Making friends as an adult is cool. It’s different than meeting in childhood, because as adults, we’ve been through what seems like entire lifetimes by the time we hit “adulthood”. You meet someone through work, kids, church, etc., and you have no idea what these people have been through in their lifetime. Its pretty fascinating. But I had never thought too deeply into this concept, until my friend Heather showed me her mugshot. 

Heather is one of my favorite humans. She’s one of those friends that you are really excited for people to meet, just so they can appreciate her too. I met Heather through an online fitness club and we instantly clicked. What started out as “coaching” meetings always turned into the two of us comparing and laughing about our three year olds, husbands, jobs, households; you know, the good stuff. Heather’s just hilarious, sweet, relatable, and no nonsense. She had always been open about her recovery as an addict and was proud to talk about how far she had come. But when she showed me a photo of her mugshot from years ago, it took my breath away. I literally would have NEVER known it was her. It wasn’t until I saw that person in the photo that I truly realized HOW far Heather had really come. 

I look up to Heather as a mom who has it all together, house is always clean, workouts always done, pretty much just killing it at life. I couldn’t stop asking myself, how the HECK did she get from surviving in that mugshot, to thriving as a badass mom?! I might not be a drug addict, but I can always use a new healthy habit or two. So I sat down with Heather to ask her a few of my burning questions in an interview.

Q: Do you believe in the whole, “it could happen to anyone” thing, or do you think that there were certain lifestyle aspects that you could pinpoint, that perhaps made you more susceptible to opiate addiction?

A: “For me, personally, I feel like it could happen to anyone. I come from a normal upbringing, my parents were separated but it had been like that since I was an infant. I came from a good family, was shy, quiet, not popular. Everybody that knew me before, when I was growing up, was literally like ‘Oh my God, Heather turned into that?! Heather did that?!’, like nobody believed it. Growing up I was always anxiety ridden, always stressed out, always kind of nervous, and I got a boyfriend that was into that, so I just did it too.

Q: If you could have five minutes with yourself at your absolute lowest, what would you say to her?

A: “Oh God… (long pause) that having a good life is possible, it’s there, and you just need to work for it. God, I’m getting teary eyed! But it’s true, and I’ve said this to other people, like you CAN do it, put down the sh*t, go to detox, and work. You need to work, you NEED to work. If you want it enough, you could have it. You can buy a house, and have a brand new car in your driveway, and (points to her son behind her) have a beautiful little angel like this. I had lifelong friends that were done with me, and like I have those relationships back. I wasn’t sure of that at the time, but if you’re doing the right thing, those people will be by your side.”

Q: When you say “Do the work”, what does that mean to you?

A: “For me, the work was staying in treatment, and just listening to them. I didn’t listen to anything the first time I went. The second time I went to treatment is when I stayed. I was there for eight months, Eight months of treatment! It was group, after group, worksheet after worksheet. You have to do so much, meditate, therapy, it was constant. It was like military almost.”

Q: What are three habits that you have implemented into your lifestyle currently to help support your mental health?

A: “Definitely gratitude. Daily gratitude is  HUGE, like I said I’ve been doing gratitude since I left at the halfway house, that was what we did every morning. Also, for me now, it’s working out, that’s huge too.  And I also just try to just be really humble all the time, and remember where I came from, you know?”

I do know. Right when I thought I couldn’t love Heather any more, she hits me with a big piece of humble pie. It’s clear that addiction truly can happen to anyone, it does not discriminate. However, Heather is proof that if you’re willing to do the work, you CAN have your dream life, and transform from surviving, to thriving. This seems to be true for most of the boundaries we encounter, depression, anxiety, addiction, the list goes on. The halfway house could help all of us. I know that structure, meditation, and therapy are all lifestyle hacks I’ll be adding into my rotation! Heather wasn’t afraid to ask for help, and we shouldn’t be either, let’s thrive.


About the Contributor:

Athene lives just north of Boston with her husband, 10 year old son, and 3 year old daughter. She loves being a coach for her salon company as well as a fitness and life coach. Athene believes that what we think about, we bring about – and that we can find the light in everything.