When seeking inspiration for my sobriety, I’ll search for motivational quotes, books, and music. Yet there’s nothing more powerful than turning to the sober women around me and gaining motivation from their strength.
Here at SoberMommies, we like to highlight the stories of our sober sisters, to help paint a picture of recovery in all its forms. The first inspirational woman we’d like to share is Melissa Johnson, founder of Oklahoma’s Clean Life. Clean Home.
As I scroll through Melissa’s pictures on social media, the first thing I notice is her brilliant smile, and I can’t help but think, I am looking at a woman who has found true peace. Her freedom and joy literally shine through. While reading up on Melissa and visiting her social media, it became clear—she found her happiness in recovery by giving back.
Sober Mommies: Melissa, why don’t you start off by you introducing yourself?
Melissa Johnson: My name is Melissa Johnson. I am the founder of Clean Life. Clean Home.
It’s a nonprofit in the Oklahoma City area I started in 2016 as my way of paying it forward to other moms out who have struggled with addiction but have turned their lives around for them and their children.
SM: Can you describe what your business means to you?
MJ: CLCH is all about being of service, paying it forward, spreading kindness and hope, and showing the world that addicts do recover. My hope is by sharing these testimonies, a mother out there will have the courage to seek the help without the worry of being ridiculed or judged.
SM: That’s wonderful, I love it! Let’s go back to the beginning, can you share a bit about your life in active addiction?
MJ: I struggled with addiction for many years—alcohol quieted the voices in my head unlike anything I’d ever tried. My mind is always racing, over-analyzing, worrying. I’ve experienced walls closing in on me, the ground feeling as if it’s shaking and I’m about to fall off, night sweats, tightness in my chest.
Alcohol took all that away.
It started out as fun, but once that first sip hit my mouth, I lost all control.
SM: I cannot tell you how much I relate to that. Where did your addiction take you?
MJ: I suffered many consequences and hurt everyone on path someway or another. When I was 21 years old I ran a red light and hit someone. When I was 24 years old, I was at another intersection in another blackout waking to the sound of glass breaking.
In 2008 I had my son and in 2010 I had my daughter. I thought moving a state away and having children would change me—but If anything, I was worse.
SM : Your addiction took you away from being a mom?
MJ : In December 2013 my children were removed from my home after my son ate a marijuana brownie. He told the teacher he ate a brownie with medicine in it, which made him sick.
I got sober in February of 2014. It wasn’t easy; my body would ache, I felt as if I was walking around with no clothes on, I felt exposed. But, I got a sponsor, worked the steps, chaired meetings, and got my kids back six months later. In May of 2015 my children were removed from my home again after a 24-hour relapse.
SM: I’m so sorry. Do you know what led up to that relapse?
MJ: When I think of the emotional state I was in up until that relapse, I feel compassion for myself. I had been barely keeping myself above water and I drowned. I hit a wall, I just didn’t care anymore.
My kids would not be back home until May 2016.
That was the longest year of my life. It was full of heartbreak, uncertainty, fear, and confusion.
That was my rock bottom.
SM: What was next for you? How did you find your strength to fight?
MJ: I got a life coach instead of a sponsor, I began standing up for myself, I connected with women all over the world who were recovering out loud, and I shared my truth. I jumped through every hoop thrown at me by CPS and the law.
SM: Can you tell me your experience with CPS and fostering? I know that many of us mamas face that struggle as well.
MJ: It was a difficult time, it hurt deeply. I cry as I remember those days, they were excruciating, but it only fueled my fire. In that difficult time, I found my strength, my voice, my courage, I found forgiveness, and I found compassion. It was a rough ride for a while. My son hated me and he let me know it on a daily basis.
Now, we are better than we have ever been. We speak openly about the days they were gone and why they were taken. I remind them often to ask me any questions they want and to tell me any feelings they have about those days.
SM: Your story is truly incredible. And from all of that, Clean Life. Clean Home. began?
MJ: I cleaned homes as a part-time job and in April of 2016. My life coach suggested I start paying it forward by cleaning homes for women in recovery.
Clean Life.Clean Home. were the first words that came out of my mouth.
I had no idea what I was doing or where this would take me, once again I decided I’d let my faith carry me.
SM: What a beautiful way to give back! What is the process for CLCH today?
MJ: A mom in recovery from drugs/alcohol is nominated, if they are interested in sharing their story I will interview them and share their testimony on social media
and the website. Me and a group of volunteers will then clean their home for free, along with a bucket of new cleaning supplies, a $50 gift card to Walmart, and a CLCH shirt and mug.
Most of the moms are nominated are single moms, who work really hard juggling everything that goes along with parenting while maintaining sobriety.
We had a single dad too.
SM: So besides helping a busy mama, you’re able to have others share their stories and spread hope?
MJ: We hear about the ugly side of addiction on a daily basis; overdoses, moms being arrested while driving their children, parents passed out with the kids in the back seat.
My nonprofit is my way of paying it forward to other moms who have been in similar situations but have made it through—moms who want to help shine a light on the other side of addiction…RECOVERY!!