Sober Living

October 2006

The next round coming back to Arcadia, I had to listen to a guy’s 4th step. I don’t mean to be an asshole, but to be completely honest, I was hardly listening. I had other things dancing around in my mind. I’ll just group them all together and name them, Scarlett.

She was about a half-foot shorter than my perfect 5’11” height, with similar features as mine, but absolutely perfect. She was slim, but voluptuous, with high cheekbones. Her hair, a bright sable with a bit of gold cascading down, obscuring her pallid face. Staring at her, I can remember a hint of honey surrounding her dark coffee eyes. Her skin as white as alabaster. I loved that. The more pale like a vampire you looked, the more you had my attention. My attention that should have been owned by this guy I wasn’t listening to.

This poor guy who was supposed have my undivided attention had a slight drinking problem. He had just been married to a religious gal with a strict Catholic family. His new in-laws couldn’t endure his drinking, which upset his new wife. Their fighting escalated quickly to the point where she had to hand him an ultimatum: quit drinking and go to rehab or lose her forever. So of course, he came to treatment and was gung-ho about the program, hence, he was doing his fifth step.

Most people don’t do all the work they ask you to do in treatment, so they get by with, sometimes, not doing anything. Then there are those people who, like this guy, are all about the program and attempt to work as many steps as possible. A sad matter about those people is that, most of the time, they’re the first ones to go back out. Relapsing merely a couple days after leaving treatment. It’s not uncommon, though. There’s only a 5-10 percent success rate at these places who abide by the A.A. format.

Ehh… I’d give him two weeks.

I hated thinking about it, so I gave him my wholehearted attention for the last thirty to forty minutes. Fifth steps ordinarily lasted from an hour to an hour-and-a-half.

Randy, Callie, and I would attend the Friday night Arcadia Alumni meeting every week. It became a special spot to the three of us because it was the place we became sober. Randy would come in as much as I did to work people’s 5th steps, as well. We loved coming to this meeting particularly, since we could view all the new faces. I’d carry personal bets on the people graduating to see if they were going to succeed in sobriety afterwards or not. Since I virtually had no idea who most these people were, I’d seldom find out the results, so it became a personal plot. However, I could if they stayed in Kerrville and lived in a halfway house.

I remember, once, there being this middle-aged woman at the podium crying and stating that she didn’t know if she was ready, plus she was leaving the next day. When she was finished, I waited for Randy or Callie to speak up, but they sat silent, therefore leaving me to address her issue. It was a perfect time to speak up about Sober Living.

I’d tell them that sober living was the smartest decision you could choose for yourself, after rehab. The 30-day treatment at a place owning a ten percent success rate is merely not enough time. You’re simply not given enough to practice being sober. One needs enough time to learn how to deal with emotions and how to avoid certain people and places. For an opiate addict-like myself-”the 30-day, short term, inpatient treatment is hardly enough time to recover from the post-acute withdrawal symptoms. They’re being thrown out, back into the world in their most dangerous time.”** All in all, seeing if these people would succeed or not, was not the reason I came to these meetings.

* *From The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin by Tracey Helton Mitchell

After I was done spewing whatever came out of my mouth, Randy, then Callie chimed-in repeating what I had just said, but putting their own little spin on it, recruiting more addicts to share our sober lifestyle. After all, he was a crack addict and she was an alcoholic.

We’d assure them the community in Kerrville wasn’t bad. You’re not living in a tiny bubble of people in recovery, you’re in a whole town, making it easier to stay sober. Hell, If you liked us, we’d even hang out with you, if you wanted.

Nobody did.

Anyway, we pushed the idea that choosing sober living after treatment might ultimately be the decision that saves their lives.

I didn’t see Scarlett present, nor Dylan. Must be playing dress up once again. It was an optional meeting for patients, but Owen was there, and that’s all I cared about. HIs time was coming up to be released. He had about a week left and I hadn’t asked him what his post-treatment plans were. Arcadia’s central, head-honcho guy had called me earlier that day and asked for me to work another 5th step. I said I would and figured I’d speak to Owen about it afterwards.

