Friday, April 22, 2016

A New Journey

    April 22, 2016.  One year ago today, I found myself walking out the door of a treatment facility (Karen's Place)--not for the first time but for the second time--after completing a one-hundred day inpatient program. Over the past week, I have thought about that day so many times.  I logged onto Facebook this morning, and one of my best friends, Ashlea (who actually works for the treatment center), posted the above picture that she had taken one year ago at Karen's Place.  A beautiful sunrise.  The sun that rose on the morning that I stepped out of a comfortable, protected, loving place, back into a scary world and into a living situation I had never found myself in before.......alone.....on my own.

Just a few weeks into my program, I received the news that my husband was refusing to allow me to come back home.  (You can read about that here.)   I was also informed that I would have to find a place to live and get all of that taken care of before I left treatment.  You guys.....I had never paid a bill in my life.  I had approximately nine-hundred dollars per month to do all of this, and I was freaked out.  I had nothing, and Chad told me that I could take nothing from the house.  At one point, I actually considered the idea of pawning/selling all of my jewelry to be able to survive on my own. But, then I remembered that Chad had taken anything of mine that was valuable and locked it up after I relapsed.  The only thing I still had was my wedding ring, and I wouldn't dare part with it.  In fact, I vividly remember the day that he got it out of the safe, brought it to me, and said, "Here.  Take it. Whatever you decide to do with it is on you.  I don't really care anymore."

So, with the news that I was officially going to be on my own and the realization that I was like a naive child who had always been taken care of, I put in a request to see the Case Manager, Johnda.  I explained my situation, and she decided I should probably go over to the Adult Learning Center and learn some know, like how to pay bills, get utilities turned on, and how to balance a checking account.  I truly had never done any of those.  On a side note, the girls in treatment used to make fun of me because I had a house keeper.  I had definitely been spoiled.  However, it appeared that there would be no house keepers in my immediate future.  It was all me, baby!

   I reluctantly agreed to go to the Adult Learning Center, even though my pride tempted me to refuse the help.  On a Wednesday morning at 10:00, a lady from the Learning Center picked me up in her Jeep Cherokee to take me into town.  She said her air conditioning was broken, so all of the windows were rolled down.  We took the back roads, and I simply enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Sharing a home with seventeen other women didn't allow for much peace and tranquility.  Times like these were special.  Plus, I got to get Subway for lunch, a rare treat for sure.  Windows rolled down and a Subway salad....seems like I was starting to be grateful for the small things. Maybe I wasn't so spoiled after all!  Anyway, we drove up to this building, and I walked through the green door.

    I was led to a room where I was given a "locator" test to determine where my educational skills were.  There was a teenage boy in the room who was taking some kind of test, and when the "teacher" walked out, he asked me if I was there to get my GED.  I replied that I wasn't, and he asked how much schooling I had.  When I answered that I actually had a bachelor's degree, he questioned why I was there.  At this point, I had nothing to lose, so I explained to him that I was a drug addict in treatment, that my husband had kicked me out, and that I needed to learn how to pay bills and do things on my own.  He replied, "Oh.  That's cool."  Then, he began to tell me about his life, how he was in foster care, and about all of the trouble he had been in.  I was intrigued by this because my parents have been foster parents for over fifteen years and have fostered hundreds of kids, most of them being teenage boys.  The "teacher" walked back in, caught him talking, and asked if he was bothering me.  I told her that he wasn't, but when she left, I told him he needed to be quiet so that we both didn't get in trouble.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him, though, because he had a cell phone.  I hadn't touched one of those in months.  

  I worked as hard as I could on all of the material they gave me and they helped me put together a preliminary budget, taught me how to balance a checkbook, and showed me how to pay bills.  As I sat at the table toward the end of the day, the man who ran the educational center came back to the room, showed me my test results, told me that I had gotten every single mathematics question right on the test, and that he was confident that I would do well with my finances and budgeting.  I sure hoped he had enough confidence for the both of us.

