Giving from the Heart

Megan M
Table of Contents
Before I went to treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford, I didn't understand how profoundly and how beautifully I could change.

Megan M.

Giving back is central to Megan M.'s recovery journey.

"It's something we learned in the 12 Steps from the get-go," she says. "Connection happens in community." With that guiding principle, Megan has dedicated her second career to helping women find recovery, as an addiction counselor and certified labyrinth facilitator. She is also a long-time monthly donor to Hazelden Betty Ford.

"Before I went to treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford [in Oregon], I didn't understand how profoundly and how beautifully I could change," she says. "I began giving back financially each month soon after I left there, as a way to help others have this life-changing experience. I don't want anyone to have the excuse that they can't afford the opportunity."

Megan describes her addiction to alcohol as "slow developing." At Hazelden Betty Ford, she learned about the disease, but she says, "It took me a while to buy into the idea. I was 56 years old, and I didn't understand sobriety. I just knew fear and shame, and I believed my life was ruined."

A few things happened early on in her time at Hazelden Betty Ford that changed everything for Megan. 

"I met the other women in the groups," she says. "My experience felt like nothing compared to theirs. Yet I felt immediate kinship. They understood me in a way I'd never been understood before." 

Then Megan participated in a labyrinth workshop that was offered on site. Though she was initially skeptical, she set an intention for herself: to be open-minded. "With each twist and turn, I was revisiting decades of my life," she says. "By the time I got to the center, I had a profound insight: My life wasn't over. I was able to leave my despair and hopelessness there. As I walked out, my pace quickened with a new sense of possibility. There was hope for me!

"I had the courage to do this one more day. And then one more."

The ensuing 16 years since Megan left treatment haven't been without bumps in the road. She and her husband divorced, and she lost a job that she loved. But she continued on her journey, using the opportunity to return to school and embark on a new career path. 

Megan leads groups and works one-on-one with patients at a recovery center for women in California, and she finds her work very satisfying. "Seeing how my personal experience and my training are coming together—and allowing me to help women of all ages…it feels wonderful," she says. 

"Giving back is helping my own recovery," Megan adds. "And I intend to stick with it."

Want to learn more? Select a Tag to explore a particular topic or browse articles.