If I though the worst was over in the first few weeks of my treatment, I was sadly mistaken. I was now starting to feel the effects of the detox. The Valium was being reduced at a steady pace with the aim of me being clean from it by week 7 of my stay. I could no longer sleep at night, my appetite was non existent and there were days when I felt like I was losing my mind. The staff at the clinic encouraged me and kept me focused on the 12 step program. One of the counsellors reassured me, that whilst the detox symptoms were very unpleasant, they would pass, and that if I followed the program of recovery, I would never have to go through it again. He himself had detoxed from Valium 7 years previously. He shared with me his despair and hopelessness, how he had hurt others and hurt himself, yet here he was now in a position of being able to help me. He assured me he had rebuilt his relationships with his wife and family. His addiction had taken to him living on the streets, begging money from strangers and even prison. I was inspired, he was so self assured, and confident, it was hard to believe that he was the same person that he spoke of. He not only believed in the program that was being delivered at the addiction rehab, but he practiced it too, and the results were evident. “I had suffered some traumatic events as a teenager, but the life skills I had developed as a result, were now killing me”
In week 3 of my treatment I had to write an assignment on the Unmanageability of my life. This was part 2 of the first Step. Guided by the questions presented to me, it became clear to me that not only was my life completely unmanageable on the outside, but I was unmanageable on the inside. I had no control over my thoughts, feelings or emotions. This manifested in me trying to change and control everything externally in the vain hope I would feel better inside. Of course it never worked. I began to realise the extent of the task ahead. My thoughts and core beliefs had developed over the years. They were all designed to protect myself from harm, but in doing so I hurt others and in harming others, I harmed me. Yes I had suffered some traumatic events as a teenager, but the life skills I had developed as a result, were now killing me. I had never dealt with my past, only numbed it with drugs and alcohol. My poor parents had tried so hard to protect and support me, but no one could protect me from me. My thinking had become so defensive and self protective that I pushed everyone away emotionally. I didn’t know how to let others in. I was convinced that if others got close to me, they would feel the same hatred that I felt for myself. I felt unlovable and very, very lonely.
Reading out my assignment to group, the tears fell. I realised that I had got it all wrong, my beliefs and consequent actions had all but destroyed me. I didn’t know who I was, as everything I previously believed was based on a distorted view of life. I was told by the counsellors that I HAD to disregard my old beliefs if I was ever to recover. I could see for myself that this was true and no longer trusted my own thinking. This was a terrifying realisation, but made me willing to try anything that was suggested by the counsellors. My self reliance had completely and utterly failed me, it was time to let others take control and guide me. I wish I could say that from this point it was all plain sailing, but you cant undo a life time of thinking a certain way in a few weeks or even months. It just doesn’t work like that. Even today, 5 years on, I have to be on guard against my thoughts and actions. The difference is that today I know how to change my thoughts and the way I feel. Ive discovered a previously untapped source of rational and real thinking. I can live in the here and now and not in the pain of the past. I feel certain that I would not have achieved this had I not allowed myself to feel the pain I had been so desperately trying to suppress. In this respect my emotional pain became my salvation, it made me willing to change as I could no longer run or hide from it.
Next: A Journey Through Rehab – Week Four