Just to give you an idea of how sick I was from withdrawal, the hospital that I was at sends a woman home the day after she gives birth by Ceasarian section. I was an inpatient for two weeks. It took that long for the symptoms to ease up enough that I was capable of any semblance of self-care. I was still pretty shaky though. Still hadn't slept much either. Every time I'd complain about not sleeping they would just kind of smile and politely remind me that "Nobody ever died from lack of sleep." Bastards.
My discharge day came, and I was more than a bit apprehensive about going home. I knew that lovely wife had no intention of quitting anything. I knew that this was going to be a problem. I was discharged at 2 p.m. and went out the gate to my new life to see nothing
. No car, no lovely wife, no kids, nothing. Luckily I had a guy from the AA meetings that had given me his number, he was a retired dude with time on his hands and when I called him he said he'd be over right away.
He drops me off at the house and asks if I want him to wait. I say, "if it's no trouble that might be best." I take a deep breath and go into the house. I'm not even all the way into the bathroom looking for lovely wife when I smell the heroin cooking. I'm not even thinking all that much about getting stoned, I just want a few minutes where I'm not sick. However, those bastards at the hospital have me taking a drug called naltrexone
, which is the pill form of the Narcan that they give you when you've overdosed. It is an opiate blocker. I know that even if I shoot a dose it won't do anything except put a hole in my arm and get me kicked out of the 14 day outpatient program that I've agreed to enter. The thing is, because she's having such a hard time getting her shot handled, lovely wife is crying. She really wanted to come and get me, but. . .well. I suck it up one more time and give her the shot. I tell her that I need to stay somewhere else for a bit so that I can finish this program that the insurance guys want me to do. She says fine. Not "oh honey, stay, I'll do anything for you, we can work this out." Nothing like that. If I leave it's fine. I knew this deep down anyway. We haven't been married in anything but name, for any reason except the kids we're fucking up righteously for a long time. It's time to go. I grab one of the bags I never unpacked, hoping it's full of clean clothes and a guitar so that I can practice and head out to the car.
The AA dude asks me what I want to do. I tell him that the only fucking thing I know right now is that I don't want to get loaded. He says, there's a club up the road where they have pretty much around the clock meetings. Let's go get some coffee and think about your options. That's cool with me.
We go into this AA club, it's a run-down little house on the side of the road, they serve coffee, have a couple of pool tables and just about on the hour, every hour there's a meeting of some kind.
We get some coffee and sit down to wait fifteen or so minutes for the next meeting to start. I'm trying to think of what to do. Hotel? Yeah, I could do that. Hell, I feel at this point that hotels are really where I live my life anyway. I'm clicking off the options. We go into the meeting. While I'm in the meeting I tell them exactly how fucked I am right now. They applaud. Bastards.
Between one of the three meetings we hit that night my oldest daughter calls my cell. It turns out that she's in town to visit her mother (1st ex) and where the fuck am I? I tell her and she starts to semi-sob and laugh. She tells me that she's been in recovery for three years right now. Yes, she's still a stripper in Alaska (talk about making stupid money!), yes she's still in college, yes, she still wants to be a school teacher, but Da, I make $600 a shift at the Dead Dog (that's really the name of the place in Alaska, The Dead Dog Saloon but we'll get to more of that place later in the story). She says she's coming over to the club and we will do a meeting together and talk about stuff.
The upshot of my daughter coming to the meeting place is that she says she's talked it over with 1stX, and I'm welcome to stay on the couch. It's a short drive from the place where I'm going to be spending the next couple of weeks anyway. I figure, what the fuck? I tell AA dude thanks and that I'll see him at the 6:30 a.m. meeting at the church on Mango street. I can't fucking sleep anyway so might as well have some coffee before the outpatient thing starts at 8 anyway. Strippergirl and I go to the house and I grab some more stuff and take one of my cars. We go to the house of 1stX.
1stX was a nurse that I met while I was recovering from wounds I received in Viet Nam. We were married for three years, one daughter, then just as I'm about to get out of the service 1stX calmly informs me that she's leaving the service too. They've given her the option of resigning her commission because she's been having an affair with a lady doctor. 1stX has decided that she's tired of living a lie, and I'm a big part of the lie. I figure, Ok, since I'm planning on going back to Arizona anyway and cashing in on the G.I. bill to do some college. So we do a quickie divorce in TJ and parts on more or less decent terms.
For the next two weeks, I'm still not sleeping. My day goes like this. 6:30 a.m. go to the meeting. Then get some more coffee, and drag myself through the outpatient classes. I guess they're somewhat interesting but I'm such a wreck that there isn't much that's capable of penetrating my misery. 4:00 p.m. get out of the program and go to 1stX's house, play with my grandson, talk with Strippergirl and cook some dinner for 1stX and her wife. Then, depending on the night, go to a meeting. At this point people at the meetings are starting to see that even though I feel like hammered crap I'm dragging myself though day by fucking bloody day. They start to do things like give me their phone numbers. Some of them are stupid enough to say "Call me anytime." I can't sleep guys. So, to amuse myself, at say, 3ish in the morning I'll call and say "Hi, remember me from the meeting? You said to call anytime right?" Some of them stay on the line and talk to me for a while. Some of them tell me what to read in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Nobody hangs up on me. That feels good.
Here's a cute story about my first big book. This old vato named Jessie Joe (who will become my sponsor in AA which is a big fucking deal that I'll explain more about later) and I are with Stippergirl at a big huge speaker meeting. They have a big table full of AA books and stuff. Jessie Joe asks me if I have a big book, I say no, he says "I dare you to steal one off that table." I steal it. In a couple of days I start having conscience pangs. I talk to Jessie Joe about it and figure, OK, I'll fess up and give them the money at the meeting and everything's going to be cool. Jessie Joe says "No, that's not how stuff works around here. You're a thief and you need to quit being a thief. The way to make it up to that meeting is from now on, when you see a newcomer that needs a book, you should buy one for them." I hesitate. Jessie Joe says "You said yourself that you make stupid money playing music, you can afford it right?" I say "I don't make stupid
money, but I do make pantsloads
and I can afford it." You know what? For the last thirteen years I've been buying books for newcomers and it feels pretty fucking good.
More to come. . .In the next post I have a meltdown playing a wedding and do my first studio gig sober. . .