Near the end of 2017, my life was completely falling apart. Social services were constantly monitoring me, and threatening to remove my 10-year-old son and place him in foster care. I kept “saying” I was going to meetings, and reciting that I had stayed sober for a number of days, just to keep everyone at bay – meanwhile, I remained drinking myself to oblivion, putting my son into awful situations, and though I somehow managed to remain going to work daily, and functioning at some level – I knew by January 2018, my time had come to seek help.
Fortunately, my son’s father had finally been awarded social housing in December of 2017, so when it came to making that final step to get help, I was able to leave my home, knowing that my son (then 11) would be with his sober father, and I would be able to devote the time I needed to get help. I had told my work that I needed to do this next step so that I would be able to live. It was surreal and very fortunate that I was able to get into Westminster House as quickly as I did. My friend made the initial call that Thursday morning and spoke to the intake person, who held a bed for me.
I recall wanting to back out, but knew deep down, if I didn’t take this next step, I would lose everything, especially my son. I couldn’t keep going on the way I had been, and surely I would not have made it to Today – 3.5 years later, if I hadn’t. My father and brother were very supportive of my decision to seek help. Neither of them truly knew the extent of what I was doing to myself or my son, and it was difficult coming clean with them as to how much I really needed this. However I did it, and my brother drove me out to Westminster House that same afternoon.
I don’t really think I knew exactly what I was agreeing to. I was detoxing so badly, I barely packed any personal items, just a few leggings, sweaters and tee shirts. I believe I had the notion that I was only going to be there a few days – even though I agreed to 3 months.
Something typical that one hears amongst some of us that have gone through treatment is, “I will learn how to drink”. My mind certainly was not in a place to be completely abstinent at that first step.
Daunting as it was, upon my arrival, I was greeted warmly by the female staff, and once my initial intake was over, I was introduced to some of the other ladies who were similarly seeking a solution of abstinence. The house was warm and inviting, and most ladies had smiles on their faces. I was shown to my room and met my roommate, and we chatted about what brought us to this place.
I must admit that I did not like the idea of having to stick to guidelines, have wake-ups, and attend meetings first thing in the morning. We walked everywhere, in groups, and were not able to go off on our own. Staying accountable they called it. And then there were chores, oh my, didn’t I think I could do everything better than they.
Slowly as the days progressed, and as we all attended groups in the mornings, and then one on one counselling throughout the week, as the ladies began to make friendships and getting to know each other’s stories, it became so much easier to abide by the house rules and begin to open up. Three healthy meals were provided each day. Rigorously working through Step One – “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”, I began to realize and see where in life my decisions had an impact on what brought me to this place, of needing help. I could not have been able to do this alone.
Westminster House is a warm and inviting centre, with so many caring ladies, all who are in recovery, both working and those in attendance, that it was hard not to 1. Feel Safe, 2. Feel comfortable, 3. Make friends, and 4. foster connections, that honestly, I have not had over the years before. It remains to be true, that the ladies I began my journey with 3.5 years ago, are still the ones that I reach out to today – when I need to have a listening ear, and I am always ready and willing today to be available when my phone rings, with someone reaching out.
After my initial 3 months in treatment, I remained an additional month in Primary care, before I headed off to another 2.5 months in 2nd stage housing. I was beginning to feel so much stronger, however knew that I needed to remain in the New Westminster community, continuing to ground myself – before returning to my home to be a mother, daughter, sister, and employee. I was fortunate with this respect, and understand that there are many out there today, with not the same ability to take so much time away.
Attending Westminster House was the best thing I have done for myself in over 30 years. Now age 52, and 3.5 years Clean and Sober, I am stronger, a good parent, have my health, my job, and great relations with my son, father and brother.
One day at a Time – and forever remembering those who we have lost along the way, fondly. Praying for those who were not ready when I first met them, may they find their path back to Recovery.
Peggy P, I am an addict, and I am in recovery.