HI Everyone,

It’s me Nat! I have an hour of down time so I wanted to say hello and give you a bit of an update as to what Homewood life is like…or ‘Homewood U’ as AB has renamed it πŸ˜‰

The first couple of days have been a roller coaster beyond all other roller coasters! When AB, Caroline and I got here on Tuesday I was a ball of nerves. I just kept telling myself that that had to be normal, but that didn’t help ease my anxiety. It was literally like I was back in college (so the name fits well AB). I was shown to my room and given a schedule filled with locations I had no clue how to find, and classes rammed into all hours of the day. It was my first glimpse that this was going to be intense!

The staff are lovely. They are truly invested in my health and recovery and my doctor is AWESOME! I had a full day of assessments, both psychological and physical. “Get ready to pee in a cup a lot!” one of the patients told me right away. Right! I’m at an addiction treatment centre…reality check number 1! I can announce after thorough assessments I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. I knew I had it…but hearing the words come out of the doctors mouth!…well that was reality check number 2. God, I had a lot of work to do.

After getting through an initial orientation with the fire alarm ringing every few seconds, (a total test for my anxiety!.. insert me wagging my finger at the sky),Β  I had to say good bye to AB and C. I had been DREADING that part! We shared tears through a sense of swiftness as we all knew lingering would inevitably increase our crying. And with a kiss and hug and a last look down the hall, I was left to my own devices, a freshman at Homewood U…and all I wanted to do was go home already.

I felt very out of sorts not knowing anyone, and soon learned that the standard introduction line is, “Hey are you new? Don’t worry you will get use to it here. What’s your drug of choice?” BAM! just like that! No smoke and mirrors here! You are encouraged to be who you are and TALK ABOUT IT. I had to announce in my first ’rounds’ that I was an alcoholic and my dry date is Sept 23rd. YIKES. Talk about surreal listening to those words come out of my mouth! I’m still struggling with accepting that this is the truth. People are actually hopeful and confident in the program, but my skepticism is cemented in my brain. I still can’t fully see how leaving Homewood after 57 days can lead to this dramatic healing and spiritual awakening everyone talks about. But rest assured they are teaching me how to be present in the moment, and not worry about the future or the past and that my skeptical/angry stage isΒ  ‘normal’…I’m not so sure, and very mad about that πŸ˜‰

Listening to everyone’s story makes me want to drink so badly! I literally imagine myself smelling the red wine that could be right in front of my nose and mouth if I left and found a bar. I know I wouldn’t do that…but the cravings are so intense! I now understand why we are told that recovery is the hardest part of addiction. Screw withdrawal and the alcoholism itself! Relapse prevention is WAY SHITTIER!

Generally speaking I hate making small talk, but I’m learning that everyone has SO MUCH in common that small talk isn’t even required! Talking about our past experiences and struggles is usually the topic 1 minute into the cafeteria line. People just get it here. Everyone GETS IT! If I still can’t get past my skepticism …at least I can take solace in the natural comfort everyone has around each other. Heck, I did a horticulture class today filled with guys covered in tattoos. They placed delicate leaves into a pot with tweezers…and they ALL seemed so comfortable because they all just get it. I know they had never taken a horticulture class before (because they said so), and watching them create their own ecosystem, with zen music playing in the background, and ZERO mocking or judgement being thrown at them, was probably one of the best things I’ve ever experienced!!! It was such a pure example of vulnerability and acceptance…pretty amazing!

When I called home the first night, Caroline and Adam seemed very content and that made me feel great! I know they are both being taken care of so wonderfully that I am able to actually focus on my healing. In fact, on the topic of healing, one of the rules here is that we can’t help anyone unless the person asks for help. It distracts us from our OWN recovery and all of the staff are SO big on focusing on yourself. So I thank EVERYONE at home again for taking care of my family while I’m here so that I can truly heal! It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. XO

I went to my first 12 step meeting. Gasp! Pun alert! was sobering. Groan πŸ˜‰ A lecture hall FILLED with addicts from all walks of life provided my first introduction to the ‘Big Book’ (some people out there will know what that means. πŸ˜‰ ) I really enjoyed it, and even got my first commemorative chip. I had to walk up in front of the crowd to accept this gift of welcoming sobriety into my life, and I felt like I was outside of my body looking in. Great, the “How did I get here?” dissociative thoughts are back again. Breathe! Regardless of how nerve-racking it was, I was grateful to be there and part of an amazing group of such STRONG individuals. P.S, We go to a meeting EVERY DAY!

I’ve learned by day 2 that I still have no clue how to love myself. I’ve learned that I’m still not completely honest with myself. And I’ve learned that staying this way is a welcoming mat for my depression. Self-pity is such a huge demon in the early stages of recovery. ‘Why me? What’s the point? Is it even worth it?’ are phrases that ruminate in my head all day. I’m unraveling the biggest knot being my life, and hopelessness keeps tying me up. My anxiety-ridden pity-party mind caused me to bawl my eyes out yesterday…HUGE. In a hall filled with strangers I crumbled to pieces. I could barely breathe and nothing could stop the confused tears flowing out of my eyes! I had no idea which way to turn (partially because I was lost) and all I wanted to do was cry, scream and complain! But then my doctor and nurse just stood with me, while my anxiety wanted to scratch all the skin off of my body, and reminded me that not knowing what to do was ok. And that THEY would guide me. I finally realized (a bit) that I just had to trust the process. I had to believe that they knew what they were doing and my only responsibility was to try. Slowing but surely (apparently) it gets better.

That’s all for now. I have to go. I will try to blog again soon. We are encouraged to journal a lot…and like usual, I’m willing to let you read it πŸ˜‰