Author: Justin Mckibben
I know the title sounds crazy, but hear me out. Living in a halfway house was surely a growing experience for me. For someone like me who grew up very fast and started making my own rules at a young age, it was very difficult to consider taking directions from someone else about how to live my life. Not because I was doing such a great job by myself as a young adult who ended up in rehab multiple times, but just because I was used to making up my own mind and manipulating the world to accommodate me. The concepts like a curfew and accountability made no sense at the time, but they are put of what changed me.
I enjoy the freedom of having my own apartment these days, but there are still aspects of the halfway house that I miss, so I thought I’d throw a list together to talk about some of the best parts, to try and show someone moving in that direction to take advantage of these things. These are just 7 things I (kinda) miss about living in the halfway house.
1. The Vans
While not everyone is without e vehicle, I know I didn’t get to the halfway house with a car. It was nice that there were always rides to meetings that were too far to walk to. The big white vans that we in the recovery community recognize immediately used to be the saving grace for a lot of us.
Now-a-days you either get to know the bus route, you ride a bike, or you cough up the gas to drive around. Small price to pay for that freedom, but sometimes you would love to just take a nap in the vans back seat on the way to work.
2. Curfew? (Kinda)
OK, so I know I said I hated the idea of having a curfew, but it isn’t what you think when I say I miss it. As much as I dis-like curfew, I love sleep! The reason I miss it is because it forced me to develop a more reasonable and effective sleeping schedule. I had to learn to give myself a bed-time. Sure, having to be on property doesn’t mean you HAVE to go to sleep, but for someone working a regular 9-5 it gives you the incentive.
3. Borrowing Stuff
You may have your own stories of people stealing you peanut butter or toilet paper. I know I do. But the other side of living in such close proximity with others is that if you can learn some humility, you can actually ask to borrow and barter with these things in order to get by. You have to be resourceful!
I didn’t always have laundry detergent, or cigarettes or bus money. But having so many guys around, it wasn’t hard to find someone willing to loan me some or trade. Especially when they know the struggle is as real as you do.
4. ‘Family’ Dinners
When I was in the halfway house, the guys I lived with or that were my neighbors would often act as a family. We would pitch in on buying a bunch of different items we needed, and collectively plan meals and ‘family’ dinners.
I miss that a lot, because I don’t know how to cook. In that way I remain a man-child who refuses to learn how to boil water. Sometimes it’s awesome when you get home from work, and beyond your expectations there was a full course dinner in the kitchen.
5. Free Cable
Seriously, this is something I took completely for granted while I had it, but looking back I could have taken advantage of it SO much more. Such quality television in the halfway house I lived in. Sure, it , may have been included with the total I paid for rent, but I didn’t notice so in my mind it was free.
Now I watch reruns of old shows or DVD’s, what? Cable is expensive dude!
6. People to keep me accountable
As much as I can rely on certain people in my life to give it to me strait or at least do their best to ensure I’m honest with myself, living in a halfway house added a whole other dimension to accountability by putting me around people on a regular basis who had been there before, and were willing to keep me accountable.
There were rules to follow, and I didn’t always get along with my neighbors. But people held me to that and had to re-teach me to stay accountable to the commitments, and who called me out when I messed up.
7. Starting sober relationships
Probably one of the most influential and under-rated aspects of living in a halfway house that I definitely miss sometimes is the community itself. Sharing experiences on a regular basis is part of most recovery programs, and it can usually be found happening around the clock in a halfway house.
I know the guys I was in my halfway house with were like my brothers. I saw them every single day without fail, and we shared our stories or out troubles, and we took strength from one another.
Not saying this doesn’t still happen. I’m still close with a lot of those guys, and I even live with one now. But back in the day it was amazing walking out the door and being met by a dozen people going through the same thing as you were, and spending all that time learning how to have these sober relationships from each other.
It is almost like being brothers in arms, at war in recovery on the front-lines together. You create strong bonds, you help each other out and hold each other accountable, and sometimes you lose a comrade, someone who is like family, and you’re there for each other. Then once you love, hopefully some of these people in your life stick around.
Living in a halfway house was an experience that taught me a lot about having to grow up, about having to learn to accept others and take suggestions when I had no idea how to be productive and effective in my every-day affairs. I had some knowledge going in, but soon learned I knew next to nothing in the grand scheme of recovery, adulthood, and life. There were parts of living in the halfway that made life a lot more convenient, and there were some great times I’ll miss a lot. With treatment, and a halfway house I ended up with all the tools I needed to be successful in sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135