It took me a long time to get to where I am today. I first entered the doors of AA in 1994. It took many tries, and multiple treatment centers before I was broke down enough to be teachable. I used to be very suicidal, and made several legitimate attempts. Thank God, He had other plans for me. I try to describe the way I felt right before I made the decision to go to Tallgrass Recovery. I have never felt so blank. I felt completely utterly hopeless and helpless. Like I was in a black hole, yet the thought of suicide wasn’t even an option. I had tried that and failed, so I was pretty sure that was not my destiny. And I was very afraid of eternal damnation for taking that route. But I also did not believe I could ever get and stay sober. I had tried AA and treatment so many times. I felt completely out of options…..suicide was not an option, nor was recovery. I was at the jumping off point, but unable to move to even step off the ledge. And then I heard about Tallgrass Recovery. A fellow in the healthcare industry (I was an IV morphine addicted nurse and no one knew) had gone to Tallgrass two years prior, and been sober since. So despite my extreme doubts, I agreed to at least go to the campus and check it out. You see, I knew what I was missing. I could not get the spiritual connection. And I was completely bereft because I had absolutely no idea HOW to get that. I knew I was not going to get it in a traditional medical treatment module. I had tried that…..3 times inpatient and 1 time outpatient. But I was willing. And as soon as I got out of my car on campus, I could FEEL in my gut that something was different. A big golden retriever came bounding up to me and nuzzled my hand. The atmosphere was surreal. I knew that was where I needed to be. I immediately went back home and made the arrangements to become guest number 362 two days later.
That was almost three years ago. The journey has not been easy. It took time for me to let go of my crutches. You see, I was also bulimic and had been a daily binge/purger for 22 years. But I am extremely proud and extremely blessed to say….I have not purged since my stay at Tallgrass. The last time I purged was the day before I did my 5th step. I just couldn’t mistreat my body any more after taking that 5th Step. Eating disorders are not as black and white as drinking or using. But I have found a program of abstinence that works for me. My addictions made me a complete liar…..a living falsehood….and filled me with enormous guilt and shame. I stuffed that guilt and shame down with food, numbed it with drugs and alcohol, purged it into the toilet and then flushed it away. Only to repeat the cycle again and again because the dishonesty continued. Tallgrass helped me get honest with myself. And I know today, that as long as I am honest, I never have to binge/purge, drink or drug again. And the 12 steps give me the tools to maintain that honesty. You see even if I falter, I can immediately make amends, learn from my mistakes and move on. The simplicity that eluded me for so long, is clear to me today. Just for today. I do not know what tomorrow holds. It saddens me that people continue to die of addiction every day. It is so simple. Yet it is not easy. However, it is not for me to question God’s plan. I can only share my experience strength and hope. What it was like…..I was hopeless and suicidal; what happened……I became so hopeless and helpless that I was finally teachable and able to pick up the tools gifted to me; what it’s like now…..I maintain my tools and share them with others. And today, life is extraordinarily beautiful. Tonight when I lay down my head, I will again thank God for this sober/abstinent day. And I will pray for the alcoholic/addict who still suffers…..that they become hopeless, helpless and therefore teachable before they become dead.
Carrie N. Tallgrass alumnus #362