In July 2011, I weighed 278 lbs. On Mar 12, 2013 I made the decision to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This was my journey. Now I'm a recovering alcoholic, this is my new journey. I'm still running a marathon, just a different type.
One month ago today I began my current journey into this new phase of my life. I chose to keep drinking through the day before and then just head out and get this new life going.
I have writing many times here is my time in detox, but I still I feel it was the best part of this journey so far in the sense of forcing me on this path of sobriety. Although I didn’t know that it was a mental health hospital, it was really perfect for me. I had 4 days of living a routine where everything about my life was decided for me. And after the initial shock, I loved it. I never thought of having a drink, I had doctors to talk with everyday and people that I could observe and talk with and as much time to sit and do my Sudoku as I wanted. Looking back, even a month later, it was awesome for me. Now had you asked me ahead if I wanted to go, I would have said, “No”.
Today is the 16h, my month long anniversary of sobriety. Yay, one month. I have never had the urge to drink so far. There were times that if I hadn’t taken the measures I did, I would have probably wanted a drink. Mainly those measures are that my lovely wife gives me my meds every night that prevent me from drinking. If I take these meds and then do have a drink (within a week) I get violently Ill. Out of the desire to not puke my guts out, I choose not to drink. I told my primary care doctor our arrangement and he agreed that our arrangement was best. He said that those who give themselves their own meds have a much bigger temptation to stop at some point and get back to drinking. He said if you have someone to make you accountable, you will stick with it up to and including forever.
So now I’m at 1 month on and soon 2 months and then a year and then 10 years. I never plan on drinking again as there will always be a question of where it would lead and I never want to get back to where I was.
Time is too short
In many ways time is too short to drink. While I used to drink each evening, I didn’t have a care in the world. I’d watch news or some show that was mindless because it really didn’t matter what I watched. I really didn’t have the need for social interaction, so my relationship with my lovely wife got much less attention, unless she initiated it. But time is too short for that now. Quality of life is important.
There are many changes coming up. I begin back at work full time next week. It has been nice only working half days, but those are coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how things progress once I get back.
I want to fill my afternoons with more than sitting around the house, especially now the Fall is around the corner. I’m hoping for walked and runs, etc and time outside with our doggos and my lovely wife.
There is more to life than what I have planned. I’m excited to see what is around the corner!
I have been writing for the past month about my life as a secret drinker, really more of a closet alcoholic. I drank at night and was fine by morning. I worked, I laughed, I went to church, but at night I drank. I have lots of reasons, but mainly it was because I hurt and didn’t know how to process that hurt or to deal with it. I felt alone and no one understood what I was going through.
Will I ever drink again? I don’t know the answer to that.
That last question and answer may be surprising. I answered it that way because only God knows if I’ll ever drink again. I am humble enough now to say that I don’t know what I will do tomorrow. I never thought 10 years ago that I’d be writing this post. I didn’t “believe” in drinking or that it was helpful in any way. I never thought I’d drink on a daily basis, but yet I did. Why? Because I am human and imperfect.
You know, as I write this I wonder about my neighbors. What are they going through that I don’t understand. What about my co-workers that I interact with every day. Is there someone that is feeling the need to get drunk every night in order to stop the stress and pain in their lives? I don’t know the answer to that. Are there those who are cheating on their spouse? Are their those who have just found out that their spouse is cheating on them? Maybe some are about to file for a divorce or have one filed against them. Maybe some are beaten at night or abused or even some that don’t know how or if they will live another night or even want to live another night.
I guess my point here is that I don’t know what you are going through and neither do you know about me, other than what I am willing to share here. Let’s not take for granted that our neighbor (home, work, church, etc) is living the perfect Facebook life. I can promise you that they are not. In fact, realize that most people you come in contact with are hurting. From the cashier to the landscaper to the CEO of your company, there is a crisis in their lives or about to come to their lives. They will say they are okay. They are handling the stress, they are happy and life is good. But perhaps they drink every night in order to forget the day and they are wishing they might just never wake up.
