Coming into the rooms of AA I felt afraid and alone. I was at the lowest point of my life. I didn’t know what I was going to. I had just spent two months at Wilderness Treatment Center in Montana and was already feeling homesick. Hearing that I was going to spend an unforeseen amount of time in Los Angeles didn’t brighten up my mood.
I didn’t think I would be having any fun when I heard about all of the structure and rules New Life House had set in place. I just wanted to sit around and watch tv and surf the web all day. Looking back on it, I am happy to have had all of this structure while going through the house. I had to make some big changes, but they led to me finding a home in recovery.
As an alcoholic, I am a creature of habit and comfort. I’ve never had the willingness to go out and try new things. I wasn’t living life, I was just sitting on my couch, watching it pass me by. After living in recovery for nearly two years I can honestly say sobriety is far from boring. Every day is a new adventure that allows me to experience my emotions again. I get to go out and meet new people at each 12 step meeting I go to and spend time with them.
Not to mention the fact that recovery helped me rebuild my relationship with my family too. I am a part of their lives more than I ever have been, and I have all of the members of the house and their families to thank for it. They made me feel loved when I couldn’t love myself, and they reminded me how to show love and care for other people. That is a debt I can never repay but what I can do now, is pay it forward. I have the ability to take a newcomer out with my family when they are in town. I have done this before and my parents and I really enjoy it. Every time I talk to my mom and dad over the phone, they are asking about all of the guys in the house. They want to know what steps they are on, how much time they have, if they have a job yet or if they have gotten senior member status. Not only have I found a community and a home in recovery, but my family has as well.
I haven’t been able to spend a terribly large amount of time with my biological family since coming to New Life because they live all the way in Minnesota, but everyone here has made me feel more than welcome. The last two Christmases, I spent down in San Diego with families I barely knew at the time. Both were incredibly nice to me. They gave me food, gifts and hospitality. This past year, even though I wasn’t home it felt like I was. I played card games, watched some football games and ate lots of sweets. In the morning I woke to a stocking with my name on it, filled with candy. While I barely knew them upon arrival, I feel like they are part of my family now. The community I have gained from New Life House has been phenomenal. The year before, I really enjoyed myself during the holidays but I was very homesick. As much fun as I was having, it still couldn’t fill the hole in my heart. This last Christmas I didn’t have that issue. I came back to New Life House after the holiday, excited to see everyone and ask them about their Christmas day. I was excited to see one of the guys open up the Secret Santa gift I had got for him. I realized that nothing on the outside needed to be changed – it was just the internal work that I had to continue to focus on to feel good.
Like most people new in recovery I thought a sober life would mean I would have to live a boring life. Boy, was I wrong. Since getting sober I have been able to enjoy numerous fun activities with everyone in AA. Simply going out to dinner with a bunch of friends after a meeting has been very entertaining. I no longer need to depend on chemicals to make myself enjoy a situation. Even crazier, I am able to live in the moment and not take myself so seriously! I can laugh with other people and just relax in group settings. In sobriety I have had the most fun I have had in a long time. I have gone to hockey games, basketball games, theme parks, dances and parties. Near the end of my drinking I wasn’t doing anything like that. I was just sitting at home on my computer or my Xbox, getting drunk alone. The few times I did try to go out to a concert or a game, I would become too drunk to even attend. Today I am enjoying life to the fullest.
I have a new set of eyes – these eyes allow me to see the benefits of sobriety and all it has to offer. They allow me to see past the defects in others and have relationships with them. They have allowed me to see that it is better to give than to receive. I can’t expect to have healthy relationships if all I do is take from others. I have to be willing to give and I have to do it for the right reasons. Why do a good deed for a friend if I only do it with the expectation to be paid back in some way? Today I feel a part of – today I feel like I am home.