Ep.50 - Growing Pains, 12-Step 'Cult'ure, & The Sobriety to Walk Away | Stacy Parish ― Stacy Parish is this week’s guest on the pod. Stacy is an artist, and the creator and host of the Full Spirals podcast. In this wholehearted convo, she & Candice discuss how Stacy’s experiences in early childhood shaped her passion for creative expression as both voice and vehicle for healing. Stacy repressed memories of the early childhood trauma that she experienced; and in her thirties, an ongoing battle with addiction required she unearth them in order to heal. She was gaslit by her immediate family, which was an experience that left an indelible mark. In this conversation, Stacy speaks to why she feels it’s so crucial (and difficult at times) to trust ourselves. Stacy also spent time in ‘the Org’ and she explains why, despite the remarkable benefits of the practice, her experiences elsewhere kept her at a healthy distance from the inner circle. From there, the conversation centers around the two decades that Stacy spent in 12-step recovery communities. She explains what worked about it, what didn't, and why she made the difficult choice to walk away two years ago. The two discuss everyday cult dynamics that show up in these communities, including: commitment expectations, boundary violations, and bounded choice... just to name a few. The 'cult of personality' is also explored, as well as some of the harmful consequences that can result when this power is abused and the cycle of pain is perpetuated by people who refuse to look outside of group dogma for answers. CW: This episode includes reference to addiction and childhood sexual abuse. It may be triggering to trauma survivors, those in 12 step recovery programs, or anyone who has experience in high-demand groups or emotionally coercive relationships. Please listen with care.

Stacy Parish has a BS degree in art education from Minnesota State University, Mankato and spent 11 years in broadcasting — as a professional disc jockey, voice talent and copywriter. She has been professionally involved in education and communication for almost years. A born storyteller, her popular podcast “Full Spirals” brings together two of her passions: using her voice as a vehicle for change and promoting the arts as tools for healing. A working local artist, she is also employed in the paint and sip industry as an artist, and her original paintings have been taught to tens of thousands of people nationwide.

Ep.50 - Growing Pains, 12-Step 'Cult'ure, & The Sobriety to Walk Away | Stacy Parish

Candice Schutter: 0:06
Hello and welcome back to The Deeper Pulse and the continuation of the 'cult'ure series. It's a little hard for me to believe this is the 50th episode of this podcast, and I just wanna take a moment to thank all the patrons who make this work possible. Every episode is a self-made labor of love, and donors help me to keep production up and running. And as the community over on Patreon continues to grow, I'm continually reminded why this work is so important. Which is why I do my best to give back to my donors offering early access to the main feed of the podcast and dropping video bonus episodes weekly. You can learn more at patreon.com/thedeeperpulse.

Now on to today's episode.

Before we dive in, a quick content warning. This episode includes reference to addiction and childhood sexual abuse. It may be triggering to trauma survivors, those in 12 step recovery programs, or anyone who has experience in high-demand groups or emotionally coercive relationships. Please listen with care. The stories and opinions shared in this episode are based on personal experience and are not intended to malign any group, individual, or organization.

One of my closest friends recently celebrated two years of sobriety. And life was a living hell for her when she chose to stop drinking after more than three decades. I watched her pass through her first year of sobriety, awestruck by her tenacity and willingness to reckon with all the feels, once she stopped dulling the pain.

I recall a conversation we had early on in her sobriety when she was really struggling and in the depths of a paralyzing depression. Desperate to throw her a lifeline. I suggested for a second time that perhaps she should reconsider a 12 step program. And without a shred of defensiveness or anger, she said to me once again, no, thank you very much. She was crystal clear. She tried it in the past and it wasn't for her.

But this time she elaborated.

She explained to me that she didn't believe that alcoholism was a disease, and that she didn't at all buy into the notion she was powerless over her addiction. A higher power wasn't the remedy she was looking for.

Now, some would argue that her unwillingness to work the steps kept her from getting help. But as it turns out, there's more than one path to sobriety. It hasn't been easy. As I said, it's been hell at times. But she's been clean and sober without relapse ever since she made the choice to stop drinking over two years ago. Her mental health is better than it's ever been. And she just landed a killer promotion at work. She did all of this thanks to the support of friends, a qualified therapist, and perhaps more than anything else, a shit ton of inner work and personal heavy lifting. Her sobriety was and continues to be an inside job.

When I reached out to her for permission to share these bits and pieces of her story, she texted me back right away, "absolutely, go for it." When I told her what I planned to say, she elaborated in her own words why it is she'd known for years that AA just wasn't for her.

And I quote: "I then felt and still feel very strongly that alcohol was not my problem in and of itself. Standing up and claiming 'I'm an alcoholic' felt like a self shaming lie when my truth is, 'I'm a trauma survivor who learned to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.' I couldn't accept the message that I was a powerless, diseased center of sorts. Who needs to surrender myself to this group and its beliefs in order to be a non-drinking alcoholic. There was just too much tearing down of the self and dependence on the group for my liking. And I can say now, after two years of sobriety, that it wasn't about a higher power. It was and is MY power. That was the remedy I was looking for all along."

Then she sent me a screenshot of her sobriety tracker, which read two years, two months, and 12 days. I replied with the only two words I could think to say in response. Fuck yeah.

Addiction is a hot button topic, and maybe that's why I've been sitting on this week's convo for a couple of months now.

Stacy Parish and I met back in August. She reached out to me after listening to early episodes of the 'cult'ure series, and she and I hit it off right away. Stacy also hosts and produces her own podcast, Full Spirals. And like me, she sits down with brave individuals who are ripe and ready to share their stories. Not only did Stacy and I realize right away that we share a passion for supporting courageous self-expression.

Stacy had also been affiliated with 'the Org' for a number of years, the new age wellness company that I expose in the first few episodes of this series. She's what we would call a 'fringer,' having steered clear of the inner circle dysfunction. Which I've now learned was in part due to the fact that, even from the outside Stacy kind of sorta already knew what she was looking at. She was no stranger to culty dysfunction.

Stacy had survived a monumental level of gaslighting in her thirties when she unearthed some repressed childhood memories that incriminated those closest to her. Shortly after bringing the truth to light, she received a letter from an attorney on behalf of her parents. The attorney represented the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a controversial nonprofit organization that was at the time notorious for defending alleged perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse.

False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded in 1992 by Pamela and Peter Freyd, not long after their grown daughter, with the support of extended family members, accused her father Peter of sexual abuse. False memory syndrome is not recognized in the DSM V or any earlier editions of the diagnostic manual. This terminology was invented by the organization, and it was used as a pseudo-scientific explanation that alleged abusers could use to deflect accountability. The premise being that adult children who recalled childhood sexual abuse, that these memories were fabricated and that they were in fact the result of inappropriate therapeutic practices. The organization was dissolved in 2019, but there are still many who defend this questionable rhetoric when survivors come forward with their stories.

Now, I wanna be clear. This is not to say that false memories never happen. But in a culture where women are silenced and the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse against young girls is estimated to be 1 in 4, and the vast majority of perpetrators face zero consequences if by a long shot they're even charged. Well, I'll just say it. In my opinion, organizations like the False Memory Syndrome Foundation seem to be a misallocation of resource, a little suspect, or at the very least pretty fucking tone deaf.

All of that to say, I stand by my friend, Stacy, and what her body has to say about what happened to her. And she's given me permission to share this part of her story because like most of us, Stacy's first 'cult' was her family of origin. And it should come as no surprise that it was when Stacy was in her thirties kicking against the current of her family's rejection of her actual lived experience that she struggled the most with addiction. She turned to 12 step recovery as a safe haven, and it helped her to get clean and stay that way.