Be nice. Use their names when you see them. Smile at people and wave at your neighbor. Give a bigger tip to your server at your favorite restaurant. They may need that smile, waive or bigger tip in order to survive and you will receive an eternal reward for doing the very thing that made them live to see another day. You will probably never know that you were instrumental to their survival of their day, but wasn’t that Jesus’ point in the parable to the sheep and the goats?
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
I have a few wonderful people who read my blog as I was starting my short running carrier and they still read it now! They might remember I would create posts once in a while called, “Hangin with the dog”. My wonderful dog from those posts died several years ago at the young age of 6 years old from liver issues and some other health related problems. She was so brave and loyal we couldn’t even tell she was sick until it was too late to help her.
Very sad and we will always miss you Lexie. You were a wonderful dog and she always loved running after balls and sticks in the backyard while I cooled off from my runs in the midday Alabama sun.
I miss you more than you will ever know.
Now I bring to you my new doggos. They are my new best friends that we got post Lexie.
Our black dog is a rescue (as was Lexie). She is an awesome dog, and sometimes she acts like a cat, but mostly dog.
Our white dog is our new edition. She is a pure bread and now at 9 months old is settled into our family like she has been here a thousand years. She is kind and loves everyone she meets (unless you enter our backyard without her permission).
So today I’m hangin with the doggos at my house and lovin it!
I already posted today, but while out doing errands, the weather was so nice and as I drove through my neighborhood, I had the urge to begin running again. I would start slow and work my way up. Probably no real races in my future, but I have lost 15 lbs in 2 months and feel much better and would like to get back into shape again.
So perhaps I could run again soon. I have a new pair of Hoka’s sitting in the entryway waiting for m\y feet!
I sort of fell into the rehab I have received for my getting off of drinking every night.
What does “fell into rehab” mean?
I had a normal rehab planned from a company that specializes in it. I gave it about 3 hours before I knew it wasn’t for me. Fortunately I hadn’t started the process yet and made the right choice.
So my rehab wasn’t planned and I had to do some give and take to get it to where it worked for me. I think that is what you should think about in planning something like this. What works for you? Perhaps a more formalized process or in my case more informal.
I am blessed to have great support. My family is glad with the direction I am going and my lovely wife doesn’t drink, so I have very little temptation at home to be pushed into a direction that is wrong for me. I have had some ups and downs so far, but all in all it has been very successful.
Now I will describe the good and bad of the process I’ve undertaken. To begin with, I didn’t have specific structure other than help and support of family and friends. Of course I got rid of all alcohol in my house (which by the way it was everywhere and in odd places).
I took 4 weeks off from work, more of a sabbatical than a vacation. The first week was used in detox in a hospital. The nice thing there was I wasn’t allow a phone or computer, so I had 4 days of nothing and I was with others going through what I was going through. This got me away from work completely and got me “detoxed” from those things so I could totally disconnect from my work, the internet and TV.
Next I worked with a friend who has a lot of wisdom. He helped me figure out my issues with stress and moving past things that I needed to move beyond and working on the ones that I could. He was awesome with his direction and help.
I am in the third week of my sabbatical and this hasn’t been an 100% removal from work, but about 80%. I do not get any calls, emails or texts. My managers take the important requests and we meet every morning and decide what would be good to work on for that day. I then work on these issues each day for 3 – 4 hours. This helps me get some work done and still be detached. Finally my lovely wife and I spend the rest of the day together. Usually about 10 – 12 hours. This has been great for us as our kids are all grown now and it is nice to get our lives back. \
Really the bad isn’t horrible, but it is to me. I can’t sleep well. I keep trying and seem to fail at figuring it out. I have been given different sleep meds (and taken off the one I had used for 10 years). I think my blood pressure is getting too low as I was on 3 pills during my drinking years and now that I have not had a drink in 3+ weeks, my body is trying to adjust.
