In her late 20’s, Bekah could not stand to look in the mirror. She couldn’t stand to look her loved ones in the eye and see their disappointment. After nearly ten years of being broken with addiction, she had the sudden revelation that if she continued the way she was going, her life would surely end. She had destroyed her relationships with her family, and shamefully avoided all her friends that mattered most.
She went into a wilderness therapeutic program for just shy of 90 days. At around two weeks in, she began to love the things that once brought her joy. These things were hard to discover, because they had been gone for so long. Her sober living aftercare protected all that she learned in treatment.
Since 2010, she has been sober and getting back what addiction took away from her. She has worked in the recovery field in many areas, including direct care at multiple primary treatment programs, bedside in a psychiatric unit as a certified nursing assistant, and more recently working with clients and families as an admissions counselor for a young adult program.
Her life now is something she would have only dreamed of having years ago. The rewards of her recovery keep coming daily. She now shares her wisdom and supports young women finding their own path of recovery through Ember Lodge.
Transcripts are Auto-Generated
Welcome back to the unbreakable boundaries Podcast with your hosts myself, Jennifer Maneely. In today's episode, I got a chance to talk with a good friend of mine, Becca who owns a recovery community. For young adult women called Ember Lodge, I highly recommend you checking them out links are in my show notes. Her journey into how she got into this business of helping other women started with her own journey, which we discuss quite a bit in this episode. She has been sober since 2010. And she has been since getting back what addiction took away from her. She has worked in the recovery field in many different areas, before she started her own organization, including direct care at multiple primary treatment programs. She's worked in psychiatric unit as a certified nursing assistant and more recently, with clients and families as an admission counselor for a young adult program. And now she shares her wisdom and helps other young adult women transition themselves into the recovery journey through her own organization, Ember Lodge. And now, I love to give a big welcome to my friend who's so kindly and generous, sharing her journey with us, Becca, Becca, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I know you have so much going on in your life, you own your own company, things have been really crazy. And I can totally understand the the time that it takes. So I really appreciate you coming on, and being willing to talk to my audience, because I know you have so many good things for the families, for other recovering people. You're just an amazing person. So I appreciate this, this opportunity for you and I to to have this great conversation. I know we're getting ready to have.
Yeah, thanks, John. Glad to be here. grateful for the opportunity. So thank you. And so
where I always kind of want to get started with people is one I didn't want to start a little bit love, like your journey your growing up. What kind of family did you grow up in? And and how did you even get started because you own your own recovery community houses where you really support other recovering people. And I think it's always great when people like you do that, because you really understand the needs of what a person in recovery needs. And so I think it's just amazing when people have their own journeys and battles with substance abuse, and then dedicate their lives to serving others. So I want to get into kind of your start of that into how did you get into doing what you're doing?
Yeah, happy to share. So I'm originally from upstate New York, really small town graduated with about 64 people in my high school. So really happy childhood. Like I said, I'm one of four kids. And I'm the youngest. So my dad worked really, really hard. My mom was a stay at home mom and have a lot of really happy memories from my childhood. We never went without we have all of our family was close by grandparents. And so we're pretty tight knit Italian Catholic Italian family. So I think you are familiar with that story of Catholic. So like, everybody kind of knows that, that story. So a lot of you know, big family gatherings and really tighten that. Yeah, very traditional. But I, you know, I can't say that I always felt really secure in who I was. And I think that as an adolescent and young adult, I think it kind of was exposed more just with everything that comes along with that age. I was in a very traumatic accident when I was 15, which nearly ended my life and put me in the ICU and it was in a coma on you know, got my last last rites from priest and my family was pretty much set, you know, saying goodbye to me. So I think that just, you know, that the combination of that trauma and also that time in my life of transition of being in transitioning from adolescent to young adults and you know, all the things that are the big feelings that kind of come along with that were a perfect storm for me and no one that was in the hospital for, you know, a month or so I was introduced to morphine and IV morphine. So from a young age I was introduced opiates. And that's kind of what I think really began my journey with opiates was that incident when I was 15? So I was relearning how to walk in, in trying to fit into my social group in high school and the drugs were really accessible. Definitely.
Right. Well, and that's kind of be a we're like, not, I don't want to say weird, but just a unique experience as a 15 year old girl, when we're just trying to figure life out already. And something happens. It can really, I couldn't imagine seeing, like, I know what I was, like, when I was 15. Right? And it's like, yeah, it was hard enough as it isn't like this being a 15 year old female is traumatic. And, and having to really relearn all of the basics of life, again, can probably make you feel very separate and isolated in that way. Because it's like, who could? Who around you could possibly know you're going through at that time? So, um, so I guess the a good question would be, what what was your friend group, like, at that time, when you were trying to relearn all this stuff.
