I will never forget the resentment I felt as I waited for the bus. I wanted to get sober…and more importantly stay sober. And I had finally come to this place that was giving me my best chance at sobriety-and they said I had to leave.
We continue the story of Errol, whose chronic abuse of drugs and alcohol led to homelessness, health issues, and dependency. You can read the past entry about Errol in our last Voices of Recovery blog entitled “Alcohol Addiction and Rock Bottom.” It happened to be raining and I was wearing shorts and flip flops, hardly winter attire. In my anger I went and found the bottle of vodka I hid in the bushes 6 days prior to entering the detox center. I got on the bus and on the way to the Bimini House ended up drinking the vodka. I climbed out of the bus and found another alcoholic I partnered up with and once again was panhandling for enough money for beer. After a few hours I remembered my date with the Bimini House and convinced my new drinking friend to come as well.
I walked up the steps to check in and was immediately questioned as to why it took me so long to make it from San Pedro to LA by bus. I came up with some story about getting lost and taking the wrong bus that I thought was fairly believable. They guy at the front then asked if I had been drinking and completely lying about it initially and claiming I hadn’t had a drop, he finally got me to admit that I had been drinking earlier in the day. And with that revelation, he turned me away and said “You can’t stay here.”
I felt sunk at the idea that as hard as I was trying to get sober I was once again on the streets with nothing. The next week I hung around the neighborhood once again panhandling for enough money to buy the next bottle. I had probably drank the most alcohol I had ever consumed in my lifetime. Knowing I had to stop again and try for sobriety again, I stopped cold. The next day however I was having audio hallucinations and other types of alcohol withdrawal related psychosis.
At that point, I pleaded with God to give me a chance, or give me a sign, or show me what I needed to do next. I crawled back up the stairs to the Bimini house once again and pleaded with them to let me in. The same guy who turned me away days before asked me what I would do differently than the previous time. And while I was generally quick with a smart, snappy response or with the answer people wanted to hear, this time I was left with nothing. I had no answer. I had no response at all. And finally, something deep in my soul spoke the truth and I said, “I don’t know what to do, but I will do whatever you tell me.” I realized at that point it was the closest thing to the truth that I had ever spoke in years. I gave up the will to be right, to be smart, to be cunning…and simply gave in to letting others help me and taking directions and in turn have some direction in my life. What was supposed to be a 6 month stay ended up being 11 months, because the people at the Bimini house found the kindness to let me stay.
Then and there at the Bimini House while undergoing recovery, I made a conscious decision that I was going to give in and make a commitment to God to help in my recovery. I did not know what I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do, what my purpose in life was…but it also served as a clean slate where any preconceived notions and other ego driven fantasies simply did not apply and did not matter, and that was in turn what started my recovery and for the first time in years I felt some legitimate happiness. And that happiness stemmed from my feeling for the first time that I had the upper hand in my battle with drug and alcohol addiction.