Hi friends, family and followers, and happy 4th of July weekend!
In my last post, A Decade of Change, I shared about leaving my place in Owatonna in May, as well as a similar leap of faith I took about nine years ago...
As I neared the end of my time at my last halfway house, I had some serious anxiety. Not that recovery, treatment or working on a new way of life is ever easy, but living in a treatment facility definitely provides more of a sense of protection. As my funding ran out, I had no choice but to find a new place to stay. As I've previously mentioned, all my applications to apartments fell through, due to my financial and criminal history.
I was left with a couple options: return to one of a couple homes I previously stayed at, homes that would leave me exposed to old ways, habits, and people, or accept the generous offer of my recovery sponsor to stay in his basement until I could find a place. At the eleventh hour (literally, the day I absolutely had to leave), I called that sponsor and said I was ready to move in. He came later that day, and we moved my couple bags of belongings from the halfway house, to his basement.
At the time, I didn't really understand the logic of this man and his wife. After all, they had known me for all of three months, and so freely offered their home to me. I had known me for 24 years, over half of which consisted of doing a lot of damage to those that were closest to me. My experience of myself in those years was that I would do anything I had to, and harm anyone in the way, without ever consciously thinking about it. That was a scary experience of self. One that had me question my ability to ever provide any value to the world, or anyone in it.
Nonetheless, I moved in. And it turned out to be the best thing that could ever happen to me. It has been proven time and time again in my life, that the things I resist and fight the most, so often turn out to be the best things that could happen to me. Left to my own devices in that time, I very likely would have ended up back in the same life I came from. But, my sponsor and his wife wanted to see me through to the next stage of life.
Not only was it important to have a safe environment to live in, but I also needed to understand what life sober consisted of. As I left the halfway house, I still questioned what the fun would be. What would I do on weekends? What would I do during holiday seasons? I had no idea. These two would show me just that. We went to sober parties, hung out with sober people, and the idea of selflessness and generosity began to shine through in all they did, and in all they taught me to do.
I had just started a concrete job, and since I was able to stay there without paying a ton, I was able to borrow just enough money to buy my first legitimate car. Working concrete really helped me understand that I wanted to do something different - go back to school and get a degree. I was able to pay off some old school debt and sign up for classes in late August of 2011. I never imagined I'd make it back to school. I hardly made it through high school, and rarely looked back.
But life was different. And I knew I had to do something different if I wanted to be something different. I spent that summer finishing up the concrete job, attending recovery events, and playing a lot of softball. I was warned about playing softball, given the amount of partying that happens most nights and weekends, but I knew I had to fulfill that desire to have fun and play. The athlete in me needed some outlet. Recovery promises, in essence, that if we are right in life, help others, and continue to work a recovery program, we can do anything and be anywhere. Whether I knew it then or not, that's how my life began to unfold.
As summer came to an end, I became more and more excited to start school. I never was a fan of school, but something told me this was a path to a more permanent change in life. At that time, I was only 9 months sober, and for the most part, in protected environments. Though I still didn't understand that my life could change forever, I knew any permanency would require an entire lifestyle change. School was a start. Something to look forward to. Something to be responsible for. Something to drive me to a career. Maybe one that would have me help others as part of daily life.
The newness, though very healthy and welcomed, was also scary. But I knew it wouldn't be easy. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by generosity, selflessness, and the love of several people, all of which shaped my early recovery, my life, and the "real world" I would begin to develop.
Until next time, stay generous, selfless, and loving.