Some of the most powerful moments at Megan’s House occur when one of the residents completes the program and celebrates her graduation by sharing her journey with friends, family, and everyone at the house. Recently, a young woman named Allissa became the 92nd graduate of the program. Here is her powerful, inspiring story, in her own words:
First and foremost, I’d like to thank everyone for being here to celebrate this very special day with me. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by everyone who supports me and my recovery. It is incredible and a privilege to sit in the same place as the strong, beautiful, and inspiring women in recovery before me, as well as to know that I will be living with some of them, too. It seems impossible to sum up my journey to Megan’s House and the time I spent here on these pages, but I’ll give it a try, so here it goes.
My name is Allissa and I am a grateful, recovering alcoholic. I was born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts by two loving parents Rob and Colleen. I was the middle child of my two siblings, Robby and Tina. My home life was really good. I never wanted for anything and was always cared for and loved. But while the love I was getting on the outside was unconditional, the love for myself coming from inside was severely lacking.
Growing up my self-esteem was very low. I wasn’t happy in my own skin and didn’t have many friends. I found myself being alone quite often and used to wonder why I didn’t have as many friends like everyone else. I used to sit and wonder what was wrong with me. I started seeking out validation and happiness through other people at a young age because it wasn’t coming from within. I was depressed. But at the time I didn’t know what depression was so I chalked it up to me just being a sad person.
That search for validation and self-love brought me to places I never thought I would go. I thought I had found what I was looking for when I started hanging out with bad influences, smoking weed excessively, and ditching school. I was so wrapped up in having people who wanted to be around me all the time. It made me feel like I was worth something.
But this new lifestyle I chose to pursue came at a price. Stepping out of my comfort zone gave me a lot of anxiety. I coped with this anxiety by drinking. Alcohol took all my self-doubt and anxiety away. I didn’t care what people thought about me and all the negative self-talk and mile a minute thinking finally ceased. I thought I had found the solution I was looking for. I thought I was “happy.” But all that happiness I was feeling was artificial. I still had the underlying issues of anxiety and depression. The alcohol was nothing but a band-aid on a deep wound. And the wound would only get deeper.
My self-medication only worsened once my grandmother passed away. She was someone who I had always been very close to. When I felt as though I faded into the background, she would remind me of how special I was. I could talk to her about anything and she would never judge me. Just give me sound advice and wisdom. Her faith was so strong it was as if I was talking to a higher power already. That was one of the hardest things I had ever had to go through. But today she still guides me.
The missing piece inside me only grew after that. I did not have the proper tools to cope with what I was feeling, so I coped the only way I knew would work and work quickly, and my drinking and partying progressed. I didn’t care about anything anymore.
I started to separate from my family who had loved me so dearly. Even more desperate to numb myself and make the racing thoughts stop. My family started to sense that I was going off the deep end and tried to reel me back in. But it was too late. I was powerless over alcohol and it had taken over. I got really selfish and really ugly. My alcoholic brain and my conscience were constantly at battle with one another. Soon it became too much to handle. My depression worsened and I started to self-harm. Again I was asking myself, “what was wrong with me?”
I eventually landed in the hospital where I got help for my depression and things were good for a while. But my brain was telling me I still needed that validation that I only got from going out and living recklessly and it wasn’t long before my addiction had me in its clutches once again.
I still wasn’t dealing with my deeper issues. Somewhere along the way, I had crossed that invisible line where my drinking went from a nice to have to a need to have. I was physically dependent and at the point of no return. I was powerless. I went into detox the first time thinking that if I could only stop being physically dependent, I could drink normally and all would be well. I didn’t yet realize I wasn’t normal. I had an allergy, a mental obsession when it came to alcohol, and the temporary relief that it had given me. It wasn’t until the second time I went into detox that I realized the only way to get my life back was to not drink at all ever again, that I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable.
I had lost so many things as a result of my drinking; my license, multiple jobs, and the respect of those around me including myself. I was a ghost amongst the living, going through the motions each day watching the world grow and move around me. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so when the doctor asked me if I wanted to go to treatment I said yes.
I arrived at WATC in June of 2020. Planning to stay thirty days then go back home. I thought the week of detox didn’t work but surely thirty days in a program would. At least that’s what my disease was telling me. Luckily one of my clinicians gave me the wake-up call I needed. She told me that going home was not going to work for me. That I needed more time. That is when I first heard of Megan’s House.
Knowing that going home would just put me right back where I started, I reluctantly agreed to go. After all, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I had the gift of desperation and was determined to get it right this time. This was my life and I was done messing around. That same day I told my mother that I was going to further treatment. I was going to Megan’s House.
It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but it was no doubt one of the best. It was the first choice I had made for myself and my well-being in years.
I arrived at Megan’s House on July 13, 2020, nervous as all hell, but willing to keep an open mind. The house welcomed me with open arms, residents and staff alike. I never lived away from home before but I kept telling myself to take it one day at a time and before I knew it, months had passed.
I learned so many things. I learned that I could have a good time sober. I learned that I could make lifelong friends in recovery and build meaningful relationships instead of artificial friendships. I learned that I could be a leader, someone to look up to. I learned that there are healthy ways to deal with my problems without having to take a drink. But most of all I learned to love myself as well as others. I was finally living instead of just existing.
I will never be able to describe how thankful I am to everyone who has helped me, who has shown me real love, and asked for nothing in return. I had spent so much time looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Megan’s House and the program taught me that real happiness comes from within and as long as you do the next right thing, all will be well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and I never will be and the bad days still come. But now I have the tools to face life on life’s terms and not have to have a drink and to appreciate what I have instead of constantly looking for more.
So love others and love yourself. Remember you are worth it. Keep on keeping on, and take it one day at a time because every journey begins with one single step.
Thank you all for being here to share today. I am a very grateful, recovering alcoholic named Allissa.