Conversation with Lauren Yoder
This week Liv has a Kitchen Table Conversation with Lauren Yoder. Lauren is a recovering alcoholic/addict, sober since 2/10/14 and based in Illinois. She is married and together they have 2 beautiful children. She grew up in “normal” home, went to church on Sundays, got A’s and B’s in school, was swift over the hurdles in track, and could have gotten a scholarship until she decided to take senior skip day. She was then kicked off the track team. She started smoking and drinking more. Which continued into a downward spiral for the next 18 years. Depression, anxiety, cutting, drinking, using then selling drugs. It finally ended with a car flipping and running into a house, and treatment.
Kitchen Table Conversation
Hi Lauren, thanks so much for contacting Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, connecting and sharing your journey. I love hearing powerful stories of recovery!
Liv: In your blog, you describe your journey into recovery coming about following a family ultimatum; how did that feel and why did you choose recovery?
Lauren: I had hit my bottom. But you have thought that car accident was my bottom. I didn’t go to treatment until 2 weeks after that. I still had vodka hidden in the rental car. I knew I needed help, I wanted it, yet I didn’t. Once I finally went, it felt good, mentally. The physical part sucked. I chose recovery for me, and for my family. My daughter had said to me before, “I want my real mommy back.” That’s hard for me to say today. But I wasn’t really there before. I isolated a lot. She was 6 at the time. When I went to treatment, I told her I was going to be gone for a little while, but I was going to see some doctors, and they were going to help me get better so she could have her real mommy back. She was ok with that. 🙂 Today we have a great relationship.
Liv: I love the starkness in your poem ‘I Quit’:
these drinking days.
these deceitful ways.
of chasing highs.
this life of lies.
[Liv] How does dishonesty feature in the disease of addiction, for you?
Lauren: I remember the insanity of trying to keep all the lies straight. Trying to remember who I told what to. I would tell my husband one thing, my mom another, and my boss another, hoping they wouldn’t talk to each other. Almost everything I did was based on a lie. I lied to get what I wanted, and I had to keep that lie going for it to make sense. It was a snowball effect. Once you keep telling the lies over and over, you start to believe them yourself. One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Life is so much easier now. Whatever comes out of my mouth is the truth. I don’t have to remember anything, or keep things straight. It is what it is.
Liv: You shared that you flew 1900 miles to California for detox, and that the professionals described your detox as one of the worst they’d ever seen; can you describe what that was like?
Lauren: Well, I pretty much don’t remember a whole lot of the first few days. I know I was miserable. I don’t EVER want to do that again. Once I could get out of bed, every muscle in my body hurt. My right leg dragged a little the whole time I was there. When I got home, I was put on medicine for fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. The trauma put on my body from drinking then withdrawals had taken it’s toll. For months I ached, constant pain. I didn’t know if I would ever feel better. I was nauseous for a quite a while. I wasn’t used to eating. I had always drank my meals, so I had to get used to eating again. I was used to throwing up 10 times a day, so it wasn’t anything new, but it was different when you were sober. Each day there got a little better, but it I was still in pain 45 days later when I left. I will never forget that.
Liv: Your book, 100 days [sober], is a collection of journal entries during your early sobriety; how did writing a journal help with the process of entering recovery?
Lauren: In AA, I have learned, You have you give it away to keep it. Writing has always been a therapy for me. I figured if me sharing my experience, strength, and hope could help one person, it would be worth it. So I started a blog. I had already written my first book, From the Weeds, and had a few other ideas floating around in my head, but wanted to get it more “out there”, so I put the first 100 entries together into a book 100 Days (sober).
Liv: You wrote this book to ‘help lighten your burdens and heighten your joy as you go through life’s trials and triumphs’, through the sharing of your experience in overcoming life’s problems; how have you learned to approach ‘life on life’s terms’? What key strategies have you practiced?
Lauren: Let Go and Let God. That has to be the first one. I am always trying to take control. Sometimes I give God control, but soon enough I am grabbing back control. I have to give it to Him and let Him keep it. He knows best. He sees the big picture. Also, Keep it Simple. I am always overanalyzing things. I am always making mountains out of molehills. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. And just Trust God. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Liv: In the book, you share your progression in recovery and increased positivity; can you describe that journey? What would you describe as the key themes that you experienced in the ‘early’ days?
