"The Difference" with Author S.A. Blair

February 05, 2023 Joe Van Wie / S.A. Blair Season 3 Episode 48
"The Difference" with Author S.A. Blair
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"The Difference" with Author S.A. Blair
Feb 05, 2023 Season 3 Episode 48
Joe Van Wie / S.A. Blair

S.A. Blair is a woman in long term-recovery since September 9th, 2016, rebuilding her life after over a decade of self-destruction. With her passion for writing in one hand and her passion for helping people in the other, she wrote her first book, The Difference: a memoir. This book details the heart-wrenching downward spiral into her heroin addiction, recalling multiple expulsions and arrests, self-harm and suicide attempts, she strives to capture the essence of the human experience, providing proof that while our experiences may vary, our feelings are the same. She now resides in Denver, Colorado, where she studies Biology and Environmental Science, and is participating in an internship conducting genetics research in a lab. She has begun work on her second novel, which, acting as a sequel to the first book, will dig into her spirituality and recovery journey.


"This dream-like (and at times nightmarish) sequence of events offers deep insight into the perils of intense drug use. Through it all, the author is able to navigate through her stark past with wit, grace, and an overt compassion for her family and friends. Gut-wrenching yet cathartic, “The Difference” depicts the plight of modern desperation with utter poignancy."

-William L. Karp, review on Amazon

Check out her Memoir on Amazon;


Please stop by ApplePodcast and give us a Rating and Review!

Leaders Of Long Term Recovery in Pennsylvania 

We combine proven recovery principles with new, innovative techniques to provide one of the most effective programs for young men in the country.

 Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individuals that include a variety of means to recovery. Joe Van Wie is a father, husband, filmmaker, and reformed media consultant in recovery. 

Fellowship House
As a treatment center, Fellowship House offers both residential and outpatient treatment services to
Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individ

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

S.A. Blair is a woman in long term-recovery since September 9th, 2016, rebuilding her life after over a decade of self-destruction. With her passion for writing in one hand and her passion for helping people in the other, she wrote her first book, The Difference: a memoir. This book details the heart-wrenching downward spiral into her heroin addiction, recalling multiple expulsions and arrests, self-harm and suicide attempts, she strives to capture the essence of the human experience, providing proof that while our experiences may vary, our feelings are the same. She now resides in Denver, Colorado, where she studies Biology and Environmental Science, and is participating in an internship conducting genetics research in a lab. She has begun work on her second novel, which, acting as a sequel to the first book, will dig into her spirituality and recovery journey.


"This dream-like (and at times nightmarish) sequence of events offers deep insight into the perils of intense drug use. Through it all, the author is able to navigate through her stark past with wit, grace, and an overt compassion for her family and friends. Gut-wrenching yet cathartic, “The Difference” depicts the plight of modern desperation with utter poignancy."

-William L. Karp, review on Amazon

Check out her Memoir on Amazon;


Please stop by ApplePodcast and give us a Rating and Review!

Leaders Of Long Term Recovery in Pennsylvania 

We combine proven recovery principles with new, innovative techniques to provide one of the most effective programs for young men in the country.

 Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individuals that include a variety of means to recovery. Joe Van Wie is a father, husband, filmmaker, and reformed media consultant in recovery. 

Fellowship House
As a treatment center, Fellowship House offers both residential and outpatient treatment services to
Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individ

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Stop by our Apple Podcast and drop a Review!

Support The Show

Joe Van Wie  0:03  
Hello, and thanks again for listening to another episode of all better. I'm your host, Joe van wie today's guests is Sarah Blair. Se Blair is an author, and it's also a woman in long term recovery since September 9 2016. After rebuilding her life for a decade of self destruction, Sara has a passion for writing on the one hand and her passion for helping people in another. She wrote her first book, The difference memoir. This book details the heart wrenching downward spiral into her heroin addiction. Recalling multiple expulsions and arrest, self harm suicide attempts, she strives to capture the essence of the human experience, providing proof while our experiences may vary, or feelings at the same. She now resides in Denver, Colorado, where she studied Biology and Environmental Science. Participating in an internship allows her to conduct research in genetics. She has began work on her second novel, which acting as a sequel to the first book, we'll dig into her spirituality and the recovery journey. One review on Amazon by William Carr put this memoir, this is a dream like times nightmarish sequence of events, offers deep insight into the perils of intense drug use. Through it all, the author is able to navigate through her Stark paths, with wit, grace, and an overt compassion for her family and friends. gut wrenching, cathartic, the difference depicts the plight of modern desperation with utter poignancy. I read this book, and it is a dream like experience. And it moved me and it was profound. So I had Sarah on today. So we could talk about her motivations for writing her writing process that doesn't allow her to disassociate with this addiction that happened to her, and she has a unique process. I'm excited for you to meet and see Blair. Hi, so we're here with SCE Blair, Sarah Blair. Sarah and I met online, on Reddit on the subreddit, that were kind of active in recovery. And I got to read her memoir. And it moved me and I related to it deeply and profoundly. And I didn't think I could read a memoir and feel like I knew someone like really distinctly knew someone because my my experience was in there. But here's a female's experience out in Colorado. And I wanted to have Sarah on today to talk about a who she is, how she found recovery. And what was the driving force to express yourself so beautifully in the way you wrote this book. So thanks for coming on, sir.

