When I was first prompted to write an article on this topic, excited would be an understatement for how I felt. When I look back and think about the people who have influenced my recovery, a flood of emotions consumes me for the better. I have truly been graced with an army of amazing, unconditional, graceful, and compassionate women that remain a part of my life and my journey today. Although I can be somewhat impartial to the women in my life, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some incredible men in recovery as well.
Looking back to my life before getting sober, I had loads of fair-weather friends. To be fair, I was quite the fair-weather friend myself. It’s often said that you can judge someone’s character by the quality of the people they surround themselves with. Honestly, I surrounded myself with either individuals who were doing the same things I was doing, or I kept people around who could serve my selfish wants in some way. I had no idea how to be a friend, much less how to find a reliable support system. Recovery has absolutely revolutionized the value and quality of the friends who have become family in my life today, and it all started at FHE.
I will never forget the day I first met Molly. I was sitting on what we called “the landing” waiting to go grab some food (my favorite part of the day). Then came Molly, smiling with some motivational “pep in her step.” I remember she immediately sat down in the shade of us women and asked, “How’s it going?” This wasn’t the type of encounter that seemed like the polite gesture of a host in a home – it was genuine. I immediately felt her calm, sweet nature, and I jumped right into a conversation with her. Molly was one of the alumni coordinators at FHE and you could always tell she loved her job. I told her a little bit about missing my son and hating individual therapy and she shared some of her experience with me. This was the first glimmer of hope I experienced in recovery. Not only is there a life outside of rehab, but also there was a sober life that brings happiness outside of rehab.
Having a sit down with Molly was just the beginning of my experience with connecting with alumni from FHE. I vividly remember the alumni meeting that we got to attend once we were closer to our completion date. I had a very similar experience at this meeting. Every week there was an alumnus meeting where dinner was served, a meeting took place, upcoming events/service work was announced, and the alumni from FHE celebrated their milestones in recovery. This was my first experience around other people in recovery, outside of rehab, and I was hopeful.
Skipping ahead to when I completed treatment and began my journey in the real world. I began attending meetings and I was on the hunt for a sponsor. It was suggested I get connected with the alumni from FHE and participate in the service work and fun sober activities. I dove right in. I began immersing myself in the alumni program. I made commitments to do service work and I followed through. My reluctance to get connected to the alumni eventually turned into the very foundation that got me through some of the most difficult trials in my sobriety. The people I have bonded with continue to hold me accountable in so many ways throughout my recovery. Here are a few of the ways my alumni family has helped me.
One of the most significant ways my alumni family has helped me through my addiction has been through a connection within the recovery community. The alumni program at FHE Health has continued to keep all of us connected, not only with old alumni but with the new graduates as well. The connection established within the alumni community was the foundation that cultivated my involvement in 12-step programs as well. To be honest, FHE Health introduced me into AA and I am forever grateful for that connection into such a beautiful community.
Another benefit I’ve acquired from my alumni family is ongoing support. I not only have the support of other recovering addicts such as myself, but I also have the opportunity to attend the outpatient program at FHE Health. Integrating back into society after rehab can be tough. The additional resources provided through the alumni program gave me the ongoing support I needed through individual and group therapy. I also had the chance to immerse myself in a safe space surrounded by fellow FHE alumni.
The common goal of strengthening our recovery was the bond that continues to hold my alumni family together. We all share the same common problem and the same solution. This has established an unbreakable bond and a vastly compassionate sense of understanding. Despite our varying stages of recovery, connecting all of us cultivated hope and mutual respect, compassion, and understanding. Today, the men and women I have in my alumni community offer an astounding amount of moral support and empathy that has helped me stay sober over the last four years.
Friends That Turned into Family
The people I’ve met through the alumni program at FHE have become family. Most of my sponsorship family consists of FHE alumni. These women are the absolute foundation of my sobriety today. I owe most of these women my life. In my darkest hour, these women have come to my rescue. Moving from Atlanta to South Florida, away from my family, was difficult. However, the friends that I’ve met have become family to me. They are the first people I call when I’m struggling or even when I want to share my victories in sobriety. I trust these women with my life, and for that, I will forever be grateful for my alumni family.