What It Was Like
For Liz Brown-Reeves, the journey from perfectly infallible to wonderfully flawed is nothing short of a miracle. And from where she stands today, she’s mesmerized at how much life the 38-year-old has lived…indeed, far more days than she’d ever believed were possible.
Born into poverty and raised by a single mother in the public housing system of a rural Southern Illinois town, Liz learned early to hide embarrassment and shame. As a youngster, Liz developed unique skills to appear bubbly, outgoing and near-perfect to all who might notice her. At one point during her childhood, her struggling mother was forced to make a home out of a dilapidated, abandoned school bus. Even then, Liz was determined to convince others of her charmed, upper-middle class, cul-de-sac lifestyle. She was, after all, infallible.
Liz was, however, fortunate to have compassionate, dedicated school teachers who were charmed by her resilience and empowered through her natural intelligence. The guidance of these teachers boosted Liz’s inner confidence and ensured that she was reading by age four and progressing in advanced learning throughout elementary schools
When Liz was eight, her father escaped prison where he was serving felony robbery charges. It was determined that the convict’s original plan included kidnapping his children – Liz and her younger brother. Instead, he found his way to Alaska where he evaded capture for seven years. As an adult, Liz would come to recognize that the threat of his sudden return to abduct her, forced her to live with a bottled-up emotional and psychological fear. Because of her perfection, few could see the strain the teenager contained inside herself.
Secrets in small towns are an illusion. But Liz freely admits that she accepted the genuine love, care and concern that most people in her community offered. People were aware of her circumstances, so perhaps for some there was a tinge of sympathy or guilt. But more than anything else, it was a sincere love that the families and friends of her small town had for Liz that inspired their help in the best ways that they could.
Sometimes it was a new, fashionable coat. At other times, it was a little higher tip than usual. But what she loved most was the chance to sit down to normal dinner conversation – one that melted the worries away and reassured her that the people of the world make life wonderful.
Liz has always relied on the consistent, sincere love that her little town provided her as she grew into a woman. Today, she fondly recalls the people of her community as folks who embraced her with love and hope – never approaching her as a casualty of hopelessness or victim without a chance. These memories are ones where Liz recalls being her most real…comfortable like normal people.
Through college, Liz was outgoing, determined and aggressive. From there, she moved to Illinois’ capital city where she proved to scores of white, aging, politically-connected men that she was smart, loyal, dedicated and hard-working. As a force to be reckoned with, Liz was unwilling to be pushed around or hassled by discourteous, out-of-date operators who normally found professional bullying as natural. As she climbed the ladders of opportunity, she lived front and center in the hard-working, hard-partying culture of politics.
In 2005, a hungover, late 20s Liz woke up next to her motionless boyfriend. In minutes, she’d come to terms with the fact that, overnight, he had died of a drug overdose.
Not understanding alcoholism and drug addiction as a disease, Liz had been actively drinking since the age of eighteen. The death of her boyfriend plunged her into looking in depth at her own drinking. Not only was she blacking out drunk every night; she was sneaking away during those final months before her sobriety to have some drinks during the day. When Liz shared with a local counselor that she had 12-15 drinks the night before and had a “strong constitution”- he urged her to take a hard look at her drinking. Three months later, Liz sought help for her drinking through a local 12 step group and has been sober ever since. That was June 5, 2005 and by the Grace of God, she has not had a drink since.
Please understand that it does not mean, that life is perfect now; but because of her sobriety… Liz believes that anything in her life can be faced.
What It is Like Now
Liz has embraced her recovery and is active in her recovery community. She’s learned that recovery is more than putting down the bottle or glass. She’s learned that perfectly infallible is a miserable way to live.
Liz is convinced that each of us can find peace with whatever circumstances are before us. A commitment to practicing the twelve steps is, for many, a critical component to happiness and peace – whether dealing with direct addiction or other personal issues.
The basic principles of finding a power greater than oneself, clearing away the destruction and damage of the past, embracing an active daily inventory, and using prayer and meditation are the cornerstones of her recovery program. The acceptance, action and assistance of and for others are integral to Liz’s recovery success.
Liz has found freedom, peace, and serenity today through the twelve steps. She’s proud to have finally traded her perfect infallibility for a life that’s wonderfully flawed.
Liz Brown-Reeves is married to Michael who is also sober and works as a drug and alcohol substance abuse counselor. They have two sons, Henry and Leo.
Liz owns and operates her own lobbying and consulting firm in Illinois. She is the one of the youngest females to encounter this type of professional success in the Illinois political world. In December 2016, Liz was voted “Best Statehouse Contract Lobbyist in Illinois.”
This comforting embrace left an imprint on her heart and has been a source of strength to help others, even when it’s difficult to do so.