We’re sitting in the TV room. Me and a fellow patient. I’m knitting and she’s working on assignments because it’s not TV time — TV time starts at 7:00 and it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon. As I’m knitting away, only sort of miserable, she gets up and starts moving around. She’s looking for something, checking behind the couch.
And then she finds it. A crumpled up cracker wrapper. It’s a townhouse wrapper, made of translucent plastic, the brand name in green and red. It looks dusty and the creases in the crumples look like they’ve been there for a long time. This wrapper means trouble.
She approaches me. We don’t know what to do. In anywhere but rehab this wouldn’t warrant a moment’s thought. But this is not anywhere, it’s here. In the tiny microcosm of rehab; where the walls have eyes and snitching is the standard. In rehab, the rules are tyrants. Break them at your own peril and fear the consequences. And one of the rules, the many, many rules, forbids all patients from so much as thinking about taking food outside the kitchen. We eat at meals and taking a morsel of food an inch out of the dining room door triggers the penalty.
Therefore, in rehab, taking a package of crackers beyond that door is almost criminal. And, as a finder of the evidence of such a heinous crime, you have to snitch or be snitched. No secrets are sacred — they can be exposed by the confidante or confider at any time, in any group.
We decided that we had to tell. We had to report the evidence of the crime — the lone crumpled and dejected cracker wrapper. Once discovered, this inconsequential bit of trash had power over us. It’s discovery demanded disclosure. The wrapper taunted us and we were torn. In our regular brain, the idea of doing anything but throwing it away, seemed ridiculous. But our tyrannical rehab brain screamed that this was a crime, that someone had broken the rules. And, in rehab, breaking a rule means you’re on the slippery slope to the dreaded Relapse.
So we told. I drank the Rehab Kool-aid. And that shit is spiked with something strong. Maybe it’s time to stick to water.