Okay, I’ll fess up quick; I didn’t win the lottery. I went to rehab for treatment for the last 31 days. In my last post I wrote that I was thinking about it but had not come to decision – then I sort of disappeared. I made the decision to get treatment and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life; even though I really didn’t want to go. I needed to go. Looking back on the few posts I got out before I left, I sort of want to delete them and start over, but I guess it is good to have those sitting there; reminding me of my denial, angst, and fears. Yes; they are good reminders.
So how is rehab like winning the lottery you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
I had to opportunity to go to one of the best treatment centers in the United States; Caron Treatment Center. This place isn’t cheap; and like going to an Ivy league school – the best comes with a price tag. That price tag almost kept me from going to treatment at all. However, thanks to the donations from Caron Alumni, Caron employees, private donors, and Chapel collections I was a recipient of a scholarship that covered half the cost. God took care of the rest through a friend who was willing to loan me the remaining money I needed (no strings, no interest, and I will pay when I can). With no excuses left – I agreed to go.
This was my chance. This was my ticket to a new life if I could go there and get every cent worth of care and education to learn about my disease and how to live with it. More than just dealing with the drink or drug, this place gets into the heart of our problems. This place educates addicts and their families. It is easy to treat the physical dependence on drugs and alcohol – it is however much harder to treat the health problems many of us face, our spiritual voids, and our mental defects (how we think, mental illness, family issues). Caron addresses all these things and more. I didn’t go and learn about alcohol dependence; I went and learned about myself.
For someone like me; a person of no wealth or privilege – going to Caron was my winning lottery ticket. Just like people who are poor that win the lottery, I had two choices. I could go to treatment; enjoy being cared for, and coast through until my time was spent; or I could go there and invest myself fully to the process. Some people win millions of dollars in the lottery and squander it in record time only to find themselves broke in a year; buying more tickets hoping to get lucky again. Some people win the lottery and invest it for their future. They make sure that money will last because they know they will probably (statistically) never win the lottery again. I choose to be an investor. I am pretty sure that I would not be able to afford treatment like this again, so I made every cent, every tear, every outburst an investment. Caron is my spiritual and emotional bank account. An account that I can dip into anytime I need it. The support will never run dry because I made sure to leave enough of that “on the mountain” so that I could always return and make those withdrawals that will sustain me for life.
For the next few days, I will be sharing with you some of my experiences there. I plan on using this blog to “keep it green” in my heart and mind. I hope you all will join me. After that, I plan on sharing that Ivy League education I received because I know there are millions of addicts and alcoholics out there who will never get that winning ticket. Just like people who win the lottery and donate some to family, friends and charities; I plan on sharing my experience, strength, and hope with others. Unlike money; that will never run out. I will never be poor again.
I know I said in one of my earlier posts that I didn’t want this blog to be all about addiction and recovery; but I’ve changed my mind. My life from now on is ALL about addiction and recovery and therefore my writing will reflect that in one way or another on a daily (or almost daily) basis. I am one of “those” people now. One of those people who goes to A.A. meetings. One of those people who lives life “one day at a time”, one of those people who knows that I am only one drink away from death, one of those people who have found the solution to addiction and is ready willing and able to follow 12 simple steps for sober living.
It is scary. Alcohol has been a part of my life since birth, and will be a part of my life until I pass on. I learned though that I don’t have to cater to it. I don’t have to let it isolate me from my friends and family. I don’t have to listen to that voice in my head saying that alcohol is the only thing that will numb my emotional pain; that will make me funny and social; that will always be there for me when people falter. We are taught there that our addiction is a “chronic progressive terminal disease that will not relent until we are alone and dead.” Scary stuff. Like some other lifelong chronic diseases though – there is a way to put it in remission. Like the diabetic on insulin, diet and exercise – the addict through the 12 Steps, fellowship with other addicts, and a spiritual/psychic change we CAN live healthy and productive lives. What a promise!
I hope you all will join me on my recovery journey. I hope that my writing will serve a purpose greater than myself – but make no mistake, this writing everyday is how I will maintain my hard won sobriety. This is how I will remind myself that each day is new with its own trials, disappointments, hopes, dreams, and fears. I will share my journey here, victories and struggles; my personal experience, strength and hope.
Before I finish this post I want to thank every single person who works at Caron Treatment Centers. Something like 90% of them are also in recovery (you can’t get over on them – they have either seen or done all this stuff themselves). The people are servants, and over the last 31 days I have referred to them as Saints on more than one occasion.
To my counselor, Diana who helped save my life, taught me how to care for and treat my emotional wounds, who didn’t allow me to wallow in self pity or remain a victim; I can not thank you enough. Your place in my heart is locked, and you will forever be a part of my gratitude each day that I succeed and even the days that I may falter. You taught me how to look inside myself. “We have had this conversation before” is burned in my memory and reminds to reflect on my feelings before acting on them. You are a blessing and you made a difference in this alcoholics life. God ensured that YOU would be my guide through this process – how wise our Higher Power is!
To the Medical treatment team who ensured I didn’t die during detox, who tolerated and loved me through that process (I wasn’t very nice and cursed them out on more than one occasion); I can only hope that seeing me (us) transform from sick and dying people to healthy chemical free, nourished people keeps you motivated. You made me comfortable in my most uncomfortable time and have no doubt that your service is appreciated even if we don’t always get the chance to share that with you.
To the Spiritual Care team; you are the heart of Caron. If someone tried to tell me that a Priest, Minister, and Reverend would change my life and attitude toward my spirituality in such a profound way I would have thrown a beer in their face. Father Bill is a man touched by God. His words, his passion, and his plain common sense changes lives every time he opens his mouth. To Rev. Jack whos realistic evaluations of himself, and desire to help us find our way through humor, compassion and education; well you Sir are also a gift. Finally to Bob, who took the time to sit with me; let me cry, rage and curse God; you showed me once again that not all clergy are lost. Any man who introduces himself as “Recovering Clergy” is my type of guy; and you are right – I did wake up early this morning and I can only thank you for getting up earlier than me and teaching me with compassion and love. You changed my life, and helped me find my God again. For that I can never express enough gratitude.
Finally, my Stephanie who is working the Steps with me. Supported me leaving for 31 days. Who participated enthusiastically in my treatment and the Family Education Program; your love will help sustain me through this process. Now I can promise you that I will be a better partner – not perfect by any means, but better. Your dedication to caring for yourself as I now have to care for myself will only make us stronger. You are an inspiration to me, and I am just as proud of your courage and willingness to learn as grow as you are with me. I love you forever, and our lives together hold nothing but promise if we stay on this path.
If you read this far, thank you! I promise all my posts won’t be this long but I wanted to set this up right this time. I look forward to sharing with you and I hope you come back tomorrow.
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