“Blissfully Unaware, Friendless, Spiritually-Absent Alcoholic/Addict”
On a sunny Sunday morning in April 2018, I stepped out of a hotel lobby having just paid for the prior week’s stay on credit I did not have. As I pondered my further fall into debt, I slid into the backseat of the waiting vehicle occupied by my mother and father.
However, this was not a welcoming return to loving arms and familiar shelter after a week abroad. My destination was a sober-living facility in Huntsville, AL that only the loving worry and concern could surmise as my last bastion of hope.
The choice in facility was only tolerated and accepted by myself based on my prior negotiation of it not being the Christian-based His Way Recovery Center that was originally intended. I was to leave behind 20 years of wonderful, fulfilling, and meaningful hometown memories and friendships that made me who I was.
At the unreasonably immature age of 35, the additional 15 years I had spent belligerently tearing those things down along with my education, financial, and professional prospects was not something that I could accept or reconcile with any amount of clarity. What I had become was a blissfully unaware, friendless, spiritually absent alcoholic/addict, who had 4 hospitalizations worth of incentive to stop. Along with the denial that the things I perceived I was leaving behind ultimately amounted to nothing by my own comforting ignorance.
Just When I Thought I’d Hit Rock Bottom
Now, I only remember this day because what immediately followed was an almost ceaseless journey through a personal, but not undeserved, living hell. The fact remained that I was still not ready for recovery, so my arrival to Huntsville and to this other facility was soon to be followed by the realization of many of my fears in short succession.
Ultimately, I found myself arrested, with no hope of enablement, rescue, or chemical escape in which I was willing to partake. My natural introversion and anxiety were conducive to making incarceration a very unpleasant experience.
Fortunately, what it did give me was time, along with forced sobriety and clarity. I had time to reflect on whether I wanted to spend the rest of my life in a place like this and unwisely accepted this as my lowest possible bottom.
That assumption was shattered, when I received a typed letter relaying the news of my mother’s untimely passing, describing the funeral I had missed due to my current incarceration. It’s unnecessary to elaborate on this moment as anyone who has lost loved ones can hopefully understand. Nothing prepares you for the worst news, in the worst place or anywhere for that matter. It must just be tolerated.
The funny thing about memory is its importance to us only in hindsight. That car ride in April 2018 was now the last time I saw my mother alive. Even so, that fact makes it meaningful to the first steps of my journey towards personal redemption that now clearly help me understand my mother’s death as a gift.
I saw the true depth of my flaws, wasted potential, and time I had taken for granted. I now recognized my need for fundamental change, so I started writing a letter.
Methodically Putting the Pieces of My Life Back Together
With amazing turnaround, I found myself as a resident at His Way in November 2018, and I could not have predicted the success of their methods even within the levels of my efforts. Although I had already determined to change when I arrived there, I would not have succeeded without the tools to do so. Through reestablishment of schedule/structure, access to meaningful counsel, and Christ-centered curriculum, I began methodically putting the pieces of my life back together.
After graduating in December 2019, I was graciously offered to stay on as a house manager, along with returning to school. The gratitude owed for the guidance towards allowing trust and connections back into my life is immense, among other points of gratitude.
The UAH-conferred engineering degree that I can look up and see hanging on my wall would not have been considered a realistic possibility had it not been for the positive encouragement and hard-working example of Douglas Stogner. I think about the moments when my Jerry Lewis-like propensity for unstoppable awkwardness is made unbearable by my own awareness of it, which most assuredly has resulted in later private agreement that I am the weirdest person ever and previously would have been an excuse for destructive behavior.
These days, I can go to individuals like the scholarly Matt Norman, who might challenge the philosophical validity of my logic (or something) and tell me what Nietzsche said about neurosis. Finally, taking the same problem to the seasoned Darryl Floyd who can simplify such a complex and ridiculous investment of time and simply point to the trash. The importance of what they contribute to me in their mere existence and availability is so much more mentally relieving in the long term than anything that I could hope to squeeze out of a chemical.
My Advice for Those Thinking About Becoming Sober
My journey through His Way’s Christ-centered teachings, my eventual employment as a one of it house managers, and their support in the completion of my education has done nothing but reestablish faith in myself and others. If I’m lucky, that faith will one day extend into feeling comfortable with categorizing myself as a Christian but as of now that is not the case.
God is still a concept I strongly believe in, but I am not comfortable, nor would I feel remotely correct in defining. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God or closely to what a Christian believes. Obviously, my beliefs did not hinder my acceptance at His Way or support in my continued success.
That’s my main takeaway of advice to those thinking about becoming sober. Being honest with yourself and others is one of the most important things you can do in early sobriety. Also, understand that sobriety is hard work and scary, but its not as scary as living a life in denial and dishonest regret, or misfortune of never discovering the people who will accept you.
Written by Jordan G. Blackburn, Graduate of His Way