Personally I hate sleep. I freak about it and that make it worse. The doctor at the detox hospital said to just not care. “If you are awake at 3:30 in the morning, just let it go and read a book or something”. That makes sense, but to the sleep freak in me, it is terrifying. Yesterday I went back to my family doctor for the second time in two weeks and he took me off of a blood pressure drug and put on some meds for sleep that I have had for a while, but just a higher milligram. That seemed to have worked last night. I still got up a lot, but there was about 2 – 3 hours of sleep and I was able to sleep until my alarm went off this morning, so my sleep is getting better, I think. 🤔
I go back to work the Monday after next. I’m working on a plan to be able to still have some of the protections that have been developed over the past month while returning to my full time position.
My hope is that with everything that I have learned and experienced over the past month that, my life, and more importantly others lives will be improved for the better moving forward from the ups and downs I have experienced.
When I return to work life, people might not recognize me
Here is the problem, I so identified myself as a “normal” person over the past 8 years of drinking at night, that they had no idea who I really was. The same was true of myself. I would get to work at 6:30 and work until 3:00 each day and would drink from 4pm to 4am with sleep off and on. I didn’t have any hangovers or leave any clue. I hid everything.
“My life at work was stressful to say the least. Without revealing too much, our doors never close and therefore neither did my job end at the end of the day. There was always the next text, email or call that I had to deal with. In over a decade I have not had a “normal” vacation. I was always on all of the time. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much to know that I couldn’t keep this up forever. Even going to Church was at times difficult as I would receive a text, “I need help”. I’d try to text back without being noticed, but by then my concentration was shot.
Homelife wasn’t much easier. With a special needs child turning into a man and other stresses, I could never stop. My child would never be happy with moving on when a difficult situation happened, they would freak, panic and in general, overwhelm everyone. I felt I had to be the one person to try and help, and most of the time I was not successful. Eventually I gained a lot of weight, at 5’9″, I was overweight for many years at 235 lbs. I tired running or working out, but it never seemed to stick. Finally in 2011 I topped 275 lbs, finally ending at 278 lbs, therefore the name of this blog. My wife was going to a doctor who looked at me and said he could help me also. He put us both on a diet and we both lost ~100 lbs. By the time I got to 220 lbs, I began running very slowly. I was able to do 2 miles pretty well and kept at that for a while. I then upped it to 3 miles every other day. Then 3 miles Monday – Friday with a 5 mile run on Saturday. That became my plan. I would run 5 days at the same mileage and then up it by 25% on Saturday. Soon I was topping 50 miles a week, I had a PR in a 5k at 20:48 and my half marathon PR was 1:43. Needless to say, it was during this time I lost the rest of my weight and got to 178 lbs.
Then my running career ended with the injury that I mentioned at the beginning of my first post in many years called, “The upcoming change in my life“.
Somewhere in the time of my short running career the stress from home and work caught up to me and I began drinking. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I remember ending my daily runs with a drink (not Gatorade like people thought). I would always run in the afternoon after work and so it seemed okay at the time.
Here I sit, 2.5 week sober after 8 years and temped so many times to drink, but not really. I feel the urge at the end of a day or at some other point when I would normally say my day had ended, but honestly, I really have no desire to return to that life. My work has taken a lot of pressure off of me in the past month or so and I cannot say more how thankful that I am to my lovely wife who had become my helpmate and rock during this time. Finally my children have moved out and really I had no reason to drink, other than the habit I developed over the 8 years.
Here I sit. I head back to work, 2 weeks from Monday. Who will I be when I return. After a month of no stress, no phone calls, no emails or texts, how will I do when I return. I will be kind and helpful as always, but I will no longer try to handle stress that is impossible to handle. So many people have been so wonderful to me, I would feel like I betrayed their kindness if I turned back. So I will need to figure this out before then. My therapist is giving me help to get through the day suggesting trips to the gym and also helping with cooking dinner which does interest me. I have 2 more weeks before I return, but that will go by in a flash and then I will have to be the new me, not the old me.
