I completed my intensive outpatient/rehabilitation program two months ago in September. Along with a certificate of completion I also received recognition from the staff for exceptional attendance. I still dream about the friends I made in my rehabilitation program. I wonder how they are and I hope that they are doing well. I met some cool people in detox too but detox was a nightmare.
I did detox on the top floor of a hospital for 5 days. This was a shared inpatient floor. Some people were detoxing from everything from alcohol to heroin to meth. Some people were in there for treatment for psychological breakdowns (I’d been hospitalized for that just two years before). Some people were just old and had nobody to take care of them. It was like an unassisted living home because the floor was so understaffed. That was the neighborhood trichotomy up there on the 7th floor: the elderly, the addicts, and the mentally ill. Of course there was a lot of over lap; some people there were old, mentally ill, and battling addiction. I was there because of my depression and alcoholism. But we separated ourselves accordingly.
I found myself hanging out with a few other guys who were detoxing. I had a lot in common with the people who were in the ward for psychological issues; I’d been to the psych ward for mental illness before so I knew where they were coming from. What really separated the patients was that half of them wanted to be there and wanted to get help and the others either had no clue where they were or they wanted to get out the second they got in.
I wanted to be there. I was a voluntary admission. I knew I needed help. I didn’t really need to detox but I had to be hospitalized in order to get into an intensive outpatient program/rehabilitation clinic. I’ve never had the DT’s. I actually never knew about how bad alcohol withdrawal could be until I was in detox. I was thankful for this. I’m surprised that I’ve never had to deal with the DT’s but I know now that I was headed in that direction. Detox gave me perspective. I got to see how lucky I had been so far because my drinking hadn’t gotten as bad as it could have been. I have a drinking problem. There’s no doubt about that. But as bad as my addiction to alcohol is, the scary part is that it can get much worse.
I hate drinking. It’s been three years since I recognized that I had a problem and I’ve been actively working on it ever since. After three years of trying to deal with this I feel like the hardest part is over for me and now it’s just the second hardest part that I’m dealing with. I feel like the first part with any sort of substance problem is the two-fold process of acknowledging that you have a problem and then acting on it. I knew I had a problem waaaaay before I actively tried to do something about it. College and mentally abusive households are a bad place to try to stop drinking. It’s been a lonely and shitty process. The hard part now though is dealing with that “what now?” feeling.
I’ve developed the habit of not drinking or doing drugs. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get cravings but they’re easier to handle with time. Getting myself under control and establishing a habit of sobriety has been difficult. One of the men that I met in rehab said that “time takes time.” I’m not about quotes or sayings or “-isms” because I think they’re corny and this one is true. Time does take time. That’s the hard part about being addicted to drugs. Drugs are instantly gratifying and nothing else makes you feel as good. That’s just basic brain chemistry. The release of dopamine in your brain from drugs is exponentially greater than anything else. Eating. Sleeping. Sex. Drugs release more dopamine than all of those things. And what’s difficult is that drugs instantly release that insane amount of dopamine. So you end up having to play the long game once you quit drugs and everything else sucks wicked bad for a long time. But the good news is that you do start feeling good. It just takes time. Compared to the instant euphoria of drugs, everything else feels like it takes forever.
It’s been a painfully slow process of stabilizing and my family does not understand. The last conversation that I had with my brother he was asking about when I was going back to school. I don’t feel a lack of support from my family but I do feel a complete lack of understanding. And that sucks. It’s frustrating. I hate being told that everybody only wants what’s best for me…as long as that means I go back to school. This is dumb and hurtful.
Now that I’ve stabilized, I’ve gotten a job working in an office and hopefully I’ll be hired on as a Spanish translator. I’m just a temp now but if I can be hired full time as a translator I’d be very happy. What I’ve learned about myself since coming out of rehab is that I really hate sharing stuff with my family. Particularly my personal successes. I’m happy at my new job and I’m doing translator work, which is something I never thought I’d be doing. First question from my moms: “will you get paid more?”
What. What kind of question is that? Will I get paid more. I wasn’t getting paid to go to college. I was racking up hella debt and kinda hating it. But because I was in college it didn’t matter how I felt. Now that I’ve deferred from school and I’m enjoying my office job? “So when are you going back to school?” I’m lucky to have a family that cares and supports me but at the same time I feel like there’s a lot of conditional middle class horseshit. I get the vibe that if I don’t go to school that they will love me less. If I bring this feeling up, they will deny it and say that they will support me in whatever I do. And then they get mad that I would even bring such a thing up and that I have no right to feel that way.
I’m almost four months sober and I feel very strangely clear headed. Getting back into the world and working has been a real eye opener. There’s something about being a recovering alcoholic that makes everything easier in a weird way. I don’t get hung up on stupid shit. Office drama? Nah. Family drama? Nah. If it isn’t life or death it does not matter. It seems cold when I describe it like this but this has become my greatest self-preservation tactic. If it isn’t life or death or it doesn’t threaten my sobriety then it is not worth getting hung up on. The best part about being sober so far is that I don’t get easily butthurt about stupid stuff anymore. If somebody had just straight up told me that if I quit drinking and doing drugs that I’d be less butthurt about stuff I would have quit a long time ago and it probably would have been easier. I do recognize that this is some dumbass hindsight but for real there is way less butthurtness in my life now then ever before. It’s strangely comforting.
I have found great strength in accepting myself as a recovering alcoholic. I’ve accepted that my reality is very different from most other people’s. Almost 4 months sober, this feeling of being different has become a strength rather than a hindrance. For anybody who’s struggling, I’d just like to say that staying sober is now finally starting to feel rewarding. I used to think that I had nothing to look forward to but I never expecting how awesome it would feel to be almost completely free of the dreaded butthurt. If you feel you’ve got nothing else to look forward to then believe me when I say that the butthurt goes away and its fuggin’ awesome, bro! If nothing else, you do have that to look forward to.