The first of the 12 Steps of AA/NA, which I never had very much interest in, is simply to admit to yourself something isn’t working and that your life has become unmanageable because of a drug or alcohol problem. I personally have had this one mastered for years and it had become a non-issue for me to admit. Before coming into a treatment centre and for a brief time in treatment, I had addiction so ingrained in me I no longer cared about my past, which was at times very successful and brought me years of joy, passions, careers, and everything else deemed normal. Unfortunately, a few years before coming into a treatment centre, I had made a decision that brought me awareness of having lost everything I had ever cared about, family included, and that I was going nowhere in life other than prison, which in turn wasn’t worried about because I firmly believed I would be dead before the police had the chance to get me there. This was a very dangerous place to be. Complete acceptance of death with no real emotions or cares attached to it was second-nature for me. For me personally it took away all morals and consequences. Anything to help my short lived piece of heaven until I checked out was fair game: lying, stealing, selling drugs, robbing etc… Anything my intuition told me wasn’t an option in the past, no matter the situation, had ultimately become my new found way of life in the present. I never felt bad about people I hurt, only because I was high enough to justify and blame anything negative as we do. I had accepted it, I was going to be high till I die… And fine with it.
Being completely honest, I landed in Together We Can at random and with all the wrong intentions. After just another day of dishonest and completely insane work, I botched a break and enter because I was so loaded I had left my cell phone at the scene. I woke up with the police surrounding my bed once again and taken away. I was released and given a court date. I figured my best option was to do a quick “spin-dry” wherever I could so I had something positive to lie to the judge about. I used until I was taken into detox, and was planning on using in treatment once I figured out the system enough to get away with it. That never happened. I was here for a week, knew nobody, had no interest in getting better, and was miserable. I started going to my groups and talking to people, people like me, including the counsellors. I’ve always had problems with drug counsellors. My experience in the past was some grumpy person behind a desk that lacked the ability to compute anything I was trying to convey, and most likely glancing at the clock wondering when they could get rid of me and collect their pay cheque. After that week I met one that could relate, that had been through similar things. I decided I would give this a chance, a small one, with no expectations… Another week went by and I had gone from miserable to a person that people liked. I met people I liked, and for the right reasons. Friendship was hard to come by in my previous lifestyle. Another week went by and I began to like myself, being sober. Which after five years of loathing facing reality without something to help you lie to yourself was completely foreign. I also realized, contrary to my beliefs, I was undoubtedly not more productive while I was high. My thirty day spin dry had turned into a ninety day life changing experience. I was not only getting my emotional stability back, moving on from my years of terrorizing a city, and numbing out any feelings, I was also discovering what I am capable of. This was not planned, but it’s what took place, and today I can honestly say I am happier than I have been in a decade. I was able to get over the past and become grateful for the things that had happened. I realized while being here, even at my best, I never really knew who I was.
Second stage housing, just like the rest of the treatment experience, was never an option for me. Once I started getting over one or two things I had deemed as weak or unacceptable for whatever reason, everything began to unravel and I chose to move there. Some of the best people I have ever met have been through this with me, there is friendship in my life and I can tell anything to my peers. I’ve begun to find new passions in life, I’ve built solid relationships, and I have a whole network of people in my life that have my best interest in mind. If this is what it took for me to wake up and put together how insane my life was it’s the best decision I have ever made. The future is full of possibilities. There are so many things I have yet to achieve that suddenly don’t seem unreachable. They seem real, and tangible. Identifying how sad and desperate I had become when I arrived here was a necessary factor in me not returning to that place. This isn’t about getting back the things I had lost, because I never had what I needed inside. This was a fresh start, to build as good a life as I am willing to create.
Thank you to TWC Alumni Myles P. for his contribution of experience, strength and hope through the discovery of friendship and perseverance.