Testimonial submitted by John B. Submitted 01/20/2008; clean and sober since 01/20/07!
I was at the Watershed a little over three years ago, and I remember it like it was just yesterday. I was beaten down to the point where I had very little, if any, hope at all. I was full of all sorts of fears, and extremely ashamed and guilty about my addiction and what seemed like the huge hole I had dug for myself. I was totally convinced that no one else had ever done the terrible things I had done to myself and others, or was facing the financial, legal and other seemingly insurmountable problems I was going to need to address when I left.
I also really didn’t believe I had a “disease.” Something like cancer is obviously a disease. But alcoholism or drug addiction? How could that possibly be a disease? After all, I had done this to myself!
Finally, I remember feeling very alone and angry at the world. No one could possibly understand my very unique situation, or all the unique problems I had and what I was going through.
Does any of this sound at least a little bit familiar to you? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question. Because you and I are a lot more similar to one another than we are different. It’s like that expression you might have heard when you were a kid—–“it takes one to know one.”
My experience at the Watershed was a huge turning point in my life. For me, it was the start of a journey that began with recognizing that my addiction and all my terrible problems weren’t so unique after all. I met lots of people there who I could begin relating to and who were pretty much just like me. Some of them were older and some were younger—-some were a different color than me—-some had addictions to substances I had never tried—-some were from different parts of the country—-there was even one guy I remember who was filthy rich—–I made sure I became friends with him! As different as all of us were based on our outer appearances, we all seemed to be suffering from the same types of things on the inside. And, being able to see that was somehow a relief to me. It was the first time in my life I can recall that I ever thought “Gee John, maybe you’re not so unique and different after all.” Since then, I’ve come to realize that I’m just another bozo on this bus we call life.
There were many other things about my experience at the Watershed that really helped me as well. More than anything else though, if I had to point to one thing, I’d have to say that it was the tiny seed of HOPE that got planted in me there. When I got there I really didn’t have any hope at all. I couldn’t imagine a way out of my predicament, and I remember being very close to just giving up on everything. For some reason, though, I heard enough success stories and learned enough about other things like tools I could use that I walked away from there with a very small ray of HOPE.
It was only a tiny sliver, but I remember thinking that maybe–just maybe–things could be different. That tiny seed has grown since then, and it can do the exact same thing for you if you let it. It doesn’t matter whether this is your 1st time in treatment or your 50th, or whether you checked yourself in there voluntarily or were “sent” by someone else.
There truly is hope for you, and if you’re anything like me you might not be able to see it just yet. But I guarantee you it’s there. You just need to find a way to let that tiny seed in. It doesn’t need to be planted very deep, and it hardly needs much room at all to grow. But it does need a little space. Just let it in, have a little faith, and see what happens! You’ll be amazed!
I remember being pretty scared when I left the Watershed to come back home. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really trust myself to now be on the “outside” and have to resume going about things on a day-to-day basis, and wasn’t sure how to “handle” all the friends I had been hanging out with for years who were not sober. So, going against my nature to generally not listen to anyone and not do as I was told, I basically did what I had been advised to do in treatment—-I stayed away from my “friends,” stayed away from any and all situations where I knew alcohol or drugs would be present, and began attending recovery meetings in my hometown. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my “friends” weren’t all that friendly, and I found new ones.
Staying away from situations where there were either drugs or alcohol was a little tough at first, but that too ended up being something I learned how to handle. Attending the recovery meetings was also tough at first—frankly, I hated going to them for the first few months. But every now and then, I’d hear something at one of them or even meet someone who I admired for some reason and that was enough to keep me going back. A little over three years later, I can now say that I really enjoy recovery meetings and continue to learn all sorts of great stuff that helps me in ways that I could never have imagined before. I also now have some of the best friends I’ve ever had. They’re from all walks of life, and there’s not one I would have met or even considered socializing with before.
What things are like for me now is really amazing. I wish there was some way that I could write it so you had an idea of just what I mean, and how truly amazing your life can be too. It’s impossible to find the right words. The best I can think of is for you to try and imagine for a few moments what your best possible life would be like if you could have it all of a sudden—-imagine it right now, at this very moment. Now, here’s where you’re going to think I’m nuts. Whatever you just imagined, multiply it by a factor of about 10 and you might begin getting closer to what you’ll end up with. I’m not kidding—-it’s happening for me, and it just as easily can and will happen for you if you let it. Remember, you and I are a lot more similar than we are different.
In recovery, I’ve discovered a spiritual side to me that I never knew existed. It’s hard to describe, but for me it’s led to a feeling of overall peace about things and an inner sense that no matter what, everything is and will continue to be OK. That absolutely is not the way I used to feel or think about anything. I’ve also discovered that even though I still have my fair share of problems and challenges, in sobriety I’m able to work “through” them as opposed to “around” them (or worse yet, not dealing with them at all and just sweeping them under the rug).
Finally, I have a daily sense of gratitude for my gift of sobriety and the second chance at life I’ve been given for reasons I’ll probably never understand. This disease we suffer from is horrendous. It really is a matter of life and death, plain and simple. And even though it may someday kill me just like it may you, so far I have been one of the truly lucky ones. You are too—-although you may not feel like it right now. You’re getting help, just like I was fortunate enough to get. The vast majority of people with our disease don’t even get that far.
So, try to make the very best of your treatment. No matter how bad things may seem to be for you right now, try to reserve a tiny little space inside of you for hope to grow. If all you do is just that, in addition to listening a little to what you’re being taught there, you’ll be amazed to discover the road to recovery you’re on. It’s really indescribable, and beyond anything you might be capable of imagining. And if you let it, it can and will happen for you.
While you’re there at the Watershed, please remember you are not alone. You’re also not as unique as you might think, and chances are very good that you’re probably just another “bozo on the bus”—-exactly like me!
Wishing You All the Very, Very Best: