Luckily, my family gets to visit me here at Axis pretty frequently; even more luckily, they want to! I've reached the stage in my recovery now where they are encouraged to come see me as often as they can. It's been great because I am using the communication skills Shay has been teaching me, and I really feel like it's making a difference in my relationship with them.
Growing up, I was taught that men don't really talk about their feelings and emotions—that doing so makes a man appear weak or feminine (back where I come from they were the same thing). I'm finding this is far from the truth. Being able to express how I feel is strengthening my relationship with Jenny, and making me a better husband, and a better man. Instead of being stoic and cold, I am able to tell her if I'm having a bad day and why. This has made a world of difference between us because she is now able to understand where I'm coming from and why I used to feel compelled to use, and that empathy helps a lot. She also no longer feels shut out and removed from my life. And I love seeing Ryder run into my arms now without a hint of fear or trepidation. He isn't wary of me anymore since he sees me consistently acting calmer with him and his mom.
On Sundays, we usually have a long visit and spend a good block of the day together. Since I am now able to leave the facility, we'll do things like go to the park for a picnic or catch a movie. Yesterday, we let Ryder pick the movie and we wound up at some crappy action thriller. It didn't matter though… I couldn't have been happier. Put Ryder and Jenny on either side of me and I would've been happy watching paint peel. Some of the other people here can't leave the facility yet because they are still considered at risk. Also, some people here don't have supportive families or friends so their main support is their sponsors. Kenny's parents are paying for him to come here, but they don't want to see him until he's been sober for a year. I feel bad for him because I know now hard it is to go through this alone; it makes me feel even more grateful for still having my family.
Jenny has been my biggest supporter and is becoming really involved in my exit strategy (my aftercare plan). She is enthusiastic about helping me find healthy ways to handle my addiction triggers and has a list of AA meetings I can attend when I get back home. We're committed to taking time out of every day to talk about what's going on and how each of us is doing. Our communication has never been so open, which in turn has honestly brought us closer together than ever before.
When I am experiencing anxiety and feeling myself being sucked into a dark place, all I have to do now is look at the pictures of my family on the nightstand to feel centered again. These pictures remind me of the gifts of sobriety that await if I continue to throw myself into the program of recovery here at Axis. I know I can't do this for anyone else but me. I have to put my sobriety first, ahead of everything else in my life – work, money, even my family. But ironically, by doing so, I know I'll be able to show up for my family in ways I never could've imagined. I'm not sure I can explain this to them yet; but I'm not sure I have to either. I know they'll appreciate having their father and husband back and better than ever.
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Disclaimer: This is a fictitious depiction of a patient's experience undergoing treatment for addiction. It is written on behalf of and sponsored by Axis Residential. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Experiences associated with addiction treatment can vary widely and this post may not reflect all such experiences. To learn more about the process of being treated for addiction, please contact Axis Residential.