S.A. Blair  3:23  
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to talk about all this with you.

Joe Van Wie  3:28  
Let's let's contain the excitement so it lasts for Sierra? Where did you grow up? What was it like you grew up in the Rockies like in the real Rockies, real Colorado people not transplants?

S.A. Blair  3:48  
I know I'm one of the few natives left it seems but definitely a Colorado native grew up camping, you know, fishing, all that good stuff. I'm definitely a mountain girl.

Joe Van Wie  4:02  
Real quick kind of caveat. Do watch Yellowstone.

S.A. Blair  4:07  
No, but I've heard about it. And I've heard it's very good.

Joe Van Wie  4:11  
I just the reason I ask is it there's this native ism like the townies and the the original mavericks and settlers and cowboys fighting to keep their stake there while East Coast billionaires come and play and like Montana and Colorado. I wonder. It has to be a similar perspective of what I've read about your family being real, real rocky mountain people? Oh, yeah.

S.A. Blair  4:35  
Yeah. I would say that's pretty similar. I mean, just in the last seven years watching, you know, how much Colorado has changed and all the people moving here and great for the economy, for sure. Not great for the housing market, of course,

Joe Van Wie  4:50  
and is do you perceive a culture war happening between townies and what is transforming the landscape of color? Rado, which was like, kind of manifest destiny, people who had some real brass who out settled land. What do you what's the vibe between them and these East Coast kind of hobbyist that are showing up to ski and now live there? I heard there's a real crisis so much in Denver, like homelessness, and

S.A. Blair  5:20  
yeah, yeah. There's definitely some animosity, I would say. Particularly if you get into like the smaller towns like mountain towns, mountain people have like, just a whole different vibe. They're very like close knit. Don't necessarily like outsiders. It's literally just like a movie. Like.

Joe Van Wie  5:46  
We have East Coast mountain people and it goes through a few states, Georgia, you know, it starts in like, I think believe South Mountain Pennsylvania. It goes from here. It's called Appalachia. Yeah. And this is real rural. It's a closed culture. But nobody's moving there to ski on their property, like in Appalachian downs. And I think you see, you're seeing that in Colorado, Montana, and a lot of my friends that are from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who, it's a real vibe, it's a lifestyle, all my friends that have moved there, or deadheads fish or wanting to be in the marijuana business. And I haven't really got to talk to them firsthand about rubbing and, you know, rubbing shoulders with the natives if this has been accepted. And it doesn't look like that in the rural areas.

S.A. Blair  6:40  
Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Joe Van Wie  6:43  
Wow. Transitioning that kind of into your story. Don't know if that started when you were young, but let's set the stage of when you grew up, what year are we talking about? You know, early grade school? What years are we talking about?

S.A. Blair  7:00  
Well, I was I was born in 94. So you know, all my, my early grade school years would be towards the end of the 90s. Yeah, yeah, I grew up on a very kind of like a secluded little town. I was I was born in Longmont. And then I was raised for the most part, I moved quite a bit. But from age like five to 12, I lived out in Meade, Colorado, and it's a very, very tiny town. They have like one stoplight, a gas station, and like a couple of schools, and that's about it. And we had like two and a half acres of land or neighbors had horses. It was it was an interesting experience. I feel like a little bit torn between like this love for, you know, just the open land like that. And also kind of a resentment, honestly, towards the culture of small towns like that.

Joe Van Wie  8:05  
And when you say resentment, when you're comparing it to that you wish was different because even when you're a kid, I had resentments, but it seemed like they all have to be generated from a comparison that I'm being ripped off. Someone else is having a much more interesting experience, be it mine was driven by socio economics. I wish we had more money seeing other people. What do you think was driving yours? What are we comparing it to that you were resenting rural life? Um,

S.A. Blair  8:39  
you know, it's interesting. And this, this really feeds into sort of the topic of recovery in the book as well. I feel like I was just born with this feeling of less than, and I would always look at everything else around me and compare myself to that compare myself to them, you know, their family has more money that girls prettier, they're more popular, they fit in better, and it was always just like me, and then the outside. And I felt that a lot growing up. I relate to the socio economic differences as well. My family definitely was, was less wealthy than the people that lived around us and and mostly, I think I just always felt very judged by other people. I always felt very different on the inside, and I felt that everybody else could see that difference. And I just never felt like I fit in.