So I hadn't, you know, my best friend who was beside me for everything, I think that it was really traumatic for her, and she's still my best friend to this day, we still talk daily. Um, so, but my peer group outside, you know, we were, I was still kind of finding my footing, just like every other 15 year old, you know, you don't want to be different, you want to be accepted. And then something big happens. And I was kind of under the microscope in a way that I didn't want to be. And so naturally, I think it caused me to retreat and an isolate and maybe act out in ways that I wouldn't, wouldn't have, because it was rooted in a trauma and uncertainty. And, you know, they don't really think about the impact from a medical standpoint of discharging a 15 year old child, you know, as a child with copious amounts of opiates. Yeah, they just don't really think about that. Back then they didn't think about that. I think they think about it more now. But at that time, there wasn't, you know, a follow up plan of, you know, checking in on me, you know, my mental health, how the trauma impacted me. You know, I was getting prescriptions for pain medications very frequently. And I kind of learned that I had something that other people wanted, which was right. I remember, I remember pulling out my medication. And somebody said, What's that? And I was like, oh, people are interested in this. And suddenly, I have something that that other people want, which was powerful, I guess, at that age, especially for some, especially for somebody who wants to fit in, you know, Oh, yeah.
So and So how long were you prescribe this medication? And when it and when did you stop taking the medication as prescribed?
Now, the timeline is a little bit hazy, because I kind of was starting to smoke pot two alongside it. And it continued, continued until, I mean, for, at least the year following the acts, and then I would intermittently be able to get medication. I mean, they just had to look at my X rays and see my spinal fusion and all the things and they'd be like, yeah, here, we were to this prescription, you know. And so when I went to college, it was natural that I mean, things were just so much more accessible there. Right, all different types of peer groups and people who are into all different types of things, and I could explore myself more and, you know, looked for other wounded people, I guess, to associate with and I found that I, you know, I found a group that I fit in with when I got to college, and it wasn't necessarily the best choice. I'm not saying that it was my peers that were responsible for my actions, but I chose to engage in relationships that you know, were founded on principles that I think kind of allowed the the addiction to grow, if that makes sense. Oh, yeah.
And I think, you know, for the families that are out there listening, this is something that they really have a struggle with in understanding that we have a tendency to gravitate to what you said you, you went to seek out wounded people in your, and maybe it was a very, at that time, it was probably very unconscious. And like, yeah, now we can see it for what it is 2020 as healthy productive members of society again, we're like, Dude, I really like, you know, pick some really horrible people in my life. But at the time, it was more of, at least for me, it was just like, it's, it's like a magnetism. It's like we resonated with each other, we felt connected, even in that unhealthy way. And I think for families out there, what's really hard for them to see is that their loved ones have something that they're gravitating to. So it's not the people around them fault that they're behaving in such a way. It's what is, it's, it's something inside of us that is we need to feel connected. And this is who we happen to feel. And right. It's like I hear all the time, like families will be like, Oh, if they would just drop that boyfriend or that girlfriend, and they're causing all these problems? Well, it's like, well, right, if that's who they're gravitating to,
that's exactly true. And that's what who I wanted to attract. And I'm gonna guess actually, I know, if my trauma had been, you know, more addressed prior to entering college, my self esteem would have been different. And I probably would have attracted different people or invited different people into my life, because I felt different about myself. Yeah. Does that make sense? Oh, yeah. So I think that, really, it was, it was very crucial that I addressed the trauma. You know, before I didn't even heal myself.
Oh, absolutely. And I think that's the other hard thing to really understand too, as, we don't always get to know as a 15 year old, how to ask for what we need. Right? We get to know at the time how that's going to impact us 1015 years down the road. And all of the belief systems that that moment is creating, we don't we're just living our lives, and we're just trying to fit in and belong and be normal, quote, unquote, normal, it's not have the maturity level at that age to go, oh, like, I'm really dealing with this emotionally, and I need you to come help me. And, and so it's, it's one of those things where it's like, we have to listen to our teenagers, I guess, or trauma, like as adults, we need to be paying attention to some of these things that are going on, and know how to interpret the data that we're given. Because we're the ones on the on the adult side of things now, that can be the emotionally mature people. So you know, the doctors, the parents, that all these things, they're the ones that have to kind of go, I really think that we need to address the emotional needs of a very immature teenager. And so that's something that is like I have yet to meet a 15 year old that knows how to ask for what they need, because they don't write they need, we know what they write. We just don't
so the things that we grab are really probably not the best things but to like the things that are close by letter accessible.
Whatever is accessible, you know, whether it's emotional needs that are unhealthy whether it's substances that make us feel whole inside that keep that darkness at bay, a little bit um, that whatever it is, it's like as as young adults we don't i don't know i just like as a high schooler, there was just no way I could convey my what was going on with me and the isolation that I felt the darkness that I felt the things that I was grabbing on to and feeding the darkness so I thought that I was resonating with With material. So like, when I was in high school I, I, this was way before, I'm going to share a little bit about myself, probably too much, but it's okay. I was really into like death and vampires before they were cooled like Twilight didn't exist, right? These were like not, but I was really into the darkness of things. And what I didn't understand at that time was that it was feeding it. I just thought I was with it. And so I didn't really understand that. And I think that a lot of times people like us has a tendency to be the darkness. And while we're thinking we're resonating with it.
