Profiles in Recovery

Dana Bowman

Parenting young children while struggling with alcoholism, Bowman knows the perils that many mothers face. They wonder if they drink too much, or if anyone shares their insecurities and social anxiety. They fear addiction is looming over their busy family lives. Here, Bowman offers practical insights on embracing sobriety — a journey she chronicles in her memoir, “Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.”

Day Job:
Humorist, blogger and part-time English professor in Kansas

What I lost to addiction:
I lost time with my sons (they were toddlers) that I will never get back. I also lost my confidence — I had myself convinced I was the “worst mom ever” so — more drinking. Final answer though? My soul. Just my soul.

What worked for me:
I grew up with a dad who attended 12-step meetings. When I started to see that I “might have a problem” I panicked and SWORE I would NEVER do meetings. Guess what? I did meetings. Still do — they saved me.

Advice to my younger self:
You are enough.

Also: If someone makes you feel invisible, get them out of your life. You are not invisible, so they must be crazy, not to see you. Punt them.

Rules I live by:

  • Go to meetings and don’t drink in between
  • Do the next right thing.
  • Do what you say, and say what you do (my Dad’s formula for integrity)
  • If at a loss, watch bad reality television. It will make you feel better. 🙂

On my schedule today:
A busy day of writing. But also, I got my hair done — self care! Always good to be a sober rockstar, so I must have rockstar hair!

Thoughts on relapse:
I relapsed for four days in 2013 — I got sober on Jan 1, 2014. It was hell. The reason I relapsed was due to a terrible fight with depression. The relapse was the best thing that ever happened to me. It helped me see who I am (an alcoholic) and to take this deal seriously. I also learned depression will not kill me. It comes and goes in my life – I have learned to deal with it. What will kill me, is alcohol.

What I value most in recovery:
I have peace in my heart. I am enough. That’s a miracle!

How I get through the holidays:
Have an escape plan. Take your own car. Tell one other person what your plans are for the social situation. Eat before you go. And mainly? You don’t “owe” anyone your presence at a party where there is drinking — your sobriety is more important. If you leave, don’t fret about what others will say or think — far too often they are not thinking about it all… or they’re too shnockered to notice. 🙂

What I learned about myself:
I had no idea until I got sober that I face some social anxiety – I am so good at being “on” for others, that I had no idea this was an issue. It has been life changing and a very positive thing, to learn my boundaries and how to healthfully see the world.

Best advice for newbies:
You are going to think two things,

  1. That you cannot do this.
  2. And that life, sober, will be no fun.

Those are both not true — all those substances in you are wanting to kill you, and if they can’t take your life, they will at least take your soul. You must realize: you are worth it.

On My Bucket List:
Write a book! Which I DID! I have wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I had to get rid of so many things to get the gifts of this life. So worth it. (Follow Bowman at; find “Bottled” here.).

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].