Conversation in Recovery: Natalie

Name: Natalie Fairbrook
Age: 44
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Recovery Date: August 31, 2015
Recovering From: Alcohol
About Natalie: I am a mama, wife, nanny (instead of granny – LOL), daughter, sister + friend. Teetotaler, light seeker, truth teller + yoga junkie. For my day job I am an office manager but I have also worked for Hip Sobriety as a teacher’s assistant for Hip Sobriety School and I have also become certified as a Y12SR (Yoga of 12-step Recovery) leader.  I am also working on my certification to become a recovery + life coach via She Recovers + have enrolled in 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training that starts in a few weeks! Putting down the booze woke me up and lit me up + helped make all of this possible!
Instagram: @nataliefairbrook
Facebook: Natalie Fairbrook

Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?

A. I truly felt like booze made me more fun, more interesting, more everything – when in all actuality it was robbing me of my light + my desire to be the person I was longing to be. Booze became my go to – whether I was happy, sad, celebrating or feeling defeated – it ended up numbing me from feeling anything at all – except hungover + full of shame at what I might have said or done the night before.

Q. Now that you are in recovery, what have you learned about that “thing?”

A. Ultimately, I finally learned that booze lied to me. I learned that drinking was not a problem until it was – and that it sneaks up on you pretty damn quickly. I went from social drinker to drinking to blackout almost every damn time and that was scary to not have an “off-switch”! I also learned that it is not the answer to all of my problems (big, small or indifferent) – it made the problems far bigger and less manageable than they really were and burying my head in the sand most definitely did not fix any of them. Being able to face my “stuff” in sobriety is such a gift.

Q. How are you recovering (e.g., 12-step program, rehab, counseling, on your own, etc.)?

A. I quit on my own, cultivated a beautiful daily yoga + meditation practice, and read ALL the books I could fit in my brain.  Four months into my sobriety I found Holly Whitaker and Hip Sobriety School – an 8-week virtual course based on a more holistic approach to sobriety – and it completely changed my life and was instrumental in helping me create a toolbox to stay sober and to help me to strive to live my best life. I have also recently found a sponsor and am working on the 12-steps to continue my work on my emotional sobriety.  I also found the tribe I had been searching for and have made so many incredible friendships with other sober humans. A few of my other tools are podcasts, essential oils, tea, long walks and hanging with my family.

Q. In recovery, how do you give yourself what you thought that “thing” provided?

A. I take such good care of myself now – my self-care game is STRONG. And I try not to judge myself or others, which can be really hard, but is such a good practice to be a kinder, gentler human.

Q. What was your “rock bottom” or “breaking point” when you realized you needed to change?

A. My rock bottom was when my dad passed away in July 2015 and I found myself in a drinking spiral – drinking every day, acting like an asshole to those I love and finally  just looking in the mirror and realizing I hated the person I had become. I knew I was dimming my light and that I needed to remove alcohol from my life in order to live a full life and accomplish all of the things I was too scared to try when I was mired down drinking.

Q. What has been the hardest part of recovery so far?

A. I think hardest part is having to just sit with your stuff and feel all the feels instead of numbing out. I used to “drink at” my stuff and now I have figured out a handful of helpful things that help me get through those rough patches.

Q. What about recovery has been easier than you had anticipated? 

A. Not drinking – I know that may sound odd, but it is so completely my norm now, that it doesn’t often even occur to me to drink, even in times when that would have been my go to.

Q. What has helped you the most in recovery?

A. Probably having a holistic toolbox – yoga, essential oils, books, breath work and also rigorous honesty with myself and others. Knowing I have things that will provide immediate comfort in the hardest moments.

Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?

A. My husband, kids, mom and my close circle of sober sisters – they know who they are.

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about recovery?

A. That I am not alone and that truth-telling is the most amazing gift, not just for me, but for those listening – especially my teenage daughters.  Also how good it feels to be so woke and not numb to all of the brilliance that is this life! I am so very glad to be in my skin – it took me a really long time to get here.

Q. What role has family played in your recovery?

A. A big role for sure – that is where my heart lives – and so making sure my family are part of my journey is so important. It feels so good knowing how proud my family is of my sobriety, especially my twin teenage daughters. Knowing that my decision to be sober and them seeing all of the gifts that has brought, may help them decide not to choose alcohol, and that is the best gift of all.

Q. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your pre-recovery self about recovery?

A. You can do it – there will be many more bright days than dark and the dark days make the bright days that much more special.

Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about recovery?

A. Don’t wait for the perfect time – there will always be some party, some gathering, some event – just pick a date and go for it – you won’t be sorry!

If there is anything else you want to add, please do …

Thank you for letting me share a piece of myself here and thank you for your voice here in recovery – you are truly inspiring.

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