Joe Van Wie  9:41  
Yeah, yeah. I relate to that. When I hear it from other people in recovery, and that's what I listened to because that's a problem prior to drinking. And addiction seems to be the the addicts and alcoholics I relate to Are there addictions a defense? To this internal life? That's already been a condition? And I was drunk, it seemed to be the first immediate medication for it like, oh, is this is this worth feeling? Well, he's like it's, I can't talk about it enough exploring that less than feeling. And there's so many different ways I think. It can arise in an individual say, like, say, if there was a neurological story, maybe there's not enough dopamine. But then you go peel that back. How did that get caused in relationship? Was it nutrition? Was mom stressed during the pregnancy? Did Did people like myself need more validation in those first eight years, I want a constant intention, did this set of wiring cascade in my brain? Like so? That's a fun story to start to, but I don't think you need to know it completely to get sober. Yeah, I've seen that with friends. But man, that is the common thread for an alcoholic of my type. I also, what do you think about this idea that there's something about alcoholics, especially once they could express themselves with an artistry of writing, say, like yourself? You see things a little more sensitive, you feel that people see your thoughts easily, they're hard to be like to hide them with eye movement. Do you think that lends to the credence that you're sensitive to other people's emotions into intuitively? It's hard to feel like you have a private life in your mind.

S.A. Blair  11:44  
Yeah. It's interesting that that you would bring that up, because I'm notoriously amongst anybody that meets me incredibly stoic, which is interesting that I come off that way. Because I so often, like you were saying feel like, just very vulnerable. I feel like the things that I feel are very strong, and that other people can sense them. And so I guess I always feel this need to, like hide all of that. And sort of protect myself, if you will. And I tend to have that wall up. And it's gotten a lot better and recovery, but I definitely would, I would consider myself an empath. I know that's sort of a buzzword these days. I do tend to relate to people very easily. And I think that does help me in my writing because I, I have this insight into the human experience, I guess, if you will,

Joe Van Wie  12:46  
yeah, it is a buzzword, and I hear it used oftenly. When someone wants to describe themselves as being a caregiver, I'm like, there's a little difference in the distinction and in you set it in the way I relate to. It gets painful to be an empath because you have no boundaries. You don't think you have them like, oh, I have to help now. You're in a bad mood. I have to be in a bad mood. How am I going to be if there's no sovereignty? For someone who doesn't know they have this condition? Like being an empath all the time. And I saw i i. Now they say it I see it all through your story. And I relate to that, because I have siblings. We're all in the house. Can we have independent moods? Or is the house good to share?

S.A. Blair  13:35  
Yeah, especially when you're so close in age.

Unknown Speaker  13:38  
Yeah, it's,

Joe Van Wie  13:40  
it's that's where I relate to your rebellion. By the time you write in adolescence. It's the first exercise and freedom I've been sharing the moods you have, how many siblings do you have?

S.A. Blair  13:52  
I have two older brothers, two older brothers.

Joe Van Wie  13:56  
And what was that like being a girl when you might have wanted to explore more feminine qualities? Were you a tomboy, like, describe that experience of growing up with two older brothers in the mountains.

S.A. Blair  14:11  
Um, I was a tomboy. Actually, I played soccer for eight years, my brothers played as well. I definitely didn't learn very much about like makeup or fashion or anything like that until I was a teenager. And some of my friends took me in on that. But I think you know, at the risk of sounding like Woe is me. I think. Being the youngest and being the girl, it was very easy for me to kind of fall through the cracks in that household. You know, my brothers were always hanging out with each other and I was just the annoying little kid sister. And so I spent a lot of time by myself when I was a kid and that's reflected in my book. Spent a lot of time out outside. And it just, it fueled this imagination, which has kind of come out in my writing I guess it has.

Joe Van Wie  15:10  
I want to share kind of a moment where I understood how much time I thought I could perceive you spent alone when you describe an error. Now, that's not something cliche, or someone's just gonna add in you described Aaron I could smell it is a sequence where you're saying goodbye to dolls, and Barbies, or when you would retreat, and you would to describe there except for a person that's only present when they're by themselves to retreat to feel some freedom. Yeah, it's not a book that's like scandalous, like I'm driving cars upside down Rock and roll's sex and drugs. You are expressing the life that you spent most time living like any good addict, or someone who has addiction or trauma or disconnection as a style to connect with people. And bonding. Your book, he brought all experiences out of me. So I would have to put it down and read it like four or five sittings, because I was getting tired. And what I mean by that it's a compliment. Because I was connecting with the book so much it was drawing emotion out of me. Yeah. Your experience, and it makes someone it mirrors like anyone who's going to read this and recovery or are interested in it. It has this uncanny effect of connection, because I feel like I'm in your head and mirrors my experience. What was my experience apply to? Why does this relate to me? Why am I relating to this so deeply? Yeah. So I mean, a lot of, you know, send some flattery your way. Your books, it's humanistic. Did you realize that was going to come across was this the first time was kind of staying in childhood, but the first time you expressed these details? And they How did that flow out and writing? Because,

