One of the most rewarding parts of operating a recovery program is when I get emails like the one below: (Anything that would reveal the writer's identity has been left out to protect his anonymity.)
"Hey John, how are you?
On May 17, 1993, I came to TLC helpless, homeless and hopeless. You and Rocky gave me a place to stay, food and a chance to make something of my life. Fast forward 27 years and I'm happily married, have kids in college, am an executive at a well-known global corporation and in May of this year I am graduating cum laude with my doctorate in business. Thank you for giving me a shot.
John, I learned something very important at TLC. I still use it today.
Hitting a bottom that required me to show up homeless, full of ego, at one of your Mesa facilities with two plastic bags of dirty, urine-socked clothes, was not a death sentence. It was a second chance to start life over. Only this time I could write the script. My biggest question at the time was what I wanted to be when I grew up (and got sober).
I remember sitting out by that pool area and Janis Joplin came on the radio and sang a line I'd heard a hundred times before: It was “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
With all my legal, IRS, financial and family issues still pending, that was my moment of clarity. I could do anything and go anywhere as long as I didn't drink. However, I also had to “build my brand”. I had to better myself in other ways to ensure I saw progress in other areas of my life along with my sobriety.
Rocky used to tell me “You've got a thinking disease - you better find something to do with those f-d up thoughts of yours or your're going to drink again”. Well he was right. It was not good enough just to tell the world I don’t drink anymore, I had to become more valuable as a person, son, brother, employee and member of society.
I chose the sobriety+school route. I started my masters right there at Pepper street, riding my bike and bus to UOP every weekend. For others it may be a different track. But the biggest take-away I learned was that starting over is a privilege not a consequence.