Cirque Lodge has developed a number of Alumni resources and programs to assist with recovery, provide support and to keep graduates of the program connected to the facility. Chris Rueckert is the Alumni Director.
Video: Cirque Lodge Alumni stories of Recovery - Scott M
Alumni of the Cirque Lodge alcohol and drug rehab center Scot M. shares his story of addiction and recovery.
Hello my name is Scott and I am a recovered alcoholic and drug addict. Let me preface why I say recovered. In the forward to the first edition, it states "We of alcoholics anonymous are more than 100 men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book." When I was told by my sponsor to read that, those two lines gave me Hope.
I would like to share with you what it was like when it happened and what it is like now.
I was the second child out of five. My father was an alcoholic, his father died of alcoholism when my dad was three. As I look back at it now, I was probably pre-destined to be an alcoholic as well. I can remember as a child of five or six driving with my father while he sipped and drank out of a brown paper bag. He always made a face after he took a sip. I would ask him what it was and he would say that it was icky water. My parent divorced when I was 7and it was pretty devastating and heart-breaking. I remember weekends when my father was supposed to pick us up and spend time with us; he would be 2-3 hours late or not show up at all. I always thought that it was something that I did to make him not want him to see me. When he did pick me up, he would always take me to a place called the Red Barn. He knew everyone there and everyone knew him. I don't remember my father ever eating at the Red Barn but he always drank, which I never questioned as being normal or not. To me this seemed normal.
Fast forward: My mother remarried, we moved from California to Arizona when I was nine, and I left my friends behind and had to learn to fit in. I was the new kid, I was overweight, and I had thick black glasses. I had a hard time making friends. I remember particularly when I was ten years old there was a kid at school who broke his leg and received all the attention from the girls. I wanted attention just like him, so I took a golf ball and smacked it repeatedly on my knee cap until it swelled to twice the size, which was not an easy feat. It took me quite a while to accomplish this. I too received a cast and I was given some attention from the girls. I never for once thought that this was abnormal behavior. I was a good kid and always did what I was told. I tried to do well in school but was not very successful at it. My sister who is 18months older and I became best friends as she was not popular as well.
I didn't drink or drug until I was 16 years old and I remember the day that I first smoked pot as it was yesterday. I was at my first cousin's house she was there with a few friends outside in the back and they were smoking marijuana. I knew nothing about marijuana except that I was not supposed to be involved with it. She asked me if I would like to try it and I said no, it is not my thing and her reply was how do you know? Well I didn't know so I tried it. And it was one of the most wonderful things that I had ever done. I instantly felt confident, laughed a lot, didn't have a care in the world and all I wanted was more.
My drug use continued from that day on and I went searching for a new group of friends who liked to do drugs. We moved back to California to begin my sophomore year. I found that group, an older group. My best friend was in a band with older guys and I hung out with them because they had drugs. I experimented with every kind of drug I could get my hands on through high school and it turned out to be an everyday thing. That became normal to me.
My everyday drug use started to change me. My friends and I would leave school for lunch and get high. This is where the lying and the hiding of my drug use came into play. About this time, I discovered alcohol and I liked the effect that it gave me as well as drugs. It changed my perception of reality and gave me confidence with girls and my peers.
My drug use and alcohol use was an everyday occurrence. I never met a drug I didn't like and all I wanted was more! I did graduate from High School early, so I told myself that I could handle my intake of drugs and Alcohol. I went on to JR College. I lost several relationships through my drug use when my girlfriends found out what I was really about. I didn't let the loss of them get me down. I wasn't what I seemed to be. It bothered me but it didn't stop me from my path of destruction and selfish ways.
First Marriage: I married a girl 6 years older than I with two children who was very much into the drug scene. I was 28 at the time. This lasted for 3.5 years as my drug and alcohol use meant more to me than my marriage. One Sunday morning my wife told me that she didn't love me anymore and that she wanted a divorce. I found out that she had been seeing a guy for the last six months. I didn't have a clue because I was so self-absorbed in my addiction. After I left I thought that maybe my drinking and drugging were getting in the way of my relationships. I quit on my own for 6 months by reading self-help books and promising that I would not drink and drug again. After 6 months I was back at it again.
Newly single I changed jobs from working on the ground to becoming a Flight Attendant. I was thirty years old and had heard many stories about the girls and the parties on the layovers. I didn't want to miss any of this. I met my second wife in 1985 on a layover in the bar "no surprise there.” By this time my drug use had diminished and was replaced by alcohol. My soon to be wife did not do drugs but she was a perfect enabler and co-dependent. We were married in 1986. My drinking increased, she became pregnant and we had a son in 1988.
In 1989 my wife came home from work from the graveyard shift to find me passed out naked on the floor next to my son's crib. She told me that if I did not get help, she would divorce me. So I entered my first treatment center. I was not ready but I did it to save my marriage and my sobriety lasted for about three months. I started up again and it continued. We relocated from southern California to Washington State thinking I could leave my past behind and start over. As we all know, changing locations doesn't work. I was flying out of the bay area, commuting from Portland. In 1994 we stopped flying from Portland to the bay area, so I transferred to Chicago.
