I had questions for Matt and Amy which they very kindly answered here:
1) What motivated you to write the book?
Amy: For me, healing! I needed to get my story out of me. When I was in rehab I remember grabbing anything that I could get my hands on to help me understand what was happening. I needed to hear the journey of other women, other mothers who had done the unimaginable and learn how they battled their addiction and guilt while living sober. I was desperate to have answers. After I was sober for about a year I decided that my story was exactly what I had been searching for so I felt I had an obligation, or a call to action to share it.

Matt: Amy was the one who made this idea of writing a book happen. She had begun journaling about the past several years after she came home from rehab. I figured, hey, if this keeps her happy, focused, and off of a bar stool, then I’m all for it. Amy would sit for hours just writing. It gave her something to fill her time with besides alcohol. Her journaling led to her beginning to blog and share some of our story on recovery/addiction-type websites. This led to blogging on Oprah’s website, which led to producers asking us to do the show. It was after the show, in our green-room that Oprah came back to thank us and chat for about 10 minutes. It was at that time that Oprah made the comment that our story should be made into a book. Amy always thought it would be neat to write a book, but I think the final nudge came from Oprah.

2) The book is very raw and honest, how hard was it to sit down and remember the past and get it on paper? Where you worried what other people would think?
Amy: In the beginning of my recovery I worried about what everyone thought. But the more time I had in recovery the more I wasn’t worried about what other people were going to think. I was more concerned about how my children would be treated by those who read the book and didn’t understand mine and Matt’s intention behind sharing our story. Throughout the entire process Matt and I both agreed that we needed to be as honest and direct about our story as possible. Otherwise, what was the point? Our intention was to give Hope to anyone who found themselves in a similar relationship and situation. We aspired to inspire others to tell the truth about their own relationships and how addiction may be affecting it.

Matt: It was difficult, yet therapeutic. It forced us to bring up and discuss some really difficult memories and events. However, looking back, that was a blessing. As a couple, we were forced to have some difficult conversations between the two of us, which in the end, has strengthened our marriage. Yes, initially I worried about what people would think, especially those in our town, my colleagues, our family/friends. However, that has faded. We have been pleasantly surprised with how supportive most have been. Amy gets positive comments from people all over the world now via social media.

Matt and Amy Baumgardner

Matt and Amy Baumgardner

3) One of the things about the book that really stood out for me is how honest you both were. I’m interested in why Matt decided to give his marriage another shot after Amy had put him through so much.

I wasn’t willing to give my marriage another shot in the beginning. Even though Amy had come home from rehab, I still had my mind made up. In my thinking, I had to keep my children safe from this “time-bomb” that would eventually cause greater harm. I didn’t think Amy had any chance of staying sober. So, I prepared for mine, and the children’s life without Amy. I had visited a divorce lawyer while Amy was in rehab and had discussed/given her all of the necessary info to file the paperwork for divorce. Having Amy living back at home after rehab was very cold. I didn’t speak to her and made sure I was home the least amount of time as possible. Looking back, that was a mistake I regret today. I really feel terrible about abandoning her at the time she probably needed the most support. I should have fought for my bride at that moment, but instead I let anger and fear blind me from what a supportive husband should have been doing. It took several months, but eventually I noticed small changes in Amy. Things like, rolling around of the floor tickling the kids, cooking a nice dinner for us, running/working out. These are all small things, but they were things that Amy had stopped doing during her drinking. In those days, if Amy was home, she was passed out in her bedroom recovering from a hangover. She would want to be left alone.

4) Amy – after your accident you tell of how you were almost shunned in your hometown, has that changed now people have seen you sober?

Amy: Yes and No. The greatest change has been my perception of the accident and my alcoholism. Because of this, I’m no longer affected by what others think of me. I imagine people can appreciate my sobriety and the years I have accumulated in recovery. Even my harshest critic can’t deny me that but for the most part I think the people are just on to the next train wreck, while others may be patiently waiting my derailment. I try to focus on Matt and the kids, always.

