Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Diva in Recovery

I’m giving a retreat tonight on DIVA’s in recovery. At the Dominican Retreat Center in Niskayuna NY DIVA means “Divinely Inspired Victorious Alcoholics”.

This will be a chance for a group of recovering woman from AA, Al-anon and OA to meet and talk and think and write about our insides and our outsides and the feminine side of things in recovery.

It could seem a frivolous topic except that it’s not. We are in recovery because of the discontinuity of our insides and our outsides and because of the things that happened to us as girls and women. Is there a woman with no food, body or image issues? Do we bring them into recovery? Yes.

Here’s the shorthand version of how I see the before and after:

We cared too much about how we looked

We got drunk and looked like crap

We got into recovery and bought new clothes to look better

We gave it all up again trying to not care and wanting to be “better” than that.

Then we came back again to caring how we look—and how we feel.

As healthy women we can have a healthy relationship with how we look

It’s a cultural issue and an alcoholic issue.

The addict’s favorite word is “more”

More booze, more pills, more food, more exercise, more money, more shoes, more clothes.

When I believe that I’m enough then and only then will I have enough of anything.

It goes back and forth: we don’t think we are worth anything so we either: look like crap don’t take care of our bodies OR coming from the same place we do everything to our outsides--obsess about our weight, match our shoes to our undies and we match our barrettes to our bra. We fix our make up four times a day and we peek into every reflective surface because we are not sure we really exist. We fear that there is nothing of value inside.

That’s part of the path to growth and recovery for women: we learn to take care of ourselves or we learn to let go. Or both. The pendulum swings side to side, care too much, don’t care at all.

Some women find a middle and stay there. I had to find the middle by taking the wide and wild swings of the pendulum—going side to side and then trying to just slow down the pendulum so the outer edges are not so extreme.

We can be stylish and spiritual; chic and caring, selfless and selfish. We can be sober and be Diva’s in recovery.

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