I just returned from my second ICYPAA (International Conference of Young People in AA) and happened to come across these words from a blog post I never published. I’m speaking at a meeting tonight and was panicking about what to say, then this presented itself and it’s as good a starting place as any.
I often wonder what I would have written if I’d taken the time to do so early in sobriety, forgetting that I did write, I just didn’t publish. I think this is about as early as it gets. It’s odd to be reading these words more than two years later, after forgetting I ever wrote them, but it’s comforting too.
I never anticipated developing a drinking problem or abusing alcohol in college; then again, most people probably don’t. Which brings me to the present. I am currently enrolled in an outpatient program at Hazelden in Plymouth, MN. The program is four days a week for a couple hours each day. Currently I have only completed three of eight weeks, but I already feel as if I am in a much better place than I was before going – it’s inexplicable really.
My first few sessions as an outpatient were tough due to my resistance, but once I let go of the initial shock and the thought of (excuse the language) ‘What the fuck am I doing here, with these people who introduce themselves as addicts and alcoholics?’ I started to allow myself to entertain the thought that yeah, maybe my life could be a lot richer than it had been. Only weeks after beginning the program, I feel as if a weight has been lifted, a weight I didn’t even know I had accumulated (literally and figuratively). I feel as if I have light and life back in my every day events. I feel a little bit closer to the person I used to be – that person is at least in my sight again. I actually have found myself missing the people from Hazelden and the non-judgmental atmosphere there, which I did not plan on.
Being forced to actively discuss the lifestyle I was living previous to treatment has been eye-opening. I was disregarding my mental and physical health without realizing I was doing so. I was abusing, destroying, or taking for granted the relationships in my life. I was making decisions which did not align with my morals. Really, I was just embarrassing myself time after time. My mom told me that she expected a crying and apologetic me when I came to at the hospital, but instead she got a bitter, rude, angry me. I was still under the influence even though it was the next morning and went as far as to be very rude to the doctor who had been attending to me. This is not the type of person I normally am, and to be honest, I don’t really remember behaving this way. I’m sure I was scared, but that is no excuse. The bottom line is that I can agree with a claim that a good friend made – “I don’t like the person I am when I drink.” Even though I do not always behave in such a manner, the times I do result in consequences.
I still have so much to work through, and I know that. I need to become more confident in the person I am and my abilities, I need to learn how to address conflict and problems. But I am beyond lucky to have the support system I do. My family is so much bigger than just my family, and I wouldn’t be in the place I am now without them all behind me. I am lucky that this was caught early and that I have been given the chance to redirect my life before it spirals out of control, even more so than it had already. I don’t know what the next day, week, month or even year will bring, but I do know that I can’t afford to think that far ahead right now.
In all honestly, I’m really scared to think about what will happen when these eight weeks are up. I really resented everyone around me when I initially started attending treatment, but I can already feel that resentment dissolving. If anything, I’m more upset with myself than I am with the people around me. Neither is healthy, but I’m getting there. Right now, going to Hazelden is a part of my routine and it keeps me grounded and aware. There is so much power in being with people who are facing the same struggles and knowing that we don’t have to do so alone. There are some days that I don’t realize how lucky I am to still be here, to be alive. If I had had a couple more drinks that night, I might not be. I don’t always know what my reason for being here is, but that’s okay.