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Today, I am honored to introduce you to Mary Beth O’Connor. Mary Beth’s Memoir is entitled ‘From Junkie to Judge.’

Mary Beth is a woman in long-term recovery, courageously sharing her incredible story from a traumatic childhood, a dangerous substance use disorder by the tender age of 17, to a full life, including a career as a judge.

Listen to Mary Beth’s vivid description of her reaction to her first drink compared to her friend. It is a familiar story for people with this no-fault disease.
Mary Beth shares the patchwork of recovery services she engaged in to heal.

Meet Mary Beth.

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See full transcript below.


You’re listening to the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast a place for real conversations with people who love someone with the disease of addiction. Now here is your host, Margaret Swift Thompson.

Intro:  Welcome back! Buckle up! Today’s guest in my mind is a walking miracle Mary Beth O’Connor the author of her memoir ‘From Junkie to Judge’ shares the rapid progression of her addiction from a young age. This story demonstrates with such clarity the truth that addiction does not discriminate. I appreciate how Mary Beth’s recovery journey has evolved through taking what works and letting the rest go and her drive to find wellness has been in the forefront. Please meet Mary Beth O’Connor.

Trigger warning: this episode involves discussion of IV Drug use and trauma.


The Embrace Family Recovery Podcast

Margaret  01:25

 I am thrilled to introduce to you all, Mary Beth O’Connor, who is new to me. But I am so excited to read your book, which was recently released, the title grabbed me to begin with, which is from ‘Junkie to Judge.’ And I want to welcome you and ask you to introduce yourself as you would to an audience that may not know you yet.

Mary Beth  01:53

So yeah, the full title is ‘From Junkie to Judge: One Woman’s Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction,’ because that’s really the whole story, and I really wanted to relay that in the memoir. 

Sometimes I feel like memoirs sort of jumped you in the middle. Oh I had this substance use disorder, but there’s no context. And for me, in particular, because I picked up alcohol at 12, meth at 16, and was shooting up meth by 17. I really wanted to show why that seemed like a good idea, why that progression was understandable. And so, I do start with my family situation. I wasn’t really bonded to my mother. well, she wasn’t bonded to me. She could be violent but really, when we moved in with my stepfather, things escalated because he was exceedingly violent. And so, for me that picking up it seemed useful in the moment, it seemed like it was helpful, but it turned on me really fast. And so, my addiction was really underway. I was in really bad shape, even by the time I graduated from high school.

Margaret  02:52

So, I want to take you back Mary Beth, and just speak to that point of trauma came first. But at 12, there was something within you that said, this feels like a good option, either after you’ve felt how it felt or before so you can you remember, I mean, obviously hindsight is what it is. We’re far, far removed from 12. But how did that work for you? Do you remember it?

Mary Beth  03:18

Yeah, yeah. I mean, my girlfriend came over on her banana seat bike with Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine in her little white basket on the front. And we drank the Boone’s Farm in Flintstones glasses that used to hold grape jelly like that’s how young we were. And I do you remember drinking it. I felt like I could sort of take a deep breath. I remember sitting on the floor with her giggling and laughing, and being silly. And it just felt like I was lighter. Like I was able to sort of connect with her be more free. And I noticed that in the moment, I noticed this is great.

Margaret  04:00

Okay. And I’ve heard that from so many people with substance use disorder, right that their first memory was tellingly transformative, it gave them a freedom or a breath or a sense of I could be something different than I thought I could be. Does your friend remember it the same way?

Mary Beth  04:17

No, she doesn’t remember really at all. It’s vague to her. And her reaction was very different. Because nurse was like, well, this was fun. You know, okay, fine. But for me, it was when can I get more like, you know, how can I repeat this experience as soon as possible, as often as possible? My mind was pretty hyper focused from the beginning.

Margaret  04:39

And thank you for that. I think that really helps family members understand the difference for someone who has the genetic predisposition, the disease, whatever we see it as in their mind that if flips that switch for those people differently than someone who does not have it, which takes away a lot of that judgment. It is physiologically for it or was apparently for you than your friend.

Mary Beth  05:02

Yes. And it’s clear from the data that people with trauma histories have, you know, a four to six times likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. We also know that people with mental health disorders is that often arise in their teenage years, people self-medicate. They don’t understand that that’s what they’re doing. But there are a lot of impulse reasons for people to start doing it and repeating it. I mean, the problem isn’t the doing it. It’s the repeating it, repeating it, repeating it. And for me, it was something that was on my mind, often, and I was always trying to think when’s the next opportunity? When can I create the next opportunity?

