Excerpts From a Diary 42
I’m sitting at the Buffalo International Airport, waiting for a flight to Logan International in Boston. This is no April Fool’s Day joke – this is really happening. We couldn’t get a flight out of Cleveland, so this morning Bob & I drove here at the crack of dawn & now we’re waiting for a flight. He’s coming with me. I think my mother & Bob think I’m going to bolt – either here in Buffalo or in Boston – a place I really know nothing about, aside from my childhood memories – so Bob is coming with me. Mom is too busy to deal with me, of course – Rocco is newly engaged & she’s busy with planning an engagement party for him & his fiancé this coming Saturday. It was almost all she talked about – how nice Julie is & how sweet she is & how dedicated to her chosen field of social work & how sober she is. Hearing about how wonderful Julie is almost made me want to go out & get plastered but I remembered how I wanted to get sober when I was talking to Jesse – it’s amazing how fragile that desire is. I mean – I want to get sober but I just want to escape, too.
They’re having me to go some rehab in Lowell, Massachusetts. I don’t know how they came up with that one. I mean – what’s in Lowell? My father always made fun of Lowell. “Low-ell” he called it. Apparently some AA friend of Bob’s runs it. It’s in some old factory or mill or something – I really don’t know. It’s not very big. There’s inpatient & outpatient services & I’m going to be inpatient for 28 days & then I don’t know. I guess we’re going to play it by ear. I don’t even know who’s paying for this. I suppose my insurance – through Teddy’s work – I’m just not thinking about it. Bob says not to think about it – he says my “best thinking” got me here.
Teddy called Mom last night & after talking to her for a little bit, she let me talk to him. He got a phone! After months of not having a phone & not being able to work because of not having a phone, the very first day I’m gone he goes & gets phone service! I was fit to be had but there was nothing I could do about it. He said that he thought it was a good idea that I was going into rehab. I told him that I didn’t know when I would be back but I asked him – please – not to get rid of any of my books or anything else that belonged to me. He said he wouldn’t. He said that he was going into a program for men who “hit” women – that my mother was insisting on it. He made it sound like he was doing it to please her because he really didn’t have a problem – any reasonable man would hit a woman like me, right? I mean – he didn’t say that but I know that what he thinks. He did say that he wants us to be living together again & happy again but after I hung up the phone, I couldn’t remember when it was when we were ever really happy.
I think that’s the entire idea with everyone. Get Cori sober & get her back into her marriage with Teddy. Which isn’t what I want at all. I mean – I want to get sober but I know my marriage is over. It’s been over for a long time. Honestly – I feel more like getting wasted than ever. I feel trapped.
I fell asleep on the plane. It’s only an hour in the air but I went right out. It seems like all I do lately is sleep. It must be the shock of no drugs in my system. Of course I’m still drinking coffee but it’s like it doesn’t even affect me anymore – like I’ve got the strongest tolerance known to man – I can have espresso & still fall asleep. Pat always said that caffeine was a drug so it’s only logical that I could & would build up a tolerance to it. Pat said that caffeine was a drug & so is the sugar that I put into my coffee – he said half & half was, too. He could talk for hours on how dairy was one of the most addictive drugs to man & so was meat! Pat could make an argument that anything at all could be used addictively & it was all part of Dukka & Samudaya – the First & Second Noble Truths of Buddhism – that 1. life is painful – mostly because we don’t or won’t realize its impermanence & 2. our insistence on clinging to these impermanent states & trying to make them permanent. & getting over an addiction was simply the Third & Fourth Noble Truths – Nirodha, letting go & Magga, liberation from Dukka. Honestly – when he talked about it, it seemed so simple – so why couldn’t he let go of his addictions? To smoking cigarettes & doing coke? To sex? To gambling? Maybe Jesse was right – it was all just talk with Pat – just something he said to sound virtuous & get unhappy babes like me into bed. I felt worse than ever. I couldn’t believe that my search for a better life & a new way of living had led me to Pat.
It took about forty minutes to drive out to Lowell from Logan. Boston itself looked familiar – as we drove on the various expressways – but as soon as we got out of Boston proper, nothing really seemed real to me. We were driving away from the ocean. I felt really sad. Somehow I had thought that I was going home but I was going somewhere completely else. “Low-ell”.
Bob talked to me as we drove along. “I know you’ve been to rehab before & you might think that you know about recovery & you know about AA,” he said. “Go into this like you don’t know anything at all. Go into this like you’re a complete baby in recovery. Because believe me,” he chuckled, “you are.”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say.
