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The Nameless Recovery Show #14
Dona Speir

Sexual Predators, Blacking out on Movie Sets & Long-term Sobriety as a Playboy Centerfold.

In today’s episode, Dona Speir and Estil Wallace have a grown-up discussion around sex, sobriety and helping people into recovery during a time of isolation

Estil Wallace:

I believe there are two big misconceptions around drug addiction and alcoholism. First is stigma, like who belongs in a drug-addicted population? The truth is it affects 20% of everybody in the human race. So it affects the rich, the poor, everyone equally. It doesn’t matter religious backgrounds. All those things don’t matter. The other big misconception is around recovery. In truth, when people find long-term, durable recovery, their lives become miraculously better than they could possibly have imagined. The stories, if you follow, when people find permanent recovery, they’re modern-day fucking miracles. That’s what the Nameless Recovery Show is about, normalizing recovery.

Estil Wallace:

Okay. We are rolling right into a brand new episode of the Nameless Recovery Show. I’m your host, Estil Wallace, and today a very special guest, a former Playboy centerfold, author, best-selling author. She’s a recovery coach. She’s also been a recovery companion, a long time in recovery. She writes for Recovery Today, none other than Dona Speir.

Dona Speir:

Thank you for having me, Estil.

Estil Wallace:

Thank you for-

Dona Speir:

It’s really nice to be here, finally. I mean, we’ve been planning this for months and months and months.

Estil Wallace:

We have. Thank you for being here. Her book that just came out in the last year, if you haven’t read it yet, order it. Get on Amazon or wherever you can find books, The Naked Truth. I just finished it. Thank you for writing it. It was a-

Dona Speir:

Thank you for reading it. That was really kind of you. Yeah, that was pretty raw.

Estil Wallace:

It’s all out there.

Dona Speir:

When I wrote the book, I had a sign up on my wall in front of my computer, and it said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” So every time I started a chapter, I would look up. I’d pause, and I’d look up and I’d go, “What would you do? Oh, yeah. If I wasn’t afraid, what would I put down? I would put down the raw, naked truth of what happened in my life,” and I did.

Estil Wallace:

That’s the title of the book. It’s a great title.

Dona Speir:

Thank you. Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

It’s a great title, a pretty wild ride. It was nice getting to know you a little bit before this as well. As I mentioned over lunch, you lived a lot of life in the first 22, 23 years of your life. All that obviously is in the book.

Dona Speir:

Right, right. I know. Sigh. I know.

Estil Wallace:

Where do I begin?

Dona Speir:

I know. I’m thinking, “Oh, no, here’s the story.”

Estil Wallace:

Where to begin? Well, how long did you work for the Playboy brand?

Dona Speir:

Okay. So I worked for Playboy for seven years.

Estil Wallace:

Seven years.

Dona Speir:

Seven years, which is actually a really long time for a Playmate to work. So that seven years doesn’t mean I was in the magazine consistently for seven years.

Estil Wallace:

But they do a lot of things besides just the magazine.

Dona Speir:

Right. So we go out on the road as a Playmate. We sign autographs. We do all kinds of things. We do charities. We do openings. We do all sorts of things. Now, that’s not a bunny with the ears. That’s as a centerfold. Okay? Then I was-

Estil Wallace:

Sorry to stop you. I don’t know if I know the difference between a bunny and a centerfold.

Dona Speir:

Okay. Yeah. That’s very, very common, because I get called a bunny a lot. When Playboy had the Playboy clubs, a bunny with the ears and the tail, like that with the ears and the tail, was a cocktail waitress.

Estil Wallace:

Okay.

Dona Speir:

A centerfold is a girl from the middle of the magazine.

Estil Wallace:

The centerpiece.

Dona Speir:

Yep. There’s only 12 girls picked a year over hundreds of thousands that are submitted, and that’s the difference.

Estil Wallace:

You’re a centerfold.

Dona Speir:

I’m a centerfold.

Estil Wallace:

This is where I’ll probably flash a couple of pictures.

Dona Speir:

Okay.

Estil Wallace:

Not from the middle of the magazine. From the covers.

Dona Speir:

Right, right. I got it.

Estil Wallace:

From the covers.

Dona Speir:

Right, right, right. Yeah, I did a lot of foreign covers and things. Yes.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, beautiful.

Dona Speir:

Thank you so much.

Estil Wallace:

All very beautiful.

Dona Speir:

Thank you.

Estil Wallace:

Beautiful photography.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, it was a long time ago. It was in the eighties. So the first time I shot for Playboy, I had just turned 19.

Estil Wallace:

Wow. That’s young.

