A Way Out

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My name is Jim, and I am an addict and an alcoholic. I am no longer in active addiction. I have reformed my life and have become a better version of myself, how I would believe my higher power would like me to be. The road was long, and I had exhausted every avenue. I have been homeless. I have had wealth. I had been similar to the prodigal son. Subsequently, I have survived and gained a new way of living through Alcoholics Anonymous. I am eager to share with you part of my story.

The cornerstone of my recovery, first off, is my spirituality. A strong belief in God as my higher power has kept me centered. Attending at least 3 meetings per week, also chairing two meetings. When I first arrived at my 90-day treatment at Exodus House, I was in disbelief. I hadn’t been sober for more than 30 days since I was 15 years old. I endured the group therapy and the countless worksheets just looking to reform myself. I went from a serious introvert, who didn’t relate really to anyone to being accepted as an alumnus, and a secretary of two meetings. I now lead by example and am supportive of current residents. The path was very narrow, and challenges met me in most directions. I took all suggestions from my counselor and did as much work as I could.

We attended meetings 5 times a week and followed a strict routine. We had chores and other responsibilities as we learned to live chemical-free. It seems to me it all began with admitting I was powerless.

For the first 30 days, we had to recall situations where we were powerless. This, at first, was tedious, and it seemed like I always wrote the same thing.

After the first 30 days, we graduated to just recognizing addictive behaviors and other character defects. These were routine daily event sheets, which also helped formulate a new way to think. Finally, I could understand that I was not the only person who felt like this. I found common ground to relate to others. With Alcoholics Anonymous, we have a commonality. We have at least one thing that we all relate to. The phenomenon of craving and also the allergy to alcohol.

Fellowship has been essential to my recovery and extended sobriety. My sponsor has also been very supportive and is very encouraging. It’s quite refreshing to finally have recognition instead of seeking out acceptance.

Feeling content and secure, I am now comfortable with myself as I am, and I am genuinely happy. I am working towards reunification with my 5-year-old daughter. I am learning to love myself and accept myself as I am. I am motivated to be a good example to others and to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous. With a bit of help from my brothers and sisters, I can carry this message and practice these principles in all my affairs.

I am just 7 months clean now, and I still get angry and impatient. However, life is more manageable, and I accept life on life’s terms. I am proud to be a chairman to those fellow alcoholics and those of Narcotics Anonymous as well. I am actively attending trauma therapy and have completed my 4th step. Those resentments have been cataloged and put up to my higher power. I do not need those anymore, and I feel if I continued to let them run my life, I would still be destined to be a dreadful alcoholic as I was before my exodus.

The whole extent of the residential treatment went quite well, and I gained a plethora of knowledge and was able to apply what I learned to experience in life. I will continue to attend meetings and keep in contact with my sponsor. It’s also important to develop a support hub, such as sober contacts and close friends. The ties we develop through fellowship can be stronger than those of family relations.

It is important to listen carefully to anyone, whether it is their first meeting or if they have decades of sober time. We can only keep what we have by giving it away time and time again. A perpetual gain that solidifies through and through by staying connected.

My boss was curious and asked me how I stay sober. I replied that I have gratitude and recognize things I am thankful for. I am happy to be free, and each day, I have a choice to stay on the path I am currently following.

Even at Exodus, early on, I could have absconded from my probation and left what little bit of life I had then. The facility is not even minimum security, and with the help of the Department of Corrections, I freely admitted myself with the help of the county and my probation agent. Now that everything came to fruition and I graduated, I decided to take advantage of living in sober community living.

If we stop doing the “things,” we are susceptible to relapse when we have a mere lapse of thinking. I am still subject to cravings. However, I am actively taking my medication, which helps reduce these temptations. I play the tape all the way through. I know if I start, inevitably I will be reduced to being back in the hospital to detox, under close care and observation medically. I know I am no use to anyone when I am under the influence, and now I can truly see what I have gained and how easily it can diminish and fall apart instantly.

Being involved with the treatment center, I have seen others falter and fall victim to relapse, and unfortunately, even early on, in finality, some have perished. This makes it difficult to choose who to invest my trust and faith in. The ever-present reminder of how easily I can backslide and fall down the rabbit hole.

It is remarkable that many men claim that going to the Exodus House was their best decision. I believe fervently that participating in their program indeed did save my life. I am forever in gratitude to my counselor, some of the men I served with, and even some of the house managers. It was a kind and accepting environment, and what was most important was the 90-day sober time.

We were subject to random urine screens and limited to not being able to call anyone for at least 2 weeks. Only after 30 days could we be assessed to go out into the workforce (part-time) or even possess our cellular devices. This made these things feel more important and opportune.

I was thankful to get back to working with my music and being able to download the “Everything A.A.” app. This application for Android and I/OS was paramount early in recovery. I am thankful that it remains ad-free and has a plentiful amount of A.A literature also even has audio-formatted playback options for a lot of the books.

In conclusion, I can not claim to be a grateful alcoholic. I am, however, fortunate to have lived through the cataclysmic upheaval of normalcy that was my alcohol abuse disorder. I know now to abstain entirely and can never consume alcohol. I have developed an aversion to alcohol, similar to avoiding bees and snakes. Once again, I am grateful to Exodus House and my fellows in Alcoholics Anonymous.