A New Life
I was your proverbial "tore up from the floor up" when I arrived at the Fordham House from Doctor's Medical Center, March 15th of 2002. Beware the "ides of March." I for sure wasn't ready to leave the comforts of the hospital for a "dark" room in a house with a bunch of strangers. The infamous "Detox Room."
I'd been on the streets of Modesto for around a year and a half. My "street address" was 1400 Yosemite. For those of you who are not familiar with the southeast side of this fair city, that's the Union Gospel Mission. Thirty days "in" and 15 out. For me "out" was Moose Park at night and Tower Park for lunch. Sometimes I'd stay a week at the El Capitan Motel down on Needham. There was a liquor store, hot deli food and hookers across the street.
Continuous drinking of vodka with no accessories (glass, ice or olives) had landed me in DMC. I became a member of the "Zipper Club" when Bruce Tobin, M.D. performed a quadruple by-pass.
After a couple of days my son-in-law, Mark Evans, came by and said, "I've found a place for you to go after you get out of here. It's a treatment facility, called New Hope. You live in this house they have. You do groups and go to meetings. Do you think you'd be interested in something like that?" "Yes," I responded, "sign me up for 60 days." And so it began.
After the "fog" lifted (about 30 days since I'd been on Vicodin for the hole in my chest), time moved swiftly. At the end of my "contract," staff said, "we think you should stay with us another 30 days."
My first inclination was to recite the short version of the Serenity Prayer, but from somewhere in the back reaches of what brain cells where working, a voice whispered "where the Hell do you think you're going?" Surely not to 1400 Yosemite!
"I guess I'll go ahead and stay," was my actual verbal response. That little phrase ended up on my graduation certificate because, in spite of one huge resentment, I stuck it out. I had also said somewhere along the 60-day path I'd go to any length to stay sober. I didn't have to "LIKE" it, but I'd do it. New Hope taught me that.
New Hope was true to its word. In 90 days I transitioned into Sober Living ... down to five groups and a family-group a week. I did what they suggested. I worked the steps got, and talked to, a sponsor and did 128 meetings in 90 days. "You can graduate," New Hope said. "Do I have to go to group any more?" I asked. "No, but Aftercare once a week is free, for a year."
I started going to Aftercare and in what seemed like no time at all I'd done 52 consecutive meetings. That was my significant event for that week!
New Hope taught me that significant events didn't have to be tragedies, like jail, death or divorce.
New Hope taught me that there's LIFE after alcohol. They said the promises would come true as well ... I just had to work a program.
So I took their suggestions. And wonderful things happened. My family started asking me to do things with them ... little ones, like CHRISTMAS and other holidays. My son got a PAIR of season tickets to Cal basketball. My grandson wanted Grandpa Art to watch him play soccer, basketball and baseball. My granddaughter wanted to give me hugs.
Not long after, New Hope said, "We're considering you to be manager of the men's house. Would you be interested?" No hesitation this time (what a difference some time makes) "Yes!"
That was little more than a year ago. Gee, what happened to "I'll do 60 days?" What happened to "I guess I'll go ahead and stay and that resentment?"
New Hope taught me how to deal with life as it is presented to me. Staff showed me that if I just brake for speed bumps, instead of stomping on the throttle, the ride wasn't that rough.
I have a better life today than I've had in a very long time, possibly the best it's ever been. Thank you New Hope!