S.A. Blair  17:20  
um, well, I've always been a writer, for sure. That's, that's something that I picked up. When I was very young, I was reading Stephen King books when I was six years old. And they had to put me in the special kids reading class because they couldn't teach me anything. And so it's just been something I've always had an affinity for. And I think I've always had this lack of ability to express the way that I feel when I speak. And so I write it down. And as far as the book goes, I actually, when I first started it, which was January of 2020, actually, I wrote out sort of like an outline of just like these points of interest in my life, certain memories that were were still very strong in my mind. And, and then I just went through and I started filling it in. And as I was doing that, when I would write a certain memory, I would really try to get into myself in that moment, get into my head in that moment, what was I feeling and because of that, it was actually very heavy for me to write as well. I would write down one story, and I would have to take a break, because it would bring up all of these feelings and emotions. And it ended up being a very cathartic experience for me to write all that,

Joe Van Wie  18:54  
sir, how long were you in recovery? Is your recovery, abstinent based? Like you kind of? Is that how you would describe your sense of recovery?

S.A. Blair  19:04  
Yeah, all mood are mind altering substances. With that being

Joe Van Wie  19:09  
said, How much sobriety did you have when you started to create this outline?

S.A. Blair  19:15  
When I started it, so January of 2020, would have been three and a half years, I believe.

Joe Van Wie  19:25  
So you're three years sober. And you're involved in recovery communities?

S.A. Blair  19:30  
Yes, yeah.

Joe Van Wie  19:33  
And did your exercising some measure of maybe if it would be it's step work or some kind of this? This has already happened before you start taking writing it down? Do you think that helped that process? Because it seems like Like, say in the context of a 12 step program, you have this inventory you take, and it's not like a book outline, but you're measuring it What happened with personal relationships? They're calling them resentments this way to refill and ruminate through life. Did you go through that process prior to writing it?

S.A. Blair  20:10  
Oh, yeah, I think I had done at least two. Yeah, that steps at that point. And I think it did help a lot. Because it allowed me to approach this book in the way where I had this goal in mind to express the way that it felt to walk through these things without sitting there and saying, please feel sorry for me. Yeah. So I really wanted to make it a point to not have any self pity come across. And, you know, I talk about in the book, I have this, you know, difficult relationship with my father throughout my life. And I really wanted to make it a point to express that yes, this happened. No, I'm not angry anymore. So love my dad, he's still my dad. Yeah, that is beautiful.

Joe Van Wie  21:00  
I don't see self pity come across, I see. I see you relating to a child or like, you know, I hear in good therapy, and I relate to, and I've experienced therapy, and I could see your, your Genesis and walk through therapy that begins with far before you reach a term you call recovery. But I see that through your book, and it's like, you are meeting yourself. In this this meditative state, you describe this ritual to write the outline, now you're revisiting. It's like, you're, you're taking care of the little girl that was you. I don't want to be too sappy. But there's, there's a beauty in that. And it seems like I don't know how someone reaches that without. Yeah. Writing, right? It's like. So if you had to take the thought experiment, what if you started writing this book first year and recovery? It'd be a different book, because the heat like healing had to have you because you write a healing book? Yeah. Were you re experiencing any of these in a negative way these scenarios that especially the first 18 years of your life, you're writing about in these sequences of what was that, like, when they would arise? What would you do for self care if you if needed during the writing process?

S.A. Blair  22:25  
Yeah, I'm definitely very relevant. I mean, I would, I would write about some of these things. And some of them are considered to be like traumatic experiences and have, you know, it's very similar feelings come up, or I would write about my drug used, and it would cause like, just a ton of anxiety, just remembering what it was like to be in that place. And I think that's why I'm able to write it so well is because it's stuck things stick into my memory very strongly, and they hold a lot of emotion in my memory. So I can kind of copy that down on paper. But you know, as it was coming up, I would find myself having to take breaks, like I said, and, and just kind of step away from it, I would do a lot of like, deep breathing. I called my sponsor a lot for sure. And just kind of embraced, and I guess, you know, felt what I needed to feel

Joe Van Wie  23:27  
in, in that support. Did you also have maybe creative support? Were you friends with any other writers?

S.A. Blair  23:35  
Um, I don't know about officially, but I definitely have some friends, a couple of them I live with now that I definitely value, you know, their, their knowledge and opinion on literature. And so I would have various people in my life, read the book, you know, as I was going through the writing process to make sure that it didn't come across, you know, with the self pity and stuff like that, and to make sure the story sounded good, and that it flowed because it covers such a large period of time. But I definitely had a lot of help. You know, I'm very grateful for that.

