Monday, August 2, 2010
Sleep came quick, and morning was a lesson in anxiety. I did my chores, and everything else I was told, I also talked, a lot. To anyone who would stand still, it was a reflex, something to keep me from thinking, “Club Med” was a small rehab, we had a census of about 16-20 coed rehabbers during my stay, and we were NOT allowed to fraternize or really even talk to each other except for group feedback, the only communication permitted was to excuse yourself if you stepped on each other. I broke the rule today, not purpously, not to try to start shit, but to keep my mind quiet. I didn’t discuss my anxiety, or even my fears with my dads health, I bummed smokes I didn’t want, told stupid jokes, just a regular Chatty Cathy. About 3:30 in group I had an overwhelming sense of loss, I just stood up and walked out, we were in the pool house and I practically ran to the dorm, our rooms were locked from 6:30am-6:30pm weekdays without exception, I retreated to the ladies tiny “lounge”, favoring the cold tile floor to lay on rather than the threadbare sofa. I woke about half an hour later to our nurse asking what was up, I faked a migraine, she gave me a Tylenol and mentioned I had had a phone call a few hours earlier. This news caused a high pitched keening that it took me a second to realize was coming from my throat, shocked at my pale face and unusual behavior she blurted that my mother in law had called to find out my sizes to bring a few necessary items. I barely heard her I was bleating like a 4 year old, “daddy! No!” repeatedly, Tina rushed to get me a cold rag and ushered me into the office, making a hurried call, I guess to leave a message for a staff member, she closed the door to the tiny closet like tech/nursing station and asked me questions until I whispered my fears to her or to myself, Im not sure. She assured me that I was projecting and crying before I was even hurt. I was told that no phone call was a good sign, my mind was jumping to the worst case scenario, in an attempt to cause drama and unrest in my newly cleared mind. Addict/Alcoholics thrive on drama, pain, all things ugly, scary and unhealthy. When our minds are idle, bad thoughts, and panic inducing scenerios march past to try to convince us to medicate. I reluctantly accepted the phyco-babble and quieted down, meekly asking If, I could be permitted an emergency call, or if a staff member could call and check on his health, I was told that no exception would be made, We, us “addicts/alcoholics” were known to be manipulaters, always able to find a reason the rules should bend for them and their many crisises. To make an exception at this time would for sure lead me right back to dope, for example, should I find him hearty and hale, smoking and eating fries, I’d would likely manufacture an excuse to call back in a few hours to be sure he didn’t take a turn for the worse, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t that she thought I was OPENLEY trying to get one over, it was just the nature of my diseased mind. I knew when I was beat, sadly nodding my assent. I just stared woodenly ahead. Seeming pleased with her healthy decision she brightly tried to steer me back into the pool house to finish group. I planted my feet this time. (In truth, to pay her back for not making the call) I wanted escape, needed it, I wanted my daddy, I wanted my husband, I wanted dope, food, sleep, noise, anger, anything but the torture of knowing yet not knowing.” I was allowed into the group room to pace for the remaining 15 minuets before dinner time. I allowed myself to be herded into the dining area, but didn’t eat, After supper, every night ½ of us went to an outside AA meeting in the van, the following night, the other half went out, I had gone last night and welcomed the quiet time ahead to work my steps and untangle my nerves. I drug myself from the dining area to the back of the house, pulled by the cozy (IE Cramped)dimness of our group room. As I passed the Tech office I knew something was afoot, I FELT it, I turned and read the names of those going out tonight balked at my name hastily tacked onto the end of the list. DAMN!!! Was she somekind of british nanny in a former life? A masochist? Enough! HAD it been my regular night I would’ve quietly accepted my lot, but it wasn’t my night! ‘’Acceptance, is the answer to all of my problems today,” pg blab la in “THE BIG BOOK”, say it! She trilled happily, reminding me that I couldn’t manipulate her, as was my nature, due to my ILLNESS of course. I LOST IT! I WAS BEING MANIPULATED! WTF, I had to practice ACCEPTANCE, but she was allowed to be the