One of the things I love best about my current job is those who have struggled with sobriety over the years and have finally "gotten it". What a joy to be able to congratulate someone on their 1 year or 90 days? I almost had tears in my eyes when doing so. I now understand what my sponsor means by you have to give it away to keep it. I am able to talk with my patients about their addiction/alcoholism and give them suggestions on how to find their way into recovery. I can't make them want to get sober; I can only give suggestions and to those I know it's appropriate, share my own struggles. Obviously, I don't tell every patient that sits in my chair my story but for those few, it's been a relief to know they are not "stuck" where they are and have a choice in life.
I feel as though sobriety has given me back "choices". I GET to call my sponsor everyday, I GET to go to meetings, I GET to attend my Aftercare group and Nurse Support Group. I GET to do all these things as a physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy person. And how nice it is to talk with these patients who are dual diagnosis and actually understand their way of thinking, whereas before, I would have been clueless. My addiction has turned out to be a gift in so many ways, which is a very strange thing to say, but that's how I feel. I'm more effective in my job BECAUSE of my addiction and have more understanding of the disease than I ever would have otherwise. To think, if you had told me 2 years ago that I would be working in a mental health facility, I would died laughing. What?? Leave my exciting, stressful, demanding world of the ICU?? Hell, no.
Now I look back and have no inclination to return. Sure, I miss some of that world, but not enough to go back. I love, love, love my job and am so grateful and thankful my higher power had this in store for me. I can't reiterate enough what recovery and sobriety have done for me. It's true....more will be revealed. And I love that I can have an "okay" day and that's okay. Before, I was either way, way up or way, way down. There was no middle ground. Okay was not an acceptable state of being for me. Today, there is much peace and serenity in things just being "okay". Not everyday is a joy for me....this past week, I've suffered from a horrible migraine brought on by the stress of experiencing my birthday, my mother's birthday and my son's birthday, all without my mother (she passed from an aneurysm at the end of August). But some gifts have come out of it....I've met up with some long lost family who I discovered have 20+ years of sobriety.
I still have struggles, but they are far and few between. And when they do occur, I have an entire support system to fall back on. I've learned to ask for help and learned to accept the emotions that come to me. I no longer feel the need to stuff everything down and hide away from life. That is a default behavior, sure, but I've learned that when I"m feeling like that, I do the opposite. I surround myself with those who are a support for me and talk. It's amazing how dealing with the issues at that moment keep them from turning into resentments down the road. Congrats on 17 years; that is truly an accomplishment and an inspiration to someone like myself, who has just begun the journey (next Friday will be 16 months!!).