Erik Frederickson - Life Coach and Recovery Coach
There I was five months into a very intense addiction treatment program. I was young (21yrs old to be exact) and naive but in my mind which had been warped by addiction, I was certain that I had life all figured out.
This particular addiction program I had begrudgingly entered into was called Odyssey House and was located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The typical length of stay was 9-12 months and they decided when you were finished.
Five months into the community/dormitory style treatment living I was doing rather well. Around 40-50 men packed into a large house had amplified the intense nature of early recovery, but in five months, I had reached the third level of a four-level program.
It was then that my insides started on a slow boil. This new psychobabble and long-drawn-out conversations about feelings and childhood issues were stirring an unbearable discomfort that bothered the very core of me. The nature of change and growth was too new and too fast. I was accustomed to a dark cloud that constantly hovered over me as if it was attached with hooks to my very soul.
Maybe you can relate?
These new glimpses of freedom were foreign and peculiar to me, and this new unknown reality of facing my issues was different. I had done a pretty good job of following rules and sidestepping the deep needed processing of my internal turmoil to that point, but as the levels progressed so did the intensity of my addiction treatment. I was beginning to feel exposed and vulnerable. This rehab wasn't like having a one-on-one sober coach, no, this group setting had me feeling vulnerable.
It was like looking through a peephole out of my self-imposed cage of addiction. From the inside looking out, I felt I didn’t deserve freedom. And if by some chance I did deserve it, it felt strangely irresponsible.
My internal dialogue went as such, “What if these people find out everything I’ve done? Why am I trusting these people? I’m a fake, I can’t live free from my addiction and the mess I’ve already created. Why try...”
The internal slow boil of emotions was jumping up a few degrees moment by moment. My inner world couldn’t handle the heat, and I needed a numbing agent to cope with the uncomfortable feelings within.
Then it happened.
I walked right out the front door of this drug and alcohol treatment center. I didn’t get my stuff, and I didn’t talk to anyone. I had to go. Where was I going? I didn’t know, but I had to leave the environment that was inching closer and closer to breaking down my defenses and making real progress in my healing process.
This decision to run, instead of face my fears and recover, sent me into five more years of destruction. I was high that same night and in less than a month I totaled my car while blackout drunk.
Before I ran out the door of the Odyssey House I was most likely only a few more uncomfortable conversations away from a little more freedom and a little more healing, but the friction of early recovery was too much to bear. I wasn’t ready at that time.
It would be five more years of destruction, five more years of chaos, five more years of extreme spiritual darkness, and five more years of guilt and shame before I would taste the purity that life truly has to offer when walking in recovery and being in a relationship with God.
The tension is real in early recovery, but the freedom on the other side is more real. Face it now, whatever you’re facing, just face it and get on with living in recovery. It's worth it. You may not make it back to get another attempt. Life is too good to let it pass by without ever truly living.
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