Michele Monae’s Journey
How Did Your Addiction Journey Start?
I feel I started off as your typical little girl, an only child with a crazy love for Barbies and a huge imagination. I was raised by my mom and my stepfather and was a pretty good child who didn’t get into much trouble. As the years went by and I started to develop into adolescence is when I started to feel alone and unloved. Not necessarily by my parents but by the opposite sex. You see when you’re a teenage girl we start to get crushes and in some cases the high school sweetheart love affair begins. Well for me not so much.
As time went on and I began to date I always gravitated to the jerks and the mean disrespectful ones – you know the “Bad Boy”. In my mind that was love. There was no self esteem or self respect. Later in life I realized, that behavior was due to the daddy issues I didn’t know I had. I was hanging with the wrong crowd, out drinking at 15, running the streets and being wild. At 16 I met my children’s father and got pregnant with my daughter. It was a very confusing time for me and definitely scary. I hid the pregnancy from my mom and at around 3-4 months she found out and it was one of the worst days of my life.
Her disappointment was so hurtful and heartbreaking. In our culture it’s accepted to be just a baby mama. It’s wasn’t necessarily frowned upon to have a child with someone you weren’t engaged or married to so moving forward with my pregnancy wasn’t in my mind such a negative thing. Although I felt it wasn’t negative in the moment it was the beginning of a downward spiral of alcohol a dead spirit, and years of suicidal thoughts.
The bigger my stomach grew the more I prayed to die. I was a naive young girl who had no idea what I was in store for. 2 months after I turned 17 my daughter was born. We moved into our first apartment. It was an old run down ROACH infested mess. I was still in high school, and our school had a daycare so I could take her with me. I loved the program, they took us to our doctors appointments and helped us with baby items and let us take home the extra food for lunch and lord knows some days I needed it because I only received $97 a month in food stamps.
How Did You Cope with the Situation?
The combination of taking care of a baby on my own and severe financial struggle on top of feeling stuck and alone made me start to drink more. At times alcohol was my friend it was the only thing that made me happy. The nights that I couldn’t hang out with my friends because I had no babysitter alcohol was all I had. There were nights I would hang out with my baby and get skunky drunk and stumble home pushing my baby in her stroller. Alcohol was my way to escape the hell I had created for myself. As the years went on I spent so much time hanging out and drinking and because that was the way everyone kicked it no one noticed that some of us were starting to develop habits. If everyone is drinking and smoking, who notices the ones that are over indulging. What I hadn’t noticed was the depression I had fallen into. What’s your depression you ask?
I don’t know, we don’t talk about that in our community. What I do know was the combination of the two damn near ruined my life. I messed up friendships and relationships, I’m told when I’m drunk I’m mean, selfish, and disrespectful. In the late 90’s I was given the nickname Bonequisha; she was my drunk alter ego. She showed up every time I was blacked out drunk. She humiliated me every chance she could get. She said and did things that I could never imagine. I was so tired of waking up the next day ashamed of the stories I was told about my behavior from the night before.
My biological father came back into my life in my 20’s and we would spend time talking and getting to know each other. One day he said something that stood out to me so much. He asked what was wrong with me and why someone so young felt bad about myself. That’s when it began to sink in. Something was wrong with me. In 2007 I decided to spend that year healing myself and with that I wanted to stop drinking. Little did I know I was in the fight of my life. I couldn’t stop no matter how bad I felt about myself my cravings were too bad. Some nights I would pace around and have anxiety trying to talk myself out of going to the liquor store. And every night I failed, some nights I didn’t have any money and I would go through the couches and through my car to find change to buy alcohol.
I went to this particular drive through liquor store for over 10 years straight. They knew exactly what I wanted when I pulled up. My son at around 4 years old began to ask me everyday when I picked him up from daycare was I going I get some JRoget – my drink of choice. I never even considered that my children were watching they were suffering from my disease. There were so many days that I prayed to be normal, I would look at people who didn’t drink and wish I was like them. I couldn’t understand why it had to be me. Why me? All those wasted years of drowning myself in alcohol and destroying relationships in my life. All the years of failing my children and not being the healthy mother that I was supposed to be. Hands down the biggest regret of my life.