exception? Fuck that! I smiled a cold smile and bolted for my room to change for the outing.bulldozing my 5 ft roommate, I hurled the contents of my closet to the floor cursing under my breath, I really was trying to calm myself, I knew that I was giving the know it alls exactly what they expected. I grabbed my journal and angrily scribbled nonsense, counting to one hundred in my head, trying to willfully calm my nerves, At the sound of my name being sweetly screamed to board the van first, I wrenched a wayward pair of scissors Id spied on the upper bunk, I considered whaciking my hair, gouging my eyes, stabbing my roommate all in a 5 second span. In the end, I did accept and flung my weapon into the closet on my way out, giving in to the urge to release the flow of hot shameful tears as I exited. ACCEPTING, that’s what I was doing, what choice did I have, however it was too little too late, my snitch roomie had ran to staff, and I was to stay on the dorm after all, in exile, punishment, I was livid a wild wounded animal, what was the point? To force me to accept, then quickly change direction when I did? I was hurt, scared, ashamed and pissed off. What could I do? I accepted my punishment, “scribes”, first grade caliber torture, I was given a “BIG BOOK” (of alcoholics anon) and a notebook and told to copy word for word until lights out and most probably through the day tomorrow, no smoke breaks, no group, solitary meals spent alone in the group room with my fork held awkwardly in my left hand as I continued to copy with my right. I began with a suppressed smile, HA! This was perfect, exactly what I wanted, isolation, with the added bonus of a mind too set on a boring task to fret. I began with Page 1, I think it was, Bill’s Story, In treatment, the big book is your bible, Bill W. our personal Jesus, Lord and savior, the first story is as expected, the story of creation, I don’t think the program took 7 whole days to create though, in the tradition of all drunks and junkies and generally dysfunctional folks, the “program” and its steps are meant to be quick and easy, sort of instantly gratifying. I kind of smiled to myself, I could relate, once you’ve found relief from your personal demons through a substance, you cannot let go. Anyway, I wrote and wrote, absorbing the stories, hoping I too would be swept up in the fanatic miricale of recovery! 3 hours later, (Im sure she stayed for the pleasure of my pain), my harsh mistress looked over my labors, took the papers in her small evil hands and ripped them to shreds, no, she said, you start with the forward, the copyright etc, pg x, NOT page one, start over. She actually seemed to swallow my frustration, grow taller and pinker with the energy of it! My head began to buzz, my ears ringing, my hands shook, I took the pencil and snapped it, then began to rip the book to bits, quietly, slowly, I tore, throwing wildly, I think I even used my teeth. Tears burned my eyes, I came here to learn, to purge my soul of wickedness, I knew treatment was a mere 28-30 days, and who knew if the judicial system would snatch me back early, I wanted to LEARN, I wanted to build healthy habits! I didn’t come here to copy a fucking book! Shit! That I could do in jail! I was outraged! This place was costing my in-laws a few thousand, I was here on scholarship and if I didn’t learn all there was this time, I wouldn’t get another chance. Unh-unh. After my silent fit, I was pretty sure I would be carted back to jail post haste, so, I did the only thing I could, I picked up the mess gathered my notebook, and faced my tormenter with downcast eyes. I apologized, asked if I could have a second chance, Id do whatever foolish task they laid before me with out question, but please allow me to complete the whole program, learn everything there was about living with out substance. If my fate was going directly from here to a 5 year prison term, id accept it, quietly, I would pass the time saying a rosary of 12 steps, anointing myself with the balm of sobriety, that I might be spared….I was desperate, I knew many who had tried, none who had succeeded, my own brother came close, he spent 5 years sober! From crack, alcohol, he lived among the “grown ups”, had a job, went to church and was accepted into society. Then BAM! He shoots his girlfriend in the forehead, goes outside wanders into traffic, barefoot, no shirt in a Midwest winter, my brother sat on a curb made certain he would NEVER use again. He was 39. His was the only success story I knew. I figured it would probably get me in the end too, the dope, but I planned to go down fighting. I would be my own hero!