Back to the question, “Will anyone recognize me when I return to work?” I’m not sure. I have already had people remark how “light” my lovely wife and I look to them, “You and your lovely wife just seem lighter to us” my friend mentioned. Obviously the storms will come and I will need to take my place on the bridge of the boat, but I must learn to lead and not just run around wiping up the water.
I will need to lead. Strength and leadership is what I have been learning on this break. In two weeks everyone will see how successful I have become at both!
I hope to show them the NEW NORMAL version of who I am. This is a lifetime change, so how will they react? To some extent, I really don’t care.
As I write this blog I’m still going through changes with my new life of sobriety. I don’t know if anyone in the blogosphere have had any experience with this change, but thought I’d relate mine to you.
My biggest problem is sleep. Probably because I’d use alcohol to put me to sleep for many years. My issue is I wake up 6 – 8 times a night. I can’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time and sometimes much less.
There’s and app for that
I created an app so I could track the amount of times I wake up as by morning I don’t want to “feel” I woke up a lot during the night and perhaps it was just a perception. Below is last night’s sleep and wake times. The hours on the right are the amount of hours from when I woke the last time to the point I woke the next time.
As you can see, I didn’t have good sleep last night.
I wonder if this is due to my drinking at night for 6 years straight or something else. My family doctor prescribed me some sleep meds, but as you can see, they didn’t seem to help last night.
Sleep isn’t everything, but it is important, it also is needed for a productive day.
Know that I have no complaints, but just some questions. I have a great life and leave soon for a trip to visit a friend for a few days. I probably won’t write while there, but if I have time I will.
Let me ask the question, “If you are a Christian then how did you become an alcoholic”? I’m sure some have wanted to ask me that question. Anyone can get to the point of being an alcoholic. But the question is a good one and I hope to answer it here, in fact in the next sentence.
I have no idea!
Probably not the answer you wanted.
Just as a reminder, you can look under my Faith tab and read my conversion experience. As a quick summary, I’ll let you know that I was radically changed after a simple prayer. No, not a prayer at a an alter call, but a simple prayer in a random place. I just said, “God, I love you”. I even remember thinking to myself that I had never said that before. Fast forward 3 months… My life had changed so radically I had a panic attack as I didn’t know who I was anymore. I got myself off all drugs and alcohol. I realized I could pray and KNOW that God heard my prayer, unlike before this moment of major change in my life. I had an unexplained desire to read the Bible. The thing you need to know was that no one knew of this conversion. It happened alone with no one around. So all of these changes happened independent of anyone telling me to do something because now I was a Christian.
Once again, the last paragraph was a quick explanation of the day I changed from a worldly lost young man, to suddenly finding myself in a new Kingdom with a new Lord, and a gracious savior, Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to 10 years ago
It had been 30+ years since I had a drink of any alcohol. Drinking came slowly for me, like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. If he was put into boiling water, he would try to get out, but if you bring it to a boil slowly, He just sits there and dies (not that I have ever tried that, but the analogy is true to this post). I had a drink with a friend. That was the beginning. I then drank sometimes on the weekend. Then every weekend. I changed from beer to Vodka as I figured it was less calories.
One day, I decided to have a drink during a weekday. I had gone through a lot of things and just needed a break. I did this without my lovely wife’s knowledge. Then I started to drink other weekdays. I finally had stopped and then was away for a month for work and figured I had nothing to do at night, so I’d just have a drink. That was the beginning of drinking everyday. Not much, maybe 2 – 3 shots a day.
The storms of life never stopped
Back to the question, “If you are a Christian then how did you become an alcoholic? The Gospel of Matthew has this quote from Jesus…
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand”.
Notice that the storms came on those who build their house on the rock and on those building their house on the sand. It doesn’t say the storms were less for one or the other. The same storms came, but the difference was the foundation was built.
The storms came in my life one by one and even though I had built my house on the rock, I chose to react to those overwhelming storms by drinking alcohol. It was my choice and it got way out of hand. The 2 -3 shots, became 6 – 8 and then 9 – 10 and finally 12 – 14 a night.