Oh, for sure, you know, and I had this, I have this idea that the darkness was what was making me creative and unique and different. And so I kind of come to this identity of being in my degree is in writing, and I kind of kind of clung to this identity that I needed to be tortured, soul, like a tormented soul, you know, that in order to create, I had to be really in touch with that with that part. And I think that's completely true. Because, you know, I was I was told when I greatest things that I was told about that part of me is that it's also a very dark place is also a very fertile place. But that doesn't mean that I need to live there, right. So it took me a while to learn that it's part of me that I can accept that I can tap into, but it doesn't make me who I am. It doesn't make me a creative person. It helps me it's one of the components that makes me who I am. And I can kind of get out of that acknowledge that part and get out of it. And kind of be the who I always actually imagined that I could be right. Yeah. I think living in the darkness and in feeding that is kind of a such a slippery slope. And that's exactly where I was. I was just living in a very grim outlook of purpose and really didn't see much of a point.
it does start it starts to feed that, like, you know, why am I even here? Like, I know, for me, I got to have a suicidal place. Although I didn't have I didn't want to necessarily at times I, I wanted to kill myself. But it was more of like, I kind of just wish a bus or a cliff. I would like drive off a cliff one day or something would happen. Because there was just no future because there was no point in the world was so dark and gray anyway, and you know, all of that. And so it for me, like I there was just that that constant. Every time I would look at someone something in the back of my mind. I'm like, I just I think I just either need to go into the psych ward, or I'm going to snap one day and crazy crap is going to happen. And you know, I'm going to go on a like killing spree us when I thought it was like death by police. That's what I envisioned and so many ways. Um, but so for you. When you went off to college in you were resonating and seeking out these unhealthy people and feeding your addiction. When would you say it got to the point maybe this was after college? I'm not sure your timeline. But when would you say that you found that you really started having, noticing that it was an issue. Like you were like, I think I think I'm having a problem here.
Hmm. It took me a long time. Unfortunately, but also, in some ways. It was a blessing. I had people in my life who were peers but not in my circle and they would say hey, Becca, I'm kind of worried you know, and of course what did I do? I just cut them out of my life because I didn't want anybody holding up a mirror you know? I wasn't ready for that. So it took me many years I lived in and it kind of you know there were highs and lows and that's why it was so tricky, right because I was a graduated college you know after the first you know, the after the first semester where I really got into heavier opiates. My first semester I came you know, I think a running I mean I was ready to go when I had a really rough start at college, and then I got it together, somehow and by got it together, I mean, functioning through my addiction. So it made it more difficult because there wasn't my grades got better somehow I started managing, managing it better. I got really into writing and excelled at that and did an independent study. And that was my, my major. And so as an outsider, you know, you can, you can say, I'm checking all the boxes, you know, and you hear I hear parents say, Oh, well, the grades were good, you know, the grades were really good. So we thought things were fine. And, you know, the scary thing is, that's just it's not an indicator, you know, of course, it's just not an indicator, because there was so many other things happening, you know, did a semester abroad. And, you know, kept it together overseas for a while, and then I was able to graduate. And it wasn't until I worked for years in the restaurant industry, you know, after college, and it was just seeking purpose and hitting that ends. And it wasn't until I was in my mid 20s. So I got in the accident when I was 15. And then not until my mid 20s. Did I you know, go to treatment. Right? So, and I, you know, my parents were really amazing at being a witness and gently nudging but not pushing me, excuse me, they knew that the timing kind of I think part of them knew at the time, we had to be right, I needed to be ready. They, they intervened many times prior to me go into wilderness, but it wasn't until I was like, you know, I need help. You know, did that actually happen?
And in speaking of your parents and the intervening stuff, what was that kind of relationship? When did they start kind of noticing that something was not right? And what do they do about it?
When I was in college, and I had to go to the emergency room, because, you know, had a couple, you know, an incident with taking too much. And my dad was always I'm taking my dad hat off, he can talk to me, you know, what's going on? You know? And I was just one wouldn't open up at that point. And you know, my mom, just checking on me, are you are you okay? Like, what do you need? And then eventually, I mean, I, I lost, I couldn't pay for my apartment anymore. Yeah. So my rent was overdue. And, and I think that was actually where it started to spiral down or where I couldn't pay my rent, I couldn't keep gas on my car. So then I actually moved in with them. And they were able to be more of a witness and kind of nudged me more here and there. But in a way that wasn't it looking back that could have put more pressure on me probably. Would that have helped? I don't know. I don't have an answer for that. I know, the way that it worked out was perfect. So I don't really I don't really think about how it could have been done differently. And what they did was they were witness to my, to where I was, and they were loving, but also had boundaries with a lot of things. So, you know, like when I was when I had to move back on their house, they had certain rules about things being a mid 20s living with my parents again. So of course they had they need to take rules
and and what were some of those boundaries, given that the podcast is called unbreakable boundaries. What were some of those boundaries they had? And how well did they do upholding their boundaries?