Margaret  05:40

Yeah, that really takes me back to my youth of, I’m a recovering food addict. And my food was my go-to I remember having friends that I specifically looked to because I knew I’d have access to things I wouldn’t have at home, I would always be plotting when I would have a chance to eat, the way I loved to eat, whether someone was around me or whether I could do it even better by myself. So, you share that through high school, your vigilance or desire to find alcohol was pretty consistent. But you also shared, you started using other substances.

Mary Beth  06:16

Yes, weed/cannabis was around this is the mid 70s, and that was readily available. I started doing pills, there were some pills that were sold, but also people stole them out of medicine cabinets. But then when I was 16, I picked up meth it was really just starting to flood the area of where I lived in Central Jersey, it was a new opportunity. It had been around intermittently, but not in the volume and regularity that it came around at that point in time. And so as soon as I did meth, it really trumped all the other drugs for me, and it quickly became my drug of choice. And I did the other drugs less than less, because what I really wanted was the meth.

Margaret  06:57

At what age?

Mary Beth  06:59

At 16 I started using it within six months at 17, I was shooting up.

Margaret  07:06

Okay. Again, for families who don’t understand the pull, which I think you’ve explained really beautifully. This part of you just was after it needed it. At 16 and 17, how are you getting it? How are you finding it? How are you paying for it? You know, like, I look at it as we are resilient, capable, tenacious human beings, who if that’s what we think we need to survive, to do to survive, we’ll do it. But to the average person that can’t get their head around. How did you at that age, do this?

Mary Beth  07:39

I mean, I was a pretty, young woman. And I looked older than I was, and I had been hanging out with older guys for quite a long time. And so, I had pretty easy access. Sometimes I did buy it, I had a job when I was 16. But often it was given to me either through friends or someone I had a sexual relationship with. And so, it was readily available to me, it was just around.

Margaret  08:05

Okay. And you went from using it in different ways to eventually not even that far down the road, intravenously using it?

Mary Beth  08:14

Yes. And once I shot up, I wasn’t interested in doing it any other way. I mean, that was what I wanted. And there is also that ritual aspect to shooting meth, that sort of reinforces the chemical bonds. But it’s just, it was a better rush. I didn’t have to worry about my nose bleeding and all the other things, although, you know, develop its own problems, you can’t hit a vein, and you get abscesses and bruises, and all those other things. But yeah, I was using IV meth regularly. My senior year of high school, I was using it almost every day.

Margaret  08:45

I will never ask a woman her age. Do you look at pictures of yourself at that age with retrospect and have ache for the pain that, that young woman was in that, that was okay for her or necessary for her.

Mary Beth  09:01

I mean, when I wrote the memoir was sort of a time of revisiting all of them and remembering how deep the pain really was. And it was really also sympathy for my younger self about the bad choices. Like too many boys and men, right, which is a common goes along with early drug use for many women. And that was something I wouldn’t say and shame about but some regret. But I really think when you put it in context, it was an understandable behavior. And most of my reaction to the pain to the trauma was self-farm reactions, right? I wasn’t really hurting anyone else very often. I would steal drugs from drug dealers sometimes, but otherwise, I was really hurting myself because I was trying to get the relief that I thought was helpful, but in reality, it had already become my number one problem. I just didn’t realize it and so that’s the trick, right? 

Margaret:  Yeah 

Mary Beth:  It fools you; it works in the beginning. I wouldn’t have kept doing it. If it didn’t seem helpful in the beginning, but it turns on you. There’s no neon sign that says today’s the day you know, if you don’t stop today, you’re going to have a substance use disorder. There isn’t any sign. It’s a gradual thing. Or really for me, it was relatively quick, but still, it takes you by surprise, and then you start having the consequences. But your brain chemistry says, oh, don’t think about those consequences. Just find me more. Find me more, find me more.

Margaret  10:27

Was anyone around you scared for you concerned about you? Were they speaking about what was going on to you at that point?

Mary Beth  10:34

I will say that the other druggies in my hometown would speak to me on occasion, especially in the beginning. They would you know, Mary Beth, you really need to go home and sleep. Mary Beth, you’re doing too much. My parents didn’t say anything. I don’t think they knew how bad it was. But I can’t imagine they didn’t know that I was using something. But I was actually cautioned by my drug friends repeatedly that I was just out of control. And I needed to get a grip. They didn’t say stop. They’re saying use less, you need to use less.

