by Alida F. (Munro, 2013)
I remember like it was yesterday the night I hit my bottom. My husband threw me a 35th birthday party. He had invited all of my friends and family. While we were getting ready, I remember thinking I would need to behave myself that evening. I reminded myself that I should be careful and pace myself with my drinking. I didn’t want to get out of control.
I don’t really know how much I drank. I could not tell you when it was exactly that I crossed the line. But by the end of the evening I was beyond drunk.What I do remember was screaming with horror as I tried to pull my hands off the glass fireplace – my palms had melted and chunks of my skin remained on the glass. I had never felt pain like that. I had fallen after taking many swings at my husband as I screamed at him for cutting me off.
Climbing into bed that night with my hands wrapped in gauze, clutching bags of frozen peas I remember thinking one thing. ‘I just want to die.’
When I woke up the next morning my brother was laying beside me. Tears were streaming down his face. “Alida, you’ve got to stop.” It wasn’t a statement. It was a desperate plea. “We love you so much, why can’t you just love yourself?” I didn’t know how to answer. I was full of hate and self-loathing. I was broken and I didn’t know how to begin to put the pieces back together.
When I was finally ready to ask for help, Renascent was there.
The day I decided to make the call the Renascent I thought that I was going to throw up. I locked myself in a boardroom at my office and I dialled the number. 1- 2 -1- 2, those last four numbers took forever to push.
Speaking with the counsellor in Renascent’s Access Centre, I felt so vulnerable. How could I make him like me? How could I convince him that I was actually a good person, not some monster with a dark, dark heart?
He started by asking me questions I didn’t know how to answer. After years and years of lying to everyone about almost everything, in that moment I just decided to be honest.
- Is drinking making your home life unhappy? Yes.
- Do you drink to escape worries or trouble? Yes. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking? Yes.
- Is drinking affecting your reputation? Double Yes.
- Do you want a drink the next morning? Yes. Doesn’t everybody?
Near the end of our conversation he asked me what I hoped to achieve by attending treatment. That answer was easy. I wanted to stop drinking. For good.
I had tried to stop drinking on my own before. Many times. First, I would only drink on special occasions. Then, I would only drink on the weekends. Then, I would only drink in the evenings. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I was an alcoholic. What I wanted and needed was a way to stop drinking. A way to stop and to STAY stopped.
On my first day in treatment I stood behind my dining chair as the staff and the other clients welcomed me. They applauded my bravery and reminded me that all of the ladies in the house knew exactly how it felt to be there on their first day. In that moment I remember thinking that I had made a mistake. That I had overreacted. I didn’t need treatment, I needed a drink.
But the counsellors at Renascent knew how to break through my denial.
As the days went on those thoughts were replaced. I had not made a mistake. I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I was getting the help I so badly needed. The counsellors at Renascent don’t read stories to their clients from a text book and they don’t pretend to know how you feel – they actually do. They are all living in recovery themselves and share their experience, strength and hope with their clients. They have walked in our shoes.
They know how it feels to be shackled by addiction and how hard it is to admit complete defeat and to ask for help.
By the end of my 21-day residential treatment at Renascent so much had changed. My feelings of hatred and self-loathing had begun to dissipate. I could recognize finally the woman staring back at me in the mirror. I had been given the tools I needed to stay sober and I was ready – even eager – to use them.
Even with the tools, I knew I could not take the next steps alone. I enrolled in Renascent’s 15-week Continuing Care program and committed to attending one meeting a day. As my way of starting to give back, I joined Renascent’s Alumni Committee and am now a Guardian Angel.
My sober future was going to have to look very different than my drinking past. Big changes were needed and I made them. Because of Renascent, I was ready for it.
No more associating with my partying friends. No more ‘hanging’ out at bars or pubs. Being around alcohol was not an option.
With these changes, I stopped thinking only of myself and I had the time and desire to reach out to the still suffering alcoholic and addict.
My life today is unrecognizable.
I am full of gratitude. I am actively being of service by working with the Foundation at Renascent. I have honestly never felt more at peace about where I am in my life.
Without the care I received at Renascent, I would not be where I am today.
My life before Renascent was an example of the destruction and pain of addiction. Because of donors like you, I am a living example of the power of recovery. Not only do I thank you, but so does my brother, my family, my friends and my colleagues.