I’m still here.
I’m still sober.
Last week I graduated from my IOP/SOP program.
Of all the people that came into my process group while I was there, only 1 other person ever finished, and that was a few weeks after I started.
That was really hard for me. Most people just vanished without a trace; the counselors not allowed to share anything about why they had left. If you didn’t have their cell number already, you would never know if they were ok. Sometimes, like with one person near the end of my time, even having his cell number wasn’t enough. He never responded to my texts. I considered him a friend. We weren’t ever going to be close, hang-out type friends, but I never expected he would disappear without letting me know what was going on. That hurt, a lot, and made me remember all the other people who had done the same.
It made me question the point of all this. It made me really sad, at a time I expected to feel celebratory. The group was totally different now, with only a few other members, all new. What meaning did it even have that I was graduating? At the coin out ceremony at the end, where each person says something about you and sends you off with a word, no one would be there that even really knew me.
The night I came back from vacation and found out he and another woman I was close to were not coming back to group, I was so angry. The counselors noticed and asked me to share. I didn’t want to share. I didn’t want to be part of the group anymore, or be vulnerable with these people. I wasn’t even sure why I was so upset but I had a sense that my feelings were irrational; that I had no right to feel this way. I tried to put the feelings into words, and started to cry.
That shut me down, because I didn’t want to cry in front of these people.
In fact, in the whole 4 months I was in that process group, I only cried maybe 2 or 3 times, usually when talking about my dad, and even then just a few tears rolling down my cheeks.
I could barely contain it for the rest of group, but I didn’t want to process it in front of everyone. Especially because the other 3 members were younger men, and I felt they would judge me for reacting so emotionally (in hindsight I disagree with this assumption). I knew I was taking something personally that was not about me. I knew, logically, that this is part of recovery. Not everyone makes it. Relapse can cause a lot of shame and it might not be easy to admit it to others, even – or especially – your friends in recovery. But emotionally, I felt angry, hurt, and abandoned.
After group, the main counselor asked me to stay after for a few minutes. With her, I really broke down and cried. It felt good, actually.
I realize in retrospect that part of my sadness was a selfish desire for recognition of my achievement. I am proud that I got myself into this program and finished it. I’m proud that I’ve been sober for four and a half months. But most people in my life don’t even know I’m doing this, and likely wouldn’t understand if they did.
I’ve talked this over in meetings, with my sponsor, with my mom, many times since then. Understanding what was at the root of my sadness has helped. And hearing others say that people dropping out of treatment is not a decision to leave me, helped. The disease is bigger than any of us. And I realize now that not everyone in my life will understand, and I can’t lean on just anyone for support. I have to know where the people are who can support me in recovery and celebrate my achievements with me.
Also, I know it’s not all about me! I’ve been super focused on ME this year, which I think was necessary. But in 2017 I plan to do a lot more service, along with continuing to focus on my own recovery.
Everyone is saying how terrible 2016 was, and I 100% agree that there was a lot of turmoil and amazingly shitty things that happened.
Still, my year was amazing. I don’t especially want to do it over, but I’m so glad it happened. 2016 involved a lot of growth for me. I had surgery, did rehab for my surgery, and then entered outpatient rehab for the rest of the year. Career-wise I had the best year ever for my freelance business (which is in addition to my full time job), and due to not drinking and finally managing my finances more responsibly, I’m the most financially comfortable I’ve ever been. We moved into my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in. I got to travel to my little heart’s content (truly; now I’m ready to stay put for awhile) and I spent a decent amount of time with my family, too.
And, due to forcing myself to be open to whatever recovery involved, for the first time since I was a teenager, I opened myself to the idea of god. I allowed myself to consider spirituality in my life and start to figure out what that might look like. I prayed, for myself and others.
And this morning, when asked to set my intention for 2017 in a yoga class, I felt so much gratitude to be where I am right now – sober – and for all the help, from god and others, that has allowed me to get here. With tears rolling down my face, I wrote on that piece of paper,
I trust my thoughts and actions to god. I trust god to show me the way.
Honestly, that’s pretty huge.