Margaret  11:07

They were worried about you. 

Mary Beth:  Yes.

Margaret:  Interesting. So where does it go from there? Like the intensity, the ramifications, the consequences, it’s progressing.

Mary Beth  11:19

So, I did go to college. By the time I was, you know, really bad on meth I had already basically been accepted to college, right? Because it was my senior year. And so, I came to California from New Jersey, and I did better my first three and a half years and I emphasize better. I mostly used alcohol; I do pills once in a while. And occasionally Coke or you know, some hallucinogenic, but I mostly kept it to the weekend, sometimes it rolled into the week, but it was a lot better. 

But I had a life threatening multi assailant rape in college, and then I moved in with a violent boyfriend, and I just couldn’t hang on, you know, even to the degree that I was hanging on. And in January of my senior year of college, I started using meth again. And I didn’t go and get sober until I was 32 years old. So, it was basically another 10 years.

Margaret  12:10

I am so sorry for the assault and the trauma that you just shared. We hear a lot about people trying to figure out the chicken or the egg, right? Like, what came first? Do you think about that? Do wonder about that? Do you accept that it was this culmination of many things and a trajectory that was triggered by traumatic events to get you back to using to that degree? Yeah,

Mary Beth  12:41

Yeah, I didn’t have strong skills as far as self-care. I had tried to go to therapy a little bit. But I was really disconnected from myself, I didn’t have a way to describe what was really going on with me emotionally, I didn’t even have a good way to explain events. I remember the top tier events. But I didn’t appreciate the more subtle things like the lack of connection to my mother, like I did not until I was older, fully appreciate the impact of that on my history, and my trajectory, and feeling alone. And when my stepfather got violent feeling like I had nowhere to turn all of those things. 

But I knew for a long time that my picking up drugs was related to the trauma. But I really believed that I had three choices. I could either use drugs or commit suicide or be institutionalized for some kind of a mental breakdown. Like I honestly believe these were my choices and drugs was the least bad choice. Of those options drugs was better. And I believed that for a long time, I really didn’t think there was any better life path for me.

Margaret  13:47

And with that truth, Mary Beth you’re still a go into college, continuing to live? And is it fair to say that you believe your us kind of allowed you to do that versus the other two alternatives that you thought were possible?

Mary Beth  14:04

Yeah, I mean, the first couple of years of college were of, you know, between 12 and 32. They were my best years, but I still had a lot of crazy behavior. I mean, when I did use on the weekends, I used to excess, and I did crazy things. I mean, one time I literally hung out of the second story window, and I only my fingers were inside on the window sill, and I couldn’t get back in because I didn’t have the upper body strength. And I would just I was never still chaos. I was still doing things that were sort of bizarre and out of control. I just wasn’t using as much. So that came through all the way and I just felt like this is my life. Sometimes I will look in the mirror and I would say you’re poisoning yourself. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate at times that my drug use was a source of misery. I mean, it can always appreciate it sometimes I would think I lost that job for oh, they were jerks. You know wasn’t me not coming to work or not focusing but I had in general Understanding that my drug use was out of control and it was interfering with my life. I just didn’t see a way to stop.

Margaret  15:09

But you got to that point, at some point, you said 32, I believe. 

Mary Beth:  32

Margaret:  You stopped. So, take us to that point, what happened? What was the turning point for you? What help did you get?

Mary Beth  15:23

So, at 32, I mean, I was having physical problems, my body was responding negatively to all those many years of meth. And also, I was really emotionally debilitated, hopeless. I had worked my way down the corporate ladder, every job was less money and less responsibility. And I held it for less time. So, when I got laid off at 32, again, laid off really fired. I just, I couldn’t even put another resume together. Like that’s how deeply, deeply exhausted I was. And my partner was ready to throw me out. And so, it was really a culmination of all of those things that cause me to really say, okay, well, what if I go to rehab, maybe I ought to look into rehab.


This podcast is made possible by listeners like you.

Bumper:  Mamas this is a call out for you. My friend Sandy Swenson began the Facebook group Dandelion Mama Rocks as a place where mothers of people with the disease of addiction share their love creativity and hope.

On October 26th at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time we will have our second zoom rock painting party. Gather your rocks and acrylic paints and join us to paint rocks that we will then scatter throughout the world for mothers to find and know they are not alone. Find links in my show notes or on my Embrace Family Recovery FaceBook page.


You’re listening to the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast. Can you relate to what you’re hearing? Never missed the show by hitting the subscribe button. Now back to the show.

