Shared through Nate, Heroes in Recovery Lead Advocate
I will always remember the 10 hour drive to treatment. It was the beginning of December and we were driving north from Chicago. With every hour that went by, the landscape appeared to disappear under deeper and deeper layers of snow. I was not intoxicated, but my thoughts seemed to jump back and forth between reality and what seemed like a dream. The last year and a half of my life had been a blur; many hours had been lost to alcoholic blackouts and even more were jumbled in my brain from night after night of heavy drinking and drug use. The only expectation I had was that the facility was going to teach me how to drink alcohol without having the intense cravings for cocaine—a feat I was not convinced they could accomplish.
After about three weeks of treatment, I was presented with the option of going to a recovery home. By this time I had ceased fighting the system, but I was still scared to death of living on my own. For the past 21 years I had been living with my parents or in a college dorm, which was paid for by my parents. I was petrified that if I moved out on my own, I wouldn’t be able to support myself. I was petrified that failure to be self-supporting would prove all of the doubts I had about my skills and my abilities. It wasn’t until I was told that I could go to a recovery home in sun-soaked South Florida that I agreed to go to one. The only expectation I had was that it would be warmer there than it had been for the last month in Minnesota.
When I learned that recovery was based on abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, I was convinced that I would never have fun again. Drinking and partying was something that had developed into my passion. I actually took pride in how much I could drink, how long I could party, and how intoxicated I could get. I was good at it. I loved it and obsessed over it.
As the days started to pass without using drugs and alcohol, I started having fun in very small doses. The weeks started to turn into months, and soon enough a year had gone by. Fun started finding me, and I found myself smiling and laughing uncontrollably more often. I was reflective after my first year, but my only expectation for going forward was that if I didn’t drink or use drugs, my life would slowly continue to get better.
Today I have been sober for eight and a half years. My life has changed in many ways since that cold December day. I have a lot of things that I could not have had when I was active in my addiction. I am fully self-supporting financially; I have a car, an apartment and a job. I am engaged to the love of my life, who is also in recovery from addiction. I have returned to college and within a short time will complete my Bachelor’s degree. But more important than all of these things, my perception of the world and my place in it has changed. I do not have any delusions about what is real and what isn’t. I have peace of mind, happiness and joy in my life. The only expectation I have today is to go to bed tonight sober. My experience is that the rest will take care of itself.