So where was God during this time of overwhelming stress and drunkenness? Right where he had always been since that first day when I told Him that I loved Him. He was still in my heart and still guiding me though this mess I created. He didn’t leave me, He just chose to let me get to the point that I knew I couldn’t handle things in my life with drinking every night and then, like a gentle whisper, tell me that I needed help. Wait, what? He had delivered me from my past issues over and over again, but this time He didn’t. He showed me I needed help from a hospital for detox, to my work giving me a month off to recover with no calls and no pressure. He could have chose to set me free from alcohol in an instant, but He chose the better way. His ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.
The better way
In Matthew 26:53 Jesus said about his coming crucifixion, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” God could have given Jesus 12 legions of angels to set him free from the agony and torture and death He was about to experience, but that wasn’t the best thing for us. He needed to die and give himself as a ransom for the world. He also knew just having me easily quit alcohol wouldn’t have been the best solution. Instead he had me write a blog about it, tell my family, friends and everyone in my company. He then provided me a safe place to detox and then allowed me to go home to spend time with my lovely wife and get our marriage on track. He knew what was best.
How did I get into this situation?
It was my choice, it was the wrong choice. If I had to do it all over again, I hope that I’d make a better decision. That said, going through the depths of alcoholism, depression and despair, and being set free to enjoy life, my wife and my life has been such an amazing experience that I never want to go back to drinking and know I cannot ever go back.
It is like having a third chance at life. 1) birth. 2) rebirth. 3) set free from a millstone around my neck.
I hope I answered the question I posed at the top of this post. I hope you will never get to where I was, but if you are or know someone who is, Jesus is nearby and wanting to help with a cry of your heart. Help may not come by the means you choose, but remember my quote from an earlier post, “God will not keep you in prison forever”. It took me 8 years, it might take you a simple heartfelt prayer.
Jesus said, “And surely Iamwithyoualways, to the very end of the age.” I am so glad He is with us and that he forgives and restores!
I am now 13 days sober. I am happy with the progress I’ve made so far. My lovely wife and I have reconnected to a place we haven’t been since before we had kids. We haven’t had kids at home for a few years, but the alcohol was a major issue / distraction.
Life at home
I have an opportunity most people never get. I am at home with no responsibility from my work. I was on call everyday for many years. Now I have staff that take call, but I am the final fall back as I am in charge of my department. So I have to sleep knowing I may get called that night. Most nights I don’t get called, but just knowing it may happen is an issue since I have been on call for so long. Also during the day I would get calls or support tickets coming in many times a day. Since I work from home now due to COVID, it has really caused a lot of stress. Let me rephrase that… I do work from home, but that really wasn’t the issue, it was my drinking every night starting between 4 – 5.
I have realized that my life consisted of work and drinking and not much room for my lovely wife. Maybe we would send 30 minutes together at night, but most nights I’d go to bed at 6:00 and go to sleep by 8:00.
I was so selfish and I didn’t see it was due to my drinking.
During this time of rehab / getting my life back on track, I work from 7am – 10am. That time is specific and not changeable as my managers has put those limits on me. They also don’t want me to take any calls and don’t want me calling anyone. This has been an amazing time for my lovely wife and I to reconnect.
From 10am to 9:30pm my lovely wife and I are together non-stop. That seems like a lot, but we had always been our own best friends. We loved talking and spending time together. All of that stopped with my drinking. We never thought we’d ever get it back. Many times over the past 8 years we both have said, if we can’t live together, we wouldn’t leave the other, but we would just live separate lives under the same roof. It got bad at times. My drinking didn’t make my life better as I had thought, it made it worse. I was more tired, more angry, more unhappy, and less thoughtful. Inside I knew all of these things, but I just pushed it down so that I could continue to drink.
The time with my lovely wife over the past week has been a real eye opener. We still have it! We still love talking and spending time together. We are happier than we have been in a long time. I have stopped watching TV, mindlessly being on the Internet, mindlessly looking at my phone, etc. That time is now my time with my lovely wife. Honestly my relationship with her is the only relationship that really matters in the end. We have gone from saying, we will live separate lives in the same house, to having lives that have quality and hope.
