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“Don’t die with the music still in you.” – Rosemary O’Connor

In this chapter of O’Connor’s self-help book, Rosemary examines the concept of living life in recovery. We don’t get clean or sober to live in a bubble or to just stay frozen in time. While in our addiction, we never thought about the future or even the present. We were never bored because we were rarely aware.

Now, without the ability to numb ourselves to the world, we are part of the world…and we are scared shitless. What do we do? The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous references feelings of restlessness, irritability and discontentment. We are both bored and scared. We are afraid to do things because we are afraid to fail.

Rosemary shows us that this is our chance to live the dream. As she acknowledges, just the fact that we are now sober is a miracle. If we can do this, we can do anything. So why are we so afraid to move forward? We are afraid of failure. We need to get comfortable with the fact that we will not be experts at everything and while we are learning we will not be expert at much of anything.  It’s okay to not be perfect.  And being less than perfect is NOT the same as being “less than.”

When I first got into recovery, I was afraid of my own shadow. I had a very important job for a large financial services company and I was always able to keep things together there, but I was not able to keep things together as well at home. I was never good enough at home….not a good enough housekeeper, cook or parent.

I was always led to believe that I was less than…period. And in recovery, I found the strength to leave the home and start over on my own. It was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I managed to start in my own apartment and have my kids with me half time…joint custody, even though I was “less than” as a parent in my spouse’s eyes.

But I knew I could do it.  I managed to separate and divorce, stay employed and build a home for me and my kids. I was scared to death but I had to try. Even if I fell flat on my face, I had to try.

The longer I have been in recovery, the more I have been willing to take chances on success…because I have come to believe in my ability to succeed. Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to change careers. I decided I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up….an addictions counselor.

After two years, and many personal changes, I have left corporate America behind and am pursuing my dream to be a counselor. I will be done with my program next spring. At the same time, I began a program to become a life coach and hope to have my certification next spring as well.

If I had continued to sit on the couch in my beautiful home, in a “less than” marriage, I would not have succeeded in living the dream. Would I have relapsed? No way to know. My gut tells me “yes”. I had to leave the home to find my strength. I had to leave the safety of my long time career to find my dream.

What does Rosemary suggest as tools to Moms who are new to sobriety?  First, ask friends or colleagues what they think you would be good at doing? I had many people tell me that I would make a great therapist. Eventually, I heard them.

Then, she suggests asking yourself, “What would I do if I KNEW I could not fail? Write down those things and start journaling about them. Once in school, I started to notice how addiction was a family disease. I wanted to learn a way to help the families. And I started looking for ways to make that a reality.

That is how I found Family Recovery Academy and learned about family recovery life coaching.  Rosemary also suggested finding a life coach or an accountability partner to keep you working on your dream. Finally, Rosemary suggested remembering that God doesn’t create crap. We are here and we are worth it.

Therefore, we should thank our Higher Power for giving us the ability to recognize our strengths and the strength to pursue our abilities. I will be an addiction counselor and family recovery life coach.  Will I be famous? Not likely. Will I be a well known author? Hardly. Will I make mistakes? Without a doubt. I have to be willing to be less than perfect in order to move forward.

Recovery has allowed me to live the dream and I thank my Higher Power for never giving up on me.  Today, I am a strong and independent woman. I have hopes and dreams and worries and anxieties and they are ALL okay with me. Living in recovery IS living my dream. And what about you? Are you ready to pursue your dream? As long as we are willing to make mistakes and not be perfect, we can realize our dreams.



  1. David Fitzgerald Reply

    Thanks Jackie. That’s a great and uplifting story for those of us in early recovery. Bravo!

  2. Jackie Stein Reply

    Thanks, David —
    So glad you found it useful. Thanks for the positive feedback!

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