But now, two decades later, like most of my guests, she's breaking a code of silence in favor of her own integrity. The 12 Step program she was a part of helped her to get sober. And it also left her with a familiar feeling that kept her from talking openly about her experiences.

Stacy attended 12 step meetings for many years and even worked as a sponsor for others. And then, two years ago she stepped away for good. In this episode, she's gonna tell us why.

She is but one voice among a silent chorus of many. 12 step programs are safe havens that save lives. Certainly, in many cases that is true. And also, it's a culture that systematically enables harm.

As I've noted many times before, cult dynamics sometimes emerge organically. When pseudoscientific dogma is present. When hierarchies are established with little to no oversight. When highly vulnerable humans are targeted. And perhaps most tragically, when people who have endured great harm are given power and influence over others. In some cases, 12 step programs become breeding grounds for emotional and sexual predation.

I highly recommend a documentary called The 13th Step, directed by activist and former 12 stepper, Monica Richardson. I stumbled upon this doc a few weeks after recording the convo with Stacy, and I was floored by how much it validated her concerns. I soon after passed it on to her and Stacy reports feeling similarly.

And just a side note, the 13th step is defined as "a colloquial term for when a 12 step old timer hits on a newcomer with less than a year of sobriety." It's essentially when someone in a position of power within the program takes advantage of someone while they are in a vulnerable state.

Sound familiar?

Anyhow, I've reached out to Monica Richardson and, fingers crossed, I'm hoping to have her on the podcast shortly for what I hope will be a much anticipated follow up to this conversation.

But first, I can't wait for you to hear from Stacy, because she is a badass truth teller in her own right. Stacy Parish has a degree in art education and she spent 11 years in broadcasting as a professional disc jockey, voice talent, and copywriter. She's been professionally involved in education and communication for almost 30 years. As a born storyteller, Stacy's podcast Full Spirals brings together two of her passions, using her voice as a vehicle for change and promoting the arts as a tool for healing. A working local artist, she's also employed in the paint and sip industry. You might even know her work. Her original paintings have been taught to tens of thousands of people nationwide.

Stacy and I spoke on the winter solstice, and I'm thrilled to finally be sharing our conversation with you.

Let's get to it.