“& don’t worry about Teddy. Teddy’s going to be fine. Teddy wants you to think he’s going to fall apart cuz you’re not there but he’s going to be just fine. & if he falls apart – well, that’s ok, too. It’s about time he faced the music on his own.”
“But we’re married,” I said. Weakly. & I only said it to say something – it’s not like I believed it.
“Are you?” He laughed. “Is that what you call it? So – just what is my son Jesse’s role in that marriage? I’ve often wondered.”
I didn’t say anything. I never thought that anyone noticed Jesse & my relationship. I always thought it was completely sub rosa. I wondered who else knew.
He went on, “If you’re going to get sober & I mean really sober – not just quit drinking & using for a while – I mean a total change of life – if you’re going to get sober, you’re going to have to change everything. Sometimes the people in your life change with you & sometimes they don’t. But the fact is – you have to change. & you have to change the way you live your life. You understand what I mean?”
“Yeah,” I said, although I wasn’t all that sure just how I was supposed to change – other than stopping the drinking & the drugging. Which seemed like enough for me at the moment.
“You’re going to have to make a break with your drug past. That means everyone. Even your husband, if that’s what it takes to remain sober. If he isn’t willing to clean up his act, too. You might have to move. Find a new career. Do whatever it takes.” I must have been looking freaked out – I was just exhausted by that point – because he moderated his message a little. “But I wouldn’t worry about that right now – just get yourself clean & healthy – everything else will fall into place – here we are.”
He pulled up in front of an old brick building – maybe 100 years old but it could easily be as old as 150 years or maybe older. There was a star design worked into the brick that was decorative and beautiful. I had never seen bricks so small & so delicate. It was one brick building in a long line of old brick buildings. The front doors were heavy & old & made of oak. Over the doors was a transom made of granite & etched in it were the words: “The Blue Star Manufacturing Company” with a pentacle in between the words “Star” & “Manufacturing”. A hand-printed sign on the door said: “Blue Star Rehab”.
We walked in & it was like walking into history. Everything was brick and wood & wrought iron & just plain old. The ceilings were higher than anything I had ever seen. I felt like I was tripping. Maybe I was. Maybe by that point – with the swiftness of leaving Buffalo & going to Cleveland & then back to Buffalo to Boston & now here in Lowell – I was completely broken down & now in some other dimension. But I have to be honest – I really don’t remember the intake – signing the papers – saying goodbye to Bob – going upstairs to the top floor where inpatient was. I floated through all of that & then I was in my own room & sleeping – for days & days. Or that’s how it seemed, anyway.
Last night I dreamed that I was at Pat’s place – I’m not sure where – maybe in Cleveland – I was in the kitchen – it was a mess – there was olive green appliances & a washer & dryer & stacks of pornography – the phone rang & it was Pat. “When will you be here?” I asked. “I have all my things & I’m ready to move in – ready for our new life together.”
“We have no life together,” he told me. “It is not our karma to be together. You must accept this karma.”
“I won’t accept this karma!” I argued. “I refuse! I love you! It is our karma to love each other! It is our karma to be together & you know it!”
“It is not our karma to be together. You must accept this.” & the phone went dead.
This morning I was interviewed by a counsellor. His name is Lance but he couldn’t look less like a Lance if he tried – being rather pudgy & effeminate. But really nice – really a nice dude. Fabulous accent – the accent alone brought back so many memories. It was like I was 10 years old again & hearing it for the first time. “Supah,” he kept saying – that dropping of the ending “r” was tripping me back to 1970 & it was hard not to fall into the same speech pattern (“patten”). He talked with me for almost two hours & I felt like he was on my side the entire time. It was decided that I’m alcohol dependent, cannabis dependent, cocaine dependent & miscellaneous drug dependent. Lance is going to be my main counsellor. I have Angie for my group counsellor & Alycia, the student intern, who drives us to meetings every day. We go to some meeting somewhere on a daily basis. “Ninety meetings in ninety days,” Lance told me, “but you’ll be glad to get out of the building & you’ll be glad to be seeing so much of Eastern New England, especially since you’re not from around here. It’s a way to sight-see while you’re getting some recovery,” which sounded suspiciously like a slogan but I just laughed & said that I would love to see Manchester-by-the-Sea, where I used to live. So then we talked a little about my life there. Not very much – my time was up – but Lance agreed that it was a beautiful place & that it had to have been hard for me to leave there.
I got a letter from Teddy. I read it this morning before I went to group but I really didn’t have time to look at it closely & so I’m rereading it now. He writes in pencil – which is annoying enough – but he says he uses a pencil because he makes so many mistakes & has to erase. I mean – just cross out the wrong words – or think a little before you write. Or write a letter & then copy it over. I guess he doesn’t understand the concept of a first draft.
