How's that for a mug? I'm surprised they didn't kick me out of that ritzy joint. ;)
It really is a nice place--and it damn well oughta be for what my insurance paid for it. I guess it's like the Betty Ford Center of the East coast. It's the place where such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, and many other demented pop stars have gone to chill. The house I was in was not nearly as fancy as some of the other facilities on campus, but it was still a damn sight better than the shithole where I went to treatment in Mississippi 8.5 years ago. I was hoping Ozzy Osbourne or Ace Frehley would check in, but alas, I was stuck hanging out with the junkie son of a guitarist for a famous rock group that my friend Crumplestilskin once aptly referred to as "the Valium of rock." Oh well--you can't win 'em all.
I did, of course, see some interesting characters. I was there so long that four or four different crowds formed and left during my stay. The house I was in is primarily a detox (though you see a psychiatrist and do group and meetings and all that), so most people are there for only 4-7 days or so. But I'm actually quite lucky to have good insurance through the university, so I was able to hang for 21 days and get myself a lot more straight than I would have in 5 days. Not that I'm fixed, of course, but at least I have a good start.
Some of y'all probably don't even know the history behind all this, so I'll let you know a little about that. I was an everyday drinker from the time I was 16 or so till age 25, when I was basically crawling around my mother's basement between the refrigerator and the toilet all day and night. So I eventually went to treatment for 3.5 months from Nov. '96 through Feb. '97. I'd been living in Virginia, but I did treatment back home in Mississippi, and I ended up staying there, living with family, getting back in school, and not having too bad a time with not drinking. So I stayed completely sober as I finished school, went to grad school, did the publishing course in NYC, and moved up here to CT. I hadn't done any meetings or changed much of my thinking or behavior other than not drinking. I still stayed pretty much to myself and didn't do a whole lot--so when I got up here away from everyone and everything I knew, I was pretty much a sitting duck. After I'd lived here for a few months, I started partaking in other drugs--DXM, some pot, Vicodin (goddamn the fucking Internet), etc. For two and a half years, I was fucked up most of the time on one thing or another, and none of it worked any better for me than the alcohol had. I got just as lost and depressed as I had years ago--so eventually I guess I figured, hell, things are already in the shitter, so I might as well do what I like best and fucking drink--so I did. I started back with that rotten stuff late last summer, and it was off to the races. There were no thoughts like, oh, I'll just have a couple of beers, blase blase. I was drinking a 12-pack plus several shots every night, just like I'd done before. And I'm sure you can figure out how well that worked. It took me nine months or so of beating my head against the wall and knowing I had to do something. I tried some meetings here and there, but the anxiety prevented me from really asking anyone for help, and it made me even crazier to go to meetings and then come home and still have to drink. Anyway. Basically, the deal was that I had to get out of my life for a while, so I did. And I'm glad I did. God KNOWS I never wanted to go to rehab again, but it's a very good thing that I did, and I'm grateful that I made it there before everything went TOTALLY to shit.
Yap. I'll write more later about the whole experience and what I'm doing now, but I'm kinda bushed. It's been a LONG, fairly eventful day. But I will leave you with one story.
A bunch of us were sitting out on the patio and smoking cigarettes like crazy people. (Well, we are crazy people, so there you go.) We were playing the game Taboo, in which you have a word that you have to get the other team to guess, only there are certain words that you can't use. So this chick Lauren and I were trying to get the other team to guess "rubber band." I decided to go for each word separately and said, "Condom." Jan from Texas guessed, "Rubber!" Righto, but there's another word to it. "Rubber band!" Correctamundo! Congratulations and laughter all around. After it died down, our Yodaesque housemate Pradip, an elderly Indian man with no front teeth and a taste for Kool cigarettes, looked at me with the most puzzled look on his face and asked, " . . . They come with a band?"
Needless to say, I fucking DIED. I had to get up and stumble around in the grass for about a minute and a half. I was HURTING. Finally, I regained control--or so I thought. I returned to the patio, calmed myself, and grabbed my cup of water--only to replay Pradip's words in my head and nearly choke on the water. It was flying everywhere, including all over Lauren, along with a healthy supply of snot hurtling out my nose. Good times.
Last thought for the night: THANK YOU for the positive thoughts and the cards, letters, stories, etc. I'm going to thank folks individually, but I'm spent right about now. But do know that all that meant a lot--it really brought a smile to my face to know that people out there were thinking of me. So sincere thanks, f'real.