We all have that voice in our heads that says, “come this way. TRUST ME, it’s what you want. I promise everything is going to be ok. Follow me.”
Sometimes, it’s a whisper, sometimes it’s screaming at us, and sometimes, we think that voice must be absolutely crazy, because our fears tell us there is no way that voice can be true. That little (or big) voice is your heart, your soul. It’s calling you towards your vision and your greatness.
Kaitlin Honeycutt knows this voice well, and she has learned to live her self-empowered life by listening to and following it. Now, she teaches others how to do that for themselves. After years of burying and masking her pain, her underlying feelings of not being “enough,” and her deep-rooted fear of being her true, authentic self, she surrendered to and listened to her heart, her “Higher Power,” when she found her willingness to get sober. A “choice-less choice,” she says, led her into a domino-effect of a series of opportunities and experiences that would go on to shape the extraordinary woman and leader she is today.
These choices may not have been “easy,” they all presented new challenges, but going through the fears, rising above those obstacles, have all led Kaitlin to Release her Inner Lioness, be her true and authentic self, and embody the incredible role model she is today.
I’m just going to go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Kaitlin, and I’m an alcoholic. That’s something I’ve become super comfortable saying, now that I have found my Inner Lioness, this idea of who I am and who I need to be to continue to pave the way for other women. I had to become super comfortable with that identity, because for a long time, I wasn’t. There was a stigma that I carried with that identity that was shameful, full of guilt, wrong and sad. Over time, through the work I’ve done, how I’ve grown up and (found) my inner lioness has really enabled me to embrace that identity and use it as a tool to help others, especially women.
So, like I said, my name is Kaitlin, I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober now from drugs and alcohol since July 9, 2009. This past July, I celebrated nine years in recovery, which is just unbelievable for me, just as a human being. Looking back on my life, the past almost ten years now, it’s just incredible that I’ve been able to live this life without the need to use drugs and alcohol to change any part of who I am.
The last (almost) ten years, I’ve gotten to live and grow up with just me and feel the feelings that come along with being just me… living life without anything changing it, or fading it, or fixing it, or making it anything but authentic.
And that’s been hard; it’s not been easy to be sober by any means. I totally relate with people who have a hard time in sobriety. However, for me, it’s been a personal choice that that’s how I wanted to live my life. That being said, clearly of course, it hasn’t always been that way.
I grew up in Ohio. I was given everything from my parents, every opportunity in the world, and I just gladly gave it away for drinking and drugs. I started using when I was in high school, and quickly that turned into using drugs and alcohol all the time. By the end of it all, my worst, I was doing Oxycontin and cocaine all the time, those were my drugs of choice, and what came with that for me was a lot of consequences. I was prone to getting arrested and getting put in jail. That’s my story – that’s not everyone’s story, so I don’t want anyone to think, listening, hearing, or reading this … that, “I can’t be an alcoholic or I’m not as bad as her, because I haven’t been to jail…”
It’s such a good thing that we have those stigmas about ourselves, because when we get around people who are exactly like us, we come to realize that we didn’t need to hit the same bottom, or we didn’t need to go to the same place, because it has nothing to do with what drugs we did, or how much you got in trouble, or what happened to us as a result of our drinking, our using, our eating disorder, or whatever. It’s the fact that no matter what, when I put down the drugs, or the drink, or the food, or the guys or the girls, or the money, or whatever it is, I’m left feeling empty, alone, scared, hurt, sad… It’s all the symptoms that I never knew were even behind why I drank and used or threw up (I’m in recovery from an eating disorder as well). So, I relate with people who have had a hard time in their sobriety, it’s not easy every day.
I think we want to believe that, through our healing, it gets less uncomfortable, or the “bad” feelings go away, or the urges towards impulsivity go away, and that’s just not always the case. We just relate to those thoughts and those feelings differently. It’s like, “okay, I see you. I see you little girl. I can see the little girl in me who is very scared and feeling really uncomfortable. But now, I know that I can wait ten minutes before I make any decisions or before I act on those feelings. I can give myself permission to “feel the feelings until they no longer require to be felt,” (Marisa Peer). It’s not always that the fear, negative thoughts and feelings go away, it’s that we learn how to re-parent ourselves and take inspired action towards our vision and the person we actually want to be. The journey is never over.
Sharing my story, is empowering because I fought to become who I am today. In 2009, I was arrested for the final time. I was in jail for a little bit, and I had that thought of, “How the f%#k did my life get here? How did this happen?” When we pull our head out of the toilet one more time, and we’re like, “How am I on my knees in front of this again?”
I was so done. I was so desperate for something else. I was tired. I was just in need of another solution, because what I was doing was no longer working. And I was just miserable. I had waved the white flag. I was on my knees and I was done. And I was like, do with me what you want.
After being released, I had the privilege to go to treatment. In California I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I believe, is what truly saved my life. It was able to introduce a new way of life, or a new way of thinking and perception, to me that was a platform for me to continue to live sober with a little tool guide for life. And, especially, with other women who were doing the same thing.
It was like I got to meet myself again for the first time and invent myself with this new sober identity with who I was, which is pretty cool, because I’m pretty cool now that I’m sober.