He writes, “Ever since we have been together, you have been scared to tell certain things to me for fear that I would get mad. This is before I ever got mad at you the first time. In my opinion I think that 1. Your parents were that way with you & 2. You knew inside that what you wanted to tell me was something that you either did was wrong or knew you screwed up or something like that. You did not want to admit that you had made a mistake. You said more than once over the years that you were afraid to tell me things because you assumed I would get mad. But there were plenty of times I didn’t. What happened in a lot of cases is that I got mad because you tried to lie or cover up. You assumed I would not understand. I know I didn’t handle many situations like I should have, but I was at a disadvantage because you were untruthful with me. I think most of the time you were afraid I would get on your case but most of the time you needed to be told when you screwed up just like I do from time to time. You forgot that first of all I love you, & I only want to help you face up to your mistakes. I know I didn’t always handle things well but after all I have my own problems with being immature. I needed you & still need you to support me.”
His letter continued, “I still deeply love you, a love that is real & true. With help from God, we could become great lovers as well as companions & friends again. I think you have lost the feeling & memories of just how good it was & how good it could be again. Please don’t shut your feelings off & rule out falling in love with me. With both of us getting the help we need, we could be a great team again.”
I don’t know what to say – I admit I miss Teddy. But it’s never been right – or has it just been me? Blaming him when it’s really me – restless, discontented one – falling in love with Jesse – crazy in love with Jesse –
But – to accuse me of lying – I’m not a liar. I was very careful about that. I really hate lying & I hate people who lie. But to omit saying anything at all is not lying. To say you’re going out & not say where you’re going is not lying. To say you’re going here or there & not mention somewhere else is not lying. OK – maybe it’s not completely honest, either – but it’s not lying.
& now this stupid thing with Pat – blowing up like dynamite – just gives him ammo.
I don’t know – I don’t know – is it all my fault? Really?
Writing a letter to Teddy. I have to show it to Lance before it gets sent out – it’s not like my mail is censored but I’m in “early recovery” & there are rules – it’s for my own good – I could be sabotaging my own recovery & not even know it. & I don’t care – I really want to get better. & I want to know – really – is it my fault? The demise of the marriage? Because – honestly – it seems to me that I acted in a very logical manner & even ethically – given the circumstances.
“I admit I never had any intention of being sexually ‘faithful’ – but I didn’t really think it mattered – I was emotionally faithful – at least until Jesse – & even then I still loved you deeply & was very loyal to you. & the only reason I lied – if you can call it lying & it seems that you are determined to do so – is because who the hell tells the truth when they’re having an affair? I mean really? If we were having an open marriage, it would have been different. But you made it clear that you weren’t interested in that. & you also made it clear that you weren’t interested in me sexually. So I was supposed to be faithful to a man who didn’t want to have sex with me. I think that was asking a bit much.” I added, “There’s some kind of emptiness in me – I don’t know what – maybe it’s connected to my need for ‘stardom’ – but I tried to fill it anyway I could – with drinking – with sex – it’s like I can’t see myself except mirrored in someone else’s eyes.”
I continued, “One thing I’ve heard over & over – in AA meetings & now with these new counsellors – is that I’m very hard on myself – too hard on myself – that I set myself up for failure – that I punish myself – that I don’t really believe in myself – that I don’t believe I deserve happiness. For whatever reasons – my dad dying – that asshole of a stepfather – what happened in Gates Mills – Jon – who knows. I was very open with you about my problems when we first met & you assured me that you would love me no matter what. & now I’m the problem? All I know is that this is all going to take time. You are going to have to be patient. Maybe it’s time you confronted your own chemical dependency issues. Your own neediness.”
I finished the letter saying, “I also think that my problems – like your problems – existed before we were married. The marriage wasn’t the problem – you & I individually were – & we have to get our shit together individually before we can do it together.”
I have just had the worst night since I have been here. I barely slept at all. In the beginning, all I could do was think about Pat. I sent him a letter last week – I know I shouldn’t have but I did & everyone in group got on my case about it – & I haven’t heard anything back. I wonder if he’s with Amy or with someone new. Or if he’s even still in Buffalo. Maybe the letter is just sitting in the mailbox & has been for days. I was in torment & I tossed & turned for hours.
