I’m tense in my therapist’s office as we listen to the ringtone over the speaker until a voice answers.
“Hey mom,” I choke,”I relapsed again.”
I had already been kicked out of another treatment center just two weeks earlier because I was caught using heroin. Well not so much caught as it was that the girl I was using with had overdosed. It’s a little hard to sweep that under the rug. She was revived, but the clinical staff did not want me to stay there. I was really hoping that I would not relapse this time. The outpatient program I failed a few weeks prior to that was a mistake, I see that now, but I “really wanted it this time, I swear. It will be different.”
Looking back, my journey began when I was dropped off at a treatment center at age 18. I bargained with my parents that I would do better and change it all around in exchange for not having to stay there but I had no luck. I reasoned that I wasn’t so bad or far gone. At least I wasn’t doing heroin…yet. With no place to run to, I hid my fear and decided to give it my best shot.
I bought in almost immediately. Even though I may not have done as hard of drugs as these guys, we connected right away. Here were people who understood the emotional turmoil I had been going through. When they swapped stories of their debauchery I bent the truth or lied about mine to seem “tougher”, but we could relate almost everywhere else. I learned all about the disease of addiction and it all seemed to click. I was an enthusiastic participant in all the groups and did my best to please everyone around me. The only problem lurking under all of this was the facade I was still trying to maintain. I was a sweet angel to my counselors, and devious troublemaker to the guys.
After having the most clean time I had in years, I had a relapse. The thought of doing it had been brewing for some time, I just failed to let anyone in.
This same situation would show up time and time again for many years. One thing I have observed when there is relapse after someone has some time sober, is that it is no longer a taboo thing to them. Before my first relapse, it was unthinkable to consider using again. How could I turn away from this wonderful way of life?
For the next few years I would go in and out of sobriety. I never stopped going to meetings, I knew I wanted to be clean, yet whenever I would relapse I wouldn’t tell my AA groups or sponsor. I always kept the charade going that I was well when I was dying inside.
The last place I went to for help was Miracle House. I remember before checking in I asked my parents that if I relapsed after doing this, would they be at peace knowing they did all they could. They said yes, and that was good enough for me.
I’ve been sober ever since, and by looking at what sets this place apart from the rest, it’s easy to see why. I was challenged to be vulnerable for once, and open up about what is actually going on inside me. I was able to experience the difference of living honestly versus dishonestly. I was pushed to never settle. Most importantly, I have a community of sober members who I trust and depend on.