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Caitlin Stowell

There Are No Mistakes. There was something bigger going on the whole time whether I believed it or not.

In the fall of 2008 I believed in one thing: mistakes. My life was full of them. I was drinking in my closet at eight in the morning, lying to everyone, and eventually I was dropped off at a treatment center where I was convinced I did not belong. I was forced to live in a residence with alcoholics who I believed were nothing like me. There was no “grand plan” for someone like me; only mistakes. Here I was, 21 years old, dropped off at a treatment center. I was petrified, angry, and unable to imagine a life of sobriety. To me, a life without alcohol was a colossal mistake. Through her own series of mistakes, I met Marsha Stone who just happened to be in the same facility in which I had ended up.

I thought I was different than the rest of these drunks in treatment, but I decided Marsha seemed “normal” enough. I could relate with her, and I slowly began to trust her. One morning I was expressing to Marsha my resistance to the idea of being completely sober. I did not want to let go of my ever-comforting and ever-destructive solution. I will never forget the look on Marsha’s face as she earnestly cautioned me: “Caitlin, You are going to die from this disease”. For the first time I believed her. In that moment, my delusion that I could manage and control my drinking was smashed. The idea that I was different, that everything was just a big misunderstanding, vanished with those few stern words. For the first time, I became willing to start doing things differently. These things seemed small at first, things like saying a prayer in the morning and at night, telling the truth, and meeting with a sponsor to work through the Twelve Steps.

These actions seemed trivial at the time, but looking back I know that they were the beginning of something beautiful. Each time I followed the simple instructions people like Marsha presented for me, I chipped away at the belief that I was a mistake, that my life was a mistake, and that nothing could fix the mess I made. It took guts to follow these simple instructions. It took guts to let go of my own solution, but I continued to do it, one step at a time.

Three years into my recovery I was given a speaker tape. I listened to a powerful message from the man on the tape. “How free do you want to be?” this man asked. The question begged an answer that invigorated me and inspired me to give away the gift of sobriety I had received. I called my old friend Marsha, who was now living in Texas, to share my excitement. I came to find that Marsha was working at BRC Recovery, the facility founded by the man on the tape, Mark HoustonWhat a coincidence, I thought to myself. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, right?

Fast forward to spring of last year, six years after what I believed to be the biggest mistake of my life. My friend Marsha called and asked if I would be interested in working for BRC Recovery. And that is the genius of it all. All of the “mistakes” that led me to a treatment center at twenty-one put me on a path to that phone call. The guts that it took to let go of my old life, to be willing to try something new brought me to that moment. There was something bigger going on the whole time whether I believed it or not.

I have been given the opportunity to work for a program in which I truly and wholeheartedly believe. BRC Recovery brings in people like me; people who believe only in mistakes, and offers them something better. My job is to spread the message that literally saved my life. Today I am able to share my “mistakes” with other addicts and families as I guide them toward a solution. The Big Book says that my “painful past may be of infinite value to families still struggling (p. 124). I spend each day reminding others and myself what this journey has taught me – there are no mistakes, only guts and genius.

 

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