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Breakdown Lane | A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 14 – Driving the Straight and Narrow

Over the course of the next few sessions, just as detox time at the recovery treatment center was ending, a couple additional members of the group ‘picked-up’ again, and just like before they were welcomed back with open arms – no ramifications. I didn’t understand what was going on here, but I did realize that if I did falter I would be welcomed back as well. Was that an option for me? Wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I did that?
          When I joined the group nearly four weeks prior, there were already members in the here, some were believed to have passed on to the rehab portion of the program, some possibly not. I wouldn’t really know until I arrived at the next step. I just needed to get through this, I needed to deal with what was happening now in my life, and not be so darned worried about how others were dealing, coping, and struggling with their sobriety. That’s not to say I didn’t care, because I did.
          What it boiled down to for me was that I was scared to death. After amassing the amount of time I did, the longest since probably my sophomore year in college, that I might pick-up as well. If I started up again, would I have the courage to come back? My gut told me that I wouldn’t. That I’d resent myself for having ‘failed’ at something I really wanted for myself. Yeah, yeah, I know I struggled with the ‘alcohol’ label thing but I knew what I wanted, or at least what I didn’t want for me. I didn’t want to drink or take drugs again. The list of what I didn’t want was a long one though, but the two keys to open the door to insanity were the drinking and drugs. If I stayed away from them, then the rest just wouldn’t come. 
          Although the craziness of that world seemed so far away from me, it still beckoned me. Like others in my group, I knew my sobriety could be greedily snatched away by the addict side of me. The addict in might not let go this time, and as far as I was concerned I gotten out just in time. The precipice I was on when I used was like walking a tightrope without a net, and the more I partook the more the rope began to fray and unravel. Having to start all over, if it ever came to that, wasn’t a notion I even wanted to consider, so wrapping my brain around it was impossible.
          It was my last session with this group, with this counselor, and with the big blonde man with the go-tee who had clapped his hands as soon as I said I was and addict. As I sat and listened to the others in the group talk about their daily struggles of life’s many issues, their triggers, their close calls with picking up again, and even to those who had picked up I had a sort of revelation, I began to feel tears burning at the corners of my eyes. 
          ‘Good God, don’t be a sissy and start crying here!’ came a bellowing voice inside me. 
          When the person wrapped up what was going on with him, the counselor, and I won’t forget this, turned to me and said, “I see you’re experiencing some emotion. I’d love for you to share it if you could. I know this is your last day here. How are you feeling about that?”
          I swallowed hard, not even sure where to begin, so I just started talking. 
          “How do I feel? I’m all over the place,” I laughed lightly and watched the others nod. They understood where I was at and that nearly wreaked me. “I’ve been sitting here thinking about the past four weeks and how I’ve come to really enjoy coming here more than going to a stupid bar, getting high, and being hung over for work the next day. 
          “I haven’t talked about this here and I probably waited to the last day so you all wouldn’t hate me but I’ve been resentful toward a number of you because you picked up and came back.” I sat quiet for what seemed like ten minutes but was actually more like just a few seconds. 
          “Go on,” said the counselor. 
          “And so I’m also angry, I guess. I’m angry mostly at myself, because I don’t give myself leeway to mess up. It’s either I do this sobriety thing or I don’t. There’s no middle ground, and for you guys to come back here after picking up is like an insult and threat to my sobriety. It’s like you’re all telling me that it is okay to pick up.” I look around; people are not nodding in agreement or understanding. The counselor is somewhat smiling, so I continue. 
          “I’m also full of fear of what might happen if I do cave to the pressure and drink again. I don’t want to…I really don’t. I want to stay sober, I want to go to the rehab treatment center with thirty days under my belt, and just continue from there.
“I was sitting here stewing in these emotions when it dawned on me that for those of us who have picked up again, and come back and admitted it were truly more courageous than I think I could be. My anger at myself is based on the fear that I wouldn’t have the courage like the rest of you to come back here and face my demons.”

          I sat there in silence, my face burning from embarrassment. The devil on my shoulder was screaming at me, “Nice going, stupid! You’ve alienated all of them.” The angel on the other shoulder was being drowned out. 
          I’d been on this straight and narrow road for so long, so afraid to take chances, to let anyone know the real me, that I’d felt a sense of vertigo. I thought I was going to be sick. As I began to apologize, the blonde guy, Rob, said, “That’s about the most honest statement I’ve heard here.” He walked across the circle, offered his hand, and pulling me to my feet gave me an incredibly warm hug. “I’m going to look forward to seeing you in rehab.”
          The next thing I knew the others were hugging me and wishing me well.
          I felt like I really belong to this group. Not necessarily only these people, but to the larger group of sober people out there. There are millions of them.
         “Oh!” I exclaimed and began to laugh. “Today is thirty days!”


To the next part in the Series — A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 15 – Walking the Back Roads — Click Here