As a polysubstance user, I’ve always thought: the more the merrier.
Let’s just say, choosing has always been hard for me. I changed hobbies frequently, leaving half-finished projects for whatever caught my attention next. My favorite meal would be made so many times in a row, that by the time I’ve eaten it every day for a month, it could never be touched again. Onto the next. So on and so forth.
You might be thinking “That sounds like a certain diagnosable mental health condition…” and you might be right! But that is neither here nor there… for now, at least.
If you had told me two years ago that my reluctance to choose would bring me the peace and stability it’s brought me today, I’d surely tell you, “You’ve got the wrong guy.”
Between the ages of 18-25, I completed 3 different 30-day treatment centers, attempted others, enrolled in Intensive Outpatient programs, had a handful of therapists, and tried what few meetings were available in my hometown.
Finally, I realized that my inability to stay sober after leaving treatment had a direct correlation to the fact that I never found a program that resonated with me. I was always under the impression that I needed to put all my eggs in one basket, and really work one program, to stay clean. I didn’t believe in what I was being taught, thus, I failed before I could even really try.
This last time in treatment, I didn’t rush into choosing one pathway. I remained open-minded and tried what was offered to me. Fortunately, I was at a treatment center that recognized not everyone walks the same path. What I found is that I could pull different principles from different programs and create something individualized, that accounted for mood shifts within my day-to-day life.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking in the mirror, getting face-to-face with myself and my addiction, so to speak. What I’ve learned is that my addictive tendencies transfer into most facets of my life, including the positive aspects. I’ve found that I can pull even from the good until it is depleted. Having options has acted as a safeguard to my sobriety. I know that if I get burnt out with analyzing my thoughts and emotions in SMART Recovery, I can go to a Recovery Dharma meeting to muster up some compassion for myself and others. I know that in moments of isolation, I can find an AA meeting when I need a sense of connection.
I am an ever-evolving person, unwrapping the self that I burrowed in active addiction. What I need on a Monday might not be the same as what I need on a Wednesday. So why back myself into a corner when I don’t have to? I believe that having options was a determining factor in feeling autonomy and empowerment over this disease.
Anyway, if the end goal is sobriety and all the wonderful things it encompasses, does it really matter if my path is different from someone else’s?