I think it was Abdun flowed, you know, I think based on how inflammatory I was, at the time, I think it was hard when I would get really upset at a boundary. So they were more communicate with us, you know, if you're going to be late, tell us where you are and who you're with what you're doing. You know, not to say that that really helped kept me from doing anything, but at least kept our communication better. And so with the communication being better and open. When the time came for me to be like, I got a problem. It was a little bit easier. Right? You know, that wasn't such a heavy conversation because we had been kind of communicating in a more open and compassionate way during that time. So when the time came, it was open and compassionate. And they were ready to take action. So I think they actually had a plan long before actually went to treatment. But we're kind of waiting on the timing. But when the time came, it was, this is a you're going once, you know, we are my, my dad was a very hard working father. We're a family of I mean, we all started working at the age of 15. Pretty much. And so we're all very hard working, we weren't born into wealth. And so, you know, treatment is financial, the financial commitment to treatment is a big one. Yeah. And it's not one that you want to do over and over again. So I think they were very intentional with the choices that they made. So sending me to wilderness, which is something that I was interested in anyway. was on the front end, this is this is the only time Mecca and so I kind of really embraced it. I didn't you know, the beginning was very, very difficult. I wanted to leave it was uncomfortable, actually, let me rewind. I said, I need to go to detox. And I said, I didn't know I'm thinking about it. Now. I didn't know it was going to load on us. So I should correct that. I had Googled, I was like, Man, if I could just escape and go hiking, you know, it'd be fine. You know, all of those like ideas of me. If I could only do this, then I'll be fine. I'll be better. Yeah. So there was a Google search for wilderness rehab on my parent's desktop, because I was living with them that they had seen, but didn't say anything. So when I said I was ready to go to detox, I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna go to detox, and then we'll be done. I can go home, it'll be over. I'll just get right. You know, I was very sick, I was withdrawn. And so my priority was, let me get feeling normal. It wasn't let me be healthy for the rest of my life. It was, let me be let me feel better right now what is going to relieve this horrible, horrible pain that I'm in physically and emotionally and so I went to medical detox for five days in upstate New York. And, you know, they set it up at a wilderness program while I was there, and I thought I was going home, when I left detox, they picked me up and they said, we've got your phone, you're not you can't have it. You're getting on a plane, you're going to learn us and did my intake at like, 11:30pm in a wilderness place in North Carolina. I was so mad, I was able to see my intake picture. It's hilarious. I'm so mad. So mad, they send it to you,
please do, can I use that, um, I laugh because I can imagine what it must be like, because at that time, you're like, you're probably not thinking in terms of, I'm gonna put everything down forever, you're just like, I'm just I just I'd need to, to kind of just balance back out and back off a little bit. And out what the right balance of living this normal life is, I just got a little carried away.
Just a little carried away. I can come back here,
right? It's not usually like, Oh, I am gonna put everything down forever. Especially the, like, the kind of the first go around, I'll say at least for me what I see a lot of people. It's, it's like, I just need to find that, that strike that balance a little bit. And, um, so I can imagine what it's like to to have these expectations for yourself, of getting out of detox, going home and being like, I think I'm I'm gonna really start living a healthy life that involves probably just backing off things a little bit, and then all of a sudden, they're thrown into a wilderness program. And what that means is, and you can do a lot better job of describing the program than I can. But for those out there, basically, it's like you said, you get thrown into the woods and you're living outside, you're camping, you're you're out really getting in touch with yourself, probably for the first time ever.
And it's interesting process for sure
can be scary and rewarding depending on the mindset of the person going into it in terms of what they get out of it because it's like, you do have to get in touch with yourself.
You Do you have there's nowhere to hide, there's nowhere to
hide. And that can be an amazing and uncomfortable journey. So what, tell us a little bit about that journey of the wilderness and not hiding?
Yeah, I mean, I don't know. For me, personally, I don't think anything else would have worked. And I'm pretty confident that the, that was the recipe for me. I think because there's no way to be enabled when you are in the wilderness. So you are making choices, I was making choices that were going to directly impact me and my peer group, and everybody around me, if I'm, if there's, if we know that rain is coming, and I'm choosing not to, you know, pack my, my gear in a in a dry bag and get everything set up so that I'm prepared for the rain, then I'm gonna get soaking wet, I'm gonna have to live with that decision for probably a few days, and I'm gonna complain about it. And then, you know, so the next time I might change that behavior, I might say, jeez, last time, I was lazy, and I didn't pack my bag properly, I think I'm going to be more intentional with that, so that I can feel better the next time around. So it's really beautiful way to be held accountable, and have natural consequences that are safe, you know, in a really nice, and it's not even, it's a container, but it's not a container, because you have hundreds of 1000s of miles of littoralis around you, and you, it's not so claustrophobic, you're moving, you're engaging with your peers, you have to engage with your peers in a way that's team oriented. Everybody has to carry their own weight. And if somebody doesn't carry their weight, they address it together as a as a group, you know, as it's all about grip culture. So it taught me how to work with my peers in a healthy way, which is something that I just didn't know how to do. Right? I just knew how to how to do me, and that's it right? There, me and then
doing a great job of that.
