Ever since I can remember, I was a runner. When I was eight years old, difficult feelings would come up and I would pack my little Lion King backpack and go set up camp down the street. Eventually, I would come back after I had calmed down. This was the beginning of not knowing how to deal with what I know now as the ‘spiritual malady.’ That irritability, restlessness, discontentedness, fear and anger would appear long before I used substances. I would run from jobs, towns, relationships, feelings and most of all, rehabs. The problem was that wherever I went, there I was. I couldn’t get away from me.
Past attempts at treatment had been unsuccessful. I would stay removed from drugs and alcohol, but never dealt with the other ways I tried to change the way I felt. I could skate under the radar, say the right things, get out early and would relapse within days.
I desperately needed healthy ways to cope that did not involve a bottle and some dope. I thought Burning Tree would be the same as all my other attempts at sobriety. I arrived terrified to face life without my crutch. I thought that removing the substances would cure my deep desire to flee. What I saw was that my tendencies to run away in other ways still persisted. My feet were now planted, but I still had the heart of a runaway. What I ran away from was God. I tried to control, manage and seek comfort anyway I could in my first few years of sobriety. I did this in unhealthy ways – through men, cutting and my eating disorder. Those behaviors blocked me off from being the woman that I was attended to be.
This time was different. Burning Tree was a place I couldn’t hide. I was in treatment long enough where my true colors came out. I had never been in a place where I could see that all my issues were connected and all stemmed from the same place. I had a malady and that the only solution was a spiritual one.
Even in my recovery today, there have been periods of time where I have drifted away from God. Old behaviors started to return. I told myself so many lies to make it okay. I was falling back asleep. Slowly, I began to shorten my prayer and meditation one day at a time and then stopped meditating all together. I would cut down on meetings. I found comfort in work and men yet again. I was experiencing the pain of self. I am grateful that I had the tools and accountability that I had learned in long-term treatment to bring me back. My friends and sponsor let me know how I was showing up because I couldn’t see it. Now when these issues arise, I can lean in and stand still. I don’t have to run anymore.