Dona Speir:

I was a baby. I was just a baby when I shot for Playboy. I mean, I was a little girl. Looking back now, when you’re that age, you just think you know everything, 19, 20, 22. You just think you know … Even when I was a teenager at 15 or 16, I thought I knew everything. But at that age, you thought you knew everything. I look back at those pictures, and I’m so … Yeah. I hadn’t even lost my baby fat when I shot Playboy. Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

In the book, you talked about comings and goings at the mansion. Then you had gotten sober, and you were still working for Playboy in the early parts of sobriety.

Dona Speir:

Right. So this is what happens. So I had gotten sober originally in 1982 when I was 18 years old. I mean, I had a really bad drug addiction, severe. I mean, we’re talking lock myself in a closet seven days, doing social cocaine, smoking things that were in the carpet, that kind of drug use. Back in 1982, I mean, this was the era of Richard Pryor. So most people don’t even really remember that unless you’re my age, which is-

Estil Wallace:

I love Richard Pryor.

Dona Speir:

Okay. Well, do you remember when he burnt himself up? So I was smoking what they called freebase back then, and we were making it with all … What was it? Ether and all kinds of stuff. So that was way back then. So when I went into treatment in 1982, the Betty Fords weren’t around. There wasn’t a treatment on every corner. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. I weighed 97 pounds, and, I mean, my hair was falling out. My fingernails were burnt off. I was a mess. I mean, I was a mess.

Dona Speir:

So they found a treatment facility to put me in, and I stayed sober, if you want to call it that, dry for a year. In that year is when I was introduced to Playboy, and then when we were shooting what we call small camera, Playboy calls it small camera, and those are all the other pictures around the centerfold, that’s when I picked up my first drink. That was in about … Oh. Oh, [inaudible 00:06:13] September, so September, October, maybe a year and four months afterwards, after I went through treatment, I picked up my first drink. Then I drank for three and a half years. So I had some Playboy experience drinking, which wasn’t real pretty, and I had a lot sober.

Estil Wallace:

Which is pretty interesting, to be in the new life, the journey into the promised land, so to speak, and to be working as a model.

Dona Speir:

It wasn’t hip back then. Now you see celebrities, and they’ve gone through treatment. They’ve got their face up and, “I’m Robert Downey Jr., and I’m sober. I’m Jamie Lee Curtis, and I’ve got a zillion years.” Back then, it wasn’t cool to be sober. ’82, no. You didn’t know anybody sober. ’87, when I finally walked in the door, I’d just celebrated 34 years. It wasn’t cool. If I would have said I went to rehab, they’d said, “What’d you break?”

Estil Wallace:

Right, like a leg or-

Dona Speir:

Right, because it wasn’t trendy. It wasn’t available as it is now.

Estil Wallace:

That’s really, really wild. You’re flying all over the world. There’s a horrendous part of the book where you’re talking about filming a movie on one of the Hawaiian islands. Moloka’i? Moloka’i, maybe?

Dona Speir:

Yeah, when I was still drinking.

Estil Wallace:

Oh, God. I could just feel the pain of everybody else on the set.

Dona Speir:

Oh. Oh, that was brutal. Yeah, the first night when I flew in, yeah, do you want me to tell that little story? That was horrible.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. I think anybody that hasn’t read the book yet will get a flavor for what we were dealing with.

Dona Speir:

A little idea. Yes.

Estil Wallace:

The Donna we were dealing with then.

Dona Speir:

Right. So I was drinking, and I was drinking pretty heavily. We all flew, and I was the lead in the movie. I was the star of the movie.

Estil Wallace:

What’s the movie called?

Dona Speir:

Never mind. [inaudible 00:08:14]. It’s funny. It came back in, and it’s a cult now. It’s a cult classic. It’s frightening. It’s terrible. Anyway, so I flew in to do this movie, and everybody flew in. The crew was already there. It was the cast coming in last, and everybody set up. I went down to the little poolside lounge to have a drink.

Estil Wallace:

Naturally.

Dona Speir:

Right, and have another drink, because when I get one drink in my system, the phenomena of craving sets in and off I go. My problem is when I drink, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I just don’t know, and this is a perfect example. So I start drinking, and then one of the girls came. I bought her a drink, and I bought them a drink. I bought them a drink. Next thing you know, I come to in the morning, and I remember it was really early for makeup. I don’t know what time. I remember looking out. I had the worst hangover in the world. I went and I jumped in the ocean. Then I came and showered and went through makeup and everything on set. The director was introducing me to everybody, introducing me to everybody.

