Thursday, May 5, 2016

National Day of Prayer 2014: the day I was exposed on the local evening news

  Today, our country is celebrating the National Day of Prayer.  People gather in every state, surrounding flag poles, lining the outsides of courthouses, and congregating in churches to pray for the state of our country.  This is a necessary and reverent day, when we focus more on the spiritual needs of our leaders and those around us, rather than concentrating on our political differences.  Great holiday!!

 Two years ago, in 2014, the National Day of Prayer fell on Thursday, May the first.  I had entered into treatment (for the first time) only three weeks prior to this day, and it just so happened that our facility had a choir and had been invited to sing at the courthouse in Huntington, WV for the prayer service.  Most of the girls were pretty excited to get out of the house, but I was somewhat apprehensive.  I was in a constant mild state of panic about seeing someone that I knew from home.  Only a handful of people knew where I was, and I intended to keep it that way.  I naively believed that my three-month absence would simply go unnoticed, or possibly that my husband would help me conjure up a believable story about a one-hundred day illness that had isolated me from society...perhaps a nonfatal case of small pox or the bird flu?  As long as no one found out that I was a drug addict.  That was one secret I would do anything to protect.  Huntington, WV was only about a forty-five minute drive from my hometown, but I rationalized that it was highly unlikely that I would see anyone I knew.

The Wednesday night before, we each received a t-shirt to wear so we would all match.  We could either wear jeans, dress pants, or a skirt with the matching t-shirts.  The shirt was bright pink with a butterfly on it, and it read:  Karen's Place:  Addiction recovery that works.  It wasn't really my style, but I didn't have much of a choice.  We got up on Thursday morning, practiced a couple of songs to sing at the event, then loaded into two vans to travel to Huntington.  We arrived and took our seats, waiting for our turn to perform.  When they announced our group's name, we approached the steps leading into the courthouse, and lined up the way that we had arranged.  The choir director looked at me and mouthed, "Sing out."  I'm kind of a singer.  I sang a couple of songs and then sat down when the girls began to perform an interpretive sign language song that I had not learned, nor ever had the intention of learning.  I sat on a bench with the facility's Nurse who was typically within arm's reach of me as I had been having recurring fainting spells (I have a history of those).  We sat on the bench and I watched her raise her hands in the air and worship as the other girls performed.  She had a smile on her face, and, although I hadn't known her long, one thing was for sure:  she loved us girls, no matter what we had done in life.  She took care of us with the greatest level of love and compassion.  As I sat and waited for the performance to wrap up, I noticed a cameraman from WSAZ was there, and he was recording the group.  I hadn't noticed him when I was standing on the steps, so I was pretty sure I had escaped his lens.   

We climbed back into our assigned vans into our assigned seats, and were informed that we would be going to Taco Bell.  Like not the drive-thru Taco Bell, but the inside Taco Bell. You know, the place where you order what you want, sit down and eat, while simultaneously seeing real people!  You talk about a vanload of excited women!  We each had four dollars to spend, so we placed our orders and waited for the food to be passed out.  Now, here is the part I love to boast about.  There were at least two tables of staff members, but when the food had all been served to the tables, the manager came to ME and asked ME if all of MY girls had gotten their correct orders.  I totally just went with it and acted like I was in charge instead of needing someone to be in charge of me.  I checked with everyone, then informed him, thankfully, that they had nailed each and every order.  The other girls laughed and told me that I enjoyed the fact that I did not look like a drug addict way too much.

