(Disclaimer: This transcript is using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)
Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery. And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri
Adina Silvestri 0:11
Hola Atheists in Recovery and welcome to Episode 101 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast. And today we have our Arlina Allen on the show, and I'm excited to have this guest on she was very fun, very personable. And there was a lot of a lot of laughing even though it was a very serious topic. And so we talked a lot about our Arlina's early years of trauma, her poor attachment with her mother and parental divorce, that really were the catalysts to leading to feeling like she was not worthy. He shared she didn't know how bad her self worth was, until she found happiness. At the bottom of a bottle, she kept hold of these narratives to which were if she could just make more money or fall in love, then that would save her. She eventually as she likes to call it lived her way into right thinking. And I bring this up because I know that all of us struggle with these limited negative self beliefs. And this episode has a chock full of tools, a little sciency thrown in there, a little science thrown in there, but at the end Arlina shares a writing exercise with us to address these limiting beliefs and I think you're gonna like it. All right on to our guest. Arlina Allen is the life and recovery coach, the founder of sober life school and the host of the award winning recovery podcast the one day at a time podcast. She has been sober since April 23 of 1994. Married for 24 years and mother of two amazing boys. Her class reinvent how to rebuild self esteem and self sabotage is being taught to those who suffer from low self esteem codependency, workaholism and many other issues. Okay guys, on to the show.
Arlina Allen, welcome to the show.
Arlina Allen 2:18
Thank you so much for having me.
Adina Silvestri 2:20
Yes, I am excited for you to be here. And I thought we could start our conversation by exploring your deepest roots from childhood just jumping right in
Arlina Allen 2:32
while you're going in the right way. So I grew up in Sunnyvale, California in the Silicon Valley area. My parents are very nice people. Daddy was from Kentucky. So occasionally I will draft lapse into a southern drawl. for no apparent reason. I come from a long line of ministers, oddly enough, so that's always fun. And my mother is from Mexico City. She was the first foreign exchange student in Klamath Falls Oregon many years ago. And she's, you know, people from that area very Catholic. So it's to say that I grew up super churched is somewhat of an understatement. Yeah, I have an older sister with a mental illness issues. But she's also a very nice person. I didn't grow up with any kind of addiction in my family. I did experience trauma when I was very young, and neighbor. I was abused by a neighbor, when I was about five from the age about five went on for a couple years. And then my parents divorced. And so the combination of those two things really altered, how I felt about myself about the world. And kind of set the stage for some pretty intense dysfunction. later on. I learned some survival skills that were not did not translate into healthy adult relationships. So at a very young age, I discovered alcohol, I was about eight or nine, I would say my mom was out on a date. And she went out to dinner and I have an older sister, she never left home alone. And I thought be a great idea to drink some of the alcohol that was in the cabinet. And I remember the alcohol burning my lips. I remember it burning all the way down and then when it hit bottom, the warmth that spread through my body, and all the self consciousness, self loathing. All the negative feelings that I felt towards myself was lifted. And the juxtaposition of those two feelings like seared in my memory forever, that alcohol would take away all those bad feelings. Right. And obviously, I didn't become a daily drinker at age nine. But it was sort of like the beginning of learning how to disassociate and detach And suppress my feelings. So that's kind of that's kind of like the childhood experiences. And that's kind of how the stage was set for many years of, you know, mental health issues and dysfunctions and addictions and things like that.
Adina Silvestri 5:18
Yeah, so you discovered alcohol at age eight or nine. And that just really stuck with you that all this? I don't really feel. I feel like myself again, or like, I feel like maybe everyone else feels or Yeah, like, what was that feeling?
