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This is a true, personal story of mine. On January 22, 2015 I left my suburban booze-and-drug-filled house in Westchester, NY and (finally) went to rehab. This is the story leading up to how I made the decision to go.
I believe in one’s life there are a few defining, pivotal moments that play a crucial role in determining what road one may go down, eventually shaping them into their truest self. And depending on the choices we make, we may end up travelling along a dark, winding street to failure or a brightly-lit path to success.
In my life, the most notable of these critical moments took place January 22, 2015. It started like any other day that month. I had woken up and was ready to manipulate my father, as per the usual. I would tell him I needed to get cigarettes, or hair products, or something of that nature from Walgreen’s, which was conveniently and coincidentally located right next to the liquor store. I would walk in and my two bottles of Pinot Noir would be waiting for me.
But this day was different. I woke up to my dad getting back home from buying me breakfast and my mom pacing around frantically. A black SUV pulled up in our driveway and the next thing I know I’m sitting with both my parents in our living room and a 24-year old interventionist. He was telling me his story of recovery and what a magical and wonderful thing it was to live a life of sobriety. It all went in one ear and out the other, until he said something that made both ears perk up. “Well, your parents and I have talked about it, and you have a choice. You can either come with me [to rehab] or you can stay here, but you’ll be kicked out of the house and completely cut off financially”.
This I listened to. But of course, me being the egocentric and stubborn person that I was, I chose the latter. Fast forward twenty minutes and I have my duffle bag packed with my essentials (cigarettes, hair products, a little weed, and some clothes) and I was out the door. My house had a backdrop of hundreds of acres of dense woods and I made my way towards the towering trees. A little ways down, about half a mile from my house, there was an old abandoned hut that I used to go to with my friends when we were little to explore and concoct fantastic stories about what was locked inside of it.
And for those of you who don’t know (if this doesn’t sound stupid enough already) I lived in New York at the time. January in New York in the woods is not exactly pleasant. The overwhelming realization that I was now, in that moment, homeless, alone, emotionally broken, and financially broke, hit me like a freight train. I leaned against the old hut and started to cry as if I was never going to stop. I slid my back down the moss-covered door and kept crying until I felt as if all of the water in my body was now soaking the leaves that lay underneath me. I had ten dollars left to my name, about a hit of marijuana, and two cigarettes. It was at the moment I realized I was about to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.
I stood up and looked around. Straight ahead was a cliff standing about 200 feet high. For less than a second, I entertained the idea of just running off and ending my misery right then and there. To my left was a path that eventually would lead to a road, which would lead into town, which would bring me to my beloved liquor store. Where I would go after that, I had no idea, but I wasn’t really thinking it through at that point. And to my right, back up the steep hill, was my house, where the interventionist said he would wait for an hour in case I changed my mind. I stood there, not moving a muscle, for what felt like an eternity. And what happened next is the closest thing I’ve ever had in my (agnostic) life to a “God moment”. I closed my eyes, looked up, and said softly under my breath, “let me do the right thing.” In that moment, I made a promise to myself. I promised that whatever direction I chose, I wouldn’t change my mind. The second my feet turned left, or right, or went straight, that was where I would go. So I opened my eyes, picked up my duffle bag, and almost without any conscious thought at all, I turned right. It was almost as if I wasn’t controlling my feet. Like after turning, there was an unseeable force pulling me back to my house, my parents, the interventionist, and that ominous black SUV.
And from that day, I went to rehab and started changing my life for the better. I met some of the most incredible people, whom I formed bonds with, which I don’t think can ever be duplicated. And now a year and a half later, I still haven’t returned to my little house in New York suburbia. But I do still often think about how different my life would be if I had made the seemingly simple decision to turn left. Or how different everyone else’s lives would be if I had chosen to go straight. It was the kind of moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. And it’s the kind of moment that I can feel in my heart of hearts was the right decision.
So while you’re going through your days and nights and battles and celebrations; when you feel like you’ve lost all control. Remember, there is one thing you can always control in life and that is the choices you make. They won’t all be the best choices, but they will all shape and define you as a person. And in a way, that makes them all the right choice.