Pain Relief Chapter 75


Dr. Bachman plots out what Hindy will have to do to maintain her recovery. Hindy packs and gets ready to be discharged from rehab.

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From Hindy Fishman’s recovery journal:

I wish I knew how to translate a deep, heavy, aching sigh into letters and words. It’s my next-to-last day in rehab. Asher comes to pick me up tomorrow, and I can’t even contemplate what it will be like sitting in the car with him for two and a half hours. So much of our conversation was taken up with this detail or that: money, the kids, work, general kvetching and, unfortunately, not enough kvelling. Now we’ll be starting with a blank slate. The last thing I’ll want to do is talk about rehab, and I’m afraid I’ll end up staring out the window in awkward silence. 

I feel like I’m still waking up from an endless bad dream. I keep picturing Tatty’s face, pale and grim, incapacitated with suffering. That would never happen to me with my own kids, and it’s not because I don’t love them. I do, but would I make the sacrifices for them that my parents made for us, and their grandparents made for them?

Will I ever forgive myself for the mess I created? I don’t know. When I told Dr. Bachman what my father said, he’d nodded. “You will, but it will take time,” he’d said. “Addicts need instant gratification, which is ironic because the process of recovery is patience. The 12-Step saying, ‘One day at a time’ is a pillar of strength for thousands of people in recovery. You work the steps one by one, everything in small increments so that craving for fulfillment is met by small victories.”

Maybe so. I also wonder about Miriam. What will be with our relationship. Will we have one? Maybe Dr. Bachman was right, that I’m so self-absorbed that I have no room to think or worry about anyone else, but I don’t understand how that could be. Have I been so clueless for my entire life? Was I sleepwalking? Every day seemed regular, just days in an ordinary life. How did I miss out on so many of the details?

I always believed my Shabbos “show” would sustain them and give them enough attention to satisfy their needs after a week of benign neglect. I have a feeling they realized on some level that I wasn’t really doing it for them, but rather for myself.

When I think about how much Tylenol, and the codeine, I was taking, I can’t believe it. If I had heard about anyone else doing what I did, I’d have been shocked. ‘Who does that?’ I’d have said. And now that person is me. I do a mental role-play. I imagine myself looking into the medicine cabinet, or the kitchen counter, the living room drawer, my purse, my car, and all the other places I used to stash the pills, and creating reactions for myself in case it actually happens.

I’m sure all the painkillers in the house have been banished, but I’m sure there are places Asher or Tzippy missed. I feel bad they will have to suffer the pain of toothaches and headaches unless they get some Tylenol outside the house. Everyone knows that it cannot be brought in even in secret; they’ve learned enough about addiction to know that an addict will turn a house upside down looking for their drug.

It’s going to take time to regain everyone’s trust and respect. And I care about that. At this point, I’m a person to be pitied; little more than an invalid. I can picture them serving me food instead of the other way around. “Do you want to eat, Ima?” I’m going to have to work really hard to regain my place and position in the family. I can’t stand being pitied.

It looks like marriage counseling is going to be unavoidable. It feels like  heading back to square one with Asher, and it makes me uncomfortable. We had been figuring things out on our own, but somewhere along the line, we must have lost touch with each other. It was as if I abandoned Asher on an island somewhere, and he’d had no idea how to get back to me. Of everything I’ve learned about myself the last month, this was the most painful discovery.

So, good-bye Tylenol. Good-bye event planning. Good-bye Superwoman Hindy. I have no clue what I’m going to do next. I’ve been informed that I require intense experiences to feel fulfilled, which I find amusing. Maybe I should try mountain climbing. That’s certainly intense.

I’m going to have to stop functioning on automatic pilot and switch over to manual. I’ll have to slow my engine down; I’ve been going at top speed all my life and been happy that way. In fact, I don’t really want to change! It could be all the things I’ve heard this month are pure and total nonsense. I could just as easily slam the door on this whole chapter and slip right back into my old life. I think everyone would be more comfortable with that. With the exception of my dear Sruli, and possibly Tzippy, I don’t think anyone really wants me to change. (Does Miriam want me to change? I have no idea if it would make a difference.)

Change is slow, and I’m sure I’ll lose my patience. The thought of me sitting in NA meeting rooms with recovering addicts from all walks of life is extremely unappealing. But as Dr. Bachman told me yesterday, “Remember the passuk, Hindy, ‘I have set before you life and death … choose life.’ May Hashem give you the strength to make the right choice.”