One Woman’s Story of Taking Suggestions
As a scared eighteen year old girl entering treatment for alcoholism and an eating disorder, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what to expect from treatment. I had no idea what to expect from my life. I had no idea what to expect in so many ways!
I tried to convince myself I only needed help for “debilitating anxiety.” I had no plan to stay sober from any of my addictions. I was looking for a temporary break, a bit of peace and quiet. After staying in a hospital and slowly putting together a few days, I took my first suggestion. I came to an extended care treatment center in Florida.
Extended Care in Florida
I’d call my parents everyday, anxious to tell them how well I was doing. Of course, I was lying, I just wanted to get out! I sat in groups, saw doctors, and had individual therapy. I smoked cigarettes with my roommates and talked s**t.
I liked going to outside meetings and getting a glimpse of the real world the most. I couldn’t wait to have what everyone on the outside had. I didn’t want someone checking on me every half-hour. I didn’t want someone verifying if I could go to Starbucks. I didn’t want someone telling me I couldn’t use the phone.
Most of my peers from treatment moved out and roomed together. Some went to “three-quarter houses,” which were loosely organized and should have been called crack houses! I wanted that freedom. I wanted a car. I wanted no curfew. I debated going back to college. I wanted to join a sorority, drink in moderation, and get my life back. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.
Today, most of my peers from treatment aren’t sober. Two are dead. Of the fifty confused, young women I was in treatment with, only myself and one other are still sober.
Today, I thank God I got what I needed, NOT what I wanted.
What the Hell is a Halfway House Anyway?
That one other girl who’s still sober, well, her and I chose to go to halfway houses after treatment. When my treatment center suggested a halfway house, I reaction was dismal at best. I didn’t even know what a halfway house was!
One of my childhood friends lived next door to a halfway house. She always told me not to make eye contact with the residents and to go inside when they were smoking. I asked her why and she responded, “they’re all crazy people who do crack all day and have mental diseases.” So, when my treatment center suggested I go to a halfway, I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of it.
I finally learned what a halfway house really was. I was still skeptical. Bed-checks? Curfews? Been there, done that. I was pretty fed up with people running my life.
Taking Suggestions Saved My Life!
Today, I look at going to a halfway house as the best decisions I ever made. Sure, I didn’t want authority, but I was willing to try it out for a few months.
My thinking went something like this, “sure, authority sucks. What other option do I have though? If I start using again, I’ll probably die. Even if I don’t, I’ll be separated from my family and everyone else…”
Sharing a house with six women and sleeping in a twin-bed was never my idea of luxury. The feeling of belonging, hope, and happiness I experienced was better than anything else I’d ever felt. See, through living in a halfway house, I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous. I was introduced to young women in recovery. I was introduced to a new life.
Women with time took me to AA meetings my treatment center didn’t go to. I loved these meetings! There were women I could relate to. There were women talking about the Big Book and “recovering from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.” There were women talking about sponsorship and the twelve-steps.
Above all, my halfway house kept me accountable. I met my sponsor at a meeting the halfway house brought in. My halfway house manger consistently asked me where I was with my step work. When I wasn’t doing it, she pushed me to. I finished the twelve-steps. I felt, for the first time in my life, a real difference. I didn’t want to go home and try to drink in moderation. I wasn’t obsessed with getting high. I was taught how to live my life!
I started working part-time and taking college classes. I had the love and support of other girls doing the same thing. Sure, there were times I wanted to drink. If I hadn’t been in a halfway house, if I was in my own apartment, the chances are high that I would have. To put it another way, I never lacked a shoulder to lean on. Anytime I needed to vent (which, in early sobriety, was always!), there was someone there.
A Sober Woman
My experience in a halfway house allowed me to get reacquainted with life and all the responsibilities it entails.
Today, I have a full life. I’m a college graduate. I’m a sponsor. I’m still sober. These are high milestones for an addict and alcoholic!
I frequently remember my time in the halfway house with a bittersweet smile. I remember the ups and downs, the times I wanted to leave. I remember the end of my commitment, when I was actually ready to leave. I don’t have any regrets.
The women from my halfway house shaped me from a scared nineteen year old girl, to a mature and sober woman. Today, I can accept life’s hardships. Today, life is good, but only because I did the necessary work!