I felt that I was pretty much worthless, and that I was only good at one thing, and that was getting drugs and doing whatever it took to get the drugs.
So that meant I was very good at lying and cheating and manipulating and using whatever I had to get over on other people.
As far back as I can remember I grew up the youngest of four children and I grew up in a comfortable situation as far as financial availability and privileges, and I had basically everything I needed, except for a few fundamental things like a sense of family and a sense of continuity and a sense of myself.
So from pretty early on, I guess, I was pretty confused about what I wanted and what I thought about myself and as a result, I guess, as a result of a whole lot of things I started to use in my early teenage years.
And I started to feel comfortable, more comfortable with myself, as I used drugs, just in the environment I was in, which was the early Seventies and going into high school and in junior high school too, and just feeling the need to belong in some kind of something I believed in, at that point just happened to be drugs. People who did drugs, and my older brothers and sisters and my parents drank, so I guess drugs were a normal factor in my life.
And anyway, when I tell my story I say that the progression of my disease was very quick, and within maybe a few months of the first time I smoked pot I was smoking every day, more than once a day, and beginning to rely very heavily on drugs as a source of comfort and as a source of feeling, as if I belonged in some kind of a world.
So the drugs were my main focus and everything else was secondary. And I had a very distorted view of relationships and what was really important in my life. And that seemed to . . . the more I used drugs the less other things in my life just became totally unimportant and apathy kind of set in and I had no direction.
And I don’t know how I made it through high school, but I did, mostly by manipulating, conning people who were authority figures. I moved out of home when I was fifteen, and as soon as I was able I moved in with a drug dealer who was able to provide me with a constant source of the drugs that I liked to do.
And as I developed this lifestyle I felt more and more alienated from what I considered before I started using drugs, what I considered what my life would be, which would be something along the lines of what my parents thought my life should be. And I really rejected anything that represented my parents, which probably would have been work and doing well at school and being involved socially and feeling good about myself and using the potential that I was told that I had but that I really didn’t believe I had.
So drugs . . . it’s not really important to go into real details with the drugs, except to say that I realized that I was extremely self-destructive and pretty lucky to be alive, considering the lengths I went to stay high. And my physical health and everything else, emotional and mental, spiritual, deteriorated into absolutely into nothing, and was just sort of surviving, maintaining with my drug use for several years, from I guess the age of thirteen to when I finally stopped at the age of twenty six.
And all of the events of my life, looking back now, that transpired during that time, there may have been some minor successes in my life in terms of things that I might have done that I was proud of myself for or whatever, but on the whole, looking back, I see that period of time was just a complete waste and a totally sad part of my life that I will never have again.
And I see it as being a time where I dismissed an opportunity to really grow up, but children ordinarily do. Most of my activities back then I really can’t remember clearly, and it’s hard for me when I try to remember, to get a handle on what my feelings were, because they were all negative, but they were all generated by what sort of life I was leading. I felt that I was pretty much worthless, and that I was only good at one thing, and that was getting drugs and doing whatever it took to get the drugs.
So that meant I was very good at lying and cheating and stealing and manipulating and using whatever I had to get over on other people. And what the result of that was that it made me a kind of very lonely person, because I wasn’t a part of life. I was out on the fringes somewhere, trying to function and gradually becoming more and more desperate, because I wasn’t functioning well any more I wasn’t getting high any more, I wasn’t achieving any of the things I wanted to be achieving.
And what led me into actual recovery was, I would say, that four or five months right before I went into a hospital for treatment, where I started to somehow really begin to feel the incredible despair and loneliness and meaninglessness of my life, and maybe I began to recognize it, but maybe the pain just got to be too bad and a series of events led up to my decision to surrender and accept some help from some people who I normally wouldn’t have accepted their help, and finally decided that I couldn’t do it myself.
And I guess at that point in time I did want to get off of the chemicals, but it was more than that. I needed to find something in life that was more important than the chemicals. And that has always to me been the hardest part of recovery, getting clean. But anyway, I checked into a hospital and found there that I actually could gradually begin to get better and start feeling somewhat better about myself. And it was a kind of a slow and steady process.
My actual time in treatment was about five months, which is a lot longer than the average person these days, who has the benefit of treatment. And it was very intensive, and I was given a lot of love and care, caring and support from my new friends I made in recovery. I was able actually to detoxify from the drugs which was, as I said before, not the hardest part, but the hardest part and that part that has takes the longest is the ability to integrate back into society and feel good about myself and actually begin to accomplish some of the things that I had hoped that I would be able to do fifteen years ago.
