Thanks, Meredith

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And, yet again, another pretty, young woman who looked like she had it all together on the outside, was dying inside, slowly killing herself with alcohol. A sad story, but a story worth telling – a story we need to hear.

I don’t watch The Bachelorette, but I recognized Meredith Phillips picture as soon as I opened my recent issue of People magazine – one of my few guilty pleasures I still indulge in. I remembered her from the show years ago because she was from Portland, OR and had graduated from Oregon State, where I had recently finished my master’s degree.

My first thought in seeing her picture was “Oh, no,” because in many ways I still don’t want to believe that people like “her” can be alcoholics. But, that thought quickly turned to “Thank God she’s telling her story.”

Despite knowing that alcohol doesn’t discriminate, we still like to think that celebrities and “people who have it all” don’t have to deal with the “real” stuff. However, as I read her story, I realized that it could have been me writing it. Meredith grew up around alcohol, partied in high school, joined a sorority in college, lost her mom to cancer as a young adult and eventually found herself living for that next drink. Like many of us, she tried to control her drinking at times, but “soon, drinking wine every night was the norm. Before long ‘I looked forward to going out to lunch because it meant I had an excuse to drink during the day.'”

Her story is not “special” because she is a celebrity, but her story carries a certain power because people who viewed her as “the girl next door” now see her in a different light. Because, if alcoholism can touch her, there’s a very good chance it can touch all of us.

I know there’s more celebrities like her out there, struggling with addiction and alcoholism. While each of us has our own personal journey, I wish more people like Meredith would share their stories and bring attention to this horrific disease.

Eventually, Meredith spent two months in inpatient rehab in California before returning to her home in Portland. She has been sober for six months and, like all of us, is optimistic about the road ahead, saying “It’s not fun to start over again at 39, but life is short. And I have a second chance.”

No, it’s not fun. In fact, at times it’s pretty hard. But, I’m grateful for people like Meredith who share their stories with the world and bring light to the struggles and miracles of getting sober.