Five years ago, the very first time I told my story of addiction, incarceration, and recovery in public at a candlelight vigil in my hometown, I got a standing ovation from the hundreds of people in attendance. A line of people I’d never met waited to hug and thank me afterward, telling me in hushed voices stories of their own, or their loved one’s, struggles.
I realized that night that the power of sharing my story is its ability to bring help and healing to communities and families ravaged by the disease of addiction and the crisis of over-incarceration, to give people permission to talk about the issues, and to be a beacon of hope and a light in the dark.
Substance Use Disorder and incarceration are community problems, and they require community solutions in which we talk openly about what’s going on in our families and our neighborhoods. By sharing my own experiences, I give permission to others to speak. I help to engage people in the tough conversations necessary to address the problems of addiction and incarceration and to work toward the solutions, together.
Over the past five years, I have been fortunate enough to be invited to share my experience in many different venues, including the Massachusetts State House, as a panelist at Wellesley College and Harvard Law School, in the CBS News documentary, "Faith, Hope and the Burden of Addiction," at countless coalition meetings, vigils, churches, fundraisers, recovery celebrations and more.
The women of Families for Justice as Healing and Sisters Unchained speaking at the State House about criminal justice reform, 2017
Photo by Greg Derr/Patriot Ledger
Part of Meghann's introductory story at a storyteller workshop for people and families in recovery she hosts in Scituate, Massachusetts.
What people are saying about Meghann:
"Thank you so much for sharing your story with the community. Your delivery was awesome and you spoke clearly so everyone could hear you. You emphasized that people who showed they cared and showed the love and support truly helped you."
"We could have heard pins drop as you spoke, Meghann. The fact that several people spoke during their sharing time about family members struggling with addiction made your talk all the more powerful."
"As a new minister here, I was struck by how open people were in sharing their stories with Meghann. You really connected and made people feel safe. It helped me in a way that I never would have anticipated by creating a safe place here. It's important to send a clear message that church is where we can talk about addiction and incarceration."