Where the heck is LOA Utah: Part Two!

A memoir about my journey to and through Rehab

Written by: Trey Herlitz-Ferguson, Regional Outreach Coordinator 

Read more about Trey and his work at Legacy here!

Read part one of Trey’s story here! (link to part one) 

My journey begins.

Eager to get the clock started on how long I was going to be away, I made a quick decision to go to Legacy after briefly scrolling through their website. Out of all the programs I investigated, Legacy was the only program that seemed to be fun. Climbing, mountain bikes, rappelling – I was sold.

Flight booked, one final night of pushing the limits of what my body could handle – aka I got as f’ed up as I possibly could – a joint burning, and an Uber ordered.

On the way to the airport, on the plane, and as I walked off in Salt Lake City, Utah, I had two thoughts – 1) get back to my girlfriend and 2) WHERE THE F*** AM I GOING?!

After landing in Utah, I was met by one of Legacy’s staff members who took me to get a physical, a sandwich, and allowed one final call to my girlfriend. From here, this stranger drove me three hours into the middle of nowhere, into the desert – to my new beginning.

I was brought in a night before the other clients returned from their camping trip which provided some alone time after being set up with all the proper camping gear and clothing. 

That night as I laid in bed anxious about how I would connect with the group and the unknown of the months to come, I prepared myself mentally to show up ready and eager to work the program. 

The next morning I woke up to the sounds of gear hitting the floor and a whole lot of exhausted male energy taking over the dorms… ‘It’s go time.’ 

My first few days at Legacy were spent doing group therapy work while at base which gave me the perfect opportunity to connect with the fellas in my group and get a feel of what my time at this place was going to look like. 

It was very clear who had been there longer and who was a newbie like myself. All of the senior men were locked in and accountable with a gentle touch in regards to being able to understand where I was at. The most senior member in my group, we’ll call him Joe, was one of the first to sit with me and lay down the law of the land. He met me with vulnerability and was quickly able to make me feel at home in this super strange and new place. I liked that – I liked his leadership. I liked his vulnerability. To this day I too try to embody those qualities. 

On the other hand, the guys that were still in their first month at Legacy varied in their outlook on the program. As expected, many did not want to be there. Joe was quick to point out he was the same way when he first arrived but explained,  “there is something special out here that rids you of that mindset and really opens you up to the work you want to do.” 

Every week at Legacy you go on a different adventure – backpacking, mountain biking, canyoneering, climbing, and the least enticing to me… fishing. Of course, my first adventure with my group was fishing, and we were off! 

Fish Lake here we come! After driving a bit from campus and soaking up some ‘incredible’ radio jams, we parked the cars, grabbed our bags, and started our hike into the Utah mountains.

As the sun was starting to set we arrived at our campsite, and Joe helped me find a 5 star hotel sleeping spot. When I say 5 star I’m referring to the convenient positioning of trees that would make for an easy tarp setup. After setting up my hotel room, I walked back over to the group tarp where the rest of the guys were gathering.

“Yo, I could do that easy!” I blurted out to the group while watching another team member begin playing the violin to make smoke using their fire kit. “Go for it big dog”…Let’s just say I was humbled quickly. 

After the minor embarrassment and a quick shift in ‘jobs’ from failed fire starter to wood collector,  dinner was started, fire was blazing, vibes were present…and hail was beginning to fall. “Sick, we have to go back to base now!” I said aloud. NOPE! This is when you go make sure your gear is under your tarp and you grab that nice puffy jacket and gloves… DAMN, reality set in.

To my surprise, the gear I was given was exactly what I needed and the fire continued to provide the heat necessary for us to continue our night. 

After finishing our dinner, the lead staff opened up the space for the group and quickly caught me off guard by asking me to share my life story. So, I did.

There is a quote that I still reference, “You can’t see the picture from inside the frame.”

Telling my life story that night to a group of strangers in the middle of the woods during a hail storm was the first time I truly experienced what that quote meant. As the words flowed out of my mouth, I remember beginning to realize how unhealthy the way I had been living was. Most noteworthy was the way my life had taken this downward turn and was on a steady decline for the past few years. My heart began to open to change.

Part 1 | Part 3

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