My mantra is “Living Sober is the Best Amends”.

5) How do you talk to your children about what happened?
Amy: We have been extremely open with our kids about my addiction, the accident, and the pathology of our family. We want our kids to hear the facts of our story from us. I have taken the time to rebuild trust with them and doing that meant having the patience to let them mature and understand just how serious the accident and my addiction are. They are still learning, they still have questions and Matt and I are continuously reassuring them that our family is intact.

Matt: Gavin and Madison are very aware of what happened. At the time of the accident they didn’t know why mommy ran off the road and into a tree. But, within a few days I told them. I probably told them in a way that I hoped would make them angry at their mommy, which in turn would make the pending divorce easier on them. Obviously, not one of my finer moments as a father. Since then, we have been very open with them about the effects of alcohol on an individual, what can happen, etc. Now, when I have conversations with them about Amy’s past drinking, I remind them about how proud they should be for their mommy. Madison seems to have held on to the memories of the accident the most, in fact, she will remind me if she sees me drinking a beer at a picnic/gathering that I have to drive later.

6) As your children get older what will you tell them about alcohol?

Amy: I talk to my kids about drinking. I let them know that there is definitely going to come a time in their lives where they feel they are mature enough to experiment. And that’s ok. What I don’t want, is them growing up knowing that Mommy had a problem and never understanding why. We talk about addiction and how they are just as susceptible as I was to becoming an alcoholic. It’s not meant to scare them, it’s meant to show them that it can and it does happen.

Matt: I sort of touched on this in the last question. I have explained to them that drinking alcohol as an adult is fine if done carefully. I don’t want the kids associating alcohol with “bad people”. I don’t want them seeing their grandfather, aunt, daddy, etc. enjoying a beverage and think they are doing something wrong. I do want them to realize that when they are old enough, they have a decision to make, however that decision must be made carefully and responsibly.

7) Amy – how did you start the process of forgiving yourself?
Amy: Forgiving myself took patience and time. The longer I had in recovery, the more I began to believe that what I had done was forgivable. For the longest time I held on to my guilt as a way to punish myself and prove to everyone around me that I was sorry for what I had done. After a while I learned to let go of the guilt. I learned that my past actions do not define who I am. I gradually began to view the accident as a positive. I was fortunate that my daughter survived, my marriage was back on track and that I was living sober one day at a time. I started to be grateful for all that was happening in my life around me, in that moment. I stopped looking at my past for validation that I was a horrible mother and wife and started looking at it as the stepping stool I needed to become the person I was created to be. I took the lesson and I applied what I learned to my life. This was how I was able to move forward and forgive myself.

8) Another thing that struck me about your book was how normal binge drinking was in your peer group and culture. Looking back do you think there could have been any information or intervention that would have helped you get help earlier?
Amy: I think I surrounded myself with a select group that was saturated with booze but I don’t think the direction of my life could have been any different regardless. The disease was dormant inside of me. Looking back, I can see that now.

9) What is your message to other families suffering from alcoholism?
Amy: Faith, Hope and Forgiveness are the three main elements to living a sober life. Recovery is an option and it can be obtained. Most importantly, it is possible to have the life you always imagined.

Matt: Ask for help. You have to realize that it may take a small army to support/help someone with an addiction. One person can’t help by themselves. That’s where I screwed up. I thought I could handle my wife’s problem on my own. I was embarrassed to let my parents, friends, etc. find out how much of a mess my family life had become. As I talked about in our book, there is no divorce on either side of my family, which includes seven aunt/uncle couples. So, I felt ashamed to possibly be the first husband in our family that couldn’t manage his own family. Again, looking back, big mistake. I let my ego get in the way of what needed to be done.

10) What does the future look like for both of you?
Amy: I am happy! I feel more alive and in love than ever. Matt and I have started a foundation called 4Give which helps advocate for families in recovery. We are working on our second book together. We are focused on our children and each other.

