Pain Relief Chapter 74


Hindy’s father has emerged from his depression. The final two weeks of rehab pass positively.

* * *

“I call this the ‘Shehecheyanu’ session,” said Dr. Bachman.

“Why?” Hindy sat across from her therapist for what she hoped would be the last time: she’d be checking out the next morning. She would still be attending private sessions close to home; Dr. Bachman had facilitated a meeting between the three of them so that the transition would be smooth.

“Because for most of my patients, it’s the day they never thought they’d see: twenty-eight days of back-to-back sobriety.”

“Don’t some people slip?” asked Hindy.

Dr. Bachman’s smile was grim. “Hence the Shehecheyanu. It’s not so easy.”

“I do want to thank you,” Hindy began.

“We have to discuss some discharge strategy. Staying clean in a sterile rehab environment is no big trick; staying clean on the outside is where the real work starts. Painkiller addiction can be trickier. I can’t keep you out of Walmart for the rest of your life.”

Hindy was suffused in disbelief. With her busy schedule in rehab, she hadn’t given much thought to life after it. At best, she had assumed her life would return to what it was before this nightmare started.

Dr. Bachman spoke as if reading her mind. “You think that you’re the same person you always were and that things will go back to exactly the way they were.”

“That’s exactly what I think,” said Hindy.

“The only problem with that is that not only are you not the same, but your life isn’t, either. Your relationship with your family has been irrevocably altered. You’ll have to restart your business if you are still interested in continuing on with it.”

“I’m not,” said Hindy quietly.

“So that’s another piece of planning you and your therapist will have to address. In fact, I’m going to email him about it right now.” He paused briefly, fired off a letter, and then returned his attention to his patient. “Sitting around all day with nothing meaningful to do is a recipe for disaster. You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.”

The weight of Dr. Bachman’s words settled heavily on her shoulders. He was saying she’d have to rebuild a life it had taken her nearly 30 years to cultivate. She had no idea where to begin.

“What’s the first step?” she asked.

“Funny you should mention ‘the first step.’ You and I both know that NA is your best defense. I recommend that you attend a meeting every day, either in person or on the phone. You’re looking for the next step, and that would be up to you. Where do you want to start?”

“With my family, I guess.”

“I agree. You and Asher need to rebuild a foundation for the rest of the family to heal. I strongly recommend couples therapy. In fact, I think it’s essential.”

“Are you serious? We’ve been married 32 years! How can we change now?”

“You already changed, when your addiction rose to the surface. You changed again when you came here. Did you think you could survive an overdose and remain the same? What makes you think Asher and your marriage can’t change either? That’s an example of addictive thinking: I’m unique. I’m special. Nobody is like me.”

“That’s not how I feel!” said Hindy.

“Isn’t it?” countered Dr. Bachman.

“You never make me feel hopeful. Whatever level I get to, you don’t validate me. All you tell me is that I’m not where I need to be and I may never get there.”

“If I didn’t believe in you I wouldn’t push you,” Dr. Bachman replied, and she knew it was true. “Start by you and Asher going away for a Shabbos. You’ll have to push the others back a little, because nothing positive will happen with them until you mend fences with your husband.”

“We haven’t been away for ages!” said Hindy. “We never go away.”

Dr. Bachman sighed. “Do you see that you’re pushing away every single suggestion I make to you? It’s important that you listen.”

Dr. Bachman continued. “Mrs. Fishman, if you focus on your priorities: going to meetings, reining in your ego, working the steps, and getting a sponsor, you can succeed. “MESS” is your motto.”

Hindy had to laugh at that. It was certainly apt for her situation.

“We’ll have to stop now. I do wish you luck. You have a good chance of managing this, one step at a time.”

He stood up to end the meeting and Hindy followed. She was filled with relief. As much as Dr. Bachman had helped her, she didn’t think she’d miss him. Entering his office had been the equivalent of stepping into a boxing ring, and she never knew from which direction the punches would be thrown.

She wandered down the hall in a bit of a daze, taking in the bright florescent lights that lit up every imperfection; the sharp whiff of antiseptic entwined with the smell of institutional food coming from the cafeteria.

Reaching her room, she thought again of Rochel. She had great potential, with her whole life ahead of her. Hindy had heard from Ahsha that she’d survived the overdose. Hindy said a perek of Tehillim that Rochel would go back to recovery.

She started organizing the few possessions she’d had these past 28 days: a few outfits, books she was planning to donate to the rehab library; some toiletries, and the various knickknacks, papers and tchotkes she seemed to always attract. A few cards, but not many; she hoped the news of her overdose had not spread too far and wide.

Nearly packed and with little to do before the next NA meeting, she opened up her recovery journal and began to write.

To be continued . . .