Stacy Parish: 11:18
Candice Schutter: 11:19
You are timely.
Stacy Parish: 11:21
I try to be timely. I've even got my candle burning.
Candice Schutter: 11:24
Oh my gosh. How sweet.
Stacy Parish: 11:26
Sacred Space, baby. Sacred space.
Candice Schutter: 11:28
Love it. Hmm.
Stacy Parish: 11:31
Yeah, I've got, uh, I've got water and coffee.
Candice Schutter: 11:34
Me too.
Stacy Parish: 11:35
Candice Schutter: 11:37
Me too. Same. I only drink decaf. How funny.
Stacy Parish: 11:41
Do you really?
Candice Schutter: 11:42
Stacy Parish: 11:43
Oh, wow. Me too. How come?
Candice Schutter: 11:47
I weaned myself off of caffeine about, gosh, three years in February. I just, I was tired of my energy spiking and falling and spiking and falling, and I really didn't drink that much caffeine, but it just, I'm super sensitive to it. And when I wouldn't have it, I would get headaches. I had like crazy withdrawal and so I was just like, this is a roller coaster ride that I'm not enjoying anymore. So I just stopped drinking it, and my energy leveled out and it was like such a great thing. And also for my anxiety, I should note. My anxiety levels just completely stabilized. Um, well, it's, it was related to other things as well. This wasn't the only factor, but yeah. How about you?
Stacy Parish: 12:30
Yeah, mine's because I have a tremor.
Candice Schutter: 12:32
Oh, okay.
Stacy Parish: 12:33
Have a neurological issue, benign essential tremor. And it just, it makes it worse. So being a part of, um, decaf culture is, it's not always easy. You know, you go to place a coffee order and they're like, um, what's that again? You want what? But,
Candice Schutter: 12:53
I feel ya. You're not alone.
Stacy Parish: 12:54
There's nope, there's workarounds. But I love it. Like I drink it all day and that's the fun thing. Like, here's me nine o'clock at night, drinking my coffee. It doesn't affect me at all.
Candice Schutter: 13:06
There's definite benefits to the switch. Lots of them. Yeah. Well, that's good. I'm glad that we have yet another thing in common. I mean, what a perfect lead-in.
Stacy Parish: 13:14
I know.
Candice Schutter: 13:16
I feel like it's, it's so amazing that our paths intersected, gosh, it's only probably been three or four months ago, and we have just so much in common and have so many shared passions. And apparently another one is the passion for decaf So, so, um, I'm just so delighted that you're here on the podcast, and that we have a chance to turn the tables. I'm definitely gonna link to your podcast, which I was just on a few weeks ago, and it just felt like a no-brainer. It was kind of like, who's gonna ask who first? Right?
Stacy Parish: 13:56
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Well, and having the podcast journey in common, too.
Candice Schutter: 14:02
Yeah, for sure.
Stacy Parish: 14:03
Like that's, yeah, that's a thing. It's a very unusual path to walk and there aren't a lot of women, well, there's plenty of women in it, but I don't know how many do it all themselves. So that's a piece of a, and I think we both walked the path of just kind of grinding through it on our own. I think we both have that kind of gritty, grindy personality of like, no, I'll figure it.
Candice Schutter: 14:32
Exactly. Yeah. A hundred percent.
Stacy Parish: 14:34
So, yeah. So we had that in common too.
Candice Schutter: 14:37
Yeah. Well, we've been figuring it out since always, right. I mean, that's sort of.
Stacy Parish: 14:42
Candice Schutter: 14:43
At the core of, of why we do the work. don't wanna speak for you, but like why I do the work that I do and why it's so important for me, and I know for you as well to have a place where people can have those sort of gritty conversations out loud. And so tell us, since we're on the subject, about your podcast and the birth of it and, and what it is and, and how it functions in your life.
Stacy Parish: 15:08
Sure. Yeah, so Full Spirals. It came about for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's been going on for the past 15 or 20 years, I've been on a healing journey myself, and I discovered that there are some real striking similarities between the healing process and the creative process. For instance, they're both voluntary. You can go on a creative journey or a healing journey, or you cannot. When the going gets tough, when it gets difficult, you can say, forget it. I don't wanna do this anymore. They're both inside jobs. Nobody can tell you how to do it. They're both journeys where nobody can tell you how it's gonna end.
Candice Schutter: 15:59
Stacy Parish: 16:00
Nobody can tell you when it's over. They're both subjective. So I started making all of these discoveries, and I also discovered that every time I did a creative pursuit. So I'm an actor, I'm a visual artist, I'm a singer. I do all kinds of different things. And what I discovered was whenever I took on a big project, I would literally have a transformative experience in my healing. And we'll get into what my childhood was and what some of those big transformative experiences were. But, um, I ended up having all of these stories of these experiences and I wanted to tell the stories. And, so this need to tell these stories, it, it went through a lot of different iterations. I was going to write a novel, and then I was gonna write a screenplay, and then I was going to write a memoir, and then I was gonna write a one woman show, and I was settling on one woman's show because at my core, I'm a performer. Like that's what I do. That's who I am. And so I, I met up with a couple who had produced some shows at an outdoor theater in northern Wisconsin, and we were working and guess what, then the pandemic happened, and I couldn't work with them anymore. Their performance theater company and what they did went out of business because nobody was meeting with them anymore. And, and lockdown was a thing. Lockdown was just a thing. But the gift of that was that I had to sit with my story. And I met up with this really great writing group, virtually called Hippies in the Attic.
Candice Schutter: 17:49
That's great.
Stacy Parish: 17:50
Right? And through Hippies in the Attic, I started a regular writing practice, like literally putting pen to paper, which led me to an online writing course with Natalie Goldberg, who is the writer of Writing Down the Bones that rather, it's famous in writing circles. Um, and I developed an even deeper writing practice and she had this thing in the book Writing Down The Bones to fill up a notebook a month. So my mission was, well, I'm gonna write a notebook a month. And I did. So I ended up with 12 notebooks full. And what happened through that process was that, I developed my voice on the page and through developing my voice on the page, I came to some really solid truths. And one was that, my background is in broadcasting. I got out of that business because it's not a friendly business for women. I was sexually harassed on a pretty regular basis. And um, so I didn't leave because I wanted to. I was really good at it. I left because I felt like I had to.
Candice Schutter: 19:09
Stacy Parish: 19:10
And finding my voice on the page, I realized, screw that.
Candice Schutter: 19:15
Stacy Parish: 19:17
I can take that voice back. Because podcasting is a medium that I could harness. And a lot of other things happened that kind of led me to that. But that's the long story short of kind of how Full Spirals came to be.
Candice Schutter: 19:34
I can feel your experience through the way that you use your voice. And, it's just such a, a beautiful, rich sound and way of communicating that you have. And it really comes through in the podcast and it creates, I think, like imagining you in broadcasting kind of makes me smile, because I can see it in terms of, you know, your gift and your talent and your poise and your voice. And also there's this warmth that comes through you so naturally that I feel like podcasting is just such a better fit for that sort of welcome. It's like two extended open arms. Um, you know, I'm sure you could harness that in the world of broadcasting, but that's not usually what's presenced and celebrated. I'm assuming it would be more journalistic. Right? So you don't want all that warm fuzzy, supposedly, in that container. So this just feels like such a, a beautiful fit. And how cool that the pandemic's arrival, which was similar to me. We started our podcast, I think around a similar time of, of just like, what can I do when I am quarantining in terms of my creative expression? And podcasting is a great vehicle for that. So I'm definitely gonna highly recommend folks to, to go over and listen to your podcast. The sharing of your own stories and then the guests that you feature is just really beautifully done. So I'm real glad to have, have ex been exposed to it. So tell us what Full Spirals, where that name came from.
Stacy Parish: 20:59
Oh my gosh. Okay. So, so the symbol of a spiral has been my jam since forever. Like, I can remember filling whole pages of spirals. Like that was my doodle as a kid. I would fill whole pages in study hall in high school. I can remember doing that. And then, it's a sacred feminine symbol. You know, they were seen in cave paintings. I remember having them lining the upper walls of my living room when I was in my twenties. And then when I got into recovery. I'm, I'm a woman in long-term recovery. Celebrated 22 years clean and sober in September. Um, thank you. I, uh, I realized that my healing also moved in spirals. At any given time, I was either kind of spiraling in, learning a lesson, holding onto my energy, kind of literally curling up into little balls sometimes on the floor, little fetal position, holding onto that energy, pulling people in to help. And then once that lesson was learned and I had gathered what I needed, then I would start to spiral outward and it was time to give back and the spiral would continue. And the other piece is, I feel like that's how lessons go in life as well. I never learn a lesson, not completely. You know, every, every lesson I've ever learned, I get back. And I, you know, I talk about in my welcome episode that I don't believe in the old expression, if you get a lesson wrong, you get it back. Cuz I don't believe in right and wrong. I don't believe in black and white anymore. But I do believe that you learn the same lessons again and again on a deeper level. You know, there's that expression too about going up the spiral staircase. You get the same lessons again and again, and it's just about deepening. Like I'm learning about patience again, but I'm learning it on a deeper level. I'm learning about acceptance again, but I'm learning it on a deeper level. I'm learning about authenticity again, but I'm learning it on a deeper level.
