I was one of the people nobody thought would make it. I came to recovery on my own volition and knew, whether I was outwardly in acceptance or not, that my life needed to true change. Regardless of what I knew, I dismissed any change or advice with humor or visceral anger. I am only where I am today because of the quality of the people I found myself surrounded by, and the singular purpose shifting from wanting to get high to sincerely desiring a new existence.
At my low point, I no longer had a relationship with my family or a real relationship with anyone for that matter. I lived in my own world for seven years and was spiritually alone. My mother, the only person left who had the capacity to help me, finally said she’d had enough of my nonsense. My response was to break into her house. This lead to a warrant and eventual arrest. At the time, it was one more charge on a rap sheet and by no means viewed by me as a “bottom.” Because I wasn’t finished living in mayhem, I found myself living in garages or whatever hole would have me. I attempted suicide twice before, and that was before I was essentially homeless. I thought I had nothing left and nowhere to turn as my other other family members, my brother and father, were deep in their own battles with addiction.
My mom attempted to help my brother with his addiction several times, but I avoided that plan of action. When she finally stepped in, it happened at the absolute right time. In a supreme moment of irony, I had an intervention (I used to compulsively watch the TV show) with my brother (who was high) and my mom. I said what I had to in order to get out of that room quickly, and continued on with my old ways. Somehow a newer idea, that concept of “change,” allowed hope to trickle back into the situation.
I called my mom and told her I’d go to treatment. I picked a rehab like it was a hotel, but once again I was lucky. I wasn’t really a person, more like a feral animal, the first time I went through in-patient. It’s something that when I reminisce about it, it feels like I’m watching some hazy, half-lit caricature of my present day self. I lived life with my eyes half-closed. Despite this, the treatment center managed to convince me to do after-care at a sober living, and my new experience continued.
It was only after I relapsed during this stint in sober living that the change really started to take hold. The “psychic shift”, the one all recovered alcoholics seem to be able to point to, happened when I was discussing my situation with the guy who ran my sober living. This guy was instrumental in displaying sobriety in a light that I could identify with, and he gave me insight into the freedom of repetition. I could intellectually understand the insanity of the way I lead my life, but could never fully embrace the impact it had on others or channel the discipline needed to change my behavioral patterns. Sobriety for me had to became about cultivating relationships with people who truly cared about themselves and henceforth could show me how to do the same through their own healthy actions. I was able to utilize the resentment towards detrimental people or experiences in my early sobriety towards growth, that’s when the process really took hold. It has since advanced into a conscious and evolving awareness that lends its effort to cultivating a way of life that gives me back the things I have always wanted.
My solution boiled down is that I had to learn how to take contrary action and to do that I needed to learn from each day, whether I wanted to or not. It all came back to living in the present moment. Recovery has forced me to feel the worst feelings and has forced me to look at the error of past and my part in my resentments. Although that may seem more painful than it’s worth sometimes, I know who am I and I know how to help someone try to find out who they can be. Someone stopped to help me, and paying that forward is all I can do to honor that. In my early days working in recovery, I watched someone undergo a shift so massive and impactful that it still stays with me. Seeing that change and a person become so full of life and at peace with their darkest ways was the influence for me to continue working in this field. It’s not an easy job, but being able to help a fellow man find the peace and relief that I have in recovery is the greatest thing I could ever call “work.”