The Chaisson Family Foundation
Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am an alcoholic/addict. At the time of this writing, I have 34 days sober after suffering a brief relapse following the sudden passing of my mother this past April in a last ditch, desperate attempt to try to cope with my enduring grief.
I had been in and out of recovery for the three years prior to my relapse, however addiction has played a central and commanding role in my life story throughout its entirety. I grew up in a volatile, alcoholic home which unquestionably planted the seeds of trauma that would eventually lead to me becoming an individual who struggles with Substance Use Disorder. Yes, I have gracefully accepted the fact that I am an addict, and although it is not my fault that I have this disease, it is my responsibility to recover from it and thus break the cycle of inter-generational trauma for my childrens’ sake. I am Jennifer, an addict, but I can finally say that thanks to my recovery journey, I am also so, so much more.
I am Jennifer, a courageous yet vulnerable mother of two young daughters. Desperate to shield my own children from ever living with their own terrifying reality of this disease, I know that starts by “putting my own mask on first” and facing my own reality. Taking care of my girls begins with taking care of myself first.
And that starts right now.
I am Jennifer, lifelong learner. I believe that every person you encounter is put in your path to teach you something that you were meant to learn - good or bad. Watch. Listen. Observe. Absorb. Take what you can from them and learn the lesson; use it to your benefit. Most importantly, surround yourself with people you emulate and study their every move.
I am Jennifer, mad scientist. Botany is my hobby and propagating houseplants is my passion. It takes an intuitive understanding of the unique needs of the plant as well as painstaking attentiveness and patience to foster and grow new plant life into this world. There is a theory that plants register measurable reactions to our emotional states referred to as “The Backster Effect”, and at the height of my apathy and addiction all of my beloved plants were dying around me, just as I was around them. However, I am a believer in the Buddhist principle of “samsara” which is the continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth without beginning or end, for all living beings, plants included. I believe we are repeatedly taught the same lesson until we finally get it right… whether it be in this lifetime or the next.
I am Jennifer, eternal optimist. There is a saying that “destruction always precedes creation”. In order to build something new, you must destroy something first. The universe has brought me to my knees and stripped me of everything I once valued, and I find myself not the least bit anxious and scared, but instead positively thrilled at the thought of a clean slate on which to build - to create - the life I truly want to live, not one where I just simply exist. If the past few months has taught me anything, it’s that life is short, so do what makes your soul shine. Let go of attachment to your current experience of life and trust the process: the universe has a plan for you.
I am Jennifer, and I am living with liver disease. I recently found out through testing that I have liver disease (testing is ongoing), caused by my many years of reckless and excessive alcohol consumption. Healthwise, I feel just fine, and I have minimal symptoms other than some fatigue and lots of unexplained bruising. However, I know better than most that cirrhosis is an end game for those who continue to drink through their diagnosis, as my stepfather recently battled this disease. Our family watched him go from stage one to end stage (stage four) in less than two years and he was on death’s door before his miraculous, life-saving liver transplant. I am okay and will continue to be okay as long as I don’t drink, don’t pick up, and I know that all I have to do is worry about today and I will be just fine. I’ll worry about tomorrow when I get there. What’s truly mind blowing is how quickly my priorities have changed and how differently they look now since I got the news. I used to want so much from this world, used to think the world owed me something. Now, just being here to watch my girls grow up is all I hope and pray for each day.
Lastly, I am Jennifer, a lover and a fighter. I love my recovery and I will fight for it with everything that I have. Every single day that I wake up sober, I am reminded of the many gifts that are being bestowed upon me as I continue to grow and gain clarity: trust, empathy, compassion, loyalty, honesty, patience, and the ability to listen, really listen to others. I am so fortunate and humbled to be standing where I am today.
This time around, I am eternally grateful that I have the unwavering support of the recovery “A Team” by my side to guide me every step of the way through my journey. Without the generosity and encouragement from the extraordinary individuals at the helms of The Chaisson Family Foundation, LIV Recovery Homes, Charles River Recovery, and Aftermath Treatment Center I don’t think I’d have gotten this far on my own accord, especially in the wake of my mother’s recent passing. Getting sober is hard on a good day, but when you’re still coping to comprehend the biggest loss of your life, it’s especially daunting.
There is a saying in recovery that “the opposite of addiction is connection”, and I am both honored and humbled to have connected with these individuals who both believe in me and inspire me to give it my all each and every day. Because of these connections and the many others that I’ve made throughout my recovery journey, I know that help is always just a phone call away. I know that I have the courage and fortitude to see this journey through. I know that I am worthy of all that this beautiful life has to offer. And I know that these incredible people will have my back for the long haul.