My name is Matt H., and I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict. My sobriety date is May 15th, 2015. I am a member of multiple homegroups, I come from a strong lineage of sponsors, and I have had the honor of sponsoring several men and taking them through the 12 steps. Gosnold is a big part of that story for me, and I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to go through the facility. To be honest with you, when it was offered to me as an option, it was not something that I was looking for.
My story starts with a week in the lockup at the Uinta County Sheriff’s Office in Evanston, Wyoming. If you know where that is, hats off to you. But it is literally the middle of nowhere. I found myself there amid an attempt to drive cross country in an unregistered, uninsured car with a suspended license and not enough gas money to get me where I was trying to go, which was Kansas City where I had a job. When the police officers who pulled me over did so and arrested me on the spot for some of the reasons I just noted, they also found a significant quantity of a of controlled substance in my car. I didn’t know at the time, but they were saving my life.
I come from a good family. I was born and raised in Boston, I was given a lot of great opportunities, and did some things. I went to school, had friends, and played sports, but like a lot of other addicts and alcoholics, I had the “ism” from a very early age – that condition that I now identify as self-centered fear. That thing that shows itself as an insecurity complex, egomania, and a corrosive thread that was just woven through my experience. From an early age I was acting out, a compulsive liar and doing anything to get attention. I was somebody whose teachers would always say to their parents “if only he applied himself, so much potential, he goes to great lengths to try to get out of the work, maybe even expending more energy than it would take to do the work itself.” I was one of those. And those coping mechanisms, along with drinking and drugs, got me through40 years of life. I had some jackpots along the way but somehow wiggled out of them. I got married, had kids, built a career – I had this life that on the outside looked pretty good.
And so there I was in July of 2013, living in California, and while the wheels hadn’t completely come off, the account was quickly zeroing out across the board: emotionally, physically, financially – it was all crumbling around me. I had been using every day for 23 plus years. I very rarely got a day without a drink or a drug, and those days that I did were not happy days. I had a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms trying to deal with what was going on inside my head.
So now I found myself in a jail cell in Wyoming, someplace I had never intended to be, and I’m lost and confused and desperate to get out of trouble. After I slept for a couple of days and ate some meals for the first time in a while, I was given the chance to take some calls with lawyers and family and got to speak with my older brother. He told me “We have something that we think you should do. There is this rehab facility, a 30-Day rehab, and we want you to go there. And if you’re willing to go there, we’ll come and get you out of jail.” I thought this offer was just unbelievable. Even though I was under arrest for all these insane reasons, I couldn’t believe they wanted ME to go to rehab. I chewed on that for a day or so and then realized that if I didn’t accept, I was going to spend much more time in a jail cell; so, after some more calls and insane protest and rationalization, off I went.
After a long flight to Boston and a trip down the Cape, I found myself in Gosnold. What a revelation it was. I always suspected that I was an alcoholic and I 100% knew I was a drug addict. On some level, these are badges of courage for us when we’re younger, but this was a lot different. I will never forget sitting in that first group, and everyone going around the room to introduce themselves. I finally said those words: “My name is Matt, and I’m an addict.” There was a weight to that, a resonance to it that I hadn’t really thought about before. People started talking about their experience and I began to identify with others as they described the nature of their disease. It was really no question from the first moment that I belonged there, because I had the same disease. They got it. Their lives were as messed up as mine and in the same ways, which is crazy, right? I’ve been a member of12 step recovery ever since.
One thing that I always share about my time at Gosnold -in addition to the people who were there who I had the opportunity to connect with, and the staff was wonderful and helped me out a lot -is that I am so grateful for the nightly commitments. At first, I remember sitting there and thinking “these people have no idea about me – you don’t know my life.” But what I did see immediately was how happy they were, how calm they were, and that they were laughing. They were just so healthy and happy and talking about 12 step recovery. Along with the commitments, we would go into small break-out groups and read from AA and NA literature, which I also connected with right away. We would reflect on what we just read and heard in the Commitments and groups, and it really resonated with me.
The clinical staff also saved my life by educating me on the nature of the disease, essentially telling me the harsh truth that if I didn’t figure this out some way or the other, that I was in trouble; but they also encouraged me that I could overcome this and regain some control over my future if I did what was recommended. This was the proverbial last house on the left for me.
But it wasn’t easy. My ex showed up and filed for divorce; I subsequently lost custody of my kids. For good reason my family didn’t want me showing up at their houses, so I really didn’t have anywhere to go. But for those 30 days I was so grateful to just to be in a safe place, connecting with other people who were there trying to do the right thing. I’m so grateful that I was sent to some place that had a focus on 12 step recovery. There are a lot of other facilities out there that have different ideas about how to gain and maintain sobriety, but I found my solution in the 12 step fellowships. I’m an active member of AA today, I did a lot of work in NA, and that’s the life that I live.
I wish I could tell you that day in 2013 was my sobriety date, but I didn’t get it right away. I left Gosnold and moved into a sober house in Boston, which was also a great experience, but I didn’t stay sober after that. For the next two years I would go to meetings and put together 30, 60, and 90 days, but I just didn’t have a solution yet, so I’d pick up. Eventually in 2015, I had a truly terrifying relapse and had that moment of desperation where I had finally had enough – and thanks to the skills and foundation I built at Gosnold and in the halls, I really leaned in and started doing the work. I began working a true program of recovery, and undoubtedly, I owe a lot of that ability to Gosnold and what I had first been exposed to in my 30-day treatment.
So here we are 7-plus years later and I see my kids a lot now, I have shared legal custody, and they’re growing up fast. I have an incredible partner who I met in the in the rooms, my career is going well, and I’m surrounded by the gifts of recovery, most notably my friends in the program. It has been a good run for me since I eventually got clean and sober. Not every day is perfect, there are still challenges, but I use the tools at my disposal and take it a day at a time.
I can tell you that I never thought on my way to Gosnold that my life would end up like this. I am truly grateful for the opportunity that was given to me, and that somehow, I was able to take that leap of faith and stay the full course of treatment. To anyone reading this, I wish the same for you and your families.