My Recovery Journey

I have kept in touch with the treatment center where I began my recovery journey, a recovery from emotional issues and alcohol addiction. I returned to the treatment center shortly after completing treatment for relapse prevention as part of the NCCDP program. Also, I have kept in touch as I have attended a few outside meetings and outside events organized by the treatment center. But in October, three years after completing treatment, I returned to the center for the annual alumni reunion. Today I reflect on how I felt leading up to the annual treatment center reunion, how I felt while there, and the rush of emotions as I proudly signed the attendance plaque!

I fantasized how great it would be to “go back” to give thanks for this newfound freedom to walk the picturesque property. But I procrastinated. I didn’t attempt to RSVP for the alumni reunion until the week of, and even then didn’t pull the online trigger to secure my reservation. I was anxious about returning. The idea of going back stirred up memories and emotions of a time I thought I’d rather forget. I contemplated and prayed, and found myself in my car that rainy cold Saturday morning headed west for a two hour drive for the reunion.

I drove through rain, winding roads, mountain scenery, horse farms, God’s country. And I was anxious yet excited. Today I know God has my hand in everything. But my mind was swirling with the reality of how I felt that day when I arrived there before my treatment, therapy, support and a program of living with tools. I felt, well, I felt very alone. I sat in that memory of that feeling as I drove.

To see the grounds as I approached was exciting! The treatment center sits on 160 acres in the mountains! The facility buildings are architectural stone and wood and utilize the land such that I felt the sense of community resurge within me. I felt a sense of pride to have been and to be a part of this cause and effect. I remembered how this place made me feel a true sense of belonging. How my loneliness and being misunderstood disappeared. Memories of the inception of feeling hope and glimpses of the prospect of knowing serenity flashed as I walked the stone path down the stone steps to a famous landmark overlooking the rushing waterfall to my left. I remembered the time I was reprimanded for exposing a bit too much skin while doing yoga by the falls. I have to say, in defense, it was summertime when I was in treatment and it was hot. My emotions were rushing like that waterfall after a good rain!

To my right was the alumni reunion in action; under tents of protection from the rain filled with colorful fall decorations of pumpkins and flowers. The tents brought the folks closer together to reminisce… well, God brought folks closer. (The rain brought the tents). I truly had no fear as I walked down the wet grassy hill towards the tents. I was greeted with hugs. Genuine greetings of good will. Happy, healthy folks enjoying fellowship and celebrating each other. No longer alone, my heart was full in the fellowship of support and recovery!

Being at the reunion I was able to give thanks for those who helped me, motivate those helping the still sick and suffering, and to give hope for those in doubt. As I opened the door to the Alumni House I could visualize doing psychodrama and reflected on the impact that personal, intimate, healing therapy has had on me and others.

Inside the Alumni House is a wall of framed plaques from reunions past signed by attending alumni. On a wooden table near this wall was this year’s plaque awaiting my signature. I proudly signed the plaque! Who knew what those signatures truly symbolize? Before I departed I walked the area by the lake. I could see the smoldering embers of the fire pit where the morning meeting was held. As I looked at the labyrinth I remembered my counselor who taught me how to meditate. What a gift. Another tool I use today in my life of peace from bondage to self. I thought I was going to the reunion as a selfless act to give thanks and show the respect I have for the integrated comprehensive therapy introduced to me while there. Reflecting on those emotions now I realize that going to the reunion gave me something vital to stay on my path of health and well being in recovery.

This part of my recovery journey was just like the vital memories I experience when a newcomer arrives at a meeting. Just like the memories and emotions I feel when someone in early recovery vulnerably shares an event in their life that made them stop for just long enough to clearly see they needed help.

Before I came to treatment I didn’t understand what was going on with my life. I did not see that I needed help. I am so grateful to be vividly reminded of how my life was before treatment before my recovery journey began. Before the guidance and compassion of the NCCDP. I was broken, afraid, and alone when I first arrived at this place. My life was not healthy. I wasn’t happy. My family was confused. We were all afraid.

Now all of that has changed. I put down alcohol, faced my demons, sought professional guidance and took suggestions. I learned how to trust my higher power and worked to be the woman I want to meet. I am a different person today and this transformation began here. To face the memory of pain and suffering and to feel a miraculous gratitude for my life today and for those who have guided me in recovery is another promise come true.

My guess is it’s fitting during this time of thanksgiving that the reunion is held at the end of October. I am thankful that I had the courage to walk back to a place in time and for the multitude of gifts I have received because of my recovery journey.

With Thanks, A Grateful Recovering Alcoholic