Joe Van Wie  24:11  
Yeah. All good writing does, right. Yeah, so you never write something you always rewrite it when we would deal with scripts. So you got two lanes of support. You got some writing friends you trust tell me about being that you're probably as sensitive as me as I got to relate to you through your book. How do you how do you get through the Edit process without because the story is you write so someone's gonna read it and give you some,

Unknown Speaker  24:42  
let me give you some revisions here are your life. How does someone

Joe Van Wie  24:46  
deal with that? How did you prepare yourself to be in a healthy place to accept changes criticisms without if hurting

S.A. Blair  25:00  
I don't know that it's a matter of of trying to convince myself that it wouldn't hurt. I think it was more of me telling myself, okay, this is gonna sting a little bit, but it's necessary. You know what I mean? And I've approached my recovery in the same way. I think I embrace growing pains, more than than most people I know. And when I first started writing the book, I didn't know if I was going to publish it. I didn't really know where it was going. I probably didn't decide on publishing until maybe like a month before publish. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  25:40  
So walk me through some of the revisions in the sense that tone wise, you're in a good place, you're three years sober, and you've done step work, you're part of a community, you've experienced therapy, you're still doing a deep dive into the real details? How do you measure the accuracy of the details? And did you see in the revision to more objective story emerge, when you're saying you're walking this line to be cautious that this doesn't come off as a self paid off? Yeah. Did you see changes? Can you tell me about how does that take form to the final draft? Like, what are you seeing that change your perspective and your work? The way you tell the story? How does it change the story, without changing reality?

S.A. Blair  26:33  
Um, you know, there was, there's a few things that I utilized to kind of work through that, number one being my brothers, I would sort of fact check with them. Because, you know, as we know, like memory be a little faulty. So it actually brought about, you know, some really, really heavy but really beautiful conversations that have never been had before. And I appreciate that, that that came of this. And then aside from that, I must have reread, and just gone through this thing hundreds of times. And every time I would do that, sometimes I would come across a story where I wasn't sure why I was telling that story. And a lot of those stories, if I if I couldn't figure out the reason behind telling it, I would delete it. So the book was actually quite a bit longer when it started with it. But I really had to ask myself, like at each point, what is my motive here? And my sponsor actually advised me to do that. A lot of a lot of the steps of the way. So I think that was very helpful for me.

Joe Van Wie  27:49  
So going through this process, another question in the sense you, your brother's you this kind of a healing, experience you wanting to express your life through writing? You're using them as a safeguard. What's their experience there? You know, with this, too?

Unknown Speaker  28:07  

Joe Van Wie  28:10  
Tell me a little more about how that healed and transformed not only that relationship with your siblings, but others and others maybe who had no effect in your life, that you're seeing a different perspective. Are you being kinder and gentle? Like less judgmental of? We are?

S.A. Blair  28:26  
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think as far as, you know, relationships with my parents. You know, as you as you know, my dad passed away when I was about 90 days sober. So I've struggled with that piece a little bit writing about him after he's passed away. And so I think I wanted to be really cautious about that. And that's part of the reason why I talk to my brothers about a lot of things. Because they certainly don't want to share it on anyone's grave. But yeah, um another thing that happened with one of my brothers that was really cool was, we had a conversation about, you know, the way that our childhood was probably this is the first conversation that has ever happened for me in my life. So it was almost like a validating experience where, where I was able to sit down with them and understand that it wasn't just me being sensitive, you know what I mean? Because I'll try to convince myself of that sometimes. And he kind of affirmed that we both seem to have this tendency to minimize the way that things happened. And I don't know there's I think just that that validation of, of this is what happened and you know, this is how it made me feel was was really important for me.

Joe Van Wie  29:57  
What you said they're part of me That's complex, because what drives validation? Sometimes? Could be new peers group. Then lingering behind me, is this this veil? Do I tell them how I grew up? Do I tell them who my family is? Well, I still be accepted. There's that one aspect of validation. The others validation is objectively I want to tell the real story. And when I see how you write and express your experience, what your dad growing up, and and the conclusion that you start driving towards, and in grief in this resolution, I don't know it's I started thinking about an AI developer, this nerdy guy, so on a podcast, and he's talking about death. It's just a wild way. It's his language. He said, Well, if someone remembers you your information, and he was German, he's talking. Because if someone remembers you, you're alive. Like you're alive as information. And the way you express your dad's life, I think is beautiful. Because it's real, it's accurate. I can relate to that. And you heal, it's a, there's a, there's a healing, and a loving and acceptance. And it's a real strong love that I read this because beautiful thing to express a lot of people are going to connect and relate to that there's nothing to be ashamed of. That being said, at this point in your life and considerations, what if you didn't grow up that way? Isn't that a terrifying proposal?

Unknown Speaker  31:43  
Who would be a square?

S.A. Blair  31:48  
Yeah. Isn't that the ultimate question? Yeah. What if things were different? I can't imagine it. Honestly, I don't have a lot of normalcy in my in my family, including the extended family. So I can't imagine it. And I can honestly say today that I wouldn't want it. Yeah. I mean, look at where I'm at today, like, look where everything is brought me would I would I still be sitting near a published author at 28? You know, getting my degree in Biology and Environmental Science? Would I still like be this driven person that I am today? Had I not gone through all those things? And I don't believe that I would.

