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Breakdown Lane | A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 21 – The Trade-In

I can’t honestly say that what happened was a monumental surprise. I’d set myself up knowing full well the end result was a possibility. One of the many lessons I learned in the recovery treatment center was to prepare myself for situations, to leave myself a way out if needed. Being of an analytical mind, someone who had been planning best and worst case scenarios for most of his life, it wasn’t too difficult.
          In the past, attending the party down the street would have been something I’d left out in my weekly rehab treatment center meeting. I knew they’d surely scoff and tell me to stay away and even judge me. How could they really know me to make opinions on what I should or should not do? I’m not sure what brought me around to talking about this choice but I did.
          The group didn’t let me down. As a collective, they felt it was an awful idea, and my argument was simple: I am going to have to deal with being around drugs and alcohol someday, right? I can’t live in an ‘A.A. bubble!’
          From what I’d seen and heard, so many people who joined Alcoholics Anonymous get caught up in the ‘life’ of it. They seem to go to one meeting after the other, hit sober dances and even travel to A.A. conventions around the country and globe. It sounded incredibly boring to me. I wanted to live and laugh and have fun. Being tied down to one way of life just wouldn’t work for me. That was not what I wanted for my life.
         My counselor, God love him, stated simply, “And how did you arrive at this conclusion?”
         Sitting there, eight other faces staring at me, my mind began to scramble; I was on the hot seat. “Well, you can see them there at the meetings. They always sit in the same row, raise their hands and pontificate endlessly.”
          “It’s like they want everyone to know what they’ve been through. They act like their trials and tribulations are worse than others, so we should listen to them.” I realized at the moment I was having an extremely hard time articulating what I wanted to say, and it was because I was judging them. I had no concrete evidence to back up my facts.
          Although it wasn’t a big revelation, I shared it with the group. 
          “So, do you feel you are being judged by this group?” the counselor continued.
          Heat rose in my face, and I wanted to say ‘no’ but my hot flush gave me away. “Yeah, I do.” I muttered. 
          “Let’s take a poll here?” he said to the group. “Is there anyone here who wants to see him fail with his recovery?” No one raised their hands. “Does anyone here not care about him and his sobriety?” Again, no one raised his hand. “Who cares what happens to our friend?” Everyone raised their hands.
          I felt a little ashamed, and a little embarrassed. How could these strangers care about what happens to me? I know I cared about their success and wanted the best for them, but I guess I wasn’t seeing me through their eyes.
          After further discussion, I agreed to allow myself an out at the party. If it got to be too much, like I wanted to use again, I could call one of them to pick me up, or I could consciously make a decision to leave the party.
          When Friday night finally rolled around, I called Andy to see how he was feeling about the party; if he still wanted to attend or not. He did, so we planned on meeting up at a little diner in the SouthEnd of Boston. He never showed for breakfast or the meeting, and as time went on, I began to worry a bit. I went directly home after the meeting and saw I had a couple messages on the answering machine. The first one was from Andy saying he’d forgotten to set his alarm clock, and the second one was from him as well. This one said that since I hadn’t called him back he was going to skip the meeting, head off to the party, and for me to meet him there. 
          A cold dread of fear crawled up my spine. What was I going to do? Should I still go? I played back the messages again. They were both sort of muffled and I could hear distant music. Was Andy at the party already? Was he trying to pull one over on me? Was he using?
          No, he couldn’t be. What would be the point of Andy wanting me to go to the party now? Wasn’t I supposed to help him stay away from the stuff?
          I headed out the door and straight to the party. The music was pulsing, the dance floor was dark and crowded, and off to the sides I could see familiar groups sitting on couches. Since it was a private party, they were openly snorting lines of God knows what. I made a bee line to one group. They were glad to see me, offering hugs like I’d just come home from some war. 
          That’s when I saw Andy. He was sitting on a couch next to my old drug dealer, David. David’s thin frame was slightly thinner, his bald head gleamed with sweat, and his square glasses reflected the spinning lights above. I leaned over to give David an obligatory hug and he pulled away. I laughed and said loudly, “Don’t worry, Sobriety isn’t contagious. If it was our friend Andy wouldn’t be messed up right now.” There were a few laughs from those around, but the scene wasn’t funny at all.
          At that, I extended my hand to Andy and asked him he wanted to leave. He shakily looked at me and finally shook his head. David sneered like he’d won a game and then asked if I wanted a bump of coke.
          I politely declined, said it was nice to see him, and then left the party to go home, and when I did, I called a friend in recovery and we met for coffee.
It was time to trade-in the old way of life. 

To the next part in the Series — A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 22 – Hitchhikers or Not? — Click Here