There Was Another Way

Two down and one to go, months that is. I had completed 2 of the 3 months treatment that I had signed up for. Looking back, time had gone quickly. This week I was to go through steps 4 to 9 of the recovery program delivered by the treatment centre. I had already completed Steps 1 to 3 and a 6 week detox. With the detox firmly behind me, the feeling of freedom was immense. I had dreamed about this, being able to wake up without having to reach for a pill before I could get out of bed and face the day. No more panic when my prescription ran out early, or falling asleep sporadically whilst looking after my children. No more manipulating and lying to the doctors or my family about the amount I was taking. No more planning my days to fit in around taking my pills and the subsequent drowsiness that followed. No more counting the minutes to when I could take my next “fix”. The feeling was one of true liberation.

I had dreamed about this, being able to wake up without having to reach for a pill.

Whilst I was still feeling the effects of the drugs working their way out of my system, I strongly sensed that the worst was behind me. My focus was no longer on my detox or the aches, pains and anxiety that went with it. My focus was now on getting well and sorting out the mess of my life that I had left behind. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy or quick process and I thank God that I was shown how, as at this point, for once in my life, I had no plans and no answers, I was clueless.

For my Steps 4 to 9, I was taken to a quiet room with 2 other clients by one of the counsellors. Fear gripped me, I was terrified of getting it wrong, I wanted so badly to get well and recover. The counsellor reassured me that as long as I was honest with myself and followed the suggestions to the best of my ability I could not go wrong. For the rest of the day we all sat in the room, in silence, writing out our personal moral inventory. I listed all the people I was angry at, institutions and things that I felt had wronged me and how they had wronged me. I listed the people I had harmed and what I had done. I looked at how all these things affected me and how others were affected by my behaviour. I listed my fears, the things that kept me awake at night and haunted me throughout the day. I had never seen myself as an angry person, I wasn’t violent and rarely raised my voice, yet it was evident from what I had written that there was a lot of inner anger and hatred. These were the very things that I drank on, used on and sought oblivion from, including myself. Once we had completed our lists, we were asked to look at it from a completely different angle, to consider carefully whether the fight and struggle was worth destroying ourselves for. I looked carefully for my part in each resentment and fear, discarding my opinions and beliefs. We prayed and asked for our anger and fears to be removed, to take a kindly and tolerant view and to look at how we could be helpful rather than destructive in each given situation. Its hard to explain exactly how this process works, but work it did! I could see clearly that I had been pointlessly trying to control things and people to fit with my ideals. I had been judgemental and forgotten that people make mistakes, its human nature and how we learn. I had also set myself an ideal of perfection, I was harsh on myself and on others as I expected them to achieve the same. I had measured others worth by my own worth, naturally this led to disappointment, resentment and non acceptance in others. I had fought, been stubborn, tried to control. I had concentrated so hard on the flaws in others and myself that I had not been able to see the beauty and simplicity in life. Through my selfish and reckless behaviour, justified by my fears and anger, I had hurt others, causing emotion pain, distrust and fear. This to me was a revelation, what a futile existence I had been living, no wonder I had often felt “what is the point?”.

It was not the others that were at fault, it was me.

With Step 4 completed to the best of my ability, we moved on to step 5, where I read out my written inventory to the group and the counsellor. Anything I was uncomfortable sharing, I was told I could tell the counsellor on a one to one basis after. I took a deep breath and read out my inventory, every single embarrassing and painful bit of it. Afterwards I walked out of that room, feeling a massive weight had been lifted, I had nothing more to hide, no secrets and no lies, further more I was free and despite my initial fears of being committed to an asylum, this fear proved to be unfounded.

As I stood outside with my cup of steaming coffee, I noticed how fresh the winter air smelt and how the sun warmed my face. It was peaceful and quiet, inside and out! Despite it being a tiring, uncomfortable and at points distressing day, I had no desire to drink or take any pills. This was a feeling I felt I could definitely get used to.

Steps 6, 7, and 8 involved admitting my defects, making a list of people I had harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them all. This I didn’t question or fear as I had felt the power of the previous two steps. Step 9 was to make direct amends, wherever possible, to the people I had harmed. Obviously being in  addiction rehab I was limited to what I could do. Many of my amends were to change my behaviour and would be on going, an apology was not going to be sufficient. I had lost count of the number of times I had promised to change and apologise for things I had done, only to repeat the same behaviour again and again within a very short space of time. I could see now that this program was a design for living, a different way of life in which I had to consider others and how my actions would affect them. Anger and fear had eaten me up inside, it had made me sick and powerless over my addictions and actions. Yet this process had introduced me to something infinitely more powerful than alcohol or drugs. I felt I had found a solution at last!

Next: A Journey Through Rehab – Week Nine