My name is Emily. And I’m an alcoholic. I have been sober for 425 days. I have spent almost 14 months on one of the best journeys of my life, Recovery. When I was in active addiction, I had no idea what recovery was. My mind wasn’t even thinking beyond drinking. In fact, I didnt even know there was a life after drinking. I thought I was either going to be a drunk for the rest of my life, or I just wasnt going to drink. But the term Recovery-wasn’t in my vocabulary, but it had a whole new meaning. My battle wasn’t just trying to find all my answers to life at the bottom of a bottle, my battle was also myself. And for as long as I can remember, I was my own worst enemy. I can’t remember a specific time in my life when I wasnt gravitating towards something or someone to instantaneously make me love myself. Make me whole. Make me feel like I was worth something. Or just flat out make me feel. I was a codependent loner, if that makes any sense at all. I used people and things to fill a void in my soul, but I kept to myself because I was also a suicidal depressed alcohlic who was full of shame and denial. 425 days ago, I surrendered to it all. I knew my days were numbered. I knew that if I didn’t just throw in the towel and say “For the love of everything, just save me from myself”….then I was going to die.
I woke up 425 days ago in my 2nd psych ward. It definitely lived up to the hype of it’s name. In fact, it scared the hell out of me. But I still surrendered to it. I knew that even though I was about to experience the biggest culture shock of my life, me being here is where I need to be. I spent 5 days in that cold building. Sleeping on a plastic mattress. My bed was smack dab under the air conditioning vent. I was only allowed one thin blanket. 2 would apparently allow me to hang myself. I brushed my teeth with a brush the size of a Barbie comb. Any longer and I could have made a shank…and killed myself. Everything was bolted to the floor. Privacy was non existent. Every morning you had to line up at a small window and take your meds in a little paper cup. Then go and sit in a room where the walls were covered in graffiti and I would so love to type out some of what was on there, but I’m sure you can figure it out on your own. That first morning was when I first saw someone punch an old man in the back of his head and start screaming in a language that doesnt even have a name. A woman beside me was yelling at someone who wasn’t even there. Another man was sitting across from me with his pretend sniper rifle that he thought he had, and when I made eye contact, he pulled the trigger. It occured to me then, right then and there, that this is where I was. And although growing up on a farm in the middle of no where never presented me in situations like this, I was where I needed to be. After 5 days of Groundhog Day with this, waking up and doing it over and over, I found myself completely at peace. I have just experienced something that not many people have. And it awoke something in me. Empathy. Compassion. Understanding. The rehab facility was connected to the psych ward. Day 5, I got to leave out one door from a place that will forever be imprinted in my brain, walk down a long hallway, and open another door to a place that seemed to be a whole new world. Rehab. Culture Shock #2. A part of me felt like I was experiencing PTSD from the psych ward. I felt like I just left a cold and dirty place, and I looked like I hadnt showered in days, and I was emotionless. But I later on label this experience as the cleansing of my soul. Rehab was groundbreaking for me. People from all walks of life, sharing their stories of being in the dark and really letting go of their demons. I saw people who were leaving after 28 days and they stood up and gave their speech on their experience. They seemed so alive. They had what I wanted. Hope. I knew I was again, where I was supposed to be. Those 28 days I spent in that treatment center were the most crucial and mind blowing days of my life. I started to completely disect myself. Build my armour. Learn about my life and my experiences and really find out who I was meant to be. I embraced all the good, and stood strong through all the bad. Rehab wasnt a walk in the park for me. There were many things that happened that could have threw me off course, but I made it what I needed it to be. I was there to get better. To bring me back to life. And wash away the Emily that I turned into after 32 years and finally become the Emily I was supposed to be.
When I left there, the one thing I knew was that I found spirituality the most intriguing. I was all about my soul. I had put my soul through so much torture and it was time that I started to heal it. I knew I had a new chance at life. I knew that every single person I met in there had the same chance. I knew that every broken and tattered soul that I encountered, had the same wish. Hope.
Since the day I completed my cycle of treatment, I have spent every single day giving my soul a chance to live. I guide it with compassion, understanding, empathy and positivity. I no longer need to focus on someone or something to do these things for me. I surround myself with people who have positive energy. People who have hope for themselves and other people. People who are passionate about life. And these people can be found anywhere. AA/NA meetings. Church. The gas station. Or just on the street. I live for the broken and the lost souls. The addicts who feel the way I did. The ones who feel like they arw fhe misfits in the world. Those still battling their demons. I live for the Emily I used to be. The little lost girl who couldn’t bear living another day and wanted to die. Ive become so passionate about sharing my story. And being the light in someones darkness. A kind word, a positive quote or just a smile can make someones day better. 425 days ago, I needed someone like me, the me now. But I couldn’t be that person until I went through this whole process. So now, when asked about Recovery, I can say that it was my lifesaver. My soul saver. My hope. My chance to be the best version of myself that I can be. And it does come first. Before everything, anything and anyone. Because without it, I lose everything. So believe in the journey. Trust the process. Make it what you need it to be, regardless of the good and the bad. Recovery gave me…me. And everyday is a new day, and I’m always going to be a work in progress. We all are. But everyday I wake up alive, I wake up with hope.