Dona Speir:

For an actress or a model, you always want to be good with the photographer or director of photography, always. The DP is going to make or break you in a film. He’s either going to shoot you like this or he’s going to shoot you like this, right? So you want to be good with the director of photography. So I go up to meet the director of photography. I said, “Hi. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Dona. Dah, dah, dah.” He looks at me. He goes, “I met you last night. You bought me a bunch of drinks.” I was like, “Shoot.” I had no recollection of anything. That was before we’d even shot one frame of film, one frame. It tanked from there. It just went downhill.

Estil Wallace:

You lay it out very well in the book. Obviously, the road to recovery is really tough. For damn near everybody that finds recovery, the price tag is high. Yours was no different. Your story was no different. So you get sober. You have a son. You eventually bury your parents. Tell me, how did you get into the recovery home? There was a recovery home you sat on the board of for the first year.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

You helped create this place where you were the driving force behind it.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

What’s the name of it?

Dona Speir:

The Lynn House.

Estil Wallace:

The Lynn House. Tell me about the Lynn House.

Dona Speir:

So I was in Newport Beach, living in Newport. I was a single mom, and my sponsor … I was going through just a horrendous divorce, just horrible divorce, and my sponsor-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:11:04]

Dona Speir:

Just a horrendous divorce, just horrible divorce. My sponsor has got me doing this. She’s got me doing that. I mean, just service, service, service, service service.

Estil Wallace:

How old’s your son at that time?

Dona Speir:

Maybe seven. Yeah. She’s just got me doing all kinds of stuff and to get grateful, to get grateful. You better find some gratitude. You better find some gratitude. I always had tough sponsors. I mean, all my sponsors were mean. Anyway, so as I’m doing this, I’m around a lot of the recovery homes. I’m around a lot of all the clinics and things that are going on there, all the hospitals that are going on. In Newport Beach, I’m noticing there isn’t a place for women who don’t have insurance or money. It’s very affluent area.

Estil Wallace:

It is. Newport’s got money.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, very affluent. Like Malibu and Newport Beach, they’re the hubs of recovery in California, the hubs. So it was like, well, why isn’t there a place for women who can’t afford to go somewhere? Why isn’t there? So I started brainstorming. That was how it started. It was like, this is stupid. Plus, I had a lot of gals come in on my couch and that kind of thing, ones that were, because I had a son. So I started brainstorming with two other people and brought them in and we figured out how to put together a 501(c)(3) that was not dependent upon the state or federal money, right? So it wasn’t a weight on the taxpayers and how to have a home for women. We had six beds that we clothed, house and fed for 30 days.

Estil Wallace:

How did you fund it?

Dona Speir:

We funded it through donations. Well, we ran it through volunteers.

Estil Wallace:

Awesome.

Dona Speir:

It was kind of crazy, we funded it through people making donations, monthly donations, commitments and things like that, yearly big donations. That’s how we got it going. And a lot of prayers. I don’t know how the doors opened, but I got to tell you, the morning the door opened, there was girls waiting on the porch to get in.

Estil Wallace:

That’s awesome.

Dona Speir:

Yeah. To this day, over 2000 girls have gone through the [Linn House 00:13:30].

Estil Wallace:

Those contributions are what moved the needle the other way towards goodness in the world. So thank you for the service you’ve done over the years.

Dona Speir:

You’re welcome. You know what? I’m just grateful to be alive. It’s the absolute minimal I can do to give back what I’ve been given in 34 years, the minimal, really.

Estil Wallace:

That’s awesome. In the end of your book, you go through and you provide resources, which is I think is really, really cool. You’ve got tips for parents and then you’ve got all these resources, 12 step fellowships. Let’s talk about some of the tips for parents because you’re obviously a survivor of sexual abuse.

Dona Speir:

Sexual abuse. So it’s funny. I went through a lot of therapy for that. I’ve gone through a lot of therapy for that in early sobriety. I didn’t think I was going to put that in my book. I didn’t even know what my book… I just knew I was going to write my memoir and I don’t even know how all that got in, but it did. I just knew I wanted to write something that was my truth that could possibly help other people.

Estil Wallace:

You had the sign?

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

What would I write if I weren’t afraid?

Dona Speir:

Right. What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

Estil Wallace:

What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

Dona Speir:

What would I do if I weren’t afraid? One of the things that came to me while writing and doing a lot of, well, personal work, but also… Anyway, is grooming. Grooming.

Estil Wallace:

So then let’s talk about it a little bit.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, okay. So one of the things about grooming, and a boy or a girl, male or female can be groomed by a predator, okay? So one of the things that has been-

Estil Wallace:

Predators can be anyone.