failing miserably, so. So that's it, really. And that's why we're so and why I'm so passionate about the experiential approach for young adults. I think that just seeing young adults working together as a team, and developing a culture, a healthy culture around them is just so crucial. Because it's such a such a unique time, right, to learn how to engage with your peers, and to learn how to show up in that way. Well,
and there's a couple of things I want to hone in on this for the families that are listening that you said that I think is hugely important, is you said the term that I'm going to now use forever is the natural consequences, you know, and it's just, it wasn't someone else giving you like, consequences for your actions, it was just, oh, I actually have to think about the decisions that I'm making. And if I don't, there are natural consequences. And a lot of times, I think that we feel up until, you know, we start experiencing things like that we feel like the world is out to get us and, and like, we're blaming everyone else for all of our decisions. You made me do this. You're treating me poorly, that cop that had every right to arrest me, arrested me, he was just out to get me, you know, whatever, exactly whatever it was, and what you're saying is so important, in terms of the natural consequences. And that is where I think a lot of times, families can sometimes unintentionally intervene in those natural consequences where people actually say, Oh, wait, I they did something. They're living with me. I told them if they used that their consequence would be to not live in my house anymore. But I don't want them to live on the street. Someone just keep letting them live with me. But the natural consequence of that is is that oh, they gotta you know go out and it's it's more of like what you're saying is nature kind of held up a mirror
for you. Yeah. And I couldn't argue with it. Man, that was like that was my choice. Yeah, and
experience of it right, the very essential and what I love Also that you're saying is how valuable of learning how to commune with other people learning how to have relationships with other people that maybe you got along with them? Maybe you didn't, it was really irrelevant whether you liked them or not, you still had to figure out how to work together with them. Right? Right. And that is, I mean, important. Yeah, we don't do this life alone of what I like to remind a lot of people is that our as human beings, our ability to survive has been dependent upon our ability to commune with one another,
not so much. And it has
very little to do with substance abuse. But when it comes to substance abuse, we have to learn how to live in a community and how to not to try to do life by ourselves. And what's great is that we do have these recovery communities that can teach us how to live in life, but it's really just teaching us literally how to live life, you know, in a healthy and productive sort of way, because we've been trying to do it on our own. And like you said, while you're taking care of yourself, it was not very great. It did not turn out very well. Right. All right. So that experience was really great. Now, here's another really important question, because you said a lot about the wilderness program, and that was the recipe for you. Did does everyone that goes through the wilderness program succeed?
Well, certainly not. I, you know, I think that it takes there's different versions of it for everybody, and certainly not now. So I mean, it takes a couple times for some people,
But the thing about it, though, is that I what I see is that there's always something to take away each time. So a return to use for me is not a failure, or return to use is I always tried to imagine, I mean, even with our program that we have now, the outcome might not have been what the parents wanted, sometimes. And our hope Our ultimate hope is that seeds were planted. And that's the perfect perspective that we have to have is that seeds were planted, and they're they're going to think, at some point moving forward, before they make a decision. Hmm, I wonder if XYZ is going to have a different outcome for whatever reason. And there are new ways of thinking that are introduced. And we've got to start there. And we have to acknowledge that. Because I see a lot of times whether client comes out of wilderness and doesn't, you know, it's not the outcome that the parents had hoped or that anybody had helped, or even what the client had helped. Really, yeah, there is always take away, there always is. And there's always value to that experience. And so, the next time around, it's gonna stick with them for the next time they want to get back on track or try to try it a different way.
Yeah. Well, and like you're saying, there's so many seeds that do get planted when people go into either programs or try the recovery, it may not, the outcome may not always be success from the first time. I know, for me my relapse. Like and I don't want to say like, I always like to remind people, I'm not condoning the behaviors of the relapse, what I'm saying is that it was essential for me to understand the key points that I missed in my recovery the first time around, right, so it's like I had, I was missing a lot. And I wasn't willing to do a lot in my earlier stages of recovery. And the relapse taught me exactly what it was that I was missing, and where my willingness really needed to be. And so for that, I was able to actually be successful, I don't feel like I could have been successful. The first time because I just wasn't mentally there yet. But because I had that experience, I was able to go back into recovery. So much more prepared. I kind of knew what I needed to do. I was willing to do and be uncomfortable. And I was like it was just, it was good. So just because someone goes back to using it's not a hopeless failure, like you're saying, seeds or seeds are planted in that way. And we don't ever really know what the recipe is for for each individual person until they find it for themselves. And a lot of decisions come after that. So yeah,
yeah. What I also say to parents, too, is you know, hear parents that are you know, they're now going on or they're engaging in family programming at the treatment program and they hear other options We are saying, Gosh, you know, my child has been in treatment 567 times and and I also want to speak to the parents whose child is going for the first time and let them know that that's not always the case, either. It's stuck for me the first time. Yeah, you know, I haven't experienced a return to use, you know, in 10 years. So it's, there's hope that it could it could be the recipe, like you said, and it could not be and I think that the, there needs to be a, the attachment to the outcome that everybody has in mind, no matter what it is, needs to be squashed. Yeah. It just needs to be a day by day. Conversation by conversation. Where are they at today? Where are we at today? How can we hear each other and be with each other? Yeah. I mean, it's so hard to do, I can imagine it so difficult to do. Yeah. Because that outcome is so important. If you just want to be happy, you know, and
well, and there's the balance between being present. And then wanting a goal but being present within the outcome. So you can't like you were saying you can't get attached to the outcome, because then you start setting up some unrealistic expectations. And those can be really dangerous. When if you're a parent, or a family member, and you have these unrealistic expectations, because you think that you understand how to get to that outcome.
And you don't, right, you can No, no, nobody does,
you can start really saying, Look, this is, this is not what I was expecting you to behave like when you got out of rehab, and put way more pressure on them to achieve this outcome that seems so daunting and overwhelming that you forget to praise them for where they're at in the moment, for where they are present. And presence is everything, it's a day by day, day by day for us who are in recovery, it's a day by day for the parents. So if you get so attached to the outcome, like you were saying it can actually create a lot of false or unrealistic expectations on the loved one that ends up putting unintentionally more pressure on them to be the person you're not ready to be yet.
