The Beginning of a New Life

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

I'ts been almost two months since I last posted, and it's time to deliver another series of posts that outline the beginning of what would turn out to be an entirely new life, one I never imagined possible. I told the story of my final bout with drugs and alcohol in Grandma's Dying Wish. Though the drugs and alcohol were removed physically, there was still A LOT of work to do.

Before I get into any details of my first and only episode in a treatment center, I want to share a little bit about what opened the door for the life changing experience that began at Fountain Centers in Albert Lea.

Here's the reality of where I was at from a psychological standpoint. People ask me all the time if I was ready for treatment, if I knew it was time, if I could tell my life would change for the better, and so on. My answer is always no. You see, there's no way, with the 24 years of life and 12 years of addiction I had experienced, that I could possibly believe I had any chance at recovery, that change was possible, or that my life could actually have meaning or joy.

The truth is, I simply wanted to escape that horrific pain I felt so intensely in the jail cell. Anything had to be better than that. I was just looking to minimize the pain.

I hear people talk all the time about how they put themselves in treatment, how they started their journey of recovery on their own will, and all kinds of other things that indicate self driven motives. While we must give credit where credit is due, I want to be clear about something I've observed in every case of someone struggling with addiction getting help - it is invariably some sort of pain or suffering that drives humans to seek change or help, not a desire to be a better person. If desire was enough, the pain would be so much more short lived and my story would be irrelevant.

I'm sure that's hard for some people to hear. It's just my personal experience and observation of others. Sure, I made the call to get the assessor in, which led to treatment, but there's no way I'd have called the assessor or landed in treatment had I been released from the hospital vs taken to jail. The pain backed me so far into a corner that something, anything, was worth trying.

Pain beat me down, and opened the door for willingness to sneak in. Still, the belief in a different life wasn't there. Then, I made it to treatment. Grandma died. I was brought to my knees in even more pain. The Spirit squeezed through the cracks. And most of all, people did for me what I wasn't capable of doing at the time - they believed in and supported me, regardless of my past.

During my 28 days in treatment at Fountain Centers, my attitude around life changed dramatically. I began to experience God, gratitude, and generosity, quickly and powerfully. I prayed every morning and every night after my grandma passed. It made a difference, so I kept on. I thanked everyone in that place; treatment techs, counselors, administration, etc. Even the housekeepers got a thank you letter! Generosity began to run my thoughts and actions. I had a chunk of money from the group home job, money I wasn't accustomed to, and bought all kinds of food and candy. I ran around that building handing it out to staff and fellow patients alike.

I might have been the most excited person on the planet during that time. They forced me to go to bed after lights out each night, and I was the first one up when the doors unlocked at 5am every morning. For the first time in a VERY long time, I wanted to be awake and alive, and looked forward to what every day had in store. I've been on this side of life for almost nine years, and still those 28 days might have been the most meaningful. And to think, I entered that treatment center with a laundry basket of dirty clothes to my name. Seriously, I had nothing, and was happier than most people there, probably even most that weren't there.

You might hear people talk about the "pink cloud" or the "treatment high" like somehow it's a temporary thing that inevitably dissipates after a certain amount of time. Maybe that's true to an extent, there are definitely ebbs and flows to life and the feelings that accompany it. But how about this for a theory? Maybe that's a Spirit that runs the Universe shedding so much grace on someone who, for the first time in a long time, is actually trying to do good for self, others and the Universe. How powerful it was. How powerful it is. How powerful it can be.

Finally, there was alignment in my life in who I intended to be and who I was working to be. It didn't equate to everything getting better, but it did lay a foundation that would shape the rest of my life. I can never express the amount of gratitude I feel for Fountain Centers and the experience I had there. I go back regularly to tell my story, and will never forget that place!

During this time of year when God, gratitude and generosity are emphasized, I'm always taken back to this same time nine years ago. A time that, with any one of many moments, could have taken a much different course, one that wouldn't have me writing today. I'm thankful to be writing, thankful for all of you who've helped me along the way, and thankful to the Power that underlies all and guides my life.

Be blessed, people. Be blessed.

J

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