Dona Speir:

Right. We’re going to get to that. A misconception about predators. That’s what I’m going to talk about. A misconception about, and I’m talking about sexual predators, right, is that, in my generation, especially, you would think of the predator lurking in the bushes, or driving up and snatching children, which of course happens. Don’t get me wrong.

Estil Wallace:

Sure.

Dona Speir:

Right? But in order to be groomed, nine out of 10 times, it’s somebody you and your family knows because they have to get into the family structure if you’re a young person to be able to separate you from your family.

Estil Wallace:

There has to be trust built.

Dona Speir:

Yes, and they have to get within the family. So it’s not going to be the drive by snatcher. It’s going to be-

Estil Wallace:

Your girlfriend’s dad.

Dona Speir:

My girlfriend’s father, right? It’s going to be your next door neighbor. It’s going to be your uncle. It’s going to be the Cub scout den father. It’s going to be the-

Estil Wallace:

A wealthy comedian that befriends your parents.

Dona Speir:

A very wealthy comedian that befriended my parents. Absolutely. They have to get within the family structure. They have to get to be a trusted person to separate the child from the adult.

Estil Wallace:

So how then as a parent do I watch out for someone trying to groom my kids?

Dona Speir:

So there’s a lot of signs of grooming, okay? The last signs is the big ones I’ll tell you about. So there’s a lot of signs of grooming. First of all, one of the other things besides separation, first of all, an adult has no business showing a large amount of attention to a child, unless you’re a parent. But an adult doesn’t. That’s a big sign right there. That’s a red flag. So if you feel that red flag coming up, pay attention, right? They could disguise it as your daughter is a wonderful ice skater. I want to do this for her, I want to do that for her. Yeah. So they’ll disguise it. That’s how it happened to me. One man was a photographer. The other one was a famous comedian. Both of them, “I want to help her with her career.”

Estil Wallace:

With your career, yeah.

Dona Speir:

The first one, I didn’t even want to be a model. I wanted to be a florist. The second one, I was so damaged, and here’s the other thing, that predators can pick up on victims. They can sense it. People in recovery, who work in recovery can sense a victim, right? Not just victim mentality, but a true victim.

Estil Wallace:

Yes.

Dona Speir:

Okay. So there’s a couple other things besides that, grooming. I’m an adult will start slowly touching because what happens is they’ve got to make the child’s body their body, no longer the child’s body. So when I was working with the photographer as a model, “Let’s move your arm here. Let’s move your arm there. Do this, do this, do this, do this, do this. Oh, put this clothes on, put these clothes on.” So my body was no longer my body. My body was our body. Him touching and maneuvering me became normal.

Dona Speir:

The other thing you hear about, they will start showing pornography, right? Very subtly, “Well, here’s some pictures of this and here’s some pictures of models and here’s some pictures of this and here’s a picture of a naked woman modeling and here’s a picture of a naked woman modeling and here…” See, see? 14 years old. “Oh, wow. Really? Oh, that’s beautiful.” “Yeah. That’s beautiful photography. See the lighting on her. Isn’t she beautiful? They make it seem normal. So they normalize the touch and now the pornography. For a boy, “Have you ever seen naked girl? Have you ever seen a naked boy? Have you ever seen people having sex?” They normalize that for a minor. Crazy. You don’t think about that, but that’s how it happens. So that’s another piece of the grooming.

Dona Speir:

Then comes the blackmail stage after an act has happened, “If you tell someone I will blank, I will harm your family. I will expose you because you should have known better.” Or-

Estil Wallace:

You’re a bad kid.

Dona Speir:

You’re a bad kid. Or whatever they do. If you tell I will blank and that’s when your child’s self-esteem and their fear, they might start cutting. Their grades will go down. They stop looking you in the eyes. They stop hanging out with friends. There’s no interest in outside activities. Similar to drug use.

Estil Wallace:

God, it’s heartbreaking.

Dona Speir:

Start using drugs.

Estil Wallace:

It’s heartbreaking.

Dona Speir:

Oh, it is totally heartbreaking. So those are things on grooming. I speak a lot on grooming. I go out and talk on grooming. So-

Estil Wallace:

Thank God that you do.

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

Thank God that you do. This is this entire subject of sex and sexual abuse I think is something that we should talk about more and kind of unpack. So I’ll show one of these tasteful shots from you on the cover of Playboy-

Dona Speir:

Right, so here on Playboy, yet I’m talking about grooming.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. But I got to tell you, there was a time when I was a rotten kid and I was a perverted adolescent boy.

Dona Speir:

Yeah. All adolescents look through the magazine.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, to some degree.

Dona Speir:

The magazines, now it’s the internet.