Somewhere in there I did fall asleep & I dreamed I was smoking a joint. I only did a few tokes & I was wasted. They could smell it on the floor & it was a real problem. I was really paranoid in my dream & that’s something I have never been in real life. It was really amazing – how anxious I felt in my dream. I woke up & I shook myself out of the dream. I went to the bathroom & then back to bed – more tossing & turning.
I drifted off into sleep & another dream. I was wearing my grey dress. I was arriving at Eric Clapton’s house. I saw a bunch of Clapton videos yesterday – I’m sure that’s where some of this is coming from. He & his wife – not Patti, some other chick – were going to some show & they were taking me along with them – Eric & I had to wait for his wife to get ready & we went out to the yard – we were talking, our eye meeting & our hands touching. The same electricity that Pat & I felt when we were falling in love. Which leads me to believe that it wasn’t Eric Clapton I was dreaming about – but Pat.
Then the dream changed – Eric & I were watching TV & I was wearing my red & white checked dress that I used to wear in Manchester – that cute one from my freshman year in high school – it seemed like the dream went on forever as the sexual tension built & then he was making love to me – it was so intense & so real – I can remember every detail – it was just like fucking a god.
Then it turned into a nightmare – I was late getting home to Teddy & he was mad at me – he was taunting me about fucking Eric Clapton – “Was it like fucking God?” he shouted at me – we had a huge argument & I woke up crying. It’s only a dream but nothing is just a dream. I can’t ignore it any longer. I gambled & lost. It’s no use saying, all bets are off, I want to go home. Because I’m stuck here – stuck going to group every day – stuck going to AA meetings. Realization comes hard in the cold light of dawn. & nothing changes it.
I got a letter from Pat. He writes that he feels disconnected from me, unable to fully communicate & says that “somehow, someway” he has got to see me. He says we should not try to “fortify or secure” our love – like grasping a rose – we would get pierced by the thorns. He wrote that our love “simply is & that is that.”
I thought it was beautiful until I showed it to Lance, who said, “Just what the fuck is he talking about?” & I burst out laughing.
Lance said, “Girl, you don’t need that kind of tomfoolery in your life, he’s not saying a word of sense, just a bunch of fine-sounding words that you can dance to & we all know how you love to dance.” & I had to agree. It was all fine-sounding words that didn’t mean a thing. I’m not going to write back to him.
A lot has happened. Because of writing letters & my daily diaries for group, writing my personal diary has taken a back seat. But that’s the way it is.
I did a formal First Step in group the other day. I had to stand up & say that I was “powerless” over drugs & alcohol – which I honestly don’t believe – & that my life had become “unmanageable” – which isn’t a question whether or not I believing in that – it’s quite evident. I mean – my sweetheart of a husband is now a snarling beast – the guru lover I thought was going to save me has proven to be a false prophet – & I’m living in a converted factory & eating the worst food in my life. They talk about people gaining weight when they get sober but I’m losing weight. There’s almost nothing I can eat here.
The next day I did a Second Step – “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” – Again – I always knew that a power greater than myself could do anything at all – include take me in & out of sanity – so I didn’t argue with this or belabor the wording. Lance says this step is about having hope & keeping an open mind – that recovery is possible & that none of us have to do it alone.
I was thinking about those two steps as the Ace & Two of Wands – the beginning of desire – the desire for a better life – a spiritual life, a productive life, a creative life – clean & sober.
I had a big blow-up with Teddy this morning. Actually – he was the one blowing up. He said he talked to his counsellor. He’s not in group because there’s not enough men to form a group – which sounds suspect to me – because what different does it make how many men there are? & given how many women complain of being hit by their men – in AA alone – if there aren’t enough men to form a group, it’s because men deny being the problem. He also said that he told the guy about me & my affairs – affairs? Now I’ve had more than one? – & what happened with Pat & the guy said that Teddy was to “confront” me about Pat, my counsellors here, my group sessions, & “just how long” I was going to be here. That just doesn’t sound right. A counsellor for men with anger problems telling the guy with the problem controlling his anger to make a confrontation with the woman with whom he’s angry? Really? Somehow I don’t think any of that is true. Teddy went on to say that Pat isn’t sick – he doesn’t have cancer – Pat lying to me – he’s not in AA – he’s still dealing drugs – & when I asked him where he was getting his information from, he refused to tell me – which told me that it’s Teddy who’s lying. Because how would he know any of this? He was hurt & upset that I would not believe him. I tried to tell him, “It’s not a question of believing. I really don’t care. It has nothing to do with you & me. As for you & me – I am not writing off our marriage, but I can’t save our marriage until I save myself.”
