Sunday, June 28, 2009

(part 174) A NEW BEGINNING

In detox, I knew if I could make it through the first three days, I would be OK. I kept checking myself to see if the obsession to get loaded was back, but it wasn't. After five days I left detox and moved into the general alcoholism program at Long Beach Hospital.

It consisted of physical therapy, group therapy, and a general reorientation into the premise of living clean and sober. Although I participated in the program without reservation, my focus was dominated by my belief, that the book Alcoholics Anonymous held the key for real and lasting sobriety

Unlike my previous experiences with trying to get and stay sober, I was now determined, not only to read the book, but to study it's contents in depth, and do what it suggested as the process by which living clean and sober could be accomplished and sustained.

This completely different state of willingness on my part to learn and open myself up to vast changes was revolutionary, and signaled the disappearance of my old attitudes.

The new battle for me at Long Beach Hospital was my refusal to take antabuse to insure I would not drink. When questioned by staff as to why I was unwilling to take it, I said I was not going to trade a dependency on drugs and alcohol for a dependency another drug, and make antabuse my higher power.

I told them I was reading the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and coming to an understanding of my need for a higher power, more along the lines of a belief in God. With some skepticism, they allowed me to maintain this position.

After six to eight weeks, I agreed to go to an even more rigorous alcoholism program at Camarillo State Hospital for ninety days. I was somewhat reluctant to go to Camarillo, because of my negative past history with the place, but agreed in the end to give it a try.

I did this purposely, because it was a significant challenge to my willingness to change and grow. As I said, on a deeper level I was now forming a personal relationship with God, and this was a real test of my trust in that new partnership.

Based on my first hand experience with some force, which had prevented me from putting a bottle of scotch in my mouth and taking a drink, I'd become open to the possibility that there may be a God that cared about me. This was something I was once sure of, but had lost.

This new and powerful perception became the overall guiding light along with the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, that allowed me to move forward in my new journey.

In one hand, I had a power greater than myself that I began to rely on, and in the other, an actual text book of sorts to help explain to me, through the experience of others, how I might deal with living sober.

Armed with these two powerful tools, I felt as though there might well be an answer for me at last, and a way forward through the ever present brambles of my existence.

In spite of my previously failed attempts at sobriety, this time would be different in multiple ways. In the past I'd always ended up at Carol's by default and habit, so I needed a change.

As well, I found a voice of my own, and did not fall prey to asking others how I should proceed. I got my direction out of the book, and when confronted by other's opinions, I weighed them against what I'd learned by reading.

If an opinion ran contrary to what was in the book, I felt no obligation to entertain it. More than anything else, this allowed me to keep the confusion to a bare minimum, and this for me was an imperative.

In the Camarillo Hospital program there were about two hundred and fifty people, and I think three of them got clean and sober, and stayed clean and sober; I was one of those three persons.

From Camarillo I went on to Clare Foundation in Santa Monica on Pico Blvd. It was an old converted motel at the time, turned into a halfway house, where I lived for five months.

Once again, I was breaking the habit of depending on Carol, and this was of primary importance to me in the beginning.

Every old significant repetitive pattern had to be acknowledged, broken down, and altered, to prevent me from slipping back into my old ideas. My refusal to take the easier, softer way of relying on Carol was definitely a new idea.

I had chosen instead to go through two live-in hospital programs and then into Clare Foundation, rather than to repeat my past. I was finally able to cut that habitual umbilical cord, and for me this was critical.