Estil Wallace:

Right.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

So I’ll show a picture right here of one of your many Playboy covers where, yes, you’re scantily clad or nude, but it’s tasteful. You look beautiful. That by comparison-

Dona Speir:

How do I-

Estil Wallace:

To what’s happening today.

Dona Speir:

Okay, yes.

Estil Wallace:

Because I don’t watch pornography, I gave up on pornography even before I got married.

Dona Speir:

Right, right.

Estil Wallace:

So as a young man or maybe in my late twenties, I kind of gave up and didn’t need it in my life anymore.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

But even in those years, that’s talking 10, 15 years ago, that even then, the availability of what was out there, it has gone so far from tasteful like, “Oh, there’s a nipple there.” To people having sex to-

Dona Speir:

To hitting your two-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:22:04]

Estil Wallace:

[inaudible 00:22:00] there to people having sex.

Dona Speir:

To hitting your two buttons on your computer and you can see live sex acts. Live.

Estil Wallace:

It blows my mind. And we’re beginning to get, I think, some awareness around how much abuse is actually being slipped in to the broad selection of pornography that’s out there. In my mind, gentleman’s clubs, brothels from the old days, I’m thinking like in the Wild West movies-

Dona Speir:

Right. Right, right, right. Right.

Estil Wallace:

There’s some madame that runs the place.

Dona Speir:

Right, with the big floof and feather, right, right, right.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah. In my mind, well, it’s sexual and it’s adult. In my mind, there’s an element of like PG-13 to it. There just is, and maybe that’s my age.

Dona Speir:

So it’s an undertone of sex without sex.

Estil Wallace:

Whereas when I sponsor guys, I work at treatment, I work with young guys, and when we start doing work around sex and around perception, and the lens that a lot of these young guys look through has really been altered permanently-

Dona Speir:

Yes. Yes.

Estil Wallace:

By the modern pornography that’s out there. And it’s really disturbing.

Dona Speir:

Yes.

Estil Wallace:

I mean, at my core, I’m disgusted by the things that are out there for visual consumption.

Dona Speir:

So it has changed. So back in the ’80s, so what was going on then for Playboy could never go on today, Hefner in the mansion and all that.

Estil Wallace:

Oh, the Hefner and the mansion, no.

Dona Speir:

No, that couldn’t be happening today. I don’t think that could be going on today.

Estil Wallace:

Not post MeToo and cancel culture.

Dona Speir:

Right. That couldn’t be-

Estil Wallace:

There’s just no way. No, I hear you.

Dona Speir:

I don’t think that that could be going on today.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah, there’s no way.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, there’s no way. He would be called out.

Estil Wallace:

How long has he been dead?

Dona Speir:

I don’t know. I have no affiliation with them at all, I haven’t for years, but there was no way that he wouldn’t have been called out with the Weinsteins and all of them. He would have been called out.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah.

Dona Speir:

“Have a [inaudible 00:24:01]. Oh, here, you can be in a magazine and then go up to the mansion where only my friends.” What’s wrong with this picture?

Estil Wallace:

Does Playboy even exist?

Dona Speir:

I don’t know.

Estil Wallace:

Is it still a thing? I don’t even know.

Dona Speir:

I don’t know. I think in Europe it is. I don’t know. I don’t know. So when I did Playboy, here’s the deal, when I did Playboy in the ’80s, okay, it was still a little risque, but it was more of the girl next door, right?

Estil Wallace:

Right.

Dona Speir:

And that was the image. I remember, we had come off the ’70s from the end of the Vietnam War where the playmates were going over to say hi to the troops. And the troops had the pinups in their locker.

Estil Wallace:

Right.

Dona Speir:

Centerfolds, Playboy centerfold were different. We were very chosen. We were the girl next door. We were treated very differently. I mean, if you were a stripper, a dancer, anything like that, back then, you couldn’t be accepted in a Playboy. There was none of that going on. And then as the internet came in in the ’90s, 1994, the culture started to change.

Dona Speir:

And one thing about Playboy is, is you got to remember, he’s a First Amendment advocate, right? And he has always changed with the times. He had his Playboy After Dark on TV, dah, dah, dah, smoking his pipe in his robe. And then the ’70s were wild, and the ’80s, and then the ’90s, things went digital. In the ’80s, he went to video, right? He started selling video tapes. He went to cable television. In the ’90s, he went-

Estil Wallace:

There was Playboy channel, yeah, you’re right.

Dona Speir:

Yes, see? And they have always gone with the times, but once they stepped over the internet, everything was on the internet and it destroyed the magazine. There was no going back. I mean, there’s true Playboy fans, but it destroyed it. And also I think today, with any addiction, I know pornography is a huge addiction.

