It is day 33 — or maybe 34 — and the rainclouds outside cast an oppressive mask over the parking lot. Caffeine from this morning’s steaming coffee has drained out of my system and I feel sleepy and melancholy.
I spent three hours earlier today picking up trash on the street with five other clients from this place. It was my first time stepping outside in nearly three weeks. Observing the urban landscape I was reminded today why we aren’t allowed to come and go at a whim. Dope boys roll around every corner, absurdly flashy twenty-two inch rims and distorted bass announcing their presence from half a mile away. Prostitutes blow kisses from filthy alleyways and liquor beckons from every storefront. It all makes me relieved to be locked down on the third floor of my rehab, free from the allure of Cincinnati’s grimiest attractions.
Since my “best” choices tend to get me nearer jails, institutions and death than I care to be, something drastic had to happen. Even during the worst days here, I feel genuinely grateful that I’m here instead of prison, which is where most of society would probably place me if given the authority.
It’s an odd environment, really, 21 men living together and trying to achieve better lives with each other’s help. There’s a natural camaraderie that pervades most aspects of life in rehab. After all, we’re all fuck-ups. Broken, bloodied and demoralized past the point of return for the average citizen, we’re all currently trying to make the best of the second, or third, or fourth, or fifth chance.
The interesting part is had I never used drugs, i would have never been interested or been drawn to any of these people, and yet I seem to keep forging friendships that surpass the ones I have had for five+ years. Empathy and relatability are crucial for me, and most days there’s a decent amount to be found up here. Some days I feel curiously alone. Some days I feel more lifted up by those around me than I’ve felt in years. The hardest part is the extreme contrast between each day.
The neurotransmitters and receptors in my brain are constantly shifting irritably, buzzing furiously like a horde of wasps defending their nest. The result is a nice, fat dose of bi-polar. I think about fifty times a day I say to myself “oh, yeah, this is why I did drugs.” About an equal amount of times sweeps through the thought, “and this is why I want to stop.”
Well so far so good. I’ve been clean and entirely sober for 41 days now. When’s the last time that happened? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Probably about four years ago. As you can probably guess, I’m still pretty happy to be in this place. I think it probably saved my life. And I really am so thankful to have yet another chance to make a life worth living, making choices I can be proud of. This can be that time if I want it to be. I don’t ever have to use again, and just for today — NA’s favorite mantra — that’s a relief.