How has music supported you in recovery? What inspiration do you find there? Are there certain songs that have become the soundtrack of your life?
Sonia Lee is a singer and song writer in recovery. We talked about her recovery journey and her recovery songs.
Sonia's recovery started when she realized she was alcoholic. But, after some years in recovery, some things just still weren't right. She tells of going to a combined AA and Al-Anon women's retreat. She talked to an Al-Anon speaker, saying that she thought maybe she should go to Al-Anon, but wasn't sure it was ok, being an alcoholic. And the Al-Anon member said “Honey, if you scratch an alcoholic, you'll probably find an Al-Anon.”
Sonia has always felt a need to control others, from when she was young, which she illuminates with a humorous incident from her childhood. She says, with a smile, “I get along really well with people when things are on my terms.”
In her family, there was some relapse happening. So, she started going to Al-Anon. But, this is what it sounded like then: “Hi, I'm Sonya, I'm an alcoholic, but I've been told that I should go to Alanon.” That didn't work so well, it turns out, “because right off the bat I came in and I was different in my own head. … not surprisingly the Alanon program didn't really work for me because I wasn't doing it, wasn't living it. I didn't even really understand what it was all about.” So, she stopped going to Al-Anon meetings.
Years later, the relapses were getting worse. “I started dabbling again in Alanon because I didn't know what to do with my feelings. I was so angry and I couldn't understand why if I was able to get sober, why my husband was struggling.” At another conference, an Al-Anon speaker said to her, “I want to suggest that you come to Al-Anon as an Al-Anon and not say that you're an alcoholic and … get a pure Al-Anon sponsor.” That's what she did, “I looked for the person who was taking notes, I looked for the woman who was sharing, who was serious about her recovery. I asked her to be my sponsor.” She's been working her Al-Anon program ever since then.
We talked about her song “Butterfly.” On the surface, it's a song about a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. But it's also a song about recovery. The opening lines, “Come on out into the light. At first nothing will seem right.” certainly capture my early experience in the program. Sonia wrote this while she was singing as part of an event at a treatment facility. She says, “it just came out.” The song celebrates recovery, “In the bridge. It says ‘fly high. I will sing with abandon’ and for some reason, I love the word abandon. … I will sing with abandon, because for me personally, I was a singer, in my drinking days. And I didn't know when I got sober, if I could keep singing.”
Sonia's song “God Shaped Hole (in My Heart)” was inspired by a woman who said “I had been putting all these things buying things, having relationships eating, food, alcohol, all these things. I was trying to make, to fill me up. And what I didn't realize and why that didn't work was because it was a God shaped hole in my heart.”
The third song that we talked about is “Running from the Fire”, which was inspired by a speaker, who said “I don't know about you guys. I didn't come here walking towards the light. I came here running from the fire.” Sonia continues, “I didn't come to Al-Anon because things were going great. I came because my son looked at me and was wondering how he could make help make mommy happy.”
Readings and Links
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