I grew up in a family where everybody drank and nobody seemed to get in trouble for it. And then there was me. I was in my mid-30s and was just going along, doing what was expected of me. I graduated from college. I had good jobs. Then my mom and my sister both died and I married a very abusive man. I had no coping skills, and alcohol became my coping skill.
I lost my mom, I lost my sister, I threw out my husband, and I just drank and acted inappropriately—I drove drunk and did things that I wasn’t raised to do. If I had enough money for a bottle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes I thought I was having a good day. I got two DUIs and ended up in jail. And even that didn’t stop me from drinking.
I hit my bottom in October of 2003. I was living in what I would call a “crack house.” Everyone in the house was using. I was unemployed and unemployable. I had nothing. I had no license, no job, no family, no money. Nothing. I was just totally mentally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt. When I was sitting in detox and had no other place to go, a group of people from Phoenix House came in and talked about their year-long treatment program. I knew a 30-day program wasn’t going to do me any good. I spoke with a couple of women afterwards and said, “I think this is what I need to do.”
The gentleman driving me to the Phoenix House in Exeter, Rhode Island, said, “You seem so calm. Most people are anxious and fidgety because they’ve heard it’s such a tough program.” I said, “I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
I had been in five other treatment centers before I ended up at Phoenix House. When I went to Phoenix House I felt like I was home—like I could finally learn and help others. I was given the opportunity to get my life on track. I stayed in treatment because I was in the right place at the right time and my higher power said, “I think you need to be here.”
Instead of doing it “Lynne’s way” like I used to, I did the things that were suggested to me. When I completed treatment and was told I should move to a sober house, I moved to a sober house. When the sober house told me I had to go to a lot of meetings, that’s what I did. I got really involved in AA and service and helping other people. Right at my two-year anniversary of sobriety, I was in Florida and I decided to have a phoenix bird tattooed on my back—because Phoenix House had my back when nobody else did.
I haven’t had a drink in almost nine years. I say it’s not just good for me—it’s good for the whole world, because the world’s a much better place when Lynne doesn’t drink! I don’t want that life back anymore; it sucked! I wanted a new life and that’s what I got. I’m now working as a paralegal and getting my master’s degree online in substance abuse treatment. I go to a lot of meetings. I have a sponsor. I sponsor other people. My whole life pretty much is going to work, being involved in recovery, and socializing with people who are also in recovery.
I can’t even imagine not having gone to the Phoenix House. Where would I be? I would probably be dead or wishing I were dead. But now, life is good. It’s really good.