I left Freedom House back in July after nine months and there was one hell of a difference I can tell you. I’d put on some weight for a start (rather too much if truth be told) and my hair was cut reasonably short. I no longer stank of sweat and urine which is always a plus in my book and I could even walk up a hill without collapsing, again a skill you don’t fully appreciate until you no longer have it.
What else? Well, I hadn’t been taken off to Calderdale Royal via ambulance which, in the year before had become like a second home to me (unfortunately not to the staff at the hospital who were sick of the sight of me). I found that I had friends, again something that I was not used to, and these friends had already supported me in every way it is possible to support a man and asked for nothing in return. I found that I was liked by people which came as a huge surprise to me, and the fundamental thing, the crux of the matter, I had not had a drink of alcohol or taken any drugs for nine months. Not only that but I was suddenly in the position of waking each morning not suffering intense withdrawals and , here’s the real jewel in the crown, not wanting a drink, astounding for a chronic alcoholic like me. Waking each morning and truly not wanting to drink, free of the obsession, still amazes me now.
I had been through some difficult stuff, facing the wreckage of my past, and not drunk and not wanting to get drunk. All the things that had been told to me have come true. Brad telling me that if I kept trying to do the right thing each day and not drink, then things would improve, and he was right, things have improved. In fact things are bloody brilliant.
I now live in a lovely little bungalow (with a garden front and back). I had nothing when I moved in but Michelle gave me furniture, washing machine, fridge, cooking utensils, everything that I could possibly need and I find that, as my sister has recently remarked after visiting, “it’s the nicest place you’ve ever had”.
It has become a running joke with my father who asks, “Where did you get that picture”? Answer, “Michelle gave it me”. “Where did those curtains come from? “ Michelle gave them to me”. “That a nice bookcase where did that come from”? Michelle gave it to me. My father thinks Michelle is literally an angel sent from heaven and the Basement Project is a place where miracles happen. And the thing is he is probably right. It is the ones who witnessed the decent into madness that can truly see the recovery.
For my Father and sister, who the year before had visited me in psychiatric hospital, in general hospital after a suicide attempt, who believed it was only a matter of time before I died in some sordid manner, for them seeing me now, well and happy , must seem like a miracle.
And now the house, as it is generally referred to, Freedom House, continues to do its work, helping three new lads recover from the madness of addiction and begin to forge a new life. The house is a special place and hopefully will always be a special place helping to heal broken souls like me.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 4
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