man in tunnel

A reflection on the journey to recovery …

Drinking and partying just become an everyday ritual when you do them for a long time. Drinking becomes part of every event. You simply must find a way to incorporate it because you are so used to it being part of everything you do. You try to change that, that pattern or direction. But it seems very difficult to do, because you believe drinking is part of you.

The drugs, the depression, and drinking increased, but none of that cured the pain. That’s when it got so bad for me. I was in such a dark place that I realized I needed to reach out for help. Stopping and looking at the reality of where I was emotionally, financially, and in terms of being able to support the people I care most about—my family—caused me to realize I needed help.

Being in rehab was a way of taking a self-imposed timeout and evaluating the damage I was doing to myself—and the people I care about. When I took a look around at my peers in rehab, I realized that addiction did not show any preference, whether male or female, young or old, or in terms of socio-economic status.

This time made me take a look at the things I had to change in my life. I knew that the journey had to start from within me. My mindset was: I must be successful at this. I must remember the darkness and the pain, and remember that this is a place I refuse to go back to. I must harness this pain and remember that I must never backtrack to the chaos and pain I choose to leave behind.

I compared this task, in my mind, to the preparation I put into sports—readying myself mentally, training, and building my support. I realized that being in rehab was far easier than what I would face when I went back out through those doors and met the freedom to fail. I knew I had to face my personal demons head-on.

One of those demons was the guilt and disappointment surrounding all the things I could have accomplished—and coming to terms with where my life stood because of the lifestyle I had been leading. Taking stock of all the things I do have in my life and focusing on what I wanted to accomplish going forward were essential. Being a better father and husband was a primary goal, one that has kept me focused on my recovery. Being sober has let me see clearly all that I have to value and all that I have to lose.

When I returned home I had somewhat prepared myself for what I had to face: getting myself healthy … prayer … changing my circle of people, places, and things … and making sure I had therapeutic support in place, all so that I could stay focused on my life recovery.

Working out was, and is, key for me. It was part of my personal maintenance, my base, to take care of myself, and thus feel better physically and mentally. Daily prayer gave me strength to endure. Therapeutic support, through Diakon Family Life Services, keeps me in the moment. It gives me a close reminder of the things I need to do and to see and value my gains and personal growth also.

Changing my circle of people, places, and things had to happen. It is like changing direction. That same circle was going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. I was not going to become a better me if I did not do that. Now the way I go about doing things is part of learning to rethink—this is the first time that alcohol and drugs have not been part of my life. Any activity … was done with alcohol and drugs. I had to relearn how to do every activity without drugs and alcohol being part of it and how to enjoy it that way.

One of the best things about making these changes is being able to wake up with a clear conscience and the ability to look forward to having the opportunity to experience things in a natural manner, without artificial stimulants.

It is a good feeling to know that I am working to become a better me. That is the fun part of it.

Anonymous Family Life Service Client

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