When I landed in detox for a second time in two weeks on April 1, 2012 (no April fool’s joke) my withdrawal was harder than it had ever been before. I had been told that with each relapse would bring a more intese and difficult detox. The first 24 hours would prove to be horrible and a lesson I needed to be taught. I vowed to never put my body through it again. On the first evening I was standing at the nurses’ station when suddenly my legs went weak and I felt flushed. I couldn’t get my bearings and grabbed ahold of the counter to keep myself from falling to the ground. Luckily the nurse was facing my direction and grabbed a wheelchair and the blood pressure monitor. My pulse was upwards of 150 beats per minute and my pressure was in the danger zone for seizure. I couldn’t think clearly and I felt myself losing touch with reality. Then the vomiting set in. This time it wasn’t flu-like throwing up. It was violent wretching as if my body was doing everything it could to expel poison out of itself. By evening the vomiting had not subsided despite the administration of anti-nausea medications. My nurse told me that she would need to give me a pill via my rectum. If my dignity wasn’t already shattered, this was all I needed. With my hands clutching the sides of my bathroom sink, she pulled down my pants and underwear, spread my butt cheeks and inserted a pill as I heaved and vomited into the sink, propelling bile out of one hole while attempting to not propel medication out of the other. It was humiliating, degrading and I remember thinking to myself, “What have you come to – you know better. This needs to NEVER happen again.” Thank God it worked. I didn’t have to repeat that process again during my 8 day stay.
The next day Dixie came up to visit and we decided that I needed a higher level of care than an IOP would provide. We began discussion my going to a treatment center for 28 days. I was willing and open to it and she began researching my options. It became apparent very quickly that treatment was not going to be cheap. My insurance wanted me to participate and fail in an IOP program before they were willing to cover the cost of in-patient rehab. We knew better though and made the decision that we would do whatever it took to get me the help I needed to save my life. That committment came to be my mantra and what I would live by and continue to live by today. “No Matter What”. I promised to choose life “No Matter What”, and I promised to do “Whatever it Took” to make that happen.
We found out about a Treatment Facility called Journey Healing Center and Dixie called to get more information. They wanted $2500 to reserve a bed for me. We didn’t have $25 let alone $2500 sitting around. I had just spent the last five years spending every last cent on alcohol. We began using the resources around us and asked for help. Dixie called a friend of ours and asked to borrow the money. Without hesitation that friend called Journey and paid the $2500. I now had a bed reserved. The next step was to find a way to pay for 28 days of treatment. Journey required payment of $13,000 up front and I only had a couple of days to figure it out. I swallowed my pride, picked up the phone and called my father to ask him for help. I pleaded with him to front the money for me, and that I would work with insurance who I knew would cover my stay after going through the appeals process. He was unwilling to assist financially. He explained to me that they were preparing for their European cruise and that it was costing him a lot of money. I explained to him that I was saving my life and didn’t he see the worth in my request. He didn’t budge. He also went on to let me know that I didn’t need to go to a treatment facility. I was perfectly capable of handling my issues through participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and possibly and IOP program. No way did I need in patient care. He was an expert after all. On top of thathe made it clear that he was disappointed in the choice I had made to be unfaithful to Becky. This was the first I had heard of this from my father. It had been nearly four years and he chose that moment to share his opinion with me. I hung up the phone feeling crushed, and once again abandoned and rejected by my parents when I needed them most. It was clear that they were not going to help me get to Journey.
Dixie called my best friend who is also a very close friend of hers. Without hesitation she opened a credit card and financed my first 28 days of treatment. She wanted me to live and she was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen. She wasn’t worried about me owing her money right then but rather me getting the help I needed to save my life. With my bed reserved and my 28 days paid I completed my detox and on the day that I was discharged from the hospital I was picked up by a Journey staff member and transported to my new tmporary home.
I arrived at Journey just as lunch was finishing. I remember walking into the house via the kitchen door, and all of the residents turning to look at the new arrival. I felt like I had walked into a new school half way through the year. They all knew each other and I was the stranger. It felt lonely and unfamiliar. I spent my first hour sitting at the bar in the kitchen staring at my lunch while my tears fell from my face onto my food. Reality had set in that I was in rehab. This was real. How did I let myself get to this point? How many times had I attempted to stop on my own and failed? I wanted to go home and pretend like nothing had happened. I wanted it to be a dream where I would wake up and everthing would be fixed, including myself. I missed Dixie terribly and I longed for her arms around me. This was not a dream and I was not going home. I had made a promise and for me to keep that promise I would have to stay.
That evening Dixie received permission to bring me a few things from home. Seeing her was exactly what I needed. It reaffirmed that I was in the right place and for the right reason. It was temporary and before I knew it I would be home again. Fifty-six days later I would walk out the front door of Journey to return home. I didn’t know on that first day that I would leave fifty-six days later – all I knew was that I was not going to be leaving until I had resolved all that needed resolving in order for me to stay sober. In the next few days exactly what I would need to resolve would be presented to me by my treatment team. It boiled down to four things. 1. Childhood Trauma 2. The Church 3. My Parents 4. My Identity. Each of these I will write about independently given they represent very different pieces of my collective journey. Each piece played a vital role in my recovery and it would take my “no matter what” attitude to get through each of them.
Today marks 13 months of continuous sobriety for me. Three hundred and ninety-six days. Nine thousand, four hundred and eighty-three hours without the influence of drugs or alcohol. I get asked quite often how I did it. I have a journal entry that sums it up perfectly.
“No Matter What”
Setting out on a voyage, it is not most important to understand how to get where you are going, but why. You can spend all of your time and energy on the “how”; plan out every detail, ask the experts, test the waters, experiment, collect data, wait for facts in order to believe. Or, you can put that energy into the “why”; figure out what it is you truly want, why you want it and go for it. The stronger the “why” is, the more insignificant the “how” will become. “No matter what” will become the most profound statement you will make to yourself and as you are hit with circumstances both in and out of your control “no matter what” will become your mantra. As you navigate the seemingly impossible “no matter what” will materialize as your compass and your guide. “No matter what” will guide you safely through rough waters, white squalls and perfect storms. There will be days when you resent “no matter what”. Days when you will curse “no matter what”- and even through that resentment and anger the “why” will remain important enough to you that when the waters calm and the sun re-emerges you will find gratitude for “no matter what” and feel blessed and appreciate the “why”. One day you will wake to find your voyage complete – land in sight – and you realize your safe arrival. It is at this time you will have come to fully appreciate the “why” – the same “why” you once took for granted you now never will and the “no matter what” that brought you safely to your destination becomes the realization that “you” were the “how” – you had it in you all along. All you needed was a “why” and to believe in yourself. -Kai