Candice Schutter: 23:17
Yeah. For sure.
Stacy Parish: 23:19
So my favorite movie in the whole world is It's a Wonderful Life. I even named one of my kids Bailey, after George Bailey. Uh, and the other thing, I don't believe in coincidence either. I believe that everything just lands the way it is supposed to land, and the way one life touches another life, you don't always know how you touch someone's life, but just always know that you are. So that's the other full spirals piece.
Candice Schutter: 23:46
Mm-hmm. Yeah. We have so much to talk about that just feels so rich and beautiful and important. So let's start at the beginning, speaking of spirals at the beginning, and those are, you know, air quotes at the beginning in terms of your childhood. Like, would you please tell us your story? Tell us about what it was like for you as a child, and anything that that bubbles up in terms of what you might wanna share.
Stacy Parish: 24:15
Um, so I was born, a little precocious, full of life, truth teller. Full of imagination. Full of wonder. Full of curiosity and passion. And, um, I was born into a family that had a lot of secrets and a lot of trauma and a lot of darkness. No, it's not the right word. Darkness isn't the the right word, but trauma and secrets definitely. And, it wasn't safe to have a little being like me around.
Candice Schutter: 24:56
Stacy Parish: 24:56
Um, I, uh, I'm actually dissociating a little bit just talking about it.
Candice Schutter: 25:04
Yeah, I know the feeling.
Stacy Parish: 25:06
It's something that happens sometimes. Uh, I just, I have so much compassion and love for that little girl.
Candice Schutter: 25:15
Stacy Parish: 25:17
So her light was extinguished really early, really early. Four or five years old. And I just got in touch with the tragedy of that three years ago.
Candice Schutter: 25:30
Stacy Parish: 25:33
And she is the one, she is the one I created the podcast for.
Candice Schutter: 25:38
Stacy Parish: 25:40
She is the one I created Project I'm Speaking for. And she is the one that I continue to speak for.
Candice Schutter: 25:49
Stacy Parish: 25:51
Because she's fucking beautiful.
Candice Schutter: 25:54
Stacy Parish: 25:55
I'm fucking beautiful.
Candice Schutter: 25:57
Yeah, you are.
Stacy Parish: 25:59
We are all beautiful. So, you know, it's like I, part of me doesn't even wanna talk about how her light was extinguished, cuz I just don't even wanna. Do you ever just get tired of shining a light on that?
Candice Schutter: 26:20
Yeah. I mean it's really the, well, I mean, you described it beautifully yourself when you talked about the spiraling in and spiraling out. Right? There are times when spiraling in toward the nuances and the details of the story is not the thing that's serving our healing. Right? So I think you spoke to it. You answered your own question really eloquently in the opening.
Stacy Parish: 26:43
Candice Schutter: 26:43
I just feel like it's about trusting her. Trusting you. And so that default that we have, that I have too, to ask, do you find that this is true? To each other. Is like what we've been taught to do. Instead of being like, you know what? Like not today. Not that story, not today. And trusting that, right? I mean, I trust you. So I feel like whatever feels exactly right in this moment for you to share is exactly what needs to be shared. And that's what this is, ultimately what people don't often know what I say to my guests often before and definitely after recording, cuz a lot of guests because they share so openly, have vulnerability hangovers. Understandably. Is that the podcast is in service to the guest. It might seem like it's in service to the people who are listening. And I love you all, all you listeners out there, don't mistake me. And when it comes to the sharing of personal stories and self-expression, and what this podcast is really in service to, it's in service to the guest and what is the most authentic way of expressing in that moment. That's what serves the podcast, is what serves you most authentically. So a long-winded way of saying, you go where you wanna go, and it's just right as far as I'm concerned.
Stacy Parish: 28:06
Right on. And the reason I'm scrolling through my phone right now is because Glennon Doyle, says something in Untamed about this, about us as women. And she talks about how here it is. "We forgot how to know when we were taught how to please."
Candice Schutter: 28:31
Stacy Parish: 28:32
And that's exactly what that was. That's exactly what that was. And she talks about it so beautifully in whatever chapter that was in Untamed, about how she walks into a room where her girls are and they have some boys over. She asks them if they want pizza and the boys all go. Yep. And the girls all look at each other to see what the answer is.
Candice Schutter: 28:55
Stacy Parish: 28:56
Because it doesn't occur to them to just know the answer. Well, they know the answer, but it doesn't occur to them to just answer. They need to check with each other first because they forgot how to know when they were taught how to please.
Candice Schutter: 29:10
Yeah. Yeah.
Stacy Parish: 29:13
Ouch and also, thank you for that, Candice. Because you're right. I do know the answer. I don't need to talk about why her light was extinguished anymore. I, I don't need to tell that story anymore. I don't need to tell that story anymore. It was, it was wrong. And that's, that time has passed because fuck yeah. Here I am.
Candice Schutter: 29:34
Yeah, here you are. Definitely. And
Stacy Parish: 29:37
here we all are. Right?
Candice Schutter: 29:39
Stacy Parish: 29:40
And that's, that's the thrust of Project I'm Speaking. And that's why I hope people listen because the first season of Full Spirals was about me and my stories and wanting to get them out there because I think it's important to witness stories of healing. But the second season is about moving the platform forward, and there are some really beautiful stories from some really brave women who have come forward in some really brave ways. Including you. The work that you're doing is absolutely remarkable and thoughtful. Yeah. And so, yeah. Just a big hell yeah.
Candice Schutter: 30:25
A hundred percent. Yes.
Stacy Parish: 30:27
That's, that was, that was really articulate. Thank you.
Candice Schutter: 30:30
Uh, yes. Sometimes.
Stacy Parish: 30:32
Hell yeah.
Candice Schutter: 30:32
Sometimes the four-letter words are the only way to go.
Stacy Parish: 30:34
Candice Schutter: 30:45
So little beautiful, precious, powerhouse Stacy grows into a young woman and something about the 'cult'ure series has spoken to you in your journey. When I say that, what, what rises up for you?
Stacy Parish: 31:04
To thine own self be true.
Candice Schutter: 31:06
Stacy Parish: 31:07
To thine own self be true. And how that's literally who we are all born to be. Beings who are meant to not serve themselves, but be true to themselves so that they may serve the world. And I feel like I, I spent many years not doing that, because I did get sidelined by drugs and alcohol. And I don't blame myself for that. I did what I had to do to survive as a tender heart, as someone who did experience a lot of childhood trauma. As someone who had the disease of addiction run in my family. As someone who was given alcohol at the age of nine. You know, I mean, that's just, that's just the house that I grew up in. There wasn't such a thing as a family gathering that didn't include alcohol. I mean, we couldn't paint the garage without, without alcohol. I mean, that's just the culture that I grew up in. So I don't blame myself for any of that. Or for tempering my anxiety with pot, like that was, that was my jam. And I felt like my creativity was attached to it as well. So it took a while for me to understand that I wasn't gonna lose myself or lose my creativity by giving, giving that stuff up. Um, but, uh, So I guess I need to talk just a little bit about what extinguished my light, but I, I won't go into it too much. So I am a child sexual abuse survivor; and in my thirties, I had repressed memories surface, and that was a big catalyst and threw a ton of gasoline on my addiction. And I used really, really heavily. So in my thirties, that's what brought me into 12 step recovery. And I have a lot of gratitude for the program. I would not, I don't believe that I would've gotten clean and sober without it. And the other thing that happened shortly after I got clean. Well, no, I was probably about five or six years into the program, five or six years clean, is I got into the sa, I got into the Org.
Candice Schutter: 33:33
Stacy Parish: 33:35
