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Fearless in the Face of Addiction

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The day I checked into detox was one of the toughest of my life. It took me about 10 seconds after I walked into the "quarters" to realize that I really didn't want to be there after all. Of course, having taken just about every pill I could get my hands on before checking in, there wasn't a chance of my reflexes being alert enough to hightail it back out of there. I was stuck. I was in a hell of my own choosing. I was there to save my life, but was terrified of what that would entail.

As the counselor went through the orientation questionnaire with me -- Did she really think I could comprehend anything she was saying? -- I looked around the room, trying to take in every detail. My gaze stopped on a very intimidating man about my age. He looked rough.

"What are you looking at, Miss Suburbia? You think you are better than me in your coordinated Old Navy overalls? You're crap just like me!"

Okay. This was going to be lots of fun. I began to tremble. It took everything in me not to cry. I knew that if I did, I would never have a chance at gaining any ground here.

That night was long and hellish. I have never been more terrified in my life. I feared for my sanity, my health and my life. Surely, I wouldn't die here. Would I? I spent that first night sleepless, trembling in fear.

The next day we were forced to follow a very strict schedule. There was no free time or unaccounted-for moment in the day. There was no time to yourself. Trust me when I say, they definitely break you down to build you back up. One of the "activities" that you do many times a day is "group." "Group" is just like it sounds. Groups sessions where all the garbage comes out and you are called on it. Sounds fun, doesn't it.

That first group was pretty loud and intense. I was allowed to keep my mouth shut. But that would be the only time I had that option. The entire time I sat there, the man who yelled at me when I first got there kept watching me and glaring. I'll be honest. He scared me. I kept
thinking to myself, What the hell am I doing here? What have I done?

Between group and other "fun time activities," our main source of entertainment and recreation was racing to the "patio" to smoke. Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- kept the smokers from that patio. I was one of them. It was our "fun" time and our time when the REAL work and REAL group
sessions occurred. I honestly opened up more and learned more on that smoking patio than any of the scheduled group sessions. (And I am talking about learning more than just how to chainsmoke as fast as possible and how to light your cigarette off of another person's lit cigarette. Although those were skills I came to cherish while there.)

So, Mr. Tough guy comes out there. Looks around. Glares at me and tells me he wants to bum one of my cigarettes. I just stare at him. He tells me again. I glare back and reply, "Get your own freaking cigarettes and leave me alone, jerk." I then turned back to the person I was talking to.
My hands were shaking but only the person right beside me noticed.

Mr. Tough Guy stood there. He paused. Then he laughed. "Not bad, Suburbia. Not bad at all." A truce was made. From then on, he and I were the best of friends and really, really opened up to each other. He became a lifeline to me while I was there.

Amazing how appearances can be deceiving.

Take me, for instance. Few people take me for a recovering addict. Why would they? I don't wear a sign around my neck that announces it. But nevertheless, I am. I am currently 6 years, 6months clean.

Something in me fought the idea that I could fight this addiction and beat it for more than 6 years. The sick part of my brain wants to sabotage it every now and then so that I could prove there was truth in the lies that I tell myself when I am feeling down or bad about who I am. But I hold strong. I force myself to look at the accomplishment that I have achieved. I have had to allow myself to admit that it is hard earned and worth it. I have had to allow myself to not blow it off as "no big deal." Because it is a big deal. I did something for myself and my family
that was tough. It was hellish. It was -- and at times still is -- HARD to do. But I overcame the fear of who I would be without drugs, of whether I could live without drugs and live a life as myself and not as a drug addict. I overcame the fear of whether or not I can be drug-free and still be loved. I have come to find that not only can I do it, my family and friends love me all the more for it. I can't say I am fearless when it comes to drugs, but I can say that I have the tools and power to overcome that fear every day that I can.