Matt: We have begun to speak publicly about our story at marriage conferences, treatment centers, etc. We have also started a non-profit, The 4 Give Foundation, that will help keep families, with addiction problems, intact. Money raised will go to fathers or mothers whom are fighting addiction and need additional funds to complete their rehab. Many insurance companies only cover a short amount of time of inpatient treatment. Through the 4 Give Foundation, we will select mothers/fathers, whom are married with children, and pay for the completion of their inpatient treatment. The future looks bright for us. It feels great to help others who are going through what we did. It is also a great way for the two of us to continually strengthen our marriage. We get to work on a common goal/project, which includes traveling and spending time together. Our goal is to build 4 Give into an internationally recognized non-profit foundation. We also look to continue to share our story of Faith, Hope, and Forgiveness with any person/couple whom are willing to listen and want to receive help in their struggle with addiction.

Matt and Amy Baumgardner

Matt and Amy Baumgardner

You can buy matt and Amy’s book on Barnes and Nobleand

Book Review: ‘Guts the Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster’ by Kristen Johnston

A while ago someone pressed a copy of ‘Guts’ into my hands, with the admonishment that I ‘had to read this immediately.’
So I promptly put it on my shelf and forgot about it.
Having recently had a baby, the only books I was interested in were; ‘How the f**k do I get this kid to sleep’ variety.

But after meeting the author on Twitter (where else) I decided to pick it up.
You’ll know Kristen Johnston from her hit shows ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ and ‘The Exes.’ British readers will remember her as ‘Ivana Humpalot’ in the Austin Powers movies and for a hysterical cameo in ‘Sex and the City.’

Me reading 'GUTS.' Ask KJo about the finger.

Me reading ‘GUTS.’ Ask KJo about the finger.

As this book is written by a comic actress you would rightly expect it to be very funny. It is a funny book, however I actually found the jokes to be a distraction in the first few pages.
I felt like Kristen Johnston was giving the reader the version of herself she thought they expected, and she didn’t want to let them down.
I wondered if this is how Johnston is when you first meet her in person. That she uses humor as her armor, creating an illusion of openness and intimacy, which actually deflected you from seeing who she really was or what was really going on.

If you are looking for a ‘celebrity memoir,’ with funny anecdotes about famous people, you are going to be disappointed.
Johnston barely touches on her upbringing, rise to fame or acclaimed career as an actress. They are mentioned in passing; instead the book is an invitation into the soul of an addict as they battle their fear and denial.

There were two parts of the book in particular that made me shudder with recognition.
The first is where she describes witnessing her brothers bullying.
With no means of voicing her feelings, she violently lashes out at one of his tormentors.
Describing this as one of her many ‘ill advised decisions.’ I felt it was actually a truthful reaction to extraordinary pain. She had no other way to express how she felt except violence.
Her feelings were demanding a release.
This type of irrational, compulsive behavior is ‘normal’ in someone who has learnt to protect their inner world, by building a wall around themselves.
It should therefor come as no surprise, that this little girl grew up to become addicted to ‘pain pills’ as an adult. It was inevitable that she was going to have to find a way, to numb the pain of feelings she could never dare express.

The second incident that touched me, is when the first crack in her wall first begins to show. Johnston has been admitted to a hospital in England for life saving surgery, when her intestines literally burst from all the drugs she had been taking. Because she is in so much pain and can barely move, she has to ask a nurse to help her wash her hair.
As an adult, she realizes this is the first time she has ever asked anyone for help.
By this point in the book, her loneliness and isolation are palpable, and the simple act, of another human being tenderly washing her, is almost heart breaking.
It’s clear that Johnston has never let anyone in and the sheer thought of it terrifies her.

The reason this book should be compelling reading for any addict or alcoholic, is just how much Johnston reveals of the inner life of an addict.
She rightfully claims to being completely unoriginal in her feelings and behavior, her experience of addiction is just like anyone else’s.
Addicts will do anything to prevent anyone seeing who they really are, they will fight tooth and nail to defend the wall they have built around themselves. Johnston is certainly no different.

