Recovering Attorney Lily Shanks

 

My guest this week is Lily Shanks from Dallas.

Lily describes herself as a recovering attorney.

After graduating from a top tier-law school, Lily practised commercial litigation in a Big Law firm but although she was able to indulge her passion for expensive cars and shoes the stress resulted in a daily wine habit.

She got sober and left her corporate job to train as a coach.

These days Lily specializes in recovery and relationship coaching and coaches her clients to create their best, most fulfilling lives, starting from the inside.

In this episode

  • Lily discovered alcohol at a young age – via the liquor cabinet of one of her friend’s parents.  It tasted disgusting but she knew it would change the way she felt… so she persevered and found ways to disguise the taste
  • As a shy teenager who wanted to be popular, she found that alcohol gave her the liquid courage she needed
  • She was the only child of older parents she felt she had to be perfect… to do everything right
  • Lily also felt she had to be independent and not ask for help
  • These two beliefs led to a feeling of loneliness – a feeling that continued as she grew older
  • The loneliness was a feeling that would last until she got into recovery and learnt how better to connect with people – when she learned that connection was the opposite of addiction
  • As a straight-A student Lily would worry about the possibility of getting a B
  • Her drive for perfectionism helped her to graduate, get through law school and get a highly-paid job at a top firm
  • However she was always chasing the next thing, the next box to be ticked – buying a new car and more shoes even though she didn’t need either – she thought it would make her feel better which it did but only for a very short time
  • She was doing the same with alcohol – drinking more and more in the hope that it would make her feel better but of course, as it’s a depressant it only made her feel worse
  • Like many of us, Lily was under the illusion that alcohol was glamorous and fun and cool until one day it wasn’t
  • As early as 5 years into her legal career, Lily started to sense a misalignment. She wasn’t feeling fulfilled in her job and thought that the alcohol was helping to ease this uncomfortable feeling
  • She took a year’s sabbatical and got her yoga teaching qualification and taught full time which she really enjoyed
  • Yoga had helped her cope with her stress and she loved the fact that she was able to share that with her students
  • Eventually Lily felt under financial strain so she returned to practising law – (yet her finances always ran to buying wine!)
  • She was using wine at the end of the day to self-medicate her stress and eventually she could feel it affecting her work performance – some days she struggled to get to work as she was battling a severe hangover
  • Like many of us, Lily became an expert in disguising her drinking problem – so much so that former colleagues and friends were surprised to hear she’s in recovery
  • Like many of us, she did a lot of her drinking alone on the sofa at home
  • In Jan 2018 she tried to take a break for Dry January but couldn’t notch up more than a few alcohol-free days … and she always intended to go back to drinking at the end of the month
  • Doing a challenge like Dry January is when a lot of people realise for the first time that they are dependent
  • When you join Tribe Sober the first thing we do is put you on a 30-day alcohol-free challenge so that we can help you to assess your level of dependence and what kind of help you need
  • Short challenges are great to test your dependence but the true benefits of sobriety don’t come in until you’ve been alcohol-free for a few months so it’s important to push through and keep going
  • Like most of us Lily imposed some rules around her drinking as she tried to moderate – yet of course after 2 or 3 drinks there was no off switch
  • She finally ended her drinking career in 2018 – finishing it with a few months of intentional heavy drinking before accepting that she would have to make the change
  • She had a series of rock bottoms – including a ladies wine tasting trip and a weekend drinking alone in her apartment
  • She also felt mortified when she saw several recordings on a security camera of her arriving home very late at night obviously the worse for wear
  • Waking up hungover every morning she finally accepted that she needed help
  • She took some time off work and started being honest about the problem … with a friend, with a doctor and with her therapist
  • The key to change is honesty – we have to accept to ourselves that we have a problem and then reach out for help – this is the most difficult part of the whole journey
  • Once we’ve reached out and found some help the journey can begin
  • If you’re still procrastinating about getting some help then do it today – reach out to tribesober.com and we’ll help you get started on this life-changing journey – just go to tribesober.com and hit join our tribe
  • As Lily said we have to be ready to keep an open mind and try something different
  • She had been resistant to the idea of AA but managed to find a small group that she loved – near to where she lived
  • She found the connection she had been looking for – people who were sharing stories just like hers
  • That’s such a special moment – the moment we realise we are not alone in this
  • Lily’s experience shows the importance of keeping an open mind – we agreed on the strategy to keep trying different groups until you find “your people”
  • She talked about the importance of Sober Firsts and how she tackled them gradually during her first year of sobriety
  • She also stopped dating as she wanted to focus on herself rather than looking for a partner to make her feel good
  • As she said going a year without drinking was a huge change for her so it had to be her primary focus
  • At Tribe Sober, we advise people to throw the book at their sobriety and treat it as a major project for that first year
  • So Lily’s first year was spent notching up Sober Firsts, appreciating the benefits of sobriety as they came in …  it was only in year two that she began to do the deeper work
  • We agreed that Year one is just the beginning of the journey and that there is so much more to recovery than not drinking
  • If you listen to Tribe Sober podcast episode 61 from September 2021 you will hear a rehab doctor explaining that for every year we drank we should allow a month of recovery
  • So if like me you’ve been drinking for decades your recovery will not be quick but you will be noticing more and more benefits of sobriety as the months pass
  • We both agreed that life doesn’t become perfect when we get sober but we’ll be better able to cope with challenges
  • Personal growth will come from dealing with difficulties – as Lily said, “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”
  • Lily is now a life coach, a sobriety coach and a relationship coach – you can connect with her at myinternalweather.com – or email her lily@nullmyinternalweather.com

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The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!