I don’t know if guardian angels exist, but if they do, then Kate is mine. If it hadn’t been for her intervention, I probably would have gone home from the hospital that day and kept drinking. If I hadn’t had a dog, she wouldn’t have had a reason to go to my apartment, to see the disturbing mess, the bottles everywhere, the ugly truth. Either Kate is the angel, or guardian angels were orchestrating what happened that day, so I could hit rock bottom without anything worse happening to me. I could’ve drunk myself to death at home and was probably dangerously close to doing so.
My parents and brother flew out the next day and held a very awkward but necessary intervention. They brought me home from the hospital, and when they saw my apartment, my mother started bawling inconsolably. My dad looked astonished; he’d had no idea it was this bad, none of them had. Sure, I probably drank more than anyone else at family holiday gatherings, the only times I really saw them anymore but didn’t everyone get a little crazy over the holidays? They probably knew my drinking was excessive, but not the full extent of it. While my brother started quietly doing dishes and cleaning the place up, my dad looked on my laptop for treatment centers and told me quite firmly that I had to go to a rehabilitation facility. My embarrassment caused me to agree. How could I say I didn’t need rehab when I was just in the hospital, and my family had flown all the way, all because of my drinking? I felt horribly guilty for worrying them and disrupting their lives this way.
Fortunately, my job let me take a leave of absence, once my family spoke with HR and explained the situation. A lot of workplaces have solutions for these kinds of problems, and my insurance even covered rehab. Entering rehab was one of the scariest experiences of my life, but it profoundly changed me.
I spent a month doing intense daily therapy, in a group in the morning and on my own in the afternoon. I had never been in therapy before; it had never appealed to me, and I never thought I’d needed it. Now my thinking has completely changed, and I would recommend therapy for anyone. You’d be surprised how helpful it is and how much you have to learn about yourself.
Group therapy was tough; at first, I didn’t want to participate, I didn’t want to share my shame with these strangers, didn’t want to hear their sad stories. But I was surprised to see how normal most of them were; one was a librarian at an elementary school close to my age, and we really bonded and still remain friends. I quickly became comfortable speaking in front of everybody, and the more they shared, the more I realized how much we had in common. Even with our differences, we all had this one huge thing the same: our debilitating lust for alcohol.
I still keep in touch with a few of these people. For some, rehab worked, and they never drank again. For others, they had to go back a few more times before it stuck. Some had completely quit trying to overcome their addiction. I had to keep the people in the latter group at arm’s length, encouraging them when I could, but not allowing myself to fall into their toxic mindset.
So far, I haven’t had another drink, and I plan to keep it that way.