I commuted from Portland OR to Chicago for work and there I met my soon to be third wife which started out as friends but which quickly turned into an affair. WE were both in bad marriages and my drinking was escalating again to hide my guilt of the affair. I ended up leaving my second wife and my son which really took a toll on me. I went back and forth from Chicago for six months trying to decide who I wanted to be with. My mind at this time was all messed up and the drinking kept me in this state of indecision. I never wanted to be like my father as far as abandoning my son. The guilt was tremendous.
My future wife asked me to get help for my alcoholism which I had told her about when we met. I entered my second rehab in April 1996. I worked a good program, had a sponsor and stayed sober for about 3 years. In that time, I divorced my second wife and we married in July 1997.
I kept the promise that I had made to myself as far as being a father to my son and for being in his life as much as I could living 1,600miles away. After three years of sobriety, I thought that I could drink like a normal person which as we all know, we can't. This lasted for about a year. In 2000 I quit on my own and went back to AA and stayed sober for 6 years. The first three years I worked a strong program and these were good years. Then I was a dry drunk for three years. On Feb. 9, 2006 I went on vacation with my wife and three other couples and decided that I could drink. This lasted for two and a half years, at which time; I went back to my third rehab.
I gave my 28 days and was really serious about it, thought that I knew everything but as it says in the big book, "self-knowledge will not keep you sober.” I started drinking right away and my wife was fed up so I went back into treatment after only being 5 days out of treatment. I did my28 days, did what was suggested to me and moved to a halfway house for three months. I stayed sober for a year and started up again. I decided to detox myself. I had already detoxed four times before, so I would talk valium. The problem was that I was taking the valium and xanex along with alcohol. This was the beginning of the end. I became what Bill W says in his story "an alcoholic of a hopeless variety.” My world was crashing down on me. Alcohol became my master and I its slave and it completely took over my life. On February 10th 2011 I checked into my fifth treatment center which was Cirque. I was completely defeated. I was spiritually bankrupt. I had finally hit MY bottom. When I got to Cirque I was told that I was close to developing "wet brain”. I could not put two words together because my brain was so fried. This really scared me, thinking I would never be right again. It took me 8 days to be able to talk in complete sentences.
Cirque was unlike any treatment center that I had been in before. After the fog lifted the first week, I felt at home. The program and the people there were just what I needed. I learned more about myself and my addiction at Cirque than in the previous four treatment centers. There was something different about Cirque. Not only did they help me find out what was behind all my relapses, they incorporated how to live as a sober person in society. They have an experiential program that helped me remember what it was like to do all the things I use to love to do. Like photography, hiking, cross-country skiing, art, problem solving with other peers as a team etc. I conquered my fear of horses at Cirque.
About three weeks into my stay at Cirque I had a spiritual awakening. I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I was taken down to the river by my counselor, who by the way was so influential and a major contributor to my recovery, to do my third step. It had just snowed and the trees were covered. I was asked to write a letter to my higher power which I choose to call God. This letter re-capped how I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood him. While reading this letter out loud, by myself, one snowflake fell from the tree and landed on that only open spot of skin on my body which was on the back of my neck.. A warm and peaceful feeling came over me at that instant and I knew that God was with me. That was the pivotal point on my new path to recovery. This would be the first of many spiritual awaking I would come to know. I believe that as long as I keep in constant contact with God on a daily basis and work a program I can stay sober one day at a time.
It has been a year since that day and the compulsion to drink has been lifted. I won't say that I have not thought about taking a drink, I have, but all I have to do is ask for help and remember what it was like, I have a daily reprieve contingent to the maintenance of my spiritual condition. I have had a rough year for my first year in Sobriety. My wife who stood beside me for sixteen years and four rehabs finally gave up on me. She left before the miracle happened. I don't blame her as it says in the Big Book "Our troubles we think are of our own making”. We have divorced. I still love this woman. I cannot blame her for not staying. All I can do is to be thankful to her for all the support she gave me while I went in and out of my addiction. I am proud to say that I have stayed sober despite of all the things that have happened to me. With God in my life, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the people in the program, I can live life on life's terms without the use of drugs and alcohol and for that I am grateful.
In closing I want to tell you what a wonderful additional program Cirque Lodge has. It's what's called the guesting program. You can come back to Cirque Lodge and stay for three days for free as long as you have not relapsed and are still sober. I have used the guest ting program every six months to rejuvenate my sobriety and to share my experience, strength, and hope to the residents who are going through what I went through. When I left Cirque I told Dave Beck to remember my face because when I retire in five years or less that I would return to work at Cirque and to be part of the Cirque Family. I owe my Life to Cirque. *****
Others would love to hear your recovery story. We encourage alumni who feel comfortable participating to reach out and share with their experiences of strength and hope with others. If you would like to share your recovery story or submit an article to the newsletter please submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org