Start by describing the situation that changed your life.
After about 25 years of active drug/alcohol addiction and homelessness, I came to in the front yard I was crashing in one day and realized, I was 38 years old and had nothing to show for being on this planet for this long. I was miserable, pissed off, depressed and really had nothing going for me at all. The thought of killing myself made me feel the calmest I had felt in years. Though, in the back of my mind I knew I could not do it. It was at this realization where I decided to come into recovery.
Based on your situation or story, was there a turning point that prompted the need for change or help?
I had been ordered by a judge to come into recovery before and at the time, I thought all of the people in rehabs and meetings were all liars. I thought that all of those people found a way to fool the judges into thinking they were all clean. When I came into recovery I told myself I was going to do all of the things that all of the other people were not doing. I was going to go to all of the meetings I could get to, I was going to find a sponsor and work the steps, I was going to be of service and I was actually going to change my thinking and behaviors. I was going to do all of those things and when it did not work, because in my mind it could not possibly work for someone like me, then I will have tried everything I could and I would harm myself.
How did you or your HERO get help?
I came into my first meeting and immediately ran into someone I had met when the judge ordered me to go to meetings. I asked this man to be my sponsor and he said he could be my temporary sponsor. I asked, “will you be my temporary sponsor for ten years?” He must have seen my desperation and answered, “yes.” I heard someone say one must go to 90 meetings in 90 days and put in the same effort one put into getting high. With the effort I put into getting high, I went to 270 meetings in 90 days —3 meetings a day. When I had about 4 months clean, I was at a meeting and spoke up, “I’m Don and I am an addict. I am freaking board. All I do is go to meetings and talk. If this is recovery, I can do this on the street and be a lot happier!” Someone came up to me after the meeting and hugged me and said, “Go to school.” At 4 months clean, I started in community college where I earned a Certificate in Addiction Studies and transferred to a California University where I earned a BA in Psychology.
Based on your experience, what lessons did you learn? Do you have any advice to give?
1. I don’t think it will work for me.
2. If it does work for me I am going to change my thinking, my behaviors and therefore change my life.
I thank the powers that I got to follow the second idea. Recovery is really nothing more the being desperate enough in the attempt to save your own life to open your mind to allow new possibilities and ideas in. I have seen many people come in with the idea of doing the same thing they had done the last time they were in recovery and fall by the wayside yet one more time despite all our best efforts. The future is unknown and don’t worry about it. The past is done so work on getting unstuck from it. The only thing that you can influence is right here, right now. Be the best person you can be right now for you first and everyone else second.
If you are in recovery, describe what life is like today.
Today, I get to be the lead counselor at a health center and I get to help people become who they want to be in recovery. I am grateful for life today.