Like many addicts Johnston paints a picture of determined self-reliance.
Believing she can just power through anything with her grit and determination. Unwilling and unable to face up to her reality, I believe it was no coincidence that her body finally forces her to see what her mind refuses to.
Thousands of miles away from home, friends and family; unable to work, she could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and contemplate how things have ended up this way.
Too weak to fight and with no distractions, the wall she had built around herself slowly begins to crack.

“I suppose I was also grieving for the loss of the unfeeling, jokey, impenetrable me.”

Inevitably when that wall cracks; grief, loss and loneliness flood in. Johnston shares all of this with the reader. Then, for someone who has determinedly hidden her true self from the world, she begins to discover who she really is, for the very first time. Vulnerable, scared and very lost she begins the journey back to herself.
The miracle of recovery is, that despite everything we have believed about ourselves, who we really are is glorious. We don’t need to hide or be alone anymore because who we really are is just fine. This book convinces you that if Kristen Johnston can discover this, then so can you.

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

Because of her stature, Johnston has often been referred to as ‘Amazonian.’ The description fits her not because of her height, but because she is a warrior.
Guts is the account of a lone warrior battling to stay in denial before finally waging the courageous battle of sobriety.
It is a privileged glimpse into her inner world and I hope very much that this warrior has finally found her tribe.

Recovery Rocks – Kristen Johnston

Recovery Rocks is thrilled to welcome two-time Emmy award winner Kristen Johnston.

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

In the 90’s Kristen starred as Sally Solomon in the hit show ‘3rd Rock from the Sun.’ But despite a long and acclaimed career as an actress on stage and screen, Kristen was battling a life threatening addiction to pain pills and alcohol. Now six and a half years sober, she recently wrote a book called ‘Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny triumphs of a Giant Disaster’ chronicling her illness, rock bottom and journey into sobriety.

Despite what some people tried to tell her, Kristen’s career has flourished since she got clean and sober. She is currently starring in the hit TV show ‘The Exes’ on TVLand.
Since getting sober Kristen has founded and is the Executive Director of SLAM (Sobriety, Learning And Motivation).
SLAM’s goal is to see that NYC build’s it’s first, and desperately needed, sober high school. There are over 25 such schools flourishing across the US—FOUR in the Boston area ALONE.
Kristen is determined to start a school in New York, If you want to learn more about SLAM, you can do so here. More importantly if you want to support SLAM, click here.
I will be writing more about SLAM in a later post, sign up for notifications if you want to learn more about sober high schools..

Sobriety is Kristen’s passion, sick of the shame and secrecy that surrounds addiction and alcoholism, she has consiously decided to speak out about her experiences in order to help others do the same.
Which is also why she took part ‘The Anonymous People’ Greg Williams stunning documentary about addiction.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
Hmmm…well, since my entire book ‘Guts’ is about that, I won’t go into too much detail. Let’s just say that due to a prolonged love affair with Vicodin & red wine, unbeknownst to me I had developed a gastric ulcer. I was doing ‘Love Song’ with Cillian Murphy on the West End in London and all through rehearsals I felt (and looked) just awful. Puffy and miserable with a vicious case of heartburn.

After opening night, my guts ripped open & I became septic. Meaning my guts were leaking stuff out into my body. It sucked, badly. I was in the hospital (or as you Brits like to say “in ‘ospital”) for two months. Chelsea Westminster, for those who care.

Why don’t I just let GUTS: 
(This is after a night of absolute horror and indescribable agony in my Flat near Kings’ Road. I finally got to ‘ospital and after about thirty or forty shots of morphine, I finally felt some relief. )

“I don’t know how long I snuggled into my downey-soft morphine duvet, but suddenly the mood in the ward shifted. “Something’s happening” I thought to myself just as a team of about 10 impossibly serious looking people rounded the corner. It took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize that they were coming towards me. Which was baffling, until I realized that the hospital must have finally realized that ‘Ivana Humpalot’ was in their very hospital, and that they had quickly assembled an impressive-looking welcoming committee to apologize for their previous unpleasantness. I smiled forgivingly.