Estil Wallace:

It desensitizes young people and it skews their view of what a healthy relationship looks.

Dona Speir:

Right. Right. And for girls too because they believe they’re supposed to look like that.

Estil Wallace:

And act that way and sound that way.

Dona Speir:

Right, and be beautiful and be perfect and all this. I work with a lot of women and one of the things I tell my women right away when I started sponsoring them, I said if you have Vogue or People or any of the magazines that say, “Look at this, look at this, this is how you should look,” I said get them out of your house. Get them out of your house because those, all you do is go, “I’m less than, I’m worthless. Oh, I need this to be good. I need this to be lovable and worthy and wanted.” That’s all that is. That’s all that is. I said you got to get rid of that for now and let’s…

Estil Wallace:

I heard, and I don’t have all the facts around this, but I heard maybe a month or so, maybe a month or two ago that PornHub, which is a massive-

Dona Speir:

Yeah, they pulled MasterCard and all-

Estil Wallace:

MasterCard pulled their-

Dona Speir:

MasterCard pulled their… Yes.

Estil Wallace:

Their ability to process credit cards until they would remove a large cross section of what had been identified as abuse victims from their site. I don’t know how that’s played out.

Dona Speir:

I think it was abuse victims. And I don’t know how it played out either, but I think it hurt them. I assume. I thought other people took the trend too. I don’t know. I’m not an expert in pornography. I mean, I can tell you about grooming and things like that.

Estil Wallace:

I’m not either. I heard that and it really struck home how incredibly close to this world of sexual abuse all of us are and we don’t see it. Look, no person that I know of talks about pedophilia from a podium or a stage with any type of confidence. 99% of anyone I’ve ever met, talked to, read information from will downplay and say, “This is not something we condone,” people in prison will beat people up and smash people-

Dona Speir:

Right. Right.

Estil Wallace:

But yet one in four women, one in five men has been abused.

Dona Speir:

Right. So here’s one of the things that you have to remember with victims of sexual abuse. Obviously it’s shame, right? And shame is, “There’s something wrong with me,” right? And the biggest thing that they own or I own, shame, is when you are sexually abused, your head says it’s wrong, but your body responds that it feels good. So with those two factors going on, it is a mind twist. So you can’t help your body from reacting.

Estil Wallace:

And now there’s self-hate being introduced.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

Remorse and self-loathing.

Dona Speir:

Right. You see? So it’s like you can’t help it if it feels good, but your head says, “Everything’s wrong about this.” And that’s when you’ve probably heard people tune out, leave their body, and all those experiences. I’m sure being in treatment, you know about it, and that’s how that happens, they tune out of their head. So you understand that a little better?

Estil Wallace:

Yeah.

Dona Speir:

Yeah. It’s you can’t stop the physiological response of your body. It’s like if I pinched you right now, you cannot not make that not hurt.

Estil Wallace:

Right.

Dona Speir:

It’s just going to happen. So it’s really hard for all men and women who have gone that. And I speak about that. I speak and I try to share that. Now that everybody’s uncomfortable…

Estil Wallace:

I think it’s important that we talk about these things. If you could talk to, I imagine there’ll be some young people that watch this, what advice would you give-

Dona Speir:

Young people [inaudible 00:30:25]. I’m an old young people because I got sober at 23, but go ahead. Go ahead.

Estil Wallace:

I got sober at 26.

Dona Speir:

Okay.

Estil Wallace:

But I mean, the people that are just starting out in life and trying to figure things out-

Dona Speir:

Right, younger. Yeah. Yes.

Estil Wallace:

What would you say to them if they’re still looking at pornography and they’re still trying to figure out who they are in the world and why some of the relationships aren’t matching up with what they’re watching on the internet?

Dona Speir:

I’ve never worked with anybody with a pornography addiction.

Estil Wallace:

Gotcha.

Dona Speir:

What I know, okay, this is what I know for myself, as long as I’m seeking outside myself for something, it gives a message to my mind that I am not whole. And if I keep giving that message, I will continue to seek outside myself. So I know that’s really deep on pornography, but the reality is I have all the pieces I need. So we come to the program or we come to your clinic or whatever it is, we come to Cornerstone and we have that hole in our guts, right? And as we heal, we think people are putting it all back together. It’s actually always been there, we just quit doing the things we were doing.

Estil Wallace:

That’s beautiful. It’s about remembering, not discovery.

Dona Speir:

Right. Right. So we stopped seeking outside of ourselves.

Estil Wallace:

Just like everything else.

