On June 29, 2018, I woke up in a bed in detox at The Healing Place. Having arrived in a blackout state, I struggled to piece together the events of the previous day. There was a vague recollection of a friend searching my apartment for clean clothes. I also remember clutching a bottle of vodka as she drove for hours in the middle of the night. Other memories flashed through my mind, but I wasn’t sure what was real or imagined. The only thing I was certain of is that I wanted to go home.
Before I could plot my escape, an authoritative voice announced it was time to go to class. The room came to life as people shot out of their beds and shuffled towards the door. Everyone seemed to know the routine except me. Lying there with a sheet over my head I hoped I wouldn’t be noticed. Minutes later, there was a loud tapping at the foot of my bed, and I was reminded that the meeting would be starting soon. Attempting to hide the panic in my voice I responded that my clothes were dirty, and I didn’t have any shoes. The person walked away silently, and I celebrated with a deep sigh of relief. Victory was short-lived when he returned with clean scrubs and a crate of shoes instructing me to find my size. He explained that he had once woken up in a bed in detox feeling scared and alone. Following a few simple suggestions had saved his life and he believed it would do the same for me. I reluctantly got dressed and was escorted to class by a man who proclaimed, “Welcome to a power greater than yourself!”
We settled into the front row, and I attempted to prepare myself for the tongue lashing I thought I deserved. Instead, I listened to stories that were eerily like mine. They described feelings, thinking, and behavior that I thought were unique to me. They started to gain my trust and give me hope that maybe my life could be different. They suggested that I pray for willingness.
Later that day, we were ushered into the front of the dinner line. “Detox are the most important people in the room,” everyone kept saying. By this time, I started to feel shaky, trying to hide my struggle to keep food on the fork. A man sitting next to me quietly assured me that he shook for two weeks when he first arrived, and that I would be okay. For the first time in my life, I started to believe that I would.
The day came for me to be discharged from detox. The same man who provided me with clean clothes, shoes, and helpful advice asked me if I had a place to go. Remembering my apartment so many miles away, with a bottle tucked away in the kitchen cabinet, I told him I did. In that moment the fear of leaving the place that could possibly save my life began to set in. I prayed for the first time in years. What should I do? The answer came within minutes from my new friend. “You deserve to get help just as much as anyone else in here,” he said.
I decided to stay.