If you had have told me how my drastically different my life would be 440 days ago, I would never have believed you. When I arrived at Westminster House on August 21, 2019, I thought I knew it all. First of all, I wasn’t even an addict and I never got caught using drugs… so how dare my employer send me to see an addiction specialist! I was bitter, angry, and full of attitude, but I had no choice in the matter. I would have to attend a residential treatment center for 60 days if I wanted to keep my job.
Deep down inside I suppose there was a part of me that knew I needed help, but I was so full of pride, completely suborn, and a total control freak. I had been using all kinds of substances for over 20 years as coping mechanisms, to deal with the inability to control my emotions. I was actually petrified of the monsoon of feelings that would be unleashed once the barriers were removed. I don’t think I was the only one. I was very intimidating, confrontational, full of drama, and drowning in self-pity, but my denial was so strong… that I truly didn’t think that my life was unmanageable, or that anybody could help me (because there was nothing wrong).
The first week was horrible, I didn’t sleep, I walked around in constant judgment of the facility, the staff, and the other clients. I’d never been to treatment before, my ego was massive, and I had no humility. I remember 2 things very clearly that my caseworker said to be in the beginning. First, she looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I see you” and “you are an addict”. It was as if I heard the wall of my protective shield to the outside-world crack. I was so scared that she could see through all my layers and grabbed a hold of my heart. It was like she began the CPR that would revive me and bring me back to life. The next vivid memory was her telling me in a group that I needed to get humble and accept responsibility for my choices. It would take a few more weeks, a lot of tears, and many more sleepless nights before I was finally ready to surrender.
The staff was so patient, they never gave up on me. They took such good care of my dietary restrictions and medications. No matter how difficult I must have been, constantly battling with them over the most trivial things, they just seemed to wait for me to “get it”. After that first month and getting through the hardest part of the 12 step-work (step 4), something seemed to shift. I finally started to understand that everything in my life would need to change. I started to “trust the process” and rely on some faith. Most importantly, I started to listen to my peers in the room share “my story”. I wasn’t alone, and I never needed to be again. Everything started to make sense, why I needed to take direction, and take suggestions. The denial lifted, and I knew that I was an addict, with the disease of addiction… but that if I just believed in my heart, and took it one day at a time, my life would change, and I would start to heal. I too could find happiness; I could find forgiveness and I could learn to love myself again and live in recovery.
I owe these women my life. I’ve learned what it means to live by spiritual principles again. I understand compassion and belonging, friendships, and giving back to my community. I’ve returned to school (with a scholarship I received from the treatment center), I left my long-term relationship of 15 years and moved out on my own. I’ve gained my freedom, my independence, my integrity, my passion for life, and my passion to help others. I’m worthy of love, I’m able to show love, I’m able to give love and I have a connection to a higher power. I have all the tools I need and all the people I need to overcome any obstacle life presents me, without the need for substances. Just for today, I choose a better way of life, and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the women who taught me this better way to live.
If you are considering asking for help, or have questions about addiction or Narcotics Anonymous, please reach out. The Westminster House can and will help you in any way, just make the call.