I want people who come into sobriety to know that they don’t have to live that life anymore, and that they can be really beautiful, powerhouse strong, women. I know for me, that when I got sober, I didn’t know that I could become who I am now.
Today, that is my mission in life: to provide a safe place for people in recovery to be sober and healthy, because I think outside of getting sober, we forget about that healthy part.
I know what helps me stay sober on a daily basis is moving my body, and clearing my head, and lifting really heavy weights. Knowing my strengths inside the gym – which enables me to be strong outside the gym. And I think that’s where my lioness roars.
I lived my life for way too long for other people and who they wanted me to be, and I’m learning to be Kaitlin. And Kaitlin is okay. I’m pretty cool. I want to be in full acceptance and want of who I am. Being okay with who I am, my actions and my behaviors, (so) when I put my head on the pillow, I feel 100% right with myself and my Higher Power. That’s what all this is about: Being a better version of who we are through that lioness pride and that lioness roar, and letting that be okay and loud and heard! And seen! And being completely okay with that, (even) when the world tells us that that’s not okay. “You’re too quiet, you’re too strong, you’re too loud, you’re too this, you’re too that.” No, f%#k you, I’m not too much of anything. No one is perfect and my story is MY story.
If I can share my story and change the trajectory of just one woman… or just one little girl… then my mission gets fulfilled.
What does RELEASE YOUR INNER LIONESS mean to you?
To me, what that means is to be FEARLESS. To go fearlessly in the pursuit of my dreams, whether I truly believe I can or not. Giving a voice to that space of, ‘this is the dream I want for myself, and this is what I’m going to do,’ and I don’t care what my head is going to tell me in the meantime. I am going to do it. And just be fearless until I achieve my dream..
I need to be fearless in this pursuit of what sets my heart on fire. This is what I was meant to do. I didn’t do this… my Higher Power, for some reason, chose this for me, chose for me to be here. Whatever that looks like and whatever my head is telling me can get the f%#k out. I am no better, no worse than the women I am standing next to, and they’re here for a purpose that has nothing to do with me.
And trusting yourself, even if you can’t see the whole picture yet.
This goes back to the idea of the “oxygen mask” on the airplane. I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else. The more self-loving I am, the better coach and better teacher I can be. When I learn to sit with myself, with all of my self, I can actually sit with other people through their pain and struggles, because I’ve learned to do that for me. When I listen to myself, I learn to truly listen to others. When I want to “fix” myself, I want to “fix” others, instead of being of true service, listening to what they truly want and need for me. The more I accept myself, the more acceptance I can give. The more I show up for myself, the more I can show up for everyone else.
What does the Lioness Pride mean to you?
When you are BEing your true, authentic, self, you attract all of the people, places and things you need. Those people, places and things will be aligned with your true self, they will support your true self, and you will be able to truly support them. This is why FR believes that in order to “belong,” you must belong to yourself first.
I feel like that is one of the things that is so important in this life: to find the women that are your common thread, that love you for you. They’re not in it for an ulterior motive or trying to get something out of you, they unconditionally love you no matter what, and those women are definitely hard to find, but they’re worth the search for. Being apart of the FR movement has helped me trust in women again. Instead of, ‘what can we take from others,’ (it’s) ‘what can we pass into the stream of life to other women?’ And that’s what has created the bond between us and the other people doing the same thing.
I don’t know how Gilly found us all at the right time and the right place, but what she’s done for us… just bringing us together, even though I’ve only seen you (a few times) since then, I feel like I see you and feel you all the time. Same thing with Gilly – I don’t get to see her very often, but when I do, it’s a connection of, “Hey, it’s like I saw you yesterday,” and I think those (soul connections) are extremely rare to find.
That’s been the best part… This idea of having mentors, role models and people I look up to… they’re not the people that are “perfect,” whatever that means or whatever ideal that is. It’s the people who, on a constant, consistent basis remind me and the rest of the world that they are extremely human and that they’re feet do touch the ground, although I often think they float like little angels walking around. No, they too are absolutely human and can make mistakes, and they can own those mistakes and they can apologize and have humility. Those are the people who I look up to, and … we have to be able to be those people for the people coming after us.
I (once) had a group of women who only wanted me for the drugs that I would provide or the fact that I was willing to drive my car drunk and they weren’t. But really, it was me just wanting to fit in, so I would just do what they wanted so they would like me. And today, I can say “no,” and my friends understand. Or they show up for me… in unbelievable ways that I (sometimes) don’t even feel like I deserve. There are days with (negative self-talk)… and then they show up at your house late at night, because you said you had a bad day, and they have flowers and a card, and they’re like, “Hey man, just know we’re here and we love you.” It’s really crazy. I’ve been really, really lucky that the women I got sober with, a lot of them, have chosen to stay sober as well, and so we’ve gotten to do this thing called life together, and walk through deaths, breakups, graduations, weddings, babies and the amazing things that life gives us when we’re paying attention. And, we’ve been able to do it together and stay sober through it. I really don’t know where I would be without them.
Where can you find Kaitlin?
If you’re in Southern California…
Take her classes!
Facebook: Kaitlin Honeycutt