38 Days Clean and Sober

Skull Sketch

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Due to past detrimental life experiences with drugs and alcohol, I attempted to keep my substance use at a minimum throughout more recent years. However, I realized fairly early on in my relationship with KR that his use affected my use which steadily began increasing over the last 3 years. This increase in substance use prompted me to begin keeping track of my alcohol consumption starting in March 2014. To be honest here, I was merely writing down how many drinks or shots I had. Well, this may be more like an obsession. I keep track of a lot of things — what I eat, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), how much I sleep, how much exercise I get, my mood, etc. Yet, I wasn’t giving much thought to how much I was actually consuming. That is, until a little over a month ago when I began researching alcoholism due to KR’s recent meltdown.

This research caused me to reflect and consider that I, myself, may indeed have a problem with alcohol dependence. What began as sporadic binges every once in a while (spikes around traumatic anniversary dates) continued with regular binges beginning around the time we moved last year. Every weekend from the time we moved until the present, alcohol of one variety or another was available in this house. I know KR was/is drinking a lot more than I was; but I, alone, was drinking sometimes as much as 17 shots/drinks per week! That’s a lot! Needless to say, after I graphed it all out and realized this, I felt the need to discuss it with my counselor. We discussed my concerns about alcohol the first week of August. I told him, “I want to stop drinking alcohol.” KR, however, does not. The following week, my counselor and I met on my birthday. My counselor didn’t even ask if I managed to not drink the prior weekend. Rather, he asked, “How much did you drink?” I showed him the graph I made.

I had to laugh when he joked, “Happy Birthday! I’m sending you to rehab!” And he did, the very next day. With my newest diagnosis of alcohol dependence, I spent 28 days at New Leaf Recovery Center in Cookeville, Tennessee, my first (and hopefully last!) ever rehab experience.

Detox was a blur. I can honestly say I don’t really remember much of it, though I journaled every day I was there. From the evidence of my journal, it’s probably a good thing I don’t remember much of those first 5 days. Re-reading it now makes me wonder if I was having a psychotic break. Given the fact that I’ve been near-completely isolated for more than 10 years, my level of overwhelm was considerable the entire time I was in rehab. I spent much of my time there “shut down,” often locked deep in my mind, obsessively tapping, counting to 13 as I so often do when I’m nervous/anxious/overwhelmed. Over stimulation, overwhelm, and dealing with a lot of triggered emotions had me contemplating whether or not to stay at this treatment facility each and every day I was there, especially considering my car was parked just outside. I forced myself to stay, determined to complete the program.

And I did. I’m very proud of myself for that.

I love the staff at New Leaf. They were all incredibly helpful. For the first time in many, many years, I felt a connection to other people that I haven’t felt in such a long time. It was worth the experience for that reason alone. I “get” that I need to be re-socialized. This was a great first step in that process. I’m currently going through their Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) as well. Would I recommend New Leaf Recovery Center? Yes, wholeheartedly, but only for those people who have no problem with a faith-based approach to recovery (more on that in a follow-up post coming in the next few days).

My alcohol dependence sneaked up on me. No one in their right mind goes out with the intention to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For me, alcohol became a poor coping mechanism to escape the emotional turmoil of PTSD symptoms, severe anxiety, and the chaos of my home life. It is recommended the addict change everything in his/her life to be successful in maintaining sobriety. While in that protective bubble of a rehab facility, it’s easy to imagine a different way of living. Outside, in the “real” world, it’s much more difficult.

KR has no desire to stop drinking. Still in active addiction, he cannot see the damage he is inflicting on our relationship or his own health and well-being. Life here at home returned to the uneasy exchanges between the two of us without much of importance being said. The fact that the temptation of alcohol is ever-present here reminds me of something a new friend told me, “You can’t sleep with a dog who has fleas and expect not to get bit.” True. I get it. I have some serious decisions to make in the coming weeks. I have to figure out exactly what I want and what I need.

I may not agree with the religiosity of AA/NA. I doubt I’ll work through the 12 Steps anytime soon due to personal issues of control and what others might call religious intolerance; but I have to admit, I can see the benefit of having social support for feedback. I do intend to use these meetings for that reason alone to the best of my ability.

Just for today, I will hold on to that hope for a brighter future and maintain my sobriety one moment at a time if I have to.

38 days sober and counting….

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5 thoughts on “38 Days Clean and Sober

  1. Pingback: On Belief and God | Echoes of My Past

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  4. Thank you for sharing!! My sister is going there today and I was concerned that it would just be a cesspool for addicts because there are ZERO reviews of it. I don’t know what to expect but I honestly hope you’re still on your journey to recovery! You’ve obviously made a lot of steps in the right direction; keep it up!

    • I considered writing a review and still might; but I wouldn’t want to deter others from getting the treatment they need. Considering there are so few options in this area of TN (none of which seem to offer any “real” evidence-based approaches to recovery), I can only hope that New Leaf provides your sister with enough of a break from her normal routine to be beneficial in some way. I still stand by my recommendation that New Leaf Recovery Center is probably best for those people who have no problem with a faith-based approach to recovery.

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