Joe Van Wie  32:35  
I don't, I don't either. And that's that's our tribe. I see people that didn't grow up with trauma, wonderful people very organized, but they don't have the same like, without having these inadequacies that are, you know, have a birth to the pain of trauma, neglect or inadequacies that come from low self esteem, bonding, well, where what pain would drive you, there's no dichotomy there. And it's weird, it's built on a lie. There's pain driving it. And then if you could talk a little bit about there's another fallacy i think i Guys and girls, like us grew up with is that everyone kind of knows what they're doing except us.

S.A. Blair  33:29  
Yeah, everybody else got the rulebook. Except for me. Can I still see that in my life today, I'm over six years sober, and there's still like some things that I'll come across where I have no idea what I'm doing. And one of those I actually have been experiencing recently, I'm in a relationship for the first time in a very long time. And I'm coming to realize that I have no idea. The relationship Sure,

Unknown Speaker  34:00  
that's great. Yeah, I

S.A. Blair  34:03  
mean, it's, it's, it's an interesting experience. And, you know, I can't help but wonder how much other people feel the same way. I know us as alcoholics tend to have this terminally unique mindset where we think we're the only one and I'm sure it's not true. But I do know that you know, my, my family situation has hindered me in some ways and I'm a bit of a late bloomer and in learning certain things because of it, but you know, it is what it is.

Joe Van Wie  34:34  
Yeah, you don't compete with anyone you compete with yourself. I mean, that's, that's I have to remind myself that constantly it's because I start making a fake world in my head and voices arise people buy care love about strangers in this life isn't happening. I saw that my fourth step. I have an entire life of fiction that is tormenting me in my head. Thank you. You don't enjoy your life, you got to finish the fake one in your head.

S.A. Blair  35:09  
Yeah, whenever things are too good, right, and

Joe Van Wie  35:13  
so this book is published, and you're gonna have a follow up book, this one does a really elegant and distinct way of describing the 90s. In Colorado, and feeling. You know, like even the outside looking in, you find connection, like, like all of us do with your tribe, and they're drunks and drug addicts. And you describe what, although scenarios, the relief and the acceptance that could be an illusion and somewhat real connection, the only one you could deck deck collapses to, and you go back to a family, before the real reconnection, the pain of grief and loss. What's next? In that sense, what what are you following this up with.

S.A. Blair  36:04  
Um, so the second book is going to act as somewhat of a sequel to the first although you, you wouldn't necessarily have to read them in order, which I appreciate. But I have this idea about, you know, not necessarily telling the story of all of the things that have happened in my recovery, because I've walked through quite a bit in my recovery as well. But almost telling it in the sense of this is how I built my relationship with my higher power. This is how my recovery has evolved. And here's some things that happen along the way. So it's gonna be more focused around spirituality and recovery. And I've, as a writer, you know, obviously, I've tons of journals and notebooks that I've kept over the years. And there's one of them that I found recently that starts at the very, very beginning of my recovery, and has just a ton of written down, you know, like letters to God, if you will. Sometimes my sponsor would have me write a letter to myself from God. So there's a couple of those in there. So I'm actually going to take pictures of this journal that I wrote throughout my recovery and insert it into the book in various places, and it'll kind of depict this evolution of my recovery.

Joe Van Wie  37:38  
So you, let me get this straight. You wrote a letter. And you're playing the role of God to yourself? Yeah, yeah. There's

S.A. Blair  37:46  
a couple. It's so

Joe Van Wie  37:47  
interesting. Yeah. Isn't that it is because it's an ancient idea, divinity. And, you know, if you peel apart even the early idea of Alcoholics Anonymous for saying their book, what makes that book really unique spiritually, in a Western sense, I believe when I read other books on and comparing it to the culture, it's rising out of Judeo Christian, it says they find this great reality, they capitalize it. All of us, most of us this this common experience of the first people in the 35 to 39. We find the great REALITY DEEP with them. So they're telling you where they think God is. Yeah. And there you are tapping into this divine spark that makes your life sacred. We're conscious human beings. There has to be some sanctity to this. This is not happening everywhere. Yeah, nine field planets around us want beautiful animals, but none of them are waking up thinking, geez, what kind of squirrel am I going to be today?

Unknown Speaker  38:55  
This is a crisis.

Joe Van Wie  38:56  
And there's the healing part is a something wakes up in us. And they call it a spiritual awakening. Not a lot of Western things were doing that. They didn't call it awakening. You had to be saved. You're born broken. Gotta be saved. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  39:10  
we'll fix you up Glad you're here.

Joe Van Wie  39:15  
That's interesting. What an exercise what what do you think the lasting experience of doing that like writing that letter? How would you describe it? Now that you look back at doing something like that? Would you recommend it to someone else?