I know. And I see it all the time, even now. There are certain markers that I know I'm going I'm a parent myself, I can see the pitfalls of how we get into what we think is healthy expectation, which is doing good in school achieving, you know, goals that I wish that I had achieved when I was a kid. And so it's very, very deeply ingrained into being a parent. Because we want so badly for our children to succeed. I want my children to succeed. And it's always this balance of me, quieting my internal voice that says, I wish I had that when I was a child, or this worked for me when I was a child. Let me I hope I want this to work for them now. Yeah. And it could be anything from their career choice. down to what kind of, you know what kind of vehicle they have, or how they made what they're, it's, it's every choice. So when I see parents, I really struggle when parents are pushing to reenter college at the same pace as they were one night because sometimes they're using them to intervene while the child was in college. Yeah. And so it's like, okay, we went to rehab, let's wash your hands. Now we can get back to college. It's like, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, like, their major coping skill that they had the only one they had, which was drugs and alcohol is now gone. Yeah, let's like rethink how we're going to help them show up in a different way. And that is going to take a lived experience of handling many, many crises throughout the day and navigating through those before we're even ready to say, let's get you back to school or doing these things that we originally had in mind.
Well, and I think that comes with the misunderstanding that the drugs are the problem or the alcohol is the problem. And when and that that is like oh well, let's just put the drugs and the alcohol down, then everything can go back to normal failing to understand that it's like well wait. They were trying to satisfy a need through drugs and alcohol. It did not work. But now we have that back and start understanding what it is that they need. How can we get them to the point where they understand that they need what they need and have to ask for it. So that when they go into the world back into college, they don't overwhelm themselves, because they haven't been able to ask for the things that they need. Like, I had some time clean when I reentered back into college. And it was freakin scary and overwhelming. And I had to use everything that I learned in recovery. And I had like recovery people, I had to call people, I had to be able to communicate what I was experiencing when I was going through to get through going to college. As someone that had, I think I had like two years clean when I went back in. And it was a struggle, and I needed those two years prior was hard. Yeah. So, um, so that's something that's like, I agree. And before because I know we're coming up a little bit on time, but you have so much valuable experience on helping families and not just helping families, but their, their kids, because you own your own business in in doing this work, and I would love for you to share with my audience, what is your company? What do they do? And how do you help.
So we have a program for young adult women called Ember lodge in Asheville, North Carolina, and we are a program for young adult women who've successfully completed treatment who are transitioning into the real world with primarily substance use disorder. And so I guess my experience leaving wilderness was, I left I graduated, that was the thing that I couldn't wait to do, I couldn't wait to get out, I couldn't wait to get back to life. Got out want to go right back in. Like with my tail between my legs,
first of all, that's a huge sign that something really landed. So if you're a parent out there, if your kid is scared to leave rehab, or they don't want to be like, back into the real world, that's a really good sign. They should be scared to death. So you got you're scared?
Yeah. I know. And, you know, it's so interesting. So I mean, I was a out brag, um, I was an all star student at treatment, I was, you know, wanted I was I wanted to do by the last couple of weeks, I really just wanted to achieve and I wanted to, you know, I thought for a while I was like, I want to get into this field of work. This is so great. And so I left, I left treatment, and I got to the world. And I was like, Wait, treatment wasn't why I use the world is why I use. So how do I, how do I do this. And so I was in a structured community that saved my butt. And I and I hear parents a lot. They say, we've spent so much money on treatment, you know, I don't know that we can only do a couple of months of aftercare, continuing care, sober living, transitional living, extended care, whatever, whatever the therapist is recommending, we can only afford a couple of months. And it's, I get that. And I know it's a financial commitment. But for me, it is protecting the investment of treatment, because you don't want to go back to treatment. We all everybody agree, we don't want the child to go back to treatment, right? And so the longer that we can stretch that year after treatment, eight months, nine months after treatment, do it, you know, do it and put do whatever you can to make that happen. Because this is where we practice. You know, treatment is has its place for uncovering the root of our problems, sifting through why we are the way that we are why we think the way we think. And then the world is where we are fine tuning. Okay, now that I know all this stuff about the way that I think how am I going to live with that? Yeah, how am I going to like, get a job and do these things that I've always wanted to do and achieve and without hitting dead ends of having ill horrible coping strategies. So the hope with continuing care and what we do at Ember Lodge is to be a witness to that process and a a immersive community and when I say immersive, I mean, we are a real life setting for clients. I have to get a job They have to go to school or go to school, we have to see them navigate these triggers and, and get through the other side. Yeah, we're there to support them. So we're highly structured, we have a lot of programming. And we really aim to support our clients until they get past their year of recovery. Whenever brought them to treatment. It's so it's so interesting that first year is just so it's so crucial. You know, we do the first birth, they still are the first Christmas over the first anniversary of loved ones, death, sober. All of those things we're getting through for the first time. And there's just so much merit to that. Yes. And then we get through the first year, and we say, Okay, I think I can do another year. Yeah, I think I can do this again. And then that just keeps growing and building and growing and building. And before I know it 10 years have gone by.
I know, right?
