Recovery didn’t stick with me the first or second time through treatment. I couldn’t manage to stay sober the third, or fifth, or eighth time…you get the idea. Every go-round people would ask me, “What’s different this time?” And I used to get mad because I didn’t have an answer for them. This time, I can confidently say, “I finally came to 100-percent acceptance of my disease. I surrendered. I work the program. I live every day in gratitude. And I want this with the desperation of a drowning man.” The Watershed at Clear Lake helped me do all these things.
I had never been to Georgetown, Texas, (not that I had remembered, anyway) before coming to in a solitary cell at the Williamson County Jail on July 17th, 2015. The night before had been a nightmarish movie of events that took a turn for the worse, giving way to a slideshow of still snapshots that seemed to get fewer and farther between until the storyline blurred into confusion and then blackness. Going to a friend’s house (by myself, I might add) in Round Rock because he was drunk, in bad shape and needed support. Stopping at the liquor store on the way there to get alcohol for him so he wouldn’t withdraw and go into delirium tremens. Almost without thought, picking up an extra bottle of vodka for myself after a four-and-a-half-month stretch of sobriety while living in Austin. Seeing how bad off he was – throwing up blood, not even able to take care of his own dog, while I sat by feeling helpless and worthless. Leaving him so I could go to work, sitting in my car in his driveway, grabbing the bottle out of the glove box and taking 15 huge pulls off it. Being at work extremely buzzed, with a water bottle full of vodka. Knowing I couldn’t stay the full 8-hour shift without being found out since I was on the phones nonstop, working at an inbound customer service call center for a family of hotels. Coming up with the drastic, deplorable excuse that my son was in the hospital and I needed to leave early (when in fact my son was more than 300 miles away, safe and sound in the care of his daddy.) *Click* Stopping after I left work at a liquor store to buy two more big bottles of vodka because I was running low. *Click* That feeling of ease and comfort that always came with a “few” drinks. *Click* Getting the not-so-bright idea that I was going to drive to Tyler, TX that very night to visit my best friend, who was deep into his own alcoholism. *Click* Getting on the road, putting his address into my GPS, seeing that it was nearly a 5-hour drive and it was already getting dark, and realizing I probably wasn’t going to make it. *Click* Turning around some one-hour or so into the trip, attempting to head back to Austin. *Click* Stopping at an RV park to smoke and take a few more swigs, noting the curious glances of the park’s inhabitants, glaring back with an air of defiance and invincibility. *Click* Blurred vision, attempting to navigate through a construction-riddled stretch of highway, and having no idea where I was. *Click* Trying to stare through hundreds of tiny cracks, knowing that I had done something wrong but somehow confident in my ability to not get caught. *Click* Being stopped in a parking lot, police officers surrounding me, asking about the shattered windshield that was somehow still intact and the orange construction cone wedged up in my tire well. *Click*Being videotaped for an unsuccessful blood draw during my book-in. *Click* Waking up in a cell.
The three weeks I was there, unable to be bailed out because I hadn’t lived in Texas long enough and was considered a “flight risk,” I kept telling the other females in my cell about how the first thing I was going to do when I got out was have a Dr. Pepper and a cigarette, but instead upon my release on August 7th, my first stop was a liquor store for another night of being lost in a bottle. Because consequences aren’t enough for me to stop drinking. Because this disease is real. I drank through the night and into the next day, stopping by my sober house (where they had no idea where I had been for the past three weeks) to get a few things, then the house manager taking me to a 24-hour AA club that ran a temporary shelter out of the back for addicts and alcoholics who were transitioning to treatment centers or who were down on their luck. I stayed there two nights, with an agreement that I’d be out by Monday. I didn’t have my cell phone because it had been in the car that had been impounded that night I went to jail, so I grabbed a yellow pages phone book and started making calls from the club house’s phone. The Watershed was the only facility that kept calling me back, even though I felt weak, hopeless and my resolve to “do better” was nonexistent at this point, being that I had relapsed so many times. My faith in my Higher Power and myself was broken. I had nearly given in to the idea that I was going to be homeless. A kind, caring admissions counselor at The Watershed talked me into going and arranged a flight for me to leave on Monday. I didn’t know where I was going, let alone whether I was going to Florida or Texas, and at this point I didn’t really care, as long as I got somewhere and got recovery. I couldn’t keep going through the cycle of staying sober between four and nine months, relapsing, going to treatment, and starting the recovery process over again. I checked into The Watershed Clear Lake, south of Houston, on August 10, 2015.
It was miserable being in jail. But I look at it as one of the best things that could have happened to me. You’d be amazed what you realize when you’re unplugged from technology and alone with your own thoughts for days on end. It instilled in me a gratitude for even the smallest of things. Grateful for a door on the bathroom, that way I don’t have to use the toilet or take a shower in front of 30 other women. Grateful for a mattress to sleep on, not a two-inch-thick foam pad on a metal bunk. Grateful for real food, not tiny portions of substances whose edibility is debatable. Grateful for nature and the outdoors, not an unbearably hot “recreational” enclosure with windows too high to see out of. Any time I feel myself begin to slip and take things for granted, I remember being back in county jail. This gratitude sustains me in my daily activities.
I now have a little over a year clean and sober. I have never been able to say that before. The longest I had been able to go before without drugs or alcohol was a week shy of nine months. I am back in Oklahoma now. I get to see my son every day and spend time with my mom. One of the two jobs I had while in the Watershed’s halfway house transferred up here. I get to play with my dogs and take them for walks. I have taken up playing roller derby again. I go to meetings nearly every day. This new life I have been given through The Watershed and the AA/NA program is infinitely greater than anything I could have imagined.
I owe a debt of gratitude to The Watershed. Had I not gone, completed its inpatient program, PHP program, IOP program and lived in its halfway houses, there is no doubt in my mind that at the very least I would be homeless, broke, drunk and cut off from all connection to my son and my family. Worst case scenario, I would be dead, either by my drinking or by my own hand. My Higher Power had other plans.