I’m Alison B and I’m an alcoholic and addict. My sobriety date is November 18, 2020. If I could define what my recovery means to me today, I would say, freedom. It’s freedom from a hopeless state of mind, freedom from bondage of self, and the freedom that comes with a new way of living. I can honestly say that I love my life today. I work a program and show up for my recovery every day, my children are happy, I am a present mother, I have the best support system and friends, I have my first real job, and most importantly I am mentally, physically, and spiritually well for the first time in my life. If you told me this was possible 20 years ago,
I would have never believed it. My journey has truly come full circle.
I walked into Mountainside for the first time in 2003. I was 18, closed minded, and had zero willingness to change. I was filled with anger and resentment; an untreated mental illness and I spoke fluent “victimeese.” I left after 2 weeks and used again. Mental illness and addiction run in my family, and I allowed them to run my life. I started using at the age of 14 to cope with all the trauma I had endured. I spent most of my childhood in fight or flight mode and at 14, I got hit by a car and ended up in a hospital bed for a year of my life. At that point, I just basically gave up. I was put on medication in the hospital, then by a psych Dr. when I got home, and that was it. I stayed on that medication for 20 years blaming everyone and everything, never realizing I was the problem; I had a disease of the mind. During those 20 years of chaos, insanity, and darkness, I had a few attempts at sobriety. I would try going to meetings and getting into relationships (a lot of them). I had 2 children and I tried to have a “normal” family life. I tried working, I tried just sticking to prescription drugs, I tried “just drinking”, but one thing I never tried was to change myself.
Now let’s fast forward. Covid hits and there was nowhere to run anymore. Forced to stay in the house without all the outside distractions, it was awful. How could anyone be okay with facing themselves, looking in the mirror, and being able to sit in their own skin. I had to think about my life, decisions, mistakes I made, the regret, the abuse, and all the negative feelings. I started using more than ever and went back to my good friend heroin. In November 2020, I OD’d, and was put in the ICU for 3 days where I was non-responsive. By the Grace of God, I came to. I felt relieved! The jig was finally up – no more lying, hiding, and no more excuses. I knew I had to get away. I needed to break this cycle and I had to go right now.
Seventeen years later, I walked back into Mountainside, this time by choice. My detox lasted 17 days, and that was the final blow. I was beaten into complete submission. I surrendered, knowing that I had no idea how to live my own life, period. Then the “perfect storm” at Mountainside happened. From the amazing community we had, to the timing, my willingness and open-mindedness, the phenomenal, caring staff, and the women’s meetings at night. Especially my clinician, who was the first person in my life I have ever trusted, and truly listened to what she had to say – she is my savior. There was a moment at Mountainside, sitting on the benches alone by the waterfall, and all of a sudden, a leaf came down out of nowhere and fell in the water. In that moment I had felt everything I had ever done for the past 20 years fall heavy on my soul. I said to myself I won’t use ever again but if this detox doesn’t end and this mental fog doesn’t lift, I don’t know how I will go on. Arianna assured me it would, I trusted her. I prayed and I asked God for help. The next morning, I woke up and it was gone. I knew that it was only a power greater than myself, and I vowed to change.
I could not continue the path I was on. My future is not dictated by my past and just because I made mistakes, I am not a bad person. I was sick and suffering. Now I have a solution – but I must do the work, it’s a program of action. Half measures availed us nothing we stood at the turning point we asked his protection with complete abandon. The next move is action. I stayed this time at mountainside for 42 days, I learned the coping and life skills I had always been missing and I applied them. I didn’t have to run anymore. I didn’t want to die anymore. We put a plan in place when I went home, and I followed through. I changed everything. People, places, and things, I went to meetings, I reached out to people who were living in recovery, I incorporated health and wellness into my everyday living, and I practiced gratitude and radical acceptance. I learned how to be present in a moment. People can see a change; my children have noticed a change. I am beyond grateful. 2 years later and I continue to remain as honest, open, and willing as I was that morning at mountainside. I never have to go back to my old way of living again, one day at a time.