It was the beginning of my 2nd week of residential treatment, substance abuse treatment that is, "treatment" for me was a resort like institution in south Louisiana, sure we had chores wore burgundy hospital scrubs and spent 6hrs a day sitting in a circle talking about feelings, we were told when to go to bed and when to get up, but we also had a swimming pool, personal trainer and catered meals, It was HEAVEN, and that's on the real! I LOVED IT! Hell it was like a fancy vacation to me! SHEEEIIIIITTTT, this was high class, Id never even vacationed this good, Id have loved it even if Id come directly from my home (In the projects) but I was coming from 30 miserable, hopeless days at East Baton Rouge Parrish Prison, After a less then perfect childhood, the natural decent into an abusive teen marriage, the natural progression to drugs, selling my body, the suicide of my beloved brother and the darkness that followed, I gave in to the insanity, and I had long wished I could go to rehab, (even a dirty state funded one)but I didn't have any insurance and my family was po' folks so I just kept goin and ended up in jail instead, I was looking at 5-7 years too! Id given up on ever goin' to rehab, or even seeing my husband, kids or parents for years, Id given up hope of the fairy tale ending…...then WHAM! I am now a believer that even the sun shines on a dogs ass once in a while! God had smiled on me, after Id finally stopped hoping, I got sent here, to Club Med…..(Ill get to the details later) So while my peers (who I guess musta' been snatched from the Beverly Hills Hilton) shuffled around complaining, bout the food, accommodations, the dirty fucks who sentenced them to this "hell hole", I wandered around with a goofy smile on my face and a song in my heart, not only was I finally going to learn how to be sober, I was doin' it high class, life was good!
Anyway, I was REALLY excited tonight, cuz I was afforded phone privileges, the first wk you have to settle in and you cant have any outside influence….anyway tonight was it! I got three calls! No matter that they were monitored by staff and only 10 mins, they were not "collect from an inmate" and I had something positive to say, all the jail calls were desperate please to get me the fuck out! I was going to call my momma and oldest son first, the second call was to my in laws, not people I longed to talk to as they not only thought I was white trash they knew it. Anyway they had paid for this resort like sanatorium and my bond etc, oh and they were raising my infant son, so I owed them a call….my 3rd call, hell I don't remember who it was supposed to go to, maybe we only got 2…I hadn't planned to call my daddy, I had called often in lock up, to cry and demand he find a way to save me, I called so often that his phone got disconnected due to the immense cost of the collect calls, I didn't need to call him now tho, I didn't need anything, I only called my daddy when I wanted something. Somebody would tell him where I was, and Id talk to him later, when I needed something. Id talked to him recently anyway, (he never denied my many times daily collect calls, ever) Id maybe put him on my call list in a few wks, I had to check on my kids! I guess it was just the 2 calls we were allowed, Adam (my husband) would've been my first choice but . he was also in treatment, an hour away in Baton Rouge, he like me, couldn't get incoming calls, so our calls were to be set up and monitored by our respective counselors', we hadn't spoken in over a month except by mail, but I was content knowing we would speak on the phone day after tomorrow and each Wednesday after until our release. I sat in the common room studying my new AA book and patiently awaiting my turn on the hall phone. Smile on my face, gratitude in my heart. Happy, happy happy. Looking forward to my new sober life, what could possibly happen to me? It had all happened already……
