The days between my arraignment and my departure to rehab were more like a blur than anything else. So much happened to me in a short amount of time. I packed everything up in my room, I prepared to take a plea, and I secured an attorney. Mom had a nervous breakdown, which was horrible. The Old Man was angry and wanted to kill me. My brother could hardly stand to look at me but worse than this were the details of my arrest, which made the local newspaper, complete with the reports of a helicopter chase and all. This meant everybody knew what happened.
I was offered a program, which I took instead of jail. The program was called T.A.S.C. which to this day is an acronym that I knew nothing about.
However, I learned something very quickly from my overnight in the holding cells, —I learned that I did not want to be the kind of man I would have to be to survive in jail.
I remember being picked on in grade school and in middle school. I was sent to a special needs school, in which I was picked on there as well, but not as badly. Eventually, I was expelled for an incident that I will save for my bullying pages. But nevertheless, I remember what it was like to be picked on or bullied; however, all of what I experienced was a walk through the park; this was kindergarten compared to what I would experience in jail.
I was warned by someone and told, “You’re too light to fight and too thin to win.”
I could never defend myself enough. Jail would have killed me. All the tough talk and crazy antics was nothing more than a mask. People prey on the weak and I was weak.
I was not sure how I would survive a short period of time, let alone, a county bullet, which is one year in the county jail, plus 90 days for another charge, which is what I was being offered.
Or, I could sign off and go to treatment. I could take the T.A.S.C. program and go to rehab instead, which was fine with me.
I knew what rehab was but I had no clue what happens there. I just assumed drug treatment facilities were the same as the televised versions.
In fact, I even asked one of the counselors that were assigned to my case. It was explained that I would receive counseling and treatment (which again, I had no idea what that meant) and then I would also have to attend A.A. meetings.
I knew what A.A. was.
(Or so I thought)
I knew what the letters stood for. I just assumed A.A. meetings were these secret, smoke filled rooms with old men, long beards, drunk and desperate. I pictured people sitting at round tables with overflowing ashtrays, whimpering and lamenting about their life, drinking from bottles that were wrapped in brown paper bags, all sad and lonesome.
I was given this choice to take treatment and A.A., which to me, seemed better than copping a plea and taking time behind bars—or worse, the ideas of shower room rapes and other abuse scenarios that I played in my mind.
In fairness, I was weak. I was in too deep. I was sickly and getting sicker. I was high at home, packing my room up, which was like the return to the scene of the crime because as I cleaned, I found things that I had hidden in my room throughout the years. It was eerie and sad, but telling and painful.
I kept my stash spots though because I was still using them to maintain myself. Some of my friends came over to say goodbye. Some of my so-called friends came by to laugh at me. One of them came to punch me in the face—to add insult to injury, literally everything about me was exposed, which of all things, is my worst fear.
I hated to be exposed, to be shamed, humiliated, and worse, I was sick too. I stopped taking my medication and couldn’t figure out why I was so physically ill. I didn’t believe I was addicted to anything. Only drug addicts get sick, right?
The heroin was helpful but still, the sickness that came with this was the worst. I wanted to rip myself out from my own skin. And to top this off, I had to go to rehab and A.A. meetings.
Mind you, to the best of my understanding, A.A. meetings meant Alcoholics Anonymous, which is something I agreed to.
However, I also believed drinking was as American as apple pie. Much of our culture and social gatherings in society are circled around drinking. Drinking alcohol is as social as eating food and breaking bread with someone. Beer is everything. Everybody drinks.
Who doesn’t drink? And if they don’t drink, what does this say about them, aside from the fact that they’re boring?
When offered the program, I was told about treatment and A.A. and then in my infinite wisdom, I went into my mental rolodex and looked up the initials, “A.A.”
And what do alcoholics do?
And what does the word anonymous mean?
This means no one knows, no one tells, and whatever happens in A.A. meetings stays in the A.A. meetings. At least this is what I was told. Therefore, my version of A.A. was much different. My expectations were certainly interesting to say the least.
Eventually, the time came. Mom and The Old Man put me in the car. Of course, I had to do my one last bag before departing on a trip to some unknown place to undergo some unknown kind of treatment.
I assumed I was going to a hospital setting. I figured I was going to flight deck, which is another name for the psych ward.
I thought about the hallways of hospitals where crazy people, all banged up on drugs like Thorazine, dragged themselves around while shuffling their feet, semi-conscious in bathrobes and whatnot, and visited by nurses and doctors with white coats and clipboards, asking questions in a condescending, pitiful tone like, “And how are we feeling this morning?”
