What I Learned From Jessica Simpson

Discovering your recovery “fit.”

Posted Apr 01, 2020

Anyone who has been in the depths of addiction and managed to get to the other side knows that the road to recovery starts with one choice (we have to want to change), but it doesn’t end there. Recovery is a daily pursuit, and it looks different for everyone. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the analogy of a “loose-fitting garment” to describe it, and that visual really resonates with folks. I recently sat down with Jessica Simpson for an episode of The Coach Mike Podcast, and she shared openly about her own recovery “fit.”

When we envision our recovery as comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, our mindset is more flexible, allowing us to adapt to the ups and downs of this major change. But if we think of recovery as an uncomfortable, restrictive sweater – one that pulls and tugs in all the wrong places— we might have a tougher time adjusting to challenges that come our way. It is important to get comfortable with the ambiguity for a while, and know that our healing is going to look different from others’. In other words—there is no “one size fits all” method for recovering from addiction. There are countless methods, modalities, programs, and practices that you can fold into your overall recovery plan until you find what works for you.

One of the many tools for mental wellness that I encourage my clients and readers to embrace, whether they’re recovering from addiction, or just looking to improve their overall mental well-being, is journaling. Jessica shared that since she decided to get sober, journaling has provided a space to understand and forgive herself without the added judgment of others. “Secrets will eat us alive, they keep us really sick,” she says. “Once we talk through those secrets, even if it’s talking through them with yourself, there’s a lot of power in that.” When we approach journaling with honesty and vulnerability, we may even uncover thoughts, feelings and fears that we’ve been hiding from ourselves, and others. Bringing secrets out from the darkness and into the light can be an incredibly liberating experience.

Why is journaling so effective? When we process painful events, regrets or negative thoughts through expressive writing, it frees up space in our brain and enables us to focus on developing positive habits, such as stress management. When you do decide to journal, it’s important to just allow your thoughts, expressions, and emotions be your guide. Not sure where to start? Explore this question as a writing prompt: “What is my “why”?” Maybe you can explore your “why” for getting sober, if that’s your focus. Or perhaps it’s your “why” for your career. Or maybe it’s just an exploration of your deepest passions. But there are no rules when it comes to keeping a journal. Just give yourself the freedom to express your innermost thoughts, desires, fears, hopes, and dreams.

Another important factor in Jessica’s recovery journey has been having a trusted partner, her husband, Eric. When she realized she needed to get sober, Eric made the decision to quit drinking as well. She says he’s been an incredible support system for her: “He has no judgment. He loves me for me, my vulnerability, my bravery, and my honesty. If my perspective is off on things, he knows how to help get me on the right track into my thought process and to the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.” Sobriety does not require a life partner, but most addicts will tell you they have relied on an accountability partner at various points in their recovery. Whether they sought  professional help, or relied on a trusted friend or advisor, it likely took “a village” to help keep their mindset in check. And research suggests that Alcoholics Anonymous attendees who have the support of a sponsor are likely to stay on course with their goals, especially in the first twelve months of the program.  

When we wear our recovery like a loose garment, we’re staying humble and opening ourselves up to a vulnerable, though often painful, process. It’s imperative that we keep a positive, flexible mindset, using all the valuable tools, techniques and people in our realm. I encourage you to check in with your mindset every day so you can find your best recovery “fit.”       

References

Carpenter, Siri. “A New Reason for Keeping a Diary.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2001, www.apa.org/monitor/sep01/keepdiary.

Tonigan, J Scott, and Samara L Rice. “Is It Beneficial to Have an Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsor?” Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors. U.S. National Library of Medicine, September 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5512698/.