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Well hello there! ūüôā I’ve decided to peek my head back into the blog world. You may be saying to yourself, ‘but why?’, I just left not long ago…I was suppose to be focusing on me. But I have my reasons for returning. 1. I love to write. It’s a passion and an outlet that I have enjoyed all my life. 2. I love to help. It’s not like me to keep the lessons I am still learning to myself. They are bursting out of me and sharing helps me heal. And last but not least, number 3, I’ve missed you guys! Your support propelled me forward every day and I looked forward to¬†your¬†words of wisdom and love. So I’ve decided to blog once or twice a week about my recovery days.

I want to share what it’s like to be out of the Homewood bubble. What hurdles have I met and needed to jump over? What changes I have found in¬†life¬†itself? And what skills I am continuing to learn at the outpatient program I have recently started…yes that’s right, I’m in ‘save my life grad¬†school’! I have SO much to tell you about, so let’s get started…

One of my very good HU friends has nick-named me the ‘dark-knight’. Why you may ask? Well, I graduated HU a week early and apparently that is quite unheard of; something only superheroes can do. (Insert me laughing hysterically). The only times we saw people have the HU doors close behind them prematurely is because they got the boot! (And A LOT of people did! ) But I didn’t get the boot…thank God! What happened is I actually started ‘going backwards’ according to my team of care providers. I felt like I was making huge leaps and bounds in my first week of the PTSD phase of the program, but something changed. I was able to share my stories in group and it helped me tremendously. But as the days went on, and I had to hear of my new friends tragedies, I started to dissociate. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and literally couldn’t handle it. I tried so hard to shake the gross feelings off of me after the group each day, but the feeling never fully went away. I started to get VERY angry at life again, and with that and the combination of trying to deal with some family issues at home, I almost relapsed.

After having a desperately sad and hopeless day, I left HU¬†one night without anyone knowing, and started to search for a bar. I had texted AB just before I left and said that I was leaving, and didn’t text her again. I walked down the street in the freezing cold night, back in my self-centred, self-pity phase, and was spiralling fast. I asked a stranger on the street where I could find a ‘restaurant’, and he directed me. As I walked I imagined what it would be like to even order a glass of red wine. I dreamt about how amazing the smell would be! I would just go for one, it wouldn’t be¬†that¬†bad. But as I walked I couldn’t stop thinking about how much AB would be worrying about me. I decided to text her and tell her I was ok…but when I tried to, I realized that my phone had died. I had plenty of battery when I left…and it was randomly dead. I stopped in my tracks. I had to go back! It wasn’t fair to do that to AB! She didn’t deserve to be worrying about selfish me¬†again! I could have kept walking in the direction the stranger showed me, but instead I jogged back to HU (well¬†as much as I could with the¬†cold freezing my lungs so badly) and got past the nursing station without a soul even knowing I had been gone.

I prayed for my phone to hurry up and charge! Then I was¬†finally¬†able to tell AB I was OK. I believe my phone died for a reason that night. Prior to that I wasn’t thinking about the consequences my heat-of-the-moment decision would have on my entire life… I HAD to stop that behaviour. The consequences would have been¬†enormous! I most definitely would have gotten kicked out of HU! I would have disappointed¬†everyone! I would not have received the excellent news I just heard a few days ago that CAS is closing my file…I can see my son whenever I’d like to! I could have lost my job! I could have died… But I believe, because of the grace of God, I turned around and realized what I was doing would have been catastrophic.

The rest of my days at HU were sort of surreal. I couldn’t believe 7 weeks had gone by. I was watching all of my close friends graduate and was amongst mostly new faces. At the end of the day I was ready to go home. I was scared…but I was ready. I had fully and completely given my will over to the 12-step programs and to the big guy upstairs. I needed to do¬†exactly¬†I was told to do when I got home, and if I did, I would be ok. Now time for real life…

Getting home was so nice. But I have to confess a story showing how¬†delusional¬†and self-centred I was!…Before I went away I was hoping that people would have a welcome home party for me! What the f*<K! I’ve told this story to many AA friends which has¬†caused them to almost pee their pants laughing! This was my mindset before though! Now I’m embarrassed to even think I¬†thought¬†that. I was so blessed to have a small welcome home cake from my family, but there was no rented hall or streamers waiting for my arrival (insert embarrassed face). Just more proof that an addict mind thinks truly of themselves first.

Being home does involve me thinking about myself…but in a healthy way. Recovery is a moment by moment mission! And if I let up…relapse could rear its ugly head. My day is pretty consistent and peaceful. I go to hot yoga every morning, hang out with my kids, eat healthy, walk Walter, read my AA books, pray/meditate, and go to meetings…LOTS of meetings. And last week I started another out-patient program which is twice a week. I’ve started to develop a great network of recovering addict friends and have joined a CA group… I’m responsible for bringing cream and sugar to every meeting; it’s a big deal ūüėČ I’m still on the hunt for a sponsor, but I want them to be right for me, so I’m not rushing into that. But don’t worry, I won’t leave it for that long…it is a pivotal component to successful recovery.

I’m SO grateful for how much HU focused on the addiction part of my PTSD recovery. As you can probably remember I was very resistant to the idea at first. What could a 12 step program actually do to help me? Why would I want to go to these meetings all the time? Ugh…I was convinced I had it all figured out. And in turn I made the initial weeks of HU very difficult for myself. Once again self-righteous Natalie thought that a program which has helped MILLIONS of people around the world live happy, clean and prosperous lives couldn’t possibly help me! When I FINALLY decided to surrender and follow the simple steps provided to anyone willing to recover, my mind started to become calm. I told myself to stop complicating things! Just…follow…the…steps! And you know what, they do work…if you work them.

My PTSD has been at bay for a long time now. And for this I am very grateful. I know that it will be something that I have to consciously address and talk about if it is ever bothering me, but talking is just so much easier thanks to things like this blog. I haven’t had a bout of depression or anxiety since I’ve been home, and am genuinely living one day at a time so much more peacefully than before. I finally got the help I had been craving for years! And it will be a work in progress for the rest of my life. I look forward to sharing more stories about my recovery with you, and can’t tell you how much more I feel at home with these keys under my fingers. It won’t be every day…but if you would like to join me, I will happily take you with me down this road called recovery. XO ~Nat

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