Clean and Sober: One Woman’s Journey to Recovery

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Say the word addiction to someone. It’s one of those hot words that provokes various reactions. The spectrum is vast. It’s an uncomfortable topic and ignites deep emotions, much like politics and religion do. I don’t have to partake in anyone’s religious beliefs or political views; however, I am a recovering addict. And I am fiercely protective of it.

I’ve been asked many times “so what brought you to the Cape?” Apparently “an ambulance” isn’t the expected answer. But it’s true.

To backtrack a little, I spent all my childhood summers at the Cape. I loved it, until I became a super cool teenager who would rather jump off the Tobin Bridge than get in the wood-paneled family station wagon with my pillow, my Mad Libs and my sisters (plus my mother in the front seat whose arm length was less than efficient for striking distance when we started pissing each other off in the back seat.)

So here I was, at 32, in treatment on Cape Cod. What the fuck just happened?? I’ll spare the details on the shit show that landed me here. The six prior detoxes, the arrests and the complete mayhem I had created in my wake. Although whenever I think of my former self hurling a small pick ax thru the door of my own marital home, I thought how cool Jack Nicholson in the Shining looked while sticking his face thru the splintered door crack. Not so much in reality.

Moving on..

Getting sober was hard. It sucked. Because I had to work at it. I had to be uncomfortable, I had to be sad, and mad and humble. I had to make a decision to get it together, or die. There is no in between with addiction.  I had to try and understand, why me? Why, when raised by two loving parents who encouraged and protected, was I this mess of a person? Why weren’t my sisters this way? The argument that addiction is a choice not a disease amuses me. At no time during my high school years was there a sign-up sheet hanging in the guidance counselors office with, “What do I want to be when I grow up? Let’s see here…..doctor, lawyer, accountant……..um, SCUSE ME? I don’t see JUNKIE LOSER anywhere on this list. Where the sign up sheet for that?”

Because I can tell you. I didn’t choose it. It chose me. I just chose to fight back. Eventually. I share this piece of me with you because being an addict, an alcoholic or however you want to classify yourself is nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s be real. People are afraid of what they don’t know and they don’t educate themselves so the stigma stays alive and fully fueled. I remember when I was growing up, there was a homeless woman in Malden whose skin was like a saddle and she smelled like pee and lived in the train station. Her name was Norma, or “Nawma the Bomba” as we knew her. SHE was a drunk. SHE was an alcoholic and SHE was one of those people. Not me.

The hard lesson is, your neighbor, your boss, your high-powered corporate attorney are addicts. Recovering and otherwise. It’s not a disease that decides to single out bottom feeders who are on skid row. How do you think they got there?

Sixteen years later, I am still sober/clean and continue to live my life through those very 12 steps I used to mock. It was not easy. I had NOTHING when I came here except a green canvas duffel bag and maybe 6 strands of hair and a foul fucking attitude about recovery. They’re really onto something with that whole “One Day at a Time” shit. That is exactly the plan I followed. One. Day. At. A. Time. Sixteen years worth of “one day at a time” with meetings, sponsors and a wide network of support has given me a life that to some may be small and unexciting but to me it is purposeful and happy. It’s custom made for me, by me. I have no shame in allowing people into that part of my life. The dark part. We all need to know that no matter how deep the despair, how dark your days or how hopeless you feel, you are worth saving. You have a purpose here. People love you and rely on you. Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

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About Author

Michelle is originally from Malden, Massachusetts and now resides in Falmouth (Cape Cod) with her two beloved dogs. She has been a hairstylist for many years and works in a popular spa in downtown Falmouth. She loves Crossfit, her dogs (any dogs for that matter) and Oreos.

9 Comments

  1. Hi Michelle, I read your blog. You have give helpful information about coming out of an addiction and dealing with it. One of my friends had been drug addicted, and he had to struggle a lot with this thing. I have seen him suffering a lot. Thank you for sharing this. Keep up the good work.

    • Michelle hatch on

      Hi Joey! I’m so glad my articles are helpful, but to be helpful in anyone’s journey of addiction means so very much to me. I was given words of hope when I was in my darkest days and in our world of recovery, we give them back to those who need them most. Much love to you.

      Michelle

  2. Hi Joey! I’m so glad my articles are helpful, but to be helpful in anyone’s journey of addiction means so very much to me. I was given words of hope when I was in my darkest days and in our world of recovery, we give them back to those who need them most. Much love to you.

    Michelle

  3. Patti McGonagle Amirault on

    Michelle, thank you for sharing your personal journey. You are strong and brave. Addiction is something that impacts so many families, including my own. Until recently it was not talked about or shared. Your words will give hope to many. Fellow Malden girl, I’m proud of you. Keep at it. Wishing you peace and love a day at a time for all the days to come.

    • Thank you Patti,

      I’m so glad this article in particular has reached and affected as many people as it has.
      So many are affected. So few talk about it.

      Thanks for the support!

  4. I knew that you struggled but I was not aware of the details. Sharing those details is testimony to why you succeeded.

    Sharing meant someone else might follow your lead because now they are somewhat educated and that it can be done.

    Your family is amazing. Their posts show the everyday love and closeness. Wishing you continued strength, and happiness.

  5. Right behind ya my friend …. this shit is hard…. feelings are hard… but, if it were easy everyone would be doing it I guess. Thank you for always putting yourself out there…. it helps a lot of people, it helped me. Luv ya. #keepitsimple

  6. tracey mckenna coyne on

    Michelle…glad you are well, I hope you still have that amazing laugh that I remember from high school…share it! Xoxo

  7. Michelle,

    Malden can recover. Anyone can..
    My journey got very dark. It was inside pain coupled with a bit of willingness and a touch of hope. My name is Brian Hogan I am a deug addict and an alcholic. One and the same. It all started with fun but ended in pain. I was hopeless and helpless. I remember norma,skippy, many other alcholics just like me. I have found a way out. One day at a time its been almost 11 years sobee. I had to change…I found aa. Aa helped me find a higher power. Those two coupled together has given me a life ive dreamed of. I have endured a lot in my life but the decision to get sober was the best of my life. I am here for anyone who needs help. Ive been given a gift that in order to keep I must give it away. If you need help were here. Thank you god for helping us all and please help those still suffering..
    Your testimony is a sign of a true champion…A winner …a warrior..
    God bless you
    ..Happy New Year

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