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October 5, 2023 28 mins

Have you ever wondered what the path to recovery looks like for someone who has triumphed? Meet Caitlin, a resilient person who graduated from a recovery program and works tirelessly at a treatment facility. Her journey is inspiring and illuminating for those seeking a similar path to sobriety and healing.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Welcome to Unpolished Recovery.
My name is Trey.
Most stories of recovery startwith how bad addiction was, how
they enter recovery and howgreat life is now.
That's a polished story.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
My name is Chris.
I'm your co-host of UnpolishedRecovery.
Today we have part two ofCaitlin's story.
You don't feel prettyprivileged Even I didn't deserve
a part two on my story but Ithink we went through kind of
the last episode.
We went through your path inaddiction.

What led you to reach it outfor help, how dark it got at
I think we even just you knowyou openly talk about how you
got to the point ofcontemplating suicide.
It's how.
I don't know how much darker itcan get than that when you get
to a point that you would ratherthat you either need to change
or you want to die.

But today I kind of want totalk about more of the positive
stuff, that road of recovery,the things that you've done that
did change you know your viewof your life and gave you hope,
and then the stuff you're stilldoing today, kind of if you
would just start out withtelling us just repeating what

it is that you do today, youremployment where you're standing
in recovery, kind of what'sthat?
What's a week in Caitlyn's lifelook like today versus, say,
five, six years ago.

Speaker 3 (01:26):
Well, my second home is my job, but I work at
Cumberland Heights treatmentfacility.
I've been as an administrativeassistant.
I'm able to fill in withclinical positions.
So getting the licensed drugand alcohol counselors I talked
about previously, getting thoseexperience hours in, and you

know I work there eight hours aday and then when I come home,
either in the morning or in theafternoon like I'll play a
meeting, I got a set of sidetime to do step work.
Most importantly, though, it'smy sponsors that you know that
really help motivate me and getme going through the week.

Being able to hear they'rehelping other people is you know
what I like doing.

Speaker 2 (02:20):
Just to go back to.
You said you are getting someexperience hours in a clinical
So as a lay deck licensed drugand alcohol alcohol counselor,
you have a supervisor in thatthat you report to right.
That's how you're able to dothose things and I'm sure you've
shared with me personally howmuch you're learning from that

How many sponsors do you haveright now?
For four and and?
Are those people in a recoveryprogram?

Speaker 3 (02:51):
So one of them is in another recovery program, and
then the rest of them are atRestoration House.

Speaker 2 (02:59):
Okay, so you're able to give back to the program that
you graduated from.
I do want to bring up one quicknote.
You're clean day, youranniversary, your Spritey day,
what is it?

Speaker 3 (03:11):
October, the second 2019.

Speaker 2 (03:13):
So it was yesterday.
And how many years was it?
Four years.

Speaker 1 (03:18):
So what is that role of a sponsor look like.

Speaker 3 (03:21):
So a sponsor is someone that guides someone in
recovery through the 12 steps.
They're not their mom, theirsister, their brother, their
It's someone that will hold youaccountable when you need to
get your shit together.

Speaker 2 (03:40):
And you still have it now.
Let me ask you this Do you havestill have sponsor yourself

Speaker 3 (03:44):
I do and I'll say it's been really difficult
trying to find a sponsor thesedays and ages like ever since
COVID hit, like it's just beennobody's wanting to sponsor
So I've been through like four.
But the point is up is I'm notgiving up, and you know that's
another reason why I love tosponsor these women, because I
know how hard it is with my ownpersonal experience trying to

find a sponsor.

Speaker 2 (04:08):
Well, I can tell you know from just personal
experience, when you're in arecovery program halfway house,
sober living community, whateveryou want to call it like that's
what your life is about isrecovery.
That comes before everything.
So, like our program atRestoration House, they do
maintain full-time employment,but pretty much every Everything

else is around recovery.
With, that being said,transitioning on your own to
live in your own apartment.
You know your own life.
Like what's that?
Like trying to keep thatbalance where you're continuing
to grow, you're still continuingto work.
A recovery program like what'sthat look like?
With the just balance in thetime?

Speaker 3 (04:51):
Well, as I stated previously, I was at restoration
house for three years.
So I've only been out of therefor a year, maybe a little bit
longer, but the reason why Istayed there three years is
because I was mentally unstable.
I was, you know, physicallyunstable and you know I couldn't

I couldn't afford to live on myown, especially in Nashville.
But the most important thing ismy son.
I'm always keeping him in theback of my mind.
You know I have these goals andI have the big goal, which is
getting my son back full-time,and then small goals that work
up to that.
All of my small goals gotCompleted and you know I was
able to work at restorationhouse as a program monitor and I

was just kind of waiting onGod's time to tell me when it
was time to go.

