When I announced my plans to take a month off from blogging and social media, I’d planned to spend some time away alone, go to the beach, write, and really try to find myself. In essence, I did those things, but it was definitely not the “vacation” I’d planned.
On 7/10/2020 at 4pm, I checked myself into a rehab facility in Lima, PA.
Let’s take a second to process that.
So yes, I spent 22 days in rehab and successfully discharged on 7/31.
Okay, so let’s go back. Over the last few years, I’ve been in an emotional pressure cooker, and things just kept getting progressively worse. I had been suffering in silence, but that Chanel is long gone, may she Rest In Peace.
Let’s get into it.
I’ve been dealing with a ton of shit that just kept piling up, and it was as if the universe was just trying to bury me alive. I was fighting to forgive infidelity in my relationship and then found out I was pregnant. I had been pushed from one extreme to the other within months, and I just felt trapped. I was a prisoner to my mind and my body, and it felt like a life sentence. I fought through the suicidal thoughts that had seemed to build a home in my mind, caressing me with the idea of long-lasting peace. It took some time, but I knew it wasn’t the answer.
I’d come attached to this tiny being that kept me vomiting all day and night, severely dehydrated, exhausted, depressed, and terrified of death in the delivery room. I’d learned what unconditional love was when they laid her on my chest for the first time. I loved Savannah without any conditions, no recollection of what the pain was like, the tears, the nightmares, the pain was a distant memory. Looking at her, I saw the future and felt obligated to be present enough to get to the life I saw for us.
Still reeling from the blow to my confidence and self-esteem from the cheating, I pressed on. I was either stupid or resilient; either way, once I could drink again, I jumped at the chance. Postpartum depression hit hard, depression hit hard, anxiety hit hard, life was beating my ass. I’d hit a low that I couldn’t get out of. I’d been experiencing motherhood for the first time in a welcoming home, but it wasn’t mine, so I couldn’t be comfortable even though I felt at home. Without another immediate option, I had to make it my space. I forced myself in and embraced it all as best as I could. There were great days, and there were awful days when I’d broke down, packed my things up, and was just ready to take my baby and run. I stayed. Either stupid or resilient, I stayed.
The drinking picked up, I tried to moderate and take it easy, but I craved a drink all the time. It gradually progressed, and then my downward spiral blindsided me before I realized it, I was below rock bottom. I’d been drinking all day long, hiding small liquor bottles all over to sneak into my mugs and cups to get me through the day. I’d used a portable coffee cup and taped on a tea tag to make it look like it was tea, but it would be wine or liquor. I’d felt more and more guilty the more I drank, and I knew that it was becoming a problem. I just couldn’t stop.
Work had been pushing me to a breaking point, and one stupid email sent me into an uncontrollable rage. I called out and started the process for stress leave. At least I’d have more time from work to drink. Sadly, they asked me about my drinking, and I wanted to lie about it, something made me tell them the truth. I’d been years overdue a cry for help. I think all my life I’d been crying for help, but it’d been a whisper. This time I was screaming.
My primary doctor called me in for an appointment. He said had I did a Tele-Med session, they would have told me to go to a psych ward at the hospital. That’s how bad my depression was. They increased my anxiety meds and referred me to an outpatient facility. By the time I left my doctor’s office, the nurse from my job had called me and let me know she made an appointment with a substance abuse therapist, and to call her to confirm. They’d pushed my FMLA and disability forms through before my doctor could even fax over his notes. God was in this. I’d made the appointment and had my mom drive me out to Chadds Ford to meet with the therapist that evening. She’d had my car, and I stumbled out of my house with my trusty “coffee” mug and drank the entire ride. Miserable, secretly praying that someone would just hit my side of the car, just where I was, and put me out of my misery.
The SA (substance abuse) counselor was kind and listened. For once, I shared without lying and felt heard. I felt seen and for once in my life and safe to be vulnerable. She’s looked at me and said, “I think it would be best for you to get treatment at an inpatient facility.” I cried instantly. She thought it was fear, but I told her it was a relief. I’d expressed my desire to remove everything in my life that was not serving me. I wanted to face my trauma, break cycles, and heal for real this time.
Our session started at 7PM, and I didn’t leave until she found me a place to go. We called a few facilities, got no answers, or was rejected because I was slightly suicidal. Then we got through to the facility I ended up at, and they had an 11 person waiting list. I still did the intake and was excited that I at least had the weekend to drink. I was super excited for one more bender.
Or so I thought.
The day I checked in, it was pouring. I’d had my 4AM drink when I went down to make Savannah her bottle. I was wired and felt like something big was about to happen. They called me as I was doing the dishes later that morning and let me know they had an available bed for me to come in that day. My heart was beating so hard I could literally hear the blood rushing in my ears. I’d had an hour to decide and call them back to start admissions. I’d let everyone know what was happening, my mom was ready to pick me up, and I began to pack. Tearful and fearful, I called back and let them know I would be checking in. I agreed to come at 4 so that I had time to pack, make financial arrangements, and get myself together for whatever this experience was about to be. I stared at the wine bottle on my counter and shook as I tried to reach for it. I just wanted to take the edge off, but the guilt was overwhelming. I couldn’t do it, and I hated myself for that.
