Finding The Right Kind Of Help
Finding The Right Kind Of Help
Today, a plumber came and fixed my bathtub drain. This may seem like small potatoes to you, but for me, it is amazing! You see, my bathtub has not properly drained for seven years. Every time I would take a shower, the water would back up, and take up to four hours to fully drain after. It was my fault however, because I never asked for help. Asking for help, to me, is like jumping out of an airplane when you’re afraid of heights.
Growing up, I never heard the words, “Don’t ask for help, because it will make you weak”. It was more of an implied thing really. After my parents divorced, I essentially took over as the mother of the house, the responsible one. I knew intuitively that I needed to be the “responsible, perfect” one, otherwise our household would fall to pieces.
I recently learned that this mindset comes from my mom leaving, her addiction, and her not being a strong presence in my life when she was around. Characteristics of being an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic, and a motherless daughter.
The first time I broke the cycle of not asking for help was four years ago. I was deep in my addiction, and alcohol was at the center. I knew I needed outside help, but pride stood in my way. I had prided myself for so long on being capable of handling anything life threw at me, and it was unthinkable that I would need help to stop drinking.
I had asked my pastor for help prior to this, but I never took action. Apparently, I needed to suffer a bit longer before I could reach out for help.
On November 13th, 2013, I finally broke free from my pride, and reached out for help. That day, I called the treatment center, and set up an appointment for my alcohol evaluation. Of course, I needed a little help from my dear friend alcohol to do it, but I did it. I don’t know which day was scarier for me, the day I made that call, or the day of my evaluation. Both were rather scary.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The gift of desperation”? Why is desperation a gift? Why is feeling so low, that you can’t stand living the way you are living anymore, a gift?
In my experience, desperation is a gift because it causes me to make a change. It wakes me up to the fact that, if I don’t make a change, nothing will change, and I’ll continue to be miserable. Nothing changes if nothing changes, right?
I hate the fact that I must reach the point of desperation to make a change, to reach out for help. Even to this day, I still wait until I’m completely miserable and desperate to reach out for help. It is a defect that I am aware of, and I’m consciously working on, but it is still there. For example, my tub drain. I rent my apartment, so when something needs fixed, I have to send an email to my landlord to bring the problem to their attention. To me, I’d rather skydive.
Another thing I have learned over time is, you can ask for help, but it must be the right kind of help. What I mean by that is, you can ask someone for help, but they may not have the right tools to help you at that moment.
For example, my bathtub drain. I thought it was me that was causing my tub to back up, because I have long hair. I had a plumber come and unclog my drain about six months after I first moved in, but it was a temporary fix. It lasted for a week or two, and then the water started backing up again. I thought, “I don’t want a plumber coming every other week to fix my drain, so I won’t say anything”. Little did I know, there was a greater, underlying problem there. The plumber that came that day, six years ago, wasn’t the right person for the job. He was able to fix the surface problem, but not the underlying problem. Turns out, the pipes were old, and pieced together in a weird way, so the pipe snake wasn’t able to clear the blockage correctly.
The same goes for recovery. There are many different treatment centers, and each program is different. There are different counselors, with different experiences in helping people, who ask different questions. Or, sponsors in 12-step programs. One sponsor may take a person through the steps one way, while another sponsor will take a person through them a completely different way. It’s all about finding the right person for the job.
Asking for help, in any situation, is never easy. It takes a great deal of courage to reach out and ask for help. It may also take trial and error to find the right treatment center, or person to work with.
For example, say you went to treatment, and as soon as you got out, you relapsed. Was it the treatment facility, or you? Maybe it was the treatment center. Maybe it was you. Or, maybe there was an underlying problem you weren’t aware of. Maybe you have trauma in your past that you’re not aware of. Maybe you have a mental illness that didn’t present itself when you first started treatment. There are many factors that can play a role there.
My point is, if you reach out for help, and it doesn’t work, don’t give up. I know it’s easy to get defeated when you reach out for help, and it doesn’t work. I got defeated the first time my tub drain wasn’t fixed completely, and I gave up. Don’t be like me.
If you go to treatment, and it doesn’t work, try a different facility if you’re able to. If you’re not making progress with your current sponsor, try someone new. If you’ve just realized you’ve got underlying problems, like a mental illness or trauma, start seeing a therapist. Just don’t give up. Recovery can work for everyone. I strongly believe that. It may take a few tries, a few relapses, a bit of defeat, but eventually you can find recovery and lasting sobriety. I believe in you.
Here’s to never giving up.