By Daniel Wittler
I am one of those individuals who have been to treatment a handful of times. Some of those times I relapsed the same day I left treatment. I look back and wonder why and still have no answers. I had all the signs of being an addict. My life was clearly in jeopardy each time and I did not take it very seriously while in treatment up until my last trip there.It’s been my experience that most of us are not ready to truly enter recovery until we have exhausted every other option and have had life really beat us down to the bottom. I know that was the case for me along with many of my peers. Some of us don’t reach a bottom until we are 6 feet deep in the ground.
So what did my bottom actually look like? I was living in South Florida at the age of 26, I had just fled from New Jersey after being fired from my father’s business for stealing from the warehouse. I had broken his heart and my mom thankfully paid for a flight for me to fly down to Florida. I was in shock, I had flown up to New Jersey about 2 years earlier ready to make a positive impact on not only my own life but to help my family. I was sober for about 6 months as I headed up there and thought I had conquered the disease of addiction. My ego got the best of me and within a year I was back to full on addiction. I did what I usually do in active addiction and I blew up every bridge I had possible at home, hence me on another trip down to Florida, this time with no plan whatsoever.
I found a room to rent for very cheap that was in terrible shape, I would stay up getting high for days at a time without speaking to anyone for weeks at a time. My room was what I like to call my ‘cocoon’, I was safe from everything in there and had a very unhealthy feeling of comfort in that room. From October 2014 to March 2015 I was completely in my own world feeling more isolated than ever before. On March 17, 2015 I got a phone call from my mom, she informed me that my father had died. He had a heart attack while he was sleeping and never woke up from it. He was 60 years old. I was devastated. Fortunately I had reached out to my dad 3 days prior, remember, we had not left on good terms. We had a pretty good and very deep discussion when I reached out, I will always be grateful for that conversation, I remember it very vividly to this day.
I headed back to New Jersey for my fathers service, surrounded by my ex co-workers who knew I had stolen from their company, but they had to be nice. My dad, their boss, was now dead. I felt awful about everything happening that day, it was never more clear that I was wasting my life away than that day. I spent 2 months in New Jersey, not sober of course, crying myself to sleep every night. Around the middle of May 2015, my mom had informed me that I could go to treatment again with money that my father left behind. I quickly said yes and headed down to treatment for another try at this.
As I said in the beginning, the past 6 months before my sober date, May 17th, 2015, were absolute hell on earth. Looking back I am grateful for those months. Of course I’m not grateful for my dad passing away, it’s been nearly 5 years that he is gone and I miss him more than I ever did. Those months prior to getting sober though really humbled me and made me teachable. Once I became teachable I just did what I knew I always was supposed to do in recovery that I hadn’t done before. I not only made a relapse prevention plan but I followed it finally. I also allowed guidance in my life finally rather than thinking I knew what was best. All I knew about was getting high and breaking my family’s heart. My dad was and still is a huge inspiration to me in my recovery. My first motivation in recovery this time was to make him proud and that lives on to this day.
The most important information I can pass on to anyone reading this is that my life did not change for the better until I completely gave up doing things my way. As I mentioned before I have been to treatment many times before and when I discharged I would always ignore suggestions and just do what I wanted to do. No matter how good spirited those ideas I had of my own were, it always made me relapse. This time, I finally completely gave up and completely gave into accepting guidance and my life has been incredible ever since I made the decision of surrender from the heart. If you are struggling, get out of your own way and try it someone else’s way, someone who was once where you are but found a way out.
Daniel Wittler is a writer in recovery who enjoys sharing his experience, strength and hope to show absolutely anyone can get sober provided they are willing to take action.