When You Know Better, You Do Better

maya angelou quoteLinda’s* first DUI at age 36 should have been a wake up call. But it wasn’t. At that time, she had no thoughts of admitting to having an addiction to alcohol. Her job as a marketing director for a chain of restaurants with full bars was just too much of a temptation to stop drinking.

* Her real name, used with permission.

Partying and Drinking

Linda continued to enjoy partying and drinking, seemingly unfazed by the weight of a DUI charge. Because of her background in public relations and marketing, Linda was able to convince the next few police officers a warning would be sufficient punishment.

Three years passed before she was charged with her second DUI. After facing a tough female judge, she tells me the second DUI was more of a concern for her. She wasn’t interested in reducing or quitting her drinking, but she considered a minimal slowdown. However, it was only a brief consideration. And then she continued on in her same destructive ways.

Some Serious Changes

judge's gavelLinda’s third DUI occurred just a year after her second one. She spent a night in jail while waiting for her arraignment. Frightened, Linda said to herself, “This time you’ve done it. This one is going to bite you.” She realized her good luck had finally run out.

Linda faced the same female judge she faced with her second DUI. The judge looked across the courtroom at Linda and said, “I’m very disappointed to see you again. After reviewing your record, I think you are going to need to make some serious changes.”

Linda realized for the first time she had no choice; she did indeed need to make some very serious changes.

Linda’s sentence included: serving two weeks in jail, losing her driver’s license for six months, checking in with a counselor once a week, and attending mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. At her age, it was deeply humbling and even embarrassing to ask for rides. There were many times of tears and fears.

Her parents were very loving and supportive as Linda vowed to make a fresh start, but she remembers there was a bit of “I told you so and I hope you learned your lesson” in her interactions with them. Linda knew she deserved those words. And more.

The Beauty of Sobriety

linda alcoholic sticker 3

Linda’s first AA meeting was an eye opener as she observed a variety of ages and appearances of those in attendance. She remembers feeling very safe and secure. “I knew I was in the right place because I knew recovery couldn’t be accomplished alone. Recovering by yourself is impossible.” Her fear melted away as she saw and heard other alcoholics share their stories. She witnessed the beauty of sobriety of those who were further along in their journey.

A humbling moment was when she had to walk to the front of the room to pick up her white chip (a surrender chip). Since loyalty in all phases of her life is very important to Linda, that white chip became her sign of loyalty to the AA program and her commitment to becoming sober. There would be no going back.

A recovering alcoholic spoke at that first AA meeting. He said, “There’s nothing that a drug or a drink is going to change.” Those words struck Linda hard as she saw the truth of her addiction for the first time.

When You Know Better, You Do Better

After attending a few meetings, she quickly realized she needed to build her fledgling and inconsistent relationship with God, filling AA 24 year chipthe empty places of her life with Him. A Maya Angelou quote was shared at a meeting and became Linda’s mantra: “When you know better, you do better.”

She now knew better and intended to do better. For many years, Linda attended weekly AA meetings. The support system she found at those meetings was invaluable to her success. She has sponsored numerous alcoholics who were determined to overcome their addictions. This year, Linda will collect her 24 year sobriety chip.

Full Circle

Twenty years after her 3rd DUI sentencing, Linda realized she would be standing in front of the very same female judge. This time for a speeding ticket. Linda immediately recognized the judge’s name on the court order that was mailed to her. Prior to appearing in court and after much thought and prayer, Linda knew she had to update the judge on her status.

“I told the bailiff my story of how the judge had put me on my road to recovery, and I wanted to speak with her. When it was my turn, instead of asking me to come to the podium, the judge asked me to approach the bench. I had prepared to share my story from the podium, but having to come face to face with the judge at her bench was unexpected. I couldn’t let it deter me from my mission. I took a deep breath and approached her bench.”

“I pulled my 20 year sobriety chip out of my pocket and shared my journey of overcoming alcoholism with her. I told her I had her to thank for it. Both of us had tears in our eyes. She told me she was proud of me. It was truly a God moment for me.”

Linda has come full circle with admitting to and dealing with her addiction to alcohol. She is always willing to share her story with others who are struggling with any addiction. She wants others to see the value of sobriety and how your future is much more important than your past. If you would like to connect with Linda about your struggle with addiction, please email me at melony@melonybrown.com. I will forward your message to her.

Practical Advice

I asked Linda to share her advice about overcoming her addiction to alcohol. She immediately said, “First things first: If you need help, HOLLER!!!” I looked up from taking notes and realized she stopped to think. After a moment of reflection, she told me these things were not just related to her addition to alcohol, but were also pieces of practical advice for overcoming any struggle.

1. Define your priorities. You are never going to get what you want unless you want it bad enough.

2. Believe in yourself. And know it is possible.

3. Don’t waste time in making the changes you want to happen in your life. Do it now.

4. Live it.

5. Share it.

Her daily mantra and true live-by advice is Philippians 4:13.


Share with me: Linda made a decision at her first AA meeting to be fully committed to overcoming her addiction. Her commitment all of these years has given her a freedom to fully enjoy her life. What have you learned from Linda’s determination and commitment to overcoming her struggle?


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3 Responses to When You Know Better, You Do Better

  • alan scott says:

    Thanks for this, Melony.
    There are some things in Linda’s story I can carry into my AA prison meetings.


  • Susan says:

    What a beautiful story. Thank you, Linda, for sharing it with the rest of us.

  • Jeff says:

    this is a really cool story. i am sure that the judge rarely gets to see someone’s entire life story, and be able to see it come full circle, I know Linda and she is a great person!!

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Melony Brown I have had numerous opportunities to hear stories about women who have faced life's tough challenges. My writing reflects the lessons I’ve learned from these amazing women.

My blog has their real-life stories, while the book I'm writing follows a fictional character as she faces life's challenges.

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