And for the first time, I took one of the trainings. I took one of the belt trainings, the first one. And my trainer encouraged us to be in our body for an entire week. And being a sexual abuse survivor, I had never been in my body for more than 10 minutes or whatever. Like I, I was very well versed in dissociating from my body for, from leaving my body. I was not a friend of my body. And being in my body for a week straight and learning that it was a safe place to occupy and learning that I could love and appreciate every last morsel of it right down to my fingertips and appreciate it, was revelatory. So I was clean and sober and I was in my body. And it was delicious. And I was also young in my recovery, so I was really vulnerable to culty stuff. And, and I know one of the things that I mentioned was that I felt like I was able to maintain distance from the inner circle and to be a fringer and to not be quite as susceptible to the culty nature of the Org because of the work that I had done in 12 Step. And what's so ironic about it, like everything about culty is mindfuck and weird and, and ironic, right?
Candice Schutter: 35:06
It is. It really is.
Stacy Parish: 35:08
But part of what's weird about that is, now that I'm no longer a part of 12 step culture, I view that as a culty organization.
Candice Schutter: 35:17
Stacy Parish: 35:18
And I know that that's gonna be controversial, pushed against, whatever, but I feel like it's something that I need to say. And, and I can give examples of it. It was two years ago, two years ago that I came to these conclusions and, um, I'm starting to dissociate again, which doesn't surprise me at all. But what happened was, I have a neurological condition and it was getting significantly worse and I was looking into taking some medication for it. And there are rules in the 12 step circles that there are just certain medications that you don't take. If you do, you're using. And you know, I had had doctors recommend certain medications and I had always turned them down because I knew I would be breaking my abstinence and I would have to, you know, it would be a relapse and I would have to take a new white chip. And it, I would be ashamed of myself in the whole nine yards. And I had a certain amount of distance from 12 step at this time, and I started taking the medication and that's what kind of broke me out of the trance. And I started to realize all the things about 12 Step that were culty. Like, um, the, the notion that you have this disease that's trying to kill you, the dogma around it. For instance, they, they've got all of these expressions. Keep coming back, it works if you work it. The implication, if you don't keep coming back, you're gonna die. We have a progressive, incurable, fatal disease whose ends are always the same. Jails, institutions and death. And if you don't keep coming here, you are either going to wind up in jail, in an institution, or you're gonna die.
Candice Schutter: 37:20
Stacy Parish: 37:21
Holy shit. But the mind fucks are, well, the steps are just suggestions. Except they're not.
Candice Schutter: 37:33
Right, right.
Stacy Parish: 37:34
They're not. And then it's, you know, 90 meetings in 90 days. Well, that's just a suggestion. Don't get into relationships within the first year. Well, that's just a suggestion. Get a sponsor. But there's rules around that, right? Like you have to ask someone, and then they have a choice whether or not they're gonna like, it's, it's all that kind of stuff. So anyway, so that's, there's all kinds of really culty things about that.
Candice Schutter: 38:01
Mm-hmm. Just sort of rules of engagement.
Stacy Parish: 38:04
Yes. And it's all about if you don't follow those rules. Okay. So I know you'll understand like how fucked up this is. Where the very first time you walk in it becomes very clear that the onus is on you. And that you know you need to abide by these certain things or you're not gonna get better and your authenticity is stripped from you.
Candice Schutter: 38:33
Stacy Parish: 38:34
But then there's expressions like, take what you like and leave the rest.
Candice Schutter: 38:38
Uh, right, right.
Stacy Parish: 38:40
Well, we told you that you didn't have to.
Candice Schutter: 38:42
Yeah, I think somebody needs to come up with a word for that. Some of the taglines that get used and thrown around that are sort of these oversimplified solutions and the closed loop system of logic, like the, we have all that you need here in this group and all the answers are here. If you walk away then you lose. Um, but that piece you're speaking to, I just wanted to jump in cause I think it's really important about these, these phrases like, keep what you like and leave the rest. It functions similarly to a thought terminating cliche, but it's this sort of like, it's almost like they crack a little door open and they're like, see, you're free. Look, there's a crack in the door.
Stacy Parish: 39:21
Candice Schutter: 39:22
This happens in lots and lots of group dynamics, is that people sort of buy in. And then we create these rules of engagement, that many of them contain tools that are genuinely helpful and then the tools get either misused or oversimplified and they become sort of applied with this absolutism. And then when we, something rises up in us which is an exception to that, and we cock our head to the side and we feel that turn, that twist in the gut feeling, then these phrases, whatever we wanna call them, where they're like, the doors cracked open. You don't have to do that. Meanwhile, you look around the room and everyone else is doing the thing, saying the thing, behaving in a way, policing the thing without even consciously realizing it. And you're thinking, well, they're saying that I'm free, but I don't feel free. That's that bounded choice framework that Janja Lalich talks about, right? It's like I have choice, but it's a bounded choice. Right? So it feels like that's what you're speaking to. Does that seem right?
Stacy Parish: 40:22
Absolutely. Feeling free, but not really being free. And it's particularly insidious for women because there's also this gross, sexual stuff that happens. And I'm gonna go ahead and name it that way, because at the end there's a group hug, always. And if you leave before the group hug, that's what's up with you there. And then there's hugging too, and there's, you know, there, ugh. There have been meetings that I, I would've stopped going to because there was a guy who, you know, there's even an expression for it. Like when being hugged, he would crotch you rather than just hugging. He would like grind his crotch into you. Um, and it's like I didn't get clean to feel dirty. And when you were talking about, well he's just human. But except in the recovery circles, it's like, well, don't take his inventory. It's not your job to take his inventory. Take your own inventory. Cuz the fourth step is to take your own searching and fearless moral inventory. Don't, you don't have any right to take his inventory. Like he's working his own program. Work your own program. And it doesn't just apply to that, it applies to everything. Gossip, all of that kind of stuff. So it's a very culty organization and I'm, I'm feeling, yeah, I'm feeling really vulnerable saying all of this stuff. But I wanna say it.
Candice Schutter: 41:51
That right there though needs to be underscored. Because when we are involved in any community where we feel in any way unsafe, unsure, like it's, you just don't. Like, you have that energy, like you just don't. You just don't speak out against 12 step because it's helped so many people. You just don't speak out against the Org because it's.
Stacy Parish: 42:15
Candice Schutter: 42:15
Helped so many people. You just don't speak out against, fill in the blank because, Right. That pattern needs to be outed. We need to be able to speak openly about any group that we're in, regardless of the good that they're doing. And when we, and this is part of like emotionally maturing as a society and understanding that two things can be true at once.
Stacy Parish: 42:35
Candice Schutter: 42:35
Something can be helpful and harmful at the same time. And we're never gonna be able to deal with what's harmful if we're just like, oh, we'll just sweep that under the rug because it's helpful in this other way. And I just commend you for your courage to actually say what you think. And I have a feeling you're not gonna be alone in it in terms of your experiences in those communities. And you also said, you know, might I add and circle us back. And if you wanna share more on this, I'd be interested in hearing. What you learned in 12 Step helped you to avoid getting into the Inner Circle at the Org.
Stacy Parish: 43:09
Yes, absolutely, absolutely. But uh, before we do that, I need to say why I was susceptible to that. It's because the family I grew up in. Mom is this lovely Martha Stewart wannabe kind of woman, upper middle class. Dad is a professional engineer, owns his own company, $2 million company, and he's one of my perpetrators.
Candice Schutter: 43:37
Stacy Parish: 43:38
Hold that, hold that dichotomy.
Candice Schutter: 43:42
Yep. Yep.
Stacy Parish: 43:45
Hold those two truths. Of everything they did for me and also everything they did to me.
Candice Schutter: 43:55
Stacy Parish: 43:57
Like, that makes me cry again. Those, those are the two truths that I have. And I always am like, yeah, but there's so many things that didn't happen to me. Like I had white privilege and I had socioeconomic privilege and I had, you know, that's the other thing I do to myself. But let's set that aside for a minute. Those are the two truths that I hold within myself, and that's exactly what we're talking about with these groups. Two things can be true.
Candice Schutter: 44:26
Beautifully said. Yes. That tension. And that's what's, what's fascinating to me the deeper I go into this and the more stories that I hear and the more people, I get a message every other day from somebody telling me about a situation or a circumstance in their life that these conversations are sort of shedding a light on. And the more that happens, and then the more I dig into those conversations, the more I see that oftentimes the folks who, now, this is a never-always statement, and I feel like I have to say that all the time. Everyone out there, reminder, my favorite mantra is never, always so, which is part of this holding two truths, right?