  I shared with one of the staff members, Mrs. Muncy, what I was dealing with, and she sat down with me to attempt to offer some insight.  It first looked like my only option for a place to live would be in a hotel.  However, we went through my budget, and I'm pretty sure that she removed everything other than the basics.  She told me if I could even afford make-up at all, I would have to buy it at Wal-Mart... rather than Sephora.  We went through that budget several times, marking off things that weren't necessary, and we got within ten dollars of making things work.  All I could afford was gasoline, groceries, car insurance, my student loan payment, water, and electricity.  Sadly, internet, dining out, and cable/satellite did not make the cut.  Neither did furniture or a television.  

  I worried incessantly about where I would live.  My counselor had worked with me about my fear of living alone (a true, legitimate fear), but now I was just afraid I would be homeless.  I was at the point of asking people if I could live with them.  I met with one of the pastoral counselors, Pastor Greider, and we talked about my plans and prayed over it.  He prayed that something would just "appear" for me, and that I wouldn't have to worry about having a roof over my head.  Chad and I had been having counseling sessions with Pastor Greider every couple of weeks.  Chad came for a session just a few weeks before I was to leave, and he shared with me that he had woken up early one morning with the sense that God was telling him that he needed to provide me a place to live, and although that could not be in our family home, he had found an apartment and had pictures of it on his phone to show me. Pastor Greider left us alone for a few minutes to discuss it, but I didn't even need to look at pictures or think about it.  Rather, I just quickly signed the lease when Chad said that he would pre-pay six months of rent for me. That was probably the biggest relief I have ever felt in my entire life.  I would not have to resort to sleeping in someone's basement on their velvet floral sofa.  When I walked out of the counseling office, Pastor Greider said, "Well....what did you think?"  I replied, "I don't know.  It didn't have granite or hardwood floors."  His jaw dropped as if to say, "Are you crazy?", and I quickly assured him that I was only joking, and told him that, at this point, I was so desperate that I would live in a playhouse in someone's backyard.  He laughed and got that little sparkle in his eye that he often did, and replied, "We asked the Lord to provide, and that is exactly what He did."  

   The treatment facility had a Graduate Assistant program, formerly referred to as an internship.  I applied for the program and found out that I had been accepted only a few days before exiting the program.  This made things seem much less intimidating as I would only go home to my apartment on the weekends and then come back to stay at the facility through the week.  So, I had an apartment to live in, Chad was willing to let me have the kids on the weekend, and I had a safe place to come back to during the week and give back, while still attending groups and meetings, receiving counseling, and maintaining accountability through drug testing.  This definitely was not what I envisioned my plan would look like, but, nonetheless, it was a plan...and it felt right.  

  Chad picked me up a couple of weekends before I left the program for an out-visit and brought my money that he had been saving for me.  We went to Target and a few other places to get the essentials for my apartment.....a place I had never seen.  I can remember wanting to buy everything in the store, but knowing that I couldn't.  I picked out cheap bedding, a couple of throw pillows (of course!!), and some dishes and silverware.  Chad had already bought white sheets and towels for me.  He also finally agreed to let me have the furniture from our sitting room.  I thought that was only fair, as we rarely ever used it.  

   I spent my last couple of weeks at Karen's Place making sure I was as prepared as I could possibly be to leave treatment.  More than anything, I was afraid of a relapse, and I was ready to do whatever it took to no longer have that be a part of my story.  It had happened enough.  The night before I left, the girls made me a cake and went around the room saying nice things about me.  I think that may have been difficult for a few of them!!  One of the Graduate Assistants got my luggage out of the locked storage room in the basement, and we went through my items, one by one, packing them and marking them off of my inventory sheet.  I went to bed and barely slept a wink.

  I woke up the next morning with more anxiety in my heart than excitement.  I was ready for the next part of my journey, but I was also stricken with panic, unsure that I could truly make it on my own. So many people who supported me seemed to believe that I would do just fine.  I, on the other hand, felt like a kindergartner waiting for the bus on the first day of school.  I had no idea what to expect and I just wanted someone to hold my hand.  I didn't want to be a big kid.  

***Read Part 2 of this story by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate to your story 100000000% living in active addiction isn't only hurting me.....its taking a toll on my family and close friends. I dont want to do inpatient treatment again, what else could they teach me that i don't already know??