[I just want to give you fair warning that this is not my typical PG-ish entry. It has harsher than normal language and is not a fluff piece. Just thought I would let you know first so as to not shock you.]
The day I checked into detox was one of the toughest of my life. It took me about 10 seconds after I walked into the “quarters” that I realized I really didn’t want to be there afterall. Of course, having taken just about every pill I could get my hands on before checking in, there wasn’t a chance of my reflexes being alert enough to high-tail it back out of there. I was stuck. I was in a hell of my own choosing. I was there to save my life, but was terrified of what the would entail.
As the counselor went through the orientation questionaire with me -Did she really think I could comprehend anything she was saying?- I looked around the room, trying to take in every detail. My gaze stopped on a very intimidating man about my age. He looked rough.
“What the fuck are you looking at, Miss Suburbia? You think you are better than me in your coordinated Old Navy overalls? You’re shit just like me!”
Okay. This was going to be lots of fun. I began to tremble. It took everything in me not to cry. I knew that if I did, I would never have a chance at gaining any ground here.
That night was long and hellish. I have never been more terrified in my life. I feared for my sanity, my health and my life. Surely, I wouldn’t die here. Would I? I spent that first night sleepless, trembling in fear.
The next day we were forced to follow a very strict schedule. There was no free time or unaccounted for moment in the day. There was no time to yourself. Trust me when I say, they definitely break you down to build you back up. One of the “activities” that you do many times a day is “group.” “Group” is just like it sounds. Groups sessions where all the shit comes out and you are called on it. Sounds fun doesn’t it.
That first group was pretty loud and intense. I was allowed to keep my mouth shut. But that would be the only time I had that option. The entire time I sat there, the man who yelled at me when I first got there kept watching me and glaring. I’ll be honest. He scared me. I kept thinking to myself, “What the hell am I doing here? What have I done?”
Between group and other “fun time activities”, our main source of entertainment and recreation was racing to the “patio” to smoke. Nothing- and I mean nothing- kept the smokers from that patio. I was one of them. It was our “fun” time and our time when the REAL work and REAL group sessions occurred. I honestly opened up more and learned more on that smoking patio than any of the scheduled group sessions. (And I am talking about learning more than just how to chain smoke as fast as possible and how to light your cigarette off of another person’s lit cigarette. Though, those were skills I came to cherish while there.)
So, Mr. Tough guy comes out there. Looks around. Glares at me and tells me he wants to bum one of my cigarettes. I just stare at him. He tells me again. I glare back and reply, “Get your own fucking cigarettes and leave me the hell alone, asshole.” I then turned back to the person I was talking to. My hands were shaking but only the person right beside me noticed.
Mr. Tough Guy stood there. He paused. Then he laughed. “Not bad, Suburbia. Not bad at all.” A truce was made. From then on, he and I were the best of friends and really, really opened up to each other. He became a lifeline to me while I was there.
Amazing how appearances can be deceiving.
Take me for instance. Few people take me for a recovering addict. Why would they? I don’t wear a sign around my neck that announces it. But nevertheless, I am.
Why am I sharing this with you today? Because today is what they refer to in recovery as my “birthday”. Today I am 5 years clean and sober.
I am celebrating. Honestly, I have struggled the past few weeks leading up to today. Something in me fought the idea that I could fight this addiction and beat it for 5 years. The sick part of my brain wanted to sabatoge it so that I could prove there was truth in the lies that I tell myself when I am feeling down or bad about who I am. But I held strong. I forced myself to look at the accomplishment that I had achieved. I had to allow myself to admit that it was hard earned and worth it. I have had to allow myself to not blow it off as “no big deal.” Because, it is a big deal. I did something for myself and my family that was tough. It was hellish. It was– and at times still is- HARD to do.
Today I am celebrating 5 years of being clean and sober from my drug addiction. And I proud of myself.