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.  


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.   



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.  

Live from Rehab

It’s official — I’ve checked into rehab.  Not necessarily my own choice, more at the insistence of the Bar Committee.  I don’t have access to my phone, the internet, or any meaningful technology.  Not to fear! One of my brothers was kind enough to maintain the blog while I sweat out 90 days in rehab.  We’ll be communicating via snail mail — me sending letters with post content, him typing up and posting.  So please excuse any delay in comment responses, we’re working under strained circumstances.  

Thanks for all your support during this rough and ugly time — it means a lot. 🙂  So stay tuned for the latest from rehab — albeit delayed, I can promise living color.  

Signing off


Her Majesty


The Golden State

You are the hole in my head
I am the pain in your neck
You are the lump in my throat
I am the aching in your heart
We are tangled
We are stolen
We are living where things are hidden

The Golden State by John Doe always pulls at me, making me yearn for something, even after dozens of listens.  Part of me likes it because the relationship described appeals to me.  And part of me is reminded of the Ex, not just our past but also the possibility of a future, no matter how remote.

“I am the aching in your heart” just calls to mind a certain sort of relationship, generally the kind that I am prone to.  To be the aching in someone’s heart suggests that that in the relationship there is still something to be desired, something that’s longed for.  This longing, this yearning, is a feeling that I highly identify with.  At my core, I’m always yearning for something.  There’s a beautiful word in Spanish for this, which doesn’t fully translate back to English: añorar, to long for, to grieve, to miss.  It’s a deep and fundamental emotion that’s often the essence and motivation for my writing.  I write because there’s something that’s missing inside me, something I long for, a hole in my life I’m trying to fill.  And at the very least, my writing is a way of channeling this emotion, of making it real by reducing it to words.  There’s an emptiness in me, a longing for something.  

At my core, I’m probably longing for a relationship, for love.  Chronically single and bad with men, I’ve nevertheless always wanted a relationship, a boyfriend, someone to share my life with.  I crave the intimacy of love and the warm, secure feeling of being in a happy relationship.  And I’ve only had one of those in my 25 years of life.  I, perhaps vainly, consider myself attractive and desirable so my bad luck is a mystery I haven’t been able to solve.  But I did have one good relationship, at least for a little while, and  that was with the Ex.

He was my first real boyfriend and my first love.  The second time we hung out he told me he could see himself marrying me.  And that momentum carried us through the relationship– he, always making grand plans about our future; me, along for the ride and ready for whatever he threw at me.  He was committed to our future, which he ardently believed included kids (lots of them) and marriage.  Well, he was committed until he wasn’t.  He broke up with me seemingly out of the blue on an evening in early January 2011.  We’d been together for a little over a year and a half.  And it took me at least half of a year to even start getting over him.

But he’s never completely extracted himself from my life.  Even now, after spending more time broken up than we ever did together, he still calls.  He still makes grand plans about moving down south with me, about getting me pregnant (weird), and about making a ton of money together as successful professionals.  And, without fail, after two weeks of consistent contact he gets cold feet again and shuts me out.  “We’re talking too much” is his constant refrain.

I’ve learned to expect nothing from him and his yoyoing no longer breaks my heart– it’s become an almost comedic routine that I watch from the sidelines detached, predicting when the inevitable “we can’t talk anymore” text will arrive.

But even so, sometimes, I think that there’s still something there.  I think that he truly believes that we will get back together someday and fulfill his grand dream of marriage, kids, and money.  And most of the time, I don’t want this.  Since the break up I’ve been able to see some of his, and our, flaws and I’m ok with a future that doesn’t include him.  But sometimes, sometimes, I let myself think “what if.”  What if he is the aching in my heart?  Is that what I am for him, even if he’s not ready to admit to himself?

I don’t know when, or if, these questions will get answered.  But I do know that this song, John Doe’s “The Golden State,” reminds me of him.  Who knows if we’ll ever get back together, who knows if I’d even want to, who knows what our life would be like.  But I do know that, if not now, I have been the hole in his head, he has been the pain in my neck, I think I’ve been the lump in his throat, and maybe he is the aching in my heart.

We are love
We are hate
We are the feeling I get when you walk away….

My Little Lady Bug


My little girl all dressed up. I’ll miss her during those long 90 days in rehab!

