The road of recovery is the road of life.
Working with trauma is as much about remembering how we survived as it is about what is broken. I survived my traumatic upbringing by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. The most effective trauma treatment available to me was the plant based medicine called alcohol. However, no medicine, legal or illegal, can ever “cure” trauma. Even if we use pharmaceutical therapy prescribed by a doctor we are not cured. Drugs can only dampen the expressions of a disturbed psychology. And external remedies do not teach the lasting lessons of self-regulation. Eventually we have to face life on out own. The road of recovery is the road of life.
When we meditate and practice mindfulness; mind and body are in a position to integrate traumatic events into their proper place in the overall arc of one’s life.
Searching for a home on recovery street
Reflecting upon my seventeen years of recovery, I have become aware of how important it was to for me to move into a sober living home in a recovery community. I had been in three or four different hospital rehabs before I finally got sober. After each thirty or sixty day hospital stay they all told me the same thing. They all said that I needed to reside in a sober living house to fully recover.
In 2004 I was flush with cash from selling my my house in the backwoods of Tujunga. I knew that I had to finally follow the advice to move into a sober living facility. So I went online and found a sober living home in Malibu for only $1,400/per month. That was very inexpensive for a room in Malibu in 2004.
However when I arrived, the sober living people said that my not being fully detoxified from alcohol was a problem. The told me that I had to first spend thirty days in their physician supervised dual diagnosis treatment center before they would let me move into their sober living house. So I paid $16,500 for a package deal of thirty days in rehab followed by sixty days in sober living. I eventually ended up working for the rehab and living in their sober living house for eighteen months!
A psychic change is required to get sober
After two weeks in their fancy Malibu rehab doing useless equine therapy and going on moving outings, I had a psychic change. I was just a poor kid from the San Fernando Valley. Almost everyone else in that Malibu rehab came from a wealthy background. When I looked at all my fellow spoiled Caucasians I said to myself, “These people are all self-centered alcoholics.” Then like a flash of while light it hit me, “Oh my God, that means all of us are alcoholics, all of us means me to!”
The Doctor’s Opinion
There was a brand new copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous sitting on the coffee table next to me. When I opened up the Big Book it still had that new book smell. I started reading the doctors opinion about the necessary psychic change required to recover from alcoholism. I made that book my own, underlining and annotating in the margins.
Finally on the road to sober living
I asked the rehab management if I could please check out of the rehab and check in to sober living since I had been sober for two weeks. I asked to apply my final two weeks of rehab that I had paid for to be applied to rent in their sober living house. They agreed to my proposal and I finally moved into sober living. The road of recovery is the road of life, not being sheltered in a fancy Malibu rehab.
So I moved into their sober living into their sober living house on Triunfo Canyon Road. The sober house wasn’t even located in Malibu, that was false advertising by the rehab marketing people. Their rehab was in the hills of Malibu and their sober living was located in an isolated canyon in rural Agoura Hills. I began driving the twelve miles of steep canyon road to attend A.A. meetings in scenic Malibu.
The most influential people in Malibu A.A. kept talking about an A.A. speaker named K.C. breaking down the 12 Steps at a meeting in North Hollywood. “No,” I thought to myself, “I worked hard to move out of the Valley, I don’t want to drive thirty-five miles back into the San Fernando Valley just to go to an A.A. meeting, I’ll just go to my meetings in Malibu and Agoura.”
A Malibu Eskimo Takes Me to Primetime Alcoholics Anonymous
There was an Eskimo in Malibu A.A. who often took newly recovered alkies like me to their first Primetime A.A. meetings. This Eskimo could see that I was ready for Primetime. So one day Quinn the Eskimo offered to drive me to the Primetime meeting in North Hollywood and I accepted.
When the meeting began, the Primetime guru started talking about the 12 Steps like I had never heard anyone talk about them before. Heavenly lights went on in my head and all around me. It seemed as if the room itself had gotten brighter. In that moment I knew that I would never drink again.
I became willing to do whatever it takes to recover
Living in L.A. means driving your life away. After that meeting I began regularly driving myself long distances into the Valley and West Los Angeles to attend Primetime A.A. meetings. I wore out my car driving the steep canyons of Malibu and had to have a completed brake job including replacing the calipers. That was the first and only time in my life that I have ever replaced the brake calipers on a vehicle and I have lived in L.A. my whole life. The road of recovery is the road of life.