The group took formation around my bed, a well-practiced ballet designed to impress. A few of them looked like they had just started grade school. Not one of them looked older than 23. That is, with the very notable exception of their leader. As he walked towards me, I have this fuzzy and hopefully untrue memory of my jaw dropping open. (Oh dear God, please tell me I shut it at some point.) He reach out his gorgeous hand to shake my and introduced himself. This man was so elegant, darkly stunning, and breathtakingly handsome, I instantly thought of one of those impossibly perfect heroes found only in one of those Danielle Steele novels my sister used to beg me to read aloud. “His icy eyes focused on her pillowy lips and suddenly she knew she was his, forever….” We could easily spend an entire Saturday afternoon doing this, laughing until our faces hurt.

Not sure how long I was lost in this memory, but I slowly realized his pillowy lips were moving. Whoopsies, he’s talking and seeing as I was committed to making our relationship work, I decided to listen to his soft yet commanding voice. I missed the beginning, and most of it was medical lingo that flew over my addled mind, but I’ll give you the gist….
“…….ulcer for quite a long time. I’m surprised you haven’t experienced more discomfort before this. Regardless, this has caused an erosion of the gastrointestinal wall, which has led to your intestinal content spilling into your abdominal cavity. We call this ACUTE PERITONITIS, which is the reason for the sudden onset of your intense abdominal pain. To be blunt, Ms. Johnston, you could die at any moment.”
My smile faltered. This wasn’t at all what I expected. And where’s the cheese plate?

“We must perform a very risky surgery, called a GASTRECTOMY, to fix this. We are rushing you ahead of
all other patients. We will try to fix this problem with ARTHROSCOPIC SURGERY, meaning, through 5 incisions around your stomach. However, there is a very good chance this won’t work and then we’ll have to cut you open with a rather large incision across your stomach. Clearly, we’d like to avoid that if we can, for obvious reasons.”

Obviously. I nodded in total agreement. He then looked around at his minions who immediately murmured words of agreement.

“Ms. Johnston, I suggest you let your loved ones know.” 
I smiled dreamily at him.
He leaned forward and looked at me seriously. “Do you have any questions?” “Ummmm…Yep, no, I’m good”
This seemed to disappoint him. He held forward something to sign and I eagerly scribbled the signature of a drunken toddler. His face remained blank.
“Yes. Well, Ms. Johnston. See you very soon.”
“Ok, Bye Bye.” I’m pretty sure I waved. I hope to God I didn’t wink. And with a whoosh, they were gone.
I sighed, in love. I wondered If I looked hot. I’m pretty sure not, because when I coyly reached up to fluff my hair, I found it to be rock-hard with the remnants of last evening’s detritus.
Aww, puke-mousse. Bummer. “
And you thought the name of my book referred to what a badass I am.

2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
I spent them in a rehab, and I walked in a terrified, angry, lying, self-despising mess and I left a terrified, open, hopeful, weepy human being. It was, without question, the best decision I ever made. I really do consider it my birth–I was a 38 year-old baby. 
Now, what few people tell you is that staying sober in rehab is easy.

It’s staying sober in the world that is so, so difficult. 
People read GUTS and write me all the time, hundreds of thousands of people, hoping I can give them that one trick, one idea, one way of staying sober. And I can’t. There is no one way. For some, meetings save their lives. For others, yoga. Or therapy. Or service. Or religion. Or on & on.

I can say, the road is not easy. 
But I love myself now, which is a pretty profound thing for any addict in recovery to say. Early in my recovery, someone once said to me “In a few months, you’ll be able to say that your worst day sober is better than your best day using.”
I wanted to punch her. What a fucking dumb thing to say. 
But you know what? She was right.
 So who’s the dummy now?

