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Kyle’s Recovery Story: From Skepticism to Superpower

Written by Samantha Carter

In the All Points North (APN) podcast episode, My Addiction Made Me a Person I Didn’t Recognize: Recovery x Kyle, APN alumni Kyle opens up about how he went from denying his alcoholism to doing the work it took to claim his “superpower.” From acknowledging his addiction for the first time to learning about himself, his relationships, and his life purpose, Kyle goes on a journey with listeners that is about more than just him. To learn how Kyle went from ignoring his addiction to living his passion, check out the full story below.

Acknowledging Alcoholism for the First Time

Kyle had a successful job with a wife and partner of 17 years, a 1.5-year-old little girl, and an ego that believed everything was fine. However, as old patterns continued to wreak havoc on his life, he began to realize that denial might no longer be an option.

“Before coming to APN I had never spoken to a therapist,” Kyle said. “I was kind of the king of recommending other people to, but I think my own ego got in the way of recognizing and acknowledging that I needed it. Alcohol has always played an important role in my life. It became everything to me. It’d come to a point where it was more important than my wife and my 1.5-year-old daughter. It was overtaking my life.”

Kyle, like so many others, turned to alcohol to cope with everyday stress and mental challenges. However, he would soon be forced to see alcoholism for the force it had become in his life.

“The only way at that point in my life that I knew how to deal with anxiety was alcohol. It was a vicious cycle because drinking would then make me anxious that I was drinking so it just kept going. I was holding down a job but I was not fulfilled and connected,” Kyle said.

Recognizing and owning his alcoholism was not an instant or easy journey for Kyle.

“My ego wanted to say I knew there was a problem and I wanted to tackle it. I wanted to be that guy,” Kyle said. “But the truth was I was scared and clueless.”

Even though Kyle was scared, he still decided to be brave. That choice may very well have saved his life.

Opening Up About APN Lodge

When Kyle’s family and friends lovingly urged him to seek help, he reluctantly decided to go. What he didn’t know when he first arrived was that it wouldn’t be his last stay there.

“I came to APN twice,” Kyle said. “I came out for about 32 days and I left and thought I was cured. Within 48 hours, I was proving to the world that I wasn’t an alcoholic by drinking, and so I came back out three weeks later and stayed for about two months. You know, the first time I came out it was to appease people, to show people that I cared. I was trying to do something to solve this. I wasn’t ready for it.”

When Kyle arrived at APN for the first time, he looked at it like a homework assignment he just needed to check off his to-do list. Outwardly, he may have been doing all the “right” things, but inwardly, he had yet to step up to the task of true healing work.

“[My] first time [at the lodge] I just think I was drinking through a fire hose,” Kyle said. “I was the treatment MVP, like I did everything and engrossed myself in it but for the outward appearance to everybody else that I was taking this seriously.”

After his first treatment stay when Kyle realized he needed to really give recovery work a go, he wasn’t sure if he should return to APN Lodge again.

“I remember when I made this decision to return, the amount of shame built up in that,” Kyle said. “I thought like, You know, I should probably go somewhere else so I don’t have to see [these same] people. [It’s] the all-time irony of being worried about what other addicts are going to think of you [when] you’re the first one [to go] back.”

Ultimately, Kyle’s fears about returning would remain unfounded, as he was pleasantly surprised by his choice.

“I remember pulling up to the lodge and Tom just met my car and gave me the biggest bear hug. It was just this sense of like, Oh, this was the right choice. I remember being at the intake assessment wing and every staff member stopped by my room and gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re back.’ It was this message of like – you could have ended up in jail; you could have died. Instead, you’re here. [It was] this sense of I’m glad you’re back and I’m proud that you’re back and that that for me was … incredibly sacred,” Kyle said.

While Kyle may have started this journey to appease his family and friends, he ended up with way more than he bargained for.

“I don’t think there’s a one-on-one session with Dustin [my therapist] that I haven’t cried,” Kyle said. “You know, I’m a guy that buries my emotions and all of a sudden to be sitting with another man my age and cry about my deep sense of [feeling] not enough. [It] was incredible. [Dustin is] not [just] a therapist, but somebody just sit down and talk to and feel connected to.”

Kyle reflects on what it means to him to be visiting the Lodge for the recording of the podcast.

“It’s a lot of humility and pride in coming back,” Kyle said. “It’s really good to be in the physical space where I kind of first explored who I am.”

Discovering What Lies Beneath the Alcoholism

As Kyle began to dig deeper into his internal world through the process of addiction recovery, he learned many things about himself and his alcoholism.

“I think for me alcohol is one aspect of what was going on,” Kyle said. “It was a symptom of a deeper physical, spiritual, and emotional disconnect. I have a very rational, logical mind and so digging into some of the therapeutic approaches that Dustin and I did was like being able to poke holes in my thoughts. It has been so valuable.”

As Kyle continued to “poke holes in [his] thoughts,” he discovered many things he was using to mask his true self, feelings, and wounds.

“What I always tell people is deep inside I’m like a pudgy nine-year-old [boy] that doesn’t know where to sit in a cafeteria,” Kyle said. “I have built up every defense in the world to try to cover that up. I’ve built up a presence and sense of confidence; I’ve built up an outgoing personality and quick wit and sarcasm; I’ve achieved in work or sports; I got married and bought a house and had a kid. I was doing all the ‘right’ things. It was everything to show the world that I was enough, but deep inside I was just an emotional hurt kid.”

Recovery for More than Just You

Throughout the podcast, co-hosts Dan and Andy explore this idea that recovery is not just for the person recovering, but also for the people whose lives they will affect. Dan, Andy, and Kyle discuss how healing from addiction can create a ripple effect that inspires others to heal, fosters community, and paves the way for a chain reaction of growth and transformation to occur.

“[There are] men who I [became] very close to,” Kyle said. “To be able to have that continuity and connection and have a trip planned with them to Aspen just to reconnect [with] people that understood my story was super important.”

Kyle didn’t just reconnect with friends he made at APN Lodge during his initial recovery. He also began reconnecting with his wife and partner of 17 years.

Rebuilding a 17-Year-Old Marriage

“There’s a phrase we use an AA of like just telling people how you feel,” Kyle said. “[To me, that] was huge. [I was] starting to work with my wife who I’ve been with for 17 years and kind of reintroduce her to that insecure nine-year-old – not the guy that has the answers to everything and is always happy. [I had to] introduce her to this kind of broken, vulnerable, emotionally [fragile guy and] be able to talk to her about it.”

Something unique about Kyle’s story is that he had his first drink at age 21. He also met his wife at that time. Therefore, Kyle’s wife, Laura, never got to know the Kyle who was sober.

“I think we have this idea that when the alcoholic or somebody in mental health recovery changes that it fixes everything,” Kyle said. “The truth of it is that in a lot of ways Laura and I are rediscovering how to be in relationship with each other and rediscovering what authentic Kyle and authentic Laura looks like. I [also] think there’s a lot of hurt and trauma for her of what I was like in addiction. I don’t ever want to sit here and say it’s like a romantic comedy. Our relationship is honest and vulnerable and hard and beautiful and needed.”

As Kyle’s relationship with himself and his wife have deepened through his recovery, he’s become aware of the ways in which this journey has affected them both.

“It’s not my recovery – it’s our recovery. I don’t want that to sound cheesy because that sounds like a freaking buzzword but it’s beautiful,” Kyle said. “My wife is very active in Al-Anon. Three months in and she said, ‘Why doesn’t everybody do this?!’ It’s just been this this new Renaissance for her as well figuring out what her purpose is and what her sense of connection is in a similar way it’s been for me.”

Acknowledging Privilege

One of the things Kyle talks about with intentionality on the APN podcast is recognizing the privilege present within his personal recovery story. To Kyle, that’s an important thing to acknowledge for many other people struggling with addiction.

“It’s easy to start thinking – Well, I’m in recovery so I’m better than you, right? [However], it’s important to realize I am in a massive place of privilege. I was able to come to APN. I have an employer that supported me. I have a family that supported me. I have health insurance to pay to see therapists. I [live] within a 15-minute walk of AA meetings. That’s a place of privilege, absolutely,” Kyle said.

As Kyle has become more aware of his privilege, he has also become more invested in learning about the struggles that others are facing.

“In 2022 [only] 7.5% of active alcoholics are going to get treatment of any type,” Kyle said. “That includes attending an AA meeting. So, that means [92.5%] of alcoholics are not even gonna have this conversation. You know, [as a] white cisgender heterosexual male [it’s humbling to learn about] all the opportunities I’ve had from that, so [I try to] keep my ego in check. At the beginning of a meeting there’s oftentimes a moment of silence and that moment of silence for me is always thinking about that [92.5%] of active alcoholics who aren’t going to be able to have these conversations.”

Sobriety As a Superpower

Like many people in recovery, Kyle has gone through his fair share of times wondering why he has to suffer from this disease while so many others go on living their lives in peace co-existing with alcohol use. However, he’s since come to realize that his sobriety is his greatest superpower.

“It’s interesting,” Kyle said. “Brené Brown talks about her sobriety as her superpower and you’ll hear Dustin [with APN] say that alcoholism is the greatest disease in the world to have because of what it allows us to learn. Those concepts used to really make me angry because I was thinking it was more like, Why do I have to deal with this? I don’t want any of this to come across like sobriety isn’t tough but I now identify with [how] my drinking forced me to make a change in my life. I would not [otherwise] have found connection and fulfillment in my life. It’s teaching me what nothing else could teach me.”

For Kyle, getting sober has not only improved his relationship with himself and others, but it’s also changed the entire course of his career.

What’s Next for Kyle?

Through the inner work of Kyle’s recovery process, he’s found a new passion to dedicate his life to and is now working to pursue a career in counseling.

“As I mentioned [before], I was super lucky to have an employer that supported me taking time off to get sober,” Kyle said. “I still work in that space, but along with that I’ve actually started a degree in clinical mental health counseling. So, again, [I’m in a] position of privilege that my employer is actually supporting me going and helping pay for tuition.”

While not everyone can go back to school with the help of their employer, Kyle’s story does teach us that following your heart is something worth pursuing.

“I’ve always felt a sense of connection when I’m helping others,” Kyle said. “I also want to help others for selfish reasons because that’s how I grow. It gives me a whole new sense of connection and fulfillment of purpose. Also, I’m able to take what I’m learning about becoming a counselor and use it in my corporate world, in my recovery world, [and] with my family. [I get] to use it to rethink what it means to talk about emotions with my 3.5-year-old. It’s all these things that come together.”

As someone who just started therapy himself less than a couple of years before this podcast aired, Kyle is able to embrace a sense of humor about the turn of events in his life.

“It’s not lost on me that I went from an alcoholic who had never seen a therapist to two years later getting my degree in counseling,” Kyle said. “Like, we are addicts and we work in the extremes. I see that, but honestly it’s been something I’ve done with great discernment and intentionality. I don’t use those words as hot button words. [It’s] something that’s meant a lot to me.”

When speaking about what’s next in his life as a recovering alcoholic and aspiring therapist, Kyle noted something he wanted to leave others to think about.

“[There’s this] interview with somebody who talked about his addiction like a forest fire,” Kyle said. “His addiction was the fuel that he needed to burn his life down to allow for new growth. There’s something about that image of the new growth that comes from a forest fire and how needed that is. That’s the message I want to leave [others with].”

While there was a time Kyle believed he didn’t have a problem and a time he even “faked” his recovery, he now stands as living proof that it’s never too late to get sober, to heal, and to change your life.

If you’re interested in learning more about All Points North and our addiction and mental recovery programs, submit our confidential contact form or call us at 855.934.1178 today. You never know what your life might look like in two years if you make a change now.

More From Kyle

Listen and watch Kyle’s episode of Recovery x APN below, and find more episodes on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.