Profiles in Recovery

Missy Li

This vibrant artist was once just a number, stripped of her identity and freedom. After her 4th DWI she was forced to make a choice: 7 years in prison or 1 year in a state-run rehab. She chose rehab. Make no mistake, rehab wasn’t the country club experience you often see on reality tv. Li recalls, “It was run by the prison system and all rules applying to the prisoners applied to me. We shared 5 toilets without doors with 70 women. When my loved ones visited, I was strip searched before they could see me and after they left.”

Today she has a name, actually two, Missy Li or And So She Paints. After visiting her Etsy site, it’s obvious Missy is nothing but talented. This diverse collection is a striking reflection of her journey. Each painting evoking a different emotion: happy, weary, scared and even whimsical.

Li offer this advice, “This isn’t hard, it’s just new. Everything new feels hard. There will be little else you’ll encounter in life more worth the effort than recovery. Get a sponsor ASAP. Tell people your name. Let them love you.” So, she has done just that…and the proof is in the pride she feels every time her little brother smiles at her.

Day Job:
Portrait Artist

What I lost to addiction:
My addiction to alcohol took away my belief that the world was a good, kind place. I lived with the understanding that life was meek and miserable and that I was sentenced to infinite unhappiness and pain. Those feelings caused me to drink even more to suppress those thoughts.

What worked for me:
Amazingly, prison rehab wasn’t sufficient consequence for this Alcoholic. Consequences do not scare us. It emboldens us to use more. I had on an ankle monitor that detected alcohol for 6 months after rehab. Month 2, out of boredom and desperation, I found a nearby AA meeting. I saw happy, healthy people. I couldn’t be punished into sobriety, I had to be tempted and drawn to it. I was drawn to the light in the room.

Best advice for newbies:
This isn’t hard, it’s just new. Everything new feels hard. There will be little else you’ll encounter in life more worth the effort than recovery. Get a sponsor ASAP. Tell people your name. Let them love you.

Advice to my younger self:
Things will always get better, but they can also get worse. What you chose today will determine which. There is a God and you are loved. Despite your deepest suspicions, the world is a wonderful, kind place.

Rules I live by:
When in a position of prosperity, always give back. When I’m the recipient of gifts from God, it isn’t that He’s chosen me to possess them. The honor is even greater than that, He has chosen me to decide how to disperse it amongst my fellow Man.

What I value most in recovery:
It is said that the greatest pinnacle of success within a social species such as humans isn’t fame or fortune, but the quality of being perceived as trustworthy by others. Recovery has helped me reach this highest honor for I am trusted today.

Proudest moment:
Every time my little brother smiles at me.

Rock bottom moment:
It was a slow erosion for me. No catalyst.

On my bucket list:
Find Nessie, fabled Loch Ness Monster, my obsession since stumbling upon a book about Scotland in the elementary school library.
Go to Greece.
See the Northern Lights.
Adopt an orphaned child; as I do not wish to have biological children .

Favorite recovery quote:
“It is the honor of my life to be your mother”, my mom, after I got sober. The same woman who has told me (while I was still using) that the greatest punishment of her life was she was my mother.

When cravings come:
I no longer experience cravings. I do experience the same feelings that made me drink and when those arise, I ask another alcoholic to talk to me and guide me. I ask God for the next right thought and action.

At my worst, I was:
My choice at the age of 28 was seven years in prison for my fourth DWI, or one year state run rehab. I choose rehab. It was run by the prison system and all rules applying to a prison applied to me. I shared 5 doorless toilets with 70 women. When my loved ones visited, I was strip searched before they could see me and after they left. I was assigned a number and no longer a person.

What I learned about myself:
That I’m a decent, honest, loving human being. I’m sensitive and aware, making life extra prickly at times. I find the greatest joy when I feel useful to other people. I’m capable, smart, and enough.

SHED THE STIGMA:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].

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