Part 4 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin realizes she no longer needs to suffer alone.
The Chemical Dependency Recovery Program 14 day outpatient treatment program is the most intensive program offered by my health insurance. An offer of spending 3 weeks there was offered but I agreed to give it a try with the understanding that 12 days was all I could fit into my schedule. I had important things to do you know, and this whole idea of intensive treatment was clearly overblown. Did nobody notice how well I functioned while drinking? How could anyone have missed the masterful skills I had developed in order to keep my friend alcohol in my life?
On day 12 of white knuckled sobriety, the serious treatment began. The round trip drive would be almost 3 hours a day. iTunes U became my go to driving time filler. (Learning about Washington quickly lead to Adams which naturally lead to Madison. If the three I’d easily choose Madison as a dinner guest ) in the mornings I still worked out which was a good call because treatment involved way more sitting than usual. I learned to eat breakfast in the car and find fairly healthy options at take out restaurants.
The facility was across from a hospital. This was no accident. When a body comes to depend on alcohol, seizures can happen during the detox process. This is different than detox from drugs which just feels like you’re dying but actually aren’t. There were quite a few days where people in treatment ended up in the hospital and conversely when people hospitalized for detox came right across the street to begin treatment. And there were drug tests. Often. Turns out that even though we self reported our number if sobriety days each morning, addicts still have a propensity to lie. Hence the tests. Whoever got pulled out of morning check in was totally busted due to a positive drug test the day before.
What are we going to do all day? Sit around and listen to lectures? Play ping pong? Talk about how it really really sucks not to be drinking? Turns out we had a full schedule: morning check in, addiction education class, relapse prevention class, group sessions, meditation, acupuncture, and an AA meeting in town every day at lunch. Then in the evenings we had to call at least 3 people in the program to check in. On top of that were four homework assignments that required time and reflection.
Head still in a fog I came in and learned to navigate the daily routine and ever changing social groups. While each of us took different roads of various addictions to get here, we were in the same boat. In the rooms no one had anything to hide. Simply spending the day with people sharing this painful journey provided hope.
Homework assignment #1, my history with alcohol, was due on day 5. In group, whoever had an assignment due would read it to the group and receive feedback. Now, after so many years of hiding, isolating and manipulating, it was time to tell the truth. Having convinced myself of so many of my takes and excuses, just sorting out that truth was challenging. What were the pivotal points? The shame and embarrassment overwhelmed me and my nature would be to sugar coat it. To convince you that my presence here was all a big misunderstanding. You see, I’m really an amazing person if only you knew. But my gut told me to bring that act to an end and take the hand of those offering help. Offering hope. So I wrote my story. Wrote the hidden things I had done that no one else would have even imagined. Wrote about my husband’s reaction. His attempts to help I had completely refused. The embarrassment I endured in order to keep drinking. I took away the power by writing it all down. And then I had to read it.
Hands sweaty, voice trembling, nerves on fire, I took out my writing and began to read aloud. As the most personal, embarrassing pieces were revealed, I noticed that heads started to nod. Smiles started to appear. Giggles were heard. As soon as my story was finished, they chimed in with how they did the exact same thing. Same motivations. Same actions. Some even more extreme than mine.
It was a miracle – I wasn’t the only person in the entire world going through this private hell. No longer was I unique and special in this addiction. I wasn’t alone. At that moment I was ready and willing to clean out the years of gunk and start anew.
Part 1 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin makes the call that will change her life.
Part 2 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin is introduced to the chart.
Part 3 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin bumbles through a dark tunnel.
It is my hope that by sharing my story, others can find strength and hope to find a way to overcome their obstacles, alcohol or otherwise.