By Katherine Black
I came to a realization recently – I believe we are living in a society that craves real connection, but aren’t sure where to find it. We turn to falsehoods as a way to make this happen. My way of finding what I thought was true connection was from a bottle. Alcohol to be more specific. I thought going out with friends while consuming copious amounts of booze was the thing to do. Here we were, a table of girls in a restaurant bawling our eyes out, telling each other our deepest, darkest secrets, only to wake up the next morning feeling shameful because of it, and most of the time not completely remembering what we spoke about in the first place.
It was time for me to wake up. And to take a good, hard look at my life. I was surrounded by family, friends, acquaintances, but I was lonely. About a year ago, I decided it was time to eliminate alcohol completely from my life. Many factors contributed to this decision, but the biggest at the time was that it just wasn’t serving me anymore. I was going down a deep, dark rabbit hole, with no soft landing in sight.
Coincidentally (or maybe not…) this started me down a path into self-awareness and self-discovery. I quit drinking with no assistance from a program or any other approach, only the support of my therapist in Calgary. Alcohol had taken up so much space in my mind, body and soul. Now that it was no longer there, I had the capacity to soak up so much more from life and experiences.
After reading many books and listening to dozens of podcasts on alcohol, wellness, spirituality, and self-awareness, I decided it was time to take things to the next level. I asked someone very close to me, “What’s my next step? What else can I do?” I wanted more. I craved more – more love, more awareness, more fulfillment out of life. He suggested I seriously look into and consider the Come Alive program at The Haven. To say this was out of my comfort zone was an understatement. First, it was a week away from my life and work. Second, it was in another province. Third, from the outside, it seemed to be a super intensive form of self-discovery, which intimidated me to no end – ALL EXCUSES. I wavered for a few weeks, but something always drew me back to The Haven’s website and the Come Alive program information.
What was I waiting for? Well, I was scared at what was there to discover. But my curiosity and trust in my friend’s advice overpowered any other feelings I had, and I went ahead and booked it. It always came back to: this is ultimately what I wanted and had asked for. I was to leave in 2 weeks from the date I booked, not a lot of time to think about it. And I’m happy I didn’t. My friend had done Come Alive previously and chose wisely not to tell me anything about it. I went in without expectation — a very good move on my part.
So now it’s time to circle back to what I stated earlier about real connection. What I got out of the Come Alive program was just that. It was BEYOND anything I had experienced up until that point in my life. Here we were, 25 people with different circumstances as to what brought us there, but all with the same common interest to connect on a real level. To have people sit and listen to you, really listen to you, and not judge you or your story or situation is so incredibly life changing. I was truly able to be myself, to take off my mask, break down my walls and become vulnerable knowing that the leaders, facilitators and others in the group had only my best interest at heart. And the models presented and demonstrated are clearly thought through and relatable in almost every facet of my life.
After leaving the Come Alive program, I felt a sense of calm I hadn’t felt in a while. And I could see it in others as well. I am still in connection with many of the people in my group and am so incredibly lucky to have met those that I did at this time in my life when I needed to the most. This has currently brought me on a now daily quest to find those who I can have real connections with, who won’t judge me for what I have gone through knowing that it makes me the rad person I am today. There is a reason you are reading this post right now – From my experience, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Kat Black is a recent Come Alive participant at The Haven. We’re grateful for her vulnerability and courage in sharing her inspiration and journey with us (and you!). She’s created an independent blog and website — VivifyYYC – a resource where like-minded women can talk sobriety, mental illness, and overall wellness.