With the rehab timetable returning to normal after the Christmas break, this week I was shown how to do Steps 10, 11 and 12 of the recovery program. These are the maintenance steps that I will have to complete daily in order to continue to grow in my recovery and stay sober. Realistically the recovery program is something that I need to adapt into my every day living, and for the rest of my life!. You may ask, why once you are sober do you have to go to such extremes? The answer is quite simple really, my illness of alcoholism and addiction was only partly to do with stopping, the bigger part was staying stopped and the bigger picture was living a productive and happy life. The saying “A grateful addict is a clean and sober addict” rings true. If I am happy with me and my life, why on earth would I want to destroy it?
I’ve since learned that recovery requires commitment, it simply isn’t something that I can dip into every now and again when I feel like it. This is where Steps 10, 11 and 12 come into my daily life. I have to always be mindful of my thinking and behaviour. Sadly there is no cure for alcoholism, but with the help of The Steps I have found a way of maintaining my recovery on a daily basis. In my recovery I have learned so much about myself and others, it is like walking into the light after a very long time in the dark. The reason I stay true to myself and my recovery is that prior to the 12 steps, I had tried all manor of ways to stay sober and clean, none of which had had any lasting results. Countless trips to the Doctors, Counsellors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists, I had had the very best of the NHS’s resources. Diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety and depression (all common diagnosis for alcoholics and addicts) I was heavily sedated and had resigned myself to a life time of underachievement and misery. I am not saying that 12 steps is the only way, but clearly it is for me. So when I experienced those brief and previously elusive moments of peace and serenity after my steps 4 through to 9, I decided right there and then that I wanted more and was willing to do anything it took to experience that.
With my new found peace of mind, as a result of trusting and connecting with a higher power, I decided it was time to explore my spiritual side more. Locally to the rehab there were many stalls and shops providing healing, gifts and readings for those seeking spiritual enlightenment. I look back now and wonder if they had found their pot of gold, in locating themselves so strategically to a large and busy rehab teaching a spiritual program of recovery. Naturally many of the rehabs clients would frequent these places in search of hope and answers, me included. Now, I have nothing against such places, and in fact have visited them since, but I sometimes wonder if they could be guilty of taking advantage of the needy and vulnerable. Desperate to know I was on the right track with my recovery, I purchased a reading from a lady at one of the stalls, she kindly confirmed that my feelings for another client were true and that I had indeed met the man of my dreams at the addiction rehab. I was so impressed with her insight I promptly purchased some spiritual items and within days had become the resident Angel Card reader at the rehab!
With only a week to go until my discharge, most of the group sessions focused on my plans for leaving: What I would do to sustain my recovery, who I would speak to if I needed help, how I was going to put structure and purpose into my daily life and how I was going to build relationships and trust with my family. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but in reality had no idea just how hard it was going to be. As previously mentioned, I had decided to stay locally and had arranged to share a rented property with 2 other clients from the rehab. It wasn’t going to be the Ritz but it was spacious enough that my children would be able to stay over at weekends. This was hugely important to me. I had a lot of making up to do where my children were concerned, but wanted to ensure I could remain recovery focused at the same time. I had been desperately unwell, depressed and anxious for many years; this was not going to undo its self over night. Something inside of me told me that it would take time and hard work on my part. Although I knew my children were in safe hands with their father and had lots of family that loved and cared for them, this didn’t stop the guilt and pain from being separated from them. The truth is, if you are in rehab, your life has gone badly wrong. It’s not the sort of place you find yourself in by accident, you don’t suddenly wake up in rehab having only left the house to buy milk and a paper…well, the majority of clients don’t anyway!
If you are in rehab, chances are you are very unwell, physically, spiritually and mentally. Others may have suffered as a result; moral codes such as faithfulness, not breaking the law and staying the right side of the tax man, may all have been broken. Relationships are ruined, trust is broken and precious possessions are lost. There were two other women in the rehab at the same time as me who had had their children taken into care, I was blessed that mine were not, but had my circumstances been different, this could well have happened. I felt that rehab had given me a second chance and was determined to prove to myself and to others that I could get and stay well, abstaining from pills and alcohol. An exciting but also terrifying prospect!
Next, Final Part: A Journey Through Rehab – Week Twelve