By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Southborough resident Danielle Boland was a successful sales director in the high-tech industry, when a couple of years ago, she decided to completely change her life and her career.
It wasn’t a choice, Boland said, but a necessity.
“I would go to the bar after work or take clients out for drinks and that was how I justified that I wasn’t so bad,” she recalled. “I had spent my life making sure everything looked great from the outside, becoming what I thought you wanted me to be instead of really loving myself and being true to who I really was.”
In school, she was an athlete, class president and president of the National Honor Society – a typical overachiever. With her success in school, a happy marriage and skyrocketing career, “many people are surprised when I tell them I was unable to stop drinking alcohol on my own and that I loved drugs,” Boland said. “After two years of trying to quit and not wanting to surrender, I was lying in bed one night at the height of my career, still feeling empty inside and thought, ‘This can’t be it, there has to be more to life.’”
In 2013, she made the courageous decision to check herself into a 30-day treatment center.
“I fought to get into a residential treatment program and it was the best decision I ever made,” she said.
After treatment, Boland was “anxious to return back to the work that defined me,” but was told that her position had eliminated. In addition, she was deemed not a risk to herself or others – despite a history of drunk driving – so her insurance company refused to help with her $14,000 treatment bill.
She spent a year fighting insurance companies and speaking at the Massachusetts Statehouse, “letting them know how damaging the insurance companies were to people trying to get well.” She also became the first Massachusetts Chapter Leader of Young People in Recovery.
Most importantly, during that time, she took a journey of self-development.
“Looking back I now understand what a gift it was to have every last outside thing that defined me taken away,” she noted. “It left me no other option than to learn who I really was.”
Boland invested her savings into rebuilding “a solid foundation for life,” even selling her car to enroll in a life-coaching program.
“Once I made the decision to get sober and focus on my recovery, there was no turning back,” she said. “I knew I had to do it so I fought for it.”
She became a certified master recovery coach by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC); a professional member of the National Association for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors; and a member of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.
“I began doing what I was destined for all along – helping others find their real, true and authentic selves,” Boland said.
She began working as a sober companion and eventually decided to open her own company to connect those with addiction struggles and their families with coaches. Real You Revolution opened in July and currently has four NAADAC certified coaches on staff.
“We want to be the premiere resourcing agency in New England,” Boland said. “Coaching services are not a new concept, but the more resources people have the better off they will be.”
Boland noted that Real You Revolution differs from a traditional therapist is that “clients can call or text their coaches 24/7,” she said, and that the coaches have all battled their own addictions.
“I couldn’t do this without experiencing it,” she said. “I cannot control others so I choose to be a power of example.”
Boland was recently the Massachusetts organizer for the national “I Am Not Anonymous” project, a photo shoot in which local residents share their stories of addiction and recovery.
According to Boland, there are millions of people who never seek help or may not even realize they have a problem.
“Addiction is anything we continue to do despite negative consequences,” Boland noted. Besides drugs and alcohol, these can include work, food, sex, exercise, parenting or even cleaning.
Boland is certainly trying to lead by example. She is enjoying a fulfilling life with her husband Matthew, a firefighter in Ashland, and their Golden Retriever Nico. She loves being an aunt and hopes to eventually have a family of her own.
“I meditate and read daily, and love taking care of my body by eating a balanced diet and working out through running, lifting, yoga and CrossFit,” she said.
She is focused on helping others but does not forget her own needs.
“Just because I do this for a living I cannot forget that my own recovery must always come first,” she emphasized. “Instead of helping and pleasing everyone else, I work on and love myself first.”