Dona Speir:

Right.

Estil Wallace:

Okay. Thank you for that. I know those are touchy subjects we just got into. Then let’s shift gears. Let’s talk about recovery today. Have you always been into writing?

Dona Speir:

No.

Estil Wallace:

So when did you-

Dona Speir:

Well, I’ve always journaled. That’s not true, I’ve always written.

Estil Wallace:

You’ve always been a journaler.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, but I’ve never wanted to be a writer.

Estil Wallace:

Well, so then how did you fall into Recovery Today and start writing for them?

Dona Speir:

Recovery Today found me. They wanted me to do their cover. And I did their cover. Right about the time right after my book came out, I think I did their cover. I did a bunch of things and I did their cover. And I think in the interview, I was talking about how I work with so many people. Over the years, you work with a lot of people. I put myself out there because this is the way I look at it. When I first got sober, what if that one woman that I reached out to said no? I wouldn’t be sitting on this couch.

Estil Wallace:

Same here.

Dona Speir:

So when someone reaches out to me, I don’t say no. So I work-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:33:04]

Dona Speir:

… don’t say no. I work with a lot of people, and they ask me a lot of questions. They ask me a lot of questions. I don’t always have the answers, but I have experience. And I was explaining that to the editor who was interviewing me, and afterwards we talked and he said, “Why don’t you write a column? Dear Dona, three decades of sobriety.

Estil Wallace:

So tell me about Dear Dona.

Dona Speir:

Oh my gosh, I get them all. A lot of relationships. A lot of people in 12 step programs. Actually a lot of in other programs, in other programs. Oh, a lot of them, “My sponsor says this, but I want to do this.”

Estil Wallace:

And they write to you and then you answer publicly in the column?

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

How fun.

Dona Speir:

Yeah. Yeah, it is. And I’ll say, Quit shopping to hear what you want to hear.” It’s called Naked Truth, Three Decades of Sobriety. And I’m really bullet. I’m just blast. Because I’m old school.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah.

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

It’s awesome.

Dona Speir:

Isn’t that fun? And now, we’ve done that for a year and now what I’m going to do is I asked him if we could change the format a little bit. And I just had this weird spiritual awakening that the day I went… This is political, but the day I got my shot, my second shot, I was in line and I saw the workers, all the volunteers there running around, checking people’s stuff. And I was in a long, long, long line in the car. And then it made me think about early on during the pandemic of Coronavirus, of all the workers in the hospitals. I remember seeing the pictures with their masks just dented into their face and all the workers and seeing all the refrigerator trucks outside the hospitals.

Dona Speir:

I got teary-eyed and then I went, yeah, but what about the other pandemic that’s been going on the same amount of time this year? What about that pandemic that no one’s talking about yet. What about those people who have been drinking and using for this year alone in their apartment while they’re sitting on their computers that have not come out, that has Door Dash delivering alcohol or marijuana delivering or whatever they’ve got delivered? What about those people who haven’t come out yet? That’s a pandemic. And I was thinking, or not thinking, I know that every time, what are those checks that come, those $1,400 checks-

Estil Wallace:

The stimulus checks, yeah.

Dona Speir:

Every time a stimulus check comes up, the overdose rate goes up. Every time. Every single time. And I’m, that is the pandemic that no one’s talking about. And who is responsible for that, who is really responsible? And I got a fire. I don’t see our government doing a whole lot yet. They’ve got this and they do some vets and they do that and it’s great and everything. But who is? That’s my responsibility.

Estil Wallace:

That’s our responsibility.

Dona Speir:

That’s our responsibility. But I’m speaking for myself. That is my responsibility. And right then I made a commitment for this next year. I’m going to stick my nose out and I’m going to see what people are doing. I want to know what they’re doing.

Estil Wallace:

And you’re going to be doing that through the magazine?

Dona Speir:

Through the magazine.

Estil Wallace:

Awesome.

Dona Speir:

I want to know what they’re doing to make a difference to help people through the drug and alcohol pandemic, right now. I want to know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. How are you making a difference? That’s what I want to know.

Estil Wallace:

Well, I’m going to be following closely because I feel the same way. By turning all of our attention and we rallied as a nation and as a world, we rallied around the Coronavirus like I’ve never seen in my lifetime.

Dona Speir:

Right. Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

And simultaneously we turned our attention away from other very serious public health crises-

Dona Speir:

Yes.

Estil Wallace:

… in the shit storm that’s unfolding before us. The numbers are astronomical.

Dona Speir:

Oh, unbelievable.

Estil Wallace:

Astronomical.

Dona Speir:

Unbelievable.