Margaret  17:14

So, my language, life consequences as a result of use got harder and harder to overcome, to talk around, to avoid. On an emotional level with a partner but also on a professional level. So those real consequences somehow broke through to say I surrender to get help.

Mary Beth  17:34

Yeah, and I really want to make it clear, I think we there’s this false narrative sometimes that when people go into recovery, they’re 100% committed to recovering and 100% committed to stopping. I was not. I did not believe I could stop. What I wanted was to learn how to do less like to into to heal myself or figure out how to get better enough to use less. That was as far as my imagination could go. But you know, on the other hand, I knew stopping was something other people did. It wasn’t I was ruling it out, it was that I didn’t have any confidence that it was really on the table for me.

Margaret  18:10

Oh, I can relate watching it work for others. No, there’s a possibility, but it’s not going to work for me. So, you go in with that attitude. How does it go forward?

Mary Beth  18:23

Well, my attitude really wasn’t the problem, it was that I went to rehab, and this is 1993. I went to a women’s program. And it was a long-term program, 90 days minimum, I didn’t have the fantasy that 30 days was going to be enough. 

And so, I go in, and on my first day, like they do every day, they did a step study that you know, the 12 steps AA and NA all the A’s. And step three that we’re doing, which is made a decision to turn my goal my life over. I think it’s to the God of my understanding. And so, I you know, I raised my hand, I said, you know, what about me, I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in God. And this is what they’d say, it doesn’t have to be God, any higher power. I don’t believe in a higher power. And then when I read the steps, I didn’t agree with powerless, I was going to turn my will my life over. I wasn’t happy with the focus on defects, but they swore up and down adamantly and beat me. There were no other options. It was 12 steps, or nothing, comply or fail, is literally what they told me. And so that was a real shocker. You know, I didn’t understand that I was going into a 12 step facility and I expected medical treatment for my substance use disorder. I didn’t expect to be told there was only one treatment available, and it was a treatment that wasn’t going to work for me. So that was a big problem right away.

Margaret  19:41

In 1993, were there alternative treatments that weren’t 12 step?

Mary Beth  19:45

Well, I found them later, but they swore there weren’t. And so, my initial problem was, I believed them because they’re the experts that I’m paying and so I didn’t think right away. Well, maybe there was options. When I got home, and I I’ll be happy to tell you about that. I looked into it. But while I was there, I believed them that there was nothing else. And so, I had to think about what am I going to do? And don’t get me wrong. I mean, we had the normal rehab classes, you know, some of the science of substance use disorder, how to handle triggers, and you know, group support, and some therapy. There were a lot of, I took rehab seriously. I mean, I read everything I actively participated, I decided, I read all of the Big Book and all of the NA texts looking for the ideas, the parts, I thought, well, there’s, there’s gonna be some parts here that I can use, even though I don’t like, you know, a lot of it. So, I did, I read everything looking for the pieces that I thought would be useful to me and ignoring everything else. And so, you know, like, one day at a time, which is a 12-step mantra, I found that helpful. I looked at the powerless step again, and I decided, well, I can agree I’m powerless to moderate like, you know, there’s no moderating for me, and I just tried to find pieces that would work. 

But still, I was in fear, because they’re telling me that I’m going to fail, because I’m not, you know, complying with the entirety of the program. And part of me was worried that they might be right. You know, on one hand, I thought, really, no atheist in the history of the world ever got sober. Like, that didn’t seem possible. So, I would/had enough distrust. But I also had fear, because they were repeatedly telling me that I had to do the entirety of the program, or I was just not been able to stay sober.

Margaret  21:26

Did the chapter on atheism help at all?

Mary Beth  21:29

No, it’s called the chapter of agnostics, it’s really sort of a weak argument about why you shouldn’t be an agnostic. It’s not really saying you can do it without a higher power, or you can do it without powerless or without turning your will and your life over. I mean, I was excited when they mentioned it, but then I read. Yeah, I mean, don’t get me wrong. Some atheists and agnostics find a way to make it work within the 12 steps. I don’t mean to in any way disrespect the 12 steps when it’s a good fit for people. 

The problem becomes when it’s not the right fit. And people are told us the only way or a better way, neither of which is true. And it’s dangerous to tell someone that there’s one and only option. First of all, it’s not true. So why would you say it, but second of all, you’re putting their recovery at risk. You know, you really ought to be focused on what’s going to increase their odds of success. And that isn’t mandating a one size fits all option for everybody. But 12 steps is a good fit for many, and I’m happy for the people who get the recovery that way.

