by Nevada T. (Munro, 2013)
Let’s start off with a couple recovery definitions of FEAR: F*** Everything And Run or Face Everything And Recover. And let’s face it, before we step into recovery, our lives are driven by some sort of fear. A fear of success, failure, responsibility, anything, and we lack a better solution than drugs. Some of us may know why we use and some may not. No matter what, we reach a certain point in our addiction where we come to realize that we cannot stay clean on our own, and we need some help. To begin the journey, many of us choose to attend a treatment centre. In today’s day and age, there is a lot of stigma around addiction. Some are afraid to speak out to loved ones, bosses, or friends that they have a problem because they will be forever labelled as an addict or an alcoholic. This makes taking the initiative to get into treatment quite the challenge. There are others whose addiction is known and that isn’t in the picture, and others who are forced to get help. Whatever the back story is, we are all hesitant on taking those simple but huge steps into the unknown.
Living life leaning on a bottle or a drug for support is the only way many of us know how to live. Either we never knew, or we forget, how to live and enjoy life as a normal human being. Whatever “normal” may be. To finally face reality and admit we have a problem and to do something to get better is a challenging feat, especially when we don’t know what to expect. Thankfully, before I entered treatment I had been told that it was the best thing I would ever do for myself. Some may be sceptical because they have heard some treatment horror stories, or because they’ve never heard anything at all. Let me be the one to tell you, it was truly the best thing I ever did for myself.
The preceding weeks to my admission date, I was feeling a mixture of emotions that would usually lead me to use – fear, anxiety, excitement, shame, guilt, etc. I felt like I was starting the rest of my life, and it was nerve wracking to say the least. When the day finally came, I walked into Renascent feeling miserable and extremely awkward. My plan was to keep my head down and survive the twenty-one days. I kept on hearing this term ‘open-mindedness’, something extremely foreign to me since I lived in this bubble surrounded by drugs and alcohol for so long. I didn’t know what else was out there, and I didn’t really think this whole treatment thing was going to work for me. I expected that while I was there the counsellors were going to nit-pick my life and push religion on me and I would be “cured.” Boy was I ever wrong.
Before going into treatment I thought I was different than everybody else – looked down upon in society – and would never be accepted. When I walked into that treatment centre, the first thing I learned was that addiction can impact anyone, no matter what sex, age, race or religion. Within the first hour, I felt more comfortable there, more than I ever had anywhere else in my life. I was surrounded by people who were exactly like me. They explained to me that we would have structure and that there were certain rules I would have to follow. Being the person I am, I rebelled against it all for the first week, only to realize that I was causing myself more harm than good, and that there must be a reason behind what the counsellors were telling me to do. Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness were the three key terms. Once I accepted where I was, and that this place was there to help me, I gained the knowledge and got the push I needed to really embrace recovery.
The second week I finally started to believe there was hope. We had two classes a day in which we would dissect the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and share what we considered honestly and openly with the other residents based on the chosen topic. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the class followed the guidelines of a closed 12 step meeting. It was also the time where I really got to know my fellow addicts. I learned the necessary tools through these classes to repair and maintain a healthy relationship, and got to start working on it right away. I was petrified to bring up what I had done in the past because of my addiction and what had happened prior to influence my actions. When I overcame the fear, the counsellors and my peers embraced me with open arms, comforted me and reassured me I was not alone. I’m not trying to make it sound like it was always easy; there were days I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone talk about my feelings. But that’s life. There will always be struggles, feelings of unease and discomfort. The difference between me in active addiction and me after treatment is how I cope with those feelings.
I had thought for a while in treatment that the counsellors were full of themselves, and they didn’t know how I felt. The reality of the situation is that they did, and they’d been there, and they were in recovery. They used their experience to benefit each and every one of us that entered through the doors. I walked out of treatment with a new view on life, one filled with hope, 12 steps, and recovery. I’m not perfect to this day, and never will be, something else I learned in Renascent. But as long as I use what they taught me, I will stay clean, and be the best me I can possibly be. Keep in mind the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt – “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”