S.A. Blair  39:29  
I absolutely would. And I recommend it to all of the women that I sponsor as I take them through the steps but it's kind of like forged this belief that I now carry that, you know, my higher power is always with me. And it's basically a matter of whether or not I'm willing to like keep that door open, if you will, because you know, sometimes I shut it and I like to do things my way and I get myself in a lot of I have trouble and pain and then I turn back to the door. And you know, my my biggest message in this the second book, as it relates to my spirituality, which is very much just spirituality, I'm not a religious person. But I've built this incredible relationship with my higher power, and it has not been beautiful. It has not been, you know, a smooth process by any means. And there was a lot of things that I needed to work through. And it kind of depicts the building of this relationship is very human. Yeah, is a very human experience for me, because there was times when I would be screaming at my higher power, you know, screaming and cussing, and there was a lot of mistrust that I had to work through a lot of anger that I had to work through. And yeah,

Joe Van Wie  40:58  
Sarah, does that mistrust taught come from the idea that how can this be a loving higher power right? Now I'm gonna save me. I'm manifesting this idea. You said a couple things. You close the door on him. But when does when does this idea of God good? Just barge the door. Don't shut the fucking door on me. Like, have you seen this? Like a dad? Would you know? Yeah, well, how are you going through the process. And I think we hear it at meetings a lot. But we don't really unpack it too much. Because it's someone's, that's their higher power. Like we can all make gods in our heads like, which is, you know, this weird fallacy. I struggle with it, I still do. And I go through the steps and I surrender to the principles of a program. I could do that. But God's kind of manifested this catch all phrase, it's a second thought. It's not the impulsive thought I get when I'm afraid. Tired. I'm angry, resentful. Feel like a victim, my brains wired. It's gonna tell me what to do next, take a nap. Eat more, do something hide. God's the second voice I hear that seems to be the general consensus. If we we took away what God is. It seems to be producing that I have an option to do something else besides hide from my pain. Yeah. Or I could talk to someone. Do you? Did you have an idea of God that is more as a boss and authority than the new boss, the boss, it's unreachable? It's mysterious. How do you get mad at this idea? And how do you reconcile it? Like, can you describe that a little more? Where did there become a fundamental change that maybe this isn't a bad guy just plotting some game against me or for the idea of it?

S.A. Blair  42:51  
Well and this is a little bit in my book as well. So you know, this, this idea of a higher power kind of started for me, growing up and hearing this story about how I was born, when my mom's tubes were tied. And now I'm considered a miracle and blah, blah, blah. And so I always kind of felt this, this inner knowing that I was here for a reason. And I had a purpose, and that that sort of started to evolve throughout my life, as all of these things happen to me. And I started thinking that maybe I wasn't supposed to be here. Maybe I was a mistake. And I felt very strongly for a long time that I was being punished. I didn't necessarily know for what but you know, throughout my life, there have been all these moments where I should have died, and, like didn't, and I felt that something was keeping me here. And I was angry about it for a long time. Because, you know, that was the punishment for me, I had to stay here and I had to feel all this pain. And I think that's, that's why I turned to you know, my drug of choice in particular, which was heroin because it really just turns everything off. And I have that that anger very strongly as I came into my recovery off of a failed suicide attempt. Where I had you know, this, this burning bush moment with my higher power sort of a conversation with God, if you will, which I know you read about was actually in a rollover into the second book. So I had to work through that I had to work through this anger that I was still here. I didn't want to be here. I didn't believe that I could get better but I kept showing up anyways, and I kept doing what what people told me to do anyways, because I felt like at this point, I didn't have a choice wasn't gonna let me die. So it was you know, move forward or nothing.

Joe Van Wie  44:59  
I like the idea of God starting before your birth, the improbability of you being born. God doesn't deal with what could be like if there was an idea, the idea whatever shared idea of God is. So what could be what it's what is, it's already been permitted. It's not like if this was an omnipotent power, oh man, I made that one mistake. By me. It's preposterous.

S.A. Blair  45:31  
That way. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  45:32  
it's just a preposterous idea. It's

Joe Van Wie  45:36  
the healing. And when you say you open doors, shut them and you found you woke God up inside of you. Or the idea. And you could hear this across cultures, ideas or expressions of Christianity. And I just read it and what you will now transition into the second book, it's it's beautiful. Because we see I see it often. Because I'm active and recovery communities. And it's people express it different ways. But I know we know what's happening. They're being they're waking up. Like it's a weird

S.A. Blair  46:10  
idea. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  46:13  
And what are they waking up to the idea that they don't, you can't judge what is you can make amends for it. I can be accountable. But I'm not gonna let this be the end of the story. I'm not dead. And you obviously did not. You wrote a beautiful book. That second books come in, it's coming from a well, your personal experience. I have one kind of exploration left here. What are you studying biology? What of what? Year? Yeah, I would have pegged him for an English major. What's the draw to biology? Emily, you continue writing? With this being your study? What's what's

