Recovery Mentor Anouska de Giorgiou lives in Los Angeles, California. She was born and raised in London, England. As a teenager, she discovered a love of music, and partying, which lead to a decade-long romance with both. Today, she owns a sober living facility in West Hollywood called Edinburgh House. Anouska is a Mom, singer, and life coach. Here’s what happened between then and now.
LG: What were you doing when you came into recovery?
Anouska: I was a singer. But I’d say I spent about ten percent of my day singing or thinking about singing, and the rest of my day thinking about recovering from the night before. Or, planning the next evening. It was a fitting profession for someone who wanted to cover up partying the whole time. It was an excuse for that.
LG: As you got comfortable with sobriety, what happened?
Anouska: My experience with sobriety is I had a list of things I wanted. I wanted to become a mother; I wanted to be a successful singer and songwriter. I wanted to have a good relationship with my family. I wanted a lot of things, but I didn’t have the tools to increase my chances of getting those things. And, I didn’t have the discipline because of my drinking and using to follow through on anything that might help get me there. I spent a lot of time becoming bitter and resentful that my goals were not forthcoming.
LG: So what changed?
Anouska: When I got sober, I got told I was full of shit by my sponsor. She said to me, “I like you Anouska, but I don’t trust you.” In my head, I said, “How dare you???” Now I look back and realize I was lying to her so much, and I didn’t really understand. I think there are layers of truth that unveil over sobriety. The first thing I understood was, I couldn’t do anything the way I had always done it. How you do anything is how you do everything. quote, courtesy of Jay Westbrook
LG: What happened with singing in sobriety?
Anouska: Things just fell into place. I think there’s an element of getting sober that’s magical. There’s a magical element of being in the right place at the right time. I was in the right place at the right time to receive the message. Once I’d been sober for a year, I ran into Nile Rodgers at a Wyclef Jean concert, and we hit it off. He produced David Bowie’s Let Dance album, and David Bowie was my hero. He was sober when he died. Nile is sober too. He said, “Send your stuff. Where do you want to live? NY or LA?” I had a really big dog, so I said LA. Next thing I knew, my band and I were on a plane with the dog to LA. We got a beautiful house up on Doheny and Sunset and started recording with another producer that worked here closely with Nile.
LG: How was early sobriety in LA?
Anouska: As soon as I hit the ground, I was at the Key club every day going to meetings. I was in a band with four boys who weren’t sober, and they thought I was totally crazy. I worked really hard. I knew how lucky I was, as much as you can know it. You only really know how lucky you are until you lose it… Sobriety and doing the steps allowed me to identify my strengths and identify my weaknesses and I think that’s a huge part of being successful in any field. The problem was when I was first sober I didn’t want to concentrate on my weaknesses, I just wanted to promote my strengths. I wasn’t willing to address the problems.
LG: How long did you do music?
Anouska: I started writing songs at 15. I got sober at 25, and that’s when things started to happen. Then, it went on for another ten years. But, I realized as I got sober that performing was something I needed to do before because my self-esteem was so low. I needed huge validation from a lot of people at the same time, and that was the only thing that would do it.
LG: Did singing give you the validation you needed?
Anouska: No. Because I was never doing it for the right reasons, so it never fixed the problem. I would go into things with, “This is what I need to get from this,” attitude. Because I was going into it with that attitude, I was incredibly anticipatory. Would I get my needs met? Would I do it right to get my needs met? I was anxious all the time. I was a sober woman who hadn’t really gone far enough in my program to fix the stuff that was broken, and I didn’t have the drugs and alcohol to take away the jitters. I was stuck in a no man’s land. It hadn’t been enough time that the promises were coming true. I was going into it all wrong. Then, Michael Des Barres said to me, “Darling, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s not about what you’re going to get; it’s about what you’re going to give. Your song writing ability, your voice, is a gift from God and comes through you, not from you and it’s not arrogant to present it well and pass it along, and the result has nothing to do with you.” It’s a good day and bad day when you realize it’s not all about you.
LG: How did that advice change you?
Anouska: I transitioned into a career where I’m in a service based business.
LG: What did your experience bring to the table in business?
Anouska: There are a couple of things that I think are integral to being successful in this business on a moral level. Having a strong awareness bc having a willingness to help is not enough. You have to have an awareness of the effect you are having.
LG: How does having an effect on others impact you?
Question: It’s a lot of responsibility, and that can be both rewarding and devastating at different times of the day. Sober living, life-coaching is… I think I have to be a good student to be a good teacher and it’s a form of reparenting and when you are reparenting somebody and they don’t get it, I think any responsible mentor/teacher/coach would ask themselves where they went wrong. If you go wrong in a math lesson, nobody dies. I’m learning all the time different ways to reach people bc my experience is everybody learns differently and my job that one thing that speaks to them. Some people learn better through imagery, some people relate to metaphors, some to storytelling, so I’m looking for what is going to reach that person so that they trust me enough go on a journey of recovery with me.
LG: Final question. How do you take care of yourself?
Anouska: Self-care is really high on my list. I get a massage every week. I mediate twice a day. I eat really well; I exercise three to four days a week. The thing I’m not very good at is scheduling time to do nothing. So that’s my area to grow.
Recovery Mentors, by Lindsey Glass is a new series that asks people who have found personal and professional success in recovery how it all happened.