Harvey Milk once said, "I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living."
After a family intervention 10 years ago, along with the help of a community organization called the SAFE Foundation, I went to rehab. I remember that juncture so vividly. The feelings I experienced were so intense and painful. I felt knots deep in the pit of my stomach, sometimes so acute that I felt it a struggle to breathe. I was in a situation of pending doom. Where was the hope?
As you can only imagine, it was a very uncanny time for me. In the media, we hear celebrities going to rehab and might laugh at them. Just take a moment to think of the many that lost the fight of addiction and are no longer with us. It's much easier to laugh than to empathize with the pain of another. Why would anybody want to feel such unpleasant feelings? I know I wouldn't.
In rehab, I recall thinking, I've been in therapy for 26 years on and off. Every one of the therapists provided me with hope that it would get better, but it never did. The pivotal moment was when I was about to quit rehab and head back to New York City.
While I was contemplating heading back, I walked into the courtyard of the rehab center on a hill in the center of the rural south. I can still feel the sun shining down on the hill with a crisp chill in the air. I thought to myself, why should I trust anybody. The next thought that came to mind was, "Oh sh*t", I am handcuffed to myself and don't have the key. I could actually see two of me handcuffed to one another and no matter where I would go, I couldn't get away from myself. Is it worth living and hoping for something that will never come?
Damn right, I had my family to live for. They showed me so much love and support through this process, that to give up on life would be giving up on them. I needed a reason to live. Sometimes knowing someone cares can save someone's life. All the feelings of loneliness and despair were still present, but my perception started to change. Hope was starting to seep in very slowly.
I remember thinking, if I make it through this part of my life, I know God has a grander plan for me. Though my faith was shot, I allowed myself to believe in something greater than myself. What that was, I had no clue. I was told to take baby steps and allow the path to come clear. This meant I didn't have to believe in the God I thought was evil, but a loving and compassionate God.
Finally, I agreed to give it one last shot. I made a pact between myself and my higher power. I agreed to open myself up and become teachable. My feelings of anger and hopelessness transformed to hope and strength. As the proverb states "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear".
I am more and more grateful everyday for the support I received from the SAFE Foundation, my family and every single person that took the time to talk to me and let me know I was lovable. They knew that better days were ahead. They loved me just enough, till I learned to love myself.
On December 10th, 2013, I will celebrate my 10th year sober from drugs and alcohol. I will not celebrate alone, but with the countless people that helped me get here.
"Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning" -Viktor Frankl.