S.A. Blair  46:58  
Oh, God? That is the question. That is the question I've been asking myself lately actually,

is started off, I worked in treatment for three years, and I was pursuing, you know, addiction counseling license, and that whole thing, and they changed the laws in Colorado recently, where you have to have a bachelor's, now, you can't just have a CAC three, in order to provide therapy. And so I went back to school. And I started off with a degree in psychology. And, you know, at this point, and always just considered writing is more of a hobby. It just always felt like, you know, to be successful in that is, is kind of far fetched. And so it's not really something I ever pursued. So, you know, I go back to school, and I'm doing the psychology thing, and I'm realizing that I am completely miserable in my life and where I was at, and you know, I absolutely adore helping people. It's the absolute light of my life. It's a lot different when you get paid for it, though. Yeah. So I realized that I needed to keep you know, my my nature of helping people in their recovery to my own recovery and pursue something else. And at that point, I didn't necessarily know what it was that I wanted to do. But I took a leap, I guess, I've always been interested in like plants and science, and I do consider myself to be more on the intelligence side. So I took this leap, I changed my degree to Biology and Environmental Science and things just exploded from there. I mean, within six months, I got an internship at a a teaching hospital doing genetics research, and I got this full ride scholarship and just all these things happened. And it was like, Okay, I'm right where I'm supposed to be. And, and then now I publish this book, and I'm kind of wondering about that, you know, which which path do I take? Can I do both? Um, and, you know, as it relates to my higher power, interestingly enough, because some people think that like science and spirituality are two separate things, and I don't necessarily see it that way. I mean, I'm sitting here doing genetics research, learning about the ultimate mechanism of everything. Yeah. And it's so beautiful. I see. I see God in that.

Joe Van Wie  49:37  
So let me ask you something right there. This is exciting. And I see plants throughout the whole story. It's like do you think the way you just describe that as kind of how I approach my experience in reality, I grew up, Catholic and we we love Supernaturals You got it all over the place. But I think the story is visible. There's nothing being hidden. It's just not being understood. Is that the kind of way you approached something as as a scientist, you think you would approach it?

S.A. Blair  50:14  
Oh, absolutely.

Joe Van Wie  50:16  
And the puzzle, the puzzles could be solved. It's not mysterious, but it doesn't deflate your practice of spirituality.

S.A. Blair  50:26  
Yeah. Yeah. It's almost like I like the puzzle analogy, because it's almost like there's these two pieces. And right now, they seem so far away from each other, but it's just a matter of, you know, building up what's in the middle and connecting them.

Unknown Speaker  50:39  
All right, this,

Joe Van Wie  50:41  
this is far more interesting than I understood. I was really trying to pepper a question, the way you describe. And we're able to go back decades and describe moments moments in time. Do you think you would be able to do that for fiction, if you create a character's life? Because I was just reading the same thing? And what if she started writing? Yeah, the way you describe moments, anyone reads reads your style of writing would be lost in moments, and what is the story except for a bunch of good moments? Like, would you? Did you ever consider fiction?

S.A. Blair  51:21  
Oh, absolutely. That's actually where I started. I wrote, technically, I wrote a novel when I was 10 years old. It was like 209 pages, I could not tell you how good of quality the writing was, but I knocked it out. So I did start with fiction. And I would do a lot of like, short stories. I did a lot of poetry for a while, which, you know, you can kind of see that style in the book as well. So that is, I would say just this passion for being able to paint a picture, I guess, really comes out in my memoir, but it started with fiction. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  52:13  
I just wanted to say that because I was like, when I read it, I was like, what if these moments are there, so they're easily adapted to a script? If I was reading, the way I read these memoirs of how you would shoot this, I could see the shots POVs, wide close ups, meaning they're just popping right in there. Yeah, Sarah, as we wind down, Amazon, this is where we can find the difference? Yes, I'm gonna put that link on there. And it's, it really was a pleasure and unique to meet each other. And I'm glad I can able to have you on the show and talk about this. Because I think if you're in recovery, early recovery, or if you're writing a fourth step, or you're dealing and unpacking trauma, and you don't feel too safe about sharing these things, and maybe in an open meeting or group format settings, for next year support, this is a great and safe way to relate to someone that's real, and exists in little segments, skip around, you don't even have to read it. You know, it's just so poetic, you could hop back and forth around. So I fully endorse it. If that means my little weird. So, any parting thoughts?

S.A. Blair  53:37  
Um, I don't know. I mean, I'm very grateful to have had this opportunity to come on the show is very unexpected for me as well. And you know, my biggest message with this book is just if they can help anyone who has ever felt the way that I have felt, you know, that's why I wrote it. So, you know, I hope that that's what it does.

Joe Van Wie  54:05  
Great job. Well, yeah, reach out anytime in the future. And I'll be looking for the second book.

S.A. Blair  54:13  
Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Joe Van Wie  54:20  
I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. Find us on all or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google, podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember just Just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right

Transcribed by

Introduction to today’s guest.
Growing up in a small town in Colorado.
The process of writing the book.
How do you deal with revisions?
What drives validation?
What’s next for Sarah?
It’s a second thought.
How she approaches science and fiction.