I was all packed up and said my “see you laters,” hugged Savannah, and told her I was sorry. She had no idea I wouldn’t see her for a while, but I’d be a better version of myself when I got back. I made my last Target run and clung to my coffee cup, shaking a little since I hadn’t drunk in a few hours, I felt like a disgrace. Me? In rehab? For what? It poured rain that day, something deep in my soul stirred. I knew this was what I had to do regardless of what I thought about it. I couldn’t waste the energy, wondering what people would think of me coming here. I was an alcoholic, and this experience was for me; there was no room for others’ opinions. I gave zero fucks about the outside world. This was about Chanel.
It was so much greenery around the campus, I kind of heard the intro music to The Shining as we winded down the road to the facility. After more hugs and choked up tears that wouldn’t come out, I walked in, got screened for COVID, and watched my family pull off. It was beautiful inside it smelled like rain and wood. There were beautiful gardens and trees everywhere outside. Clinical aides took my bags and phone and told me my things would be searched, and whatever I was not able to keep would be safely locked in the property room. I alone in the lobby for a bit longer, admiring the flowers on the rug; they were a little blurry as tears welled up in my eyes again. I fought them off and steeled myself. I took pride in not expressing emotion and, I damn sure wasn’t going to show it here, at least not yet. After what felt like forever, one of the aides came and explained to me what happened next.
Long story short, I was strip-searched. There are no pretty words to make that sound any less crazy. I’d found it freeing though, in a really weird way. My goal was to come in here and expose my soul, so I might as well get naked my first 45 minutes here, haha. It was kind of cathartic, I was ready to bare it all that this was the first step. I was nervous, but everyone was so warm and welcoming. I didn’t have room to bring my insecurities with me. That didn’t mean I didn’t feel alienated or insecure, but I quickly learned that I was the only one making me feel that way. As they were getting my things, I ate soup in the cafeteria, where aides and others came and introduced themselves to me. Asking what I was here for, telling me I’m doing the right thing, asking how the soup was, reassuring me I’d be fine.
The soup was amazing, I’d been barely eating and my appetite was nonexistent for the most part. My diet was coffee, alcohol, and some occasional junk when I felt like it, so it was an adjustment to eat real food. I was shaking a little and all I wanted, all I needed was just one little drink to be okay and I’d start this sober thing tomorrow. But it was too late, there was nothing I could do. I was locked in this place until they told me I could leave pretty much. I mean I could have left anytime I wanted to, but my job would have fired me, and it would have just been even more embarrassing.
I sat in my room, glad that with COVID there are no roommates. Just me, my demons, and no concept of time because there was no clock in my room. Very disorienting, but finally my things came, I unpacked, showered, and started my journal. I journaled every single day of treatment, no matter what kind of day I had. Reading back I saw so many different ranges of emotions. The shock of being in rehab, coming to terms which who I needed out of my life, finally admitting out loud that I was an alcoholic, being vulnerable all the time, feeling like an exposed nerve and, everything hurts, planning for my future, and really understanding that dark shadow side of myself and really take care of her. She needed so much love.
I’d discovered in sobriety that most of the childhood was filled with trauma and, I suffer from PSTD, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. I take mental health medicine, attend therapy, IOP, and use spirituality as a guide for my life journey. I am still learning, and struggling as now I am 6 months sober. Which I celebrate, but in its place, I now struggle with self-harm, an ongoing eating disorder, and body dysmorphia. The wheel never stops turning, and it’s always something to work on. I felt like I had all the answers when I left rehab and learned that I was just opening the book.
I learned about heartache in sobriety. I’d made some amazing friends and lost them to their addiction. It is an ongoing fight and it’s a tough one. Those losses hurt, especially when you all promise to better for each other only to see that their monsters overtook them. I learned that my sobriety is mine, it’s selfish and it’s personal and nothing or no one can interfere. Without it my life falls apart. It took time for me to accept that, but putting myself first every time, feels better than anything else.
So here I am, getting to know myself again. Falling in love with myself for the first time. Trying to be the best mom I can be. Communicating effectively. Do the best I can and accepting that it’s all I can do. I found out I love to meditate, paint, listen to French pop, and play Fortnite with my little brother. I control my anger but validate my feelings as well. I give myself permission to take up space in this world because I deserve to be here, and taking my life would be a disservice to those who need me here. Everyday I challenge that voice that tells me I’m better off dead with a reason why I’m supposed to be here. As I get to know me and share myself with you all this year, I hope that my message resonates with you regardless of if you’re sober or not. Live your best fucking life and do it without apology. Take up that space. You earned it.