It is often said in the rooms of 12 step meetings that we have no control over people, places and things. After all, wherever we go, there we are. With this in mind, a lot of us at Oregon Trail Recovery are at a bit of a conundrum. Easily more than half of our outstanding staff and clientele come from out of town and even most of our local Oregonians are not local to the Portland area. However, most of us had to get out of our respective hometowns if we were ever going to have any hope at all at recovery. How then can we make sure that we don’t rest on our geographical’s to insure that our program of recovery is strong?
I myself am originally from Southern California. I know for a fact that one of my main reasons for choosing to come to Oregon Trail Recovery back in January of 2015 was that it was not located in my hometown. I distinctly remember telling my parents that I felt like I exhausted every single outlet of moral support that I could hope to get from my dear friends and family down there. If I were to return, I would not trust myself to not throw a pity party that would end with a bottle reaching my lips yet again. I was only 40 days abstinent from alcohol when I left treatment, and I was afraid of relapsing again. Furthermore, I felt being in my hometown was not the safest option that I could pursue.
A lot of us have tried to get clean and sober in the meeting of our hometown and we are faced with the same dilemma. While I am still a firm believer of supporting the chronic relapser with a hardy “keep coming back,” at some point we have all been there and sadly enough, it keeps us out of the rooms. That’s what it certainly did for me, which is why I had to get out of dodge.
Plus, the godsend of this program (at least to me) was that it was located in a part of the country that I had entertained notions of moving to for close to 2 years at this time. Around 2013, I had this half-brained plan of saving up around $1,000.00, hopping a Greyhound to Portland and starting over, where no one knew about me or my shameful past. I am eternally grateful that I did not become a resident of The Rose City that way. If that were the case, I would most likely be sleeping under the Burnside Bridge right now, instead of typing this blog on the house computer at Johansen Ct, where I currently reside as a house manager.
The only reason that things turned out the way they did when it comes to MY geographical is that I harnessed everything within me to find a better way to live. I used a geographical to my advantage by making it a tool in my recovery toolkit. I saw it as a unique opportunity that most people who are in recovery don’t get to utilize. I used this opportunity to center myself as a person which allowed me to rebuild the wreckage of my life.
Another reason I truly lucked out coming here with a mindset of getting sober is that Portland has one of the strongest recovery communities I have ever seen. The members are not only caring and willing to extend a handshake to the newcomer, but they also know that they have to seek their sobriety with the same fervor they sought their drinking. The meetings that OTR brought me to were filled with such inspiring stories of triumph over my addiction that it was hard not to be inspired to just stay clean and sober one more day. I always had heard that it gets better, but these men and women of various 12 step meetings in Portland, OR showed me the proof.
To me, geographical’s are not a cop out. However, they are not the only thing that keeps us clean and sober. What they really are is another thing to be grateful for. They are opportunities that not everyone in recovery has. They do not encompass our whole recovery, but rather become an extra piece of our own intricate puzzle.
Oregon in general has become my new home. Since day one of being here, I have been surrounded by like-minded people for the first time in my life. I have found people who want the same thing that I do; to be happy, joyous and free. I have discovered a person within myself that I never knew had existed. A dedicated, useful and above all, caring person who simply tries to do a little better each day. I have become someone who I feel is worth loving and that is a gift all in itself.
Sometimes we can’t find that person where we come from. We have to find it where we end up. Portland, Oregon is where I ended up and for that I am eternally grateful.