Conversation with Lara Frazier
A brand new Kitchen Table Conversation with Lara Frazier! This woman is beautifully brave and inspiring. I hope you enjoyed her story as much as I did. Lara Frazier describes herself as a healer & a truth-teller, a sobriety warrior & a pig mama. She is a love junkie & a writer, a student & a teacher. Lara shares a story of healing: in sobriety, in relationships, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Lara Frazier lives in Dallas, TX with her pig, Peaches and her pig daddy, Adam. She documents her story of healing in the most authentic and vulnerable way she knows how; through her own eyes and with her whole heart.
Kitchen Table Conversation with Lara Frazier
Hi Lara, I am so happy to have you come and talk at my kitchen table and share your loveliness! You inspire me and I absolutely love your voice and that you’re a pig mama – that rocks my world!!
Liv: You said in your video, ‘Tear off the Mask’ that you believe in being authentic and true to your story – what does authenticity look like to you?
Lara: I am so very honoured to be here. Peaches my pig, is creating quite a raucous right now because she doesn’t like when I am home and not sitting on the couch. She likes to cuddle in my lap, but she can’t stand the noise of the typing so I always have to move to the dining room in order to focus.
You are an inspiration to me. You are doing such big, brave, magical work and helping thousands of people by being so honest and open about your journey. It is such a privilege to be here with you.
I think, for me, being authentic means opening up all of yourself. It means not just sharing the pretty, joyful, admirable parts but the shitty parts as well. I think much of authenticity has to do with being able to be vulnerable. It means removing the mask of the ego, and opening up your soul. For so long, I hid the sensitive parts of myself. I didn’t want to admit to feeling lost or scared. I wanted to be brave and bold and successful and I wanted you to look up to me.
I used to value the words “I am proud of you” over the words “I love you.” So being authentic equates mostly to owning our stories and owning who we are. I have been through so much darkness, but it has brought me to this beautiful place of total-acceptance. I know that’s my past. I know I did bad things. I know I hurt people. I know I hurt myself. But, I am standing here today, in the present, owning all of myself. And that feels authentic.
Liv: Leading on from the last question, you said that felt when in AA you forget the uniqueness of your story – why do you think we should embrace our uniqueness?
Lara: I think I forgot the uniqueness of my own story because I heard so many other stories about addiction and alcoholism. It wasn’t just in the rooms of AA, it was in treatment, it was in sober livings, it was on the streets, it was in recovery conferences. You can forget who you are and lose yourself when you forget your own specialness and your own uniqueness.
I am still today working on my comparison issues. I compare myself to others. I think we all do. For me, it stems from my constant desire to live up to my uber-successful, talented, smart older sister. She made life look easy. And life wasn’t easy for me. I had to work very hard to achieve what I achieved.
However, I still need to be reminded of who I am. I need to remind myself of the beautiful talents and gifts that I have. There is no one in this entire world who has walked my path. There is no one in this whole world who has walked your path.
We each have our own individual stories and journeys and ways in which we grow and evolve. We don’t need to morph ourselves to fit into a mold of what a recovered person looks like or acts like. That is what I was trying to do in AA. I was trying to say the right thing and share the right thing and tell the right story about recovery. But, there is no perfect story. There is only our story. And that is what makes us unique and special.
Liv: You’ve talked reflecting on your high school years, when you craved popularity and validation and portrayed a sense of togetherness; how have those needs and what you portray changed in recovery? And can you explain how the support differs from validation?
Lara: Well, it was easy to portray a sense of togetherness when your world isn’t falling apart. I lost the ability to portray any sense of togetherness during my addiction. I fell apart. I broke open. I couldn’t keep it together, no matter how hard I tried. I think that led me into a case of the “fuck-its.” It was the anger that stems from addiction. It was the ability to desensitize yourself from anyone who cared about you.
I don’t think I ever stopped caring for other humans. But, I certainly stopped caring for myself. I had so many big dreams and ambitions when I was younger. I was incredibly talented in my earlier years. Talented in the way society wants you to be talented. I graduated from college in 3.5 years. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.82. I was on the Dean’s list every semester. I received an MBA from Pepperdine University at 23. I landed my dream job my second year of grad school and I was making almost six figures at 23 years old. I was doing very, very well for myself. But inside, I was dying.