Speaker 2 (05:41):
Let me ask you this that role as a program monitors
what we call it restoration.
Now Some people would maybecall it a house manager, but I
think they do a lot more casemanagement than Anything else
like how did that role prepareyou for, say, the job you have
now or just when you transitionon?
What difference did that make?

Speaker 3 (06:01):
a huge difference being able to just have hands-on
experience with you, knowdifferent women's personalities
and and you know how to handleconflict, how to set boundaries.
All of those things that Ilearned as a program monitor I
took with me to a treatmentcenter.
Yes, the treatment field is awhole lot different, but I had a

lot of good teachers along theway.

Speaker 2 (06:26):
So, kid, let me ask you this kitten, like long term,
is Working in recovery.
Give them back to others, it's.
Is that something you see?
You know?
Long term for you?
Is this what you?
Is this your calling?
I guess I'm asking.

Speaker 3 (06:41):
Oh yeah, absolutely.
I kind of knew Whenever I firstgot into recovery that this is
something I wanted to do, justbecause, like I always kept in
the back of my mind that I haveto give to get, and you know I
wanted to make sure.
You know that was another goalthat I had in the back of my

mind was to work in in recoverySomehow, and God just kind of
opened those doors for me.

Speaker 1 (07:08):
So I have a question for you.
So the other part of my jobthat isn't this is I run an
after-school program, and sosomething that we communicate
with all of our staff membershelping students who are Heavily
impacted by trauma and povertyis that every day, you're not
going to meet the needs of everysingle person you try to serve,
and I'm so I'm curious how that, how that impacts you in your

job, if that's something thatyou see as well that's
definitely a challenge for me,because you know I have a
tendency to just want to helpeverybody, and I know that's not
always going to happen.

Speaker 3 (07:42):
But someone once told me you know as long as it's one
person, you know as long asyou're impacting one person, or
you know.
Something that I've alwaystaken with me is that did I do
everything that I could to helpthat person?
And if the answer is yes, thenI can move on.

Speaker 1 (07:57):
Yeah, and it's hard not to.
It's hard to accept the realitythat you're not a superhero

Speaker 3 (08:04):
Maybe someone else can get you know, get to him,
but at least I tried I.

Speaker 2 (08:09):
Know in my own life, one of the areas that you know I
have to constantly keep incheck because I work in recovery
It's given back.
It's personal to me becauseI've learned that you know you
got to give it away to keep it,as they say.
However, I'm notorious foremptying myself out through the
day and then by the time I getto it's my time.

I don't have much left.
So I've learned that throughthe years, like that's.
That's crucial, you know, tomake sure I have enough for me.
Is there anything that you doto make sure that you have that
That's just for Kate.

Speaker 3 (08:45):
Oh yeah, definitely so.
On the weekends is, you know,my time to to relax, and you
know I like to crochet, I liketo fish.
Those things is how I, you know, practice my self-care, take a
bath, you know, whatever I can.
Self-care is really importantto me because I know that I need
that to be able to survive andto be able to help others.

Speaker 2 (09:09):
So you set that time aside, say every week that you
just that's just your time,absolutely you protect that and
have boundaries in place.
I think that's one of thethings that are, you know
probably doesn't get theattention it needs in that first
year of recovery isestablishing boundaries.

Here at Restoration House wereally do push those.
I think it's beneficial downthe road.
Don't you Explain what aboundary is, what a healthy
boundary is, and then upholdingthose?
But you know, I, you know we'vetalked about you know, your
life today.
Is it possible that you couldjust kind of give a brief
description of your life day,like are you fulfilled?

Are you happy?
Are there what's the areas thatyou're continuing to work on?
Just can you describe your lifetoday?

Speaker 3 (09:58):
Yeah, I absolutely love my life today.
I wouldn't be here if it wasn'tfor God.
You know he gave me a secondchance at living and I am so
blessed today.
You know I don't have my sonfull, I don't have my son back
full time, but you know I stillget to see him once a month and
he gets to come to my apartmentand be with me on the weekends

and things like that.
And you know, happiness comesand goes, but I have joy that
just stays.
And yeah, I'm just superappreciative of everything in my
And it's not always, you know,it's not always good.
I have bad times as well, youknow, just like anybody.

You know life does happen, butI'm able to manage that better
today with the tools of recovery, my step work and my sponsor,
things like that to help get methrough and hold me accountable.

