I always had to have a substance for getting high or drunk. This led me to selling drugs. I started to become unreliable and untrustworthy to everyone in my life. Not knowing or caring what abusing drugs and alcohol truly does to the lives around me, my life became a loss of hope, total despair, a hatred of self, always looking toward the next feeling of bliss, the ability to become completely numb. The thought came to me quite often that I needed to change. Who really likes change? Change tends to be uncomfortable. When people in my life started to become worried and employers were concerned, I realized that my life was unmanageable. The change is not easy however; the outcome is well worth the ups and downs from my unfamiliar feelings. Learning how to handle life on life’s terms is a life-long process.
Role exit became familiar to my life in many ways; it is the process of disengagement from a role, for instance, a role that is central to one’s self identity in order to establish a new role and identity. There are four stages to the role exiting process (Ebaugh, 1988). The experience of role exit in my life is a reminder of what my life was like, what happened, and what it is like today.
The first stage of “Role Exit” is experiencing a feeling of doubt, unhappiness, and loss of hope. I rearranged my priorities; I stopped attending college, got into trouble with jobs and was not faithful in relationships. The next stage of role exit is searching for alternatives to get out of the feeling of unhappiness. I moved to different cities, attended three different high schools; my mom sent me to rehab in the tenth grade, and six years later I finally stopped digging. I needed help. The next part of the process the action stage: making a plan to start packing for a rehabilitation center. When I arrived at the facility, I experienced hope that I had not felt in years. The fourth stage of role exit is creation, or the creation of a new identity. I moved to a new city, left behind material and non-material possessions, and lived in a sober living facility for fourteen months. I continue to learn about who I am sober, one day at a time.
I firmly believe that we are who we choose to hang out with. When I went to high school, I was involved with many different athletic teams. I never thought I socially fit in with the jock group. But we did all have one thing in common – being a part of the sports team. Then, outside of the sports I felt socially lost. My status in high school was a jock that hung out with the druggies. I enjoyed taking risks and having a fun time, so I chose to find people that took risks and were rebels. I stopped finding time to hang out with the jocks. My social interaction began to consist of skipping school and getting “messed up.” In the end, the group members all went their separate ways; some went to jail, others dropped out of high school, and we all mainly just lost touch. Our primary group had a common norm it consisted of getting high or drunk.
One problem that is involved with of role exiting is when a person gets involved with old behaviors, and in my experience, turns to drugs and alcohol for a “quick fix”. I have not seen or talked to the old group I belonged to since I left for the rehabilitation facility. If I were to get together with that group now, they might think I am still in that crazy role I used to be in. I could easily fall back into that role because I knew it so well. I have changed today because I am involved with a different group, but I always will remember. I feel that as long I remember who I was like, God willing, it will help me to not fall back into that old way of living.
Recovery found me when I needed it the most. The active social interaction of the recovery fellowship helps me to know that I am not alone and it is helpful to share experience with others who have the same theme in common. We can relate to one another. Finding a group to share similar values, beliefs, and norms to belong to on a regular basis, for me, is the recovery community. I need to keep establishing a fellowship. Getting together face to face with a smaller group of people has given me an opportunity to make true friends. This primary group has helped me stay on the right path with sharing their experience, strength, and hope. I believed for a long time that people with more sobriety time should have more knowledge about staying sober and living happy. The expectations I had based on a given social status occupied by people had not been accurate. I have realized that it is not the length of time one is sober that matters; what matters is the quality of the time sober.
Today I am willing to take suggestions. I have learned how honesty has helped save my life and those around me by seeing the amazing changes in their lives. I am open to continue learning new and healthy ways of living with the group I have been a part of on a daily basis. Asking for help and admitting when I am wrong is a struggle at times, but life is a learning process. When I think I have learned all life has to offer me, it might be time for me to find a new project to enlighten my mind. I am sure I will experience many different role exits throughout my life. What role exits have you experienced in your life thus far?
“Getting Clean and Sober.” Getting Clean and Sober. CumberlandMountain Community Service Board, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.
“Google.” Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.
Merlo-Booth, Lisa. “Law of Attraction: You Are Who You Hang Out.” SonsiLiving. Sonsi, Inc., 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
http://www.sonsiliving.com/blog/law-of-attraction-you-are-who-you-hang-out-with%E2%80%A8 (We are who we hang out with)
http://www.cmcsb.com/Getting%20Clean%20and%20Sober.html (Move a muscle, change a thought)