We drove back home where we received a call informing us that the evening news was showing a segment of the day's events.  We would be gone at a meeting, so the news was recorded for us to watch at our nightly group.  I was pretty sure that I was not in the performance that the reporter guy videoed, and, furthermore, the festivities had lasted all day so there was only a sliver of a chance that our treatment facility would be featured.  At around nine o'clock that night, we gathered in the Great Room, and the girls who were technologically competent hooked up the TV and queued up the recorded news program.  We fast forwarded through the random news stories until the segment on the National Day of Prayer started.  The film started rolling, and I saw various people that I had seen earlier in the day at the Courthouse.  There was one scene of the flag waving in the wind, then the local government officials praying while numerous onlookers bowed their heads.  Then, they announced that a group of girls from a "local" treatment facility for women with alcohol and drug addictions had performed. They cut to a scene of the girls doing the sign language song that I had sat out on.  I saw the pink shirts....but only for a split second.  The camera moved so quickly from that image that we could barely even pick anyone in particular out.  Sheew.  I heaved a gigantic sigh of relief.  I had escaped being seen on the news.  I was secretly praising the Lord that I had refused to learn the motions to that song, realized I had escaped being exposed, and my apprehension eased.  But, the very end of the segment, a vision flashed upon the screen that will haunt me for life.  I gasped as my hand covered my mouth, and my eyes begrudgingly relayed to my brain what I was looking at.   There it was.  Plastered across the screen.  Me.  Sitting with the nurse.  On the park bench.  With a pink shirt on.  That said "Karen's Place:  Addiction recovery that works."  The camera zoomed in on my face and my shirt.  And then it just sat there.  Like it had fallen asleep on the job.  I screamed, "Get the camera off of my face!  Show something else!", and I sat in pure agony and humiliation as I wondered how many people watching the news back home would recognize me.  I wondered if anyone from home was watching.  I mean, wasn't the news a thing of the past?  Did anyone really even watch it anymore?  Oh shoot.....I bet all of those gray-headed people I knew from church still watched it.  They probably didn't have internet and still relied on cable TV to provide them with information regarding current events. 

In that moment (in my mind), the headline may as well have read: 

Breaking News!!  Local mom/worship leader/preacher's daughter/recovery leader's wife/PTO Officer/Bible study coordinator/business owner spotted sitting on a park bench earlier this afternoon in the downtown area of Huntington, West Virginia.  Suspect was wearing a hot pink butterfly shirt that said something about addiction, and she appeared to be under the medical care of a registered nurse.  Although it has not yet been confirmed, it appears that she is, in fact, a resident at a local treatment facility, which, presumably tells officials that she is.....wait for it........a drug addict.  We will have reporters on the scene later to solve the burning question:  Was she attending the National Day of Prayer, or, on a darker more believable note, was she instead appearing inside a court room for what we can only guess was a horrific crime committed as a direct effect of her addiction.  Witnesses who wish to remain anonymous are stating that she was seen only a few weeks ago being released from a nearby mental hospital.  We hope to provide you with more details and answers later tonight.  Stay tuned for more information regarding this breaking news story.

Okay.  Maybe that was a tad dramatic; but, then again, so am I.  I thought life as I knew it would be over if my cover was blown.  Little did I know, what cover I did have left was tattered and torn, full of holes that I had repeatedly, to no avail, tried to patch. It actually provided very little shelter from reality. 

Turns out, very few people ever saw the news that evening, and I eventually outed myself.
I blew my own cover. 
That thing was useless anyway. 
And, in the process, I learned a very simple yet life-altering truth.
It feels so much safer to have my true self exposed rather than hidden, and I have found more freedom in my honesty than I ever did in my secrecy.  I'm much more "ok" with who I am now that I am not ashamed of it.

Furthermore, I now realize that I looked like a total idiot walking around hiding underneath a cover that was full of holes and virtually transparent; thinking that I had everyone fooled.  And, even though it was torn apart and unraveling at the seams, that darn thing was heavy. 

And, that, my friends, is this evening's breaking news. Stay tuned for more developments in this story. 

Misty Monroe, former closet drug addict/recovering addict, signing off. 


  1. You have such a way with words, Misty. I enjoy reading your blog so much. Hugs and prayers!

    1. Thank you so much!! And thanks for reading :)

  2. I can't tell you how much your blog means to me right now. My nephew is an addict. My family is trying the tough love right now. You give me hope. Thanks

    1. There is always hope!! Just become educated on what you should do/not do on your end. Addiction affects the whole family. Keep the faith!

  3. It is easy for awhile to hide and think people won't find out. I didn't know at all until chad was contacting me to contact Jenni for clothes for Addy. I don't believe I've ever told you that story.