There was a bond I felt to the people I was “Away” with. Though it was brief, our interaction is something I will never forget. In fact, I use their memory to inspire my path. This way, I will never forget where I came from and I will never be who I was again.
After completing 28 days of treatment in an adult facility, I was immediately sent to another short-term center for another 42 days until the courts remanded me to long-term treatment.
This place was smaller with fewer patients than my previous experience. The kitchen was smaller and the bedrooms were small to medium sized. There property was on a main road, but the road ran through a quiet part of an Upstate town, so traffic was rare. There was little to see and few places to go. There was housing for bunks and the main house, which is where we spent most of our time.
I was unsure what to expect when I walked through the doors. I was frightened to meet the other patients. It seemed that most in adolescent facilities had little intention of succeeding in sobriety. Most in this case are sent by parents, and some by the courts. They have less to lose. Some find the experience to be a joke or a game. I was unsure if I would be tested or have to fight and defend myself.
I arrived at lunchtime. My longhair was cut short to ready myself for another trip before the judge. I sat at the end of a table, and shortly after, some of the other patients joined me. They asked the usual questions like, “Where are you from,” and, “Why are you here?”
They were all kids like me. They came from different parts of the country. They all had backgrounds and one story was harder than the one before it. We were all around the same ages, which ranged from the youngest at 15 to the oldest at 19.
My stay was very intense. My court case was pending and the threat of jail time was a strong possibility. I was not ready to break though and the urge to use was still in my system. At this point, I was unreachable. I was not sold on the idea of sobriety—but I did learn how to play the game. I learned the language and the different slogans that came with treatment. I learned how to sound good and seem as if the program was working. I did this to fool those who influenced my stay or made the decision if I could leave, complete treatment, and allow me the chance to rejoin society.
This place was not what I expected. Yes, the intentions of sobriety were few. However the stories from the other patients are some of the many reasons why I stay sober. As well, it is why I feel the need to help those who were like me.
Kym was pretty. She had straight blonde hair with blonde eyebrows and blue eyes like an angel. She would have seemed otherwise innocent if it were not for the scars on her arms or the way she spoke. She was the daughter of a musician. Her father was hardly around and her mother was less than stable. If asked why she spelled her name with a “Y,” Kym would smile to hint the irony and say, “Why not?”
Kym was young. She was certainly too young to be serving a second term at rehab and she was definitely too young to see the things she saw. I remember the time she explained the scars on her wrist. That was after her first sexual experience, which was with one of her father’s band mates.
I remember the day when Kym decided to sing. We were waiting for a group session to begin, when unexpectedly and out of nowhere, Kym opened her mouth and sung as if her sorrow wept from her voice.
It was perfect enough to quiet the rest of the grumbling patients. All of us leaned back in our chairs that were against the walls in a squared room with white walls, white ceiling, and gray carpet. Then we leaned our heads back, all of us looking upwards to the ceiling, listening, and feeling the same as Kym did.
When asked why she never sang before, Kym replied, “I would never want to be a singer,”
She said. “My father is a singer and I don’t ever want to be anything like him.”
Meanwhile, her father was the reason Kym behaved as she did. She was no different. She was defiant and determined to live her life the way she wanted. Kym was content with her excuses and comfortable with her reasons to be the way she was. she had a musician for a father and a groupie for a mother. She tried hard to fly away, but the cocaine bugs took her wings, and the dope gods helped her to land softly.
I never met a girl as extraordinary, or talented and beautiful, but yet, so completely unaware of how valuable she truly was. She used to wear a rubber band around her wrist. Whenever she thought of something sad or felt something painful, Kym would snap the rubber band to inflict a quick sting to manifest the pain.
“It helps me,” she said.
She told me, “It’s my way of keeping myself in line. And when the pain hits, I feel like it’s enough to wake me up. You know? It’s my way of straightening up enough to tell the world to go fuck off.”
Kym left midway through her stay at treatment. She was supposed to go someplace else. But two days later, we received word from her mother. Kym didn’t make it.
There were others like Kym. There was Brian. He was my roommate for a while. Brian was very tall and very strong. As a result of a severe beating, Brian had a lazy eye—so it was difficult to look at him. Brian had a large nose, braces on his teeth, a large, round shaped head, with light brown curly hair that mopped over his ears. He also had bruises. He had scars. These were all gifts from his drunken father.
Brian also chose to leave treatment. Instead of staying as my roommate, the state police came. They cuffed Brian and took him away. But I can say this, in the short period I knew Brian; I can say that I knew him well. I can say that I knew things about him, which no one else will ever know. And very much like Kym, the biggest tragedy is Brian was unaware of his own worth. He was unable to let go of the pain and unwilling to submit to this thing called sobriety. Instead, Brian picked the other option to his sentence. He chose prison time. All he had to do was complete 42 days in rehab—instead, Brian chose multiple years in jail.
Whether the stories among the patients were intense or less dramatic, there was one common denominator. We all felt misplaced or disconnected in one way or another. We all felt unwanted somewhere or misfitting, but yet, we all wanted to be accepted and fitting. We felt lost or confused about our direction; we were unable to voice our questions, fears, or concerns. We were afraid to be afraid and we all tried to act as if. We tried to act is if we did’nt care, and we acted like we were never afraid with “Act” being the key word in that sentence.
We were the unreachable kids. We were the unlikely to survive or succeed. We were the one who always wanted; we always dreamed, but we never thought we could achieve them. And even if we did—most of us believed dreams are short lived because nothing good could last very long. Eventually, highs crumble and life has a way of choosing its own terms
The hardest part (for me) was letting go. I was afraid of life without something “Extra” to balance the scale. To me, drugs were a means to an end. This was how I satisfied the anxiety and softened the sharp edges of hard and jagged emotions. Drugs and alcohol is how I solved the frustrations; it’s how I answered the unanswerable or solved the unsolvable.
My addiction and my behavior was like a special coin in my pocket—and when something went wrong, or if I were angry, or frustrated; if I felt stupid, humiliated, or I if I believed I had no value, and whenever I needed to control or remove myself from something because of social anxiety—or if I ever wanted to respond, but I lacked the voice, and whenever I felt awkward, odd, or unaccepted, or simply put, whenever I needed to feel better, I dug my hand in my pocket to rub that special coin.
That coin was my way keeping the world at a distance. If something heavy came my way, or life became too stressful and I felt like I needed a break, I could reach for my special coin and go lay down somewhere.
The hardest part (for me) was letting go of that magic coin.
Otherwise, I would have been unreachable