Arlina Allen 5:33
Yeah, it was the removal of it. I didn't actually realize how bad I felt until I felt good. Right? I felt really good. Like the self conscious, I didn't realize how how much self loathing I had had, and made decisions, I had already made decisions about myself. You know, like, when my father left, he was the nurturing one of my two parents, you know, my mom had like two feelings, she was either really happy or really angry, and I felt like she saved the happy face for the outside world. Right. And so I translated that into, there must be something wrong with me. And seeking her approval in, in achievement and variety of ways. Mostly trying to save my sister. You know, that was that was the goal, save the sister, which I failed that. And I mean, she didn't die, but she never was healed, so to speak. So that it was the feeling was, I just felt good. Like, all the negativity was I got that relief from the alcohol. Yeah. And so is that relief? I was always seeking.
Adina Silvestri 6:39
Yeah. Thanks for that. Yeah. So maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your recovery journey? Yeah.
Arlina Allen 6:49
Sure. So from the first drink to my last, I kind of summit up like, I had this funny tagline I used to talk about all the time. And I apparently I still do. But if it were in a bottle, a bag or blue jeans, I was doing it. And I'm saying because I used, you know, drugs, alcohol and men to change the way I felt. I've definitely fallen to the love addiction camp, where I thought love was going to save me actually thought money or love was gonna save me. I gave up on God a long, long time ago, because I had been begging God to change me and fix me since I can remember. And lo and behold, I was never fixed or struck perfect. I'm not exactly sure what I was hoping for. But I kept ending up in this place where I felt like I hated myself. And I felt like this higher power thing failed me. And so I was like, Well, if I can't be good, then I'm going to be good at being bad. And I just pursued this idea that it was money or love. That was gonna save me. And oddly enough, it was love that saved me. But it didn't show up the way I thought it would be jeans, huh? Not involuted Yeah. Now, you know, as it turns out, it was love. It saved me. But it came through the women of a 12 step program. And oddly enough, it was a couple of men who introduced me into the 12 step program. And the thing was, is I've wanted to quit and I just couldn't, I was smoking a lot of weed. If I was awake, I was Hi. Funny story, the pastor's daughter at this Southern Baptist Church that I was going to. She told me one time we were smoking weed. She told me one time that she was high so often, that not being high was her alternate reality. And I was like, Oh my God, I hate her. Oh, yeah, you I want to be just like you. And I kind of was. But you know, truth be told, I was pursuing this sales career. And I wanted to be sober, I wanted to be successful, I wanted to make a lot of money, I thought that was gonna save me. I thought that was gonna fix everything if I could just fall in love and have a lot of money and my life would be perfect. So I was trying to quit smoking and I just couldn't write I realized that that was a problem too. But, but I just cut in and these two guys that were customers of mine, they didn't drink and we would go out to lunch and they'd order iced tea or soda or something and we got to talking and telling stories. And they were both in the program the toss up program. And so they sort of started breaking down some concepts that I could absorb like, it was just like cause and effect it was like science based It was like practical, I needed practical advice because I lived in the Self Help section of Barnes and Noble I was trying every every read every you know self and self help books that you can, you know, I just and none of it was working. I was trying to what I know now is I was trying to think my way into right living. And turns out you kind of need to live your way into right thinking, you know, as you live right, your brain begins to heal and rewire. And you're able to make better decisions. And so now nowadays, I'm obsessed with like neuroscience and how the brain works as it relates to recovery, because there's some very practical basic science space they like you don't need to have faith we have science. kind of been my, my mantra as of late. I'm kind of obsessed with it. But at least you guys brought me into the 12 step program. And that's, that began my recovery journey.
Adina Silvestri 10:31
Do you think that they knew that you were struggling or you know, had you shared something up until Yeah, wait, okay.
