Soul Sisters facilitator, Diane Thaler, explains the how this all-women recovery group began, and what it’s all about. If you are a woman in recovery, these meetings are for you!
I have been clean and sober since January 20, 1990. In early recovery, I lived in an Oxford House with 11 other women. We were in AA, NA and CA. I learned the importance of having a circle of women for friendship and support while I was there. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I brought the idea of Soul Sisters to the founders of ITR, Kenny and RT, years ago.
Soul Sisters started in 2013.
I cannot explain how or why I was inspired to start this group, as I believe it didn’t come from me per se. The idea came through me. Our meetings were small in the beginning—perhaps 30 or so attendees. Despite the low numbers at first, the ideas of being all-inclusive and for women only were supported and well received. There seemed to be a ‘collective sigh of relief.’
Soul Sisters is a group of women who are in recovery.
It doesn’t matter which 12 step program we are a part of. Soul Sisters is all inclusive: it’s not based in a particular set of steps and traditions. Therefore, a set of steps and traditions do not bind us. When women share in our meetings, the words we can say, or not say, are not limited or restricted. We have a sense of freedom to share what we want or need to. Being all inclusive helped to enhance our sense of community.
My spiritual belief system looks like a circle, with all religions and belief systems on the perimeter of the circle. Inside the circle are the common denominators: love, truth, unselfishness, tolerance etc. These are universal principles found everywhere. Our group and meetings encompass universal truths common in all 12 step programs. Participants include women from Gamblers Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and more.
The Soul Sister community has grown considerably.
Our group now has close to 2,600 women. We started with just one meeting a week, but that has grown to four meetings weekly. Today, the attendance count is anywhere between 120 women to nearly 200.
Chairpeople are careful to choose topics that can be applied to any 12 step program, that are not based in any particular 12 step literature. Our meetings focus on recovery-based themes, such as honesty, gratitude, etc. We have two readings we use: Each Day a New Beginning and The Language of Letting Go. We use the Serenity Prayer at the end of each meeting, which is a universal prayer.
Rachel Levy, who host the Healthy Love meetings on Thursday evenings at 9 PM EST, has become a close friend and spiritual guide. Soul Sisters has welcomed and included her to help facilitate the Sunday evening meetings with me. We will be doing a 10 week workshop on ‘the shadow,’ which is one of Rachel’s passions and tools of recovery for herself and others. I thought this would be very beneficial in helping women to enhance their individual spiritual programs, self-knowledge and recovery in general.
It’s important to allow Soul Sisters to grow organically and naturally.
Kenny and RT have been supportive in allowing this process to continue and grow. They have created a recovery landscape where people feel supported, included and helped in so many ways. Soul Sisters is just one of those ways. There are hundreds of women who are benefitting and grateful for the opportunity to come together with common bonds of suffering and pain to spiritual and emotional growth. I am just one of those women who will be forever grateful.