Stephanie Noble: Addiction, Shame, Spirituality & Recovery Through Mindfulness
Stephanie - @noblewillow
I'm Stephanie and I am in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and I'm obsessed with the insanely beautiful mountains that surround us here. My interests include meditation, working out, hanging out with my wonderful fiance and my adorable pups, and anything that takes me outside. I am a mindfulness guru, a substance use disorder counselor, and a life coach. My passion for recovery and mindfulness has shaped my career and personal life in the most magical ways!
Now I'll take you back to when my life wasn't so magical...
I had my first drink at 16. Looking back now, I had a problem with it from the start. The feeling it gave me was something I had never felt before. I felt as though all the anxiety and worries of my life melted away and I was free. I always wanted more of that feeling, which meant wanting more alcohol. When I was 21 it got really bad. Not only did I drown my soul in the booze, I brought drugs into the equation. I was addicted to 'more' and I was convinced the only way to go through life was to numb out my feelings so I wouldn't have to face anything. I knew I had a problem. I wanted to stop. I tried many times with no success. It got worse. Much worse. That's the thing I know without a doubt now. Addiction never gets better. Ever. It only gets worse. I also know without a doubt that recovery always gets better. Always.
From the age of 21 to 28, I had many rock bottoms. Overdoses. Jail. Multiple rehab stints. Hopelessness. Heartache... and then the Spiritual Awakening. I can't explain what happened that day on August 22nd, 2015. Maybe my soul had had enough. Maybe the Universe was sick of seeing me suffer and fall on my face. Maybe I wasn't supposed to be one of the ones that die from this disease. Whatever happened, I was finally free. Real freedom. I knew it was going to take a lot of work, but I knew it would be worth it because my life depended on it. So I went back to treatment. First to residential (again) for 60+ days. Then to Intensive Outpatient Treatment (again) for 60+ days. Then aftercare for 2+ years. Everyday since then I have been free and everyday since then I am working on my recovery in one way or another.
The biggest obstacles I faced were dealing with the shame of what my life had become. Looking in the mirror and wondering what happened to me? What happened to the girl that loved music and poetry? The one that had big dreams for herself? WHAT HAPPENED to her? How did it get so bad? How did I lose my way? Unraveling the story of my past and facing the consequences of my addiction was devastating. The sleepless nights my mom had wondering if she would get a phone call telling her that her baby girl died from this disease? The broken trust between my loved ones. How would I deal with all of that? How would I deal with life on life's terms now that I actually had to FEEL the emotions that I was drowning for 7 years? "BREATHE Stephanie", is what I would whisper to myself at least a thousand times a day. One step at a time. One day at a time. I did it. I showed up. I did the work. The HARD work. The work that makes you look deeply into every corner of your soul so you can ensure the recovery is stronger than the addiction was. The work of warriors.
Since I got sober, my life has improved in every aspect. I am present. I can show up for myself and my loved ones. I am a person of integrity. I am healthy in mind, body and soul. I have meaningful relationships. I have deep compassion for people and for myself. I am able to live my life fully and I am deeply in love with life again. I love myself, which is something that I never thought was possible. I love that I am a loyal, honest, hard-working person and I love that I get to help others heal and love themselves again too. It is priceless.
The one skill that helped me stay the course throughout my journey was mindfulness. To be aware of my thoughts. To breathe space between me and my thoughts and to let them go. I do not have to act on my thoughts. I do not have to believe them. I can be the observer of them and choose my behaviors wisely. I no longer react to life out of fear because of my mindfulness practice. I am purposeful in my actions and I SLOW down before responding to life. This has made all the difference. Recovery lives in my behaviors. My behaviors are a direct result of being mindful of my thoughts.
Addiction does not allow for spirituality to exist as it was meant to. While in my addiction I had no connection to my spirituality. I was devoid of any soulful connection to anything. I lived in fear. Faith cannot live where fear resides. Now that I am sober, I am spiritually connected to everything. To nature. In my relationships. With my sweet puppies. With myself. With the Universe. My recovery depends on my spiritual connection so it is my priority to nourish it daily.
Some of the tools I have used in my recovery are:
Everything and anything mindfulness-related
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
Refuge Recovery by Noah Levine
Any book by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness and the 12 Steps by Therese Jacobs-Stewart
If I could describe sobriety in 3 words I would say: "I am free"
What else do people need to know about addiction and recovery?
Addiction is truly a miserable place to be. It is soul-crushing. For the addict/alcoholic, for the loved ones, for everyone involved. There is help out there. You are not alone. All it takes is honesty, willingness, and a whole lot of action. Recovery is for the ones who DO it. The ones who put in the work. Addiction lives in isolation and shame. Reach out. Tell somebody. Ask for help. Then use the willingness to start the journey. We are so lucky to live in a time where there are so many resources and so many avenues to recovery. Try everything until you find your thing. Find your people and connect with them. There is a tribe of people waiting for you... waiting to help you. Waiting to hug you. Waiting to tell you you are not alone.
** If you are sober, or curious about sobriety, we would love for you to join our Facebook group - Mindful Times Facebook Community for support, encouragement, accountability and questions.
Private Sobriety Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/511982812958932/