By Natasha Lisbey, Transformations alumna and Supervisor of Alumni Services
I was blessed with an opportunity to remove myself from the toxic chaos I had cultivated in my active addiction, a few weeks where I was sequestered in a bubble of recovery and therapy and newfound hope…a.k.a. treatment. There, I was surrounded by others who knew first-hand my struggles with addiction, and who shared my dreams for something so much more. I was given around-the-clock support and encouragement from a staff whose sole focus was to help clientele lay down a foundation upon which to build our futures; adding an even deeper layer to this support system, many of said staff members shared with us their own personal triumphs in recovery. But ultimately my discharge date was upon me, and it was time to leave the bubble.
One of the most valuable lessons learned during my time in treatment was simple in concept, complex in practice; taking suggestions. In speaking with my therapist, discharge coordinator, and support staff, I came to understand that my next step needed to be entering into client housing and continuing my care with Outpatient Services, rather than returning home to Miami and the same situation I was lucky to have made it out of. Living in client housing would provide me with the structure and accountability I desperately needed to continue on the right path. Outpatient therapy allowed me the support and safe space to work through every little bump in the road that threatened my newly-sober, then-fragile world. As is the nature of the beast, there were people around me who relapsed, and I very clearly remember the fear that came from seeing people about whom I cared choose to return to a life of misery, and the more deeply-rooted fear of knowing I was only one poor decision away from joining them. I was able to process these feelings, learn from their mistakes and my own shortcomings, and develop a plan of action to prevent relapse with the help of therapists, group members, and housemates who continued along this path of recovery with me. In short, I knew I never had to do this alone.
My sober support network also needed to expand to include those in the rooms of a 12-Step fellowship. It was strongly suggested that I get a sponsor, work the steps, and continue to take suggestions if I were to maintain long-term sobriety. I was, however, riddled with social anxiety, every nerve-ending vibrating as I walked into a room full of strangers in the hopes of saving my life. Asking another woman to sponsor me, working through the steps with her, and guiding this stranger to some of the darkest corners of my life, was one of the most terrifying and freeing experiences I have yet to encounter. At times, I became overwhelmed at the prospect of never taking a sip of alcohol again, and having to work a program of recovery for the rest of my life, but I was reminded by my sober supports that I only needed to take it one day at a time, one minute at a time, if need be. Each day lived without picking up is a blessing, and a drink is certainly not worth all I would give up in exchange. In the rooms, I came to learn that recovery was about so much more than just not picking up a drink or a drug – it was about living a life beyond my wildest dreams.
And believe you me, I have had some wild dreams rife with luxury and wealth and all things materialistic. Never could I imagine a life even more fulfilling – one of pure contentment and peace of mind. Today I am able to show up for my family. Today I am able to help others. Today I am a woman of integrity, with dreams and goals and ambitions. Today I have over three years of continuous, humble, joyous sobriety. Now this doesn’t mean that every day is good, but now I have the ability to see something good in each day. As French writer Anais Nin once said “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” The world did not change when I got sober, but the way I view it did. My journey to recovery began with my time in treatment, but it is every decision I have made since, and continue to make thereafter, that will determine who I am in this world.
To learn more about Natasha and our Alumni Program, click HERE.