Rich’s Recovery Story

It’s a scary place isolation, especially for an addict…

“When I first heard the words ‘self-isolation’ being bandied around on the radio and TV synonymous with the threat of COVID 19 hitting UK shores, I had little knowledge of the kind of impact it was about to inflict on anyone.

“I’m on the senior phase at Studio House Rehab – a magical place that has transformed my life over the last year. What that means is that I’m in recovery and moving into interdependence: what that looks like is I’m engaging further with my support network, maintaining my abstinent lifestyle, taking personal responsibility with food, bills and general living; generally developing a life.

“I’d crafted a structure essential to this new life. This included studying to be a peer mentor at NRN academy and volunteering my time at Studio House to help other residents with aspects of the program. I’d also allocated time for family matters and other aspects such as having fun; all essential, in striving for a balanced life. My time was mine and my embryonic journey was full of hope and promise.

“On Tuesday 17th March, I was told that we had to go into lockdown. In one hour, I’d learned that the academy and NRN had closed and that I was to return to the senior house and stay there for an initial two week period. This was one week before the whole of the UK went into national lockdown. I went home and sat and contemplated the enormity of this.

“I was confused and angry. I was indignant and not at all accepting of the situation. In truth, I was scared. My addictive life was a scary existence splattered with uncertainty, fear and depression. It was hell on Earth. Then, I was lonely and life had no meaning. Now, after hearing all of this news suddenly and having my structure ripped away from me, I began to feel quite fearful.

“I sat with this for a while, and when I got a hold of myself, I tried a few things out that I’d learned in recovery. Acceptance, faith, hope, gratitude. All of them. They had all worked in my journey so far up until this moment, so if I had faith, then why shouldn’t they work now?

“I believe that we are all exactly where we’re meant to be – that everything happens for a reason. I was powerless of the situation that caused this – it was not of my own doing. Evidence has proven to me that what I have practised up to this very point in recovery has served me very well so far. It began with the little things – taking care of my very basic needs as a human being, like Food, shelter and warmth. Regular connection and checking in was second nature. That and taking notice of little things, and being more in the moment. Journaling to release my blocks and self-care.

“I spoke with my sponsor who echoed the same sentiments that were beginning to dawn on me that this is actually a perfect time for me to practise the very principles of recovery that I had learned. This is key here – practise and not intellectualise them.

“Actually, I warmed to the challenge. I’ve had to keep my expectations low and get real – and that’s great as it means I’m less likely to get disappointed and resentful. I make use of the resources I have to enable communication with my peers through Zoom and phone calls and what’s app. I’ve avoided television and we watch films in the evening.

“I share my feelings, because I have learnt to get honest with my feelings; there is real strength, empowerment and connection in getting vulnerable and being honest and not wearing ‘I’m fine’ masks. If I can measure my feelings, then I have a base level to work with and so make them better if they’re a little uncertain. It is ok to not be ok – likewise, it is ok to get bored too. I’ve heard the phrase ’this too shall pass’ many times before, but it is so very true – all of my doubts and bad spaces pass – and the good spaces get clearer and get stronger.

“Sharing also somehow releases blocks in me and I feel less alone with them. I’ve learned that my head is very capable of making stories up that are totally negative and never true – the power of identification. I live with two other residents in a shared house and we draw comfort in that all we have learned and practise daily in recovery – all the tools we have picked up, we apply – and they do work.

“I’m actually amazed at what has presented in terms of opportunity. I was gifted a chance to explore the implications of putting together an online broadcast of Sobar social, Cafe Sobar’s monthly event. This has challenged me and motivated me and given me a purpose. It is happening and ongoing. The first half hour ‘live broadcasts entitled ‘Sobar Social Throwback Thursdays are expected to go out next week. It is giving back, freely.

“I reconnected with making music, far deeper than I ever have done, ever. I have reconnected with my family, far greater than I ever have done. My cooking skills have improved too! I’ve learned a considerable amount about myself in Lockdown and I’m very grateful for that. I feel a sense of connection, achievement, purpose and self-worth.

“What this whole pandemic has given me is the opportunity to test where I think I am at with my recovery to where I’m actually at. That’s the reality, that’s the honesty. I’m doing the little things to keep well, and life takes care of itself. And if life is good now, I know it will be even better on the other side of this.”

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