General Fiction posted April 18, 2017 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 

This work has reached the exceptional level
the last chapter of the novella

A chapter in the book One man's journey to get clean

Gary's new life

by Mustangpatty1029

 In this novella, we've been following Gary Thompson's journey to kick his addiction.   
Introduced to his mother, Mary, we listened in as he told her he was finally going to rehab.  Mary's tears of relief came from months of praying and agonizing over her son's problems.
We were with Gary as he digested the dual diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar.  We read along as Gary wrote his mother a letter, and discussed the difficulties of dealing with his illness and life in a psychiatric ward.
As we rejoin the story, we find ourselves at another NA meeting.  Time has passed since we last left Gary, and we hear the rest of his story.


The whiteboard up front announced the event of the day.  Leaders of the group distributed reading materials on each of the seats.  Stacked, the copies of the AA Bible waited on the table in the back of the room. A large coffee pot gurgled as the coffee finished brewing.  Plates of cookies graced the refreshment table along with the stacks of styrofoam cups.
At precisely ten minutes before the hour, they opened the room, and participants straggled through the doors and into the chairs.  Most grabbed a copy of the blue book from the table, and they all looked at the papers in their seats.  Today's announcements were centered on the next person to receive his ninety-day chip, Gary Thompson.  The group settled in to listen to his share. 
Gary paced outside in the hall, his stomach, tied up in knots; and his palms sweaty.  He looked down at the five by seven cards.  His notes were sloppy, and he knew he wouldn't use them, but they gave him something to do with his hands.  When the group leader said his name, he walked through the doors.
Applause began at the back of the room and followed his progress as he walked.  Feeling himself flush on his neck, Gary began to pray for strength.  He was weak in the legs and his mind went blank.  How would he get through this?
Standing at the lectern, Gary looked around.  His sponsor was front and center.  The friends he'd made beamed up at him. His gut loosened and he cleared his throat to begin.
"Hi, my name is Gary, and I'm an addict." 
The response from the group,  "Hi Gary."
"I entered this facility about three months ago.  First, I was housed in the rehab building, where I went through detox.  There's ten days I'm glad are over."
The group laughed and smiled.  Quite a few had experienced their own detox and could identify with Gary's pain. 
"Through the tests they give us, it was discovered that I wasn't just an addict.  I had deeper problems.  The addiction was a result of me self-medicating.  The doctor and therapist told me I had a mental illness.  In fact, I had two mental illnesses.  I suffer from both bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder.
"Finding this out was a blow to my self-esteem.  I didn't want to believe I was mentally ill.  I would rather deal with being an addict and just kick the bad habit.  As it is, I still take drugs and will be for the rest of my life."
Starting to feel more comfortable, Gary relaxed and leaned forward to place his elbows on the lectern.  His voice dropped an octave as he continued, "Coming over to this unit and joining this group has taught me that I was wrong about the people that suffer from mental illness.  I grew up with a mother who struggled with her own issues, but I always felt sorry for her.  It seemed that she was the victim.  Now that I've met most of you, and heard about the new medications and therapies, I feel like we can all live with our illnesses. We can live productive lives.
"Right before I came to this facility, I was barely living.  I didn't have a permanent place to live.  I was losing the few friends I had left and right.  My days were spent chasing the dragon.  From the time I woke up, until I found a place to sleep, I was feeding my habit.  I sold drugs to support myself.  Since I was my own best customer, I barely made enough to eat.
"I was always angry.  I was paranoid and thought it was the effect of the drugs.  I found out through counseling that I was dealing with the symptoms of my illness.  Instead of getting help, I continued to use.  In reality, that was the worst thing I could do.  I was only making things worse.
"The morning of the day I made the best phone call of my life, I reached an all-time low.  I felt like the whole world was against me.  I seriously considered smoking everything I was holding.  My dealer was on my back for money.  My clothes and everything I owned were shoved into a smelly, dirty backpack, and I was bone tired.  I didn't know what to do.  For the first time in almost a decade, I fell to my knees and prayed."
At the memory of that morning, Gary felt tears stinging his eyes.  As he continued to talk, they worked their way down his cheeks. 
"God didn't answer right away.  I wasn't angry, but I was disappointed.  Later in the day, when I'd made enough money to get something to eat, I found His answer.  Inside the diner where I went to grab a burger and fries, I found something in the men's room.  On the back of the stall door, there was a flyer about this place.  At the bottom, there was a phone number.  All it said was to call if I was in trouble.
"That phone call brought me here.  It saved my life.  I think I needed to find out what was wrong with me.  I know I needed to stop doing drugs.  I needed to get my life back.
"When I leave here in the next few days, I'm going to live in a sober living facility.  My social worker has found me the place to live, and a job.  I'm a little nervous about that.  I haven't really worked in almost five years.
"Fact is, I'm a lot nervous about leaving this place.  I've found a place to belong.  I haven't felt this good since I left my mother's house."
A sniff in the back of the room caught Gary's attention.  He scanned the room and was surprised to see his mother.  Without thinking, he ran to the back of the room.  Mary screamed in delight as he picked her up and swung her around.  The group clapped and cheered. 
He placed her back on the ground and shouted, "This is my mom.  She's the best.  She stood by me through all the ups and downs.  She never gave up on me – even when I gave up on myself."

Gary left the psych unit for the sober living facility.  It took the doctors awhile to find the best combination of drugs to treat his mental illness, but he kept taking the meds.  He could function and did very well at the job they had for him.  He was working as a server in an Italian restaurant and loved it.  The tips were good and he was saving money. 
After a year of living there, he was asked if he was interested in becoming a counselor.  Gary thought he was ready to give back.  He decided to go back to school and get some training.  His life was taking a whole new direction.
Mary came to visit every six months.  She offered to help him pay for his classes and he agreed with the stipulation that he would pay it all back after he got a counseling job.  Their relationship continued to grow.
Having healed the relationship with his sister, Hilary, Gary could spend Christmases with the whole family and spend time with his niece and nephew.  Watching Hilary and her husband, Gary wondered if he was ready to find a life partner. 
Three years later:
Their wedding was simple.  Mary and Hilary shed copious tears as he and David exchanged vows.  Gary never thought he would feel this happy.  His life and heart were full.  He knew he still needed to take each day as a new challenge to keep away from the drugs, but he knew he was content now.
He was finally home.




This is the end of my novella. I plan to work on this, expand the chapters and see if I can get it published. I only posted the basic framework here - and I've been very grateful for the kind words and help with editing.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Diannatilley at

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