I remember reading A Year Without Alcohol by Kelly Fitzgerald, now Kelly Junco, and thinking “Holy shit, this girl has some balls”. It was 2014 and I was around three months sober when I read her blog sharing about her year without alcohol and how great she felt now that she was sober. She even posted pics of herself all wasted. I couldn’t believe someone could be so brave, I was shocked and inspired. She was the first person I saw that was recovering out loud, like REALLY loud. There was no way I could ever do that, but I thought she was amazing and I wanted to be just like her. Except for the recovering out loud part.
I followed her though out my first year sober all the way up to my relapse on May 18th, 2015. It was soon after my relapse that I knew in my heart and mind that I had to share my story. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, being so open and honest, how would people respond? What would they say? But, I remembered Kelly and how she did it and if she could, maybe I could too. On October of 2015 I had the chance to meet her In Washington D.C. for the Unite To Face Addiction Rally. I kind of felt like a groupie lol.
I found that after I started sharing my story openly I began to connect with so many other women sharing their story too! I found Holly Whitaker creator of Hip Sobriety and I knew I had to contact her. We had a brief phone conversation where she assured me I was on the right path and if I needed anything from her to call her but that I was already doing an a great job. Who would have guessed a few months after that conversation she would ask me to be on the HOME podcast! Craziness!
Since then I have connected with so many women, some in recovery, some still trying to figure out their path and some have just been there for me when I was struggling. The online recovery community has been such a huge part of my journey. Not only do I have friends that are near by but I can go to any part of the country and have a friend that would probably make me coffee and let me sleep on her couch if I asked. And I would do the same for them in a heartbeat!
So when I heard that there would be a She Recovers conference in New York City I knew I had to be there. 500 other women like me?!?! As Dawn Nickel the creator of She Recovers says “We are all recovering from something” and she’s right. We are all recovering from something, we just don’t always talk about it. But here was our chance to come together as one, to talk about the hard stuff, to be with others that truly get it. To finally meet the ones that we’ve only connected with and admired from afar.
What A Magical Experience It Was!!
I got to see Kelly again and this time I didn’t feel like a groupie, it felt like old friends catching up. And I got to finally meet Holly. I got to meet Laura Ward of Quit Wining another mom in recovery that I follow and look up to. I met sober bloggers that I’ve been following and admiring finally IRL! I met Heidi Smith creator of Addicitive Designs, another one that I totally love and look up to. I met so many of the women that I’ve only chatted with on Instagram. In case you didn’t know, there is a HUGE recovery community on Instagram. It was incredible! I had multiple women ask how my son is doing, and they genuinely care. It felt like a room full of friends that had know each other forever. Not only that but we got to hear Glennon Doyle Melton, Gabby Bernstein, Elizabeth Vsargus, Elena Brower, Marianne Williamson, and a few other amazing ladies.
I’m still amazed by it!!
One of the best parts of the conference was on Friday evening when it had just began, I was filling up my water cup when a woman slowly walking by asks me if I’m Melissa. I told her I was and the look on her face makes me cry just thinking about it. She goes into saying how she has followed my blog and listened to my episode on the podcast and how much it has helped her. I wasn’t expecting that and I’m at a loss for words to describe how her words made me feel. Full of gratitude. That right there is why I do this, if my story helps even one woman have hope then it’s all worth it. My biggest fear when coming out with my truth has been the fear of being judged, but when I hear someone say the things she said, I know I’m on the right path.
I’m never alone!
There just aren’t enough words to describe the experience. The conference reminded me that I’m never alone on this path, ever. None of us are ever alone. And when we speak our truth, we give others the courage to speak theirs too. Just like Kelly (The Sober Señorita) did for me. I will be forever grateful for the women that came before lighting up the path letting women know it’s ok to own our stories and tell it like we don’t give a f^*k what others think. Can’t wait for the next conference!!