There was always a pressure to achieve. It stems from so many variables. I don’t know if it was self-imposed or imposed by the culture and the society in which I was raised. But, it existed. And it existed so deeply that at the age of 16, I stole my sister’s ID, and got a Chinese symbol of the word ambition tattooed on my ass. Ambition was everything to me.
At some point in my recovery and even in the midst of my addiction, I discovered a God I never knew. I read spiritual texts. I discovered Sufism, and Buddhism, and A Course in Miracles, and Rumi. I discovered what was important to me. It wasn’t ambition. It was love and it was kindness. When I changed my values, my heart changed. I started caring more for people. I started caring more for myself. I had a purpose. It wasn’t to succeed. My purpose was to love.
I believe that when I re-evaluated my purpose in life, I started caring much less about what other people thought of me and I started caring much more about what God thought of me. My priorities were misaligned when I was younger. I wasn’t a horrible person at all. In fact, I believe I was well-liked. But I didn’t want to be liked for what I accomplished, or what my title was, or by how much money I made, or by what kind of car I drove, or by who I was dating. I wanted to be liked for who I truly was and for how I treated other humans.
When I became the person I am today, I discovered a tribe of like-minded people. I have people in my life who I care deeply about and who care deeply about me. I need their support. I don’t think this is validation, as much as it is love. I need the people who love me to remind me of who I am sometimes. There are points in my life when my ego creeps back in. There are points when I reflect on all I lost and forget to remember all I am. The support I need from this tribe is not validation, it is love. It is love in its purest form, all encompassing and unconditional.
Liv: You talk of your love of poetry, as a means of truth telling – what do you mean by that?
Lara: You ask the best questions. I feel like you read my diary and you know everything about me. I love poetry.
Today, poetry and art, in general, has been somewhat lost. It is not as valued as it once was. It’s not celebrated like it used to be. And that’s a little disappointing to me.
When I was eleven years old, I was in the midst of a sadness I had never experienced in my life. I started reading more and I used the internet to find a place of comfort. I discovered people who were writing about their own feelings of pain through poetry. They were being open and honest and they were able to share their deepest, darkest, secrets through a beautiful art form.
At sixteen years old, I was introduced to confessional poets like Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Sharon Olds. They were women writing about the deepest parts of their psyche and their soul. They were women opening up about pain and moments of sex and love and trauma.
I instantly fell in love with Sharon Olds. She is still my favourite poet of all times. I have every single one of her books and I read them all throughout my life, through my addiction and into my recovery. I’ve actually written poems to Sharon Olds many times and her words are always engraved in what I write.
In Sharon Olds, I saw a woman standing up for her life and owning her story. And not only did she own her story, but she put it out there, she put her truth out to the public and it was well-received. She was vulnerable and honest and she wrote without regard of what others may think. And in writing her own truths, she helped thousands of other women and led them to believe that they could write their truths as well. I think of Sharon Olds as a hero and an angel; the ultimate truth-teller. The greatest truth-teller of all time. This is what poetry is about. Truth-telling.
Liv: I really identify with the leap of faith you have taken in launching your site and the courage you have shown in leaving your job to devote to it. You mention that you had previously been motivated by material wealth, and status, but today that is not the case. What would you say drives you today?
Lara: I wish I could say I left my job to pursue my writing, but that is not the case. I left my job because my integrity and emotional sobriety were at jeopardy if I continued on with the company I was employed by.
The biggest thing that motivates me today is meaningful work. It is the true belief in the company’s purpose and mission. As a marketing professional, I cannot and will not market a product or service in which I don’t believe in or connect with. I just can’t do it. It’s no longer in my nature. When I was younger, I was able to market and sell almost anything. I was talented because I didn’t understand or know my core values. I knew about achievements and wealth and status. Today, love and kindness and empathy motivate me.
Liv: One of the many things I find quite enlightening about you is that whilst you acknowledge the difficulties you’ve experienced in your alcoholism, because of the work you have done, your perception of these days is one of lesson learning, enabling you to be a story teller and getting to a place of total acceptance. How has your perception of yourself changed with the work that you have undertaken?