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/ sober?
I’ve been in recovery for 6 1/2 years, and shallowly, I look much better. Plus I have a hit TV
show over here called ‘The Exes,’ which is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.
I wrote a book. By myself, with no help.
I’ve become an advocate for addiction reform. (If you told me I’d be an advocate for ANYTHING 6 years ago I would’ve laughed in your face).

I created and am executive director of a foundation, SLAM (Sobriety, Learning And Motivation), Our sole purpose is to see that NYC finally creates it’s first and desperately needed sober high school.

(There are over 25 such schools throughout the US. The Boston area alone has 4. Teens are being decimated by addiction, the CDC recently said 1 in 5 US teens meets the medical criteria to be an addict. If they’re lucky enough to go to rehab & then are sent to any school, the relapse rate is 90%. If a teen goes to a sober high school, 70% graduate drug & alcohol free.)
Last, and most importantly…I have my self-esteem back.

Kristen Johnston - SLAM NYC

Kristen Johnston – SLAM NYC

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
That’s a very tricky question, because while I certainly regret things that I did as an addict, It’s taken me years to let go of the terrible shame. 
I wouldn’t change a thing, because it brought me here today–and without all that pain, would I be the same person?
However, I speak to many addicts all the time, and what I probably tell them most often is:

It’s not your fault. I know it feels like your fault. I know everyone else tells you it’s your fault. I know everyone’s hurt & angry with you. I know you’ve done bad things. But the only thing within your control is seeking help to stop.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I’m much stronger than I pretended to be. 
That to live an honest life is possible. Difficult, but possible. All those years I thought I
excelled at bullshit? They can’t compare to how good I am at telling the truth.

I’m deeply flawed, and make so many mistakes. But I’m able to admit them and try to grow from them.
I love people. For the first time in 20 years, I like talking & interacting with people.

I still like toxic people, and I’m working so hard on this. 
I can write. 
I’m a good person

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
I hate all Recovery slogans. Ugh. I find them all so cliché. 
I feel like slogans can detract from the actual idea behind the slogan…many of which are true. So I make up my own version, just for me.
 Like I say in GUTS:
“Now, if you’re in a play and all you care about is where you’re getting loaded afterwards, that’s slightly worrisome. But if you can’t fucking wait for the fucking audience get over it and stop giving you a standing ovation already, because you’re dying to get to the bar? Well, then – that’s just a whole other kettle o’ crazy.
But it was all I knew, really. Plays were simply a conduit, an appetizer to the most important event of the entire day: getting hammered.
Nowadays when I’m in a play, the very first thing I do when we move into the theater is to grab a dark red lipstick (frosty pink just doesn’t have the same panache), and scrawl in my dressing room mirror my new mantra:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Shakespeare, ‘tis not. But that’s not the point. You see, it means something to me.
Besides, “One Day At A Time”, while an excellent motto, doesn’t really work for me. You’re more than welcome to borrow my mantra, but to be fair I must warn you about a very scary potential mind fuck – which really only applies if you’re a gay male and over forty.

Whatever you do, please try not to think of the poster for the film ‘The Main Event,‘ which showcases an tightly permed Barbra Streisand in one of the most nauseating costumes in all of celluloid history: boxing shorts over thick nude pantyhose.
Or, if you are a gay man over 40, perhaps that would help? Wait. Hold up. Am I a Gay man over 40?
Regardless, I make sure to write “THIS IS THE MAIN EVENT” as big as I can, so that as I get ready to go onstage, I will never again forget how lucky I am to be alive and able to do something I love with all my heart.”

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Well, since you already know of my aversion to slogans, I will say that I deeply respect your point: Life doesn’t end when you get sober.
In fact, it’s just the beginning. 
How much more time do you want to waste worried about how to get a refill, or what you said to your boss on the phone last night, or why your life is so miserable?

Here’s a clue: It ain’t where you live, what you do, who you hang out with, your mate or your family. IT’S YOUR ADDICTION. 
And the solution is as both easy and difficult as this: get help.