Profiles in Recovery

Sara Rossio

As a practitioner of holistic healing techniques such as Reiki energy work and massage therapy, Rossio helps people reduce their pain and stress levels.

“For me, it’s a great feeling when I can help someone feel better by the end of a session,” she writes on the website for her Baltimore massage therapy practice. “I consider myself to be a facilitator who can provide the space for healing, and a little help, support, and encouragement for your body and mind to come back into balance with itself.”

Rossio has found her own life balance – and greater self-compassion – through her journey to heal from alcohol addiction. Thanks to online peer support and practical tools from the non-profit Women for Sobriety (WFS), Rossio has achieved more than a decade of recovery. It’s brought her meaningful relationships, a career she’s passionate about and “an ever-improving relationship with myself,” she says.

Day Job:
Licensed massage therapist in private practice

What worked for me:
Women For Sobriety (WFS) online chat meetings and message boards. There were no in-person meetings in my immediate area, though with my social anxiety I had when I was drinking, I don’t think I could have made it to one anyway.

The online format was perfect for me, and the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and new thought-based program felt natural.

Favorite quote:
“Your feelings won’t kill you, but drinking might” ~ Author Unknown

When cravings come:
Think through the drink. After the “relief” of the drinking, comes the guilt and shame, anxiety and regret. And in most cases, continuing to drink.

Also. before the cravings come, prepare! I keep a list of activities I can use to distract, or deal. This list has all kinds of ideas of things to do – physical (take a walk), creative (color, draw, paint), chores (clean the bathroom), relaxation (take a bath), introspective (journal), mind-engaging (crossword puzzle, read a book), social (chat with a recovery friend).

If a craving comes, it’s hard to think about how to deal with them. Having the list ready makes it easy to just pick something and do it.

What I value most in recovery:
I appreciate everything about my life today. I have a nephew whom I adore. I have a healthy relationship with the love of my life. I have a career which is my passion. I have deep, real relationships with my friends. And I have an ever improving relationship with myself.

What I learned about myself:
Since my formative years, I was always striving to be perfect and please others, disregarding my own interests and desires. In recovery, I have learned how to live for myself, instead of for others.

I get inspired by:
People who are being themselves, even if it’s not easy. And people who are trying to better their selves and lives.

What saves me from myself:
Being a friend to myself. When the self-flagellation begins, I try to speak to myself as if I was speaking to a friend. With kindness, compassion, and the truth.

Thoughts on relapse:
I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a program that worked so well for me, very soon after I decided to get sober. So I didn’t do a lot of the back and forth relapsing that many addicts deal with.

I am not “afraid” of relapse but I still maintain habits that are recovery-focused to prevent relapse, because I never forget that it could happen if I let it. To those folks who are struggling with relapse, I say don’t stop trying. Not every program or way to recovery will work for everyone. Find a way that works for you.

On finding purpose:
Our purpose is to try to live our best lives. What that looks like is different for everyone, and is dynamic.

SHED THE STIGMA:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].

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