Lara: This is a great question. And I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I just finished reading “This is How” by Augusten Burroughs and there is a chapter titled “How to Be Confident.” He says you are basically most confident by not caring about confidence. In not carrying about confidence, you don’t worry about how you appear to others and what others think of you. You don’t question yourself. You can’t learn confidence. It’s engraved in you.
I believe that I had a strong sense of confidence when I was younger. Some may call it naivety. I believed in myself. When I wanted something, I made it happen. I worked my ass off. I moved to Los Angeles, and achieved everything I had set out to achieve. I achieved everything that people told me would not be possible. I made it happen because I believed in myself. I was confident.
But, I was confident because of my success. So in the end, when I quit my dream job and ended an engagement, and got fired from another job – I no longer identified as successful. I identified more with failure. I had never really experienced failure when it came to my education or my career. It was never part of my story. And then it was.
So my self-esteem was lowered. I was weak. I didn’t know how to deal with this type of pain. And then in the avoidance of pain, I started abusing my prescriptions and drinking much heavier than I ever have in my whole life. I lost myself in the avoidance of pain.
It is safe to assume that as someone who is heavily addicted to narcotics, you do things that you would never have done before. You become someone else in order to protect your true soul. You armour yourself and you desensitize yourself.
When the fog lifted and I was able to see clearly, I no longer saw myself the way I used to. I saw darkness and someone I didn’t like. It was hard for me to grasp how I ended up in the place I did. I thought it unfair at first. I did the self-pity thing and felt sorry for myself.
When I started taking accountability for my own life, I became much stronger. I had made bad decisions. I couldn’t outsmart addiction. I think as I grew more connected to my highest self, I began to value myself for who I was, as oppose to what I achieved.
I don’t see myself as this uber-successful MBA with a corner office, owning people and taking names. That’s not me anymore. And I’m glad. Because I am finally at peace. I am at peace with who I am and I am making a difference in people’s lives. In healing myself, I can heal others.
And maybe I am not so confident in that older version of myself, but I am completely confident in the work I do today.
Service is the true privilege of life.
Liv: In your mission, you say ‘I am here to help you. I am here to free you. I am here to heal you.’ What does that look like?
Lara: I think this is a theme that I have continually talked about throughout this interview. So, I am just going to leave this quote here. I think it makes the most sense.
“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.”- Iyanla Vanzant
Liv: Why is it important we tell our stories and be true?
Lara: It is important we tell our stories and be true, because we must. There is no better way to heal than being honest about what has happened to you. The concept of truth is the key to freedom.
When I can talk openly and truthfully about what has occurred in my life, the power is removed. It doesn’t own me anymore. I’m not saying you have to tell your story publicly, but I think it’s important to tell our stories to a community or a tribe of like-minded people. I think this is why people find so much comfort in 12 step rooms, but there are a variety of ways to own our truth.
For me personally, I recover out loud. And it’s incredibly important to me. It is my work and my purpose. And this is why I had issues with the 12 step fellowship and AA. Because people kept telling me that I was breaking tradition by speaking about my experience with the 12 steps. I didn’t want to disrespect the group so I stopped talking about AA in general when I spoke publicly. However, now that I don’t identify as a member of any 12 step fellowship, I feel free to speak about my experience in hopes that it will benefit someone else.
Here are a few Brene Brown quotes that I love. They speak to the concept of truth and owning our stories.
“You either step inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
Liv: Tell me about peaches and your experience of being a pig mama?
Lara: Ha. You are really a great interviewer. I just love your questions. Even though you are on the other side of the world, I feel like you really know me. And that’s a beautiful thing. And it once again speaks to how powerful it is to recover out loud and tell our stories in bravery and truth.
Anyway, I have a mini-pig named Peaches. She is the light of my life. I have always, always loved pigs. Like, I am that girl that collects pig figurines and piggy banks. That’s me. When I was newly sober, and re-integrating myself back into the world I started seeing posts about mini-pigs. I thought they were the cutest things ever and I had to have one. I don’t remember this but when I went on my first date with my boyfriend, I told him I wanted a mini-pig. He shrugged it off, and kind of forgot about it. But, I didn’t. When we were able to move out of an apartment and into a home, we decided to add a little addition to the home. And her name was Peaches.
