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Emily's Story: Happy, Sober, Free!

Q: Tell me about what your life looks like today as a person in long-term recovery?

A: Today my life looks and feels like happiness and freedom. Today I get to CHOOSE each day what my day looks like because I am in the driver's seat of my life now. This wasn't the case when I was in active addiction.

I am an entrepreneur which means that I work for myself. It's taken some time to find balance because I believe people like me can get caught up in the entrepreneur-work-hustle and don't always give ourselves time off or the self-care time that is vital for success in sobriety.

This year I have been intentional about creating a schedule that allows me a few hours in the morning to "DO ME," and it really makes a big difference. I move my body every day for at least 30 minutes but usually more. I try and meditate daily (still a work in progress) and eat as healthy as I can on most days. I love yoga, hiking and nature. I love coffee. I love traveling.

My life looks completely different now that I have embraced sobriety fully. Bubble baths, usually 2 a day, afternoon dance parties (by myself), occasional Netflix and early bed time... Like 9pm.

I have amazing relationships with all of my friends and family. I no longer have to worry what I did or what I said. I am honest, loving and compassionate.

I love to travel! In the past 5 years, I've been to Hawaii, France, Thailand and few different vacations in the states!

I love personal development and am constantly doing my best to grow and learn so that I can be the best me, I can be!

I am very passionate about helping others get sober and find freedom, joy, confidence and abundance in sobriety. It's been extremely fulfilling work and I am grateful for the connections I've been making on this journey!

Q: Why is recovery advocacy important to you?

A: Great question, because yes, recovery advocacy is VERY important to me! There's a ton of reasons but here are my top 3.

1. I'm here sharing my story because of the women in MY life that are advocates for sobriety.

I struggled for SO many years to get sober. I knew I wanted it. I knew I needed to get sober. But I kept relapsing, giving up, going back out and then coming back in and going back out. I had MANY women including you, my mother, Shelly Dutch and others who NEVER gave up on me. Who ALWAYS had open arms, warm hearts, and no judgement while I figured out my OWN path to recovery. This was everything to me. It feels so good to have friends and family who "get it," and truly understand.

2. I am now experiencing the TRUE TRUE JOY that recovery is. OF COURSE I want to share that with everyone and anyone who is open to trying sobriety. The battle in addiction is like walking around with chains and weights tied to our body. Sometimes our brain tricks us that we are having fun or it's not that bad but when we surrender fully, release the weight... the freedom is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have the chills just thinking about it. I'm so friggin' grateful I didn't give up.

3. It FEELS good to help others. Plain and simple. I have been "recovering out loud," for many many years now. Sharing my story publicly is something I knew I was supposed to do. It just felt right.

AND NOW, I realize the ripple effect that has had on friends and acquaintances near and far. You never know who is reading. Lately I have had people reaching out for support or to tell me they are sober partially because they saw that I could do it. Overwhelming joy has been washing over me as I watch more and more of my loved ones choose sobriety. It's the BEST GIFT EVER!

Q: What types of treatment/recovery support services/peer recovery services have been instrumental in sustaining your recovery?

A: AA has been part of my story off and on, but I'm not currently attending meetings. I do however love the slogans, community and promises from the 12-step program.

Outpatient was extremely helpful for me. I attended Outpatient Recovery multiple times, both in Madison, WI and San Diego and 2 totally different periods of my life.

Connections Counseling was the first time I met "friends," in recovery and started to actually grasp what my new life could look like.

I now lead Recovery Revival which is a 3 month sobriety group coaching program for those new to sobriety and those in long term recovery looking for a boost.

I also host Sober Girls Book Club on Tuesday nights on zoom and those meetings have been extremely helpful for my sobriety especially during the last year.

I tell everyone that I am sober and since moving to Arizona, I seem to be meeting many other sober ladies at yoga classes and yoga events. It's been happening so naturally. it's almost unbelievable sometimes.

Q: How did other people in recovery or peers play a role in your accessing and sustaining wellness and recovery?

A: There's just something about getting people together who get-it and understand. The other cool thing is that most people in recovery are constantly working on themselves. None of us are perfect but we can call each other out, hold each other high and listen with no-judgement when we need a little vent. We seem to just have this THING: that we get one another.

This is a bold statement but, I honestly don't think that long-term-successful sobriety is possible without a support group of peers. Yeah, you might be able to stay sober but to truly feel the freedom, joy and abundance we need some peeps in our pocket.

It's everything. Statistics show this. :)

Q: What does it mean to be a leader in the recovery advocacy movement/how do you lead others?

A: Even reading this question is humbling. Yeah, I am a leader in the recovery advocacy movement. Sometimes I pinch myself and wonder how in the heck I got here.

Resilience, determination and eventually willingness is how I got here.

I get to be honest, authentic, generous, vulnerable, kind, loving and non-judgmental. I get to continue to push my edge and do the things that are uncomfortable. Because- Growth is on the other side of our comfort zone. I get to admit that I'm not perfect and that I'm just doing my best. I get to share from MY experience but let others know that we all have our own journey AND on our own time.

Q: Why is it important to elevate the voices of everyone in recovery?

A: Because recovering by yourself is the loneliest place to be. The direction the recovery movement is heading makes me SO HAPPY! How amazing is it that recovery is becoming COOL!? The more we share, the more our stories touch others.

Q: How do you think we as a movement can do better to be more inclusive of underrepresented voices?

A: As leaders we get to spread the message that EVERY STORY matters! We never know who we might touch with our story.

What you are doing with Bright Story Shine is a great way to share the voices of individuals that might not otherwise share or that don't have a large social media following.

The other thing is that writing and sharing our story is extremely therapeutic!

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

A: My life in recovery is more abundant than I could have ever imagined. I do not wish to shut the door on my past, because it's made me the person I am today but I'm grateful it's my past and I get to move forward and create the life of my dreams. It's possible for everyone.

My biggest message today is that- recovery community is everything! If you don't already have one or if you are looking for more connection please reach out to me and join our crew!

Connect with Emily Killeen and learn more about her amazing offerings!

Someone you'd like to see interviewed on Bright Story Shine? I'd love to chat!


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