It was March 10th, 2020. I remember the tears in my mother’s eyes as she dropped me off. I’ll never forget as I got out of the passenger seat of the car my mother asked me to grab the tissues in the backseat and place them in the front. That destroyed me inside right there knowing when she left she was going to cry her way home. It was my fault and I had to make this work.
We made our way to the entrance of the rehab facility and when we got inside they notified us that due to the COVID pandemic they were not allowing any family in. There would also be no visitation. I could see this also upset my mother. I assured her I would be ok. And the intake man was very nice to her.
I don’t remember much of my “intake”. I do remember I blew a .00 even though I drank a bit that day. I also tested negative for THC which was impossible because I smoked that day! Oh well, didn’t matter anyhow I was there and not going anywhere.
Next thing I knew it was around 3:00 am as I looked across my room to the empty bed, I wondered, how did I get here? I was in a detox unit of a rehab facility. As I asked myself these questions, it finally just hit me square in the face that I was in there for a reason. I obviously could not handle my shit on my own. I needed help, I needed a lot of help.
I woke up the next morning, or more came out of a fog I should say. My hands trembled as I went outside to smoke my much needed first cigarette. I didn’t realize why my hands were trembling for a few minutes and then I realized it was because I hadn’t drank since the day before. I also think it was that combined with my anxiety.
That’s where I met the guys that would become “my crew” for my stay there. One was Walter, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, you could not approach him from behind as that was a trigger for him. Then my other buddy Rob who owned a car mechanics shop had no teeth. I remember I didn’t know this until we had waffles one morning that were too hard and he couldn’t chew them. Then there was a younger kid Danny who just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. But he was a good kid. That was the crew.
As we smoked our cigarettes together I felt so out of place in the beginning, I don’t know if it was a feeling that I thought I was better than everyone or maybe I was just scared and my mind was just all over the place.
After our cigarettes and medication we headed to the cafeteria for breakfast. One funny thing I would like to mention is we called our meds skittles. We all took so many and they came in all colors. We laughed about that, and we needed a laugh.
Our first day they served omelettes from an omelette station. No bullshit. I remember thinking how fancy that was. We were walked in by a “technician” which is really just a fancy term for our babysitter. When you were done with breakfast you couldn’t just go back to your room. Your babysitter walked everyone from the detox unit to and from all meals.
I remember in the detox unit we had a lot of down time. I smoked a lot, I mean a lot. Also we drank tons of coffee. It was very stereotypical to say the least. I also remember the boys making frozen banana slices and eating them while they played cards.
I’ll never forget when I was first introduced to the twelve steps my first response was “here we go with the God bullshit.” I was no fan of religion or their God. But I knew I couldn’t leave, I had to stay as I knew I needed the help but I guess I didn’t know what kind.
Then I was handed a pocket size copy of Alcoholics Anonymous. It changed my life. As I read through the pages I saw myself in these words. I wondered how this book and the author knew so much of my life and the struggles I was facing. I went through those pages over and over again. I carried it everywhere with the pictures of my family and my cats that I had in my pockets. I made little notes in the margins and highlighted stuff all over the book relating the stories like mine.
I remember also how impressed I was by the TV area and how it was like a fancy living room with big plush leather couches and also leather recliners. There was also a flat screen TV, PS4 and a bunch of video games and movies. I don’t really remember the content of our first “meeting.” I just remember the head of the detox unti Jay was extremely calm and quiet. All he used to say is “I’m just one of you guys.”
He told his story of who he had been, what he had done wrong, the way he righted those wrongs, made amends and how he was living day to day now sober for over 24 years. As I listened I still remember zoning out from time to time as I think I was still in a bit of shock over where I was.
One thing that happened with Jay that made me realize I needed to stay was someone was saying something, I forget exactly what, but Jay turned to him and said “The door is right there, you don’t have to stay here.” At that moment I thought I could just leave, then it hit me again – you need to stay here because you belong here! From that moment forward I was in. No doubt about it, I was in.
Everything seemed to be going well and then COVID started getting worse. I remember watching daily as the numbers of infected and dying just kept rising. Everyone started to get real anxious as we had no contact with the outside world and didn’t really know what was going on with our families. We had no access to phones, emails or any type of communication except for certain times on Sunday. I also got anxious, to say the least.
So it got a little bit stressful there. Also a lot of the meetings we were supposed to have got cancelled. I was told a lot of the meetings later in the afternoon and evening were outside AA and NA guys coming in to run the meetings. So that sucked.
It ends up without me knowing it actually set a course for me that would change my life.
One day when we needed to fill up some time we were given a choice: do we want to go downstairs to the gym or did we want to go meditate? I chose meditation because the truth is I’m lazy and don’t work out anymore.
We just all sat in a room while Mitch lead us and put on some meditation music. Everyone else was sitting in chairs bit for some reason I decide to sit on the floor with my back against the wall.(I was so out of shape I couldn’t sit up on my own in the meditation position yet.)
Those fifteen minutes saved my life. After that I decided I needed to make a decision. Reason was my mind was running wild about this virus going around. What if it got real bad? What if there is a quarantine? How long would I be stuck there? Was my family going to be okay?
So I meditated on this. Something that was brand new for me. I came to the conclusion I needed to leave. That thought scared me a bit and I really didn’t want to go. I had friends that we cried together, laughed together and went through some sht together. I would be all alone again with my worst enemy. Myself…
Stay tuned for our next post!!!