As we navigate the major events happening in our world, it’s so important to take moments to celebrate our personal victories and reflect on the progress of our healing journey. In this episode, our guest Michelle Durst shares her story on addiction and codependency recovery. She talks about the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her process that have led her to spiritual strength and support. 

In our conversation, we discuss the discomfort of pursuing our desires, how staying in a harmful relationship can reflect our own unwell state, and the importance of self-awareness when making choices. We also touch on managing feelings of regret and transitioning from being a victim to embracing self-love and acceptance.

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In episode 445 of the Embodied Podcast we discuss:

(2:55) Michelle’s experience in recovery programs 

(7:40) Titration and integration as they relate to a healthy healing process

(12:58) Being in a positive relationship after addiction treatment 

(17:48) How to determine when to stay or when to leave situations

(22:24) The difference between love and codependency

(35:49) Regaining a sense of self and recognizing choices 

(38:10) Navigating regret and releasing a grip on the past

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Connect with Michelle:

Work with me:

Free resources:

Stay in touch:

Quotes from this Week’s Episode of the Embodied Podcast: 

  • Your journey is not linear. I don’t have a lot of control with how things are going to play out. All these little beautiful things present themselves to you and people appear. – Michelle
  • I can’t change or be a different person if I don’t believe that that’s possible. – Michelle
  • The universe is continuously setting things up for us to make it work out the way it’s supposed to. – Michelle 
  • I want people to know that there’s a good life available to them if they want and they’re ready and willing to choose it. – Michelle
  • Your addiction and your trauma is not the most interesting thing about you. – Michelle 
  • I don’t need to carry my baggage everywhere I go. I don’t need to overshare with every single person anymore. I can just exist. – Michelle

How was this episode for you?

Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below OR share the episode on Instagram, tag me your stories @elizabethdialto, or send me a DM!

About the Embodied Podcast with Elizabeth DiAlto

Since 2013 I’ve been developing a body of work that helps women embody self-love, healing, and wholeness. We do this by focusing on the four levels of consciousness – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

In practical terms, this looks like exploring tools and practices to help you tune into the deep wisdom of the body and the knowing of the heart, which I believe are gateways to our souls. Then we cultivate a new relationship with our minds that allows the mind to serve this wisdom and knowledge and soul connection, rather than override it, which is what many of us were taught.

If you’ve been doing self-help or spiritual development work for a while, these are the types of foundational things that often people overlook in pursuit of fancier concepts that often aren’t practical or sustainable. Here, we will focus on building these strong foundations so you can honestly and thoroughly embody self-love. If you’re feeling it, subscribe to the show, and leave us a review wherever you listen from. You can also keep up with show updates and community discussions on Instagram here.

Transcript for Episode 445 “Healing Conversation with Michelle Durst“:

Michelle Durst  00:00

Your journey is not linear. I feel like most of the time, I don’t have a lot of control with how things are going to play out. And when I become ready to leave a relationship or take a new step or whatever, it’s almost like you’re just moving. And all these little beautiful things present themselves to you and people appear. And this at least for me, an idea of sparks me.

Elizabeth DiAlto  00:30

Hi, Michelle,

Michelle Durst  00:31

Hello, how are you? Welcome. Thank you so much.

Elizabeth DiAlto  00:34

What I’m opening up asking everyone for their healing conversation is, what are you most proud of yourself for healing?

Michelle Durst  00:45

Wow. I would say just like healing from things related to like codependency, relationships with men and my relationship with myself, and like being able to have a healthy relationship with myself so that I can have a healthy relationship with other people. Now.

Elizabeth DiAlto  01:06

I know, I was gonna say, I know you’ve been in the community for a few years now. But when When did you come? Like

Michelle Durst  01:11

I found your podcast sometime in 2019, probably the very beginning of 2019. And just like, beat it up for a year, listen to every single episode. And then at some point, I would say I joined the community, maybe two years ago. Yeah,

Elizabeth DiAlto  01:26

I remember you saying, I knew you found us with the podcasts. And I know, you would share like where you were in your journey at that time. So that’s what I’ve also been asking people. So when we officially connected like when you came into the fold, what exactly were you dealing with that you feel comfortable sharing? What kind of work had you already done? And what were you looking to do?