Stacy Parish: 45:04
I love that. Never always. It's right up there with both and.
Candice Schutter: 45:08
Yes, it is. It's like everything that I say, never do I mean always when I say it. Like there's always an exception. And if you come at me with it, I'm gonna say absolutely, I agree. So with that in mind, when I speak with a lot of folks, there's this common core thread of many of the people I feel who get really entrenched in a cult organization had the experience of having to carry that tension as a in their family. And that's why I say the original cult is the family and that sense of that tension. I'm so glad you're speaking to this, Stacy, cuz I feel like it's really at the core of what this series is about, is like how do we carry that tension, and how do we actually stop carrying it on our own? How do we expose that tension and then find a way to, to respond to it differently? Because silence and zipping our mouths is what you and I both did as children, and it didn't help anybody. Least of all ourselves, but literally no one else as well. And so how do we expose this tension and speak to it? And I just love that you're willing to do that because I know, and that in and of itself makes an organization culty. If, if I put this podcast out and like a bunch of flying monkeys come in and they're like 12 step program saves people's lives. You shouldn't say that. Like that right there.
Stacy Parish: 46:27
That's what's gonna happen.
Candice Schutter: 46:28
Is evidence of a cultish dynamic. It's that head space of like the answers are all here, you're not allowed to question it or criticize it. That's a problem. And yeah, we just kind of have to face the dragon in order to get through that. And so I just love that you're willing to do that.
Stacy Parish: 46:47
And that's literally what happens when you stopped going to meetings. When I stopped going to meetings, there are people who started calling me a 12 step thief because you are bound to be of service and to give back for the rest of your life.
Candice Schutter: 47:04
Right. Right.
Stacy Parish: 47:06
You're bound to be of service for the rest of your life. And what I say is that my life is a service. I am, I am living my service. But that's, you know, people who are fundamentalists, people who are 12 step fundamentalists believe that I'm a 12 step thief because I'm not going to meetings anymore. I'm not being of service anymore. I'm not sponsoring women anymore.
Candice Schutter: 47:28
Stacy Parish: 47:28
Um, and I, I don't happen to believe that. But that's, that's part of the dogma. And, and, and also when you leave like that, it's assumed that you are going to use again. You are going to pick up again, and you're a dangerous person. And everyone within the organization knows that. They know you're in trouble. They feel sorry for you. And you can see the pity on their face if you run into them in the grocery store. And that would be the chirp that's happening behind your back as well. And if you come back, it's very much, you know, you have to take the white chip again. Um, not necessarily, I guess if you didn't use, you don't have to. But it's very much like, oh my God, where have you been? Like, you know, it's that whole thing. But I do wanna talk about, um, when you were talking about you know, the Flying Monkeys and all of that, and you said something about how being in 12 Step helped me to stay out of a deeper relationship with the Org. What did happen there, and, and there are good things that happened there. Again, like you said, never always. I did fall in line with a really, really wonderful sponsor. My very first sponsor was this incredible woman who was a surrogate mother for me. She taught me what unconditional love was. She is the first person that said, your truth is your truth. Speak your truth. You don't owe anybody anything. But she also taught me that, um, you know, I, I was on a service committee and I said, I, I think some of those people don't like me. And she said, maybe they don't. And I was like, oh, clutching my pearls. What what do you mean? And she said, who cares? Be you anyway, you know. Um, so she was just this wonderful role model and I did work through the steps with her. And there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the steps either, if you are led through them by someone who can see you as a human and not a piece of meat to put on their sponsor tree. And there are plenty of people who just have sponsor trees and, you know, sponsored 30, 40 women and they're just little notches in their belt. But my first sponsor, she was this incredible woman and obviously she still is this incredible woman. And she just, yeah, she was a motherly figure to me. And, and I, I moved through my healing and, and I was in a lot of therapy too, and I moved through enough of that to trust my voice and to get in touch with my gut. And I did a lot of writhing under tables in the fetal position and got through enough where I, I could see. It's, and this is, this is the funny thing, like I knew a cult dynamic when I saw one while I was in the middle of one.
Candice Schutter: 50:38
Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah.
Stacy Parish: 50:40
So when I saw the Org, I could see it. But being in the middle of 12 step, I couldn't see it. So,
Candice Schutter: 50:46
Yeah. I get that.
Stacy Parish: 50:48
And I know, I know you know what I mean?
Candice Schutter: 50:50
Yeah, I do. Everyone, all you have to do is listen back, and I a hundred percent get that.
Stacy Parish: 50:55
Candice Schutter: 50:56
And I think you, you mentioned something I find really key as well. When you were talking about the 12 steps and this, just reinforcing that a tool is a tool. It's all about what it's put in service to. So the same tool can be a balm and a medicine. That same tool can also be a weapon. And it's all a matter of who, who's wielding it. And when I say that, I don't mean that from like a consciously diabolical, malicious sense. I mean, what is it in service to psychologically speaking? What is it in service to through the unconscious and it's being utilized in a way that it becomes harmful. The person who's wielding, and this is something that, you know, social justice activists and anti-racist teachers have been trying to get us to see over and over again. Like intention isn't what's important, it's about the impact and understanding that when we are, we think that we're doing a very good thing and we're following all the rules as they've been shown to us. And then people say, ouch, that hurt. And we're like, what? Like, talk about clutching pearls, right? Like, I was just trying to help you. And that's again, yet another layer of us all maturing emotionally, psycho spiritually as a culture to say, oh, when that happens, instead of to get defensive or to start claiming the moral high ground because of our good intentions, to actually pause, feel the discomfort, and say like, what happened? What am I not seeing? Help me to see better. And I'm hearing that there wasn't a lot of room for questioning the, and I'm gonna call it sacred science, sacred pseudoscience, because the 12 steps can be applied in that way like they are in any cultish environment. Like you don't question the path. And when you, when you step away from the path, you have left the path and therefore you're no longer saved. I mean, it has that sort of undercurrent. Right?
Stacy Parish: 53:01
It does. Yeah. You do not question the path. You do not question the path.
Candice Schutter: 53:06
Stacy Parish: 53:07
That's exactly it.
Candice Schutter: 53:08
And what is also fascinating about this conversation around 12 Step is it really steps outside, and I feel like the more people are delving into cult dynamic education, the more we're seeing this, cuz we're seeing the sort of nuances and layers to things, is that it's often been defined that a cult has to have an authoritarian leader. And I would say that what I'm discovering is that we can each become that for ourselves and for each other. And that we don't actually always, there doesn't always have to be a figurehead. If the dogma is strong enough, the group will police one another.
Stacy Parish: 53:47
Absolutely. And, and in 12 Step, the Gods are dead. You know, there's Bill W, in one. There's Jimmy K in another. And then there's the Cult of Personality. That's another really interesting dynamic. Within the fellowship, people are given. So you use your first name and then your last initial. So I was Stacy P. But everyone is given, uh, my partner and I are both, are both in recovery and we both talk about this. There's sort of a mythology around people. Like there's one guy, let's call him, uh, I won't use his real name, but, um, Muscle Dan, right? Tall Jim. Angry Dave. So there's usually an adjective and then a name, right? Blondie. And then there's this mythology that goes along with it. And those key people that, they all have their roles to play and they all have influence within. And when you talk about policing. Yeah. It's, it's complex and sophisticated.
Candice Schutter: 55:06
Stacy Parish: 55:07
Yeah. And, and, and, and again. Not good or bad. I mean, some of these names that I've said aren't real, but are. And I I love these people.
Candice Schutter: 55:19
Right. Yeah.
Stacy Parish: 55:20
You know? And the other thing that I have to say about, and this is for anybody who, who is in 12 step recovery. The fifth step is sharing your inventory with another human, which is, it's a searching and fearless moral inventory. So like,
Candice Schutter: 55:35
Stacy Parish: 55:35
