Ray of Light Interview No. 41 :: Cristina Ferri

Every Friday for the entire 2017 calendar year, I release a new interview + a newly created mixed media piece of art as part of my weekly Ray of Light Interview Series: Women in Recovery. This series features brave, kickass, beautiful women who have chosen to embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle. The light was dimmed for these women when they were struggling with alcohol (either a little or a lot).  I wish to honor them for their brave choice to ditch alcohol, rediscover themselves through sobriety + shine bright in the process.  You can access links to the entire series by clicking here.

Original image courtesy of photographer,  Rob Lee.

Original image courtesy of photographer, Rob Lee.

Cristina Ferri
Graphic Designer & Photographer
Instagram: @sober_unicorn
Blog address: www.soberunicorn.com
Twitter: @soberunicorns
Facebook: facebook.com/therealsoberunicorn

What is your sobriety date? April 24, 2015

Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
At first I counted months. Now I like to see the days because numbers are fun! I like to look at the meanings in numbers and see how they relate to my current situation.

Do you use an app or some other method to do this counting? If so, please share.
I use CleanTime Counter app.

What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
The short answer is: faith.

The long answer is, as many as I can. I started out with AA, but I tend to lean more on my online Facebook groups, as well as InTheRooms.org for my support. I also have gathered a force of sober women who I feel blessed to call my tribe, both in real life and online. I’m also about to attend my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.

Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
No. I feel like that phrase doesn't do justice to anyone in recovery and fighting every day to do the next right thing. Looking into the past and holding on to a term that expresses who I once was, doesn't help me move forward.

If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
I'm a woman in recovery. I choose to refrain from alcohol because I do not like who I am when using it. I abused alcohol to hide and numb out from my underlying issues. Being sober allows me to work on all aspects of my recovery including codependency, anxiety and my own self-worth. My recovery spans a list of topics: spirituality, perfectionism, alcohol, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, control, co-dependency, nicotine, fear, over-eating, shame, restlessness and CPTSD ... just to name a few.

What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?

  1. Meditation & Prayer. I love the saying Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you listen to Him. I need to work on the latter.

  2. Therapy. I found my therapist by searching for someone who used EMDR in their practice. We also began using hypnotherapy and EFT. When I got sober, my first priority was to get to the bottom of my issues and “rewire” my brain. All of the processes we use in therapy are tools I can use everyday.

  3. Blogging & Sharing My Story. I firmly believe that connection and being open and honest about my story helps not only heal my wounds, but may possibly help another person who wants to taste the sober life. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection, Johann Hari.

Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?  
In all honesty, my getting sober was about a decade in the making. I pointed the finger so many times and judged others around me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be on the sober end of the argument. I was tired of seeing people I loved defeated from alcohol. I tried on three separate occasions over the years to quit on my own, but I eventually ended up going back to drinking or hiding that I was drinking. I also saw a horrible cycle of drinking, making terrible decisions, and hating myself. My mental health was degrading fast and in 2013 I almost committed myself. But still, alcohol wasn’t the problem in my eyes. The couple years preceding April 24th, 2015 were just a nutty whirlwind of events mostly outside of my control, some of my own doing, but it brought me to a place I just never imagined I would be. Getting restraining orders against exes, going to funerals for overdose victims, bringing loved ones to rehab, and losing friendships that lasted decades. I found myself so lost and what I felt was beyond repair that I literally was scared to drink. I was afraid if I drank, I wouldn't be able to stop. And I knew that I wouldn't be around much longer if that was the case. Once I had that realization, it was still about four months of me trying to moderate my drinking before I finally just said enough. I attended my first AA meeting in 2015 to support a friend, and it was soon after I realized I had to quit for good. And that's when my recovery truly began.

Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking? 
More. I feel like my brain is non-stop thinking of new ideas but I never have enough time to get them all done or even start. I started my blog in January of 2016 with the intent to start having monthly workshops or groups where we discuss topics that are often uncovered in sobriety and will give you tools to use in your everyday life to cope with issues that arise, by using art and other creative resources. It’s still on my to-do list. What I have done is focus on my photography and officiant services (aka my side gig) which some of my stuff is posted over at Celebration Geeks.  I also started making tee-shirts, prints, candles, and bracelets, some of those are posted in my Etsy shop. My other creative outlet has been being a part of the Recovery Gals Art Exchange for the past year, most of which I have blogged about.

Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking? If yes, how so?
YES! I think not being hungover alone increases productivity by 1000%. But aside from my day job and my side job and my passion project, I’ve also been more productive in reading, being involved in my church, and creating solid, meaningful relationships.

What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
Being able to make healthy decisions with a clear head and seeing the progress and happiness that has stemmed from that.

Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Talk about it. If someone doesn’t understand, find another ear. Keep talking about it. Don’t ever give up. You are not alone. There is hope on the other side of fear, desperation and shame.

Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?

  1. Any book by Anne Lamott
  2. My coach and friend Sasha Tozzi (she is Ray of Light Interview No. 30)
  3. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Are you part of a tribe or a recovery community that supports your sobriety?  If so, how did you figure out how to find that tribe/community.  What was your path to discovering it?
Yes. When I started my blog, I immediately began looking for others online. I did google searches and Facebook searches for sobriety and recovery. I joined as many groups and chats as I possibly could find.

What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
I turned my life from drunkenness and debauchery to faith and focus. I live with intention and I finally understand who I truly am. I have learned forgiveness of myself and others and I work hard everyday to continue to learn, grow, and make the best choices I possibly can make.

Original image courtesy of photographer,  Rob Lee

Original image courtesy of photographer, Rob Lee

Cristina was also a guest on The Unruffled Podcast, a show I co-host with Sondra Primeaux. You can listen and learn more about her mission by clicking here. If you like what you hear, leave us a rating on iTunes. I would be most grateful.