Arlina Allen 10:37
Yeah, yeah, I was. So in my sales job. I kind of saw my role. As you know, my job was to go out and make friends because people buy from those that they know, like, and trust, right. So it was my job to go out, make friends. And I would tell them, we I would tell them my stories about what happened over the weekend. I was 25 when I got sober. So I was probably 22. When I started this job, I was pretty young. And so I would be telling them these stories, and then they would share some of their stories and that they were sober. And, and I knew I didn't want to stop. I really did. And so I was fascinated with the things that they were telling me. And then they took me to my first meetings, and then they quickly handed me over to the women. And it was the women who loved me until I could love myself. Wow. Yeah. That's powerful. Really was, it was because I desperately I need I needed help. I really needed help. And I really did. I just wanted love and but I saw that. I felt that love was gonna come through a man. I thought a falling in love, like the Cinderella way was gonna save me. But it was the women who and I was terrified. Oh, my gosh, I was terrified of the women. What was terrifying about them. Yeah, I did not have great relationships with women. Because I thought that it was love from a man that was gonna save me. I saw women as competition. I never hung out with the girls. I mean, there, I grew up as kind of a tomboy. I always hung out with the boys, women were competition. My mother would disown me on a regular basis, because she had really strong high morals and values and stuff like that. And I was not, I was not behaving in a way that was aligned with her values. And she would regularly like disown me. Well, the so I learned that if you make mistakes or behave badly that you will receive rejection, basically. She just didn't know how to Hey, she didn't know how to handle me. She She didn't receive any coping skills from her mother. So it's just like this lineage of, I had no coping skills. None of us had any coping skills. I didn't get any coping skills until I got sober. Like I just needed, you know what I learned to learn after I got sober. It was an emotion management. It's a great skill. I learned emotion management and recovery. Yeah, I learned that I was basically self centered and self seeking. And that I was at the cause, not at the effect I was it had that victim mentality. And so when I learned to take responsibility for my feelings, and really own it, oddly enough, when I first got sober, I read this book called A Course in Miracles, which sounds very religious, but it was very practical, in the sense of it was a lot about cause and effect. And it talked about, you know, everything boils down to either love or fear. And that was something I could relate to. And it just broke it down real simple for me, and that things only objects, and then in and of themselves have no meaning they have the meaning that we assigned to it. And then it even extrapolate a little further to say that experiences have meaning that we assigned to it. So as a child, when my mother would get angry, and I would assign she doesn't love me like that was the that was the takeaway that was my part. Wasn't that she didn't love me, she was actually mad at me because she loved me. Right? Like if she like, what do they say that like anger is not the opposite of hate is not the opposite of love. ambivalence is when you have zero feeling about something that's, that's pretty far from love. Right? So it wasn't that, like if I was doing things and she didn't care. Like that would have been ambivalence, but she didn't care she would get angry. But I assigned meaning to it I assigned that I was the bad person she didn't love me wasn't worthy. And from that place, that that sense that like really low sense of self esteem, I made all my decisions from that place. My my decisions were like I have to achieve to be worthy. Right, I needed to work hard I needed to earn I needed to display wealth, I needed to align myself with people who had a higher social status and I did all that stuff was because I didn't believe I was good enough myself. And so a lot of my work in recovery has been to an own all of these things lie in ourselves. conscious minds, all these beliefs that we have are in our subconscious mind. So now in the work that I do, it's a lot about identifying and reframing the subconscious beliefs, so that we can feel like we deserve better. Because really your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. So if you don't like what you see on the outside, that is an indication that you have a negative limiting belief about yourself. That's not can absolutely. And that can absolutely be changed.
Adina Silvestri 15:28
That sounds good. And I want to put up like a little bookmark there. Because I do want to get back to that. But I wondered if you could go to the ladies, because it seems like that was like a pivotal point in your recovery. And up until this point, you had given up on the higher power thing like it wasn't doing anything for you. You asked for help several times and it wasn't fixing you. How did you make that leap?