Estil Wallace:

Suicide’s up hundreds of percent, overdoses are up hundreds of percent.

Dona Speir:

Younger, the people who are drinking alcohol, I read that the ages are getting younger and younger that are sitting home alone, drinking alcohol. Usually when we go into a 12 Step meeting, the ones who are sitting alone are the 40 and 50 year olds. But now it’s the younger ones because they’re just sitting there at home working.

Estil Wallace:

I have another statistic. It’s not pretty. The gal I just interviewed on the episode I just got finished with, her name is Denise Begley from ASU, Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy.

Dona Speir:

Fabulous.

Estil Wallace:

Wonderful, what a saint of a human being. Denise said that in 2020 reports of child abuse were reduced by 95%. 95% reduction in child abuse reporting. Schools were closed. Nobody’s reporting that these children are being harmed.

Dona Speir:

The abuse went up, but the reports went down.

Estil Wallace:

The number of reports plummeted.

Dona Speir:

Oh yeah because the abuse went up.

Estil Wallace:

Yes, it’s just going on unreported.

Dona Speir:

Domestic abuse, everything. All that’s gone on.

Estil Wallace:

Yeah.

Dona Speir:

Absolutely.

Estil Wallace:

It’s going unreported.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, okay, that just-

Estil Wallace:

Largely unreported.

Dona Speir:

I had a-

Estil Wallace:

It’s terrifying.

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

I was talking to Vice Media a while ago and it was the same thing. They had multiple people talking about addiction and there was one guy said, “When this is over, we’re going to be pulling bodies out of apartment buildings that died alone.”

Dona Speir:

Right. Right.

Estil Wallace:

Drinking themselves to death.

Dona Speir:

Right, right.

Estil Wallace:

Fentanyl overdoses.

Dona Speir:

Right. Right. So that’s why I want to do what I’m doing for the next year. It’s going to be boots on the ground. I’m digging-

Estil Wallace:

Oh, that’s what you’re going to call it?

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

Oh, I love it.

Dona Speir:

Yeah, I’m digging. I am going in and I’m digging and I want to know if you’re doing something and if you’re doing it, I want to know about it. And if you’re not, why not? Why not? How come? You’re sober. You’re clean. Why aren’t you helping?

Estil Wallace:

If we don’t, who will?

Dona Speir:

That’s right.

Estil Wallace:

If we don’t, who will? I’d love to be a guinea pig for you.

Dona Speir:

Yeah. You bet. Absolutely. Absolutely, because I know you help a lot of people.

Estil Wallace:

We do our part, we try.

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

We try.

Dona Speir:

Yeah.

Estil Wallace:

And like you, we’re mission-driven. We’re impassioned by this work because we feel the same way you do. My life and life of everybody in our staff, we’ve all been through the same life altering work. We came from nosedive, death spiral to somehow going on to the promised land. How does that happen? What is the thing that happens to people where we not only get sober and become abstinent, but find a whole new way of living where every day is, for lack of a better term, everyday is like Christmas, give or take. Every day becomes this adventure.

Dona Speir:

We call it oranges and orgasms.

Estil Wallace:

I’ve never heard that. Oranges and orgasms.

Dona Speir:

Oranges and orgasms.

Estil Wallace:

Who says that?

Dona Speir:

I do.

Estil Wallace:

I love it. I’m going to start using it.

Dona Speir:

There you go. My new book. I told you, we’re not going to talk about that right now, but you see-

Estil Wallace:

And in the new book we’ll have some fun-

Dona Speir:

… what I’m saying. That’s what I’m talking about.

Estil Wallace:

… some nuggets.

Dona Speir:

That’s what I’m talking about.

Estil Wallace:

There’ll be oranges and orgasms-

Dona Speir:

Oranges and orgasms.

Estil Wallace:

… in the new book. We’ll be watching for the new book for sure.

Dona Speir:

Right, right, right, right.

Estil Wallace:

Well, I can’t thank you enough for taking time to sit, talk with me, obviously about some interesting and heartbreaking subjects. But the work you do is meaningful. Your contributions to society and to recovery.

Dona Speir:

Thank you.

Estil Wallace:

We can’t do without and from the bottom of my heart-

Dona Speir:

Thank you.

Estil Wallace:

… thank you.

Dona Speir:

Ah, thank you as well. I appreciate you being here to interview me and you doing what you do as well. Thank you very much for having me.

Estil Wallace:

All right. If you haven’t got the book, Naked Truth by Dona Speir, check out thedonaspear.com. She’s also available for speaking engagements, recovery coaching, and soon there will be a second book with oranges and orgasms in it.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [00:41:16]

 

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