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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Beneath the Anonymous

So, you want to get sober?

Sitting in a detox next to a couple, who are discussing their future lives together. They are each less than a week removed from heroin and crystal meth use, currently on methadone and looking for a halfway house that will take couples.
I'll keep the receipt for the wedding gift.

I was no one to judge at the time,  I myself was sitting next to them. Completely defeated, spending time listening to the AA/NA in-house commitments speak about experience, strength and hope while interrupting my time I could be using  laying in bed screaming into my pillow. 

"How did my life get to this point?"
I thought as I fished through the ashtray for a sniped cigarette that was sizeable enough to not give away any shred of self respect I have left to light and smoke. Nice, a Marlboro that had only a few drags taken from it before it was put out. Jackpot! 

Here comes the tech to make me aware it is time to go to group, the one with the face I can't stand. I have to sit and listen to this 23 year old man complain about how his parents won't let them back home even though he has been sober for over a week. 

"Poor thing, a 6 month run of heroin use and stealing all your parents money and now you're not even allowed to have keys to the house. Parents just don't understand.",
 as the voice in my head screamed as I tapped my foot, head in hand, watching the clock out of the corner of my eye for smoke break while plotting which kid in this room was the weakest so I could get a smoke out of him.

"I should leave. But where will I go with no money, car or residence?"  

Circumstances had me by the balls. 
I knew that no matter how bad my mind was out the door, my feet would remain planted. Begrudgingly, resentfully yet undoubtedly planted. 

As I awoke in the morning, the tech with the face I hated came to tell me I would be leaving to go to my next destination as the other tech with the face I hated was bringing in a new client, he was apparently mentally befogged and glassy eyed. He was a new patient, who I would never introduce myself to while I packed my belongings and rushed to the lobby to wait and leave that detox.

After 2 weeks of getting acclimated at the program I was moved because my attitude was slowly improving. My appetite was returning and my patience was very low, a vast improvement from where my patience was just a few days prior. Now I get  to go to outside meetings, where I would scan the room for the girl of my misunderstanding while drowning out the noise of all that "sober is better" nonsense. " Bonus, just another 5 minutes then I get to go back to the program housing and watch the news to rejoice in the fact that I am not the only one suffering in this world."

Another two weeks of this and now  going into the next phase of this journey, where I can look for jobs and would have more freedom.  But still required to go to those 12 step meetings 4 times a week. 

For me, it was another hour of my time being ripped from me while I sit and listen to these people. Constantly being reminded by their stories of hope how hopeless my life is. Jobless, with no calls back about my applications, wearing the same shoes I had been wearing in active addiction while watching Mr. Sportcoat come into the meeting with a nice haircut, fresh air maxes and the girl I wanted to sleep with. Where I grew up a Mr. Sportcoat is the guy who will bang your girl while you are locked up or in treatment. He is the guy we all fear while on the phone with the girl we just replaced for drugs up until the point of rock bottom. Now that your clean you are ready to take her back and be the guy you promised. Good luck, Sportcoat has already moved in. Anyway back to that guy.  He's a total douche and she is a dumb skank.
Now its time for the old guy who uses phrases like "I put the plug in the jug 37 years ago and have not picked up since!" 
Yeah sounds good guy, a lot better when you tell it.

Why could I not stand these people?
Is it because they suck or my life does?
Maybe both, I told myself. 
But what one guy said at one of these awful meetings really stuck with me. 
He said that when he reached out for help, the 12 step program members reached back. 

As I sat there sleeping in the bed my halfway house was providing me, I thought of how I was too proud to ask for help. And as I ate the food I had purchased with my food stamps, I thought of all the ways I was independent and could survive on my own. I couldn't. I could not do this on my own. I needed help. I needed to swallow my pride, right after I got done with chewing these ramen noodles.
I decided I would raise my hand at the next meeting and introduce myself. I would keep it brief.

Sunday came and at 6:45 pm, I would head to the meeting. By the time I got there I had already decided I would not being sharing as I had planned. I walked in, kept my head low and went right for the back row of chairs in thr denial aisle. As the clock slowly was approaching 8, which would be the end of the meeting, I mustered up the courage to raise my hand and share because why not at this point, there were no girls near my age there, so if I did embarass myself it wasn't the end of the world.
When called on to share I said "Hey , I'm (insert my name) and I'm an alcoholic/addict." The usual mantra.
"Hi (insert name) " the meeting goers said in unison, as they stared at me attentively. The usual response. Becoming beat red and quickly moving my eyes towards the floor, rubbing my hands together nervously, I explained to the group I was newly sober, living in a halfway house and needed help. And then I ended it, almost simultaneously as the meeting time was expiring. 

After the end of meeting, I headed towards the door. Where I would be met by the groups members, who would ask me if I would be interested in joining the group, and shared their phone numbers with me. Coincidentally the group was having it's business meeting. I agreed to stay for it, and left with the job of greeter for the group. 

Not the job I was looking for. 

Next week, I showed up to the meeting a haf hour prior, helped the group set up and greeted people. After doing so the week prior, I shared again.  For some reason just speaking about my situation felt relieving. All the anger and spite I was keeping to myself was destroying me. 

I'd soon realize I didn't have to go through this alone. 

After the meeting, I was approached by one of those oldtimer guys. The "plug in the jug" type. He said he was available to be a sponsor, as I had mentioned I needed during my share.
We exchanged contact info, and I called him later that night. That was the beginning of a major change that required little effort.

As we met the next day and he shared his experience , and how his experience may be of help to mine I realized how not alone I was. I found commonalities with a person I was not sure I would ever start a conversation with at a bus stop. And those common bonds made me believe that I too could have what he seemed to have.

A life worth living.

Now, with a little more clean time, a new pair of shoes and working an active program in my life I wake up happier. I am eager to get to those 12 step meetings to share about my day, my experience and my newfound hope. That old timer that apporached me, meets with me atleast once a week and we speak everyday. He has become a friend just as much as he is a lifeline when I need to talk to someone. 

The desire to use is no longer present in my life. I am more eager to build a strong foundation and optimistic I can. 

The bad moments or minor inconviences that come with living life sober don't own me or decide how my day is going to go. I have a home group in which I am cared for by its members and that encourages me to continue to do the right thing.

Anger and impatience for others is slowly being replaced by tolerance. I try to understand before I react, maybe I could be of good use to someone struggling as I was. And all those times in the early phases of recovery, the detox, the groups, the tech with the face I hated to look at, all those things will remain things of my past so long as I am willing to continue building my future one day at a time. 

So if you want to get sober, it won't be easy. There will be a struggle involved, sacrifice and things you do not want to do. However, if you want it bad enough, those things will be worth the end result. When it comes to recovery from addiction, the ends justify the means.

Take it from me,

An addict of the hopeless variety.

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