To new readers and followers of my blog, it will become obvious that I hold nothing back when it comes to my life before and since recovery from addiction. I became aware many years ago that the power of truth and transparency would set me free from my damaging secrets and false ego. I believe that real recovery from sunstance-use as well as other addictions begins with a bold paradigm shift inside. I have helped clients focus on discovering their real selves as well as their supressed feelings, desires, goals, and ambitions. Recovery and sobriety eluded me for many years, just as it did for hundreds of clients I have guided on the path to true freedom and release from worry and despair.
The truth, in all it’s sometimes ugly reality, is that human beings have made mistakes in their life. Addiction to mood-altering substances became a multiplier of those mistakes for most of us. The most powerful step in real recovery is dependant on acceptance of our mistakes. An understanding that the stigma of embarrasing and guilt-ridden addiction behavior is a road block to freedom from the very illness that we wish to recover from. Things we’ve done in our mind-bending addiction episodes are not attributed to moral failings. These mistakes are simply symptoms of the brain disease of addiction. My message to all of you who wish to end your damanging relationship with drugs and alcohol is that you move toward self-forgiveness of your past so that you can enter a new season in life. My recovery began when I understood that I had to be willing to empty the heavy backpack of shame I carried before I could become the sane and sober person I was meant to be. This idea is the foundation of my Recovery Journey Addiction Freedom Course.
*There are some shocking details in my story “The Fall’, and I hope that you understand the necessity for my candor. My story takes me from a hopeless, sellfish, and even criminal-minded soul, to a committed professional on a mission to lead fellow sufferers to a new and wonderful reality. I hope that sharing my story provides evidence that even the worst of the past can lead to a life of caring, understanding, and a desire to love and help others.
The following events are true, names were changed or omitted to protect the many innocent victims. Love, gratitude, peace and respect go out to the unnamed in this story including those who remained unrecognized and unknown to me. My efforts at healing and making amends to those identified began nearly 26 years ago and continues …
I entered the building at 10:45 pm,
they closed by law at 11 every night except Sunday, and for some reason they were mandated to close at 6 on the sabbath. I located the shelf that held the cheap vodka, $8.99 a quart, I did the math in my head, I could surely talk the guy at the checkout into letting me owe him the change I would be short after tax. I was right, he let me walk out with both quarts bagged up for the $20 bill John had given me. I crossed the street and climbed the stairs to my second-floor room. I made a dash down the outdoor corridor to the ice machine- out of order. I went down the stairs to the other machine by the hotel office, it spit out about one plastic cup of ice and then made that dreaded empty sound. When I sat down back at my room at the little round table with the Formica top peeling on the edges and poured the first drink. I stared at it for a few moments, watched the ice melting and the plastic cup begin to sweat onto the table. I wanted to not want that drink.
I woke to the sound of the bedside phone.
I was lying sideways across the bed, my head pounding with each ring. Unable to sit up, I looked across the little room at the round table, the bottle was uncapped with about 1/3 of the contents remaining. There was another bottle on the bathroom sink counter, empty and lying on its side. Last nights memories began to ease into my awareness. I had done it again, even though I said I wouldn’t. The toughest thing about it all was that I meant what I had decided, meant it with all my heart, soul, and determination. But now the realization was that I had drank over a quart and a half of cheap vodka and passed out in a cheap motel alone and ashamed. Once again, I had broken a promise to myself and my friend. I also felt deep shame for what I felt was a punch in the gut to my rescuers back in St. Louis. What a worthless soul I was, and tomorrow was just 24 hours away, an orange jumpsuit and baloney sandwiches awaited me. No way, no how, I’ll come up with a plan. There has to be a Plan D, a better option.
Suddenly someone was knocking on the door to my room,
it was maid services. “Are you checking out sir”? I couldn’t answer. A couple more knocks and another inquiry, then nothing. The phone began to ring again, 3, 4, 5, 6 rings then nothing. It was now 1pm according to the LED clock radio on the bedside table. Another hour went by, I was just finishing the last of the vodka when someone began knocking with a fury on the door. A male voice screamed that if I was not out in 5 minutes, the police would be called. I stumbled to my feet, searched for a missing shoe and opened the door. It was cold and rain had begun to drizzle. I donned my coat and stumbled down the stairs, zipping the coat from St. Louis all the way up to my chin. I reached the street out front, looked left, then right. It was a toss-up; I didn’t know where I was, or which way would be the better direction. After a moment, I decided that right seemed as good a direction as either, so I began walking. Soaking wet, cold and drunk, I made my way down the street, some blocks in this direction offered a sidewalk, in other places the sidewalk disappeared and I struggled with the edge of the curb trying to avoid the puddled up muddy strip of earth and soggy grass. Cars screamed by me splashing rainwater against my legs. Sometimes my left foot would slip off the curb into the water rushing down the street. I walked for a long time, soaked to the bone. I looked up at the buildings as I passed them by, none offering my inebriated brain any ideas for refuge. I stumbled into unseen steel guidewires from telephone poles not once, but twice, nearly falling to the ground. A Plan D was evading me.
I was hungry now, a sign that the vodka was wearing off.
I noticed that the buildings I was passing looked more like residential properties now. That couldn’t be good, I don’t know anyone that lives in a house around here, I suppose I was looking for a sign, some business that struck me as a place I might find refuge, but now I was several blocks into this residential area. If I could just think of someone to call for help, but my bartender friend had told me in no uncertain terms that she was done with me. I needed to find a store or a pay phone, maybe once I found it, I would think of someone to call. Yes, I would have to turn around and go back the way I came to continue my hopeless search. As I spun around on the sidewalk something familiar caught my eye. I stopped and looked across the street. Standing out in the row of older houses was a bright yellow house with blue shutters and a manicured lawn. On the front door was hand painted sign, the letters AA inside a perfectly formed triangle were easily visible to me. I knew what that meant, it was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting place, what luck I thought. Those people will welcome me in out of the rain, maybe they had coffee and some cookies. I had been to AA meetings on and off since I was 16 years old. Never more than a few in a month or two except when I was in rehab those 5 times back in the 80’s. With a strand of hope in my chest, I stared down the traffic and bolted across the street to the yellow house, my spirits filled with the thought of a warm, dry seat. I went up the steps to little front porch, reached for the door handle and turned it-locked, dark inside. No AA, no refuge here.
Stay tuned for the next part of the story, coming July 30th following next weeks Part 4 conclusion of the series on Changing Your Addicted Life.
Be safe and care for one another.
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Asking for Medical Help
If you or someone you know exhibits withdrawal symptoms, psychological problems, or any signs of self-harming behavior, contact your medical professional, call 911, or reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)