And you think oh gosh, I'm just getting old now.
Right? You're like, man, wow. Um, and that's like the amazing thing. And I think you're so on point with that first year being the year of like, having to actually learn how to get through those first big milestones, and do it, you know, in a clean, sober sort of way, and having people around you that can support you. And like you said, you're you're an extremely like immersive, more so than something like, you know, there's like three quarters, houses, halfway houses, yes, they're less expensive, but they're also less immersive, they're less, they don't like build on the foundation as much as you do from out of rehab, like, you guys really build on that foundation. And that's what I love about your program and the extensiveness that you provide in that transitional period of, of all of the, the the people that you have at your disposal. So like you have like therapists and you have like, all of these things, a lot of the other like sober livings or halfway houses or three quarter houses, whatever it is, they don't, it's kind of a little bit of the blind leading the blind. That's how I look at it. At least in in, you know, my eyes. But I think what you offer is more of a shared wisdom community.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
That's what I like about it program.
Yeah, and I do so we're, we're moderately priced. You know, we're at as a parent, and as a person who's going to be, you know, a stakeholder who's gonna be funding the young adults process. Remember, less expensive means less services, more expensive means more staffing, more accountability. It's pretty simple math. You know, if I have a staff that's there, 24/7, that staff needs to get paid to be there if I have therapists who come and so the amount of what I would encourage parents to do when they're embedding programs is ask what the daily or the weekly schedule looks like, ask what the programming is, are they meeting with? Leadership Team are what are the what are the touch points? Like? What are they checking in with clients? So for us, we have like morning group and night group. We have a lot of different lenses and see them through, they do a gardening group cooking class. They do an on site, 12, step yoga, things like that. So we do we see them through many different lenses, because I guarantee you the way a client can show up a morning group can only last so long, and then by the time yoga comes around, they're going to be a totally different person. And then they're we're going to see them through that lens. Yeah. Which is so important, because the same goes for the clinical space, right? So I can show whoever I want for an hour with my therapist, right? For my therapist for an hour. But when there's a staff member, they're expecting client to make their bed and checking on that and checking on Are they on time for morning group? Are they showing up to other groups on time? Have they met their meetings that week have they completed Chapter One of the guidebook their quest to work, their journaling? These are all things that we're holding clients highly accountable for and that accountability. And the clear cut goals, for me is like the magic recipe for young adults, being really clear with your goals, and then being accountable and following up on those goals. And really there that's what young adults I think want, they want to know what work needs to be done and they want that to be clear. And so and we do that, we do that a number lodge we have a guide book that they follow so they know exactly what to work on.
So and I think that's that's hugely important is to kind of be able to set up of like, well, this is like, you know, phase one, phase two, phase three. Sometimes like you get out of rehab if you don't have that kind Have a community that support that, you know, all of those things and have people teach you how to use different coping strategies how to find joy again, one, because you're doing a lot of these things, for people to be able to find what they reconnect with in a healthy way. So, you know, yoga, you're reconnecting with their physical body, their mental body, their, you know, all of that stuff, you're trying to provide a different ways of saying, Oh, you really want to get into the gardening, you really want to get into all of these things, these are healthy coping ways of re inspiring yourself to bring your joy back, because we didn't get clean or sober, to struggle forever one, and want to be happy. And we have to know that things make us happy, and you're providing those kinds of outlets to teach people how to be happy again, even when they are unprovable, but how to how to really do that. And so like I really, that's, that's one of the things that I think is so valuable about your program that some of the like some of the other programs, and I don't want to take away from the other programs, but your program is providing a lot more of a deeper bridge for people. And I think that's essential. The first year is having a deeper bridge. And I think that's a lot of times in this addiction community where we lack we don't get a lot of out of rehab, that kind of bridges that they need. I didn't and I floundered a lot. And it was a lot more traumatic, I had to spend years of of getting over the trauma of the first year to be able to like move forward in my life. And it was, it wasn't possible, it just meant that I had to focus a lot on getting over the trauma of the first year of recovery. And that was right. And,
and young adults need support on life skills, right. So if we're not teaching our young adults, how to take their medication, how to call their psychiatrist how to manage their time, then we're failing them because when they move out, they're going to be failing them in a way that not giving them independent tools, the tools to be independent, because mom and dad want the child to be independent, the child wants to be independent. If they don't learn the skills to be independent, as soon as they move out, for a complete treatment, it's gonna be Mom and Dad, can you call and do this? Can you take care of Where's my car and my car insurance? My phone bill? All those things, right? We need to teach our adults how to have those skills, just the basic core life skills. Yeah,
and here's in and we'll, we'll wrap up with this. But here's the most important thing, too, is that as a young adult, it can't be the families anymore, teaching them how to be an adult. Because that gets into way too many complicated family dynamics, they will never learn how to be an adult when it hit that adult age. Parents cannot no longer teach kids how their kids have Yes. And they need so no. And
I told them, yes, I told them that the parent will be like, Oh, well, should I address that? Or no, let us be the bad people love her. Just love her right now. Let her be the pin. And then let us there's too much emotional history for you to hold this, to do this. And yeah, so let us do that there's so much value in having a non family member holding the client accountable. Because there's no emotional history there. Yes. So it's a clean slate, oh, wait, that means we can, that means we can hold them real accountable.
