When I walked into the doors of HT almost in a blackout (having downed a magnum of Chivas in barely an hour) I did not have any idea that I am about to embark on a totally different journey of my life.
I was immediately in an observation room and went off to sleep in my drunken stupor. When I woke up I saw a hospital like room with a few beds and another guy watching over me with concern. When I asked for a cigarette it was readily given. I settled down back to sleep again, for once relieved to be away from the mess I created for myself outside. I didn’t really know where I was, but sensed that it was a safe, friendly place. One thing I do remember though, the beds were painted in a bright, cheerful orange colour!
Next day the reality dawned on me that I am no longer a ‘free’ man and will have to live by whatever rules, regulations and schedules of this quaint institution.
It was then that I was given the most precious of my processions – AA literature. For sheer lack of anything better to do, I started reading LIVING SOBER and for the first time in my life there came a thought in my mind the may be, just may be, I could be an alcoholic.
On the evening of the third day I joined the group for an in-house meeting and that is where the foundations for my recovery today have been laid. I was astonished when I observed every one sharing honestly their inner most secrets. When I quietly asked a young man how he could do it, his answer stumped me. “Uncle”, he said “I do not care what you think of me. We will be together for not more than 3 months and afterwards we will just be strangers. It does not matter to me what you think of me, but I share for myself”.
This set me thinking and from that day onwards I constantly practiced sharing honestly in the meetings. It made a world of difference. Suddenly I, who was unable to catch a couple of hours sleep even after downing a full bottle, was sleeping like a baby.
Each day was a revelation regarding my addiction being a disease and the way to combat it. It was great relief to know that I was not such a miserable, selfish, self cantered jerk after all, and I was just a sick person.
Though initially I had my own reservations and grandiose opinion of myself, thinking that the counsellors with an exception of one or two, are stupid dropouts dishonestly parroting program, the place is not properly run and needed my expert management touch, and since I assimilated the program now I can go out and take care of myself etc. thankfully I continued my program.
Not that I liked the idea of having to do the things I did not like or not being able to do the things I like. But Big Book reading reinforced my belief that I needed to work this program if I wanted to be alive. And I very much wanted to live.
This brought me face to face with the disease in all its power, day in and day out. When I saw a fellow going on hunger strike asking for freedom (to drink?)from the facility, another jumping from first floor and breaking his arm just to be free to do what he wanted I could see my disease in all its glory and gore.
But the most profound impact on me was the time I spent taking care of the newly admitted fellows in the observation room. Here I got to see what this disease can do to me if I don’t do anything myself.
Especially this gentleman, who helped the director of the centre in to recovery but could not himself to stay sober, was there for almost 3 weeks. He was unable to eat, drink, walk, sit or stand by himself. He did not know where or how he was. He was unable to take care of his basic toilet needs. I needed to clean and wash him after his urination or stools, bathe him and ensure that he did not pick up infections, feed him to keep him alive. He did not comprehend any of these things.
But the only thing on his mind was “HIS DRINK”. He was thinking that I was his helper and was demanding that I pour him a drink from time to time. When I dutifully poured fruit juice for him he used to drink it as if it is his favourite drink. He was evidently hallucinating, as part of acute withdrawal.
If this disease could do this to a rational, well respected human being and turn him in to a hallucinating wreck, I shuddered to think of my future. THAT WAS WHEN I SURRENDERED TO MY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY.
From then on it did not matter to me weather my stay was comfortable or not, weather my co-inmates thought better of me or not, weather some of the counsellors in their own ego trip or manipulation called me dishonest, manipulative and all other things, I wanted my recovery at any or all costs. I WANTED WHAT THE DIRECTOR HAD.
The journey was not easy on the surface but the program and God’s grace in the form of extended stay along with the opportunity to work the program laid a solid foundation of recovery.
I am grateful to Hope Trust for giving my life back. And so much more!