Some of the things that happened to me early on in recovery was that, as I began to get honest with my new clean friends, I started feeling better about myself. And there is a technique that was used in my treatment at the hospital where your walls, your protective walls, your defenses from those outside who can somehow affect you emotionally, were beginning to be torn down.
So that I could no longer have this idea of myself as being sort of impenetrable, and I was able to be myself and not be some person I created which was sort of unnatural and not, looking back now, not the person I would want myself to be.
Anyway, I got out of treatment finally and did some really basic stuff for about a year. I lived in a fairly small town in a place where I could have never seen myself live before.
I got clean and I basically had a lot of, just had a lot of just taking care of myself to do for the first year, because I had degenerated into, not just mentally, not just physically, but in every other area of my life. I needed to develop with the help of other recovering addicts, which led me to participate pretty much on a daily basis in meetings of recovery. And gradually build myself up into a much stranger, more capable person, somebody who was able to actually have a fairly realistic perspective on life.
And I made the decision, after that first year of just taking care of myself, to move back to Washington, D.C., which was and is where I come from and where my addiction took place, which was a difficult decision to make because it was pretty scary at first.
By coming back here I was able to integrate immediately into a group of recovering addicts and develop a repertoire of support systems, people who were very helpful with me and who hung in there with me through all the hurdles that I found myself faced with in the beginning, and still to this day find myself faced with. And I realize that every day that life is an incredible struggle. But the things that I have accomplished and am in the process of accomplishing just wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t made the incredible change in my life.
It’s been three years since I decided to accept help, and in that period of time I have managed to develop a relationship with my family where I feel not inferior, as I did before, but on the same level with them, and just as worthy as my brothers and my sister and my parents or anybody else in my extended family.
I feel that I can function quite adequately in any area I’m interested in functioning in. For instance school. I’m too modest, but I do very well at school, and I enjoy it, and I have a whole new way of looking at education and learning and accepting and being teachable and accepting the fact that I am not the only one who knows what’s going on around here in life.
And I have learned a hell of a lot in the three years that I have been recovering and developing and maturing in all sorts of areas, particularly in the area of relationships, which is something that was very difficult for me to deal with when I was constantly under the influence of a variety of drugs, and pretty much unable to feel an emotion appropriately.
As far as spirituality is concerned, I don’t feel very spiritual because I often don’t allow myself to feel very spiritual. I have just recently come from a very intensive family scenario, on vacation for a couple of weeks with the whole family, and some fairly emotional and stressful situations occurred there.
It was stressful because I had returned to a summer place that I went to regularly from the age of fourteen, where my addiction pretty much took off, and the associations and memories attached to that. So that I guess what I am saying is that this recovery thing and this disease of addiction is something that prevails forever. It is always going to be a factor of my life, But I don’t consider that a negative thing. I just know I have to accept the challenge of it.
to Christopher Keeley
date Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 2:32 PM
subject RE: Opportunity to be involved in this with Chris Keeley
Where do I sign up, Mr. Keeley? I think you know my credentials, experience and background: over 10 30-day residentials, two long term (SLBTS and Hazelden), at least 15 detoxes, 3 or 4 sober livings. Current LADC and CADCA professional credentials.
to Christopher Keeley
date Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 3:47 PM
subject RE: Opportunity to be involved in this with Chris Keeley
I’d like to know more about the program, what it involves, i.e. travel? here’s my bio:
My name is Lili G. and I’m a recovering addict in my 5th year of recovery. I struggled with active addiction for over 35 years, from the East coast (Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD) to the West (Newport Beach, CA and San Diego, CA), and in between (Minneapolis, MN and Tucson, AZ). Over that time I have been in over 10 30-day residentials, two long term (SLBTS and Hazelden), at least 15 detoxes, 3 or 4 sober livings. My family has intervened and helped my into treatment on at least 5 occasions.
My professional credentials include: current LADC in Minnesota and CADCA in California. I am maintaining my required CEUs and working towards higher credential status (LADC I and II) in San Diego, CA. I have a BA in English from American and Georgetown Universities, and an AS in Addiction Counseling from MCTC in Minneapolis, MN. Please see my attached resume for professional experience.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my experience, background and credentials.
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