Addiction Recovery for the Soul: Ester Nicholson
Apr 30, 2014 09:14AM
● By Anthony Chiaravallo
“You were created out of love—made whole and perfect from the day you were born.” These are the words of Ester Nicholson, an addiction recovery expert and extraordinary woman who has gone from dysfunction to distinction.
Neglected at home and a victim of emotional abuse by her mother, Nicholson gave birth to a daughter while still in her middle teens and was shortly thereafter introduced to snorting cocaine. Lost in years of addiction, she neglected her own child, indulged in destructive habits and nearly became homeless.
Nicholson eventually found her way to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), where their recovery concepts slowly began to seep in. With wise sponsors and teachers around her, she began the journey to healing. Still fragile and in danger of slipping, Nicholson blended the traditional 12-step recovery program with a spiritual pathway to realize the ultimate spirit within.
Nicholson is now a renowned backup vocalist for Bette Midler and Rod Stewart and a teacher, speaker and author who uses her own astonishing story as the core of her powerful book: Soul Recovery -12 Keys to Healing Addiction…and 12 Steps for the Rest of Us—A Path to Wholeness, Serenity and Success. Soul Recovery, the process that Nicholson developed to heal herself of cocaine addiction—unifying the 12 Steps of AA with a spiritual pathway filled with metaphysical principles and practices—has guided thousands to their recovery and highest potential.
Natural Awakenings is delighted to share her wisdom with readers.
What inspired you to write Soul Recovery?
There were times when I’d tell my story to friends about the abuse and tragedy of my childhood; the tragic, frightening and sometimes humorous experiences of my addictions—and then the absolute miracle of my recovery. They’d see and hear the passion and conviction of my beliefs as I spoke, and the conversations would almost always end with, “Ester, you have to write a book.” The book turned out to be so much more than about “my story.” It turned out to be a guaranteed path of recovery, if one was truly willing to follow the directions as if they had nothing to lose, but everything to gain—with a little of my story included.
What was your defining moment when you knew your life needed to change?
When I awoke my 7-year-old daughter at 3 a.m. from a sound sleep to walk around the corner with me to the drug dealer’s house to score one more hit; when a taxi driver pulled his cab over on the side of the road and looked at me with tears in his eyes, pleading with me not to go get more drugs; when I had a dream about my deceased mother who was my abuser when she was alive, telling me in the dream that she loved me and it wasn’t time for me to die yet. I knew my time was becoming very short on this Earth, and I had to get help.
How did you come to be involved with Agape International?
I was 10 years sober by the time I was introduced to Agape, but it wasn’t my first time having a direct connection to God. I was deep into the 12 Steps at that time and had hit a wall. I had outgrown the Steps and the fellowship but didn’t know what to do about it. One of the women I sponsored told me about this amazing choir at Agape and said that I should visit. I did, and I immediately knew that I had found the avenue for my next level of growth.
To what do you attribute your successful recovery?
My recovery is due to my tenacity and absolute refusal to give up, as well as my passion, belief, faith and conviction that I can live a life free from fear, low self-worth and woundedness. My love for the Divine and my direct connection to it played a large part.
How has your spiritual path influenced your road to recovery?
My spiritual path is my road to recovery. The disease of addiction, be it physical or emotional, is based on a spiritual malady—a spiritual disconnection. My reconnection to my source restores me to emotional and physical well-being. Sometimes I’m more connected than other times. Sometimes I get a bit off and feel disconnected, but now I have the tools to realign myself with the truth of who I am. As a result of that, I don’t stay disconnected to the degree that I used to or as a long as I once did. Spirit is always here within me, awaiting my recognition, and I am again restored and recovered.
Why is soul recovery important for true healing?
Because without the reconnection to the truth of who we are, we will always look outside ourselves for our fulfillment, approval and wholeness—an insatiable hunger that will never be satisfied, because it’s not meant to be satisfied by external circumstances and other people. We must connect back to our original nature, which is self-love, fulfillment, emotional balance, sanity and harmony, in order to reawaken to our wholeness. Our souls are intact; there’s nothing missing there. So when that part of ourselves is rediscovered, uncovered, remembered and we reconnect to it, we are fully recovered to the truth of who we really are and who we are meant to be.
How has singing positively influenced your life?
I came into this world singing, from what I was told. I used to pretend that a hairbrush was my microphone as I performed at the age of 5 for my adoring fans (the trees) in my backyard. I’m the youngest of eight, and all of my sisters and brothers were singers and musicians. My home was always filled with music. It was really weird, because it was filled with music, abuse and addiction. But music has always been an important part of my life, especially singing. So on a soul level, it’s a gift I was given to not only soothe myself, but to bring joy to others. I can be at my lowest point and start singing a song that will lift my vibration and inspire me. It also has opened doors for me on the world stage as a vocalist with some of the biggest names in entertainment.
Do you have any advice for current or recovering addicts?
Yes. I want you to know that you were not created as an addict. You were not made from broken, damaged goods. You were created whole and beautiful. You were created out of infinite love. Even if you were not born into or out of love, you were created out of love, and I want you to know the difference. You are more than you know yourself to be, but you have simply forgotten, beloved. You have forgotten how divine you are, but through the recovery of your soul—the part of you that remembers exactly who you are—you will return to that which you were created to be in the first place—magnificent, vibrant, brilliant, more than enough—and free.
Originally published by Anthony Chiaravallo, in Conscious Connection magazine, CCZine.com.
Ester Nicholson will be the guest speaker at the Unity of Naples 10 a.m. service and offer a workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. entitled Expect a Miracle: A Forgiveness, on Jun. 8.
Suggested love offering: $35. Location: 2000 Unity Way, Naples. For more information, call 239-775-3009.