RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: June 17, 2017
My names Rochelle and I’m an alcoholic. My sobriety date is June 17th of 2017, and every time I say that, even almost five years later, it still blows my mind.
I was the alcoholic and drug addict that everyone lost hope in. The alcoholic that went to jail over and over again, treatment centers over and over again, and gave everyone around me every reason to hate me. Today, I can’t think of a single person that I truly hurt who hasn’t forgiven me, or isn’t back in my life. That is all thanks to the knowledge and life skills I learned from Alcoholics Anonymous, The Jean Marie House, and all the people I met along the way that carried me through.
The best way I can explain my childhood was that I lived a double life. On the outside I was a straight “A” honor student, taking 12th grade classes as a freshman. I lived in a nice house, with a loving family, that did more than provide me with my needs. Meanwhile deep down I was sick, miserable and crying out for attention that I craved for no good reason. I turned to parties, bad boys, lying, stealing and running.
I don’t like to carry on with details about the bad times, because the good are so much better. Everyone knows how to be an alcoholic, but unfortunately not everyone knows how to get sober. I have two children that, for a period of time, their father had taken away from me. I believe that they saved me, and I owe every breath I take to them. In 2020 I got custody back of my kids. I am the parent that does the homework, packs lunches and shuffles to practices and doctors appointments. I tuck those kids into their own beds, in their own rooms, in my own house, every night. If I didn’t have those two reasons to live I don’t know if I ever would’ve won the fight with my disease.
I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have any clothes. I stole candy bars from gas stations to eat. The absolute only things I had were warrants for my arrest …
I know we are taught the material things aren’t what matter. So believe me when I say my mind and spirit are full and thriving. Although it’s important to me to talk about the things I possess, because at one point I had NOTHING. The months prior to my last go at the Jean Marie I was homeless, jobless, and my car was in an impound lot indefinitely. I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have any clothes. I stole candy bars from gas stations to eat. The absolute only things I had were warrants for my arrest and a rats’ nest matted to the back of my head, because I hadn’t washed my hair in so long. I came to Jean Marie from the county jail with nothing but the t-shirt I traded some cookies for. My family was so done with me that they didn’t bother to bring me essentials or money, or even come to visit. The Jean Marie House provided me with food, a bed and blankets, hygiene products, and what ended up being my entire wardrobe for almost a year. All the while these strangers were surrounding me with love that I didn’t deserve. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. I was so wrong.
Everything I believed about myself was wrong. My disease told me I deserved to die and that my kids were better off without me. These women taught me that I was worthy. That I deserved a life and they promised to show me how to live it. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I got kicked out of Jean Marie for making immature and poor decisions, and I landed myself back in county jail, but this time I was several months sober. The seven days I spent in that cell, I will never forget. I had seven days to reflect on my behavior and all of the things I had learned. That’s when it finally made sense to me what I had kept hearing in the rooms. That putting down the substance is only the first step. I had to change everything. From my thoughts to my actions. I knew now that I had to dig deep and understand that if I kept acting like a piece of garbage all I was going to become was a sober piece of garbage. I’m intelligent enough to know that there’s more to sobriety than that. I didn’t want to be a miserable dry drunk. I wanted to really live. Since that moment I haven’t stopped living. I made amends to the house and ended up going back to facilitate groups, sponsor girls, and even spent some time helping Katie out in the office. I was trusted again and earned my place back and I’m forever grateful for that, because I am indebted to that center for eternity.
I have a healthy relationship with a man that isn’t perfect but he tries his freaking hardest to be. Oh, and last year I married him!!!
Today, I have been employed for four years without a break. I successfully completed probation in 2018. I have a driver’s license and credit cards that aren’t maxed out. I’ve paid the same car payment for three years consistently on my cute and reliable little SUV. I’ve lived in my home for three years. I cook dinner every night, and shower every day too! My utilities don’t get shut off. My kids have everything they want, and let’s be honest, more than what they need. I have a healthy relationship with a man that isn’t perfect but he tries his freaking hardest to be. Oh, and last year I married him!!! We added another child to our family and he is the perfect piece we never even knew was missing. He is almost three years old, and I have vowed to never miss a second of his life, or ever miss another moment of my 9 & 10 year old’s lives. I will carry that promise to my grave. I’m a sober wife, mother, employee, sister, daughter, and so much more. I really don’t know how I did it. I don’t have all the answers or best advice to give.
I have to admit that I’m not as active in Alcoholics Anonymous as I was in my beginnings. I worked my butt off in those rooms and spent eight whole months without my kids in my life so I could learn to be the person and the mother I am now. So I could give them the full and busy lives we all have. But I never say no to anything I’m asked. I follow the steps and principles to the best of my ability. I give when I can, and truthfully, probably more than I can. I try to stay humble and teachable. I always remind myself that I am one sip, or one high, away from ruining the life I have worked so hard to build. I follow that Jean Marie Facebook page and applaud all the sober milestones of all the women who came before and after me, and it brings me pure joy. It’s a constant reminder of where I came from and also inspiration for how far I still have to go. I’m typing this at midnight, when I have to get up for work at 5 a.m. because I don’t have any other free time. That’s because I couldn’t possibly have said no.
If there’s anything I can say to a person that’s struggling, it’s simple and cliché – get a sponsor. Do what these people tell you even if it seems silly. Don’t worry about that job you have or apartment you’re gonna lose. Go sit down in rehab for longer than 30 days and soak in every bit of it. Change EVERYTHING you think is right, because it’s wrong. Most importantly, get honest with yourself and with everyone else. If this can work for a loser like I once was, I promise it can work for anyone. I used to have all these goals in life. Financial goals, career goals and material goals. I wanted to appear successful. All of those goals have disappeared. It’s not that I don’t strive to be better, but I really try to focus on living for today. My house can be rather chaotic as a full time working mom, with three kids (and a puppy!) The days aren’t long enough, and I’m exhausted more often than I’m not. I get stressed out and overwhelmed often, but I never pick up. Nothing else matters. When I lay down at night and replay my day, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. You couldn’t have paid me to believe these words before, but today I say them proudly, and I mean it. I love who I am even on my worst days. I made it.