Lauren: I got involved in AA, got a sponsor, worked the steps, started chairing meetings, and started going to church again. My family and I made a bucket list of 75 things to do that 1st summer I was back from treatment. Sure enough we did them all! It was amazing just being able to spend quality time with my family. Time I had missed out, and wouldn’t get back. But now I had a second chance. A chance to make great memories with them. We are currently working on a new list for this summer! Happiness is a choice. Today I choose to be happy! 🙂
Liv: You started the blog on day 229, how did blogging help your recovery?
Lauren: Blogging, and the way I do it, made me realize and compare how I was to how I am today. If I don’t really SEE notice a difference today, when I WRITE about it, I can see the difference. I write how I felt back then, and I see how different I felt, and I see a big difference. I see the change in my perception of things. The change in my priorities. Sometimes writing things out makes you see things differently.
Liv: In an entry you state that you had to learn to love yourself and begin to start feeling. Can you describe that process? What emotions did you identify then; and how has that changed now?
Lauren: When I was drinking/using, I was doing so to NOT feel. I was shoving all feelings inside, stuffing them away. Once I got clean/sober, all those feeling came out. My roommate in treatment gave it the perfect name, the tornado effect. When we would sit in the group counseling sessions, we were asked how we felt. OK or fine were not acceptable answers. Once we really starting thinking and being honest, it wasn’t just one or two. It was a lot. There were days when I would say angry, guilty, happy, blessed, grateful, hopeful, sad, and tired. I wasn’t used to feeling. I had all these feeling boiling up inside me. I was angry that my husband and parents sent me here, guilty that I was an alcoholic, happy that I was getting help, blessed that there were people to help me, grateful to be sober today, hopeful to stay sober tomorrow, sad I couldn’t see my family today, and tired because my body was just sore. And that’s just how I felt at that moment. Today I have learned to handle my feeling and emotions more. It was a process, and takes time and practice and some getting used to. But I would much rather feel all the feelings, good and bad, than none at all.
Liv: You’ve expressed in your blog that, and I can identify with this, there have been people who can be forthright with their version of the right way to recover (!), can you describe what works for you, and if that has evolved during your journey?
Lauren: Well, I grew up in a Christian home so I always knew who my Higher Power was. I had walked away from God, but He hadn’t walked away from me those 18 years I was drinking and using. He was the carrying me, keeping me alive, giving me that last little bit of hope I needed to get to treatment. I started out going just to AA, then added church too. I know I definitely need both. I have a sponsor, and a couple sponsees. I go to set meetings, and chair a meeting every other Wednesday. I have to have a routine things don’t flow right. If I just said I would go to meetings whenever I needed one, I would probably never go, then would soon enough be right back out there.
Liv: This is something we all experience in recovery…You share about ‘house cleaning’ in relation to friendships, and the importance of only surrounding yourself with people who push you, challenge you, love you… If you were to describe to a newcomer how relationships change, specifically in relation to what is best for you, what would you say?
Lauren: Another quote I like is, “You want to find out who your real friends are? Get sober.” The people sitting at the bar with me weren’t my real friends. They didn’t know my middle name or what I was truly scared of. They knew what I drank and what time I got off work. They weren’t there for me when I got out of treatment. I had to get rid of numbers in my phone. I had to drive a different way to work, so I didn’t drive past the gas station I used to buy my liquor at previously every morning. I had to change people, places, and things. Other things weren’t going to change. I had no control over what other people did, only how I reacted to them.
Liv: Today, 18 March 2016, is day 767; how would you describe your life today? And how does it differ from that first blog?
Lauren: My life amazing! Today, I value each day. I spend as much time with my family as I can. Tomorrow is not promised. I have been blessed with a second chance and will take advantage of that opportunity.
Liv: What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to start a blog to share their recovery?
Lauren: Do it! Why not? Only share what you want out there forever, because once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. My life is an open book. I am not ashamed. I believe God put me here for a reason. I want to share my experience, strength, and hope with anyone who will listen.
Liv: Finally, I love to ask all of the wonderful people I interview a top five tips question; what would you describe as your top five self-care tools?
1. Let go of what I can’t control;
2. Be grateful;
3. Be kind;
5. Just Breathe.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, share your journey and inspire us all!
You can contact Lauren here: