Welcome to Voices InCourage with KL Wells. In this special first episode, join us as we introduce you to our host. KL Wells brings together loved ones and family members of addicts and alcoholics to create a community of healing, connecting, and rebuilding. For this inaugural episode, KL shares her story and the inspiration for starting this movement. This podcast highlights the vulnerable and courageous voices of these families affected by addiction as well as the stigma surrounding the disease. Listen to real-life stories of people who have addicted loved ones, and discover how they addressed the hardships. Also, hear the experiences of recovering addicts that share what is, and isn’t, working in their journey towards healing.
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Welcome To The Voices InCourage Podcast
Thank you for joining us. I’m super excited to be having this conversation with all of you. I’m here with KL Wells, the Founder of Voices InCourage and the birthplace of the Voices InCourage show, and we are so excited that you are here. This is our inaugural episode, and we wanted to share a little bit of insight into why this movement has come about and why this show is here. Who are we speaking to? What can you expect, and more importantly, who can we help and support in the realm of addiction, especially the families and loved ones? With that said, KL, welcome to your official show.
I’m super excited. There are so many people who need hope and a pathway towards healing and wholeness in the midst of dealing with this disease, and we are thrilled to be able to bring a show out to the world that gives that message.
I would like to get started, and like with any podcast or organization, movement, community, and message, it starts with a story, and you have a powerful story to tell. Without further ado, let’s tell your story.
This was about a few years ago. I’m a business coach and consultant. I had a client that I was working with that I walked into having what I thought would be a meeting with the senior executive team. They are in a growth phase, with lots of things going on, and we meet regularly. I walked into that meeting and immediately noticed that the CEO was not present, and the energy was way off.
I’m thinking to myself, “What is going on here?” I very quickly learned that the CEO’s son had, in fact, overdosed on heroin three days earlier. The executive team, deer in the headlights, look on their faces. They have never experienced anything like this before. The CEO is not there. She is in Mexico, retrieving her son’s body. What do we do now?
I held the space for them that day and many days after that. Giving them a pathway personally, as well as professionally, to navigate this journey which they had never been on before. Also, talking with the CEO in the moments that I had access to her, going to the celebration of life for her eldest son, who was 26.So many people need hope and a pathway towards healing and wholeness in dealing with this disease. We are thrilled to bring a show out to the world that gives that message. Click To Tweet
What they didn’t know until months later, when I thought that it would serve them to know that I had more of a window into their experience than they had thought, was that the day that her son passed away, I was standing on a sidewalk in Washington State witnessing my son’s arrest at gunpoint. It’s because he was in drug psychosis and literally out of his mind.
That day, my world shattered. His world shattered, and that’s when all this began in a way that was going to dramatically, cataclysmically shift my life, my family’s life, my son’s life, and all those we touched. What I learned at that moment was that I was able to do something for me not to lose my cookies when I realized that her son had died.
I was composed, centered, and present. I was there for them in their darkest hour in a way that was shocking for me, to tell you the truth. After I left that meeting that day, I thought, “I have done something different here than what I have experienced in other situations.” We began this journey, and there were lots of ups and downs in the whiplash of in or out of jail and rehabs, relapses, and all the things that go along with this disease with my son. He was 26 at the time too.
I began to realize that, number one, the resources that I needed to navigate this at a high level were not available to me. I was stunned to find that out. As I gathered my resources so I could work with this, navigate this and continue to hold myself not in a place of crisis, although we had those crisis moments, I had an intention to evolve from crisis to thriving. I have held that intention the entire time.
It has been a big work in progress to continue to elevate into that space. I have continued to employ what I wrote down as the Five Acts of Courage to be able to stand in a place of thriving in the midst of the desperation, chaos, trauma, and shattered dreams of our journey with my son. That is how Voices InCourage got born out of what I considered a vacuum in this space and this industry, and here we are.
It wasn’t enough that it stayed within you, with your family, Sam or even the people surrounding you. It wasn’t your sphere of influence. You saw a need for that spirit to grow for everybody, and hence, Voices InCourage was born. Talk a little bit about the mission, vision, and why you’ve assembled the team. What does it look like moving forward, and what can people expect?
It’s funny when you have something like this show up as, “This is your mission in life.” I realized that I had been preparing my entire life for this moment. As the daughter of an addict, prescription medications, as the sister of a cocaine addict, as the wife of an alcoholic since divorced, and now the mother of a son dealing with addiction. My journey all along the way has been in preparation for providing Voices InCourage the services that we provide for other loved ones that are dealing with this. It began with a calling and then phone calls, and one of the phone calls you, and I met on.
It was about a year later that I got back in touch with you and said, “This is what I’m up to.” At that point, we were talking about a TED Talk. We weren’t talking about Voices InCourage. It was a year later before that got born. I called you up, had a conversation, and said, “What do you think?” You were like, “Yeah.”
