Matt A. spend his childhood in Plano, Texas with his two parents, an older sister, and a dog. Overall, things were nice. Although life was pretty uneventful on Matt’s end of the culdesac, his mom struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. His parents fought a lot, but somehow, the dysfunction remained contained behind an image of picture-perfect suburbia. It wasn’t until Matt was about eight-years-old that the dysfunction and chaos finally broke free.
“We woke up one day and she was just gone,” he says. “She had left in the middle of the night or something. It was tough on everyone.”
While Matt’s dad struggled to grapple with the challenges of single parenting, Matt dealt with the loss by leaning on his older sister, who became a quasi-parent.
As a child and a young teen, Matt’s attitude about alcohol remained staunch and he swore to himself that he’d never end up like his mom. After all, he had seen how it had destroyed her life and he didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes. However, his dad remained distant, and without the guidance of a father figure, Matt was left to form his own ideas about life, love, and learning.
At the age of sixteen, Matt experienced the first real pangs of heartache from a girl. He was in pain and didn’t know how to deal with his emotions. He found himself thinking, “Mom had a fix for this.” and he drowned out his grief with alcohol.
“I got drunk and it felt great,” he says. “It took my mind off of everything and I didn’t even care about the girl anymore.”
What Matt didn’t realize at the time was that he was predisposed to alcoholism. Its reach stretched far back for decades on both sides of his family. Unfortunately, he had just discovered its power to erase problems and the habit of using alcohol as a quick fix would become a reoccurring one.
An Alcohol-Soaked Life of Misery
Matt’s spiral down into full-blown alcoholism was swift and powerful. Once he started, he just couldn’t stop. By the time he was an adult, Matt’s daily routine consisted of going to work, heading home to get drunk, and waking up to do the whole thing all over again. Matt spent years of his life this way.
“I would always tell my friends I was busy even though I wasn’t,” he says. “I would make up excuses because I just wanted to go home and drink alone. I got a job that let me work from home and sometimes I would go a whole week without leaving the apartment. I had no life—I was a recluse. I was lonely but I had such a low opinion of myself and didn’t think I was worth any company.”
As the days dragged on, Matt merely existed, feeling as if his only duty in life was just to bear each day. He was completely despondent living as a hermit, trapped by his addiction, but he had no courage or reason to make a change.
The Death Sentence
During the final year of Matt’s drinking career, he was in a very dark place. He slept about two to three hours at a time and would immediately vomit upon waking. The only thing he could do to quell the nausea was to drink more vodka.
Eventually, Matt went to the hospital where doctors told him that he had cirrhosis. They made it very clear that if he didn’t stop drinking, he would be dead in six months.
After detoxing in the hospital and suffering a severe psychotic episode, he returned home, where he managed to stay sober for a few days. Despite the serious health scare, the lingering desire for alcohol kept whispering in his ear and he was back to drinking within a week and a half.
“I’ve always had confidence in my intellect and I thought I could figure it out, but my episode in the hospital made me realize I couldn’t trust my own mind anymore,” he says.
Soon after, Matt lost his job, which drove him to drink even more. At this point, he was well aware that his body and mind were failing him, and if he kept it up, he would die miserable and alone. It was time to do something, so he checked himself into a detox center.
While he was in detox, the treatment staff convinced him to go to rehab at Nova Recovery Center. Although rehab was never his intention, Matt says it’s the best decision he ever (kind of) made.
Release From It All
Nova Recovery Center was Matt’s first and only experience in rehab. He arrived at the Wimberley rehab center as a cynical, pessimistic, depressed, recluse with no social skills. Hopeless and depleted, he had no idea what was in store for him.
Throughout his rehab program at Nova, he found himself changing in a very real way. He listened closely when other clients told him that life could be better, but that it would take work. Eventually, he learned to let go of his ego and expectations and let the process take hold.
“Nova is capable of working miracles if you get yourself out of the way and just let it,” Matt says. “I finally got to a place of complete surrender and realized that I was no longer capable of driving the bus of my own life, so I let Nova drive the bus for a while. I told myself I was going to shut up, take any and all suggestions that were given to me, be as open-minded as possible, and just try earnestly to have an experience there. And I think I did.”
Today, Matt has been sober for ten months. He lives at a Eudaimonia sober living home, attends support group meetings every week, has a job, and works with a sponsor. He takes his service work very seriously and does what he can to help others without expecting anything in return.
“I stumbled into recovery a broken man,” Matt says. “I was dying, and I wanted a solution to my alcoholism. What I found instead was release from anxiety, self-hatred, self-pity, resentment, cynicism, and despair. Those were the things that were really killing me. Today, I have a way to cope with them without turning to alcohol. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.”
If you’re ready to make a change in your own life, there is help available. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about your treatment options. We’re here to talk when you’re ready.