Today we are celebrating Patrice Olootu, Program Coordinator, who works in our Social Detox program. Patrice is a Social Detox Alumna, and after being one of our dedicated Overnight Volunteers, she joined our team in November of this year. We are so grateful to have her as part of the team!
How did The Magdalen House become part of your life?
When I first came through The Magdalen House, back in 2012, I can’t remember for the life of me how I found it. I recalled being so intrigued about how steps 1, 2, and 3 were explained along with the allergy and disease components. I got a sponsor, but I did not complete the steps, and I was going through the motions. But I heard the word “God,” and since I believed in God and went to church faithfully, I thought if I served God enough (as I went to church drunk as a skunk), the obsession would be removed. It turns out, I was just “religious” and believed a god existed. I know now that was not enough.
I drank much more before returning in 2019, which led me to a situation I never thought I would be okay with. Living in a hotel for several years, working jobs that worked with my around-the-clock drinking, no attempts whatsoever to get on my feet, and in-and-out-of hospitals as my health failed and the doctors told my husband that they weren’t sure if I would make it.
Thank God, on February 7, 2019, God intervened and ordered my steps to The Magdalen House. When I woke up that morning, I had no plans to get any help. My oldest son and I had been discussing treatment options for a few months, but we thought the only answer was to be locked up in a treatment center for at least a year – Maggie’s never came to my mind as an option.
But on that faithful day in February 2019, I was alone and called Maggie’s when I was in a blackout. All I remember was hanging up the phone, and I said to myself, “Oh my goodness, I just called Maggie’s. I need to let my family know I’m packing my things.” After I made the call, I was stalling and very combative. My family had to force me to go, and it was the biggest mess. Once I was out in front of Maggie’s, I was kicking and screaming very loud in the driveway. (The best way to describe it is I was a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, according to Teresa, who did my intake that night, LOL!)
What has been the biggest gift to you in your recovery?
The absolute most significant gift to me in my recovery is my new relationship with God. I thought I had a spiritual connection with God, but I did not. I was involved in church, but I was just “religious.” Everything I did in the name of serving God was for self-seeking reasons. I believed there was a God, but I was running the show. I told him what I wanted and had the nerve to bargain with my God.
The fact that I can live life on life’s terms today no matter what comes my way is a miracle! Finally, I have no expectations of others, and I know I will NEVER be able to control people, places, and things. That is a beautiful thing. By no means am I perfect, but the fact that I pick up my spiritual tools and talk to my sponsor instead of running on self-will is everything – something that could only happen through the power of God. Every day, throughout the day, I have to remind myself, “God, your will and not mine. Whatever your plan is for me, I am in acceptance. Because I know your plan will work for me even though things look crazy right now. I know things will work out for my good because I trust your plan. My plan is not working.”
The second biggest gift is finding my true purpose in life. I was so desperate when I came to Maggie’s. In all the years of working the steps, I was adamant that I could not carry the message or sponsor women. Very early in my recovery, there was a nudge in my spirit that said, “You must carry the message and sponsor women. You don’t have a choice if you want to remain sober. You must help others.” I did not fight it. I found a sponsor that was committed to carrying the message and sponsoring women. She had what I wanted, and I stuck to her like glue. The high I get from being of service to other women unselfishly is no comparison to the high I was chasing in my addiction to alcohol. Alcohol was not working anymore. I was miserable. Now that I am recovered, I want to help other women who want to stop drinking but cannot understand why they cannot stop. I never thought I could live without alcohol and be free of the obsession. All of those promises in the Big Book seemed like it could not be my story. Truly, I have been transformed.
What would you tell the woman who is newly sober, or still trying to get sober?
First and foremost, if you don’t know that step one is your truth – like if you secretly wish there was a cure for this disease so you can drink like a nonalcoholic person (who is not blessed with this allergy and disease) – you are still delusional. Your experience with steps 2-12 is a reflection of what you experience in step one. Knowing and accepting your truth in step 1 is huge because you have to be in touch with your powerlessness at a gut level. If you feel your powerlessness at a gut level, it brings about a sort of discomfort when you even think about drinking. No one will have to tell you your recovery is a life-or-death situation. This discomfort and type of surrender are what produces the hope and promises in the remaining steps. You will not balk at working the remaining steps. If you have difficulty with the higher power concept, it could be you are still clinging to the idea that you have power. If you took step one just in its literal sense, you would not see the urgency with step 3. After seven years of refusing to do what was suggested, I was finally willing to work ALL of the steps as quickly, thoroughly, and truthfully as possible. You don’t have to understand why the steps in that order or how it works. From experience, I can tell you that they will lead you to a connection with your higher power, a total transformation of mind, and ultimately a spiritual awakening. That’s how you can maintain personal freedom and become happy, joyous, and free. We do recover.
If you have been on this trip for a while and are as bad of a chronic relapser as I was, be open to doing some things you were never willing to do before regarding your recovery. Every time I relapsed, things became worse. Ultimately this led me to became open to sober living, sponsoring women, carrying the message, fellowshipping with other women in recovery who look different than me, taking Uber or riding the bus to meetings (before I got my car, after a year of sobriety), volunteering, and picking up the phone to call another alcoholic “just because.” Those are just a few examples, but they were at the top of my list of Things I’m Not Doing. Willingness is everything. I know I may sound like a broken record, but it is a total game-changer. If you are not willing, pray for it. It will come when you least expect it. I cannot stress enough the importance of willingness.
What is your life like today?
I stand amazed at the quality of my life today. Who would have thought I would be able to live life on life terms and be okay. My priorities today are my relationship with God, my program of recovery, and then my family. I have to live like this; otherwise, I would be drunk or dead. It took me a long time to realize that if God and my program of recovery are not a priority, I’m not any good for my family or anyone else for that matter. Today, my family understands, supports, and appreciates that fact. Finally, their mommy is back and better than ever.
Today I am adulting. I willingly pay my bills with joy, and before that was not a priority. I always ended up losing things because I didn’t pay my bills. When I go to the grocery store, I pay for everything before I put it in my purse. It’s a great feeling to be responsible, and it is freeing.
I look for opportunities to be of service. Before the pandemic, I would be working with another alcoholic, fulfilling a commitment, attending a meeting, or fellowshipping with other women in recovery when I got off from work. When in-person activities decreased, I looked for other avenues to be of service. I am so grateful for a strong program of recovery and an awesome sponsor prior to this pandemic. Honestly, I would not survive it if I was still living in that pit of hell.
Finally, I am in acceptance that I must do this for a lifetime, and I embrace the fact that it is progress and not perfection. I will never be perfect. That is not the end goal. My primary purpose is to be of service to others, give another alcoholic hope, and take them through these life-changing steps to have the same experience I enjoy today.
About Patrice Olootu, Program Coordinator
Bio coming soon!