Michelle Durst  01:47

So I was actually in a very unhealthy relationship at that point. And I was in recovery. So I had been sober, two, three years already close to four years sober. But like back in a really bad cycle with dating. And recovery helped me get into almost like opening the door to spirituality, and what is God? And what are all these interesting things that I’ve always been curious about. And then when I found your podcast, it was like a whole new world of things I had never heard about ideas that were just like, so exciting to me. And I ate it up in a way where I knew I wasn’t happy. I knew I was sort of like in a trap state in my relationship. And this was a bit of like, learning about who I am. What do I want to learn about some freedom in that it had a huge hand in helping me find myself and find my strength, too, you know, move in the direction I was meant to move in. And

Elizabeth DiAlto  02:47

when you say recovery, I know there’s so many different ways that people do recovery. Was there a specific program or like 12 Step stuff, how were you going about that? I

Michelle Durst  02:55

joined AAA so I struggled with alcohol was my main challenge, or certainly the way that I found recovery. And then I went into a and I went into treatment at some point in the beginning of my first year sober and it was very apparent to other people that I also struggled with codependency and relationships with men and that sort of thing. So they kind of intertwined I remained in AAA because it was just this beautiful place of really strong women and we talk a lot about addiction beyond alcoholism. So you you know addiction to literally baloney you could be addicted to anything. You just have an unhealthy relationship with self and then it’s reflected in the choices that you’re making. So yeah, I predominantly attend a although I have been in like coda, which is a cool program that helps with people with codependency and healthy relationships. I’ve done some relationships in slaw, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and just been able to speak with women about how they relate to themselves in men. I

Elizabeth DiAlto  03:54

love this. One of my favorite shows that I’m actually rewatching right now for the third time is called Elementary. It’s a Sherlock show. The guy Johnny Lee Miller, I think is his name. He plays Sherlock Lucy Liu plays Watson. It’s I love it. And the twist in that show is that Sherlock was a heroin addict. And they come together because Lucy Liu, who used to be a surgeon is his sober companion. So a big part of the show is Sherlock goes he goes to meetings and things. And I also have a friend here in Miami who is in a and Kota and as I was dealing with some people in my family who have addiction issues, she was just sharing more with me about because I really didn’t know much about the 12 step programs or the anonymous programs. And it sounds so beautiful. When I think about how in the membership we do, you know, sharing circles, or sometimes we’ll do posts that are just for witnessing. I’m like that’s pretty much the main thing of the whole experience, right?

Michelle Durst  04:54

Yeah, I love AAA like I wish people understood what recovery is what also programs As it is, like people sitting in circle sharing about life and learning from each other, and of course, there are lots of sick people in recovery. But there’s also people at different levels of, of healing and spirituality, you’re gonna find what you’re looking for. I always encourage people to keep going back. You know, if they’ve had a bad experience with one meeting, there’s always other meanings to be had. Yeah, there’s not a lot of free communities, there’s a lot of a lot of free help. I always say Ag in the library are the only free spaces left in the world to learn and grow. There’s something very special, and it’s all over the world.

Elizabeth DiAlto  05:32

That’s amazing. I don’t really struggle with codependency anymore. But I almost want to like go to a meeting, just to experience a meeting. But at the same time, I don’t want to be like extractive of something that people really need, you know, I don’t want to be like a voyeur or a Gawker. Thank you for sharing that. And so, did you answer this already? I’m sorry. I got so like, caught up, because I know, I was excited to ask you about that. And so what were you looking for? When you joined our community?

Michelle Durst  05:55

We lived my whole life, I wanted to be close to God, honestly. And I grew up going to like Catholic school, but my family wasn’t Catholic or practicing in any way. So that was like, a little confusing. And the Catholic school is like, teaches you about Jesus. And it teaches you like x y Zed, do this under, you know, practice this, but there was no feeling it wasn’t like how do I feel? God? How do I, I want that I’ve always wanted that. When I got into recovery, I found my relationship with nature, which was so essential to my childhood that I had lost in my, like, teenage years in my early 20s. And then, so now I’m in nature all the time. I love nature. That’s how I like, find myself and purpose and God. But once I started to be in community with women and speak about these things, it was like, I just wanted more and more and more. And it’s so hard to find things that are in your town really connecting to women to have these conversations on a regular basis. And I wanted more than just people in recovery, because I feel like, there are people who don’t struggle with addiction, who have their own special relationship with the divine or, you know, whatever that looks like for them. And I just have this desire to learn and to connect and to, you know, like kind of what you described as a mystic, like, I could now just go to the woods and pray all day, and that would make me really happy. So it’s like, when I’m in the community, your community, it’s like a normal part of my day to day activity to think about these things and have that the forefront of my life. We are

Elizabeth DiAlto  07:36

all just spiritual weirdos together. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Something I’m really hoping to illuminate in these healing conversations, you know, with different types of people who’ve experienced and needed to heal from different things, is like the importance, we just talked a little bit about community, but also of two things. titration, you know, taking things incrementally, not trying to do too much all at once, or heal faster than your nervous system can actually keep up with, or your physical body can actually keep up with, and also integration. And so I know, you know, you share, we all have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pathways, how have titration like finding a healthy pace to move at, and integrating taking time and space to rest and process and things like that been part of your journeys.

Michelle Durst  08:22

I’ve ever thought about that. Or like use that phrase before. What it’s making me think about is like, Your journey is not linear. I feel like most of the time, I don’t have a lot of control with how things are going to play out. And when I become ready to leave a relationship or take a new step or whatever. It’s almost like you’re just moving. And all these little beautiful things present themselves to you and people appear. And this at least for me an idea sparks me. And all of a sudden it moves from being an idea to being like a felt instead of concept. It’s like, Oh, I understand what that is. And then it’s like, well, now how do I practice that? Right? It’s us versus them to be like aware that have an issue. And then I have to like understand what that issue is. And then I have to have a desire to actually change something like that could take so long. Before I get to each step. Yeah. And then it’s like, okay, now I have a desire to change. Well, what does that look like? And that could even take yours. And then when I’m finally like, they’ll just be a moment of like, oh my god, I remembered this thing or I did something different today. And sometimes it’s really uncomfortable.

Elizabeth DiAlto  09:38

What helps you or what has helped you, in those in betweens, and I love the way you outline that for folks. Again, each piece the space in between each piece is going to take however long it takes, but what helps you not necessarily do it faster, but even do it at all.

Michelle Durst  09:56

I feel okay, there’s so many things I have people in my life who I speak to about these things who support me and love me and guide me. And I have a desire to learn from them and listen to them, especially when I know that I have not always been the strongest person or the been able to make healthy decisions for myself. And then over time, you know, I build my confidence and my self trust and that sort of thing. So that I can actually make my own decisions and like, refer to myself or to have that conversation with God, where I don’t have to involve another person, I think about my relationship with nature, like, nature, to me is everything. When I am sad, when I am happy, when I am confused, I need to go be in nature, and whatever will come will come even if it’s me crying all day in nature, or getting grounded and just getting through that day and being okay. Really, it just makes you have the best day ever. If I could walk through the woods all day, I love this idea of like you say confidence comes from evidence. So I really try to think about times when I changed. Like if I used to be a certain way. And now I’m different. That is an example of the possibility of change. Or, you know, I thought I used to say things like, I’ll never be able to do that, or that’s not for me. And I had to like detach from those sorts of statements, and be open and willing. Like, I can’t change or be a different person if I don’t believe that that’s possible. Yeah. Those are some examples. I know they’re a little bit vague.

Elizabeth DiAlto  11:33

But no, it’s still it’s helpful. Because again, people can put it in the wrong context. And you know, it’s funny, there are certain things that you might get to a certain point and be like, Yeah, I know, that’s not for me. But you know, because you’ve tried it, and you’ve been like a, not for me, instead of just assuming before you even give it a shot. But the word never cracks me up. Because the couple of things in my life that I ever like said never about, I said I would never get a tattoo. We have six now. I really good Lord when I was living in San Diego, and I was surrounded by all these polyamorous people, and it was making me so uncomfortable. But also I was watching people be like really messy with their boundaries and stuff. This lifestyle isn’t for me, and then look at me now. I’m like, Oh, this is my life. I appreciate that. You brought that up. And then I just want to bring it on it for anyone who might be sitting in a position listening to this conversation, knowing you have some things to heal, take a look at what’s on you’re not for me, and you’re never lists, and maybe just start putting question marks around these things. Because sometimes it’s really the stuff that you have denounced isn’t the word. And it also sounds very dramatic dismissed is the word I’m looking for. Sometimes it’s the stuff that you really dismissed that you need to be like, Well, shit, maybe I should just try it. I don’t want you to share anything you’re not comfortable sharing. But I do know you’re in a wonderful relationship. Now. What is it like? Again, because I think I think of things that sometimes people look at that might seem or feel insurmountable. And certainly addiction is one of those things for people, right? Where it’s something that you just are always going to need to be conscious aware of have presents arounds. What is it like being unhealthy relationship now, without, you know, to share personal things? We didn’t ask your partner’s consent. It’s

Michelle Durst  13:27

hard to describe. But I will say there are so many things that I’m experiencing now that I’ve never experienced before. And it’s very mind blowing. It’s very similar to when I got sober. Like, I didn’t know what was possible. It’s like you, you have things happen. You’re like, oh my gosh, I never thought about this, or I never thought this would happen. For me. It is wildly uncomfortable in the beginning to be in a healthy relationship or to try and be unhealthy relationship, especially when I was attached to the fact that I don’t think it’s possible for me to be in a healthy relationship with a man that was something that I believed, which made me very sad. I have never had experiences of being with a person who was Well, first and foremost, I’ve only ever dated addicts. Even in sobriety, I dated an addict, and that was very destructive and devastating to my life. So it was really hard for me to trust my partner, or guy, I believe anything he had to say. And the healing that has occurred for for not just me, but for him as well, has been indescribable and, like I’ve never had so much fun and such a good friendship and a relationship. And the boundaries that he has taught me to have and to hold and to communicate is really freaking cool because at 25 which is only seven years ago I had never heard the word boundaries before and to continue to choose myself in my relationship with Him and to prioritize my needs. In my relationship with Him, and to be still loved is just incredible.

Elizabeth DiAlto  15:06

Where did he learn boundaries? How was this man teaching you?

Michelle Durst  15:09

I don’t know. I mean, okay, he had was forced to be very independent growing up, he has his own awful background with his family. And his life circumstances forced him to learn how to choose himself and protect himself from people. And he became like, hyper independent, and felt like, you know, partnership was not something that he could see in his future. So we had to, like work together slowly, we were both afraid of dating, we were both afraid of being hurt. We were both fairly closed off, and then

Elizabeth DiAlto  15:44

you titrated it.

Michelle Durst  15:50

Because, yeah, cuz he holds boundaries really well, and I didn’t. So he has helped me with that.

Elizabeth DiAlto  15:57

I love that. And this is an important thing, you bring up the discomfort of getting what you want. A lot of people don’t talk about that. People talk about getting into your desires, and like getting your needs met, and whatever. But a lot of people don’t talk about, well guess what happens sometimes when you get this shit is very uncomfortable.

Michelle Durst  16:19

I work with women now in recovery. And I talk about discomfort a lot, especially people with trauma, like we bump up against things all the time, we’re like, we don’t like that, that feels scary, foreign, whatever. And then we turn and run the other way, because that’s just comfortable. You know, and some people confuse trauma and intuition. So every time something is difficult or uncomfortable, it’s like, oh, that’s all for me, I should leave. And it was very hard for me to learn that. Sometimes I need to leave. And sometimes I need to stay and be in the discomfort. So I left my ex partner, which was at the very beginning of the pandemic, right before it started. The unbelievable discomfort, it took me to leave him even though he was incredibly abusive. In my mind, leaving was going to be more painful than staying when the reality was that staying was more painful than leaving. And then to be two years healing on my own during a pandemic, that was unbelievably discovered, like uncomfortable. And I couldn’t even stand being in my own body. And it’s like getting through that discomfort to like, meet yourself, and find security in yourself when you’re alone is wild. And then dating again finally, years later to be like, I don’t like the way this feels. And people are telling me not to run away. So I’m going to try and do that.

Elizabeth DiAlto  17:48

This staying with yourself piece. What helps you determine distinguished discern that line, it’s good to stay or it’s good to leave or to go? In general? Because what you talked about how sometimes you you work with women in recovery. And sometimes we need to go sometimes we need to stay and lean in. But how was that process for you? How did you figure out how to determine those things for yourself moving forward?

Michelle Durst  18:16

No, I feel like by odd to be in the discomfort without running away from myself was like that skill, first of all, and you’re sober, I don’t smoke pot, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do anything. I wasn’t sleeping with anyone like it was just me. And thank goodness, nature and God and these cats, I had three stray cats, by the way that found me and moved into my home during that time, which you know, that’s a gift from the universe for sure. I think when in doubt, I have to go to other people who I know, have understandings of healthy relationships, so I can use them to reflect things. And then I use prayer. And I tell my women, a lot of times, like, at the end of the day, it’s going to be what it’s meant to be anyways. Like, even if you think you know best, or you think you should leave or stay. Usually, if you’re meant to leave, you’re going to get forced to leave. And if you’re meant to state things are going to work out. Not always, maybe, but in my experience, we do our best to calm down and breathe and get through each day. But the universe is continuously setting things up for us to make it work out the way it’s supposed to. So

Elizabeth DiAlto  19:28

yeah, you mentioned something recently that wasn’t about anything personal. I’m not putting you on the spot. But because of your experience with recovery and addiction and people in addiction. I don’t remember what specifically we were talking about, oh, I think I had mentioned something about people with addictive behaviors or energy vampires. And how this we’ll call it rhetoric that I really can’t stand in you know, spiritual personal development and healing spaces sometimes. That if you work on yourself If you shift your own energy, your relationships will change. And so that’s the thing, right? But I tortured myself with that for part of my 30s. Like, if I just keep doing my work, these people will eventually have to change. That’s not how it necessarily works, if people aren’t doing their own work, because it again last year, I started doing more research into how recovery works, and what enabling behavior is. Because I was like, okay, in a dynamic with people in my family, where there are a number of addicts, how am I enabling them? And the thing I wanted to ask you about to just like restate, and so anyone here, whether they are the addict, or they’re the enabler, or either or both, right, because sometimes, you know, people will be both. It’s excruciating. When someone in your life is going through something, and you can’t help them. And you said something really beautiful about how we just can’t, we can’t do work for other people to remember it. You said? Or what would you say to that right now,

Michelle Durst  20:52

you can only choose you. And you can’t change anyone. As much as we always want to, especially women who want to change their male partners, I see that dynamic a lot. We can love people, we can encourage people, we can share our experience with people, but nobody’s gonna change unless they want to, until they become willing, or they get enough pain that they have, they’re forced to change. Even in my journey, you know, I had no interest in getting sober, I didn’t think that that was going to be something I experienced, even if people told me that I should reconsider the way that I drink. And one day, somebody just said the right thing. And I ended up in a meeting. So you know, I tell people not, you can always plant the seed, your plant the idea, but you’ve got to walk away, and most importantly, for your own sanity. So I work with women who cannot leave men that’s like something I talked to a lot of my women about. They don’t want to leave and I just talk about like, you are going to lose your sanity if you stay anyways, it’s it’s a very painful thing to try and get someone to make a choice that is best for them. And again, you just step back and you love them or you decide that you can’t love them because it’s too hard for you to watch. And, you know, that’s difficult too. But yeah, that’s their journey. And

Elizabeth DiAlto  22:24

there are different ways to love people. And again, coming from the codependency recovery world. I know you know this, like I would love to know, in your experience. What is the difference between love and codependency? Right, because when we’re mired in our codependency, we think we’re loving and it’s coming from the loving place the generous place of having love to give but codependency is not love.

Michelle Durst  22:51

No and I don’t think anyone ever learned what codependency was growing up. I certainly have never learned about it. I would

Elizabeth DiAlto  22:58

say newer generations that are being parented Yes. Now the millennials. Yeah,

Michelle Durst  23:03

yeah. Our I would say that any buddy our age, like any millennial, their mother is codependent is just a stereotype. That’s how they

Elizabeth DiAlto  23:13

were raised. More than likely, if we set up the bell curve, your mom’s probably, maybe not. There’s some incredible people, some exceptions, but really, we see it a lot.

Michelle Durst  23:23

I wish people knew what that meant. Like what is codependency because a lot of people just think it’s like, Oh, I love you too much or I over give but it’s it’s controlling, it’s obsessing it’s people pleasing. It’s, it’s all the unhealthy qualities that can be in the realm of relationships with other people. So what’s the difference between love and codependency? There’s a million differences. But really, it’s like, I know who I am. I know my values, those things are not going to change in relationship with you, by him capable of having a life separate from you. So you know that diagram where the circles like intersect and diagram. Yep, yes. Okay. That is love. Like, this is my life. This is your life. This is our relationship. I have my life separate from you. I’ll be devastated. But I won’t die if we break up. I don’t get to decide how you live your life. What I do get to decide is whether or not I can handle the way you live your life. And if I can’t, then I need to leave. For my own sanity again. You know, my boyfriend eats so many chips. I don’t like that he eats a lot of chips. But he’s not cheating on me or harming me right? So we fight about chips. We don’t fight about cheating. I can tell him all the things I know about nutrition and get him to you know, try and get them to not eat chips. But at the end of the day. Oh funny. And it’s up to him. Right? Yeah, there you go. So I mean, those are some great examples. Definitely controlling behavior and over giving. So you know, when I over give to somebody, and then I’m resentful at them Mmm, that’s not their fault. That’s my fault because I didn’t have a boundary and I crossed my own boundaries.

Elizabeth DiAlto  25:06

Yeah. And they didn’t ask you to do that shit. Exactly. And then

Michelle Durst  25:10

if, if you are noticing that you have resentment with somebody, it’s probably because of codependency and it’s probably you got to look at your stuff, what’s going on on your side? Even if they’re the cause of harm, you are choosing to be in relationship with them. I think I know, you asked me this, at the very beginning, one of the biggest things I’ve ever learned, that has, like struck me is that when I am in a relationship with an unwell person, and I’m like, they are harming me, they’ve caused me all this pain. I am also unwell, because I’m staying with them. And that is so painful to realize and accept. And then what do I do with that information?

Elizabeth DiAlto  25:50

1,000%. This is ultimately why I had to go no contact with my parents. They’re not well, people. Right, and I have no resentment. And what’s interesting is they can’t imagine that I’m not mad at them upset, angry, living in the past. And like none of that I actually, I forgive you people for everything. I don’t hold anything against you. I just can’t be in this dynamic. This dynamic is not emotionally or psychologically safe or healthy for me. And that’s all it is.

Michelle Durst  26:16

And if they were anyone else, other than your parents, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, right? Yeah, no one

Elizabeth DiAlto  26:21

would question it. Yeah. Back in the summer, when I did that episode, I’m managing hard relationships and boundaries. I said that. I’m like, when it’s your family, right? People don’t question people leaving partnerships, people question leaving marriages, which is a technicality for some folks, right? People question it, especially if there’s kids involved. And then if it’s family members, but any other type of relationship, people would be like, oh, there’s toxic behavior, oh, it’s unsafe in any way, like, get out. That is, you know, the different standards or perceptions or judgments that people want to hold people to are interesting. I appreciate your use of the word unwell. And I love that frame. And I want to offer that to folks, instead of again, like the pathologizing that we feel the need to do and I used to, I used to do this more when I was healing earlier in my 30s After my last serious relationship, which was kind of abusive, and that person was very narcissistic. Sometimes it’s helpful to name a thing, so you can understand how it functions and see how you are interacting with it. But at a certain point, we could just let people be unwell, and not need to be diagnosing or labeling. And, you know, that’s one of my big pet peeves with you listen to podcast every week. So I know, you’ve heard me talk about how I feel about like Insta therapy, tick tock psychology, and it’s like, we’re loading people up with terms that they’re not necessarily using in the right context. And then that’s creating another barrier to healing your connection here if it’s even possible. Yes,

Michelle Durst  27:50

I too, have a lot of feelings about the attachment we have to labels and the attachment we have to labeling others. Like, is that really the point? Or are we hyper focusing on that, instead of looking at our stuff, we’re looking at stuff that needs to be healed. But you know,

Elizabeth DiAlto  28:07

it is it’s important as you’re in your healing process, that kind of stuff, maybe not it, maybe it’s not as intense to call it an addiction. Those things can be very distracting, and preoccupying and keep you from doing what you actually need to do. Because those are great areas of needing to be right. If I know what to call this, if I could be right, if I can prove to myself, well, what they’re doing this, this and this, and those were those bullet points on that friggin slide on Instagram, it’s like, okay, but what do you need to do for yourself in this relationship? You know,

Michelle Durst  28:38

I focus a lot on my ex thing here about like, his addiction and where he was causing harm. And people would say, Oh, he was a narcissist or heat. It’s like, well, I don’t know. And I do really want people to use the word unwell because I find it to be kind. And I find it to be like, it’s not up to me to decide what’s wrong with somebody or to villainize them. He was unwell. He caused me a lot of harm. I chose to say stay. And now it’s my responsibility to do the healing that follows that

Elizabeth DiAlto  29:10

said something earlier that I wrote down about how often people won’t choose to heal until they’ve experienced enough pain. And I also wrote down next to that consequences. I’m curious in your own experience, and again, just experience I know you work with a lot of people in recovery, the relationship between pain and consequences. And perhaps the difference between just allowing someone to experience the consequences of their actions and actually punishing people.

Michelle Durst  29:40

Okay, so for me to get sober like, and for anyone to want to get sober like you, you have to hit that bottom, which can be very painful, and it’s just like, your life becomes so uncomfortable and painful. It forces you to make a change. It’s unfortunate that you have to experience so much pain to Want to get well, or to have a pivot point, I was lucky that I didn’t go as maybe deep as I could have. And I was lucky enough to hear other people share that they went deeper and deeper and deeper. In my very first meeting, I had 40 to 60 year old women come up to me tears in their eyes saying, I wish I’d got sober at your age, I wouldn’t have had 20 3040 extra years of hell. And that like struck my heart of like, I don’t want that I don’t need to kill myself to decide whether or not I want a better life. And in terms of my relationships with men, I have experienced what I would consider maybe more trauma and violence than some other women. And that is very sad. To me, when I look back on it, like, I do have regret, I do wish that I stopped and got helped sooner, so that I didn’t have to heal this much, or I didn’t have to be almost 33 years old, experiencing kind, safe love for the very first time and the impact that that has on my ability to have intimacy and my ability to feel safe. That really sucks. And I’m grateful that I’m here now. So for example, without sharing too much, I work with a sponsee. Her choices in her addiction are causing her so much harm, I want to be able to say to her, like you don’t have to go through this much pain, you can stop and like get help. But I don’t get to choose when she’s ready to do that. And I do know that the longer she stays in this situation she’s in, the more harm that will be there. And thus, the more feeling that will be required after the fact right? Like I can judge myself harshly. And we can judge others harshly. That’s something I think people are really good at doing. I think it comes from a place of how harsh you judge yourself. But it’s not my business. It’s not my life to judge other people’s sickness or pain. I want people to know that there’s a good life available to them, if they want and they’re ready and willing to choose it. And I hope that for them. But I really try not to like shame people or judge people because it doesn’t work. It will never work

Elizabeth DiAlto  32:23

when in history of healing has like she has anyone and like what we can’t control. And I think it’s so important because we see this a lot online too. People will call things shaming, that aren’t shaming, because it activates somebody’s own shame. Yes. Right. And often reflecting things to people that they’re not trying to face. They will feel ashamed. And they’ll be like you’re shaming me that something’s happening, but not pretending the shits not happening like you are is exactly the shame that you have about it. Right?

Michelle Durst  32:55

You know, we are blind until we’re not blind anymore, right? Yes, yes. Prior to getting into recovery, I feel like I was asleep. I can’t even describe my life. I was surviving. I was existing. I was just, like, completely unaware of anything. And then all of a sudden, this whole world became open and my eyes became open. And I started to have self awareness and understand self responsibility and could actually hear people but I couldn’t hear before

Elizabeth DiAlto  33:23

that. Yeah. You know, sometimes I think about in my 20s, I was never an addict. But I knew there were addicts. In my family. I knew there were multiple people with issues with alcohol. And in my 20s I was just partying, right? I would like binge drink. And some of the things I would do when I was drunk. I’m like, alcohol is clearly not good for a person like me. Like I don’t, I don’t need to behave this way. And I seem to I just think about some of the things I did that I just like thought were okay to do. And I’m like, girl, you don’t need this, like, not just not a road, you need to go down. But it’s like, I was a different person. Like I had a boyfriend in my early 20s. And I was just talking about this with someone earlier today on some posts about something. I learned snooping from my mom, my mom was always going through my dad’s shit, because my dad had had an affair when I was really little. And then another woman, I was in elementary school. And this was before cellphones before you could like scroll through someone’s cell phone. So like pockets, receipts, like whatever, you know. So I learned that so when I first you know, when I got into my 20s, teens and 20s and I started dating and I had I remember I had my first like, serious long term relationship. I would go through his phone. And it always made me want to like throw up like I felt sick to my stomach and I was doing it. But the thing is in a dynamic like that, of course there was always something to find. And I remember one night we had gone to some party or whatever and I was not so aware. I threw that man’s phone in the bushes and I let him think he lost it. And when I think about the sound like, I think it’s hilarious, because I’m like, Who even was that person? You know? I mean, I would never choose a person. Now. First of all, I don’t want a boyfriend, but I would never even choose a lover, that I’m not comfortable just asking if I need to know something.

Michelle Durst  35:17

Hilarious. That’s like a skill that I think that you have that I will call it a skill, but I think it’s inherent to who you are, where other women would do that. And, and I’ve done it. And the insanity of that, like you’re describing is, it’s wild to you to be like, I’m not this way. And I wouldn’t do those things. And so many people don’t always know who they are. And they do do things that they can’t believe they’re doing. And, you know, it’s also why you’re not an addict. And like, I did absolutely insane things for many, many years when I was drinking, and I felt that’s who I was.

Elizabeth DiAlto  35:49

What and you know what, this is really important in all healing, addiction, trauma, whatever it is, connect, getting that sense of self, like discovering who you are, you mentioned a few times self awareness, which is the first step in our self love framework, because it’s the first step to everything. Awareness in general, and then awareness of self like, why am I making these choices? Yeah. And also realizing, I wonder, at what point, did you realize you even had choices? Because like you said earlier? We don’t know until we know, when did you realize you could choose differently?

Michelle Durst  36:22

Honestly, not until the past few years, like there are moments that, you know, it’s like little moments where things click on, I’ll tell you a bit of a story about when I learned about boundaries, because I think this is a huge one. I was in rehab in treatment, 25 years old, they were doing a workshop on boundaries. And there was a sheet of paper that said fluid boundaries, rigid boundaries, and healthy boundaries. And it described all like examples. And I remember looking at the sheet and being like, huh, I’ve never heard of these phrases. And then I’m reading what are fluid boundaries, and every single thing was like, Oh, I do that. And then I was like, I thought at first was funny. And then I was so emotional and upset that I had never had boundaries. And you know, at that point, I was healing a lot of sexual trauma. So that stuff was also coming up. But that was like a huge moment of like, I actually could say no to somebody, like, how wild is it that I am an adult? And I have no awareness of that. I could say no to somebody without it being like, awful or uncomfortable or, or that I could Yeah, that I have the strength to say no to somebody. That was definitely the starting point. For me with who the hell am I and what am I? What the heck am I doing with my life right now? Ah,

Elizabeth DiAlto  37:43

that’s amazing. I was always inclined to have boundaries. And I was talking about this. And one of the other conversations we had, I think, was Sarah. But I was more of like a barrier person I would I was probably, if you were fluid. I was rigid. You know, like, harsh, like, Don’t fuck with me, because I’ve always had a very healthy fight response. I know some people freeze and not me, girl, I always have had a very healthy fight response. So I love this. Thank you so much for sharing all those things. I wanted to ask you, how do you engage with regret?

Michelle Durst  38:15

I remember when I first started to go to therapy when I was 20. I was 21. Because I was in second year university. And I’ve never been into therapy that was full of pain and shame and regret, I use that phrase a lot regret. And I remember just crying to this woman for a full year just go to session, cry, cry, cry, tell her about my life story. And I didn’t know what shame was even at 21 I’ve never really thought about the word shame. But I felt so much regret. And she helped me realize that I was just filled with shame. And you know, when people say like, oh, I don’t regret my choices I do I have a lot of regrets. I would do things differently. I would go back in time and change things, is what I say. And I am very aware that every single thing that’s ever happened in my life has made me exactly who I am in this moment and has led me to this spot which I am eternally grateful for. So when I think about trauma, I am not happy that I’ve had these really intense moments of trauma. And they have also participated in making me who I am. So I think only recently I stopped using the phrase regret or like thinking about regretting things. I do more of like, I wish I didn’t stay with my ex for that long or I wish you know I didn’t do this, that or the other thing. But as soon as you like really enjoy who you are, and you start to really enjoy your life, I feel grateful. I feel like my job is good relationships good. My home is good. Like holy crap. I actually have a really beautiful life now. Then there is that sort of letting go of shame and regret. This is a great time just being in like I am not attached to being the victim anymore. I am finally okay. I’m actually wanting to like lead with who I am today, instead of leading with like, Oh, let me tell you how awful my life was totally.

Elizabeth DiAlto  40:13

So there’s a difference between being a victim of a thing, which many of us are, and many of us have been victims of certain things. But living as a victim is a real thing. And some people, which is also a choice, again, some people don’t realize they have that choice. What was that transition like, and I love that you’re saying this, this is such a great point, that once you start to like yourself, and like your life, and then eventually love yourself and love your life, you can then release the grip on wishing the past was different, or needing it to get significance with people. Right, when people to understand, well, this is what I’ve been through. So under like, you’re like needing to carry that shit around, and like dump it out on the table, in order to be fully seen like you’ve integrated it yourself, which is an amazing thing, because it’s no small friggin task.

Michelle Durst  41:04

I love that so much. I can totally talk about this forever. It’s also such a journey. And it’s really cool to be at a place where you you are truly like, it’s not, you’re not gripping it anymore. It’s not the predominant part of your existence, or how you speak about yourself. And I will say that somebody called me out on at once. And she said, you know, Michelle, your addiction and your trauma is not the most interesting thing about you. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I was ready to hear it, thank goodness, because I feel like in other times in my life, I may not have been ready to hear it. So that was really beautiful. But what she was alluding to was that I have an amazing job. And I do really cool things. And I learned and I’ve traveled and like, there are so many awesome things about me that I could tell people about. And yes, this conversation has been about recovering addiction. And that’s also that was a big one. I was like, yes, yes, I want people to know that. But this was at the beginning of when I started dating my partner now. And you know, then there’s like, Oh, I’m, I’m such a sick person. And I’ve been through so much pain, and he needs to know all about it. And he needs to understand who I am. And, you know, I was forgetting who I actually am, which like deep inside my core, my soul. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not a codependent, I’m not a girl who’s experienced a lot of this, that and the other thing. And I think that desire to be loved and liked and included. And validated is very intense, especially with people who have had negative experiences with others. This idea of wanting to be important and special and unique. In AAA, we have a phrase called terminal uniqueness, which means that my pain is worse than anyone else’s pain. Which is also very humbling. They talk a lot about humility and humbling in AAA, I think my desire to, to grow, like that’s a value of mine growth and changing and, you know, I love that I want to learn, I want to change I want to be like, living my best life all the time. Also, because I had such a non enjoyable life for so many years. Like, I don’t want to live like that anymore. Why would I choose that? So my desire to let go. That’s just been a theme my desire to not be attached to this is how I am this is the way it was, you know, this thing caused me so much pain, I don’t need to carry my baggage everywhere I go. I don’t need every single person to be overshare to anymore by you know, listen to all this pain story that I have. I’ll make you cry if you hear my story. I can one just exist. And it just be me and I need even to talk. And my relationship with God is now. So much more important to me. And my relationship with myself is so much more important to me that Who am I even trying to impress, or shock or by just want to, I enjoy who I am now in this present moment. And that’s so much cooler than my previous experience of like Woe is me. And not to like, downplay it because it is what was mean, but like, I just don’t feel that way anymore.

Elizabeth DiAlto  44:22

It’s just not in the forefront anymore. Which is an amazing, yeah. Well.

Michelle Durst  44:28

So thank you so much. And

Elizabeth DiAlto  44:29

you know, people listening, again, one of the reasons I wanted to have these conversations because people go through so much stuff. And I think we are all so inclined to especially during times like this, where big events are happening on the world stage that deserve a lot of energy and attention and are quite urgent and important that many of us can contribute to in some way, shape or form. But our own experiences are also very important in our own lives. And I think we can really minimize and diminish the seriousness sometimes What we’re experiencing or what we’ve been through, not give ourselves enough credit, we’re not celebrated enough like, it’s so it’s cool when you can get to a point in your own healing where you could just like very casually, without attachment to the past talk about what it was like. But it’s also like, let’s also celebrate the shit out of you because that was a lot and you did it and like, look at this amazing life that you’re building for yourself now. So you already know how proud of you I am. But I’m very excited for you. And for as long as you’re with us. I’m love witnessing, like, the evolution of your journey. Thank you so much. Of course. Everyone listening. Thank you so much. Is there any right? Do you do anything? Do you post anything? Do you share anything anywhere that you want to send people to? Or?

Michelle Durst  45:40

Definitely my Instagram is is a great place. I just love to exist and share.


We’ll put it Oh, yeah, I think show notes.

Michelle Durst  45:46

That’ll be great.

Elizabeth DiAlto  45:47

All right. Thanks for listening, everyone. I hope these healing conversations are helping you in your healing journey in some way, shape, or form. We’ll see you later.