Speaker 2 (10:57):
You've definitely described a process and I think,
just just speaking for myself,a big part of me being an ax, I
want what I want.
I want it now.
Oh yeah, you know anything.
You know instant gratificationand I've learned through
recovery that that's.
That's not how life is, thatthe best things in life require

work, dedication, priority.
You know being able to set mypriorities straight, you know,
or today versus when you enterrecovery, you know, do you can
see yourself that you've gainedmore patience, you've learned
more patience.

Speaker 3 (11:35):
I have, but I will never.
That is one thing that I'llnever be completely like perfect
I mean, of course I'm not goingto be perfect at anything, but
that's something I'm going tohave to work on for the rest of
my life, because it is thehardest thing for me to do is to
be patient.
You know I want my son backright now as a perfect example,
and that that can't happen.

I'm dealing with someone else'slife and I have to make sure
that it's the right timing.
But having to wait is isdifficult, very difficult, but I
get through it.

Speaker 2 (12:06):
Is it just something that you have to continue to
remind yourself?

Speaker 3 (12:10):
Yes, absolutely being able to.
You know, ask God to for that.
For that day, you know, I'llput my hands up in there and
I'll say, all right, lord, I'lllet this go, I give it to you,
and then I leave it alone and Isometimes it comes back up,
sometimes it doesn't, but youknow, ultimately when I do that,
you know and accepting it iswhat it is, you know it works.

Speaker 2 (12:36):
Let me ask you about one.
One of the rules at restorationhouse that sets a sets our
program apart from otherprograms is that we require when
individuals come in theirprogram that they are
relationally absent, and youbeing an attractive lady, I'm
sure it's come up from time totime in recovery.

Now most of us know it's worked.
A 12-step program that aboutanywhere you go they're going to
say wait a year, butrestoration house says six
Can you, can you tell me thatprocess with concerning you,
like when you came into recovery?
I'm sure you heard that can youtell me your thought process?
Has that been?

Have you benefited from that orwere you able to abstain from
Like just in your own words?

Speaker 3 (13:25):
So, yes, I was not worried about any type of man
when I first got to the program.
I was still traumatized fromthe amount of abuse that I had
put up with that.
Whenever I got told thatrestoration house means no
relationships, I was like that'sgreat, because I can't even
look at a man right now.

So, and then, of course, inrecovery as well, you're told to
wait a year and then also get aplant and if you can let that
live, then get an animal.
But yeah, I never had issueswith that rule.
I needed to love myself beforeI could love anyone else.

Speaker 2 (14:14):
Well, you work in treatment.
You know that that is a bigarea of concern for people.
We've filled holes in ourselvesfor so long with chemicals and
then the chemicals are gone.
The next easiest thing to fillthat hole with is another person
So I'm sure during your time inthe recovery program and then,
of course, your job, you seethat Some men and women have a

lot more trouble doing that thanothers.
Is there any like advice orguidance you can give people in
early recovery?

Speaker 3 (14:46):
as far as the relational abstinence part of it
, yeah, just you know it is hardto be patient.
But you know, no matter whatyou believe, whether it's God,
higher power, whatever it is youknow there's a right time for
everything and it's gonna happen.
You're gonna find the perfectperson for you.
But nobody can fill that holein your heart.

Only your higher power can.
And until that's filled anduntil you love yourself
wholeheartedly, you're not gonnabe able to be in a relationship
You can try but it's not gonnawork.
But it's gonna happen.
There's someone out there foreveryone.
You just gotta be patient.
It's hard but it's simple.

Speaker 2 (15:31):
Well said, I know for me in some of my classes that I
teach that's one of the thingsthat I tell them all the time
that's one of the most valuablethings in my life is that I'm
able to lay my head down atnight and be okay with me, and
that's not always been the case.
I spent most of my time tryingto be somebody else, who I
thought they wanted me to be,but to actually be like okay,

I'm okay with being a work inprogress.
I have a lot of good qualitiesand I have some things I need to
work on, but I'm okay withwhere I'm at today and I think
if I wouldn't abstain fromrelationships, I don't believe
I'd ever got to that point.
Yeah me either.
Thanks to recovery, I learnedthe importance of just focusing
on myself.
You know a lot of people sayrecovery is selfish at times,

that you have to take care ofyourself, but some lessons are
easier to learn than others andsome must be learned the hard
way multiple times, and I fallinto that category.
I wish I just had a greatepiphany that said oh, I get it.
It was more like I just gotbeat into submission.