What Made You Decide to Take the First Step to Recovery?
In march of 2012 after living in Maryland for 11 years I woke up and decided that I was moving back to California. I gave everything away and we moved back with 2 suitcases no job and no house of my own. I stayed with friends for 4 months until I got a place. Shortly after that we started to notice that my stepfather was losing a lot of weight and I asked him a few times what was wrong, was he ok. He kept saying he had the flu and would get better. Like me he suffered from alcoholism and it took us a minute to realize that this disease may be the problem. He ended up in the hospital and at that time the Doctor said his liver was gone and his organs were failing and sent him home to hospice. I went to visit him in hospice everyday and he passed within weeks after the terrible news the Doctor told us. I watched someone I loved dearly die from the same poison I put into my body everyday. And it didn’t stop me. That’s how you know that alcoholism is a true disease.
Shortly after that I opened my own salon I just wanted I do hair and create a positive environment to mentor young stylists. In the moment I felt I was serving my life’s purpose and had no where to go but up from there. I was still drinking very heavily and after about a year or so of being open, my alcohol abuse started spiraling out of control. I wasn’t getting dressed for work anymore. I was waking up everyday with a bad hangover feeling sick. I wasn’t driven anymore and all of my ambition was gone. Alcohol was covering my life like a huge black cloud. I was having black outs everyday and passing out every night. So many days I thought my son was gonna come in and find me dead. After alllll of these years I had FINALLY hit rock bottom. I started praying hard and crying trying to cleanse my mind and my spirit. I knew that I would never have anything positive in my life until I got rid of this demon… I was tired of trying to hide my bottles from my son. I wanted him to have a better home environment. I felt my business would go down the drain if I didn’t get it under control and that I would never have a meaningful relationship and at 40 I definitely felt it was about time for one.
In January of 2017 I met someone and we started dating. I didn’t want to repeat the same crazy behavior that had ruined all my relationships in my past. I never wanted him to see me drunk acting a fool so I promised myself that I wouldn’t get drunk when he was around. I started taking it one day at a time and if I failed that day I would start again the next day. And next thing I know I was going 2-3 days a week without drinking and I felt so empowered. And it was no longer about not trying to embarrass myself around him. It was about me! Then I was able to go 4-5 days out of the week and that’s when I knew that it was my time. I finally felt that I was strong enough to do it. I’m slowly getting my drive and ambition back the dark cloud is slowly moving away. When I wake up without a hangover and without being sick I feel like a new life is opening up for me. I finally feel free! That’s when I realized that I went through all of this for a reason.
My purpose wasn’t necessarily to mentor and help young stylists it was to help people who suffer from the same disease as me, Alcoholism.
That’s when I opened up to my friends and family about coming out to the world. I’m tired of hiding my truth, and through revealing myself, I hope to bring others like me out of the darkness. Other people who can relate to me, those who live within my culture, and anyone scared to admit they have a problem. I hope they begin to heal the same way I pray to…
Your Advice to People Who Are Suffering from An Addiction?
First thing you should do is confide in the ones that you trust and love and have your best interest at heart. Get help with the issues that have caused you to turn to substance abuse. Find AA meetings or an online community that suffers from the same issues as you. And last but not least a lot of prayer. Whatever higher power that you believe in, every time you feel weak pray.
What is your life’s moto?
My life’s motto is Keep the Faith and focus on your Happiness
Michele Monae is the owner and operator of So Glamorous Salon located in Sacramento CA. She is a mentor for young stylists and teen moms. With her new found sobriety she uses her story to help motivate others who suffer from alcoholism to lead a sober life.
You can find her on Instagram @pink_sobriety
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