There I was five months into a very intense treatment program. I was young, twenty-one, and naive, but in my mind that had been warped by addiction, I was certain I had it all figured out.
The program I had begrudgingly entered was called Odyssey House and was located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The typical length of stay was 9-12 months and they decided when you were finished.
Five months into the community/dormitory style treatment living I was actually doing rather well. Around 40-50 men packed into a large house had amplified the intense nature of early recovery, but in five months time, I had reached the third level of a four-level program.
Then my insides started on a slow boil. This new psychobabble and long drawn conversations about feelings and childhood issues were stirring an unbearable discomfort that bothered the very core of me.
The nature of change and growth was too new and too fast. I was accustomed to a dark cloud that constantly hovered over me as if it was attached with hooks to my very soul.
This new feeling of glimpses of freedom was to foreign, to peculiar, and to unknown to jump in with both feet.
I had done a pretty good job of following rules and sidestepping the deep needed processing of the internal turmoil thus far, but as the levels progressed so did the intensity of therapy. I felt exposed and vulnerable.
It was like looking through a peephole out of my self imposed cage of addiction. Through the minute vision was a land that seemed better, but unfamiliar. I felt I didn’t deserve free, and if by some chance I did, it felt irresponsible.
My internal dialogue went as such, “What if these people find out everything I’ve done? Why am I trusting these people? I’m a fake, I can’t live free from my addiction and the mess I’ve already created.”
The temperature on the slow interval boil was jumping up a few degrees by that moment. My inner world couldn’t handle the heat, and I needed a numbing agent to cope with the wildly uncomfortable circus within.
Then it happened. I walked right out the front door. I didn’t get my stuff, and I didn’t talk to anyone. I had to go. Where I was going I didn’t know, but I had to leave the environment that was inching closer and closer to breaking down my defenses and making real progress in my healing process.
This decision to run, instead of face my fears and recovery, sent me into five more years of destruction. I was high that same night and in less then a month I totaled my car while blackout drunk.
I was a few more uncomfortable conversations and moments away from a little more freedom and a little more healing, but the friction of early recovery was too much to bear. I wasn’t ready at that time.
It would be five more years of destruction, five more years of chaos, five more years of extreme spiritual darkness, and five more years of guilt and shame before I would taste of the purity that life truly has to offer.
The tension is real in early recovery, but the freedom on the other side is more real. Face it now, whatever you’re facing, just face it and get it over with.
You may not make it back to get another attempt. Life is to good to let it pass by without ever truly living.
Erik Frederickson has been helping people live free from addiction for years. He is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach and is passionate about Coaching dedicated people into a healthier and more purposeful life.
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