July 4th, 2019 was a holiday that I spent in residential treatment for an addiction that I had been battling for some time. That is my truth.
I completed a 90 day program. I graduated on October 1st.
90 days. I spent 90 days working on myself with no distractions. No phone, no TV, no music, no nothing. Just me and my thoughts.
I am so incredibly grateful for that experience. How often do we get to say that we spent 3 months just spending time with ourselves? Most people never get that chance.
I will talk more about my experiences from this season in my life in my coming posts. Today though, I want to focus on one of the hardest aspects of the program for me which was 1) learning to be the client and 2) learning to trust that I couldn’t trust myself, and that someone else knew more about what I was going through than I did.
I had been a client before, but this felt so different. This felt like something I should have been able to do on my own. I should have been able to outsmart, outthink, out-therapize, and overcome this addiction. After all, I helped clients do it, right?
Here’s the thing though, I tried to get clean and sober on my own. Many times. I tried all kinds of different ways, with all different kinds of methods. I tried outpatient. I tried going cold turkey. I tried to leave the people, places, & things. I tried I tried and I tried again but my best thinking always got me in the same place… with either a bag or a bottle, or both. My best thinking nearly killed me.
I had to die to myself and to my best thinking.
Going to residential treatment meant learning to trust. It meant learning to trust another clinician with my deepest, darkest hurts. I had to trust that someone knew better than me. and more than me Someone knew more about addiction and recovery and how to achieve it than I did, despite my degrees and the three fancy letters after my name.
So, I did. I learned to trust, and when I did… that’s when the miracle happened for me. I am so glad I didn’t miss the miracle.
It can be so hard being someone who needs help when we are used to being the one who is helping others.
Here are a few things that I took away from this experience:
- Take off the hat. As a helping professional, I also put so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to have all the answers, and to rely on my education. In residential treatment, no one gave two craps about my education because at the end of the day… my behavior demonstrated that I was just like everyone else. So, I learned I needed to know when to take off the social worker hat. More than that, I needed to do it.
- Take it all in. One of the things that helped me the most was taking in my surroundings and realizing that for once, I didn’t have to have the answers. I could cry. I could yell. I could let down my walls. I could get to know the people around me as PEOPLE. Not clients, as peers. As sisters.
- Take it, and change the world. The women in the house who were open with me about their experience, strength, hope, and story are precious to me. I will forever be grateful that I met them. What are the odds that we were all there, as sisters, at one time recovering. We had different walks of life, backgrounds, education levels, even drugs of choice but we shared one common thing: addiction had devastated our lives and we chose to live and fight for a new life, a better one.