I never thought that I would find myself in a luxury alcohol rehab. I’ve been to war. I’ve seen combat. I’ve had friends die at my feet. In my arms. If I could survive all of that, why couldn’t I just put the bottle down? Such a simple question, it seems that there should be an easy answer. But there isn’t. Every time I would think about it, I would feel defeated. Some days I still feel pretty defeated. I can hear a chorus of the critics in my head when I mentally weigh it all out; they’re taunting me with that, “no one who wins from war.”
Luxury. Alcohol. Rehab. Crazy! Just, crazy! I have lived in the desert. Never did I think I would belong in a luxury alcohol rehab! My mind does flip-flops over it, still to this day, trying to process it all. I think it would be best if I could just let go of that label. I can’t ever let go of that ‘addict’ label. And, I simply don’t want to get rid of the ‘soldier’ label. I worked three tours in Iraq; I earned that label! I’ll wear it proud, every single day of my life. Hopefully, I will be able to wear it soberly for the rest of my days. If I don’t keep conscious about my ‘addict’ label, I know that I will quickly fall off the wagon and lose my hard-earned sobriety, all 187 days of it.
For all my anticipated emotional disconnect from luxury alcohol rehab, I did quite well. While I was not treating with any other soldiers, I was able to relate to those civilians in a special way. We bonded over our addiction struggles, regardless of the history of why or when our respective negative behaviors began. And when I was retreating inward, during the first few days of treatment, not connecting to anyone in my group therapy sessions, it did not surprise me. I was used to this disconnect. When you’re a soldier, a lot of times it is only possible to connect deeply with other soldiers. Civilians will never quite understand where you’re coming from; but, that’s alright. I will keep working for them anyway, if I can. I don’t know that I will ever see combat again. Maybe that’s a good thing. Even though I did feel at home on the front lines, I know that I need to work on me right now. For now, I can let the other soldiers work on the war and I will work on my own war, stateside (and inside).
Some days are more difficult than others but we are trained not to quit. Not every day in luxury alcohol rehab was pleasant (it sure as hell was comfortable, though)! The life of a recovering addict is not always going to be pleasant. That is part of the consequences of my behavior. But I know that I can work to make it ever more increasingly pleasant as my days march on.
My transition to civilian life was more challenging that I had ever anticipated. Having spent only eight months in the states, total, during my last three deployments, I was surprised how much less it felt like I was coming “home.” I came “home” to sleepless nights. I came “home” to a fear of crowded places. I came “home” to mental and emotional isolation. I was fighting my own urban warfare, millions of miles away from Iraq. I drank myself into oblivion nearly every night and day for three years after my return to the states. My life had spiraled out of control. I eventually sought help from the VA but they would not have been able to place me into a program for nearly a month, due to overcrowding. I could not wait that long. I could not get into a facility fast enough. That’s when I was fortunate enough to have my family arrange for me to be admitted to my luxury alcohol rehab.
My family did not stand in the line of fire for me. My family did not take any bullets for me. My family did not endure capture and torture from the enemy. But my family saved my life when they sent me to my luxury alcohol rehab.