Matt, a Wasatch Crest graduate, shared his recovery story with us. Read his inspiring narrative below.
Calling myself a warrior would be a bit of a paradox, although my ego loves a good title. I started treatment because I was tired of fighting the addiction. I can’t say I actively chose to get sober either. I was tired of living the way I was, and tired is an understatement. Exhausted—physically, mentally, and emotionally—is more accurate.
When I was at the end of my rope, I ran into a gentleman that works at Wasatch Crest. He took one look at me and said, “Come stay again for a while.” First off, I thought I still looked good. Apparently not. Ouch. But secondly, I really didn’t have it in me to keep steering this ship. I had proven to be a terrible captain, and I figured it was time to hand the wheel over to someone or something else. So the only word that came out of my mouth was, “Okay.”
I scored a solid nine out of 12 on my entrance urinalysis, so my first week in treatment was a bit of a blur. I remembered from my first time in treatment that making friends was critical to having a good residential treatment experience so despite my hazy mental state, I made a concerted effort to get to know the people I was living with. This time though, I recognized that long-term recovery couldn’t rely on a quick stint in rehab or making friends with fellow clients. I had to dive headfirst into something that would always be there, no matter where I went. For me, those constants were spirituality and Alcoholics Anonymous. The knowledge that I gained from the therapeutic groups in treatment was valuable. Still, I knew that practicing and applying what I was learning to a new way of life would be crucial to my long-term sobriety.
Upon completing treatment, I found that early recovery was like getting pummeled by rocks day in and day out. Pretty much everything that is a part of normal everyday life terrified and stressed me out—bills, work, relationships—everything. I was ruled by a hundred forms of fear, the biggest of which was knowing that I was an addict and alcoholic and what that really meant. If that demon decided to just wake up, I would be going on a ride that I didn’t want to be on. My solution to this was, and still is, AA.
During my early recovery, I went to a meeting every single day. I called my sponsor every single day. I implemented the suggestions given to me every single day, and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. My only goal for the first few months was, “Just stay sober.” That was it. That was simple.
The most essential suggestions that I received in early recovery were to read the AA book and work the steps. I had already worked the first step, concluding that if I called myself an addict and an alcoholic, I had to know what that meant. It meant that I didn’t have a choice about whether or not to be sober. I can’t drink or get high because once I start, I’m not going to stop. Paradoxically, it was impossible for me to stay sober because drugs and alcohol were the solutions to my problems and how I felt inside. Relying on my own will power would inevitably lead me to drink and do drugs again, guaranteed. Coming to the conclusion that I can’t drink and get high, but I must drink and get high, and realizing how truly messed up that is propelled me into working the steps. I had to find a way out, and everyone that I’d talked to said working the steps took them out of that cycle, so that’s what I did.
As I worked the steps, I went to meetings and picked up service positions in AA. I began to make friends that were in long-term recovery. They applied and practiced principles like honesty and courage in their lives. As I tried my best to do the same, I could bounce ideas off of these people and get support from them. Without their help, I don’t know where I’d be today.
I sit here writing this with almost three and a half years of sobriety, and I can tell you that without a doubt that life is not easy all the time (it’s not supposed to be easy all the time) but it’s sure a lot easier than it was before I got sober. I’ve been granted a peace of mind that I’m going to be okay. I still hit AA meetings, call my sponsor, and do all the things that I was told to do in the beginning.
Vulnerability with the people in the AA fellowship is paramount. When I acquire new fears or resentments, I call someone, and we unpack that box. When old fears or resentments arise, I do the same. Keeping my mind clean is what keeps me clean physically. If I put the two together, I’m granted serenity.
I’ve come to find that serenity and peace of mind are different from all other emotions. I can be angry, sad, excited, or happy, and there’s still a quiet place residing inside me that I can step into. This place was given to me as a direct result of working AA’s steps, both during and after treatment, and making friends in the fellowship.
Treatment was a great place to get sober, but it wasn’t going to keep me sober. I had to practice the steps that I didn’t want to work. I had to do the things that felt like they went against the very fiber of my being, like being vulnerable, talking about my fears, and making amends. These actions have led me to become the Matt that I’ve always wanted to be.
I’m now an avid rock climber, and I have a career and a family. I just recently got into airsofting too (think Call of Duty, but in real life)! One of my greatest joys is being of service to people in the same situation that I was in. For all of this, I’m grateful. I am grateful to Wasatch Crest, for getting me started on my journey. I am grateful to AA for continuing to be there on this journey. And I’m grateful to be an alcoholic and addict, for that curious mental condition keeps me moving forward.