She is really nothing like a dog. She is more like a toddler. She is very motivated by food. And she’s an owner oriented animal. But, she loves us to death. She sleeps in our bed and she loves to cuddle. She follows me around the house and gets very upset when I am working from home. Because, like I said earlier, she doesn’t like the sound of typing so she’ll move around and grunt and snort at me. Thus, I am forced to move to the table to be able to focus. And she is just such a lover that she wants to be in my lap, all the time.
She uses a litter box. She has a stroller. She’s not good on the leash, at all. But, if you train your pig when they are young, they can walk on leashes. She is almost one years old and she is the size of a French bulldog. You can follow her on Instagram @peachesthepiggy. Oink Oink.
Liv: Last, I love to ask this of all the people I interview: what are your top five recovery tools/strategies/tips?
Lara: I will share what works for me and I don’t expect this to work for everyone. But, these are my top tools.
1. Prayer/Spiritual Ritual: I found long term sobriety through the 12 steps, thus the concept of a higher power is ingrained in me. When I started praying, my life changed. For the better. In every way.
I talk about spirituality in another post with you regarding 12 Artists who Inspired our Recovery. But, when I was four months sober, I purchased the book The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks. I had heard of Rumi because of poetry classes I had taken in the past. I know today, he is all over social media, but I didn’t learn of him in that way. When I purchased his book, I was having a very rough time with the concept of God and/or a higher power. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t imagine a God that would forgive me or relieve me of any obsession. I didn’t think it possible. But Rumi re-defined my conception of God and spirituality. And I credit his work to my belief and acceptance of God and a higher power.
2. Podcasts and Recovery Blogs: I left my AA homegroup over five months ago. It was a difficult decision and it was very hard on me. My entire life revolved around the 12 steps. My social circle existed in these groups. And at the time, I also worked for a treatment center that promoted the 12 steps. However, after listening to podcasts, and reading blogs, and books, and watching recovery conferences, I started questioning my beliefs.
As someone who no longer identifies as a member of AA, I very much relate to a variety of the podcasts and blogs that are out in the recovery community. It connects me to my truth, and reminds me what I can’t fuck with. I will say that the HOME Podcast with Holly Glenn Whitaker of Hip Sobriety and Laura McKowen changed my life. For the better. In every way.
3. Service: I strongly believe in the concept of one alcoholic helping another. Or one person who has overcome their addiction helping another who is still struggling. It is the best truth of the 12 steps. “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” I will never ever forget this step. It is integrated into every aspect of my life.
One of the most beautiful things that I experienced in creating my website was hearing from a person who struggled with the same mental health issue as I do. I talk about this openly on my website, but I have seemingly permanent brain damage because of my drug abuse. Without medication, I can hear voices and get paranoid. It is very rare to find someone who struggles with psychosis because of drug abuse. We talk about our terrifying and beautiful truths and I have found a penpal and lasting connection with this person. We help each other and we heal each other.
4. Self Care: I take care of myself. My most favourite thing in the world is my sacred bath time. I get in my bathtub, pour Epsom salts, essential oils, and add a Lush bathbomb and I chill. Sometimes I mediate, sometimes I pray. Most often, I reflect. Baths bring me to a beautiful place of self-reflection. They are the best self-care tool I know. (But, massages are bomb too. I love those.)
5. Gratitude/Thankfulness/Empowerment: Gratitude is the key to joy. I think this is well-known in the recovery world. I always remember to be grateful. Most every night, I envision where I used to be and I look at where I am at today. And that is the miracle. I know I am a miracle. I don’t forget this truth.
I also think it’s incredibly important to express our gratitude to others. I strongly believe in the power of lifting others up. I say thank you A LOT. I give compliments A LOT. It’s not insincere and it is actually, the most genuine thing I do. I appreciate people. I tell them how amazing they are. I tell them I love them. I lift them up. I think it’s so important to express gratitude for our lives, but we also must express our gratitude for the presence of others in our lives. I would not be where I am today, without the people who light up my world. And I never forget that either.
Liv: Thank you so so much for sharing your truth!
Lara: Thank you so much for the work you do Olivia. I am so impressed with you. You really ask amazing questions and I felt like I was chatting with someone who has known me for years. It’s an honor to be featured on your site and to be able to share my truth and my story with others. Thank you so very much. This was such a pleasure. I adore you.