A Patient's Story: Keith M.
I write to each of you today with a heavy heart, a sober mind, a serene spirit and physical well being to say Thank You for all that you have given me and goodbye to the PaRC Saturday Aftercare program. If you are reading this right now chances are you are either in, attempting, struggling with, returning to or related to someone in Recovery. I am all of the above. I am in recovery for nearly seven years now. I attempted recovery for 60 days in 1994. I have struggled with recovery - moving from selfishness to selflessness. I am also related to someone in recovery - my wife who has six plus years of sobriety. My first binge began in August of 1970 and ended in July of 1999 when I could no longer envision another day with or without my drug. My drug is Addiction. I reached out on that July afternoon and PaRC was there to catch me. Here begins my recovery story.
I met my counselor, Jane, at the front door of the PaRC...nervous and afraid. During my assessment Jane suggested that I might want to pack a bag because I might be there for a few days. "Not me", I said! Is there not some kind of outpatient type of program that I can do? After all, I am not really that sick. I came here of my own free will. Jane gently reminded me that day that my free will is what got me there and that maybe I should consider checking my free will at the door. That fleeting moment of clarity, given to me by my God as I was later to understand, was just long enough for me to say yes to recovery. We checked me in; I say "we" because it is a family disease and because "we" is the first word used in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you want to know what it is like to be in addiction don't ask the addict, ask his or her family.
I was put in a room with a guy so sick that he actually lived on the unit. I later discovered the reason they put me with him was because I was as sick as he was. My cell mate was Danny F. and he would work during the day and return to the unit in the evenings. He was my first sponsor, although he did not know it. I watched his every action and tried to do what he did. My first morning on the unit, after a restless night, I awoke and could not find my shoes. I asked Danny about it and he said that they were under my bed. I asked him why they were under the bed. He said when you get down on your knees to get your shoes thank God that you are here and ask that God grant you reprieve from your addiction today. Again I learned that we are sick people, not bad people, and that we are all worthy of God's love for us.
We all have choices in recovery and at any moment we can choose not to be in recovery and return to our addiction. One thing is certain, none of us will get out of this life alive. Nelson E. said it best, "If you choose to return to your addiction you will die a hundred deaths. If you choose to stay in recovery you will only have to die once." My addiction took away my spiritual understanding, my mental facilities and my physical well being. Recovery has restored each in the same order in which they were taken from me. There is so much I could say about what it was like then and what it is like now but I think I will save it for a speaker's meeting. Please invite me to one.
Throughout my journey of recovery PaRC's professionals, alumni, aftercare facilitators and my peers have understood that they were there to influence without interfering. This is why the PaRC and Saturday Aftercare were the kingposts of my recovery that first year and continues to this day. I wanted what those who were leading and facilitating had - a spiritual awakening and a sincere desire to be of service. I hope that I have carried the message to those who suffer and practiced the principles in all my affairs. After nearly seven years it is time for me to move to my next phase of recovery. I was asked recently why I was leaving the Aftercare Program and my reply was that it is now time for me to simply be "a fellow among fellows."
I am in eternal gratitude to my God for allowing me to be of service, to my wife of thirty years for receiving my daily amends, to my sons for their support and encouragement without judgment, to the PaRC for their compassion and leadership, to my sponsors for their tireless listening and patience, and to my peers for their availability and commitment. I again say Thank You and close with a couple of my favorite passages from our Big Book:
"Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh? We have recovered and have been given the chance to help others. May God bless you and keep you . . . until then."
Keith M., 2009, PaRC Alumnus