“Looking in the Mirror”
It is interesting the ways things turn out, I suppose. My desire to become a counselor was originally stirred in a 9th grade Psychology class. I thought at the time of how wonderful it would be to help others through their problems. Years later, it would be ironic that the one who needed the most help would be me.
At the age of 13, I took my first drink. It felt amazing to me, but, of course, I overdid it. The next morning, upon awakening, my head was splitting and I spent the majority of the day in the bathroom sick to my stomach. You would think that with such negative consequences, I would have sworn it all off then and there. But, instead, I thought to myself that I just needed to do it differently. Do it better. Such was the beginning of a self destructive journey with drugs and alcohol.
And so it was for me for the next 20 years. Through good times and bad, fun times and struggles, celebrations and sorrows, alcohol and then later drugs, were always there helping me thru all my life experiences. Whenever people ask how I could have not noticed the destruction that I wreaked in my life and others. To be honest, I didn’t notice at all. I was numb. I was a single mom who worked in a bar, tasking care of life and I felt I was doing a great job. Most of my friends consisted of those that used drugs and drank just like I did. To me life looked normal. Everyone did what I did.
As my partying progressed and the effects were becoming overwhelming for everyone, my son announced that he wanted to leave our home, in hopes of living with his natural father. I knew in my heart why he wanted to go… that he didn’t want to live here watching me any longer. My drinking had taken its final toll on him and he was old enough to say , I want out! I knew exactly what was happening, but didn’t want to face it. This was one of many whispers that said I had a problem. It seemed everywhere I went, there was chaos. Chaotic relationships, chaotic social life. And now my son wanted out of the chaos. You would think this would’ve been enough for me to change, but it wasn’t. I continued on and my drinking became worse than it had ever been. It progressed into all day every day. Early morning and all day drinking and drugging.
Throughout the years, many people tried to intervene, to counsel, to help me look at my addiction; to no avail. In 1989, one year into my third marriage, my new husband had seen enough of my drinking. He told me that he was through, and that if I didn’t get help, he was going to my family. I knew from what he said that I stood to lose my family, my children, and now my husband. Never before had I stood to lose so much in such a short period of time. I will never forget that morning/. The pain and confusion were over whelming as I looked at my reflection staring back, everything seemed so clear…a moment of clarity. I saw who I had become and how I ended up here. Life as I knew it, was about to disappear. But then again, it didn’t seem like that much of a life anymore. The reality was I had already lost myself a long time ago.
The emotional pain of that moment was why I agreed to enter into a recovery program. Everything came together at that moment, I actually saw my life as it truly was and I felt the pain! I felt the negative consequences that I had been putting on others for the first time in my life. For my entire life I had been numbing my feelings, I hade been using drugs and alcohol to escape from dealing with life. I always told myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone. In reality, I was hurting everyone, including me.
Today I celebrate every day of recovery…it has been over 20 years. My family has been restored. Although sobriety has not always been easy, it has been rewarding. Early in recovery, I returned to school and fulfilled the dream of the young girl that I was who sat in that psychology class and dreamed of a career helping others. I got my degree in Psychology and Addictions and have worked in the field for over 15 years.
Through my career I’ve been blessed to work in various roles from Director of Domestic Violence Shelter and Women’s Halfway House and working in private practice for over ten years. Additionally, I have counseled others in the legal and prison systems and halfway house settings. Many individuals have come into my life as broken as I was many years ago and I have had the honor of seeing them begin the healing journey of their lives.
Working in so many facets of the substance abuse field has been rewarding, but I felt at the time that it only allowed me to see a small part of the whole equation. My sobriety and my recovery didn’t really begin until my whole family began to heal. Being an interventionist has given me the opportunity to work with the family’s Knowing that addiction doesn’t affect just the addict or alcoholic but the whole family meant to me , it was important in my career to help the whole system in the way I knew best ~ look at, educate and assist in shifting the whole family system. Today, there is no better reward for me than to see how a family begins to heal or to get letters, pictures or calls from the family, friends of the family or even the person in treatment, sharing their gratitude and stories of their healing process. This always lets me know that I am in the right place and doing the right things in my career. I am confident I am doing exactly what I was meant to do in this life and I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love. I believe there are NO coincidences in our lives and when I remember the young girl who wanted to help others in a psychology classes, the husband that intervened on my dangerous journey to looking at life now. I know it is my personal experiences, good and bad, that have allowed me to help so many families. Families that find themselves exactly where my husband once found himself so many years ago…with nowhere else to go but to an intervention.
Patricia Peters, BA, LAC, CADAC II, CIP, BRI-I
Clinical Director, Interventionist, Counselor