Arlina Allen 15:53
Well, truth be told, I was so beaten down by like, obviously, what I was doing wasn't working. And I was open to anything. I was like, I will do whatever you tell me to if you say we say do it this way, I will totally do it this way. So I did it their way. Okay. And I had to reframe. I had to Bayes told me that I could change, okay, let's just take the word God for a second. If we just go back to that idea that words and objects only have the meaning that we assigned to it, then we can absolutely change the definition of that word. God, I just use it because everyone's kind of on board like, Okay, I get it. It's like a power grid of yourself. Fine. But for me today, that I am, I'm a little obsessed with quantum physics, because it sort of explains everything that I learned in my childhood religion. Hmm. Right. It's the like the laws of cause and effect and gravity laws of attraction. The theory of entanglement actually, the theory of entanglement is based on Einstein's theory, you can google this, I did not know that this was a thing, a spooky action from a distance. I was like, someone told me I was like, come on. That's not that doesn't sound like something Einstein would say. But yeah, look it up. It's actually now they call it the theory of entanglement. And the idea is that to the two separate particles can be affected, even when there's like a space in between them. And that's almost like the idea of when you pray for somebody, they receive in effect, right? So that's kinda, so it's like, so interesting how science is explaining the quote unquote, mystical or religious or I don't even really what I'm, what I'm talking about is just energy. Right? Right. I'm just talking about energy because our bodies and everything that you see is made up of energy, positive and negative. And so we're just learning how to use you know, energy and to our benefit, instead of our destruction.
Adina Silvestri 17:56
Yeah, and if you like quantum theory, you might like this book that I just started. It's called the holographic universe, the revolutionary theory of reality. Oh, I cannot wait. Yeah. After. Afterwards, because I'm using it in my practice with some of my, with some of my guys, and it's pretty cool. So
Arlina Allen 18:17
I'm obsessed with Alan, Alan Wolf, as he calls it, the spirituality of quantum physics or something like that. So good.
Adina Silvestri 18:30
So these women put you back on track. They loved you in a way that you just couldn't love yourself. So that's interesting. So then, that's when you started to heal. That's when you started your healing journey.
Arlina Allen 18:42
The women in the I love these women because I met this woman who remembered my name. The second time she met me. Nobody ever remembers my name. The first I bet you get that too, because you our names are so similar. arlena Dina, I was like, we should start our own show you choose everyone. But yes, so this woman would meet with me. And I could see it in her eyes that she got my kind of crazy. I would tell her stories. And she was like, Yeah, me too. Oh, check this out. And then she would tell me a story. And it was like, whoa. And suddenly, I was connected to another person. And she didn't shame me. You know, Bernie Brown is a shame researcher, and she talks about how empathy is the antidote to shame. And I had so much shame I had so much that I was so it presented as defensiveness right of super defensive and I was not able to as an denial. I was had a very hard time looking at myself, and seeing how I was at the cause of my life. But she presented so much I could see in her eyes that she understood, and there was something about her like, finally I felt heard and understood. Love. She's still like, at the end of the day, I told her all this horrible stuff. She still loved me. She's like, yeah, you're gonna be okay. And I was just leveling. It was the leveling of my ego, right to be able to be vulnerable and transparent and she didn't disown me. And I just needed that connection. It's like they say that alcoholism is a disease of isolation and connection is secure. And, and she was able to connect with me through empathy. And it was magical for me. It was it brings tears to my eyes to this day because I so I was so alone. I was so desperately lonely and isolated. And finally, I was able to connect with another woman. She helped me so much.
Adina Silvestri 20:48
I love that.
One more thing AIR before you go. Conversation with Arlina Allen continues next week, where we get into the theory and practice of her recovery. And I know in the intro, we talked about the writing exercise that we you will find at the end of next week's episode. The interview is just so chock full of good information that I wanted to extend the party so we will get two weeks with Arlina Allen, and I hope that you stay tuned to finish the rest of the episode next week. Thanks, guys. Bye.
Thank you for listening to the Atheists in Recovery podcast. For more great info and to stay up to date. Head over to atheistsinrecovery.com
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Arlina’s tagline: “If it were in a bottle, a bag, or blue jeans, I was doing it.”
“I was trying to think my way into right living. And it turns out I needed to live my way into right thinking.”
For more info, head over to atheistsinrecovery.com and subscribe to our email list. And thank you for listening!