I compare the past few weeks to taking the red pill in the Matrix. I suddenly saw the damage I was doing to my relationships and myself. Now the sky is the limit as I have an extra 5 hours a day in my life that I didn’t have when I was drunk.
I stood on a sidewalk having a panic attack hundreds of miles from home. It was like a nightmare where you are all alone in a strange place with no hope.
That said, I had my phone and my lovely wife and my friends. As I wrote before, they pulled together to get me home. One moment I was lost and then I was found. Life is, hard, imperfect and difficult, but God never allows us in to be in a bad situation without a solution.
On that sidewalk I cried as I talked to my lovely wife. “I… I.. don’t know what to do. I was so lost and hurt and upset. One day later I was at home with her and in my bed and thankful.
What I found out in detox at the mental hospital is that many people don’t have the support that I have. They have significant other’s that have the same issue that they have and don’t want to change. They have friends that want to egg them into drinking or drugs again or they have no one at all.
I, on the other hand, had my lovely wife and friends that would come help at a moment’s notice. In fact while I stood on that sidewalk of hell feeling like I was losing my mind, a friend called who had been up since 3:30am and worked all day and said, “I’m on my way to pick you up.” At 4:00pm he was going to drive 4 hours each way to get me home. Who has friends like that (rhetorical question)? Who has a wife that would stop everything to save her husband in crisis. Oh, did I tell you that my lovely wife is disabled with migraines and a bad back and neck? I’m not saying that people like that don’t exist, but I had no idea that they existed in my life.
I’ve been home now for 3 days. I’ve been sober for 8 days. I am a changed man and I’ll never, but the grace of God, go back to my previous life.
Finally something funnyish that happened to me…
I was on my way to pick up my daughter to go to church, and needed to take some water to drink in the car. I grabbed a bottle an headed to her apartment. When I got there, I went to take a drink… IT.WAS.NOT.WATER…IT WAS VODKA! What a shock. I immediately dumped it on the ground. So here I am, a recovering alcoholic with a mouth full of vodka on his way to church. The irony was funny to me. The good thing was that it was disgusting to me. It didn’t temp me in any way. I hated it and just laughed at the situation. Just so you know, out of convenience, I would fill water bottles with vodka. Now I smell each one before I drink it, LOL.
So here I am on a month long sabbatical from my work, chilling, enjoying my lovely wife and trying to get my afternoons end evenings back on track. She goes everywhere with me and will continue to do so until the month is over (and longer if she wants).
I am stronger that I was a week ago, but I know that I am very weak and that sin crouches around the corner to pounce on me.
Luke 22:31 – 32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
I hope that someday I can move on and, “strengthen my brothers” by the fire I have gone through.
What can I say! I was not even closely prepared for what I was about to experience. I assume others might have been better prepared; but I had to just run into this head first, so that I wouldn’t change my mind. It was shocking to me at the beginning, and such a blessing to me at the end.
6:00am – My friend and coworker picked me up to make the 3.5 hour drive to the hospital. Fortunately, we had an office nearby the hospital and he had some work to do there, so it worked out well. It was an uneventful drive.
10:45am – We arrived at the hospital. People from work had gotten me 2 bags full of things like games, puzzles, toys, food, etc to help me get through the days. I was told I’d be at a hospital for 5 days detoxing and basically sitting in a room with nothing to do, so they tried to help me through that time with tons of things to pass my time. Needless to say, I never even opened the bags and I was so wrong on what I was about to go through. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone.
My friend left and I was in a small entryway and told them I was there for detox. They took all my bags through a small window. They then told me to give them my wallet, phone and anything else in my pockets. They then let me into the lobby to fill out the paperwork. I then asked for my phone back and they said I wouldn’t get it back until I left the facility. Wait, what? No phone, no laptop, nothing.
What have I gotten myself into?
