James R shares his journey to recovery
We are always so grateful when we have the opportunity to share in the recovery process with our clients and graduates. Many times we have the opportunity to hear in their own words the influence that recovery has had in their lives, and the transformational results therein. James was able to share with us his journey to recovery and we joyful that we get to share it with you.
1. How did you first get connected to Jericho Road?
Back in 2015, I was in the midst of yet another relapse, which landed me back in the hospital. You see, I am a current NCR client (Not Criminally Responsible), and at that time, I was eager to share my experiences with the public as quickly as possible. I didn't want to be seen solely as a mental patient; I had bigger plans. I began searching online for local treatment centers. By that point, I had already been through seven treatment centers. Despite being around recovery for over 15 years, I was still struggling. After the initial intake, I was granted a supervised interview to determine if I was prepared for treatment. I believed I was ready, but Kevin Williams had different ideas.
Following a brief conversation with my doctor and Kevin at the ROH (Royal Ottawa Hospital), the question that mattered was, "Are you dating anyone?" I admitted that I was seeing someone and that we had been together for a few months. Kevin then asked, "Does she use drugs?" I responded with a lie, as I didn't want to jeopardize my chances. In truth, she was indeed in active addiction. Kevin, without any hint of surprise, stated, "No, if you're involved with someone, you must choose between the relationship and the program. Otherwise, your entry into the program will be denied." Being a stubborn mental patient, I responded, "Fine by me; a 33-year-old's attractiveness is more important at that moment."
I didn't dwell on it much after that. Seven years passed, during which I faced setbacks, relapses, failures, and hospitalizations. Desperation grew, but this time, luck was on my side. On July 26, 2023, I finally entered the program.
2. What challenges did you face before coming to Jericho Road?
I was entangled in the mental health system, dealing with legal issues due to being NCR, and struggling to maintain sobriety for more than two years. Tragedies like my father's suicide at 55 and the death of my partner from a brain aneurysm after a four-year relationship took a toll. Dishonesty, theft, and arguments were part of my life. Despite all this, I maintained a positive outlook, rooted in my growing faith in Christ.
3. What are some of the biggest things you've learned about yourself since connecting with Jericho Road?
Having grown up with a great father who instilled work ethics, perseverance, and a trade in me before the age of 10, I had a strong foundation of hope. This background fostered a positive "get-to-it" attitude as I went through the program. The top three lessons I learned at the Discipleship House are as follows:
Recognizing Warning Signs: My top warning signs include ignoring concern, impulsive and compulsive behavior, missing meetings, and commitments, and neglecting self-care. I've committed these signs to memory and informed my support network to confront me if they notice any of these behaviors, ensuring I receive the necessary help for my recovery.
Managing Anger: As a strong, stoic male, my desire to be right all the time translated into needless anger. I realized I didn't have to be right all the time; do I want to maintain healthy relationships, or just be right?
Embracing Discipline: The Jericho program taught me a structured morning routine involving prayer, devotionals, and journaling. This routine, combined with steps 10, 11, and 12, cultivates daily accountability, self-assessment, and conversations about recovery. Engaging in recovery-related activities daily, like attending meetings or connecting with a sponsor, aids in maintaining sobriety.
4. What hopes do you have for the future?
My foremost hope is to remain sober. I understand that without sobriety, a meaningful future is unattainable. Additionally, through prayer and meditation during the program, I've devised a five-year plan. This plan includes becoming a sponsor, delivering keynote recovery speeches, establishing a hobby farm focused on therapy horses to continue my father's legacy, converting a property house into a bed and breakfast, and contributing to mental health outreach programs. My aspiration is that, with dedication, these goals will come to fruition.
5. What challenges are you currently facing?
Life is currently positive. I've been in a healthy, sober relationship for five years, sharing an apartment downtown with our black cat, Kingsley. Despite the positives, one issue persists: procrastination. This challenge stems from feelings of laziness, lack of motivation, and disinterest in new projects. While I rely on prayer, meditation, and mental health management strategies due to my bipolar disorder type 1, I've learned to embrace periods of heightened mental energy and adapt my routines to accommodate them.
6. Is there anything else you believe our supporters and newcomers should know?
I've grappled with happiness throughout my life due to the void left by addiction. Continuous effort in working the program, maintaining sobriety, and pursuing goals is tough. However, the beauty of life lies in its daily renewal. With God's help, each day offers a chance to improve a little more than the day before.
To our supporters, exercise patience. This program is effective for those who truly desire change. Love is essential. Despite the pain, trauma, and self-inflicted suffering these men have endured, understanding that the recovery process involves the 12 steps, sponsorship, reaching out for help, and prayer is crucial. For over two decades, I struggled with Step 1's concept of powerlessness and unmanageability, realizing that it extended beyond my actions to my thoughts. Complete honesty and openness help put this disease into remission.
To newcomers, keep returning.
If you persist, you'll grasp the program's essence. The issue resides within oneself. My self-seeking thoughts and my actions the problem. Remember that it's a matter of life or death. The transformation from habit to routine to a sober life takes time, and everyone's journey is unique. Don't compare yourself to others, and with God's grace, success will come. I believe in you, and I look forward to meeting you at a meeting someday.
Graduate and House Supervisor