When I was first asked to be involved in the Heroes in Recovery movement, I didn’t realize they thought I was a hero. I came out of addiction alive, yes, but my idea of real heroes in recovery were the individuals who held out their hands as long as it took until I grabbed on, and who stayed by my side and walked painfully slow down “our” path.
This is their parade.
Detailed memories of my first two weeks in treatment do not exist, only bits and pieces. Emotionally, I was as thin as a piece of tissue paper, and physically I was broken down … living in a state of nothingness. You waited until the nurse called your name in the medication line and then walked over to the cart. Waiting in line that day, Ms. Vivian the med nurse got to my name and addressed me as “Ms. Austin.” My age had been an amusing topic of conversation occasionally, and I laughed the longest about that; but Ms.Vivian looked straight in my eyes with rarely seen emotion and said, “I call you Ms. Austin not because of your age, but out of respect.” She unobtrusively gave me exactly what I needed. A few months out of treatment, I went back to La Paloma, found Ms. Vivian and thanked her for that moment out of her life she chose to give to me. Ms. Vivian is a Hero in Recovery.
My therapist in treatment really had her hands full with me. About half way through she told me she had been afraid of me and that I was surly. Are you kidding me?? I see now that I was frightening!! She had to take a crooked path to meet me where I was, but she did. My most pressing issue was that I needed to have my hair done. I was demanding to go to MY hairdresser at MY salon. I was NOT going anywhere else, and I was NOT going to make any progress until the hair thing happened! Shannon somehow got this approved and arranged, and I was soon on the outside of the fence, in the real world for the first time as someone in recovery. I was sure I would never feel a connection in this world. Jason had always been my shampoo guy. He was cute and young and cool and a musician. I had been to a few of his gigs. I assumed our connection was a love for alcohol, drugs and music. NEVER MAKE ASSUMPTIONS!! Everyone at the salon knew I was still in treatment; it was not discussed. As Jason was doing my hair, he quietly leaned in and shared with me that he had been in recovery for three years and offered to help any way he could. My eyes filled up with tears. Jason was my first recovery connection in the real world. He put himself out there for me. Jason is still my guy at the salon and I tell him every now and then how much that moment meant. I’m proud of Jason and he’s proud of me. Jason is a Hero in Recovery.
Shannon has left the facility, left the city, actually left the state. I don’t think I had anything to do with that… I can never really be sure… I did get a chance to tell her how lucky I felt to have her as my therapist. She got me when I didn’t get me! Shannon is a Hero in Recovery.
My employer for the last three years prior to treatment was a physician. I abused our personal and professional relationship in every way possible. Dr. Reaves chose NOT to prosecute me on illegal drug charges. Not long into recovery, I called his office and asked to have a meeting with him. We met for lunch, and he graciously accepted my attempt to make amends. He said he knew I was suffering at the end; he just didn’t realize how much. Dr. Reaves is a gentleman. Dr. Reaves is a Hero in Recovery.
An anonymous friend put himself and his livelihood on the line when he called and told me the police were waiting to arrest me when I arrived at the destination where I was headed. I did not go. That friend knew how sick I was. I made amends with my friend while he was in the hospital awaiting bypass surgery. The timing was good; it was advantageous to me that he was hooked up to IVs. He could not escape! He has recovered beautifully and he proudly attended my first Heroes in Recovery event. He is a Hero in Recovery.
As my recovery moves forward, I still meet heroes. My AA home group comes to mind. Those people accepted me and I survived on their experience, strength and hope. They never rushed me; when I was ready, I gave back. Every person in every meeting made a difference in my recovery. My fellow recovering addicts are Heroes in Recovery.
Certainly I have more intimate heroes, those who suffered daily with me for many years. Those stories deserve to be shared individually. I shared these few because there needed to be a parade in their honor.