Friday, April 03, 2015

Dry Drunk (Part 2)

Part 1 of "Dry Drunk" is posted here. This is Part 2.

A work of fiction.

You know you're out of control when everyone holds a combined sense of revulsion and pity around you. This could never be confused as genuine compassion. It is more fear than anything else, and a fervent prayer that the affliction does not someday affect them. That is how I was pushed out of a dentist's office, or rather without much politeness, escorted to the hallway and dropped there. A week or so later I ended up here.

I used to give a few of my things out in the beginning, but not anymore, she said. Her diagnosis was psychoaffective disorder, a mild form of schizophrenia that never really got better for anyone. I only remember the horrible state of her teeth, as though she'd gone ten years solid without brushing a single one. She was somewhat friendly, but guarded, and mostly kept to herself.

Throwing together the addicts and the psych cases was a bad idea, but it was done anyway for budgetary reasons. The two were like oil and water. Neither liked, nor trusted the other. My roommate had learned that, especially in dangerous circumstances, nothing spooked a potentially violent adversary than playing crazy. The 'hood lent itself to paranoia easily without the need for mental illness, and he'd picked a pretty successful coping mechanism.

But he never felt comfortable switching it off, and it often set off the addicts, who were already raw enough themselves from withdrawal. And legitimate, not feigned crazy could also be said to be an issue as well, especially when he danced in the day room between mealtimes with a cloth napkin on top of his head. Some of the other addicts weren't nearly as sympathetic as I was, even though I knew the guy really only wanted attention for himself.

During group, I was a talker, who won the attention of a tiny young woman who pulled me out a chair over for protection's sake. We were pulled from all social strata in that one freezing room, from an interpreter who spoke fluent French whose company was paying for this entire rehab stint, to a fireman who had lost a brother and sister-in-law in a horrific car accident and gained a son in the process, the sole survivor. He'd taken to the bottle to cope.

I wanted to escape, and I suppose if I'd wanted it badly enough, fences could have been scaled. But I did want to get better. This wasn't my first time in rehab, and my employer had told me the first two times had been on their nickel, but that this time was on me. I at least had a job to return to at the end of the month, but I was on very thin ice.

Sometimes I have to admit I never wanted a conventional life. I wanted to lie down covered by a blanket, lying on a cot, viewing the grass and footpaths of an institution for hours, doing nothing. This had been true for my great-grandmother, but was no longer the case today. There were no more sanatoriums, just filthy bus people pushing shopping carts, in and out of jails and short-term facilities. I had nothing to do except try to live in this world and maybe not end up here again.

There were too many bad examples present. That's what I didn't like about rehab. Some people built connection bases for the illegal stuff, once discharge arrived. I took the process seriously, avoiding the harder stuff whenever possible. My temptations were never far away and I'd stopped the narcotics and pills years before. And even if you didn't seek a pot dealer, you had to deal with the true believers in addiction, the ones who would never quit for any reason and saw this 28 day stint as a joke.

Some of them disguised their true intentions well, but I'd been around long enough to see who'd backslide within a few days to a week. The girl sitting next to me couldn't be anymore than one-hundred pounds and would not shock me if she was dealing with an eating disorder. I'd had a girlfriend about the same size who'd gotten beaten up after a conference, walking home nearby a deranged homeless man who physically attacked her. I saw the pictures and the paperwork of the legal proceedings. As for the boyfriends, they all looked like me. A full foot taller, big frames, broader shoulders, and big. Big guys.

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