Monthly Archives: December 2013

Escape to Walmart

I’d never been so excited to go to Walmart.  After the 15th day in rehab, you’re eligible for a new weekly privilege: the Sunday morning Walmart excursion.  

But the powers that be make sure that you never forget that you’re still a prisoner sentenced to 90 days of mind numbing repetition, group therapy, and endless rules.  And the Walmart rules do a great job of degrading what would otherwise be a normal yet freeing adult experience.  

First of all, we go at the ungodly hour of 8:15 a.m. on a Sunday.  And you only get a strict hour to shop, including checkout time.  Everything you plan on buying has to be approved by your therapist in advance.  And there’s a specific procedure in place to govern even this special task.  You go to the cubby holes next to the nurses’ station and grab one of the “Walmart Shopping Lists.”  You list the items you plan on purchasing, which can’t exceed ten.  Next, you bring your paltry list to your therapist during your weekly one-on-one session.  The therapist combs through the list and approves the items deemed acceptable.  And there’s a $50 spending limit.

When the time to board the prisoner vans arrives, your list must be in tow.  Forget a purse, only wallets are allowed.  We bump along the country roads until we arrive at the local Walmart.  

Finally, you truck back to the prisoner van waiting to shuttle you back to prison: the gated women’s facility.  

Even the taste of freedom afforded by the shopping trip’s escape from the house is tainted by the stain of rehab.  You never forget that you’re there on a limited release.  There’s no rush of exhilaration in this kind of shopping trip.  There’s something about the trip that dehumanizes you and reinforces the spirit crushing oppression of rehab.  

When you’re back in rehab you’re not a person.  You’re a patient.  You’re not to be trusted, you’re an addict.  You shrivel under the bright lights shone in your eyes by the powers that be.  Even the alleged privileges are poisoned by rules.  

I was beyond excited to go to Walmart.  But by the time I returned to the house, I just felt like an inmate.  Welcome to rehab.   

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Future Tripping

In rehab, there is this thing called “future tripping,” and it’s all I do these days.  First come the fantasies, followed closely by the anxieties.  I’m over a week into treatment and things are just getting harder as the days tick by.  90 days is a long time to put your life on hold.  

The fantasies: I fantasize about the stupidest, most mundane shit.  I miss the grocery store.  I miss skittles.  I miss kit kats.  I miss driving to work in the morning, I miss the bustle of the city, and I miss the fresh air.  I dream about how good it will feel to leave.  I long for the comfort of my bed.  

I fantasize about leaving but of course this isn’t an option.  I know I’m stuck here until the program runs its course.  Leaving early would be an egregious waste:  a waste of the money I’ve paid to be here, a waste of a summer of studying, a waste of a perfectly good law degree and the small fortune I’ve paid for it.  Leaving early means giving up the fight and admitting my powerlessness to the Bar.  And that’s why leaving is only a pretty fantasy, and future trip.

I picture packing my stuff and driving back to my parents house.  I think about seeing my dog.  I think about drinking as much coffee as I want, eating when I want, and regaining the control over my life that I’ve surrendered in rehab.  Most of all, I imagine what it would be like to simply be free.  

But the anxieties are part of the future trip.  Looming largest of all is my fear of relapse.  Part of the first step of AA is admitting your life has become unmanageable.  I don’t think my life was unmanageable, but I’m scared it will be.  I’m anxious about the days to come in rehab, and anxious that uglier days are in store and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle them. 

These are the things that keep me in my head, my future trips.  And until these fantasies become a reality I’ll be in my head, counting down the days to freedom.  


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