A Former Client Shares His Story, 'Finding Common Ground Within Oneself'

The following is a story from a former client who wishes to be referenced as "Porter," discussing his recovery journey and experience at Common Ground.

"My name is Porter and I successfully completed the men's 110-hour outpatient group program at Common Ground. Over the span of 23 years, I have used and abused numerous different substances, however alcohol was the main fuel to my fire.

Unfortunately, during some recent career changes - going from running my own successful business for 15 years to working in corporate retail sales - I lost my work/life balance and my communication between family, friends & work resorted to bottling up my feelings and drowning those worries with alcohol which in turn led to legal troubles.

I recall my first meeting - plenty of solemn faces, yet the common courtesy of a complete stranger, a fellow member, showing me where the sign-in sheet was and what I needed to do with it. I appreciated that assertiveness. It was definitely something I was lacking at that time in my life. I was flowing through my days, waiting to get off work just to drink and forget about it. I kept it to myself, as I felt I was showing weakness if I spoke about it. That imbalance in my life eventually affected my personal life as I chose alcohol over my own family at times due to the fact that the balance of my own communication lacked the most important thing - me.

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Being able to speak ones' true feelings - in the right or the wrong - is a powerful display of communication. Being able to openly get the concerns off my chest through the group discussions was an invaluable asset to my recovery. Instead of “drowning my sorrows in alcohol” in which I did to an extreme, I was able to discuss my frustrations with a group of peers - of whom could usually relate with me in some shape or form, at some point in time during group. I found that balance of a clear, sober mind along with being physically fit and with the help & direction of my counselors - life was a good thing - to live.

Since my completing my treatment at Common Ground, I’ve maintained full-time employment at one of the largest companies in the world as well as laying the groundwork of creating a family-owned food service business. 

Just as my first day was memorable, I felt the need to leave with my fellow group members that things will be ok if we allowed them to be. My Gramma left me the words of “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann when she passed. She knew my struggles 23 years ago. I felt the need to share these words with these men as it was my way of saying goodbye yet hopefully leaving a positive impression. It came full circle months later when one fellow group member came into my place of work. He looked well & healthy. He waited until I was done working with a customer to say hello and show me his new tattoo. He had “Desiderata” scrolled permanently across his forearm. 

That, in itself, makes me feel more balanced in this very unbalanced world. Thankfully, my treatment at Common Ground allowed me to realize I always had everything I always wanted. I needed to find my own life balance and rather than lock up & keep it to myself - reaching out & opening up to others may just be what one needed - a helping hand, an open ear - finding a common ground with oneself.

This story was submitted voluntarily for National Recovery Month.