30 Aug A Journey Back Home
The journey of recovery is a long, winding, difficult, and sometimes confusing road to travel, but the women who come to Hitchcock do not have to do it alone. Carolyn Green, a counselor at Hitchcock, is one of many staff members who begin the journey with women. And she knows the journey well. Clean and sober for 17 years, Carolyn now helps women take their first steps to recovery.
Carolyn’s own journey began at age 12, when she started drinking alcohol with some friends at school. “I felt like no one understood me. I had a loving home, but my mother was working and wasn’t home very often,” Carolyn remembers. Her older brothers admonished her for drinking, but Carolyn kept doing it. “I wanted to challenge the people who were telling me what to do.”
The drinking led to drugs, and Carolyn’s life was spiraling out of control. At 17, she was raped and had her first child. “I kept a lot of what was going on, including my pregnancy, from my family. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could make it on my own, even though I couldn’t.” What Carolyn didn’t know at the time is that she was facing trauma that many other addicted women face.
After the birth of her first child, Carolyn’s addiction was getting worse. “I tried every drug except ecstasy,” Carolyn says. She went on to have two more children that were taken out of her care due to her increasing addiction. “I used to leave my daughter at school, forgetting to pick her up. I wasn’t a mother at all. I didn’t know how to be a mother.”
During her first three pregnancies, Carolyn was able to stop using, but she got pregnant with a fourth child. “I was pregnant, homeless, and going from one abusive relationship to the next.” It was time to do something about it. At 37, Carolyn went to Recovery Resources and then into transitional housing. “I was pregnant, ashamed, and felt like I would never make it,” Carolyn says. Instead, it was the start of a new life for Carolyn.
After thirty days of sobriety, she gave birth to her daughter and started to learn how to be a good mother. Carolyn then turned her attention to regaining custody of her children. “I wanted the chance to be a better mom, and knew I could do it.” Carolyn didn’t have a lawyer, but waged her own battle and got her children back. Her relationships with her children and larger family are strong now. It took time, counseling, and healing. “The rewarding part of this work is when someone starts to see small changes within themselves, and they realize they are the ones making the changes. That helps them to get to the next change, and that is really gratifying.”
Even though she has been clean and sober for 17 years, Carolyn acknowledges that recovery is a long journey. She is grateful for her life now. She has a close relationship with her children and grandchildren. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Cleveland State University. She is a church minister. She works at Hitchcock, where she feels right at home.
“While I may be a few steps ahead of the women who first arrive, I know their journey very well and am always ready to help them heal.”