My turn! Yay! First call, perfunctory, Cookie, (mother in law, pillar of the community, society wife, owner of a 5ct diamond and a Mercedes SUV) I feared, admired and wanted to be her, all at once it was confusing! I spoke to the cold beautiful woman who had begrudgingly been the benefactor of my good fortune, thanked her, profusely and assured her I wouldn't disappoint, getting little more then dead air, I asked after my son and my husband getting one word answers and icy gusts thru the phone. It was quick and relatively painless. On to my next call! I spoke to my mom all about my good luck and my bright future, then to my beautiful son, then 2 mins left of the 10 I was allotted per call, mom picks up again to tell me of some odd messages shed gotten on her machine, my ½ brother,(also a junkie and no friend to MY mom) asking my whereabouts, 2 times he called, sounding desperate to locate me, this didn't worry me, he probably needed a phone number so he could score, like me he didn't call unless he needed something, my dad had also called a cpl times, leaving long, strange messages……He was in the hospital (not unusual) having a triple bypass the next day (unusual), he wanted to tell "Colby" of his love……..ask forgiveness and so forth, it was clear that my mom, his ex-wife of over 15 years, whom he never quite got over, was who the melancholy message was intended……..she didn't seem to know this until I pointed it out….and in the silence of her realization, I examined what this must mean. Many panic inducing flags were raised, the signs were shocking! The many "close calls" he'd had on prior hospital trips, never included a summons of us kids to his bedside, we were told after he unhooked himself and left AMA, usually he laughed and told us of his brush with death as he held a cigarette in his left hand and held his at home oxygen mask onto his face with his right. He hadn't called my MOM in over a decade, asked about her with a feigned nonchalance each time I visited, yes, gazed at my mother favoring profile with raw hurt on his face when he didn't think I saw, all the time. (In the company of my siblings and step monster) He blasphemed, ranted on my mother and her wickedness, damning her to hell, etc, etc. it was so pitiful, the transparency of his heart, all aflame for that he had walked away from… he never admitted his mistake. He was now. What the fuck? What the fuck? My heart stuttered and my blood turned cold. I was terrified, as the world spun crazily on its axis I asked for the phone number he'd left, wrapped up my call, and said I'd call same time next week. I hung up and watched the pink cloud of happiness turn quickly to a gunmetal grey.
I thought quickly, and turned to the tech (who liked me cuz I smiled all the time and never talked back) I told her that I had one more call to make, I hadn't reached my mom, only the machine, could I pretty please try to call my daddy? Id just remembered the number, that's why I hadn't put him on my call list. Please please? She said yes, believing Id only made the one call, and don't be telling the others! I smiled and turned my back as I dialed the number to the hospital. My fear deepened when the hospital operator announced not the small country hospital my dad routinely visited, but the big city one an hour further, the one that had all the high end equipment that might be needed in a real emergency. I grew even colder when my dad picked up and I heard a gaggle of my siblings nearby. Serious stuff! He sounded in good spirits, ( he loved being the center of attention) He confirmed the bypass and grew grave as he told me. "You need to extract your head from your ass, Jo Ellen, I'm tired and Id like to go see my mother." I said "NO" in a childish way, believing he couldn't go with out my say so. He continued to tell me, how he needed me to be okay now, allow him to go, rest." I cried, refused. Then in a moment of clarity, I recalled I had only 10 minutes, I gave the name of the rehab, told him to call and leave word when he was thru surgery. I still refused to give him permission to dessert me again. I needed him! In the end, I agreed to reform, remove my head from my ass, I accepted that I was now the responsibility of my husband and promised to be good for him. I was terrified of being cut off from the call in mid-argument , so for once I agreed to all he said, figuring Id argue next week, when the threat had passed. Miss J, had given me my 1 minute warning, I apologized for what I was, expressed my love and prepared to disconnect, it was then that he extracted a promise I didn't expect to keep. He asked that I not come home, even for a funeral, HIS. He repeated that he was weary, he wanted to rest and implied that it would be breaking a promise if I left my "work" of getting well to come look at his dead body, Demanded we say goodbye here and now, and at the eleventh hour what could I do? I agreed, reluctantly and with an argument at the ready, having extracted the promise he quickly and abruptly ended the call, leaving me to my prayers and childish hopes.