You know, I just made the wrongdecision and it hurt so much I
was like maybe I should stopputting my hand on a hot eye,
you know.
You know just what aboutsomeone that's in recovery that
say they get a year clean.
As far as pursuing working in,I know you already have some

certifications we mentionedbefore your CPRS or Vite Beer
Sports Badge List, right, andthen you're pursuing the LADAC
and then there's also thingslike recovery coach.
You know, if someone is able to, I think, what is the industry
standard with?
Is it 24 months clean and soberbefore you enter into that


Speaker 3 (17:19):
Or I mean that would be recommended.
I know, like whenever it comesto our application, that if you
went through, say, for instance,cumberland Heights, the
treatment center, you would haveto wait two years before
applying because you've beenthere.
But for other people I'm notsure, but I'm pretty sure I mean

that's recommended two years.

Speaker 2 (17:49):
How did you get started with CPRS?
Was that the firstcertification?

Speaker 3 (17:53):
My first yes.

Speaker 2 (17:55):
How did you get that?
At what point in your recoveryand life, like, where were you
at kind of describe that process?

Speaker 3 (18:02):
So I was a program monitor at Restoration House.
I had people around me thatwere being certified.
I looked into it and was like,is this something that I wanna
And of course it is.
You know, it gives me moreexperience.
I'm like a sponge.
I soak up knowledge, I love tolearn.

So being there at restorationhouses kind of what started that
I had people around me doing itand you know I wanted what they

Speaker 2 (18:33):
And what did you have to do?
What was the qualificationslike?
What was the process like?

Speaker 3 (18:40):
I mean, it was so long ago.
I know you have to submit anapplication and the questions on
it are really long.
You've got to be detailed andthorough Speaking about your
That's one of the requirementsof a CPRS is you need experience
You need to.
You know what's that wordHaving experience because you've

been through it.

Speaker 2 (19:08):
And then you have to do, you have to take some
classes to right before you evensubmit the application.
Yes, was that eight hours a day?

Speaker 3 (19:15):
or yes, eight hours a day for five days?
Well, no, not five, yeah, fivedays, and it was exhausting.
But I did learn a lot in thatshort amount of time of you know
, helping someone is to provideresources, just to be a
listening ear.
I don't have to say anything,you know, I can just listen.

Speaker 2 (19:37):
Don't have to have all the answer.
What about now?
If I'm not mistaken, you had tohave a supervisor for that too,
just like with the lay-dactprocess.
You had someone that youreported to and then you had to
have some hours group hoursright?
Yes, I'm not wrong, but I thinkI remember that's what it is.
Now, were you still atRestoration House when you got

your certification?
Did Restoration House help youwith any of that?

Speaker 3 (20:02):
Oh yeah, all of my referrals or references, you
know helping.
I'm not even sure if you haveto pay anything for it, because
Restoration House helped me witheverything.

Speaker 2 (20:16):
Well, I know we do that today.
Is that we Pashtina?
It's just we hope that duringthat six months that maybe at
first it's just staying cleanand sober, but it becomes a lot
more than that during theprocess.
I know that she just loveshelping people better themselves
You know, and that's the firststep, you get a, like you said,

an understanding of you know,there is a difference between
working a recovery program andbeing a treatment professional,
Would you agree with that,mm-hmm?
You know, being the CPRS, isthat what you know?
Is that what stimulated theinterest in becoming the late
Now it's a more lengthy process, right that you're talking?

More time, more training, morehours.

Speaker 3 (21:02):
My supervisor was actually in the late act
training and was trying to getthe hours and things like that,
and I just asked questions,trying to figure out what it was
And when I got more knowledgeof what it was and I actually
got to see it, you know workingat Cumberland Heights and what

people did as being a counseloror being a case manager, things
like that you know I wanted thathands-on with people and I want
to be able to.
You know I'm more of a personthat will say, hey, I can relate
to you.
You know I have empathy for youbecause I've been there.
I know what it's like.
And then, you know, being alate act, you have empathy

without sharing your story andthat's going to be hard for me.

Speaker 2 (21:51):
So one thing that you know we kind of touched on
earlier, but the differencebetween working in recovery and
working in recovery program howdo you keep those separate?
I have seen in my experiencepeople's made the mistake of
letting their job be their ownin recovery versus working in a

How do you separate the two?
Do you?
Is that a concern for you?
Just your thoughts on that.

