SHOW NOTES: Today we have Melissa Johnson joining us on The SHAIR Podcast, the founder of My Truth Starts Here. She’s an advocate for mothers in recovery and a blogger. This is the second time since Melissa started drinking over 20 years ago that she makes a valiant attempt to get sober. The first time was in 2014.
She is a single mom of 2 beautiful children age 7 and 5. On May 18th she relapsed and got her children taken away from her and she is now working towards bringing them back home. Today Melissa takes her through her horrific battle with alcohol and cocaine until she again hits rock bottom and her journey into recovery begins.
Clean Date: May 19, 2015
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are David’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
So Melissa, let’s dive right in. Tell us about how your life is today, your hobbies, and exercise. Give us your normal daily routine including recovery and tell us a little bit about My Truth Starts Here.
Melissa: Okay, well tomorrow I actually celebrate five months sober.
Melissa: Thank you! I drank on May 18 and everything I worked for came crashing down and so basically right now what I’m doing is I normally do a 6:30am meeting. I’ll get up about 6 o’clock, make some tea and then go off to the meeting at 6:30 and then if I don’t work that day I’ll go to a yoga class. I will do a little bit of writing. I like to jog. I have a girl that calls me every day and we spend between 30-45 minutes on the phone just talking about things. She actually has more time sober than me, which is really weird, but she just insisted that I sponsor her and she just really wanted to call me every day so we talk on the phone every day. What else? I have to do drug and alcohol tests so every Friday I have a caller I have to call. If my caller is called then I have to go do a urinary analysis where they send off my urine and they check for alcohol. I know that sounds gross, because when I drank on May 18 I got my kids taken away and I’m already on probation and part of my punishment is to be tested every day.
O: What about My Truth Starts Here? How did you get that started?
Melissa: I’m one of those drinkers where I always get arrested a lot. Like jail is a huge part of my story and I was looking at five years prison and something happened up at the court house. I got switched, the DA switched, it was really weird. I had a new DA that was willing to let me have community sentencing which was like probation, just a little bit more strict and I ran into my old sponsor and I told her that and she said “you’re meant to be doing something else. There’s something that you need to be doing. There’s somebody that you need to be helping. If you’re not going to be inside jail or prison, then you need to be helping somebody” and it just kind of confirmed that voice that was in the back of my head. I’m like “you know what? I do need to be out there and not hiding and not ashamed anymore”. I’ve been ashamed for so long, who I am and what I’ve gone through. I talked about it quite a bit. “I’m going to start a blog, I’m going to start a blog” and finally one day My Truth Starts Here popped up in my head and that’s basically where it came from.
How do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with the higher power?
Melissa: I pray. I guess a lot of it also is going into my AA meeting and hearing other people talk. The meeting that I really, really get the most out of, it’s open topic and it’s early in the morning and you wouldn’t think we had some serious talk in there, but we really have some good, open, honest discussion about alcoholism in our lives and just everything and I walk out of there feeling closer to God and that’s one of the ways I stay connected.
How old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and what was it? Was it alcohol or drugs?
Melissa: No, I drank alcohol and I remember being really young and my dad giving me wine coolers and my parents were young and they were divorced and so we’d go see him every other weekend and I absolutely do not blame my dad. Absolutely not, but I think he thought it was cool. He’d take me and my sister fishing and we would fish and he would give us a wine cooler and I remember thinking how cool it was and how great it was and I would get so excited when it was time to go to the store because I knew I would be able to pick out a wine cooler and pick out which flavor I wanted. That was the earliest that I remember drinking.
O: What do you feel is different? Like specifically, what is different this time around?
Melissa: This time there is a level of acceptance that I cannot explain. I accepted it, I surrendered. It was this huge awakening of like alright, my life will continue, the cycle will continue if I continue to drink and I finally just accepted it because I am so tired of feeling that way. I am so tired of waking up in the morning and just having that feeling in my gut of ugh it can happen again. I feel so disgusted with myself. I’m so tired of feeling like that and what I’ve heard so many times in meetings is you don’t ever have to feel this way anymore if you don’t want to and I absolutely do not want to.
When did you have that spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you actually could recover?
Melissa: It didn’t happen right away, after all this happened because I was still in this fog and still just a mess. It really happened after me and my sponsor a night after a meeting had that conversation where she really said some things. She later on made amends for and she said that she wished she had waited a couple of days and then spoke to me because a lot of things came out that were not meant and she just felt bad for later. The way that I looked at her, I looked at her like she was God, like she had the answer to everything and after that day I was like “you know what? I don’t have to be talked to like that and I can actually stand up for myself”. Also this guy that was trying to have a relationship with me and he won’t listen to the fact that I don’t want to, like I can say no and I just have this whole awakening of “wow, I can set boundaries. I can say no. I can do this”. It’s just really weird how this awakening happened. I think it was when my kids were being taken away, but it was kind of like this huge ‘aha’ moment, like “you know what? Everything is going to be okay”. I’ll be okay. As long as I’m not drinking I’ll be okay.
Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to our newcomers?
Blackout – Sarah Hepola
Melissa: A favorite book? Right now I am finishing up the Black Outs. I really like that. I really like to read spiritual books. I read the Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer.
If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would it be?
SUGGESTION FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Be open minded”
Melissa: It would be to just be open minded. Be willing to try something different. Listening to someone else is difficult, listening to somebody else’s suggestions is not fun because you know, as most alcoholics we are, I don’t like to follow the rules obviously. That’s why I’m in jail all the time. We don’t like to follow rules, but just be open minded because obviously the way that we’re living beforehand is not working so maybe work on trying some suggestions from somebody else. Get a sponsor. Start working the steps.
What was the best suggestion you ever received?
Melissa: It’s not necessarily a suggestion, but kind of just people telling me “you don’t have to feel like this anymore if you don’t want to” and at first I didn’t really understand. You just don’t have to feel like that. Whenever you’re hung over and you’re feeling like crap, you forgot where your car is and all that stuff and you forgot what you did last night, you don’t have to feel like that anymore. That is a horrible feeling, that’s a horrible place to be and I just like that.
Website: – http://www.mytruthstartshere.org/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/SoberMJ
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mytruthstartshere/?fref=ts
Thanks again for your SHAIR Melissa!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.