Rehab Update #1: Rehab is Not Vacation

Today is Day Six in what I’m now affectionately calling “spa-rehab”. Saturday, April 15th. In the sky, Venus stationed direct in conjunction with Chiron. Chiron is the wounded healer.

Take from that what you will.

What I would say about rehab is that it is surreal. The stunning facility. The hippy-dippy therapeutic approach. The ultra-organic, primarily Paleo, food. The people and the counselors and the staff and the director. The outings and the inevitable jokes about avoiding alcohol in equally hippy-dippy Ashland, Oregon, or answering an innocent question about why we’ve come to town in the first place. The awkwardness. The vulnerability.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this. This is my fourth inpatient rehab. My first three were all in one year when I was nineteen and twenty. Before I was even of legal drinking age. When I was the young kid, looking out on the cusp of life from an already damaged and defective place. Having such early experiences with advised abstinence shapes you. Sobriety becomes a mainstay that no one your age can comprehend. Mild to moderate use is labeled “too much”. The stage is set for all-or-nothing, clean or dirty, on track or off.

I tried to moderate. I did okay. For years. And then I started failing. But I fought for my rights to imbibe. I fought for my chance at normalcy.

And now, I have to give that up. I have to grieve the option in the first place. I have to be here, now. I have to miss my kids and my husband and my dogs. I have to sit with myself and detox from alcohol and marijuana and prescription medications. I have to look at the ugly parts inside and exalt the strength and resiliency that exists among them.

I have to.

And so I do. I record my dreams each morning. I read a daily passage from The Language of Letting Go. I practice meditation. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same times each day. I refrain from putting substances in my body, save the psych meds that keep me stable and sane. I do yoga and go on walks and attend almost endless group therapy. I spend so much time with the same people my introverted self screams out. I eagerly await any astrological updates from Chani Nicholas. I text my husband and Facetime my kids and email my therapist back home. I check my work email even though I swore not to. I scroll through my social media pages and post with frequency even though I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to. I use the sauna in the evenings and go to bed exhausted each night where I sleep in fits and starts and eagerly await the day I’m done detoxing from months of heavy marijuana use.

I do all the things.

And I hope. I hope I can trust the hands I’ve allowed myself to settle into. I hope there is better awaiting me around the bend. I hope the universe is able to hold my longings gently and carefully dole out answers and direction when I am most needing and ready. I hope the distance from my family is more healing than it is harmful. I hope my husband can withstand the weight of our daily life, the life that inched me over the edge.

Before I left my therapist told me, in unequivocal terms, that I could not expect rehab to be a vacation. Even if I desperately needed one. She was not wrong. Despite the luxury of the joint (see: sauna, massage, yoga, gourmet meals, scenic views) this is work. The Work. Life-saving (and affirming) work. I am honored to be given the space and opportunity to do it. I am blessed. I am privileged. I am here and I am ready and I am soaking it all up like an eager little sponge.

I may have been through a similar process before, but I’ve never been in a similar place. So serious. So aware. So grateful. So moved toward action. So ready. So strong.

It’s a beautiful day to be alive and be hopeful and be stone cold sober.

One thought on “Rehab Update #1: Rehab is Not Vacation

  1. Ashley, I could feel my heart filling like a chalice with hope and love and faith and joy as I read this post. Which is perfect, it being that New Life season and tomorrow being Easter. And yes! Chiron snuggling up to Venus. So, I’m picturing every Easter with your girls and your husband, from here on out, being a remembrance of that year you came back to Life for them. The year that you did the work (yes, incredibly hard work!) and were given all the perfect support you needed to roll away that stone of addiction. You’ll be rising again like Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, more radiant than ever. Sending you so much affection and deep admiration and a basketful of good vibes this evening.

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