Profiles in Recovery
At his lowest point, Stewart Michaelson was drinking two bottles of wine per night, eight bottles on weekends. He would drink in isolation and often while behind the wheel. Michaelson, like many, drank to ease the pain, but he couldn’t see the light from the darkness.
Today, Michaelson is working on his third year in the 12-Step program. He is giving back to the community, a community which has given to him in more ways than he can quantify. He stated, “I entered a broken soul; today, free of the stigma, free of the shame; I stand with my community”.
Michaelson’s website, ASKME4MYHELP.COM is his forum to speak out. He also became a Certified Life Coach, providing him another avenue to giving back to his community.
He asks that other seeking help, “Join the Nation-Recovery, my latest project is my voice by way of podcasting. It will also serve as an after-treatment resource for the fragile souls leaving the comfort of in-patient rehab and looking for the support to continue with their journey to sober living.”
Automotive Sales, Transitioning into the Wellness Business
What I lost to addiction:
I thought I was at the pinnacle of my success, I became a sales manager of a car dealership, was getting married, financially making a very good living but it was all an illusion. I was a broken man, a man who was living on two bottles of wine a night, eight on the weekends. I was drinking alone to hide my life as an alcoholic. I lost my job, lost my dignity, had no hope, courage or strength left.
What worked for me:
I was forced by my ex-wife (my wife at the time) to seek treatment. She wanted me to enter inpatient treatment. I opted for the 12-Step program. She left me three weeks later though. I’ve been in the program for three very successful years.
Best advice for newbies:
The best advice I can offer is: Do it for yourself. The only person your recovery is important to is YOU!
Advice to my younger self:
If I could talk to my younger self, like I talk with my daughter, my message would be very concise. Honesty is always the best policy. You never have to remember the stories you’ve told to anyone, if you’ve been honest from the start. The first person you need to be honest with is YOU!
Rules I live by:
Be selfish about your RECOVERY!
What I value most in recovery:
What I appreciate most about my recovery is I can see the changes I have made. I can accept life on life’s terms. I may not be able to control my environment but I sure can control my reaction. I and everyone around me are the beneficiaries of my success in recovery!
My proudest moment was getter sober. My proudest achievement to date is staying sober. This is a long term commitment.
Stigma I faced:
I was judged not for who I am but what I did. I was shamed, I was ignored, I was ridiculed. Words matter and when we judge people, we hurt people.
Rock bottom moment:
Ironic, most view their “ROCK BOTTOM” as the event that changed their habit. Mine was my voice. The only person I ever told about my addiction were my psychiatrist and my general practitioner because I knew they couldn’t tell anyone. My “turning point” was the moment I stood on my soapbox and screamed at the top of my lungs- “my name is Stewart Michaelson and I am an alcoholic.
On my bucket list:
I am working to provide post-treatment assistance and resources to those suffering souls who are beginning their re-integration from in-patient treatment.
Favorite recovery quote:
Be selfish about your recovery! You were selfish when you were in active addiction. Apply that same selfishness to your Recovery-Stewart Michaelson, Episode 163 The SHAIR podcast
When cravings come:
I have never really had any cravings to speak of. Though, I did hear a good piece of advice on the subject. My friend, Amy Dresner, has said many times something which stuck with me. “If you feel the urge to drink, etc. … buy yourself 20 minutes! The craving will dissipate in 20 minutes, so find something to do to occupy that time…it will pass!
Thoughts on relapse:
I did relapse once, very briefly. When you think “I’VE GOT THIS”, it’s the beginning of the relapse. This is a long term journey not a short term sprint. As I tell anyone who asks: A slip is not a sign of failure, rather a reminder to keep coming back!
At my worst, I was:
At my worst, I spent 18 days incarcerated for domestic violence. My incarceration was a wake up call to action. I couldn’t live this life any longer.
On my schedule today:
My recovery today is meetings, podcasting, writing, blogging, coaching, mentoring and sponsoring. I am all in, when it comes to my recovery.
What I learned about myself:
The greatest lesson I learned about myself is I have a disease. A disease that I can control and maintain if I follow a simple program. I have learned that my success is directly related to the work I put into my recovery.
How I get through the holidays:
I do not have a set plan for the holidays because I do not have any specific triggers during the holidays. I continue to maintain my sobriety one day at a time.
I get inspired by:
I have been writing recently about the inspiring people in my recovery. Omar Pinto of The SHAIR podcast, Mark Racket from Soaring in Sobriety, Ryan Hampton and Garrett Hade of Facing Addiction, Austin Cooper from the Sober Evolution and Anna David from LightHustler. Also, my wonderful girlfriend, Janice Clarke, who has been my rock during my recovery.
What saves me from myself:
What saves me from me is my understanding of my disease. You can handle any challenge if you understand what you are dealing with. Knowing you have a distressed is half the battle. Dealing with it becomes so much easier when you can admit it to yourself.
On finding a purpose:
My purpose today is to be a long term resource to anyone who needs help. Especially, as they begin their lifelong journey to sober living. After-treatment resources are needed for those just leaving the womb of in-patient treatment. Anyone looking for a resource can contact me. I am there for my brothers and sisters in the community.
SHed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].