THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER VI
Again, special thanks to Cindy for giving me solid constructive criticism after I posted my last chapter. I also must thank my fellow Aussie Lloyd for also giving me constructive feedback. It is much appreciated! Hopefully I can get more feedback… If you think a part is plain crap, PLEASE, let me know! Just give a good reason, and what you think would work.
Thanks to anyone who is reading this. Hopefully I will finish this story and get it out there… If my story can help just one person I’ll be satisfied.
If you want to catch up:
My grace period is now over. It is Monday, and I have now been here for seven days. The first week was a time allocated so each resident could become accustomed with the other residents and the facility in general. I had spent almost that entire week in my own private dimension, both de-toxing and admiring the pretty colours of being sober for the first time in a long time. I am still not the most functional human being walking, but I am slowly getting better. I think.
Withdrawing from drugs is a very hard thing to go through, and I don’t any person who hasn’t gone through it can truly understand. I am now a part of the group therapy sessions, which I am still trying to fully understand the purpose of, but during these sessions it has become clear that the others’ drinking problems weren’t so bad that they were at risk of having a seizure if they suddenly stopped drinking. In fact, I seem to be the only person who is having any sort of withdrawal related symptoms, though this is probably because I am the only one close to being new here. All the other residents have been inside this place for months, which is only adding to the feeling of alienation I am experiencing. I have however made good friends with Chris, who I can relate to as he has his own mental health issues and has twice tried to commit suicide, another thing I can relate to. He has been here for a while, and his room shows it; a neat little man-cave complete with TV and PlayStation. I must get myself a television!
I am feeling very hypomanic right now, which was often the case if I dropped the pain pills cold turkey in the past. Appropriate for my mood then, I have decided that eating is a waste of time. So I have decided to stop eating entirely, my only options being strong cups of coffee and copious amounts of cigarettes, both of which of course we have to pay for with whatever is left after paying the absurd amount it costs just to reside here.
As I mentioned, I am now permitted to take part in these group therapy sessions where we are encouraged to share our deepest and darkest thoughts with the rest of the group. The small community was separated in two for this, resulting in two groups of about 10-12 people. They call this type of therapy MRA. Apparently, MRA stands for Moral Reconation Therapy. Heard of it? Neither have I. Hell, I’m not even sure that Reconation is a freaking word. In addition to these group therapy sessions twice a week, we have a meeting involving everyone once a week, including all the staff.
These group meetings aren’t like the MRA meetings, rather they function as a sort of place for each resident to catch up with others that they may see little of. Today I found out that during these meetings, passive-aggressive qualities become apparent among many residents. Complaints would be made, yet they were never addressed with a name. Events were talked about but again, no names were used. People got angry, people cried, yet they never said anyone’s name, as if we were to detect their true meaning by reading their goddamn minds. After today’s meeting, it came to my attention that the complaints were aimed at me from all directions, and a good 90 percent of them confused me in the greatest of ways.
There two main contributors to this overwhelming sense of confusion: a) Apart from being awake too late, I have no idea how I could be annoying anyone; I am by far the most too-nice-for-my-own-good person I will ever know, and b) all of the complaints, discussed in a ‘mature’ arena for anyone to air any grievances, were described so vaguely that surely their intention was to confuse. I left the meeting feeling good, until Chris asked me, “Do you realise they were talking about you in there?”
I didn’t have a response. It didn’t make any sense, no one looked at me, no one mentioned my name. Yet apparently the meeting I had just attended was all about me!
Chris explained to me how the night previous I had showered at 3am in the morning, singing along to Jimi Hendrix which I apparently had playing from my phone. I have no recollection of this incident, but it did happen; I apparently woke up every person in the building.
Jeez, now I am doing idiotic things and not recalling them at all? The withdrawal symptoms seem to be worse than I originally thought. I have lost the key to my room twice now, despite the second time having it hanging around my neck at all times. I had actually thought that I was getting better; the sweats are nothing like they were and my shoes are no longer talking to me. For the most part. But this incident proves that I cannot be trusted, especially my memory, which has never been good at the best of times. Here it would seem that it is entirely non-functional, my hippo-campus is on a fucking holiday, loving life.
