Just another day at the side of the mountain . . .
We all have to meet up in the big meeting room each morning to check in for attendance. One of staff will calls out the names and we all have to answer to show that we are still here. I have seen a few others answer for their roommates and their friends.
I have also heard people respond to roll call with the jail-minded responses. For example, today is my eighth day in. This means I have 20 days left so in this regard, my answer would to roll call as 19 and a wake up. Although Mountainside Lakes is not the prettiest of places, it is certainly not jail nor does it resemble anything like a jailhouse environment.
Billy had 1 and a wake up.
Billy called out, “Wake up,” during yesterday’s roll call, which means Billy leaves today before lunch. I like Billy.
I have to admit, I never expected to feel close with anyone here. Then again, this is what happens when you go through an intense moment with people.
Your guard is broken down, your feelings are so raw to the touch, you’re vulnerable, homesick, your emotions are all around the world, and literally, you feel everything because the numbing agent of a drink or a drug is gone and taken away. I suppose it would be easy to stay clean here. Maybe this is why so many in treatment think they might choose to become counselors someday.
I also have to admit, there is something comfortable about treatment. There is something safe, yet restricting, but yet, although we detested the idea at first, I can see how one can grow to depend upon institutional living. Not me though. I still want to get out of here as soon as humanly possible.
Billy is leaving. Jimmy had already left but we received word from his wife that Jimmy was in a car accident the same night he returned home. Although his accident was not so tragic, Jimmy was driving drunk. He violated the conditions of his sentencing, which means once jimmy is out of the hospital, Jimmy will go straight to jail.
Jimmy is not big or tough and he certainly does not have a “Hard-Time” disposition. He is little, ginger haired, red faced and freckled with missing teeth. He is a nice guy though. He was a friend of Billy’s. He was also someone that everybody thought would make it.
Jimmy caught God while he was here. He prayed in the chapel in the morning. He followed the rules and worked the steps given to him. He wept in group. He seemed so wholehearted. I suppose when Jimmy left this place behind him, he left everything here behind him.
According to Jimmy’s wife, he was home a few hours before he offered to go out and pick up dinner. Sadly, Jimmy never came home. And he won’t be home anytime soon.
As a repeat, Billy explained to me, “This is what happens here.”
”This is what happens in rehab. People leave. You swear you’ll speak again, You swear you’ll keep in touch and you’ll mean it at the time, but once your car drives passed the end of the driveway, this place is a memory and all that you’ve learned is often forgotten.”
I never thought much about what the words addiction or alcoholism mean. I never thought they were real problems. I thought it was all a case of will power (or the lack thereof.)
Jimmy knew all about it though. He was a model patient here. Jimmy was the one that suggested I stop referring to us as inmates.
“Because we’re not,” said Jimmy, and now he’s in a hospital, banged up, and broken, and probably wishing he could come back here.
Billy seemed shaken up last night after learning about the accident. I think he is frightened to go home. I think I’ll try to keep in touch with Billy. I think I would like to keep him as a friend. At least this way, regardless to what happens next; at least, I can say I know someone that went through the same thing as me.
This morning was strange. It was not strange because I’m here or because I am getting used to the routine. The morning was strange because I was not awoken by my roommate John. He wakes up at sunrise. He snores a lot too, but the earplugs have kept it so that I can sleep.
John wasn’t at roll call either. I suppose he wandered off earlier than usual and stayed out longer. He was nowhere to be found though. He wasn’t even in the bathroom, which was kind of nice because I have to wait a long time before I can get in there.
I have become part of the late night powwows and I am welcomed in the circles of conversation now. I don’t feel so much like an outsider anymore. I can’t say that I like everyone nor can I say if everyone likes me. But I don’t feel like everyone here is my enemy. We are a crazy dysfunctional family.
In fact, John and I have had ourselves a few conversations. This is crazy because if you had asked me when I first arrives, I never thought I would take to anyone.
John is old and quiet and smart and loving. John is kind and there is pain to him. I’m not sure what happened to him, —at least, not exactly, but word slipped out that John is terminally ill.
He was trying to hide this from everyone to keep other from feeling uncomfortable around him. Last night, John confirmed this to me in a conversation.
He only said, “I’m not gonna be around too much longer.” And “I just don’t want anyone to have to see me sick in the hospital or dictate the way I should die.”
“I want to die with pride,” said John. As a priest, or even as an ex-priest turned junkie, and then turned clean, and turned friend, I hope John finds peace.
Mountainside is cliquey. I try to avoid cliques. I’ve been reading a lot though. I’ve been reading the books they gave me and somehow, crazy as it seems, I have been honestly filling out the workbook they gave me the day after my intake.
Right now, I am going through the family questions. I have answered about my history. I have told about my use and my drinking, Now I am up to the beatings. I pause to admit to the rest because the rest are topics I swore to leave buried a long time ago. I am afraid to discuss this because once unearthed, I am afraid of what might follow.
I was just a kid the first time my father hit me. Son of a bitch almost broke my arm once. The funny thing is the rejection I felt from him hurt worse than my arm.
I just wanted a dad like the other kids. I wanted to have a “Normal” family like everyone else. I wanted my mother to love me and I wanted to have the kind of father that made me proud.
I wanted the kind of dad that was a superhero. I wanted the one I could say, “My dad could beat up your dad,” but I didn’t have that. Mine was half in the bottle, half with the ponies and the racing forms, half with his mistresses, half with junkie friends, half lending money and the other half owing it out.
My mother never said anything. She just endured in silence. She never defended me. She never helped me. She just said, “He’s your father,” and withstood her sad life without ever questioning why.
I never had love nor did I understand what love was. I never had nice things. I never felt like I fit. I always felt unwanted. No wonder I turned out the way I did. No wonder I became who I am.
I think about my past mistakes and I see how literally each one of them ties back to where I came from. But deep down, all I want is love.
I think of the people I lived with in my life. I think of the love that stared me in my face and I think about how I walked away. I let it slip through my fingers because I’d have rather been safe than take the risk to be loved and happy.
I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t know so much if it was the drinking that almost killed me. I don’t know if it was the pills, the cocaine, the bad friendships, the bad relationships, the depression, the anguish or the lonesomeness that almost killed me.
I don’t know if this place opened my eyes or if I always saw it and I just avoided the truth. All I know is I am here. I am feeling so many things that fly at a thousand miles an hour. I feel too much. I also fear too much. I am sad about the kid Brian. I feel for John. I feel for Jimmy. I feel for Billy. I feel for me too.
What the hell am I supposed to do with the rest of my life? I am 56 years old, in rehab, and I am told I have to either change my ways of thinking or I could die. And they might be right. What kind of life will I have if I just go back to doing the same thing?
I remember the hours before my accident. I remember not caring if I lived or died. Deep down, I knew something was about to happen. I believe the propulsion of my sabotage was all mine and unstoppable. I knew what I was doing but again, I was like water losing to the drain. In the end, there was no stopping me. I never thought I would see life this way. Truth is I never thought much about anything except for me and my own grandiose bullshit. I keep thinking about what they mentioned to me.
“Bring the body and the mind will follow.”
I know where my body is.
It’s here at Mountainside . . .
I’m just not sure where my mind is
Maybe it hasn’t shown up yet
God, I hope John is alright-