By the way, that crying lady ended up going home and relapsing, I had subsequently found out.

After the meeting, we dropped off Callie at the women’s house a few houses down from mine, then Randy dropped me off. My halfway house had a curfew of 10 p.m. unless we were at a later meeting, which was the case, so it was okay. Each house has their own set of rules like that. Randy’s house didn’t hold a curfew, it was a madhouse. I recall one guy slept in a closet. Randy was also my chauffeur, driving me about in my own car because my license was suspended. It was nice but I would have liked to drive by myself sometimes.

My license was suspended due to the two DUI’sdriving under the influenceI had. Both of them were for the most bullshit of reasons. I know, I know, they’re not bullshit; I shouldn’t have been driving. But hear me out… The first was because my girlfriend, at the time, didn’t have a ride home from a concert, so I had to pick her ass up, even though I, too, had been drinking at a friend’s house. I picked her up then decided we would stay the night at a motel; I would’ve been in deep shit with my parents if I came home wasted in the middle of the night, with my girlfriend whom they didn’t care for, no less.

At the motel, the front entrance was locked. It was a major chain motel, therefore I was confused why the doors were closed and couldn’t find anybody inside. My girlfriend then said she was hungry. I planned on ordering a pizza when we arrived at the motel, but that looked like it was no longer going to take place, so we tried to find the closest fast-food joint. I figured by the time we ate food and came back, there would be somebody inside to let us in. We eventually found a place, right before a cop pulled up behind me, following me all the way to an unopen Wendy’s. I hate it when places are closed and leave their damn lights on. That’s when we saw the unnecessarily bright, red and blue lights. He had pulled me over because my license plate covered half of the word “Texas.”

My second bullshit DUI was at a Whataburger. It was literally, the only place open past 2 a.m. where I lived. Sounds like it would have been a harbor for cops, but it really wasn’t. Plus, I had satisfied my drunken munchies a great deal of times without any hassle. So, I placed my order, pulled up the window, handed them my debit card, and they handed me my bacon, egg and cheese taquitos. Should be a done deal, right? Nay, they forgot to hand my card back. I had realized this after I had slowly pulled away from the window. I put the car in reverse and backed up to the window to tell them about my card. They looked and looked and came up with nothing, which was impossible because I really didn’t have it. After another minute of them dicking around, “We found it, sirrr,” the old lady said. I was comforted once again as they handed it back to me. I was ready to go home and fill my face, but once I put my car into gear, I heard, “knock-knock” on my passenger window. I smelled bacon, but I thought it was from my taquitos. No, it was a different type of bacon. The type that has nothing better to do than to bust a kid simply trying to get home. Apparently, the assholes at the window claimed I had almost hit the building when I backed up, which, of course, was, say it with me now… BULLSHIT!

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At the house, a couple of the guys were sitting on the front porch tending to something. Something small and black as night. The tiny kitten had cobalt blue eyes that matched the sea and fangs that could pierce through any trespassing rodent. After being around the mutant, inbred cats who each had up to seven toes on each paw, and inhabited rehab, this cat was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Evidently, he had been living under the front porch for some time, unbeknownst to anyone, before my roommate, Steve, discovered him.

“So, what’s his name?” I asked.

“Well, he loves milk and starts to skitz-out when he doesn’t have it-”

“Just like an addict.”

Steve laughed, “That’s right.”

And so, Skitz it was.

He would forever represent the house mascot-or “mascat”-that lived with us. Though, we had to keep him a secret if the house owner came by. There was a strict “No animals in the house” rule. So Skitz being inside, sleeping with Steve at night was a big no-no. Our house manager didn’t care, so the Skitz stayed.

I went directly to bed after that. My sleep schedule was seemingly healthy since we had to be up by nine every morning. At least, that’s what they wanted. It wasn’t a rule, only frowned upon if we slept-in. Though I had the hardest time falling asleep with the idea of Owen leaving and wanting to go back home. I had to convince him to stay in Kerrville, for his benefit. It had been hard enough getting him to come to rehab. So of course,

…I was worried.

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