Profiles in Recovery
Recovery Date: 09/29/2009
When she first got sober, Tiffany Hall was afraid of losing her identity. “My relationship with alcohol was abusive,” she says on a video for Recover Alaska, where she is employed as their executive director. “I felt solitary and I was isolating because I thought I was a bad person.” In recovery she has met a lot of people who taught her how to love herself, how to not carry that shame around and that she isn’t a bad person. She’s learned how to reframe that thinking into having compassion for herself and embracing her true self as an optimistic person who maintains close ties with friends and family.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Tiffany Hall returned to Alaska after attending undergrad and graduate school on the mainland. In addition to Recover Alaska, she is an active contributor to local non-profits, chairs the Anchorage Women’s Commission, and sits on the board of directors for YWCA Alaska, and was selected as one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2016.
Advice to Others Seeking Sobriety:
Don’t think about it as a life-long commitment, think about it as an experiment. Try sobriety for a month and see how you feel compared to how you felt while drinking. For me the thought of never drinking again felt insurmountable, and I kept thinking of all the future milestones I’d like to celebrate with alcohol, so the last time I quit it was a “temporary” plan. Since then I’ve discovered how much more I like to celebrate things (and live life) without alcohol. That was over 9 years ago.
What Helped Me the Most?
The people in my program of recovery told me they would love me until I learned to love myself. I thought it was cheesy at the time, though it resonated with me even then, and I’ve come to appreciate it more and more over the years. I didn’t realize how low my self-worth was or how much I needed that extra love at first, but I certainly did!
Sobriety and Perfectionism:
I do struggle with perfectionism, and anxiety, and I have to work at it all the time. I go to counseling, I talk about it with my friends, and I set an alarm to do a reality check every other week. I consider my expectations of myself versus those I place on others and check my self-acceptance against my acceptance of others. Usually that helps me realize I’m being too hard on myself and talking openly with my friends helps me realize they still love me even if my house isn’t tidy.
What Works for Me Now?
I am more self-aware. When I first got sober most of my energy went to just being sober and trying to unpack some of the shame and heartbreak from my years of active drinking. Everything was about me. Now I can look outside myself more easily. I do a better job of considering how my actions impact others and it’s easier to understand how I can help and support others. Not to say I’m free from ego, I still have to work on that all the time! It’s just not as constant, and I recognize it sooner.
On My Gratitude List:
Right now I’m especially grateful to be able to understand my feelings better so I can recognize them, feel them, and let them pass. I recently lost a friend to her alcohol use disorder and it tore me up. For a minute I felt like drinking, an urge I haven’t felt in years and years. But I recognized the desire in my brain and body to alter how I was feeling so I exercised, I surrounded myself with people who care about me, I talked about it, and I asked for help. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that without sobriety. I am grateful for the time she spent sober before she passed, and I am grateful for my sobriety and my support system.
I celebrate in many of the same ways – I gather with loved ones, listen to music, dress in something that makes me feel awesome, and dance my heart out, I just do it all sober! These days I’ve been getting more into making super fancy alcohol-free cocktails and/or extravagant meals because every now and then it’s nice to indulge (in something that won’t make me feel terrible later).
Tiffany’s recovery story is told here as part of the Day One video series on the Recover Alaska website.
Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].