Puking out everything you've ever done, ever felt to another human to sort of cleanse, right? Which is a really, really vulnerable thing to do. And in the wrong hands, it reminds me of the collateral that they talk about in NXIVM.
Candice Schutter: 55:54
Stacy Parish: 55:56
And my sponsor had a sponsor who did that to her, and used that stuff against her. So she was, and I don't know what I would've done if I had had that happen to me, given my past. So I had, the universe took really good care of me. My sponsor, she was the safest person ever. And I had a really lovely experience with that. But I know that that's not the case for everyone.
Candice Schutter: 56:28
Stacy Parish: 56:29
So I just wanted to share that story because I have a lot of compassion for people who don't have a good experience with their fifth step.
Candice Schutter: 56:38
Well that's really important because one of the things I feel like 12 Step really has gotten right is the potency of personal story, the need to be able to share transparently in a safe space. The, the fact that people who, like the idea of sponsors, like the person who's walked the path is gonna be able to help you more than somebody who's just got an academic understanding of it. Like there's so much there to love. And also. Both and, right. Folks are, a lot of people who, and this is a statistical fact, a lot of people who suffer from addiction have experienced trauma in their past. They have high ACE scores and really.
Stacy Parish: 57:20
Heck, yeah.
Candice Schutter: 57:21
Um, yeah, adverse childhood experiences. So if this is the path and it's like sort of the, THE PATH, and I'm saying that in all caps, then the people who are sponsors are actually actively holding space whether they want to or not for people who are unearthing trauma. And they're not trained to do that. Like they're not equipped. And I'm sure some sponsors recommend therapy and some don't. And you know, I'm not here to, to make generalizations around that. But just to say, the level of trust that's being put in people who potentially don't have training to, they have again, really good intentions and they can understand and empathize, and also they may be in over their heads a bit. Aside from the fact that they might do something as awful as what you described in terms of using that information, stepping outside of the bounds of confidentiality. They're, they also might just not be equipped to carry that kind of information around and to to be present for it. Yeah. It's just something I hadn't really thought much about before, but you. Yeah, you really made me really see that in a different way, so I'm glad you brought that up. I think that's really important for people to consider. And to really just say, if you're dealing with, with stories that feel traumatic and are bringing up a lot of emotion and whatnot, or anyone really who's been in addiction who becomes sober, all the feelings are gonna rise up, that having professional support from a trained, you know, trauma informed therapist is pretty key. Sounds like you had that.
Stacy Parish: 58:59
I did. I did. Um, and, and actually my sister works in, um, an area called E C P R, which is another trained area. They're not therapists, but it's a more of a peer support area. It's a way to hold space for folks in a trauma informed way. So I do believe that there are ways to hold space. And I, and I don't believe that people in 12, in 12 step intentionally hurt one another. You know, it's that hurt people, hurt people's thing.
Candice Schutter: 59:30
Stacy Parish: 59:32
But um, but yeah, you're right. I don't know that, people aren't necessarily equipped to handle what they hear.
Candice Schutter: 59:40
Especially if it's triggering. I mean, and I say this as someone. I'm, I'm in agreement with you. In terms of the both end of there, there can be spaces, I mean, we have one, right, like our After The Org group where we have a private space for, for folks to gather who've left the Org. And it's, definitely putting in air quotes, a recovery group in the sense that everyone who's in there is recovering. And also it's not, you know, we encourage folks to, to get professional support as they need it. It's just a space to share stories. It's really about understanding the scope of, of practice and the bounds in which you can support people. And then noticing when, and this is where I think it can be really tricky. It certainly is for me, when people share, like if it's bringing, I mean, this is why therapists have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of training on transference and like what happens when our stuff is brought up when other people bring their stuff in. And I would imagine that happens with sponsors and sponsees. I mean, how could it not? Right? It's just such a sticky stuff. And, and I don't, again, I, I think sponsors are fucking amazing. I think it's great what they're doing. I know some that have changed a lot of lives. And actually my stepdad, my second stepfather was in AA for 30 plus years. And I had to laugh when you were saying the nickname thing because he was Twister and there was a whole, yeah, there was a whole story that went with it and a whole like persona and how he was held and celebrated in regards to his story and what he did for people. And he helped a lot, a lot of people. And in my humble opinion, he would've benefited from outside counseling around what was unresolved traumatically for him and the way that came out in his marriage with my mother. So he was over here helping all these people and like on a pedestal, and then at his memorial, all the people could get up and say was what a saint my mom was, was to put up with him.
Stacy Parish: 1:01:40
Oh my God, that is so, it. That is so it. So that's one thing, that's one of, that was one of my pet peeves and one of the things that drove me out the door. Because people will say, oh, what do you expect? I'm an addict. What do you want from me? I'm an addict. And it was like, no, you're not. You're, you're a recovering addict and you're being an asshole.
Candice Schutter: 1:01:59
Exactly. That's so great.
Stacy Parish: 1:02:01
You're like, you're, you're an asshole. You're being an asshole. They're like, these two things are not like mutually exclusive. Like you don't. Nope. You don't have to be an asshole.
Candice Schutter: 1:02:14
And isn't that fascinating that the, the structure of AA and Al-Anon, that relationship and how it's really structurally meant to help people with the dynamics of codependency. And then, and it, and it does in many, many ways it helps folks in Al-Anon who are to enmeshed and codependently connected to the addict or the person in recovery to have a healthier relationship with themselves, first and foremost. And then with the said addict. And then also what I see happening, what I saw happen in my own family was this over-correction. So that it was actually just as co-dependent. It was just functioning differently. It was like this creative spin on it. Where it was like, like my mother, I joke that she should be like the mascot for Al-Anon. Whatever, just rolls right off of her. Like she's done so much work around that to such a degree that she didn't, it's part of what, why I'm so the way that I am in my own overcorrection is like that she didn't stand for herself. She just was taught not to take anything personally to such a degree that she didn't have her own self. Like her own self wasn't showing up the to, and I'm, you know, it's not fair for me to tell her story, this is my experience of, of what it was like. And I would love if she would share her own story. But like this experience of seeing a mother who was so trained to dismiss the behavior of the addict because, oh, he's just, he's an alcoholic. He can't help it. He's a dry drunk. And then, but just to take in my opinion, what felt like verbal abuse. Or just to, to not have there, it's like there wasn't room for her in the room because he had this excuse always, right. And that was my experience. It's probably not how she experienced it, but that that was what I witnessed. And I think that that, that tendency right to, to just be like, oh, well, I, I have a pass basically for certain kinds of behaviors because I have this disease.
Stacy Parish: 1:04:19
Mm-hmm. Yeah, no, exactly. That's exactly it.
Candice Schutter: 1:04:24
Stacy Parish: 1:04:26
Yeah. I had a really hard time with, like. We got, we came here to get well, so does this program work or not? Keep coming back? It works if you work it. Really? Does it? Does it?
Candice Schutter: 1:04:38
Did you notice a difference in terms of expectations or how that functioned between, like men versus women? Did you see any differences in that regard?
Stacy Parish: 1:04:48
Not necessarily, not necessarily. I mean, I, I think that white male privilege is a big thing and I think that that white men having a book and a whole program to stand behind and be right about is a, is a nice shelter for not changing.
Candice Schutter: 1:05:05
Stacy Parish: 1:05:05
And telling you what's wrong with you is pretty easy, but I also saw my share of women who didn't change and did the same thing. They just did it in a different way. And I'm not saying that people don't get better, it just feels like the people who stay forever are the ones that don't get better.
Candice Schutter: 1:05:26
That's important. Say more.
Stacy Parish: 1:05:28
uh, it just feels like a trap after a while. It feels like they are the people who continue to say, what do you expect? I'm an addict. Or, what do you expect? I'm an alcoholic.
Candice Schutter: 1:05:39
Stacy Parish: 1:05:41
Like, they just keep going through the same loop over and over. I'm gonna do the steps again. I'm gonna do the steps again. Cuz they have this thing inside of them that's like, I'm flawed for the rest of my life. Because the, the dogma tells you if you leave, you're fucked. If you leave, you're selfish. If you leave, you've broken the sacred oath that what we're so freely given we have to give back to.
