In our twenty-first episode, Sofie is joined by guest Felisha Hunter, a nurse, recovery coach, author, and podcaster, to discuss authentic recovery. Throughout the episode, Felisha draws from her own experience as a person in recovery from substance use and codependency. As Felisha shares her story, she unveils invaluable insights and practical tips, empowering listeners to claim their space and redefine their lives. She emphasizes the essentiality of creating a compelling vision for a sober future, reminding us that true recovery is about more than just abstention, it’s about building a life worth living.
Our next episode will be released on June 20th at 6 am EST.
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About the Guest
Felisha Hunter is a Nurse, Recovery Coach, Author and Podcaster but most importantly she is a person in recovery for substance use and codependency. She continues to live a sober life while practicing autonomy and authenticity. She has risen from her rock bottom to connect with her soul purpose of redefining pain through storytelling.
Sofie: Hello, everyone! And welcome back to Claim Your Potential, the empowerment podcast. I’m your host, Sofie. And for this episode, we are joined by Felicia Hunter to discuss authentic recovery.
Felicia Hunter is a nurse, recovery coach, author, and podcaster, but most importantly, she is a person in recovery for substance use.
Please welcome, Felicia Hunter. Thank you so much for being with us today, Felicia.
Felicia: Hey, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
Sofie: Can I just say? I am super excited to connect with you again. For our listeners, Felicia and I actually just spoke a few weeks ago I think and we had an incredibly authentic interview for her show and so it is such a pleasure to be able to have you on and continue that authentic storytelling.
Felicia: Thank you so much. Yeah, ditto. I am so excited to have things reversed here as well and to reach your audience.
Sofie: Awesome. And I am super excited to continue that trend of authenticity. And so speaking of authenticity, I want to start off this episode with learning more about your journey. And so, what has been your experience with addiction?
Felicia: Yeah. So I have been in recovery for about three years now from substance use. And where I learned about authenticity was actually years after becoming sober. For me, sobriety wasn’t enough and I had to really dive into recovery. And that process was life-changing. It brought me out of the mindset of thinking that I just had a drinking problem and I held a lot of shame around that. And looking at this as, “OK, how can I make a life that I want to be sober for or how can I live authentically without any substances? How can I make that feel good?”
And when I started to put pieces together of what made me me, that’s when authenticity just really became everything that I believe in. So my work today is less around the substance and more around, OK, well, let’s create a life that you don’t need to use for.
It’s a really long way of answering your question.
Sofie: No. Actually, I really like that way of answering my question. And during our last meeting, this is something that I’ve been wanting to ask you a little bit more about.
Sofie: But during our last meeting, we discussed a lot about emotional abuse and co-dependency. And I’m curious what your experience has been with co-dependency.
Felicia: Yes. So co-dependency was definitely active while I was in active substance use for sure. And I didn’t really understand it. I thought that I just had kind of bad luck with men, and was picking the wrong ones. And my focus was more on how they treated me and less on my role in it.
And so when I got sober, I fell in love in rehab. I really was looking for anything to take me away from myself and so that meant that my next substance even though I was sober, it was a man. Except now I am sober to really take in the toxic behavior, whereas before, I could numb it out and I could justify like, “OK, we were just high that’s why he hit me.”
So now, I’m sober. I’ve just moved somebody in. I’m like six weeks sober. And I don’t know who I am without substances and I have this man that I’ve become completely dependent on and he started to take pieces of me that I didn’t even realize he was taking until later on. It was just – it started with a small comprises that I would make. But at that time, it was so crucial for my recovery for me to be claiming spaces and I just kept giving it away. So it took some time.
Of course, he relapsed and I didn’t. And so then I’m chasing him around and trying to make him sober, which you cannot do. You cannot make anybody else sober. And it hit me that I just – I can’t keep doing this pattern. If you line up all my exes, they all look the same in some way, the way they treated me, the way that I thought I deserved to be treated.
So co-dependency was a really, really crucial part of my recovery. It meant learning to fuel my own recovery and I am the only one that can control it. Nobody can make me happy enough to be sober. It has to come within.
And so, ending those toxic traits. Once I stopped with the co-dependent romantic relationship, I could see myself becoming co-dependent in career and co-dependent in friendship, and I had to really do an inventory on like OK, Felicia, why aren’t you enough for yourself? Why can’t you just be? Why do you have to grab on to external things in order to feel happy?
And that’s where the real work came, the really painful work but the real work. And once I dove in, it’s like you can’t look back. Once you see those patterns and see how much different your life can look, my boundaries are so – like my friends call me Little Miss Boundaries because there is no way that I will compromise my recovery for anything. My recovery comes first or else I have nothing. And that comes down to the small things. If I need space and space is a hard thing in co-dependent relationships, and so that was the first thing I was compromising was my space. My space is my number one thing that keeps me sober today. I have to spend time with myself. Yeah, that’s co-dependency for you.
Sofie: I think it’s – thank you for sharing that. I think what you said was incredibly powerful. And I’m thinking back to our first conversation and just talking about how so often with abusive relationships whether that is physically, emotionally, whatever form of abuse that is, so often, we don’t realize it because we don’t know who we are without that person. We become so attached to not just our self but myself plus that person, that that’s such a big part of our identity.
And I love what you said on you didn’t know who you were when you were six weeks sober. And so it’s like how can I have a partner but I don’t even know who I am yet? And so that’s kind of where we go down that rabbit hole. And I’ve done it. Other women have done it where just we become pretty much what this other person is. Our personality is designed around another person. Who we are is for another person.
And so, absolutely we have to spend time with ourselves. We have to go, “Wait a second. But who am I?”
Sofie: Yes. Yeah.
Felicia: And for me, I couldn’t – there was no way I could have done that while I was still using substances. It almost had to happen the way that it happened. I had to slowly remove one thing at a time when I was ready to and I chose to pick the thing that was going to kill me in the moment, which was drugs and alcohol. That one had to go for me to survive. But co-dependency was going to lead me back there if I didn’t work on that one next.
And that’s how I found recovery. It’s like layer after layer and if I don’t keep going, I’m going to go back. I have to keep working on myself and dealing with any behaviors, dealing with uncomfortable emotions. The minute I stop dealing and I stop looking at my own stuff, that’s when I’m in trouble. That’s when I need somebody else to help me whether it’s a mentor or I need to completely hit pause and really do a really good inventory on where I’m at.
Sofie: Absolutely. And going back into taking that time to go, “Wait a second, I’m making all these – I’m taking all these steps to feel safe and to take care of my immediate needs,” but then it’s like, “Who am I taking with me on that journey? Am I bringing people that are going to put me back to where I started and bring me down that rabbit hole again?”
And so, thank you for mentioning that because I want to know, how can we fight those patterns of co-dependency especially like when we are on these roads to recovery and we are not thinking about the fact that, “Wait a second, these are the people in my life. How are my relationships affecting my ability to recover?”
Felicia: Just with the people, the people in my life I guess is the biggest thing on my part is just being really honest with them about what I am doing, where I’m at. And even if I’m doing something that might be a little riskier like I’m going on a date and I’m staying the night or something like that, I’m just really transparent so that if my blinders are on, my people will be able to tell me, because there has been so many times that I can get into situations and just see roses, jobs, people, situations, men. And although I’m doing all of this work, I want to do everything I can to protect this peaceful life that I have. And so, my people do that and I do that for them.
Have people that can call you out when you are not being your most authentic self or you’re not being true to who they know you to be. I’ve had friends be like, “Felicia, when was the last time you called your mom? Call your mom.” They just call you out on your stuff and if it is a really healthy and secure friendship, you take that stuff and you learn from it. It’s not a defensive thing.
Sofie: Absolutely. It’s about building that, not just a support network, but just building a network of people in general that are invested in your happiness and you’re invested in their happiness and you understand if sometimes you can’t put a hundred percent in because there are other things going on, but it’s about knowing that, “Hey, we still love each other. We are still there for each other. I’ll call you out on things. I’m still going to need time for me but I love you and I want to help you in any way I can.” And so absolutely, it’s about the people you surround yourself with are so crucial in any type of journey especially when it comes to getting back in touch with yourself and changing those habits, changing those patterns that have been detrimental in the past.
And so other than finding a support network, what has been the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in recovery?
Felicia: I think for me, it was learning the difference between sobriety and recovery. And with recovery, came the emotional sobriety. It came – it was really not just picking up a drink. It was so much more to that. And I started out in the rooms like 12-step rooms, but it was really focused on not taking a drink and that had a place. That had a place in my recovery where that was all I could do, was just not drink.
But then there came a time where I’m like, “OK, so I do need to develop a life now and what’s my favorite color? What vegetables do I like?” I had to go back to the basics because I hadn’t made food in years.
So when I started to do that, started to develop my style and really get rid of my insecure attachments, which kept me stuck to seeking out accolades and education and all of the things I was privileged to do but at the same time was I doing it because it was authentic to me or was I doing it to prove to something external?
And when I started to do that work, that’s moving into recovery, who am I? What do I want to bring to this world? How do I want to impact? What feels good for me? How do I want to function day to day? What kind of people do I want in my life?
That was moving into recovery. Welcoming every single emotion the exact same. That is like the peak of recovery where I can feel angry and be like, “OK. Let’s sit in this for a second. Where is this coming from? What is this teaching me? Where do I have to move from here?”
Exact same with happiness, “Oh, I feel really good. I want to sit in this for a second. Where do we go from here?” Those same responses instead of reacting and wanting to numb out with a substance or a man or an achievement, it’s learning to like pause and sit in it and move a lot more slowly through my life I guess. Yeah.
Sofie: Yeah. I love that you said that. We so often just keep going, keep going, keep going and we don’t take that time to go, “Wait. How am I actually doing? What’s going on in my life right now? How do I feel about my life right now? How do I feel about the choices that I’m making?” We don’t as you said take the time to sit in what’s going on, to sit in how you’re feeling because it’s so easy to push it into the back of your head, to put on the back burner and go, “No. I have these projects I need to get done for work. I’m hanging out with my friends. We are going out to dinner. I can’t worry about that right now.” We have to think about it.
Felicia: Exactly. Exactly.
Sofie: And so, I want to say thank you so much for sharing your story and just being authentic. I always love your authenticity. Listening to your podcast, our previous conversation, your authenticity is so incredibly special. And so thank you so much for sharing your journey, sharing where you’re at, and helping out all of our listeners.
Felicia: No problem. Thank you so much for having me. I have loved your podcast as well. And yeah, I hope this reaches the listeners that it needs to.
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