Relationships in Recovery; an Interview with Veronica Valli

Relationships in Recovery; an Interview with Olivia Pennelle
April 11, 2017
Why I didn’t get sober until my second DUI
April 21, 2017

Relationships in Recovery; an Interview with Veronica Valli

I am so pleased to share with you this weeks interview.  Veronica was one of the first woman that helped me get my feet wet in the cyber world of sober blogging and I was so lucky to have met her last year in D.C, for the Unite to Face Addiction conference.  Veronica is a pioneer in the recovery field and she’s written a couple books, as well as having an award winning blog! You can also catch her at the upcoming She Recovers retreat in NYC in early May.  I love how real her interview is and I felt like I was sitting down with her having a cup of tea chatting….

  1. What was your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food before you got clean and sober?

 Destructive binging with all three. Food was probably the first and last thing I hoarded and binged on.

What is your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food today?

I’ve been abstinent from drugs and alcohol for almost 17 years. When I first got sober my food issues were suddenly unleashed. I was binging on food regularly because I hadn’t recovered and had no other substance to rely on.  At about a year sober I found myself standing at the checkout to pay for my binge food with a feeling of panic. I was scared of how would I feel when they ran out. That’s when I knew I had an issue with food.  I had to be abstinent from sugar for a while, but found once I resolved the deep underlying issues of my addiction, then my food issue resolved themselves.

  1. How were your relationships with your family before you got clean & sober?

Fractured. I always felt like the alien in my family, that I never fitted in and wasn’t good enough.

How are those relationships today?

Much better, I don’t live close to them and would love to see more of them. I don’t feel like an outsider anymore. Whatever group I am in, I feel like I belong and that was always the opposite of the case when I was drinking. 

  1. Regarding your prior romantic relationships – how did your addiction affect those?

Unhealthy romantic relationships were another way that I tried to fix my feelings. All of my romantic relationships were dysfunctional and some were abusive. They were based on fear and need rather than love.  I took hostages, and would date anyone who liked me. It never occurred to me I had to like them back.  There’s nothing more toxic to a relationship then bringing abusive, alcohol and drug use into it.

  1. What is your current relationship status today?

I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 7 years (together for 11). I’ve met a real partner who values and appreciates me.  It feels like a proper grown up relationship; evolving, growing and deepening. I’m so lucky, I never thought this would happen to me.

How has this changed since being sober?

I was 6 years sober when I met my husband. My sobriety was really solid and my life was balanced and happy. He was the cherry on the cake. I really didn’t meet my life partner until I had become a whole and functioning adult. He wasn’t what I expected but he is perfect for me.                                                                                                                                          

  1. How did you feel your relationships with friends and co-workers are now that you clean and sober?

Previously, I was an insecure, people pleasing person. I was always concerned about whether you liked me or not. I was unreliable and inconsistent and my friendships often felt competitive.  Now I have a genuine sister-hood which is one of the most valuable and sustaining things in my life.  My relationships are genuine and authentic. I have a couple of friends that stuck with me through my drinking years and I am incredibly grateful for their support and love. Being free of the good or bad opinions of others has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery.  It frees you to become the person you were really meant to be rather than chaining yourself to approval from random people.                                                                                      

  1. Do you have a relationship with a HP, God or Universe that guides you?

I use the word ‘God’ and spirituality in a non-religious sense.  The explanation of God in ‘A Course in Miracles’ makes the most sense to me.  Recovery is about getting out of your own way so you can access that Higher Self/Power/God.

If so, how does that help you in your recovery?

It’s essential. Spiritual growth is everything. Without it I’m lost.                                                          

  1. Do you have relationships with pets and if so, how has that helped with your recovery?

No. Not allowed pets, everyone in my family is allergic!                                                                                

  1. How is your relationship today with Society at Large?

I have found myself becoming more and more of a feminist as I get older. I have young children and I am constantly outraged at how the media and marketing tries to enforce socially constructed ideas of gender. Also, as a mother I feel deeply affected by the suffering we are inflicting on families and children globally. I make calls, I donate money but it still doesn’t feel like enough.

What have you been able to contribute?

I really want my children to be aware of the world around them so we are beginning to get involved in local marches and events. I believe the care of the environment is the most important issue we have and want my children to be aware of this too. We are participating in a beach clean-up in a couple of weeks!




Veronica has worked as a therapist and life coach specializing in addiction for over seventeen years. As a recovered alcoholic and drug addict, she has personal experience of what it takes to recover from an addiction.  Veronica struggled with alcoholism through most of her twenties. As a binge drinker, she was aware for some time that something was wrong but was unable to define what it was; a chance meeting led to her finally getting help and turning her life around.  Veronica is committed to educating and informing the public on problem drinking and addiction and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as a specialist guest. She has also appeared on the Lorraine Kelly show on ITV, and an ITV programme entitled The Truth About Binge Drinking; she has also appeared in national magazines and publications, discussing recovery from alcoholism.

Her book: Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to Freedom has been peer reviewed and is currently available at Amazon and other on line retailers.  She also runs the successful blog: Veronica Valli Recovery Rocks where she writes about addiction and alcoholism issues.

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