Margaret  22:30

And I appreciate that. And I also appreciate what you’re saying about people have to have my word, the dignity to find their path, mine is 12 Step. My work is Hazelden Betty Ford for 23 years, I believe in 12 Step. However, I’m also with She Recovers. And it’s been such a joy to see the many pathways to recovery people find. And it is not me to be anyone’s higher power or decider of what works for them. 

It’s interesting because I don’t think that I had that strong of a reaction. But I had a reaction when I first was introduced to it. And I did the same as you, I took what worked for me, and built upon it. And I had plenty people around me who were doing the same. So, I felt like I could do that. But I wasn’t in a treatment center, who was saying something that I fundamentally disagree with that this will only be the way and you will fail if you don’t. I also understand if that is the teaching and the philosophy of the treatment center, why they would say that. You go home after treatment, you work hard, you study you listen, you stay open to what works for you. Tell me how to transition home went.

Mary Beth  23:37

So, and I have says it’s 94. There’s no Google. Okay. So, I go home. And I thought, is it really true that there are no other options? And so I went to the library to try to find them. And guess what, even in 1994, there are multiple other options. And so, there was Women For Sobriety was the first one I found, which is the first modern secular peer support group. And I found Rational Recovery, which exists a little bit mostly has evolved into SMART and I found Secular Organization for Sobriety, which exists a little bit mostly has evolved into LifeRing Secular Recovery, and I’m on the board for LifeRing. And I’m on the board now for She Recovers as well. But because I found them at that point, and also know I mean, those groups of members, it’s not just because they’re atheist or agnostic, it’s that a lot of them like a different approach, the self-empowerment approach, you know, the taking control of your life. So, I just want to make clear, it’s not like only atheists or agnostics go to these other programs, LifeRing Secular Recovery, significant percentage of our members have personal spiritual, religious beliefs. They just they like our self-empowerment approach better and so that’s for them. But because I had started out pulling the ideas I liked and, you know, building on my own program, that’s what I continue to do. I read the books of all of these other groups. I went to meetings for all of these other groups. And I just continue to pull or the ideas, I thought that would work. today, we would call that maybe a hybrid plan or a patchwork plan. But at the time, I didn’t know anyone who did it. So I was, you know, as far as my experience when I was building something new that worked for me, and I do, you know, have 29 years at this point. So, I think it was a pretty strong foundation.

Margaret  25:17

Amazing. That’s amazing. And I wonder, you know, because you bring up there was no Google and you had to go library. I wonder what there was for meetings out there other than 12 step in your local vicinity. Were there other meetings or

Mary Beth:  Yes

Margaret:  Okay, so you were able to find meetings locally, in the newspaper, probably, or wherever they were?

Mary Beth  25:37

I had to call 800 numbers and write to P.O. boxes.

Margaret  25:42

I remember, those days, they still have the numbers, and a lot of us don’t use them, because we go through Google. There is someone on the other end of that line, who will talk to them.

Mary Beth  25:48

All three of those groups have local meetings, and I attended the meetings and I, as I said, I read all the materials for all of them. And so, when I say that I did it my own way, it doesn’t mean I was shutting my mind off, or my ears and not listening. I mean, even at 12 step meetings, if I heard one person talking to another, and they said a technique they use that sounded useful to me, I noted that. I paid attention to all of that I was really actively listening, actively seeking out the ideas that I thought might help me I wasn’t trying to say, you know, no, no, no, I don’t want it, I don’t want to hear you, I wanted to get as much information as I can, so that I had the best chance. 

Margaret  26:31

So, despite a wall, maybe going up hearing certain words, and feeling a resistance, the desperation, your word you choose to want better for you, a different life and not to return to that. Drove you to keep finding the pieces that worked for you.

Mary Beth  26:47

I mean, part of it was that one of the things that I did find value in in 12 steps in the beginning is the drug logs, right? Because I was hearing people tell their story. And some of their stories were like mine. And yet they’re six months or a year later, and they look healthy, and they have a job. And so, I started to think hope, right? Hope is an important part of early recovery. Because recovery is hard work. And it’s hard to do the hard work if you don’t have at least some degree of hope. So that was helpful. 

Margaret:  Yeah.