The next six hours were spent sitting in a 6 x 6 room with three chairs. From time to time people came in. Once to do a Breathalyzer, once to give me lunch, once to interview me and then to deal with insurance. Finally at around 4:00, I get to go to my unit.
What came next rocked my world. I was brought onto the unit and asked to sit while they brought my bags from the front. Then they had me give them my belt. Then the strip search. Once again, what was happening? I’m not a thief. Am I in prison? Then it came to me, I’m in a mental hospital! Next they went through every item of my suitcase and removed everything I couldn’t have. Nothing with a rope or string. No shoe laces (fortunately I had on sandals). My razor, gone. My pillow, gone. My Mom’s cross neckless that I’ve worn since she died, gone. No phone, no watch no laptop, no iPad. My room had no shower curtain, no door for the toilet. It had two beds, two shelves and a sink.
My life was about to change dramatically and I knew it.
My day started at 6:00am the next morning. I got up off of my 2″ thick mattress on a wooden bed and a 2″ pillow and got my toiletries from the nurses station along with towels. Showers, morning meds distributed by a nurse, then breakfast. Doors locked to the rooms at 7:45am and didn’t open until 8:00pm. They had us line up and did a roll call. “Here” each person yelled when their name was called out. We then went single file to the cafeteria with a tech in the front and in the back of the line. The cafeteria was at 60 degrees. The food was very good, and then back to the unit – single file. Four outdoor breaks a day. Group meetings with lunch and more meetings, dinner, showers, meds, and finally bed at 10:00pm. Darkness. No TV, no media, no phone. Just alone with my thoughts. Would I fall asleep or just lay there in the dark? A woman there told me of 8x4x8. Count up to 8 breathing in, count to 4 and then count to 8 as you exhale. It is an amazing way to fall asleep.
The first 24 hours were shock. Going from full freedom to prison was a very difficult experience. However, after I got with the routine and expectations, things went much smoother. There was a nurse there, I’ll call her Meg. She was awesome. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have made it through. She was kind but stern at the same time. She really seemed to trust me and I trusted her. Have you ever seen someone for the first time and felt like you knew them forever? That was Meg. She worked the evenings and that was when I needed help most, especially at the beginning. I was lost and she knew it. She got me an extra blanket that no one else would approve. Why was this so important to me? My pillow was 2″ thick and basically non-existent once I laid my head on it. I took the second blanket and put it under my pillow to raise my head (I have a pinched nerve in my neck). It was hard, but at least I had my head raised. One day they were calling names for evening meds. It was late and I was tired. I mentioned to someone that I wish they would start with the “T’s” rather than the A’s. A few minutes later, Meg called out the people to get meds, and she started with the T’s (it’s the small things).
The people I met were just normal people. From a grandmotherly woman to a woman who looked like she was 15, but was 24. Black, white, and people with 2 legs, 1 leg and no legs. From very shy to VERY extroverted. Few men and many women. Smokers, non-smokers. Happy, sad, and vacant and everything in-between. I really liked everyone there. They were real and just like me, had issues with alcohol and or depression.
I came in scared, I left confident and happy. I detoxed from alcohol. I had been drinking about 13 drinks a day and other than my hands shaking, I had no symptoms of detoxing the whole time. I also detoxed from my phone and computer. I detoxed from the news. I detoxed from having to have the TV on to go to sleep.
I’ve been home 2 days now. Interestingly enough, everyday at 4:00, even without looking at the clock, I hit a wall. I get depressed and anxious. I figure that is because I would drink my first drink around then each day. Yesterday my Lovely Wife said, let’s listen to Christian music and you do your Sudoku and read your Bible and relax. Next things I knew it was 6pm and I was past the difficulty.
My life with my Lovely Wife has gotten so much better. We talk and laugh and enjoy each other. Last night we stayed up till midnight talking (not a great idea as I had an 8:00 meeting this morning, but TOTALLY worth it).
Shock and awe. Awe stands for Awesome, which is what God is. He can turn the worst circumstances into the best life, if we let Him.