Thinking Clearly

“What does Misty want?” That’s what Misty’s counselor asked as they worked through her addiction. With her judgement clouded by alcoholism, Misty struggled to pinpoint the answer. But over time, as she continued to work the program, she began to think clearly and discover the truth about what she wanted for her life.

Raised in a dysfunctional family, Misty was a lonely child. She was sexually abused as a young girl and fell into depression. During high school, her family moved around frequently, and she found herself using alcohol to numb her feelings. In her 20s, she was deep into the party scene, using alcohol not only as a comfort but also as a method to feel bold and glamorous. Misty said, “It was a comfort. It was my medicine. It gave me courage to talk and be bolder. I was wittier and prettier when I drank.”

But in retrospect, she said, “I didn’t realize how lonely I was.”

When her boyfriend went through AA, she discerned that her family had suffered with addiction when she was growing up but thought it would never happen to her. As she dipped deeper into her own alcoholism, she would lose her inhibitions and “confuse all kinds of things with love.”

Misty’s first husband was an abusive alcoholic. They had two children together, but Misty continued her drinking habits. She admits that she was a functioning alcoholic but didn’t realize it at the time. She was able to keep up with her job while drinking only after work and on weekends. She said, “It became an issue when I started having a drink before work. It became a necessity; my body needed it to keep going.”

That daily alcohol abuse lasted 4-6 years, and did a great deal of damage in her life. But she wasn’t thinking clearly. Even when she lost her job, Misty did not worry. She said, “Drinking takes your cares away and becomes your life.”

She became homeless when the house she was living in was sold. She said, “I didn’t care as long as I had more alcohol.” She became a bartender and bounced from place to place for a place to sleep.

Finally, she began to feel miserable when she was drinking. She said that she became a “mean drunk” and that suicide became a tempting alternative. After a couple of failed suicide attempts, she said, “I knew I had to quit but didn’t know how.” Fortunately, a doctor told her about the withdrawal management program at Cedar House.

For six days, she detoxed from alcohol at Cedar House, followed by another 106 days in the residential program. During that time, she said, “I learned so much of myself and why we turn to alcohol. It wasn’t just three hots and a cot for me.” She learned that she had developed a mental disorder in connection with her alcohol abuse and worked with her counselors to heal. About the staff at Cedar House, Misty said she was most impressed with “their understanding of the disease; their knowledge; their experience; and their ability to pinpoint where I needed to start.”

She felt safe at Cedar House and worried about “what’s going to happen when I get home.” After graduating from the program, she made an effort to rearrange her room and her life when she went home. When she found herself starting to get complacent, she went to a meeting her friend was leading. From then on, she has gone to a meeting every day. She said, “You can only take it one day at a time. You have to truly work the program. I am definitely a changed person.”

Misty’s Case Manager Salena gave her a packet with information on feelings and emotions when she was at Cedar House that Misty continued to refer to for answers. She knew that the question: “what does Misty want?” was an important one that she needed to learn to answer by understanding her own feelings. She said, “Those questions are hard when you’ve been clouded.” She is proud to say that a year later, by taking it one day at a time, she is a changed woman who is thinking clearly.