I didnt blog too much last week and the main reason is that it was extremely busy on the ranch. First, I phased on Wednesday - this was a great time for me because I have reached the first of many milestones on the road to recovery. Its like as if you are driving along a long long highway with nothing around you but dirt and desert (think Thelma and Louise highway) and, just as you are about to run out of gas, when you are so thirsty for some sort of sign that you're on the right road, you see a sign. Now, getting phase 1 may not be an exit sign, or a sign indicating a town, but its at least a 'Next Restroom, 1 mile ahead' sign. And, its a metaphoric utopia because I had to metaphorically piss like a racehorse!
This also means that I got a new case manager. I like him a lot and met with him for the first time today. The staff treats me much different now that I have phased - as I said, the initial phase is only a trial run and I dont think they really think they spend a lot of time getting to know people in that phase because many wont make it. Many pull over on that metaphoric highway and.... well, have a drink.
Since I have been here, 8 residents have been asked to leave - relapse is a weekly occurrence here, and there is a zero tolerance policy. One guy got kicked out just this past weekend for smoking. Now for me, that would be ludicrous. If I was going to relapse, it would be for something fun at least.... I mean, I'd make a go of it. Thats one regret I have about rehab - it sucks a little bit that I didn't try more things before I came here, and that will probably always haunt me. I'll bring that up to my case manager.
Anyway, the case manager, Art, said that I am a high functioning individual and that he is happy he got assigned to me. We'll see how he feels as I get more in to the program.
This also means that I will begin the addiction awareness component of the program. Tuesdays and Thursdays I will be having classes on addictions - to get a handle on the nature of addiction. Then I meet with my counselor to see how I FEEL about this addiction, and my case manager to see how I can apply some of the addiction and recovery training to my real life. Real life....
I havent really written about the mindset I had to be in when I came here, and I've given it a lot of thought - I told some of this to Art and thought it would be something to blog about for anyone considereing rehab. I think the emptiness of addiction and the isolation of addiction were only a result of the soul ache I had before I came here. Its a really bad pain when your soul aches. I cant describe it, but its physical and losing a cousin last year, I really thought about the fragility of my own life and the devestation that death leaves in the wake for the people who stay behind. Maybe thats why they call it a 'wake'....
We also had a family picnic here on the ranch. Some of the sister agencies came as well, and we fed well over 500 people. It was a really fun time even though I missed my family. I am attaching pictures from the event. Funny thing is that I was a little happy they weren't here because the overwhelming lonliness that a lot of guys felt when their families left was nerve racking. Its like having a non alcoholic beer - or an herbal cigarette - you get a taste and a sensation for real life, but you don't get it for real.... it just makes you miss it.
After I got done helping serve the crowd, (I work in the kitchen, so we were kinda the whole reason people came the the picnic), I decided to go watch an impromptu softball game in the fields we have on the ranch. I settled in on the grass with a bag of ranch fresh kettle corn and began to get in to the game when all of a sudden.....
"Oh my God, is that Roman?" came a familiar voice from behind me. I sat there, almost motionless, thinking the same thing that many of the small animals on the farm think, 'If I dont move, they cant see me,'
But she did.
The months I spent preparing to come here to the ranch, the decision to make this process public by blogging about it, the idea that the experiences I would have here might help people understand the nature of addiction, of an addict, and to let people into the real experience of rehab had not prepared me for the idea that one day, my real life would come intruding on my new life - like an imposing relative or the jerk at the grocery store that always has 20 items in the 10 item or less line.... there she was. My former co-worker, my former boss, was waving right at me, and calling my name.
Now in that brief moment, the wideness of my new eyes, the extended periphery of vision I had been patting myself on the back because I had begun to see become a long, long, LOOOONG tunnel. And I wanted to be anywhere else on the planet, anyone else on the planet, or perhaps able to fly.
We spoke briefly and she never once asked why I was here. I dont know what I would have said if she did. I have long anticipated people discovering this when I complete the program, but never really thought about what I would say to someone who discovered this process while I am AT THE RANCH!
And I wish I had an answer on how I cleverly handled the situation. I wish I knew what to say - but I still have no idea how I am handling this situation. I wish I had some comment or remark or some wise insight, but truthfully.... I don't. But I am going to ask the universe to help me out with this one, and when I get to the answer, I'll be sure to write about it, because, living in the moment is something an alcoholic does all the time, and preparing for the possibilities is something we avoid, so this is a good exercise on being more prepared I suppose.
Oh, the Bonnie Hunt thing.... well, the truth of the matter is that I am trying to keep a more meaningful count of my time here other than the last time I drank. And, well, I love Bonnie Hunt. I love that she is so open and candid about her family, that she still listens to the wisdom of her mother, that she laughs at herself, and her overwhelming appreciation and love for animals.... and she is incredibly hilarious. And, well, here in the ranch we dont get to watch TV, and so I decided instead of holding a vigil to the last time I saw my dear friend alcohol, I would, instead, hold one to the last time I laughed at the genuine spirit of Bonnie Hunt. I could count down the last time I saw family, or held my beloved dog, or something more personal, but, the truth is, those people and my dog are on this journey with me, and I dont want to be reminded of how much I might miss them. The Bonnie Hunt Show is more of a pleasure.... and well, there is a lot of time in rehab to think about the trivial, and sometimes its all you've got.
So.... with that, I'll write more this week on my addictions classes. until then, enjoy the scenes from the picnic.