I have been an alcoholic for the better part of 20 years. Since college, I recall abusing alcohol while also adamantly denying that it was the catalyst for the majority of the chaos I was creating in my life. I did this for years. Decades.
I have been in detox twice, done an IOP – which I conveniently had forgotten about until recently – and after igniting a bomb in my life found myself at Parkdale this past November. I guess the biggest blessing was that I knew I needed help, in fact, I was craving it. I knew I was and forever would be an alcoholic. That last bender needed to be my last because I don’t think I could survive another.
As a natural overachiever and human doer, I wanted to “be the best at recovery”. I’ll show up early for class, I’ll do my chores, I’ll read every night and pray every morning, and someone will fix me. That is what rehab was, I thought. I go somewhere for 30 days and someone fixes me. And within about 12 hours of arriving at Parkdale, I was gifted some really disappointing news. I had to fix myself.
While I am NOT claiming that rehab is like those fad diet commercials you see every January, claiming you just have to take one tiny pill and you will be cured. Because it certainly is not. I am claiming that rehab, for me, was a guided journey through my own trauma. My guide (my therapist and peers) would supply me with the tools I needed at certain stages, challenge my thoughts and reactions and force me to wade through the years of fear and pain that I was previously drowning out in alcohol.
What I had to do, and not just for 30 days, was make myself and my recovery my priority. If I were to see progress, I had to put in the work. The work for me now looks like individual therapy, daily AA meetings, marriage counseling, hitting the gym 4-5 days a week, and doing “sober shit” with sober friends. Oh, and all of the other stuff I have to do as a human being. That’s the biggest difference though, I am a human being, not a human doer anymore.
My new life is healthier, happier (although not every day is unicorns and rainbows), and hopeful. I am powerful over alcohol – because I no longer need it to function, it doesn’t have the opportunity to bring me down because I decide it won’t. What I know so far is I enjoy my new self much more than I do my old self, and I never have to be her again.
M.T. – A Parkdale Alumnus