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Adventures in Escapism

I had begun to accept that I was going to be in a residential treatment facility.

The obstinacy and willingness had been replaced by a changing perspective and compliance not displayed since my first 90 days clean in 2007. On Monday morning, coffee steaming and gray clouds coasting past a pink horizon, I felt perfectly in place and a lone fish leapt from the intercoastal.  It was one of those moments which, if you believe it to be so, God communicates with you to let you know he’s there.

AddictEven with this sudden awareness and surrender, there was still my material instinct, which causes me to dream of the day in the near future when I will be reunited with my roly poly dumpling. The obnoxious and constant consumerism of Christmas only heightened this, and I couldn’t even turn on the TV without being reminded of what I was missing. So much for zoning out in front of the idiot box to cope with the guilt I felt. I’m the cause of not being home, and had thrown away my clean time for the sake of a feel good. The hope I had, and what kept me going, was the prospect of making up with her on Christmas morning.

My therapist, a very attractive woman my own age, had told me about the overnight visit. Still, even though it was mentioned to my husband and I as a solid possibility, I didn’t realize it had to be brought up in front of committee of minds hired to discuss patient feelings, change, and behavior as well as other seemingly intangible measures of progress. The experts expertly said no, apparently because of the possibility that some unpronounceable portion of my brain would begin to fire off smoke signals. I would have to settle for a 3 hour visit instead. As an addict, I hate disappointment. As an addict, I hate the word no.

Frustrated and angry, I fled to the one place where there are always tasks to distract me from my rage until I cool down; the kitchen. Maria put me to dishes but unfortunately, elbow deep in dishwater and floating spinach leaves, my head was still full of galloping and stampeding thoughts. Attempting to replace each negative idea with a positive one just wasn’t working. The result was like watching a horse race where 40 share the track at once and run in completely opposite directions. Please excuse the profanity while I provide some examples.

These stupid assholes. Don’t they see how hard I am trying?

I am trying very hard, but they’re the experts so they must know best.

No growth I even make here will be good enough for these fucking people.

I’m doing the best I can, but I still have a ways to go.

Maybe an overnight really isn’t a great idea and I shouldn’t go at all.

Fuck this fucking bullshit.

And so on and so forth. Realizing I wasn’t getting anywhere, I turned to my second coping mechanism; food. Having finished the dishes, I grabbed my plate and went to the day room to eat and cry over my disappointment. Tears mixed with Maria’s whole wheat spaghetti only made it taste that much better…until Dr. Moran came in and asked me if I was ok. Suddenly I had a focus and a person to blame for my misery, rather than see it as an unfortunate result of my using, and I jumped at it.

I can’t really remember what was said in anger after that but I do know the he didn’t respond in kind, which made me cry harder and yell louder. In the midst of embarrassing myself with my hysterics the community got involved and started yelling back at me. Through it all Dr. Moran sat cross legged in his suit and paisley bow-tie; resembling Willie Wonka in his factory of insanity, who throughout the entire movie, does not need to comment on the guests’ misbehavior because he has Oompa Loompas to do it for him. And sing they did.

With two coping skills exhausted, and thinking I had no other option, the only other comfortable thing to do was quit and run.

Knowing the van was taking us to Crossroads, and knowing I would see a meeting full of familiar people, I began to plot my great escape. Four years ago, when I lived in a halfway house with no transportation, I would ask for rides all the time – this time shouldn’t be too difficult either. When we stopped at home I left my things neatly packed in a corner of the closet for later retrieval. The 36 Moran dollars I had saved in an attempt to purchase my overnight freedom like a slave were left in the back of the van for the girls to find and disperse among themselves. I wouldn’t need them to buy Slim Jim’s where I was going, which was finally home to see my baby girl.

Thomas is a gentleman I have known for many years from the rooms of NA, and he enjoys dressing up as a pirate. This is not a joke. On Halloween nights and during Renaissance festivals, you will find him in his full regalia, with eyepatch and accompanying rat, behaving in a very seaworthy manner. With his 4-inch beard and the pirate hat that he wears on a daily basis, however, he is not hard to miss. After asking a few people who couldn’t take me, he became my target. Despite the L-House girl’s protests and attempts to chase me down, my decision had been made. I climbed in his van envisioning my homecoming and the reunion with my baby. Needless to say, my husband, shocked to see me at the front door, was not very pleased. The long and arduous discussion where my defiance was met with ultimatum, culminated with pleading and my mother on the speakerphone as a last resort. My choices were divorce and isolation from my family, or contemplating treatment. Being the type of addict that I am, I fought back. I offered alternate solutions. I tried to manipulate. I begged and pleaded, please don’t make me go back there. The decision was difficult. I actually had to think about and contemplate my choices. Finally, shoulders slumped, head dropped, looking a lot like a dog that knows its messed on the carpet, I climbed into the car to come back.

Hindsight is a luxury only afforded to those addicts fortunate enough to make it back alive. I realize that I am blessed to be here and the behavior I displayed in this situation has shown me a reflection of mistakes that led me to use. I see that I use coping mechanisms that are healthy, such as distraction, and some that are not so healthy, such as eating. I also see that I have a tendency to run even though I’ve never considered myself to be a quitter. There are plenty of things I could have done before escaping with a pirate. There are also plenty of things I could have done before I relapsed. Talked to a friend, been honest with my feelings, journaled, found my therapist and discussed the situation, and shared about it in the meeting, are all options to solving such problems before I think myself into doing something stupid. As in this situation, I made the decision to use before the action ever took place, and it wouldn’t have mattered how many girls chased me down or how many coordinators tried to talk me out of it. A mind set on something inflexible, unchanging, and unable to see anything other than what it wants to see, including healthier perspectives.

Riddled with self-will, I figured that a 3 hour visit on my terms would be just as good as a 3 hour visit granted to me by Dr. Moran, but was obviously mistaken since the majority of time was spent arguing. It’s amazing how one minute others disappoint me because I have the expectations I immediately take it back.

I don’t have to like what people say in order to accept that it’s what I need to hear. I also don’t have to like where I’m at to accept it’s where God needs me to be at that moment. Through it all however, I have options – and I never have to use. And didn’t.

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