Open letter from a rehab resident

A safe place to be

When I cast my thoughts back to the first time I had heard of the rehab program I'm in, I was a lonely lost soul walking the streets of a country town . Trapped on a pharmacotherapy program that was making me more miserable with each day that dawned on me.

"What am I going to do?" "Where can I go to run away from this misery?"

I was ready for my next geographical location, thinking it's going to be better in the next town and I'll get a better job than the one I'd just blown. I knew turning up on my mother's doorstep would mean certain police intervention so I thought to myself — "yes the next relocation, that's where I'll find what I've been looking for, just that little bit of a glimmer of hope lifted my spirits."

So off I trotted to my prescriber with a renewed enthusiasm and as I sat there with the doctor and the program coordinator (who just happens to be the D&A worker I'd been having weekly cries on his shoulder to), I proceeded to ask for my third or fourth or fifth temporary transfer that I'd had in about three months. He just looked at me and said "You're kidding are you not? When the hell are you going to stop running from things for the first time?" It gets a bit tough, when are you going to face the fact that you cannot have drugs in your life. Straight away I thought "Well that's a bit ripe coming from the person who put me on this program — you're the blame for the misery I'm experiencing" and I proceeded to let rip at the both of them. After that he just said "Well are you finished?" and then proceeded to tell me that there is a better way to help yourself if you want to. Then he proceeded to tell me about this light at the end of the tunnel in a different program.

At first I thought "Rehab, well it's never worked before so why will it work this time?" But I can get off what I'm on so that's all I have to do, go there and get out of this misery. The difference between the previous rehabs and this one was spiritual principles that are talked about, and let me be clear here this program is not a religious program. I've finally taken the path my Higher Power has been trying for so long to get me to take. It has taken two trip's but Rome was not built in a day.

I remember the day I came here on my first attempt vividly, I was waiting at a railway station for a staff member to come and pick me up. So I'm waiting there, half an hour had passed. I started to get impatient like any good addict and then up he drove. I was finally going to meet this person face to face that I had been talking to over the phone for the last two or three months. This person that would not let me come into the program the first day after I rang him up!

So I walked up to the car thinking everything's cool, he wound down the window but kept the door locked. I thought what's going on here? Then he proceeded to lecture me for being three hours late and I started to think this cranky little jerk is going to leave me standing here and then he opened the door and said "get in". So I got in and I thought "Bite your tongue let him have his moment." It was definitely not the welcome I was expecting and I remember thinking all the way to centre from the station, I hope he is up for retirement soon or long service leave or something. These days I have the upmost respect and admiration for this cranky little person that I met on one day in December 1999 and I have the same feeling towards every staff member . I feel privileged to have met them all.

The next staff member I encountered did my admission. After half an hour to an hour I remember thinking this guy can see straight through me, so I started to think, well there won't be any lies here. I now looked forward to his groups, just so I could listen to his words of wisdom.

Then I think it was the 'boss lady' that I next met and I thought, I had better be good. There she was standing there with that accent, her sharp wit and sense of humor.

When I first made the decision to try the program I did not give much thought to how my Aboriginality would be accepted throughout the Community. When I think about this I think to myself that I would never deny my Aboriginality and I am proud of it. I think that anyone who has a problem with this, it is for them to sort out .One of the most valuable things I've learnt in this program is not giving other people negative space in my head. This service supports principles such as non-discrimination against sexuality, religious beliefs or nationality/culture and I believe this is followed to the letter in this Therapeutic Community.

One particular lady on staff, would have to be one of the most loving caring women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I love her dearly because I feel a real connection with her.

Last but not least there was another lady on staff. At first the only thing I ever got from her was a hard time. I think I sensed from the start that we would probably clash and we did, plenty of times and I appreciate those clashes today as they helped me see the error of my ways and I think she's the best.

So looking back I remember one of the staff saying to me that I was always walking around feeling sorry for myself and threatening to leave to gain attention. Don't leave before the miracle happens, I'd think, "What miracle!"
Now I believe the miracle is starting to happen, I feel the miracle is happening and I pray. I pray hard that I won't lose that feeling and I've only got the staff members and the rest of the Therapeutic community to thank for that, for being introduced to spiritual principles of self help groups because I could still be walking around thinking that spirituality is about ghosts or something. I now know what spirituality truly is, my spirituality and spiritual awakening will only grow stronger.