My path to becoming a Peer Recovery Coach/Peer Support Specialist began on an August night in 2009 in the form of blue and red flashing lights and a kind Natrona County Sheriff Officer. At that point of my life I had attempted to quit drinking alcohol several times on my own and knew that I needed help and support in order to actually stop. I was miserable. I couldn’t not drink.
Two nights before I was pulled over I was as close to taking my own life as I have ever been. I was sitting on a couch in the living room of the duplex where I rented a room. The lights were off and it was dark other than the glow coming through the window of a distant street light. In my left hand was a pint glass of bourbon and ice; in my right was a pistol. The shirt I was wearing was heavy against my chest, soaked with tears. I felt like I had two choices, end the pain with the pistol or continue to blot out my life with the contents of the glass. I said a prayer asking for help, which calmed me and I eventually made it to bed.
When I was pulled over I knew that I wasn’t going to be facing my alcoholism on my own anymore. I surrendered to whatever was going to be my program and committed to doing my best to fulfill any task that was given to me. I didn’t have my first sober day for another handful of weeks but I had new perspective filled with possibilities. Nothing was guaranteed.
In the first month or so I met some people that impacted me in ways that I still carry today. The first of these people was and old school drug and alcohol counselor that we’ll call Don. He was a kind man, well past the standard retirement age, who was still working full time to impact the community we lived in. He asked clear, understandable questions and kindly held space for me to work the answers out in my own. In the moments that I would struggle to find answers for myself he would rephrase the question or offer a prompt that helped me find what I was looking to say.
Over time I learned that Don had a drinking and recovery history of his own, and few years later he celebrated 40 years in recovery. The genuine kindness and caring that he shared in the recovery community was an expression of who he was at his core. Just being with him inspired me to be a better version of myself and have confidence that I could be the person I envisioned myself to be. I was fortunate to know him and call him a friend.
Secondly, was a man I met at the first 12-step meeting I attended. He opened his home to early morning meetings on the weekend. These weren’t the standard meetings in a church basement, or other building. The weekend meetings he hosted were held around a campfire, fifty-two weeks a year, on the edge of a ski resort town. Whether the sun was out or it was dumping snow, the fire was lit and ready to go by 7am. The gathering of firewood and consistency of holding the meeting no matter the weather were things that I admired from the start. As we began to get to know one another I was introduced to the world of personal development and coaching. It was a turning point in my recovery. I saw how my recovery program and the personal development world paralleled, primarily through acceptance, personal responsibility, and service.
There are a quite a few other people that have influenced my calling to be a Peer Recovery Coach. If I listed them all, this would be a long read. The common thread that they all have had is their willingness for service and an ability to see success for me, before I saw it for myself. Sometimes, especially in challenging times, we need to lean on someone else’s belief in us when we don’t have it for ourselves. These people planted the seeds that have grown to be the coaching business I have today. Their inspiration, coupled with the thorough and amazing training given by Joann Calabrese with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, has placed me in a position of purpose and knowledge.
As a coach I am grateful to work with clients from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles who are taking the steps to live a better life. Discontinuing substance use is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to living a life in recovery. Often, there are underlying issues that will continue to need addressed throughout our lives. Our addictions were ways we could adapt and live in the world around us and anyone who is willing to step towards recovery can lean on that adaptability, with courage, and live an extraordinary life.
In the last decade I have attended several training courses and received multiple certifications ranging from sports nutrition, breath-work, and health coaching. In April of 2019 I attended the Colorado Mental Wellness Network’s Peer Recovery Coach/Peer Support Specialist training, in Denver.