Early recovery and, hell, what did I ever think was going to happen? I was in rehab, they had searched me and my duffel bag, confiscated all of my prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and suddenly I was in a very threatening and painful foreign land.
How do you deal with physical pain without medication? How do you deal with painful feelings without a chemical? Taking the medication they prescribed for withdrawal would have been smart, but I had already declared that I didn't have a chemical problem, hence there would be no need for such medication.
One of the drugs I had been on was a tranquilizer to treat anxiety. Withdrawal from that drug was anxiety and paranoia raised to the power of infinity. I was in a building full of drug addicts! My wife and everyone at home were already pissed off at me. Getting my wallet stolen would be the final straw.
That night I put my wallet in my pillow, stuck my hand in the pillow and secured my wallet with a death grip. For some reason I couldn't sleep. Finally I took my beard trimming scissors, cut up all my credit cards, and flushed them down the toilet.
Still couldn't sleep. Perspiration was coming off me in rivers. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't sleep. I spent some time in the patient's lounge where everyone was withstanding the New Year coming in with vegetable platters, Ping-Pong, and ancient disco. It was there that another patient said, "Remember, today is the first day of your nightmare."
There were a number of other persons there who were going through what I was going through. It didn't really get through to me that night. I was still unique, an island of pain unto myself. After drinking a vat of coffee, I stumbled back to my room. I couldn't sleep, so to kill time I read one of the pile of books I had been issued: Alcoholics Anonymous. AA's Big Book.
I was looking for things to fight about, and I found plenty. One of my former occupations was that of printer, and after the sixth or seventh time flinging that book from my bed against the far wall, I became quite impressed with that volume's binding.
I did learn something, though. I learned that I had a problem with alcohol and other drugs. That word "addict," though, was still poison. I couldn't be a drug addict.
I had one laugh that night. I was back in the patient lounge, sitting there, smoking, sucking down more coffee, shaking, sweating, my head aching. Another patient was telling the story of the Three Little Pigs.
"'Little pig, little pig, let me come in,' said the big bad wolf. 'Not by the hair of my chinny chin-chin,' said the pig. Then the big bad wolf says, 'Whoa, man! A talking pig! I gotta stop smokin' that shit.'"
The next twenty-four hours were worse, and the twenty-four hours after that even worse. With spiders crawling all over the walls, the ceilings oceans of worms, a blinding headache, and I said to someone at the nurse's station, "I feel terrible." A floor counselor asked me if I wanted to talk and what was my name?
I couldn't remember my name. In between hallucinations, tears, pain, and talk that night, I finally had to admit I was an addict. I had been so wrong, put myself through such a nightmare, and felt like such a fool.
Later it was explained to me that humility is you being in touch with reality. Humiliation is reality getting in touch with you.