This weeks ‘Recovery Rocks’ interview is with the fabulous Jillanna D. Mercer (38). She manages to be a mother of three children while working as a hair stylist at Wingard Salon in Champaign Illinois.
One of the first things you notice about Jillanna is the word ‘Sober’ tattoed boldly on her arm.
She’s serious about recovery.
Her life is full with her family and career, the only helping hand she requires now is some good coffee.
Her interview is breathtakingly honest, Jillanna has been fearless in describing how low her addiction took her. She lays bare the reality of being a young mother in addiction and how close she came to loosing her children. Thankfully she turned herself around.
If you are a mother struggling with addiction or you know someone who is. Then you need to read this.
Sobriety date: 08/10/09
Recovery Rocks Interview
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I remember the exact moment I hit rock bottom. I can describe the room I was in, the time of day, and what I was wearing. I was 7 months pregnant and in a state run rehab. I had no money, no job, no car, no friends or family willing to talk to me. I was homeless. I had lost my rights to my oldest son and hadn’t seen or talked to him in months.
I was pretty sure I was going to lose the rights to my unborn child. I had been in the rehab a few days and had gotten to know some of the women. Most were either coming from jail or going to jail. None of them had any relationship with their kids. A lot of them had drug and alcohol related illnesses, like hepatitis and HIV.
All the women looked rough. Hardened.
Some didn’t even have their teeth. I looked around and saw what my peer group had become. I could not continue down this path any longer. I knew I had to stop and not ever, ever, ever use again.
2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?
I had spent my few days there also reading recovery literature. I recognized that a power greater than myself was necessary to make any permanent change. But I did not have a clear understanding of how to do this. I found a woman who had struck me as somewhat spiritual. I asked her to pray with me. We went into a small unused office and she prayed for me. We both cried a little. I can’t really tell you what words she used but it was a plea for help. I felt an indescribable peace come over me. I believe this was my ‘spiritual awakening’. Since that moment I have found the strength to overcome any urges I may have to drink or drug.
3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Honestly, they were pretty rough. No one trusted me. No one believed I could stay sober. No one could appreciate the changes I could feel inside that this time was different. My biggest struggle was my pregnancy. There was a very real fear that DCFS would take my child. I was honest with my doctors and was preparing myself for the worst. No one around me could really get excited about the baby because they too knew she could be taken into foster care and they were concerned I would not stay sober if that happened. I kept to myself. I did a lot of recovery reading. I prayed a lot.
4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
There are so many!
The very best thing is I am a get to be a wonderful Mom. My relationship with my first child has been restored. The first year I was sober, I was not allowed to see him. But I could call. I called every night. Gradually I was allowed short visits and now I have just as much time as any other divorced parent. My second child, the one I was pregnant with when I got sober, was not ever involved with DCFS. She is happy and healthy. I also have a third child. I absolutely love being a mom to my kids.
I also went back to school to get my cosmetology license. I now am a self-employed hair stylist.
Finally my relationships with my friends and family have been restored. I am now trusted and appreciated.
5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?
My first rehab was in 2007. I could stay sober for 3 months or maybe even 6 months but then I would relapse. I would be triggered by something and then start obsessing about the drugs. I felt I HAD to use. I did not feel I had a choice.
Now I know that those feelings of wanting to use will pass. Before I thought I would be struggling with them forever. I never realized how quickly the intensity of wanting to use can go away. The same is true for how mad I get at someone or how sad I feel or how hopeless a situation seems. This too shall pass. Without a doubt it is the most valuable tool I learned.
6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
It is amazing to me how much easier my life got once I stopped self-destructing. Just by doing the right things, I eliminated a ton of stress. No more worrying about hurting people I care about, or going to jail. No worries about losing my job or my boyfriend finding out I cheated on him. No hangover headaches or overdrawn bank accounts.
I have learned that my life is pretty simple. There is very little I can actually control. If I make the very best decisions I can and have some faith in God, everything works out.
7) What are your favourite recovery slogans?
One day at a time. This too shall pass.
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Today I live a life I never thought possible. My whole life I felt uncomfortable in my skin. I was filled with depression and sadness. Those feelings led me to drink and drug and that led to utter chaos. There are days I am still in shock that I am sober.
I am totally amazed that I can be so happy. Not that I don’t have problems or struggles, but I feel I have been giving the tools to live my life. The best part is that I know my feelings are genuine. Happy or sad, they are mine. And that totally rocks!
If you are clean and sober and would like to take part in a Recovery Rocks interview, please message me through my Facebook page. I would love to include you!