Pain Relief Chapter 73


Hindy realizes her father wants her to forgive herself. When she discovers a bottle of Tylenol codeine under her mother’s kitchen sink, she doesn’t take it. Back at rehab, she finds that Rochel’s things have been cleared out of the room.

* * *

The remaining two weeks of Hindy’s stay both flew and dragged. Punctuated with rounds of couples, family, and group therapy and NA meetings, along with intense sessions with Dr. Bachman, Hindy was exhausted. She’d had no idea a person could contain so many conflicting feelings, and she wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to get it all out in the open. It made a very big mess.

Throughout, she spoke much less than she listened. She’d been so wrapped up in herself all these years that she hadn’t bothered holding grudges — she hadn’t really cared how anyone else felt. Now, she spent much more time listening to others vent their anger and frustration. It was part of the process.

There were some things she would have liked to say to Asher, but when she lined them up in her mind, she realized that many of the things he did that upset her were reactions to her brusque indifference. Once she realized that, the resentment melted away. 

Outside of these intermittent fireworks displays, there was the need to stave off boredom. She read anything she could get her hands on, which, in rehab, was very limited and very well screened. She read Tehillim and learned Pirkei Avos and Mishlei. Then, there was breakfast, lunch and supper. A nightly call to Asher. Visits from her parents.

Max had gotten up shortly after her visit. Her mother related that he woke up one day and was back to himself, back in his routines, seemingly unscathed by his brief descent into depression. Max and Lena came twice a week, and each visit was a precious gift. Her mother brought coffee and cakes; her father supplied his dry wit and quiet compassion. Both were a balm for her soul.

“Your eyes are starting to clear,” her mother commented, a few days before her discharge. (“Why should you make the trip?” Hindy had told her mother. I’ll be home in a few days.” “Let us worry about the trip,” her mother had replied. “We’re coming.”) “You’re looking more like yourself. I hadn’t realized the difference until I see you now, so much better.”

“I am doing better, I think,” said Hindy. “But I still don’t really understand what happened to me.”

“I’ve been doing some reading,” said her mother, gingerly. She often started important conversations this way. “It seems that it could happen to anyone. There’s no way to predict it.”

Hindy smiled wanly. “It could be, but would you have ever expected me to be one of those people?”

“I can’t say that I did,” said Lena. “I was shocked to my core. But after I thought about it, and read about it, it didn’t seem so far off. You always put a lot of pressure on yourself. Everything always had to be perfect. These are some of the things that can trigger addiction.”

“I wonder if they have rehab for chocoholics,” said Max.

“Very funny,” said Hindy, grateful to see her father back to himself. She hadn’t realized how much she relied on him — on both of them really — to provide her with emotional equilibrium. She was grateful that her kibbud av v’eim had held strong. She’d always put her parents’ needs before her own, except for this last terrible year. That was one thing, at least, she was sure she could forgive herself for.

“Sruli and Tzippy dropped by last night,” said Lena.

“Oh?” said Hindy, still not used to the newfound friendship between these two. When they hadn’t been fighting they’d been indifferent to each other, so this new development intrigued her.

“I always enjoyed spending time with them, but now they are just adorable. They were laughing and joking with each other and with us. I don’t remember when I had such a good time. They even played a few rounds of gin rummy with Tatty,” said Lena.

“I beat them every time. That’s why they quit,” said Max.

“I think they were letting you win, Max,” said Lena.

“Aww, don’t burst my bubble,” he moaned, and they all broke out laughing.

* * *

“Are you spying on them?” Ahsha came up next to Dr. Bachman, who was standing off to the side observing the little family threesome, sitting close together and enjoying their private coffee hour.

“I think I’d like to know Hindy Fishman’s parents,” said Ahsha.

“Yes. The father was incapacitated with grief, from what I understand.”

“Mm, hmm,” said Ahsha, who, like Dr. Bachman, was no stranger to the reactions of patients’ parents. “Did you think she’d make it this far?”

“Rule number one in addiction therapy is that the therapist must believe they will recover, despite what the facts say. I can’t just pretend to believe in them either, because they can pick up insincerity from a mile away. It has to be genuine. Sometimes I have to twist myself into a pretzel, but I always get there — even if the patient doesn’t. 

“I never have any idea who will recover and who won’t. Sometimes I think someone is doing well and then they relapse. Then there are others who seem hopeless and end up coming around. I have to take them apart and put them back together again, and I never know how it will turn out. I will admit, though, that Mrs. Fishman was a very tough nut to crack.”

“She still is,” said Ahsha.


To be continued . . .