My alcoholism reached a head in spring of 2013, brought to desperation by the death of my wife and my subsequent despair. By this point I was drinking from three pm onward everyday, first wine and then vodka, whiskey or rum. Nothing would bring her back, but I could annihilate myself. It was starting to dawn on me, though, that this was making me nothing but miserable. I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything. I wasn’t socializing or running errands. I could barely cook. Being on disability, I wasn’t working. My full-time job was getting to the bottom of the bottle.
On March 19th things began to change. It was two in the afternoon, and I got in the car to drive to my psychiatrist. I had to see him to get my prescriptions, otherwise I would be without schizoaffective medications for the month. However, driving was difficult today. Delirium tremens set in as I pulled away from the curb. Convulsions and shaking hit as I took off down the block, and my vision pixilated. As the car sped up and slowed down, my foot shaking on the pedals, I knew that I would die if I got on the freeway. I took an illegal right turn and pulled over. Parking in a one-hour spot, where I was sure to get a ticket, I left my car. I couldn’t care. It was more important to get home. I walked up the street, twitching and shaking, hoping that campus security wouldn’t apprehend me for being a weirdo. It was the longest walk I’ve ever taken.
When I got home, I called 9-11 and was admitted to the hospital for alcohol withdrawal. I could see the scorn on the medic’s face when he released me to the ER. I knew had to check myself into detox.
I packed a suitcase and checked myself into the only facility I could find that took Medicare. It was a humbling experience. I was in there with all kinds of different addicts, and it first it was very intimidating. There were a lot of loud people in the day room, troubled people going through difficult things. I was so heavily medicated that I barely knew what was going on. Luckily, a sweet man took me under his wing and was my friend and when he left I had made other friends and felt more comfortable. I was sharing a room with a homeless meth addict, who ended up being a very nice woman. I discovered that a lot of these people were kind and interesting to talk to. We had AA groups, panels and group therapy. There were three square meals a day on little trays, mediocre food but not awful. There were four cigarette breaks where I would stand outside just for the sake of standing outside, as I didn’t smoke, and make conversation with the others. I was in detox for six days, and it changed me. I got sober. I got off Ativan and alcohol. I realized the compassion and humanity in a diverse range of people. I was admitted to an outpatient rehab that would save my life.
I got out of detox the morning of the 26th, and that afternoon had my intake for rehab. The air-conditioned room was loud with questions. I felt like I kept talking and kept coming up with more and more problems, issues and worries. Finally I was admitted. I was to come six nights a week for three hours, for the first three weeks, then two nights a week for two months, then one night a week for the remaining two months. It was a long program. Hopefully it would work. When I first got out of detox I was afraid to be in my apartment, with the liquor store beckoning from the corner. I was afraid I would just stroll over and buy a bottle. I needed something to occupy my time. Rehab filled it. Every night I would drive to West Hollywood and sit in a circle of folding chairs. We would have group therapy, talking about emotions and experiences with a group of addicts and alcoholics. They were friendly and open about their lives. We would process, and bit by bit, I came to know peace. In the third hour we would go over a handout or see a video, the educational portion. I learned about relapse prevention, boundaries, communication skills, anger, and other things. Learning about facets of addiction that would affect my recovery.
This process built me back up into a person who could face life on my own terms. Gradually I began to go to AA meetings, and began to enjoy them. Currently I have just finished the first phase of rehab and am starting on the second. I had my transitional ceremony today and everyone had really kind, touching things to say. It really moved me, reflecting on how much we had bonded and shared together in that room. I feel like the amount I have put into this rehab is reflected in the amount of positive energy I am getting out of it.
I feel ready to have my life back, and I am feeling more comfortable with sobriety. I am looking forwards to the rest of my life. I finally feel like I have a future now, while before I did not. I finally like myself, while before I did not. It is a new day.