Nostalgia in Endless Waves

The waves no longer lap at my feet.  The tide has changed and, even from the shore, the current laces its long, cold fingers around my ankles and pulls– hard.  I’m being pulled out to sea but the sea is not a gentle one.  Its waters are choppy and at times great gusts of wind pull the waves to frightening heights.  It’s a sea that’s easy to get lost in, to drown in.  And even though I’m standing on the shore, ankle deep, I’m in the danger zone.  The intensity of my yearning overwhelms and surprises me– and it scares me that my past has so much power even in my present.
I’m prone to nostalgia and always have been, although I don’t know why.  There must be something inside of me that embellishes days gone by.  My memory is tainted by the embellishment, the nostalgia, and so I yearn to relive the past.  
At a basic level, I suppose I am chronically unsatisfied by the present.  There’s a hollow emptiness inside of me that I run from.  And running to the past has become a predictable escape.  There’s nothing wrong with looking back with a little nostalgia– but I take it too far, I transform it into an escape from my present at the expense of progress.
My nostalgia knows no bounds– just yesterday I found myself missing my in-patient psychiatric hospitalizations.  This is very nearly absurd.  I hated every minute of the hospitalizations, spent most of my time there crying, and literally counted the hours until my release.  But I caught myself thinking about it nonetheless.  Maybe I’m missing the freedom to do nothing, to sleep all day, the freedom from having to keep it together, the freedom to cry, to have someone checking on me, making sure I’m alright.
Nostalgia can be dangerous.  My deep longing for my drug days gone by is a problem.  Lately my mind has been taken over by recollections of my law school drug benders with the Werewolf.  And I’m struck by the intensity of the feeling, the feeling that I can’t shake. I long for that experience, and the sense of boundlessness that came with it.  When we were on those benders there were no rules– we could stay up all night, re-dose at five in the morning as the sun came up, refuse to come down, spend the weekend naked, have sex whenever we wanted, cancel all engagements, and never leave the house.  I have to tell myself that those days were bad for me but caught up in the memories of the past, it’s hard to remember why.  This nostalgia is dangerous– it jeopardizes and strains my sobriety.  But lately, in spite of these warnings, at my core I long for those days gone by and it feels like I would give anything to relive them.
And so the tide, the currents, the waves, and the winds of the sea of nostalgia are pulling me into the fray, into the heart of the sea where it’s easier to sink than swim.  My past lies at the floor of the ocean and it sings its siren song to me.  This song haunts me and my heart yearns for the reunion– even if I’ll have to drown to get there. 

Infinite Sleep

All I do these days is sleep– and I’m already an excessive sleeper.  Yesterday, I took a nap at 1:00 in the afternoon and didn’t wake up until my alarm went off at 7:00 am this morning.  And these days, that isn’t unusual.
I’m avoiding something and sleep is the best escape there is.  I’m avoiding being conscious; being alive in my present.  Because right now, my present is purgatory. I’m stuck in between real life and rehab.  With less than two weeks to go until my check-in date, now is not the time to start new projects, to go grocery shopping, to start anything that can’t wait 90 days to finish.
It’s terrible that I’m spending all this time asleep because I mean to be spending more time with my dog, awake.  I can’t take her with me and thinking about leaving her alone while I’m stuck in rehab is enough to make me cry today.  I shudder to think of the mess I’ll be in 13 days when it’s actually time to say goodbye. I’m scared she’ll forget me, although I know she won’t.  I’m scared that she’ll think she’s been abandoned, and I hate that there’s nothing I can tell her now that will make the separation easier for her.  
Every day is ugly and I’m tired of looking out at gray skies from eleven stories up.  I know should be enjoying my shrinking days of freedom but I’m just not.  I drag my feet everywhere I go and can’t shake the feeling of weight that hangs off of me.  Even though I’m shedding pounds as I go, I feel heavier with each day that brings me closer to rehab.
It’s not that I feel doomed, per se. I know I’ll survive and the 90 days will pass soon enough.  It’s just this purgatory of a waiting period that’s killing me.  Living outside of the present hasn’t done anything to make the here and now more appealing.  This waiting is a paralysis that’s killing my desire to live out these waiting weeks.
And so my body’s decided to sleep what’s left of my life away.  Time goes by faster when you don’t have to think. Or feel.  And don’t want to feel– I want to fast forward.  I’m ready for my check-out day, and until I check-in it feels like my life is on hold.  And so I’m operating in stand-by mode.
And instead of seeking out the present, I’m taking the easy way out and reaching for infinite sleep.

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