Time for my second MRA group session. We are given a piece of paper, and are encouraged to write abut what, or who, we were before coming to Archway. On the other side of the paper, we are to write where we want to be after leaving Archway. Fair enough, I’ll play along, I love writing so this is just a chance to do what I love. But now Stephanie is asking us to read each side to the rest of the group. Suddenly my thoughts that I had written down as if it were a private diary entry are to be shared with the group, people I barely know. Once their stories started, I couldn’t help but think how petty and pathetic their problems were.
They aren’t real alcoholics, they still have families, and the worst thing I have heard anyone say was that they lost their job because they began arriving to work drunk. A lost job was the worst thing that drinking had caused them? I screamed at them, I let them know just how pathetic I thought they were, that they needed to grow up, and grow a pair of balls. I ripped their pieces of paper into tiny shreds and threw them around the room like confetti. That is what I am thinking at least, in truth though I am sitting here, shitting myself, wondering how I can make something up on the spot that will sit right with the other stories. What I have written on my piece of paper is nothing like the others. The group has circled around and now, it is my turn, but I can’t think of anything different to say! So, with my voice quivering, I read both sides of the piece of paper.
“I was not in control of my life. I couldn’t control my actions, my words, my thoughts or my entire mind. I had so many hobbies/activities that I loved, like writing or drumming, but my drug use would always beat me to it. It was because when using, I felt no emotion. Nothing good, nothing bad, my entire life was surrounded by a cloudy haze. I was unable to feel excitement, love, any emotion that makes me a human. My friends and family had no affect on me, and I am sure I blamed my mother and doctors for getting started on the pain pills in the first place. They all loved me and wanted me to get clean, but I was under the delusion that I was able to shake off by myself. They worried about me constantly, and due to my mental health issues and the epilepsy, they never knew if they were going to talk to quiet and calm person, a bitterly sarcastic person, a flat-out mean person, or a screaming mess, kicking inanimate objects. As my drug use got worse though, this variety or personalities was replaced by one: being high, often unable to keep my eyes open or to keep my head up straight. I would constantly drive in this condition, ‘on the nod’ as heroin users call it, so my car was covered in small dents and scratches from multiple minor accidents that were a result of me passing out at the wheel. I of course eventually wrote off the car, and used the best excuse I could think of to ward off any suspicions of me using while driving. I promised my father that I hadn’t been high. My parents knew about my habit, but they had no idea of the insane high amounts I was using, and how often I was doing it. There are countless times where logically I should have died, and if friends didn’t hear from me for over a week they’d worry I had killed myself.”
I can feel the stares. I can feel their judgement. I guess the best way to get past that is to keep reading. So I begin to read the other side of my piece of paper.
“I want to feel. I need to experience and feel the negative emotions in order to appreciate the positives, rather than drowning the negatives out with drugs. I want to pursue my love of Brazillian Jui Jitsu, I want to train every day instead of sitting on my couch, hating that I’m not there. I want to play my drums all the time, instead of being too high to muster up any sense of co-ordination. I want my friends and family to see my like this because I know it will make them happy. I want to be able to go out and socialise without a chemical crutch. I want get healthy so I can actually work and be a part of a community. When I am healthy I want to study community services so I can help people who may have been through what I have. I know I can beat it, but I know it will take a lot of effort. If a craving enters my head, I don’t want to pretend its not there, I want to acknowledge it and move on, knowing what those cravings have done to me, my family and my friends. I want to be the person I am, instead of wearing a chemical mask that dulls all feeling
I look up, and everyone seems speechless. Shit. I knew I should have made something up, I knew this was idiotic, why did I do this? Good God the embarrassment…
Suddenly someone piped up: “Wow man, that was deep.”
Deep? What does that even mean?
“Thank you for being so honest Jordan,” Stephanie finally said. Wait, what? We were asked to be honest! Why are you thanking me?
Other people are murmuring similar thoughts, and my face is going red. I can feel it slowly turning into a ginger-haired tomato. Stephanie finally tells us that we can leave, and I immediately retreat to my bedroom.
Perhaps this therapy will help me and I just can’t see it yet. But I’m determined to stay here, for the reasons I was forced to share with half the residents. I am weighing the pros and cons, but staying clean for six months always wins out. Rehab was bound to be a shitty experience. I just need to get used to this very odd place, along with its eccentric residents. How I will go about doing this, I have no idea. But I will try, I am not going back to the life I have lived for the past eight years.