“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Feeling a tad courageous and a bit wiser, I left rehab with sighs, a few tears and an awful sense of trepidation.
Unlike some of the others that I had met, I was not going home to a family. My husband was in the process of divorcing me and my young son was in his custody. I was off to a condo that I was renting—alone.
And, alone scared me. I had never actually lived alone and my anxiety level was through the roof. Recalling some relaxation techniques from my 2 month stay at rehab, I began to soothe my always-frayed nerves.
These techniques were certainly helpful, yet the years of addictive behavior were ingrained. Knowing that I would have to work on modifying my cravings—I nonetheless thought about drinking. I thought about swallowing pills. For a brief moment I even thought about jumping off of a building. Come hell or high water, I would do none of those.
My past is not about regrets
I had been an incredibly competent addict. Why couldn’t I put the same amount of effort into sobriety?
I had learned why I was anxious . . . had taken tools with me to cope with the negativity deep in my soul, and I had non-narcotic, herbal, anti-anxiety medicine. I repeated to myself a saying that a rehab counselor had taught me:
“My past is not about regrets, there are no bad memories. There are only lessons learned that make my future stronger.”
Carol would be my therapist in the town where I lived. She would jokingly call herself a ‘rehabilitationist!’ And, that she was.
We met twice a week. I told her every deep, dark secret that I had hidden in my psyche. I cried, I sobbed, and at times, I even laughed at myself.
My family physician had me go to a liver doc and a nutritionist. And then there were AA and NA meetings. Every day, come hell or high water, I attended both.
I cried and sobbed and laughed
Meeting people from all walks of life, I came out of my shell and shared. I shared the good, the bad and the ugly. Again, I cried and sobbed and laughed.
Part time, no intellect-needed jobs came my way. I walked dogs, cat-sat, delivered early morning newspapers, and helped a local landscaper. Eventually, I began writing again and that improved my self-esteem. I could lose myself in my work and within the time I spent with my child.
I chose a sponsor. Valerie was an awesome, petite, firecracker of a woman. Each day, come hell or high water, I read recovery literature, I prayed, I meditated and I wrote a gratitude list—meetings and speaking with her were givens. Guided by Val, by knowledgeable Carol, and by sober friends, I slowly healed.
I saw that peace was coming
I was committed to these life affirming routines. I found some solace. I began to feel sober. I saw that peace was heading in my direction.
Eleven months after leaving rehab, I spoke to the folks there. Sharing my “experience, strength and hope,” I felt clean, literally and figuratively.
“Time heals all wounds,” I told them. Come hell or high water, I did find my stronger future.
Finally, I could say that I had one year of sobriety. I gave my first celebratory AA coin to my son.
And, this all-encompassing journey continues as I “find the courage to change the things that I can . . .”