LIFE after SELF can be hard. People have a hard time comprehending re-covering addicts. Oftentimes, there is a stigma that comes along with sharing this event in your life with others. I’ve observed that people who are able to overcome life’s hardships without the need for intervention cannot seem to fathom what it is like to be in rehab. I think the last thing they would expect is that people graduating from a program would exhibit a mature, value-driven enthusiasm for life.

During the first few months of my integration in my new college environment, I felt that I was being judged as incapable of displaying such behavior. Perhaps most residents reintegrating with society will experience this. But SELF, in fact, has molded me into a responsible and passionate individual ready to take in the good things life has to offer. I feel God has graced me with these gifts in my newfound life.

My situation coming out of SELF was not at all ideal. It was not as if I simply had to pick up where I left off. You see, I had wasted four years of college, enrolling in subjects and never finishing anything I started. I took life for granted and wasted every opportunity I had to grow in my education.

Coming back into a school environment was challenging. In spite of the fact that I was already 25 years old, I had to start fresh as a first year student. I did not know much about the school discipline. What gave me assurance was that SELF had equipped me with skills that made me an avid goal-setter. So the moment I was faced with adversity and challenge, I just kept my eyes on the prize. Thanks to this, I was driven to be a diligent student and made things happen in class, taking things one semester at a time.

Before my rehab program, I used to think that the things being taught to me in class were not relevant to my life. Today, there’s a noticeable difference in the way I perceive our subject matter. I now appreciate the need to work hard to achieve my goals. Maintaining this attitude has, however, been a feat in itself. My summers have been spent taking summer classes to make up for the lost time. Also, accepting that I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, I had to compensate by working double-time, just as I was trained to in SELF. Not once did I allow myself to procrastinate and be late in accomplishing my tasks. Incompetence was inexcusable and whenever I would need to I always sought out help.

Whenever I see my classmates slacking off and coming in late for class, I don’t let it get to me. I’ve been there and done that, and it only led to disaster. Thankfully, now I am able to stay focused on my goal and I am proud to say that I have earned a place on the Dean’s List throughout the last school year.

Sharing My Alma Mater
As a prerequisite to our graduation from BS Psychology, we were instructed to take a practicum at any qualified organization. Naturally, the first idea that came to my mind was to take it in SELF. Paul Villarin, my close peer from SELF, is also my classmate in Psychology. Together with him, we presented our plan to my professor and kept our fingers crossed, hoping that our proposal would be approved.

Fortunately for us he allowed it and likewise approved three other classmates to accompany us. On April 9, we all drove up to the Taal View House facility and took our friends on a tour. It was a proud moment for Paul and myself as we shared our alma mater with them. Our 100-hour practicum involved having to be exposed to the clinical methods and practices that were being applied in SELF. Needless to say, it was a cinch since we had pretty much been drilled in the clinical procedures when we were staff trainees. As for our friends, it was clear that they were learning the ropes well since the staff were quite passionate about teaching the technology.

In Closing

As I look back at the various accomplishments I have had since I left SELF, I feel so lucky and blessed. For those of you who can relate to what I’ve been through, I urge you believe in the program. There are enormous benefits that you and your family can reap. The seeds you plant now will surely bear fruit some day and you will love life in all its splendor. Pray and your wishes will come true.

 

By: PAOLO C. BALINGHASAY
Graduate 2006