My name is Connie and I’m a recovering alcoholic. I went to the Orchard in July of 2007 and have not had a drop of alcohol or any drug since. When I agreed to go to treatment I really thought I was just going to take a break from my rotten life and return to it with more control. I had no intention of staying sober and changing my ways. Although it took a long time for me to learn how to open up and speak the truth, the promise of a better life started to sound really good and one day it hit me that I wanted it and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from getting it.
I have had hundreds of reasons to relapse. Some of those reasons include people dying, financial problems, severe depression, anxiety attacks -you name it. But when I decided I wanted that better life, I made a conscious choice to quit giving in every time something bad happened to me. The Orchard helped me get through the really hard part of getting started, but then it was up to me to take their suggestions and keep going. This isn’t like high school where you slip up and get in trouble or that sneaking around doing shady things is somehow cool. The truth is, you can blow it all you want, risk your life all you want. No one can truly stop you.
It’s very lonely to realize you are the only one that can move forward or backward. I didn’t like the thought of moving forward all by myself. I figured only those really confident people could do recovery alone. I wanted a higher power and I wanted friends. I didn’t want these things because I was told it would be good for me, I wanted these things because I wanted to rebel from the people I had been hanging around, from the whole angry lifestyle I had been part of. I wanted something better than what I had.
Today I have a beautiful life. I can actually say I’ve been told by people that they wish they had a life like mine. They never seem sure of what it is about my life that they want. It’s certainly not the money cause there’s not a lot of that. I think it’s the spirit inside me that makes everything look so appealing. I have this constant feeling of joy. It’s weird. To be honest, it’s been over five years now and never seems to go away. I feel strangely content and can’t think of any way I’d like life to be different. I don’t see the world through a negative light. And why? Every day I choose to live by spiritual principles and give my life over to my higher power. Once I gave my higher power full control of my life, things have just fallen into place.
I graduated from Emily Carr at the very top of my class. I continue to sell paintings without even trying. I became a ballet teacher, am going for my final advanced RAD exam (which I never got because my alcoholism got in the way) and I just bought an acreage in horse country where I’ve wanted to live since I was 12 years old. I have two wonderful dogs (Boxers) that go everywhere with me and best of all I have a partner that I absolutely admire and love. He is more than I had could have hoped for. I know in my heart that there is not even one small personal success that would have happened if I was still drinking or using drugs. I was going to be spinning my wheels for the rest of my life if I didn’t get serious about cleaning up my life and my problem- which was not being able to see the truth of who I was. Of all the personal goals I have achieved, overcoming my addiction will always be number one.
To end my letter I’ll list a few of the suggestions I’d give to someone who wants them. They are from the perspective of making it 5 years and seeing way too many friends not even make it to a year.
First off, if you’re struggling to have a higher power you might want to ask yourself how long you’re going to let that negative energy run your life. Second, do yourself a huge favor and don’t think about any kind of financial success. Third, learn to look at the world with humor every time you’re tempted to judge. Fourth, don’t think about all the people that seem to hate you right now and start thinking about the people who care enough to come talk with you, or take the time to write a letter to you! You matter to us. And last, decide NOT to feel sorry for yourself.
I wish I had all the words to keep you sober. Somewhere, sometime you’ll hear them and you’ll be free.