Speaker 3 (22:20):
It's not a concern for me anymore.
But you know I'll be honest.
You know I've been there.
I did put my job as my recoveryprogram.
You know it didn't last longbut I learned fairly quickly
that it doesn't work.
But you know, being a programmonitor, taking the women to
meetings, and you know, justbeing with them 24 seven, it's

like I don't want to go to ameeting.
I've been working all day inrecovery and I wouldn't.
And you know, eventually samething would happen.
I would get.
You know, mentally I just wouldbe thinking so much I'd start
getting negative, you know,getting tired, and then I would

get up, go to a meeting and itwould just go away.
And that's when I kind ofrealized, okay, I've got to make
sure that I separate the two.
And you know I'm kind of gladthat I've had that experience
because you know, I know nowthat it's I'm not gonna deal
with that again.

Speaker 1 (23:25):
And what's that superpower of going to a meeting

Speaker 3 (23:29):
Just being able to hear someone else's story, being
told that I'm not alone andthat somebody else is going
through the exact same thingthat I'm going through a lot of
times, and you know, being ableto hear that it's like okay, so
it might.
Just my story might not be asbad as what I'm thinking as it


Speaker 2 (23:52):
I know for myself, even if I because there's good,
you know there's some meetings Iget more out than others, but
just walking across thatthreshold into the meeting is a
constant reminder.
I have a disease and the toughpart is I have a disease that
tells me I don't have a disease,and going to those meetings
puts my perspective in place,that I'm not like everyone else.

You know I don't have theluxury of drinking a beer or
using just once, but also, likeyou said, that also it's a
constant reminder.
There's help for me.
I don't have to be by myself.
You know so, and that's onething I love about Nashville
it's a lot more people, but therecovery community is amazing.

There's always a meeting goingon somewhere and there's
resources, and I do think thatmatters.
You know I have the luxury.
I've known you during yourrecovery process and I've seen
the changes in you throughoutthe years.
I remember how broken you werewhen you came to restoration.
So you know, and it's a, it'snothing short of amazing.

It's just a remarkabletransformation into the person
that I believe God wantedintended you to be.
Would you say that?
You know that you're the peoplethat in your circle, like you
know, family, your son.
Have they been able to seethose changes through the years?

Speaker 3 (25:20):
oh yeah, definitely.
Especially when I went to goget visitation rights back for
my son.
Like being able to hear thatjudge say I don't need your sack
of paperwork because yourliving proof that you've changed
I can see a huge difference.
That that kind of gave me thatconfidence.
And now, like I've never heardand I'm proud of you for my mom

or my dad until after I got intorecovery and started getting
some clean time and the amountof trust that they have for me.
I know that that's because ofthe work that I've put into
That's all they ever wanted forme.
You know I will say that mycircle is small.
I keep it that way, kind ofguarded, just because of the

traumatic experiences.
But it's been beneficial for meto be that way.
But once I get to know you allopen up more and I kind of
prefer it to be that way well,I'm a big advocate that someone
needs to prove their trustworthy before they get complete
trust, you know.

Speaker 2 (26:22):
So I don't think there's anything wrong with, you
know, having some.
I've worked hard to build thelife I have.
I'm not so quick to allowsomeone to come in that life.
That's unhealthy, so I need tosee that they're a safe person.
So I'm with you there so Ialways try.
I know I think I asked you thislast time, but just in case we

have someone that listens toyour story and and whether you
know, I don't know if Imentioned this to you, but I
have had someone contact meabout hearing your story and
they knew a young lady that wasvery similar and they direct
them to the, the podcast.
Now I don't know anything afterthat.
I always do is plant the seedright.
But if there was someone outthere there's, you know a young

woman that was in similarposition and we see it a lot in
early recovery, especially whenwith children and stuff that
just they're at that point wherethey either want to die or they
need a miracle.
Is there anything that youwould tell them?

Speaker 3 (27:24):
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
And it's true like thedefinition of insanity is
continuing to do the same thingand expecting a different result
No, you cannot change in yourown power.
But the first step is to justsurrender and say, okay, I can't
do this anymore, and ask forhelp.

There is someone that's goingto love you back to life and
show you the way.
And it can happen for anyone,because it happened to me and
yeah well.

Speaker 2 (27:57):
Thanks, caitlin, for coming in sharing some more of
your story.
We hope to have you on in thefuture where we are going to
look at some topic issues likerelationships and early recovery
and then relationships and longterm recovery, so I think
you'll be a definite asset onthose conversations.
But thanks, congratulations onthe four years.

It works.
If you work it, miracles dohappen.

Speaker 1 (28:22):
Caitlin, thanks for joining us today.
To our listeners, thanks forbeing with us.
We know every person's story isimpactful and matters, so
thanks for joining us.
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