And they need that. And they need that and they don't need their parents. Because it's like, then all of a sudden the recovery comes to be against the parents more and more, you know, and that's really an important distinction is going if they're so busy, just trying to argue with you, they're not focused so much on what they really need to do for themselves and themselves accountable. So I think what you're doing is like, hugely important, and you have the knowledge and wisdom to share with that, that it's not so much the leading the blind, it's the creating a community for forever for your support. So I just want to really, thank you so much for taking the time out and doing this. I think this is going to be hugely beneficial for so many people out there. And one last thing I want to ask for you before we finally wrap up is what would you tell the parents on how they can best help what are some of the boundary what what the one main boundary that families can really do to support their loved one?
Hmm, one main boundaries that families can do to support their loved one that I face, over and over Again, is if the parent believes that the program and the professionals know, you know what that what they've seen, to have ideal outcomes. And then if they trust that program that hold the boundary that your child needs to successfully complete the program, before earning, maybe not earning but before coming back home to live again, or trust the program, I've talked to so many parents who, it's shocking how many parents go behind my back. Because I'm so ashamed, they know that. So they will get the apartment way too soon, they'll give the car away too soon. And I, I say, I honor your decision as a family and that, you know, it's my job to hold a mirror and say, This is not a good choice, which is why they avoid me. But but then we're talking again, a few months later, a Becca, you know, would you have any suggestions on what we can do that she came home and and then I just love them through it? Right? My biggest, my biggest suggestion is to trust the therapist, the professionals who have seen this, and try to step away and be objective. And yeah, and really think these decisions through and listen to the professionals. And if you believe your child should complete a program, and if you believe it is a program that you trust, then your boundary is we love you, we hear you will talk about this, you know, maybe when you successfully complete the program that you're in, yeah, and that's it. Yeah.
And and, and just be a broken record. Yeah. And what you're speaking to is the fact that the kids are well consistently, when they get uncomfortable, want to throw the program under the bus, they how horrible it is, and say all of these things that all these people are doing. And then the parents go all like mama and papa bear on exactly intervening way too much when it's really like, Hey, you gotta listen. Like these people are not doing anything to you. They're doing everything for you, because they know what you need. And that's what you're that's, that's such a good point of going trust the programs that they've been doing this for a long time, you've been doing this a long time, you know, the needs, and you also know how manipulative,
right? And I'm not, I'm not in any way, saying be naive, right? aware of what's going on. But also probably pause and think hmm, and then and then, you know, call people talk to the program director talk to the therapist get other perspective, when I see is when the communication gets broken. And it's just and when they get to Africa, believe me, they're going to have cell phones, parents, they're going to have cell phones that they're going to be calling you on. So when any little thing happens. The conversation is, have you tried talking to a therapist about that? Have you tried doing this? It's redirecting your child to source? Yeah, because our job is to help them source and find and help them find what's gonna work for them to get through it. Because you're rescuing them and, and trying to fix their problem for them is just getting back into that old pattern.
It is it is and you're right. And I'm gonna have all of Becca's information and Bilad and all that stuff on my show notes. I really encourage you guys to go check it out with the website real quick. Ember lodge.com. Is that
correct? Yep. www dot Ember lodge.com. Yep. And I'll have
I'll have a link over to that on my show notes. And again, thank you for for sure. Thanks for having me. And thank you for listening to this podcast. If you want to listen to more or find more information out about this podcast, and more of what I do to help families you can go check out my page at unbreakable boundaries podcast.com. It's full of other great podcasts just like this one and other great resources to look through. And please remember to share this podcast with others you never know who may need to hear this people are often hiding their battles in this arena. And sharing is a great way to provide this valuable resource or person you may not even know who needs it. And don't forget, there is always hope, even when things seem the most hopeless. Thanks again for listening to the unbreakable boundaries podcast, I wanted to share a little bit about the new program that was actually born from my early recovery series that I did as a part of this podcast. So as you can hear in many of the episodes that I dive into people with that early recovery is really messy. It's confusing. People have a hard time navigating themselves through the various situations that they face, such as the different triggers that they're they face the overwhelming emotions, how to navigate through some of those complicated family dynamics and how To find the right support system for themselves, and so many more things. So I did create the early recovery program that helps people who are entering into recovery, know how to navigate themselves through those very, very confusing and overwhelming first months. It also helps the families who want to support them and knowing what to do. So even if you are listening to this, as the family member and your loved one isn't quite into recovery, yet, they may be soon and you can be better prepared on how to deal with them as they enter into that early recovery process. Because a lot of times the red flags that we think are red flags are actually a really, really normal part of the early recovery process. And we can unintentionally put too many unrealistic expectations on them. So this is a great thing for families to go through as well. And you can learn more about this program by going to the early recovery program.com. I really, really hope that everyone check that out is a great resource. I made it so that it could be very inexpensive. And it's just it's it's a lot of my own journey and what people experience so I hope you go check that out the early recovery program.com
CEO/Founder of Ember Lodge
Bekah has worked in the recovery field since 2011 and considers her experiential approach her greatest strength. She gets the most fulfillment when witnessing clients push out of their comfort zone into their place of healing. She enjoys spending time with family, writing, documentary film, climbing, and riding her bike.