Like many first-timers in treatment, Melinda Walters didn’t know what to expect coming into the program.
“I’d heard a lot of horror stories about people going into treatment and coming out worse off,” she says, “but I feel so much better for doing it. It’s amazing.”
She needed an initial push from the courts to come into treatment – it was a condition of her probation, and the benefits didn’t present themselves immediately. Walters says it took a month or so to get comfortable in her new environment and routine. But once she did, she says her internal problems began to unravel, enabling her to practice a newfound regimen of self-care and experience a world of satisfaction with herself she had never known existed.
“I’ve always been a caregiver in life, so I naturally take care of people,” she says. “I’m learning how to take care of myself now, and it’s a really, really good feeling.”
Walters says the coping tools she learned at Micah House, in Minneapolis, MN, have helped her in ways that far exceed sheer sobriety. A long-time sufferer of fibromyalgia, Walters has seen drastic improvements in her physical and mental health.
“My anxiety is less, my panic attacks are gone, my depression is way down,” she says, “and I’ve never been able to control that ever in my life.”
She no longer feels the need to self-medicate, as much of her pain was brought on by high stress levels. It’s a fairly common paradox of drug use – her long-term dependence on marijuana and other substances came about largely as a way to cope with pain and stress, and in the end only made it worse.
She still carries a folder of all the techniques she learned at Micah House as a self-curated toolkit for life’s new trials.
“I’m able to get out there, live my life and put these things to the test,” she says as she flips through the well-worn pages.
One of the lessons includes learning to let go of past wrongs, and making way for repairs in interpersonal relationships.
“I learned how to forgive – not only other people, but myself,” she says. “I never knew how much that meant. I was holding onto these little grudges and before I knew it, it was eating a hole in me 12 years later.”
Now with a clear focus, Walters is free to pursue creative forays that once fueled her passion. As a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades,” Walters has a range of skills to choose from, ranging from artist and poet to carpenter to beautician. For the near future, her sights are set on reprising her role as a florist, a job she says allows her to explore creative arrangements and indulge her caregiving side without going too far and neglecting herself.
She remembers fondly a time when she would arrange bouquets to pass out to mothers in her neighborhood on Mother’s Day, and the look on the women’s faces when Walters’ bouquets were the only recognition some of them would get.
“It just makes people so happy,” she says.
And most importantly, thanks to internal revelations instigated by the tools she learned at Micah House, Walters knows it makes her happy, too.