Meaghan, “Meg” or “Meggie” as many of us refer to her, is everyone’s go to Wellness Associate at Herren Wellness. At 7am she wakes up the guests with a smile and genuine conversation to start their day. She is everyone’s right hand woman… you need something? Ask Meg. When our Executive Director Lori misplaces something? Don’t worry Meg has already found it. When people come for a tour, Meg shows them Herren Wellness and truly encompasses what we represent… healing, recovery, family. You would never know upon meeting Meg that she herself was a guest here two years ago. The place where she so seamlessly helps run is the place she came broken, utterly lost, and terrified.
Meaghan grew up in Seekonk and lived with her parents and younger sister. For her, life seemed normal. But by a certain age she realized that something was going on in her house. Both Meg’s parents struggled with Alcoholism, though it was more apparent with her mother as she was a stay at home mom with the girls. Meg’s mother was incredibly loving and kind, but at times perhaps wasn’t as present as she could be.
“I was in junior high and my sister was in elementary school and each morning we would talk about what happened the day and night before. And for some reason on one particular day I stood in this window and as my sister walked up from the bus down the driveway she looked up at me and I gave her a thumbs down to prepare her. And just seeing her face, the disappointment and sadness. Everyday I would wait in the same window and give her a thumbs up or a thumbs down.”
Meaghan’s parents did find their way into sobriety, and later down the road and played an instrumental role in helping get Meg sober.
By 18 Meg went off to college where she met her husband Bobby. Their relationship started as a friendship and grew to what would become a 20 year partnership.
“When I met my husband he was the person I never knew I needed until I had him. I had the worst self perception. I thought I was the ugliest person, not smart enough, not good enough, my self esteem was non-existent. He was kind and calm and the love he had for me was almost scary to me.”
After September 11th Bobby felt called to enroll in the army and Meg supported him and they packed up and moved down to Texas. Meg was working as a school teacher and enjoyed her job, but she was living in one of the largest Barracks in the country and didn’t know a soul. Her drinking began to escalate quickly:
“When we were stationed down in Texas I was homesick, I didn’t have anyone, and that’s when I started drinking every night. A lot of “yets” started coming true- I would say ‘I drink every weekend but not every night’ and then I did. I started thinking about drinking at work, and then I would drink in the morning because I was so hungover and it would take the edge off. And this went on for years… years.”
Bobby got deployed for a year which resulted in Meg moving back to Fall River. While on duty Bobby suffered a traumatic brain injury which left him debilitated and needing support from Meg. During this time Meg’s drinking had escalated to around the clock which caused strain in the relationship and concern from her parents who were sober.
Meg became pregnant with her first daughter Nora and didn’t drink during her pregnancy which she claims was a “miracle” considering how deep her substance use had been. It wasn’t soon after Nora was born that her drinking started exactly where it stopped. A couple years later Bobby and Meg welcomed their second daughter Maeve who was born with a rare birth disorder which caused several surgeries and hospital stays where Meg would bring alcohol into the hospital to cope. What was already severe substance use escalated under this stress and Meg began to start succumbing to her alcoholism.
Meg herself began to frequent the hospital for drinking related treatments, and in 2017 she woke up in the ICU being treated for liver failure and ascites.
“And this time I was done, the doctors told me I can’t drink, if I have a drop of liquor it will kill me, I couldn’t walk without a cane, I’d fall all the time. This is my life now, I will be sober. They gave me the ‘OK’ to drive and I said I would go to the grocery store and I pulled right into the liquor store. And for 11 months I did that. My perfect scenario was everyone away asleep, I’m by myself with my liquor and I am content and this is the perfect life for me.”
Meg was so deep into her substance use and had no capacity to help herself. Bobby reached out to Herren Wellness along with Meg’s parents and that night they all staged an intervention.
“I knew of Herren Wellness because I would drive by everyday to go to the liquor store and think ‘oh those poor people.’ So Chris and Lori called Bobby back right away and said to get me in that morning. I came for a tour and just felt like a dog with its tail between it’s legs. I was scared and nervous, but at that point I was just so desperate.”
When arriving at Herren Wellness Meg had lost all of her sense of self. She believed that our facility was too nice for her, that she deserved to be at her detox where it was cold and sterile, because that is how she felt inside. For the first couple of days Meg felt a bit timid and lost, but the way Herren Wellness is run encourages guests to be social and start connecting which is imperative for recovery and healing.
“I met a woman named Amy who was a mom and had two kids and we just clicked right away. I remember thinking… oh my God she’s a mom and she’s here and her kids are at home. Because the whole time I was thinking what are they going to do without me, how are they going to function? Honestly it was probably better that I was here… for everybody.”
This is a theme that we see at Herren Wellness and across the recovery field, women with children are more reluctant to get treatment due to guilt over leaving their children… when treatment is truly what the family and individual needs.
Meg began to open up to the Herren Wellness community and accept the unconditional love that we offer to our guests, and that the community offers to each other.
“I think I had in my mind this concept that Herren Wellness would be this cookie cutter stagnant institutionalized type of place.. You see it on tv and hear other people’s experiences, I just got back from detox and thought this is how it’s gonna be. Then I get here.. And wait a second, people are really warm and open and non clinical. The guests were putting up a Christmas tree and decorating. I got to know Chris and Heather and Lori and people were hugging, and it felt like a family right from the get go. I always knew and felt that my family was going to be apart of this.”
The key difference at Herren wellness is the focus on the individual and family. As Meg was being cared for here, Bobby and the girls would come and run around the grounds and became very close with staff. Meg’s family was embraced by the Herren Wellness family and that was crucial for her. As Meg’s healing progressed over the first month it became clear, with the help of her life coach Liz, that more time was needed for her journey at Herren Wellness. Meg was very grateful that she chose to stay.
“I really needed someone to tell me what to do. I thought that after 28 days I was cured… but Bobby told me that he saw the light coming back in my eyes and the second month is when I really was able to start having things click and sink in. They even let me get my daughters off the bus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So it was a very individualized plan for me and my family.”
When Meg left as a guest to return home to her family she began volunteering at Herren Wellness every Friday taking the guests to a meeting. This role developed and Chris eventually asked Meg if she wanted a job here, which absolutely floored her. She couldn’t believe that the person she was when she walked through the door was being asked to join the community that helped heal her and bring her family back together. Not only does Meg find purpose through her job, she is also able to enjoy life with Bobby and the girls, along with her mother, father, and sister who are all on the same path of sobriety.
This past week the Herren Wellness community celebrated Meg’s two year sobriety anniversary with her husband Bobby. Meg shared her story with the community which had a huge impact on those who already knew it, and guests who hadn’t heard it before.
When the floor was open for comments our founder Chris shared:
“Meggie, I love you and your family. When I envisioned my treatment center three and a half years ago I imagined guests recovering and working here as part of the community. You are the thumbs up in the window for every guest that comes through these doors.”
Family Support at Herren Wellness
Family involvement is an important part of our approach at Herren Wellness. Loved ones are encouraged to be engaged and involved in the recovery process so that they too can do the work needed to heal and grow together as a family. We invite you to learn more about the family program and the journey to recovery at Herren Wellness through the experiences of our guests and families. When you come to Herren Wellness, you become part of our family both during your stay and beyond.
Family support is also available from these resources:
If you, or a loved one, are looking for help, please call us at (844) 443-7736, email us at email@example.com, or fill out a contact form. You are not alone.