I Am a Student to Be

“I’m gonna get right down to it — I am an alcoholic. Alcohol has ruled my life since I was 16 years old and it contributed to my divorce. For a long time, I felt like I was wandering in a catatonic state – I alienated my two kids from my life and they stopped communicating with me. Last May, I decided to take the AA program seriously, and I have been sober since. I had a lot of time on my hands, did a lot of thinking, and set two objectives: to get a job and to become computer literate.

I came to the Calgary John Howard Society to get help with the process of getting a pardon (record suspension), as my criminal record created obstacles in finding a job. The intake worker handed me a flyer for digital literacy classes and I have been attending classes ever since. I learned how to turn on a computer and now I am learning to use Google Drive and Microsoft Word. The Digital Literacy instructor then brought up the idea of school and I thought to myself, ‘I am 61 years old. I have spent the last 40-some years killing brain cells. How can I possibly do that?’ But I thought about it. I had always wanted to go back to school — I thought about continuing to study history or to get a Bachelor of Education to teach. Ultimately, I wanted to study something that I would find interesting and thought that I would like to study something that involved helping people with alcoholism and addiction in general. As an alcoholic, I can often be more helpful and understanding of the alcoholic’s mind and heart simply because I’ve experienced it.

Eventually, I applied to Bow Valley College to become an Addictions Counsellor. I was surprised when I got a letter stating that I had been accepted into the Addiction Studies Certificate program. I’m looking forward to getting out and being with people after years of being at home. I’m learning to use words I used to know, but hadn’t used in a while. I’m excited about my re-entry into life.

I deal with life one day at a time – it’s about the journey, not the destination. You can’t do anything about yesterday, but taking action one day at a time is all that matters and the only thing I can do anything about. I start school on August 30th and I hope to find employment at a Community Link location, a treatment center or to conduct classes about the Big Book. Both my children now speak to me and I recently met my grandchildren. Now that class starts soon, I have to think about taking the C-Train, walking to get to my class and sitting in a classroom. I don’t know how I am going to do all of this, but I am going to give it a try. One day at a time.”