After a long drive from my home, we were up in the upstate New York Mountains. We were in the town of Kerhonkson, which to me had more letters in the name than it did in population.
There was no way for me to run. That’s for sure. I had no place to go. And in all honesty, I have seen some of the worst places in New York City. I had seen gun violence. I had guns in my face. I watched a man get shot in the shoulder, bounce off a car, and then take off running down the street.
I have been in crack houses and dope dens with huge holes in the floorboards. Death lived here. Violence lived here.
But upstate in the mountains after dark? Being in the woods, alone? I was never a boy scout and I wasn’t looking to be.
It was clear that if I ran, I would have to do this during the day because there was no way I was going to take my chances in the woods. I was miles and miles away from anything familiar. Plus, I had no money. Plus, I had no way to get back to the city.
What the hell was I in for?
We pulled up to the facility somewhere around the date of September 17th which was only a few days before my birthday. There was a little old, bearded man that walked out from the front doors as we pulled up. He walked directly over to the flag pole, put his hand upon his heart and began to sing opera.
The facility was an old hotel that went out of business. It was purchased by a retired policeman and revamped into a treatment facility.
I remembered when I was a kid, I was told they took my dog to a farm (but really she died) and I was told my dog went to a farm to play with other dogs.
In my estimation, this was the same thing that was happening to me. I was being taken away and placed away with crazy people!
I was approached by a heavy gutted man, red-nosed, Irish, and somewhat happy. He was accompanied by a shorter man, eyes familiar to me from the junkie remedies with that permanent glazed over look that comes from the use of heroin.
The heavy gutted man introduced himself as the mayor. The junkie to his side introduced himself as the deputy mayor. I told them both, “Hi, I’m Gunga Din,” or maybe I introduced myself as the President of The United States and just shook my head.
I couldn’t believe I agreed to this!
They took my bags and searched them. My parents left, and then I went up into the office to do my intake.
The counselor was somewhat nice—or, to be closer to honest, he was half-nice and half dick-ish.
He asked me about my drug use. He asked the same questions about drinking too.
“Did you ever have a blackout?”
“I don’t remember?”
“Do you feel paranoid?”
“Why is everyone asking me that question?”
He asked about my drug habits and the ways I raised money to get high. He told me about A.A. which I had thought deeply about and my answer to him about A.A. was “Yes, I want to go to A.A.”
The counselor was pleased with me.
He told me, “Most people don’t want to go when they first come in here.”
“Of course, I want to go. It’s A.A right?”
“Yes it is,” he told me.
“But will it be a problem because I am underage?”
“What do you mean,” asked the counselor.
“Do I have to wait or do I just jump right in?”
“No, you don’t have to wait. You’ll be going to your first A.A. meeting tonight.”
“Cool,” I said.
“Do I have to wait for certain privileges or do I just jump in and get started?”
The counselor tilted his head for a second like a confused dog after hearing a strange noise.
“You can get started tonight.” He told me.
However, he was curious about my excitement.
“What are you here for?”
“I’m here to go to A.A.”
“And what do you think happens at A.A. meetings.
“It means I go to Alcoholics Anonymous.”
“Yes,” he agreed.
“But what do you think happens in A.A.”
“It means Alcoholics Anonymous.”
“Yes, but what does that mean to you,” asked the counselor.
I answered the man honestly because this is what I honestly believed.
The reason I took this program was because I believed I was going to Alcoholics Anonymous.
“It’s Alcoholics Anonymous, right?”
The counselor agreed, “Right. But what do you think that means?”
I told him, “It means we go there to drink and we just don’t tell anybody about it because it’s anonymous.”
This made sense to me. Alcoholics drink. Anonymity meant you never talk about it—and I swore I found a loophole; however, the stunned facial expression given from the counselor resounded in a quick burst of laughter, which led me to believe there was something amiss.
He told me, “Kid, I’ve been doing this for a very long time and I have never heard anyone tell me that.”
“So what does that mean?” I asked.
“It means I hate to be the one to break it to ya, kid. But there is no drinking in A.A.’
“Then why the hell am I here?”
“I don’t know,” said the counselor.
“But I can tell you one thing. You are in the right place.”
Shit, I thought to myself.
This was worse than going to drug spot and being ripped off and getting a fake bag
I was duped.
I thought to myself, “What the hell am I going to do now?”