“I can’t do this alone.” These five words comprise the realization that set into motion a transition that changed my life. Years of struggle, pain, and angst had whittled my resolve down to a low the likes of which I had not known possible. Before this, I fought a good fight. In doing so I caused myself years of pain. I fought everyone: professionals, who suggested I receive help for my obvious addiction, family members who loved me when I was unable to love myself, employers who had to make business decisions that resulted in a series of terminations, the list goes on.
The fight backed me into a corner that looked like this: Winter in Baton Rouge, LA. Within a small rental cottage it is cold and dark as there has been no electricity running through the walls for months. Numerous failed attempts to quit taking pills have taken the fight out of me. I sit wrapped in dirty blankets gazing in the direction of a window, but not looking out. At this point I hadn’t really looked at anything for some time. No one stops by to visit. I have successfully isolated myself to the point of abandon. In the middle of the night I plan to go behind the neighbor’s house to use the hose for a cold shower. I detest the idea. What am I to do? I haven’t paid the water bill and the water is shut off.
Then I gaze beside me. On the floor sit a handful of pills that will get me through the night. I am okay. Somehow, in my warped perspective, life is good. I have to be presentable enough to show up in the morning for my latest job, a waiter position in a local restaurant. Therein, I scrape up enough money to buy the necessary pills I need to survive, nothing more.
Sleep must have overtaken me because I am suddenly awakened by repeated thuds coming from my front door. As I answer, I am greeted by blinding rays of sunlight form the morning sun, as well as two constables. They have come to serve me eviction papers. I haven’t paid my rent in two months, for the second time. I have a week to vacate the premises.
At thirty two years of age, homeless, now living in a 1973 Volkswagen beetle was not part of my life’s plan. Yet, there I was, still fighting; now self was the only advisory. I was cornered and tired. I did not want life to be like this, and hated being terrified all the time. I was so tired of trying to get off these dammed pills on my own terms. Finally, surrender: “I can’t do this alone.”
Strength via surrender seems counter intuitive. However that is exactly how it works. Stop fighting and work with others in order to reach a common goal: sobriety. Yet unable to understand this concept, I called Bridge House. I had acquired the telephone number by reaching out to my parents. It was my first ever call for help. They had known someone who had gone through the program and was doing well. Thus, I surrendered to the care and protection that Bridge House provides.
During my year of treatment I worked with peers, made friends, and received counseling. I began to work a program, the same program I work today. I began to set goals for my personal and spiritual advancement. The key here was that I was not alone. During the year my thinking began to change. For the first time in years I felt hope.
Though cliché, quitting drugs and alcohol is not the hardest part; maintaining sobriety is. Had I not been in Bridge House, I feel that I would not have been able to achieve this. Life goes on after sobriety is acquired, as well as all the pitfalls that come with it. The program provided by Bridge House established a blueprint for daily personal maintenance that I continue to practice today. I still strive to improve.
Having just reached five years sober, my life is quite different from the aforementioned day. I have true friends. My family is an enormous part of my life again. I reach out to others. I have worked the same job for over two years now, and have even gone back to college. I will graduate with a degree in geology this coming May. However this is small compared to the fact that I did not have to take pills to make it through the day. I know joy. It has been quite a journey; one that I did not take alone. I know gratitude. That is exactly what I feel regarding Bridge House, for proving to me that I never had to be alone again.