Mary Beth:  But also, I really thought a lot about who I had been before the trauma and before the drugs, and I had always, you know, been smart. And I was always, you know, actively thinking about things. And I thought, you know, I want to try to reconnect to my original self. That I had sort of innate characteristics that could help me in my recovery, and one of them was reading, and thinking, and analyzing. And so, I did my best to apply that and sort of re-ignite the skills that I had lost along the way.

Margaret  27:47

Did your partner stay in the journey at that point? Or was that something that was a consequence of the disease lost?

Mary Beth  27:53

Well, he would come to couples therapy at the rehab. And he would say, I don’t know, you know, and he was really angry and frustrated. But we did you do couples counseling for quite a while, but we are still together? So yes, we made it through, but it was a lot of work. And it definitely was not clear for the first probably year and a half, whether or not we were going to make it through or not.

Margaret  28:14

So, for the younger, more new, sober rawer couples out there, what would you give them for suggestions on how the two of you managed to get through that tough year and a half, and make it through this?

Mary Beth  28:26

I mean, we were both angry. And I think he was surprised, that I had some feelings toward him. But I felt that he hadn’t really done everything he could have to help me that if I would have had any other medical condition, he would have taken more steps. 

But I also knew his personality, he felt overwhelmed, he didn’t know what to do. So, there was that we both had anger, a lot of emotion, we also didn’t have good communication skills. And so, to try to hear each other or put ourself in the other person’s shoes are really being able to listen and to try to negotiate without dissolving into arguing that took a lot of practice. It took a lot of practice, and a lot of effort to really move our communication skills, our relationship skills forward.

Margaret  29:12

To be less defensive and reactive, be able to talk. 

Mary Beth:  Yes.

Margaret:  Did a professional, it sounds like a professional help to get some tools in that direction.

Mary Beth  29:21

We did. We did couples counseling for quite a while. And we actually tried before went into rehab. But you know, you can only do so much when one of you is under the influence. Right? 

Margaret:  Right. 

Mary Beth:  But I also had the trauma side. And so that recovery took actually longer than my substance recovery. So, I was also in individual therapy while we were in couples’ therapy. And then later I did group therapy for women with trauma histories, which was really, really useful to me. And I had PTSD and severe anxiety, no surprise, but I didn’t realize it and so for a while I was on medication too for a couple of years. And so, it was really a sort of a multi-pronged effort, my substance use disorder Under our relationship and also my PTSD and anxiety recovery.

Margaret  30:06

Did your partner get help for himself separate than the couple’s work? Is that okay to ask? Did he do work to help them understand what you were dealing with? I’m sure the couples counseling help, too. But did he do his own journey?

Mary Beth  30:20

I think he may have had a few individual appointments with our couple’s counselor, but he didn’t do anything long term, you know, with him. But he did also read what I was reading, like I was giving him the books, you know, and he was reading as well. 

I will say one of the things that helped me challenge the orthodoxy in rehab was that after three days, when I was allowed to see him for a visit here or there, I would tell him my concerns, and he was backing me up. Yeah, that’s not going to work for you. So that was useful. But I did share what I was learning. I did tell him what I was thinking, how I was, how I was making my decisions and prioritizing, and a lot of early recovery is about figuring out what can I work on now. I had broken so much of my life, I couldn’t fix everything at once. And so, part of it was okay, these are the priorities. Here’s my sort of next step plans. And we would talk about those kinds of things. And I think it gave him a reassurance to see that I was really trying hard. And even though recovery is always slower than the person with the substance use disorder wants it and slower than the family wants it, at least we were seeing that incremental improvement, which was giving us some reassurance that things were going in a positive direction.

Margaret  31:32

So, it sounds like, it will be a 12-step concept. But it sounds like open, honest, and willing were very much a part of your makeup within your marriage, within your recovery. That I’m going to share with, and I’m going to put it out there, and I’m going to keep a willingness even if I feel resistance and that was part of how you continued to grow and do the work that you’ve done.

Mary Beth  31:53

Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to make it sound like every moment of every minute we were open, honest, and willing(laughter) but in the bigger picture we were open, honest, and willing.

Margaret  32:01

We are human after all, come on now. I can’t imagine any couple no matter the circumstance, let alone the challenges you face would have ups and downs. As you know and I know linear is not a word we use in recovery 

Mary Beth:  Exactly, exactly right. 

Outro:   Come back next week to hear the continuation of Mary Beth’s incredible recovery story, including the story of how she chose her memoir’s title.

I want to thank my guest for their courage and vulnerability and sharing parts of their story. Please find resources on my website. 

This is Margaret Swift Thompson. 

Until next time, please take care of you!