Hard to believe that I'm coming up on 45 days at Axis now. Looking back, it seems like a lot longer since I made that first call and spoke with Greg, the Axis admissions specialist whose own story of recovery offered the first sliver of hope I'd had in a long time. I remember him saying he'd been clean for six years and thinking at the time I'd be lucky if I could stay clean for six minutes. But here I am, nearly a month and a half clean and sober and feeling better than ever.
Not that it's been easy. I remember sweating on the phone call, but once I got to rehab, that's when the real hard work began. From day one, the adjustment was severe and challenging—from filling out extensive paperwork and putting all my addictive tendencies on the table, to the mental and physical hell of detox, which included body aches, chills, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, and crazy mood swings that had me questioning my sanity. Literally. Oh yeah, and let's not forget giving up my freedom to come and go as I please, and being told when to eat and when to attend therapy sessions. More than one time, I questioned whether or not rehab was for me. But then I'd talk to my family and remember how much I had to lose if I didn't get better. And how much I had to gain if I did. (I think my family is as big a reason as any why I agreed to stay an extra 15 days here… I couldn't wait to see Ryder and Jenny again, but I wanted to make sure I was further along the road of recovery before going home.)
Now it's here. My last day. It's definitely been filled with bittersweet moments. No matter how badly I wanted to get out of here, the truth is I have come to really feel fondness for the people I've met. Regardless of our differences, we've bonded because of our addictions and have leaned on one another for support. I've become close to the staff at Axis too. I know I couldn't have made as many gains as I have without the staff and all the tough but real love I received here.
During the completion ceremony I got choked up—I shouldn't have been surprised at my rising emotion, but I was. I am so used to having a stoic veneer in my everyday life. But I was so proud that I made it through this, that I can hold my completion certificate high; it's more than a recovery milestone, it's a milestone in my life. Getting over an addiction is one of the hardest things a person can do—I know that now.
Everyone in our last group session coined me out. It was the perfect good-bye. They each take a coin and as they pass it around everyone says something personal about you, what you meant to them, and how you contributed to their recovery experience. Cindy, my young meth pal, and sister from another mother, said she never would've lasted here without my friendship and support. (Hence the aforementioned choking up.) I had no idea how much of an impact I had on my new friends and how much my devotion to my family and this program has inspired them. Inspirational sayings are also on the coin. My favorite is: "Life is a journey, not a destination." That really hit home because it reminds me that there is still more work to be done after I leave here and I have to be up to the task.
I notice now that my graduation is also accompanied by fear. And self doubts. Will I slip back into my addiction? Can I maintain my sobriety on my own without 24-hour support? What will I do when I feel weak? Despite having great tools in place—my family's support, AA meetings, sponsors, new friends, relapse prevention strategies, therapy, a nutritional regimen, and an exercise plan—I still wonder if I am ready to leave the safe confines of Axis and begin the next chapter of my recovery… and my life. Dillon reminds me that these doubts are normal and, in fact, healthy, because leaving rehab with too much confidence often sets someone up for failure. He's seen it before. Bottom line is, I know I'm as ready as I ever will be. Hopeful and excited, too. As Apollo Creed said at the end of Rocky, "Ain't gonna be no rematch." I'm determined to make this the last time I face-off with my disease—for me and my family. From now on, if troubles surface (as they always do), I will breathe, say the serenity prayer, and go to a meeting. Take that, alcoholism. Ain't gonna be no rematch, indeed!
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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.