Last Friday was the official launch for UNEXPECTED ALCHEMY: POEMS OF ADDICTION AND AWAKENING, my first book, now available on Amazon. Writing and publishing a book was a childhood dream of mine ~ unattainable for years because I was caught in the loop of alcohol addiction… able to function and survive, but big-time goals were just out of reach.
The following is the transcript of an interview* with local press to honor the launch of my book on January 7, 2022 ~ the four-year anniversary of my sobriety journey.
1. Skye, tell us how your story birthed this book of poetry.
On January 7, 2018, I made the decision to take alcohol out of the driver’s seat of my life. I had been abusing alcohol for 25+ years, give or take the few times I was pregnant. That day was the beginning of a journey.
Alcohol is a numbing agent. You numb the pain but also the pleasure. I like to imagine that when you take alcohol away it’s like draining the ocean. You find what was underneath the ‘water’ – shipwrecks and oil spills. You have to begin the process of healing those things.
It was about a year into my journey that I started writing. I was taking a look at the shame stories clouding my past. I needed to see them, look them in the eye. When told the stories, it was a way for me to disassemble them so that they no longer had power over me. I could turn what had been a darkness into something beautiful.
I stared a blog in 2019, and to my surprise, people were relating with what I wrote! By shining light on my shame, I offered permission to other people to accept the dark parts of themselves. I realized I was able to help people by telling my own stories.
So I began polishing my writing by joining poetry groups, publishing regularly on Medium.com and turning my pieces into something that I was really proud of.
2. The process of writing poetry and the exploration of yoga are so similar in many ways. How have they both contributed to your personal growth journey?
Yoga and poetry are both from my past. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger, and I did yoga off and on in college and when I was pregnant with my first child. But I had taken a break from both of those things—neglected the things l love. When I brought them back into my life, they become immense factors in my healing.
I started going to Uptown Yoga a few months into my sobriety journey. I found that I would go these yoga classes and energy in my body would shift, and I would become very emotional. Sometimes I would cry, and sometimes I would laugh… it was a very somatic experience. I was allowing stuff to move through me. Your brain gets out of the way when you practice yoga, and your body moves the stagnant energy out.
Writing poetry is very similar. So many of my poems have come from an energetic or physical place rather than my brain. There are 2 poems, Camp at Arcosanti and A Man Never Comes Hot to Me, that are both in the book, and they were both born in the middle of the night. The words were rolling around in my head and woke me up. I had to get out of my bed and walk to my computer and type the poem. They are both published in the book very much the way I had originally written them at 2am. It’s like the poem was something that needed to get out without my thinking brain getting in the way. I had to write about these events from a liminal space in my subconscious.
Yoga also helps when I have writers block – I do 15 minutes of yoga and all of sudden words start flowing, like blockages were pushed out the way.
3. Tell us when and why you decided to publish your poetry to share with others?
Publishing a book was one of secret childhood dreams. When I was in second grade I wrote a story for the Young Author Program, and I had this vision of myself someday writing a ‘real’ book.
For most of my life I dismissed this as something that was never going to happen. When you’re actively drinking, whether a lot or even just a glass every night, it makes you lethargic and unmotivated. I was always starting over—each day I had to gather myself again. Publishing my own book wasn’t ever goin to happen in that state.
Once I found sobriety I was finally able to start stacking days on top of each other. I was writing these poems and amassing a lot of them. It began to look like a possibility that maybe, wow, I could put together a book. And I have some really great friends who kept pushing me and encouraging me to do this. I started taking one step at a time to make it happen.
When you are walking your true purpose, it seems the steps just being to show themselves. For so long everything was so hard, because I kept putting obstacles in my own way. This process has flowed, and I’ve followed the steps as they’ve shown up. When my friend Cheryl said she always wanted to illustrate a book, we started talking. The images she came up with to represent alchemy are so whimsical and meaningful. Everything about this process has aligned itself.
4. What do you see unfolding in your future?
I got certified to become an empowerment coach through This Naked Mind Institute in September 2021 and started my business Soul’s Truth Coaching. My goal is to hep other women change their relationship with alcohol, and to take back control in the same way that I did four years ago. This book is my offering of my personal story as told through poetry, to help people who may be on the beginning side, the other side, who haven’t yet found their personal power center.
In 2022, I’m hosting an online group coaching program for Dry January and have lined up several poetry events in my community. I hope to grow my business and help to reduce the stigma around sobriety and recovery.
There is beauty on the other side. Everyone deserves to live a life of joy and achieve their fullest potential. My greatest hope is that my words will find their way to people that need to hear them.
*Interview credit: Hunter Meyercord of Elemental Yoga Columbus, December 2021