I’m in, and then I made a bunch of other phone calls to people that I knew along my journey as a consultant and coach that I trusted and knew would be able to bring great expertise to the table, and we began to assemble a team. I began to learn how to talk into a camera on Zoom, present my story and do all the things that you do when you are doing this thing. Here we are, talking about launching a show. Who knew?
After that conversation, two things came up. One was that it was way too big for a couple of people to do. It was a movement. It was something that needed to be far more than a conversation. Second, we realized quickly that sharing one story made one connection, and the ripple effect of 1 vulnerable story, 1 vulnerable and courageous voice has the ability to spark so much, giving permission to others to speak up and allowing others a safe place and community to be able to share.
As you identified and I get to share my story and know the way you connected was I was going through recovery. I, firsthand, also see the lack of resources and voice that loved ones have. This is one of those outlets, safe spaces, and communities that our team has put together so that those voices can be heard. That healing can start.
We can go from surviving to thriving, and we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to walk the path alone, and we all get to share vulnerably and courageously. We even said this, KL, the only way we get to keep what we have is to give it away. Voices InCourage is that space to not only receive but it’s also to give it away so that others can share the same. What does that mean to you?Crawling in the hole with people in crisis is never a solution. Click To Tweet
It means creating global social change, creating a movement. One of the things that are very ripe in this whole experience is the massive shame, stigma, and judgment that surrounds this disease because people don’t understand it. The person they knew prior to the addiction is completely transformed, and this dark person is willing to do anything to get drugs, alcohol or whatever their addiction is.
They will do things that are shocking, and people do not understand the transformation, the hijacking of the addict’s brain that takes place and to be able to have a conversation around being able to love that person in the midst of that hijack. I’m not seeing a lot of conversations along those lines, and I was determined to continue to consistently deliver a message to my son that no matter what he did in the course of this disease, he was always loved. What I have come to understand is that message. He heard that message, and when he hit his bottom, it was the one thing that resonated enough for him not to piece out.
You bring up such a good point. You are right. There’s a current societal narrative out there about addiction. There’s also a new narrative that needs to begin, and it’s not happening anywhere that we have found. If this can be the birthplace of that narrative, so be it. We are encouraging anyone and everyone who has been in this situation. We all have loved ones.
The research is staggering because it’s not the addict who has the problem. It’s the entire family. It’s the family disease around that person. If you think about the millions diagnosed, imagine the millions that surround that individual that also need support. Let’s finish with this, specifically for those reading for the first time. What do you want to say to them, and what can they expect in the coming episodes of the show?
What I would say is a lot of people are in that crisis, desperate, heartbroken, and thrashing that goes along with this disease. I want people to understand that you don’t have to stay there. I have talked to so many moms and some dads that are in the hole with their addicted son, daughter, friend, spouse or whoever. Crawling into the hole with them is never a solution.
Coming up out of the hole and moving yourself personally towards a thriving space, a self-care space, and all the things that surround that are the journey. We have embraced and are now coaching and training and all the things around that on how to do that. Most people are like, “What are you talking about? How do we get there?” Having walked that path, we can help you get there in a way that you can still be connected obviously to your loved one and can thrive in the midst of the disease and chaos of addiction.
What’s great about what’s to come too is it will be interviews with those that have been through it. Loved ones, addicts, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or whatever substance it is, many can relate. It’s experts in the space, influencers, and those that have had lots of experience in creating hope and recovery. There’s going to be a lot of dialogue that hasn’t been heard before.
Tough, raw, and real conversations, we are not sugarcoating anything. This is the opportunity for it to be raw, vulnerable, real, and authentic. That has always been the voice of Voices InCourage since day one, and that’s what I’m most excited about too is to be able to learn from those individuals that, for probably a lot of their life, haven’t had a voice. This is an opportunity for that to come to the surface. The opportunity for like to attract like, and those conversations spur exponentially more conversations.
At this point, there are so many people that are in the shadows of this disease because they don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like they can tell their story without judgment, stigma, and shame that goes with their story. One of our missions is to shatter that so that everybody has a place where they can come to, can listen to people’s stories that are raw and real, and find hope and a new path towards loving yourself and your loved one in the midst of this journey. Many conversations are to come. We are super excited about who we have in the lineup and who will be coming to the table to talk to me about their journey, wisdom, what they have learned through this process, and how lives can change.
We are going to dissect shame, guilt, forgiveness, the dynamics of relationships, isolation, fear, desperation, and anxiety. All of those things we get to dissect in the form of storytelling, interviews, and allowing other people’s words and stories to help others inspire their own healing and recovery in a way that we haven’t seen before. Any parting words on the official inaugural episode of the show?
Whoever is reading, welcome home, this is your safe place, and we will be here for you, and others will join us in this conversation.
Thank you, and we look forward to learning more from you. Welcome to the Voices InCourage show.
Thank you, Tucker.