Profiles in Recovery

Shira Goldberg

Goldberg was fresh out of rehab when she received welcome news: she had been accepted into graduate school at the University of San Francisco (USF).

“I signed my paperwork with USF homeless, with everything I owned inside my car,” she recalls. “I was in class 26 days later. No one knew I was in “recovery” for three years.”

Today, as host of The Addiction Show on YouTube, Goldberg uses her six-year recovery journey to pay it forward. She interviews “Recovery Rock Stars” to inspire others, brings leading experts on addiction to her listeners, and confronts the stigma so that more people will get the help they need.

“Now in recovery, I believe in myself and work with others until they believe in themselves too,” writes Goldberg, who is studying to become a psychotherapist and is also a master sober/recovery coach in California.

What I lost to addiction:
My self-respect

At my worst, I was:
Arrested 8-9 times . . . all my woes came from feeling sorry for myself and being ashamed. I let my family down, my sons down. I never thought I’d wind up like a feral animal basically alone, no real friends, no family to turn to.

Why I advocate for criminal justice reform:
I learned that the law is not about justice necessarily. It is more about socioeconomic status, race, position and who you know. Not everyone got the same breaks I did. It is easy to get caught up in the system but for most, not easy to get out because it is set up for people to FAIL. As a result, I am an advocate to change policies that are racist and politically motivated. Everyone deserves a fair chance to get a new start, but doesn’t get one.

What worked for me:
My therapist taught me to “be strong like bamboo” – how I could regulate myself through breathing and HeartMath and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He and those three treatments, along with me just sick of my life and myself, was what worked for me.

Advice to my younger self:
Trying to be perfect is the biggest waste of time and a set up for guaranteed disappointment. I would never have treated anyone as cruel as I did myself.

Rules I live by:
I thrive now because I live my life on terms that make sense to me. I fail more times than most would ever admit to, but I don’t see that as failing at all now. It just means I try a lot of things.

My husband gave me the greatest compliment when we were just best friends at the time. I told him how different he was outside of work, and he replied, “You are so YOU everywhere!” It validated my mission – to live authentically. I try to be me everyday as much as possible.

On my bucket list:
Make an impact to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system and stop the systemic attack on the disadvantaged and families. Help end this War on People, aka Drug War, and stop punishing those who need help.

Favorite recovery quote:
“The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior” ~
famed psychologist Abraham Maslow

On my schedule today:
I have been helping someone get into rehab, who needs it desperately. I’m also working with someone who is new to experiencing herself in a more authentic and powerful way – the goal of any therapist.

Living life in an authentic way frees us up to invest in ourselves and to value what we have, not look outside ourselves for moments of numbing reprieve.

What I value most in recovery:
I live my life in a way that is congruent to my values, my expectations, and motivations. A lot of work goes into that and like anything else, I am grateful to acknowledge that process and that I get to share it in both my work and my personal domains.

Proudest moment:
My three sons are proud of me now, and I am learning to be a good enough mom. And I am around in a capacity that is helpful to each of us, and we are in this together and they really know that.

What I learned about myself:
I became resourceful when I had to, and eventually resilient because I have grit . . . I have always been a decent person, just made some terrible decisions. I don’t confuse my temporary state as my identity. I am not my pathology. I am a survivor who made it despite every possible reason not to.

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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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