Voices for Recovery
Mary Patricia Proctor
I was in the Navy for four years working in Communications. I had not tried any drugs until I was stationed in Iceland and was introduced to hash. I did not use it a lot but did it off and on with my boyfriend and a few friends. After Iceland, I went to Germany where I continued to use hash but also started taking speed and other drugs. Since I was working in a top secret field I was under more observation than a lot of the other sailors and one day a couple of sailors came knocking on my door and wanted an immediate drug test. I did not pass. I was zipped back to the states and spent some weeks at a naval drug rehabilitation center. There was some recovery there but this was in the 70’s and they did not know as much about recovery as they do today. I wouldn’t say it was the most positive experience but I did get introduced to recovery. Once I graduated from the program I continued to use alcohol though a couple of times I did go back to drugs.
I received an honorable discharge in 1978 and continued to use drugs and alcohol to some extent. After about a year and a half one of my older brothers died from a seizure. He was never on drugs or alcohol he just had a serious medical condition. I was very distressed about this and went from not believing in God to entering a monastery a year later. I was in the monastery for 28 years and did not do drugs or alcohol during that time. I did not figure I had an addiction problem since I was not using. In 2009 I went to a ‘Walk with the Wounded’ week program at an addiction center for women religious in Lake Orion, Michigan. I went to find out about how to help people with addiction but ended up discovering that I was still in need of recovery from addiction myself. I had found other things to be addicted to, like work, religion, and the internet. I was basically a dry drunk.
I was given the opportunity to enter the program if I wanted to. I didn’t think I had an addiction problem but I definitely needed a break. I had published five books, had a fairly large internet ministry and was managing a Catholic radio station. I was way over committed and it was all self-induced. I had no problem taking on new jobs but I could never let go of an old one. My addicted brain was alive and well.
I was in treatment for eight months. I found out a lot about addiction. It doesn’t go away even if you don’t drink or do drugs – it just sort of twists itself into other directions. I started going to AA, NA, and Al-anon meetings. I found a new spirituality that has helped me to cope with who I am and my disease. I am still a Catholic but I am in the process of leaving the monastery as I feel the need to have 12 step spirituality be a major part of my life.
The monastic life was a great and valuable part of my life that I will always treasure – but it started to go from a good thing to a bad thing when I warped it into part of my addiction. My main focus at present is to make recovery my number one objective in life. I now have a sponsor in AA and am working on my steps. I also go to Al-anon meetings in which I find a lot of recovery as well. I hope to continue to do books and internet ministry as a Catholic lay person in recovery. God is good, all of the time.