I am no longer addicted, but I am a grateful addict.
I smoked the last of my stash, finished off the vodka bottle and drove seven hours to check myself into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment facility, one year ago. Although I sensed change in front of me, I gulped down trembling fear, gripping the steering wheel tighter as the high wore off. I wanted to leave my past in the rear-view mirror, but my mind and body were still addicted looking back at me.
Sooner than expected, reality set in. I found the facility and a parking spot, but in a haze I couldn’t find the front door. I walked around like a lost sheep. Exasperated, I found a man who was pulling weeds from a side yard. “You lost?” he asked. With anxiety flooding my veins, he seemed to have seen this before. “Follow me,” leading me to the intake desk.
After an embarrassing interview, I signed off on the paperwork, was handed my schedule packet and had to urinate in front of a supervisor for a drug test. Then, I was told to “have a seat” in a stark cafeteria-turned group therapy space among other new recruits. Humiliated, my brain crashed as my body slumped into the plastic chair.
“What am I doing here?” I asked myself holding my head in my hands. “You wanted this,” I answered, repeating it like a mantra through fuzzy brain-matter. I couldn’t think straight or speak intelligently as withdrawals from the absence of THC and alcohol in my system made me blubber answers throughout the in-take process and subsequent introductions to staff. Surrounded by court-appointed miscreants, out-of-touch mothers, whacked-out teenagers and men who appeared to be grandfathers-gone-bad, I couldn’t believe I wanted this.
“Why are you here?” The first question posed to the group became an awkward dilemma. “What am I supposed to say?” My mind raced for an answer. When it was my turn, all I could muster was, “I need help getting sober.”
That was enough. The group leader said, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here.”
Feeling completely out of place, out of sorts and out of my mind, I was ready for a drink and a toke. Instead, I stayed in the game, trying to follow directions, moving from meeting to meeting. Every hour seemed to stall for another. Easily, the longest day of my life, I was finally able to lay down to sleep while dreading what was ahead.
“Day one,” I sighed in disbelief. “One day at a time.”
Today, I celebrate Year one: No more marijuana to escape with, and no more vodka to swallow away anxieties — just pure life.
The mushy brain is gone. The anxieties are gone. Those habits are gone, but not lost. They will forever be a part of my life and my story. Forgetting them would only set myself up for relapse. Today, I face fears. I relish simple, yet beautiful experiences. I live by principles learned through the 12-Steps of Recovery — honesty, gratefulness, openness, willingness, kindness, compassion, fairness and love, for example.
I used to think abstaining was the journey. But that’s only the beginning. I’ve learned that my character defects, shortcomings, fears and resentments were undermining my progress as a human being and leading me to withdraw from reality. Today, my journey is leading me to grow in ways I’ve never imagined. This sober road is filled with opportunity, excitement and adventure. For today, I am clean and sober and able to enjoy life for what it offers.
Tomorrow, and God-willing, I’ll accept my One-Year Chip among fellows in my Marijuana Anonymous group and celebrate with vegan carrot-cake muffins. These fellows supported me throughout the year during two meetings per week. My sponsor has guided me through the 12-Steps, as I’m now moving into Step 6. This step work has grounded me. The group has been my safety net. The 12-Steps have been my guide.
I am no longer addicted, but I am a grateful addict. Now the mirror shows a different version of me. I’m still who I was, but changed in ways that are evidently powerful. I’m no longer selfish, but I’ve learned to love my self so that I can love others with integrity.
There’s no highway to sobriety. It’s a sober journey filled with meaningful stops and steps to experience the magic of being whole, clear and focused. This IS what I wanted.
Now, onto Year two -- one day at a time.
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