Rachael – Finding Oneself

November Share 2020

My name is Rachel (AKA Rachael). Most of you know me from the rooms and Flying Sober. I thought this month would be appropriate to tell you my story since I was born in November. Plus I figured, it’s time I come out of the wood works and share my journey. I started this section of the website because I think it’s the single most important part of the program. They not only have power to change us, but they support the gift of hope for newcomers and continue to reduce the stigma around substance abuse and what recovery actually looks like. Storytelling not only helps others, but it often helps the storyteller heal and continue to find meaning in their journey.


So without further ado, my actual “belly-button” birthday is November 11, 1967. My sober birthday, what I call my spiritual awakening, is April 6, 2017. I separate them into two parts of my life. The first, not knowing what the heck I was doing on this planet, and the second, where do I begin in leaving my mark?! Life is interesting this way, one minute you’re asleep, the next minute you’re wide awake. I remember thinking how much I missed out in life, but then again, as I became more spiritual I realized it all had its purpose. I must pass the baton, and that my friends is just a small part of the grand finale.

What was it like?

So let me start from the very beginning, when I made my earthly landfall. I was born in Munich, Germany. We seldom think of an infant as imperfect. That is before the world got its hands on it. But I can’t seem to wonder why I wasn’t smiling in most of my baby pictures. I literally have this puzzling look. I can say with absolute certainty that I was uncomfortable in my own skin very early on. And I believe that sense of insecurity carried me into adulthood. I can’t quite put my fingers on it. I was very loved by both my parents, yet I felt this immense void. They divorced when I was a very young and since then I was always craving attention. That longing made me act out in all sorts of ways. I started taking things for no reason. And, I do think that was the start of my “ism,” reaching for things outside myself, and never being quite satisfied. 

Going into my teens and early twenties, these discrepancies just turned for the worst. When I moved to the states with my mother and brother, during my last 2 years in High-school, my life really took a big turn. I felt very lonely and didn’t speak the language. I had very few friends and my need for attention grew even stronger. We initially lived in New York and eventually made our way to Miami. I remember around my senior year I discovered alcohol and then I instantly blossomed in all sorts of ways. I dressed and behaved differently, and on the most part, hung out with the wrong crowd. I got a fake ID and stayed up late in bars dancing and boozing. It was the 80’s: Madonna, Miami Vice …a prime time for alcohol and drugs, and I wasted no time in joining the party. It was to no surprise that right after High-school I moved out on my own. You see, I found myself or so I thought, and no one was gonna tell me otherwise.

Right around that time I met my first boyfriend and this is where all the trouble began. To make a long story short, we both became bartenders in South Beach, and over time went on to sell drugs. Cocaine to be specific. These were the 90’s and those were my choices. I was just shy of 21 when I got started. And to make matters worst my father was dying from Cancer, so I really flew off the kookoo’s nest. I developed an eating disorder to add to the mix. I could write an entire book about this phase of my life but eventually I had to pay the price. Ironically enough, I got off easy, for lack of a better word. I had to go through a shit load of therapy and probation, but eventually made my way out of it and into a college degree in Graphic Design.


What Happened?

So, I got my life straightened out more or less. In my late twenties I met my husband. He was as normal as they come, so that kept me out of trouble for a while. I even had a great circle of friends. Some of which are still in my life today. But I was keeping the monster at bay because he was always ready to come out and play. I once heard in a meeting, “While your disease is resting, the devil is doing push-ups in the corner.” Couldn’t have been more true in my case. Looking back at my marriage, most of our feuds stemmed out of my drinking. I never wanted to go home early, I was always chasing the next party, and I was as self-centered as they come. I am surprised we even made it past the 10 year marker. Eventually my disease came back with the fury. I was gobbling it up like Thanksgiving dinner. Best way I can describe it, like a volcano erupting at its core. And obviously, the end of my marriage.
As I was approaching my 40’s all hell broke loose. It was like I was back in my adolescence drinking and using, and you guessed it, hanging out with the wrong crowd. Most of that decade, I slept with the wrong men, lost the Graphic Design business I worked so hard for, spend much of my time in bars, and jumped around in senseless jobs. At one point I became an Event Planner, which fueled my alcoholism even further. I just lost my place in the world and spiraled out of control. The last strike, was loosing my home in Ft. Lauderdale and moving in with a friend in Miami.
Now I am in my mid 40’s, struggling to keep it all together. I would love to tell you that things looked up from there but they actually sank even lower. I lived with this friend who enabled my drinking, I dated a man who was equally broken and a chronic alcoholic, and yet again, worked in a useless job with a dead end. That was it in a nutshell; nothing more than! I do believe that it had to get to that point for me to wake the F up. As the saying goes “Without the dark, we would never see the stars.” This final experience led me to seek much needed help.

What it's like today?

My submission to a higher power was the primary step. I wanted out of this life and I was willing to do anything to get it. So, I got on my knees and screamed out to God, “please help me or take my life.” Just like that! Through a lot of work and perseverance, and some key people who stepped in to help me, I found my way to a rehab. And so my spiritual journey began. Initially AA was an afterthought. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become a part of my repertoire but it did and I desperately needed it to survive. I once heard in a meeting, “The Devil created substance abuse, and God created a program for it.”

One of the jobs that actually stuck was becoming a tour guide over the course of the years. I had a knack for it because of my language skills and culture. It also enhanced my love for travel and would eventually play a key role in my sobriety. The connection I experience in nature and people is immeasurable, especially now. When I became sober, I finally hung out in the right circle and that opened up a whole bunch of doors. I returned to Graphic Design and became an art director for a medical research company. I also kept my tour guiding job. I travel in the summer to all the state parks. I am lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. 

My biggest accomplishment to this day, is starting Flying Sober. Michael Angelo once said, “A masterpiece is never finished.” That describes it perfectly. I am constantly developing it in all facets of sobriety, as I do myself; providing sober travel, vital resources and my podcast. Costa Rica was the initial trip, followed by magical Israel. It’s been a labor of love in every sense of the word and my way of passing that baton.

Today, I fill that void with real substance: Through the support of this program, meaningful relationships, my deep connection to God, and igniting my passions on a daily basis. As I grow spiritually and mentally speaking, I get more self assured and confident in my own shoes. “Every day we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”  My greatest growth happens when I breakdown my bad habits and replace them with healthy ones. The choices I make today are very different from the choices I made yesterday; They SERVE the highest standards in all areas of my life.

My sincere hope’s that others will come from under the shadows and follow this path.


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3 years ago

Love this Rachel- love you😘