At Herren Wellness, recovery is a part of our culture and many members of our team live a life in recovery from substance use. Meaghan (“Meg”) Carroll is a Wellness Associate, a former guest and true example of the power of recovery. We talked with her about her journey, and what’s it’s like for her living in recovery today. This is her story.
“I have been married to my husband Bobby for 14 years. He’s my biggest support and my best friend, but a few years ago he became extremely concerned with my alcohol use. At that time, we had two girls who were 4 and 2 years old, and I was a stay-at-home Mom. I was drinking every day and I was full of despair, hopelessness, and depression. I thought I could stop on my own, and tried everything. I prayed every day for it to stop but I was in a vicious cycle.
In 2017, I fell into a coma for 8 days due to liver damage, and was told when I woke up that I had acute liver failure and needed a liver transplant.
I stayed in the hospital for 4 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of inpatient physical rehabilitation to learn how to walk again. I had liver ascites, where your body absorbs fluid and can’t release it. I had 5 paracentesis procedures to drain all the fluid in my stomach.
Through that process, the doctors all told me I could never drink again. At the time, I felt I absolutely certain I never would. I was still recovering from the liver condition, seeing a specialist in a liver transplant unit, and I started going to some recovery meetings. I was determined not to drink but as soon as I got the okay from my physical therapist to drive again, that was all it took. As soon as I could drive, I started drinking again.
That old phrase that “you pick up where you left off” is completely true. For 11 ½ months, I drank every day and was once again full of shame, guilt, and hopelessness. I was surrounded by such loving people but I felt completely alone. I was lying, hiding, and sneaking. I was a shell of the person I used to be.
In early December of 2018, my husband returned home from work and found me drunk. That night he reached out to Herren Wellness asking for help. I did not want to go, because I did not want to leave my kids – especially for Christmas – but what good was I for anyone? My husband and parents had a small intervention for me where I eventually surrendered. I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. It’s a cliché, but I really was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Chris and my husband spoke on the phone the morning after my intervention, and Chris asked us to come in for a tour to meet the staff. We met with Lori, toured the facility and to be honest, I thought it was too nice for me, that is how full of shame I was. At one point during the tour, I turned to my husband and said “I’m so jealous of the people in recovery here. I want what they have”.
At the beginning of my stay, I was completely scared and shy, like a dog with its tail between its legs. I was terrified. I did not wrap myself around the community – the community wrapped themselves around me. I didn’t feel I was in a place to give anything to anyone but they all welcomed me with open arms. After a couple of weeks, I finally wanted to be there because I could see other guests and staff that were in recovery and were living a sober life. I remember thinking “how can they live without a substance and be happy”? I really thought there was no way it could work for me.
As the days went on, my life coach was a pivotal aspect of my treatment plan. It was the first time I had ever felt comfortable and safe to open up one-on-one. I trusted the process, took suggestions, and did whatever I had to do because I so desperately wanted to get better.
The first month I was just trying to come to terms with everything, and when they suggested a second month I almost resisted, but staying another month was the best decision I made because that second month was when I felt I gained the coping skills, strategies, and tools I needed to live a sober life.
I remember there was one statement Lori McCarthy [the Executive Director] said in a woman’s group during the second month I was there. I had finally identified as an alcoholic, and I thought “okay, this is what I’m going to be for the rest of my life”. That day she said to us “You’re no longer in active addiction, you’re living a life in recovery.” That was a transformative moment for me. I realized that I could do this, that I WAS a person in recovery, and I could be proud of that.
My husband and children were a part of this process from day one, and were embraced by the whole Herren family. Herren Wellness was so welcoming and loving. It was very special. Even now, it’s still the same way. My kids still call it “Mommy’s Place”. I can’t put it into words how loving it is. The bonds and relationships established during my time at Herren Wellness have been crucial to my sustained recovery plan.
Shortly before I left Herren Wellness, Chris asked me to come work for them as a Wellness Associate. He told me not to rush it, but to call when I was ready. I came to work there as a Wellness Associate two months later.
Being a Wellness Associate is incredible. My main responsibilities are to facilitate in-house meetings, drive guests to appointments, outside meetings, and make sure they have the support they need to be healthy and comfortable. I’m also there as a person in recovery to lend an ear or talk through things when they are struggling. This has been a great privilege and honor. There is a undeniable respect that we all have for each other. It’s what makes Herren Wellness a family.
Today I am filled with so much hope. Through all the sorrow has come unimaginable joy. I am the wife my husband deserves and the mother my children need and love. Two months ago I received the medical “all clear” and removed from the liver transplant list. I couldn’t have imagined, back in that dark place a year ago, that this could be my life.
Herren Wellness is truly a family. I am grateful to be part of it and so grateful to be sober, happy, and healthy. I am also grateful that one of the most important days in my life is my sobriety date of December 5, 2018.”
How Herren Wellness Can Help
We understand that recovery – from anything – is a difficult time full of a range of emotions. We work with guests to create a whole-health action management plan, allowing them to discover and explore many opportunities in recovery.
We help guests build the skills that are essential to a sustainable recovery, including mindfulness practices, self-care and self-esteem skills, maintaining healthy relationships, and digging into the root causes of what led them to become dependent. We guide guests on how to build upon the skills they already possess and help them discover their ‘why’, or what motivates them to maintain a life of wellness and recovery.