Candice Schutter: 1:06:10
Stacy Parish: 1:06:13
And that is established the day you get there.
Candice Schutter: 1:06:16
Stacy Parish: 1:06:17
Yeah. And this all feels very wrong on a certain level. Everything that I'm saying. You know, like when I say things like the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel, that comes directly from the text, and it feels very wrong to be saying those sacred words out loud.
Candice Schutter: 1:06:37
Stacy Parish: 1:06:37
Like that is, that's from behind closed doors. Like, what am I even doing?
Candice Schutter: 1:06:43
Right? Yeah. I know. I know that feeling. I feel that every time I put out a deconstructing dogma video, I'm like, oh my God. Like, what am I doing? Right?
Stacy Parish: 1:06:56
Somebody's coming for me.
Candice Schutter: 1:06:58
Somebody's coming for me and whether that's true or not. Could be. Could be maybe. Could be not. Internally somebody's coming for me. That's what I, that's how indoctrination functions, right? It's like this internal sort of. This is the thing I think people don't really understand is that the leader's living inside of you, but it's not a leader, a person, a personality with a name and a face. It's this persona that you've been conditioned toward that feels shame if you step outside of certain bounds. It's certain expressions or same shame bound like, I can't talk about these things outside of that circle. I feel shame. I'm already judging myself. I'm already condemning myself. The flying monkeys are live inside the house. The call is coming from inside the house. like, it's like that. Yeah.
Stacy Parish: 1:07:50
It's, oh God, I hate that.
Candice Schutter: 1:07:53
Stacy Parish: 1:07:54
My stomach hurts. I hate that.
Candice Schutter: 1:07:57
And though that's good news ultimately because it means that we actually do have agency to do something about it.
Stacy Parish: 1:08:05
Candice Schutter: 1:08:06
Right? Like we can reckon with the fact that that voice lives there and we can really do the work to get in touch with like the work you talked about the very beginning of the episode, to get in touch with who we really are. Like where did the oppression really begin? And how can I hold her hand? And how can I coax her out of the corner? And I'm not gonna pay attention to the flying monkey voice as much cuz that's not who I really am. And I feel like the work that you do and the courage that enabled you to show up and say all these things, even though it's super nervy.
Stacy Parish: 1:08:39
Candice Schutter: 1:08:39
It's just so much evidence of the healing that you've done. You've worked your own damn steps, right?
Stacy Parish: 1:08:45
Candice Schutter: 1:08:46
Stacy Parish: 1:08:48
"Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carried the message to the addict that still suffers." Yeah. And the message is, you've got yourself, ultimately, you've got yourself, you really do. The answers lie inside of you.
Candice Schutter: 1:09:06
Mm-hmm. yeah.
Stacy Parish: 1:09:11
And, and the, and what the voice is saying, what the inner flying monkey is saying is how could you? How dare you, and how could you? It's a voice of betrayal.
Candice Schutter: 1:09:23
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Stacy Parish: 1:09:24
How could you? And it's that familial, it's the familial piece. Ultimately it's the familial piece that you talk about with the Org. It's the same thing because we talk about in 12 step circles, we talk about that being our chosen family. It's the family. It's the unconditional love we didn't have growing up. So it's very much a how could you?
Candice Schutter: 1:09:45
Stacy Parish: 1:09:46
Because I lost that family. That family's gone. You lose them as soon as you stop going to meetings. Owie.
Candice Schutter: 1:09:54
Yeah. That hurts. That's really hard. Yeah.
Stacy Parish: 1:09:58
And what's unconditional about that?
Candice Schutter: 1:10:00
Exactly. Exactly. And that's what you, when you, just to spiral it back to the Full Spiral when you described your experience, as you said so eloquently, like we are learning the same lesson again we're just learning it on a deeper level. And it makes me think of you speaking about, while you didn't tell the whole story, but just knowing about your childhood and the fact that you also decided to stand for yourself and do what was right for you. And that you had that, how could you moment with your own family, right? And so that's so like, that's primed. So as you're speaking out about this chosen family, that in my opinion from over here, it sounds like if anyone betrayed anyone, you have every right to feel betrayed by your biological family in a certain way back in the day. And also, by these 12 steppers who as soon as you walk away from a path that feels no longer exactly aligned with what you need, you're no longer a part of the family. It's really tragic cuz it happens in so many circles. When we walk away, suddenly we are alone. And we didn't ask to be alone. We just asked to not be under the same trance. We just asked to, to look for other avenues to explore as well. In many cases, we're like, in addition to this, I'm interested in. You know, we're not always throwing up our middle finger. That we throw up our middle finger because when we try to explore outside of it, the door keeps getting shut on our hand, so finally we just walk out. But like, it doesn't have to be that way.
Stacy Parish: 1:11:40
Yeah. Well, and that's, and that's the piece that's very similar to the Org in that. They say they still wanna be friends or that they can still whatever, but then they keep trying to pull you back in.
Candice Schutter: 1:11:52
Yeah. Yep.
Stacy Parish: 1:11:54
Or they try to invite you to stuff. Or are you sure you don't wanna go to the camp out? Are you sure you don't wanna do? And it's like, how many times do I have to say that I'm no longer interested?
Candice Schutter: 1:12:06
Stacy Parish: 1:12:07
And that's what, and that's what you just said beautifully. Like,
Candice Schutter: 1:12:11
Stacy Parish: 1:12:12
So, yeah. And, and ultimately that does mean I have to say goodbye forever.
Candice Schutter: 1:12:18
Yeah. Which is such a bittersweet pill to swallow.
Stacy Parish: 1:12:21
It is. really is.
Candice Schutter: 1:12:23
Mm-hmm. And I find for me that it is medicine when somebody's willing to swallow that pill in front of me. And is willing to be transparent and say, ouch, that stung on the way down, and I can also feel that it's nourishing me. And is willing to talk about both of those things so beautifully and openly. And I just have so much respect for you showing up here and sharing what you've shared. And, and just the work that you're doing in general and how important it is. And I just am just so in love with the little Stacy that is sort of the muse and the inspiration for everything that you do. I just want a squeeze her.
Stacy Parish: 1:13:11
Oh, thank you. I'll send you a picture of her. Can I send you a picture of her?
Candice Schutter: 1:13:15
Oh, please. I would love that.
Stacy Parish: 1:13:17
I have it on my website, but I'll send you a picture of her cuz I am crazy about her too. I just am.
Candice Schutter: 1:13:22
Oh my gosh, I would love that.
Stacy Parish: 1:13:23
Can we be family?
Candice Schutter: 1:13:24
Let's do it. But not in the culty way.
Stacy Parish: 1:13:28
No, no. In the love, love, love way.
Candice Schutter: 1:13:32
I know. Well, that's what, that's the practice though. It's like I feel myself, like I swung to an extreme where I was like, cannot be in community, connected to people. Because I seem stepping in the same pile of shit over and over again. And it's like, no, we, if we are willing to have these conversations and have our eyes open to it, yeah, we're still gonna do culty things, but we're gonna be able to catch ourselves in each other and do it differently. So I'm gonna link to your podcast for sure. And is there anything else that you wanna share that just is burning to come through you in this conversation?
Stacy Parish: 1:14:06
What's coming up is just once again, an invitation to be gentle. And I'm saying that to myself. I'm saying that to myself as much as I'm saying it to you and to your listeners. Just be gentle. Because we're all little people inside.
Candice Schutter: 1:14:24
Yeah. Yeah.
Stacy Parish: 1:14:25
We really are. We're just little people that need kisses on the forehead.
Candice Schutter: 1:14:29
Mm-hmm. I love that. It's so beautiful. Ahh. Her voice is like a warm hug, I tell ya. If you'd like to hear more from Stacy, there's lots more to explore. Visit fullspirals.com to learn more about her work and check out the show notes to find more info on the many resources that we referenced in this episode. As Stacy put it so eloquently, we are all little people inside. Let's do as she is doing. Let's step forward and advocate on behalf of the parts of us who've been taught to go silent in the face of what doesn't feel good. And let's be the grownups who create spaces where helpfulness happens and harmful behavior is addressed and mitigated in real time. We can do better. And also just a reminder that it's okay to examine recovery spaces critically and to choose wisely for yourself. You may be a part of a 12 step community that is helpful, that works for you. But it's not for everyone. I've listed a variety of alternatives in the show notes if you're interested in exploring them. Thanks for listening today, and I hope you'll join me next time as we keep examining what puts the cult in culture, tapping into the deeper pulse and restoring agency one story at a time. I'll see you next week. Caio.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter