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A Leap of Faith: My Tale, Part 10

  1. Rehab was unpleasant. I went into rehab around Sept 3, 2014. I had a half-gram of meth stashed in my closet at home the entire time. I had many struggles in rehab because of my anxieties. I was withdrawing cold-turkey from some pretty extensive and deep crystal meth use, a hardcore 4-year kratom habit that at points was up to about 40g/day plus extracts, daily marijuana use for decades and an unpleasant MXE habit plus all the odds-and-ends that I filled my life with here and there, 2C-B or 2C-E or the occasional DXM use, 4-ACO-DMT or nitrous now and then. You know. It was the first time I was clean from everything in over twenty years and the longest period I had ever been away from home with my parents. Thirty days.

    The rehab was out in the woods near a swamp in rural Texas in September. It was miserable. The sleeping areas were literally log cabins with air mattresses on wooden bunk beds, 15 people to a room, dormitory style. There were no newspaper allowed, no television, no tablets, no smart phones, no computers, no fiction books or magazines, no music players. Conversely, you could have all the cigarettes you wanted (as long as you paid for them and brought them in). Go Texas. To be fair, 2014 was the last year that they allowed people to smoke in rehab (you still couldn't smoke indoors, but we had open access to the outside). There was a chain-link fence perimeter that was unguarded - if you wanted to leave, you could, but they wouldn't let you back in.

    It is the only publicly funded rehab in Houston - for 2.2 million people. It's because Houston ranks 49th of the 50 states in public health funding. Because of the public funding, it's based heavily around AA with local daily in-house AA meetings compulsory. Programming was usually about 14 hours a day in metal chairs in hot rooms, broken up by small breaks. We were required to do rotation in the kitchen to cook dinner and wash dishes for 30 people every day (no dishwasher, all done by hand). Mandatory random urine screens, but my shy bladder is so bad that I couldn't. They kept making me come in and try anyway, with someone a foot behind me while I'm at the toilet, watching me. it just made my anxiety and distress worse. After five days of attempts they let me go in by myself as long as they searched the bathroom first and I went in just my underwear. Pricks. Not their fault, I guess, but it was very distressing.

    I made a lot of friends there. Lots of people there for meth as it's a crisis in Houston. Even met this one guy who was cool as fuck, I couldn't believe how old school tech he was. We related a lot about the BBS scene from the early 90's, the warez scene, FidoNet, hacking, 2600 magazine, cult of the dead cow, beige boxing, running underground pirate boards, shit like that. I just couldn't believe how much we had in common as far as that went so we spent many a late night trying to remember as much as possible from the early days of the internet. I lost touch with him after rehab, of course, even though I wrote his number down.

    I could go on about rehab but hey, it's rehab. It was shitty. I hated it. It's not a place where you're supposed to be comfortable. In fact they make it as uncomfortable as possible. The counselors were really good, though. That made all the difference. But all I could focus on was that meth I had at home.

    I had quit smoking cigarettes two years before, after a twenty-year pack-a-day habit, with great difficulty. I began smoking within three days of starting rehab and was quickly up to a pack a day again.

    They let family come visit once a week for two hours. If you were good you could even leave with designated family for two hours and go out to eat and come back just the one day a week. So I did that. Your family is required to stay for the Family Focus meeting. And the counselor really breaks through the family's denial and illusions. Telling my parents to never trust me again, ever, because I'm just a junkie who is looking to backstab them as soon as I can to get my fix, that I'm like a viper waiting in the grass. That it's not my fault but that's the way it is, and if it was his way, he wouldn't let anyone leave before the 90-day mark because the 30-day mark is the dangerous point. That's just when the brain is beginning to heal again and the addict is feeling halfway back to normal and wants to leave so he can go use. (He's right.) I was pretty pissed because my parents were going to let me come home after 30 days, but after that they were hesitating and wanting me to stay at least 45. I kept thinking of that meth in my closet. They also firmly said I couldn't live at home with them anymore.

    I had met my friend Keri online a couple of years before, and it was Keri who had persuaded me to go to rehab in the first place. She had known I was using meth before anyone else because I told her everything. She had AvPD and that's how we got to know each other. She said that if I made it through rehab successfully, then if I wanted I could fly to Rochester, New York (actually Livonia, a village outside of Rochester) and I could live with her. She would help me rebuild my life. It was either that or look into a halfway house in Houston. I decided that I was going to move to New York after rehab. The counselors in the halfway house thought I was crazy. I had never actually met Keri in real life - they thought she could be a serial killer who would chop me into pieces and put me in her basement. They said it just wasn't worth the risk, that surely I could see that I was not making good sense. They didn't want me to leave at the 30-day mark because of this. They even brought together the whole treatment team, five of them, and all faced me down in a confrontation-style setting, trying to get me to see sense. I resisted and insisted that I was moving to New York and I wanted to be discharged successfully at 30 days. They had to relent, but I also had to persuade my parents to come pick me up or I wasn't getting anywhere. They did.

    They bought a one-way plane ticket to Rochester and came to pick me up. The flight was in four days and they said I could come stay at home for those four days but no longer.

    On the way home from rehab (about 90 minute drive), I was completely exhausted. I was very sick. I don't know why, but I think it was a mold in the air vents in the cabin. Whatever it was, it was a weird sort of sickness similar to a flu. I was mostly recovered in the days leading up to my discharge but still sick. On the way home, my dad told me he had found my meth stash in my room. I was devastated. I had been looking forward to it, had dreamed about it every day. It didn't completely surprise me, though. I became despondent. My kratom was gone, too.

    That first night I slept well in my bedroom, same old bed, same old mattress, same ceiling fan, same PC. You have no idea (or maybe you do) what a relief it was, even if my meth had been confiscated out of my closet by my dad. They had gotten my rigs, too.

    The next morning I woke early and spent the day reading the paper, drinking coffee, relaxing, went shopping for some food with my mom. Ate dinner. Unwound.

    That night I was searching my room. In my closet I found the meth. I came to discover that my dad had actually found my stash of MXE, which is a white powder. I had it in a bag with no label, so naturally he had assumed it was meth. My actual meth was in a different stash, also in the closet. It was at least a half gram. I got spun.

    I was up for the next three days using meth. My parents couldn't tell. I mean, to be fair, they don't know what signs to look for, but it still should have been obvious. It didn't really dawn on them until 4 am of the morning of my flight. I was exhausted, had been up for four days and had not packed any of my belongings, despite this being a permanent move and the first time I would ever not be living at home with my parents. They were alarmed. My mom threw some clothes in a suitcase and that was it. I left everything except some clothes and my tablet. I even left my medications (gabapentin, 800mg, 3x/day, so I probably should have brought it but I was too fucked up to notice). I was quite anxious. I persuaded my dad to give me a Xanax to help me calm down for the flight. By the time we got to the airport I was falling asleep and couldn't keep my eyes open. Again, they were alarmed, but I reassured them I would be okay going through security having been up for four days and falling asleep on benzos. They left me at the airport after hugging me and saying goodbye.

    I missed the flight. Went to the wrong gate. Thankfully they moved my ticket to a new flight and I caught that one, but it still meant I was half a day behind.

    I was in partial psychosis from the meth and sleep deprivation. I did not sleep on the flight.

    I landed in Rochester on October 7, 2014, and have not been home since. All of my belongings are still in Houston. I had to start with nothing but a suitcase of clothes.

    It was to mark a new chapter in my life, a long overdue chapter. Little did I know that I was going to be moving into a below-poverty-level home environment, as Keri lived on less than $10,000/yr in a rural setting. It was going to be a difficult change, but would bring about a lot of growth, too. Still, the life change was terrifying. I was moving two thousand miles across the country to a state and city I had never been, with no developed support network and recently relapsed on meth to live with someone I had never actually met in person (but had known online for five years and completely trusted). I had no income, no car or license, no job or work experience or degree, and nothing established at my new residence - no doctor, dentist, therapist, health insurance, or any means of supporting myself.

    I took a leap of faith.

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