He just reiterated his demands that I stop writing & talking to Pat or he would come & bring me home. Like he has any authority over my physical body. & he doesn’t know that I’m writing or talking to Pat – he’s just assuming that I am! But even if I am – he has no right to tell me what to do anyway! But I’m writing & talking to Pat or anyone else. I really am trying to focus on recovery 24/7 here.
I do miss Teddy. I do love him. I just wish he’d change – like I’ve been wishing for the last seven years.
In group, I told them what happened with Teddy. So not I’m not supposed to talk to him or write to him or read his letters for a week. I had to make a contract with the group. Angie & Lance say that by focusing on Teddy – Teddy’s problems – his truck – his job – I am not focusing on myself. I am always worrying about him – how he feels – what he’s gonna think – say – do – about whatever it is. & I do worry about him constantly. I have spent a lot of time writing to him – telling him things I’ve learned in therapy – outlining the 12 steps – helping him – trying to teach him & I just can’t take it anymore. Or his pleading letters – letters telling me how badly he wants me to change – how much he loves me & wants me – all that. The words have got to stop & the action has got to begin.
I’m not the only one with marital problems. Both Benny & Curt are having them big-time & Lyle too. Curt’s moving into a halfway house.
I feel bad. I feel bad because I know Teddy is feeling bad. Inside my head, I hear a voice: “How do you know?” & I have to answer, “Well, I don’t.” Maybe he’s pissed off. Maybe he’s happy. Maybe – maybe –
The thing is, I have tried to help Teddy & I’ve got to stop. I can’t help him or anyone else. I can only help myself. He’s got to motivate myself & help himself. I’m in therapy – I’m going to AA – I’m moving ahead & trying to change. Teddy’s letter seem like he’s changing – he is paying the bills or at least he says so – & I do believe him – I guess – but he’s not in therapy – he’s still totally in denial – he says he wants to learn to love me but he isn’t doing a thing!
I wish I could let it go! Why is it so hard?
I told my story in group tonight. It was tough – kinda – I know I went real fast – backtracking – so much has happened to me – it was hard to keep it linear. On Monday, I’ll get “Tough Love” letters from the group & on Tuesday, I have to present letters in reply.
I have one month in sobriety. So much has happened this past month I can’t believe it. I’m so busy – the days so by so quickly – one day at a time – it’s amazing.
I got a letter from Pat. He forgives me for “breaking” with him – I wasn’t aware that I had done that. I mean – the letter I wrote to him spoke of recovery & being here for a long time but that was it. Nothing personal – nothing I couldn’t show Lance or Angie. Anyway – he writes that he has “complete trust” in me & that I am “mixed with the Dharma” – whatever that means. He wishes nothing but the best for me. Both Lance & Angie say it’s one of the most manipulative letters they have ever seen & that I am much better off with Pat out of my life. “Sober or not,” Lance said. “Sober or not.”
Today I turned 30. The age everyone said I would never achieve. How strange to celebrate it inside a rehab – on my second month of sobriety – no alcohol – no family – no friends except the news ones I have made here.
I remembered birthdays of my past – champagne – cocaine – piles of presents – going out to dinner – a beautiful cake – the kitchen help singing to me – being the center of attention – dancing all night long –
This birthday, I went to a meeting & when we got back, there was cake & ice cream in the cafeteria & everyone sang to me. I started crying but it seems like that’s easy to do nowadays.
So then we played cards for a while. I love playing cards! I realized how nice it was not to be drinking – not to have to set it down each time I had to take my turn – being able to play well because I wasn’t buzzed – not being anxious because I wanted to go home & smoke a joint – not being out of weed & out of money all the time – not being all burned out all the time – it was such a freedom – such a good feeling!
& tomorrow I’ll wake up & I won’t have a hangover. & honestly – I may miss catching a buzz once in a while but I never miss having a hangover. If I have another hangover ever again, it’ll be too soon & as far as I’m concerned – no hangovers is the one & true reason not to drink. The one & only reason not to drink.
I did my Third Step on Monday – I feel much better – like it isn’t my problem anymore. I meditated a long time – I knew my decision was true & real.
The whole – “turning our will & our lives over to God” – really goes against my grain because I don’t want to turn my will or my life over to anyone. Maybe I would – to Jesse – once upon a time – but I don’t know if I believe in that kind of love anymore. But I had to think – there has to be some kind of deity. I would rather turn my will & my life over to a goddess than a god – it wasn’t hard to visualize her once I got to thinking about her. But I kept my visions to myself.
& I don’t think she wants me to give up my will. I need my will to stay sober. But AA is a Christian place so you have to keep your mouth shut & just take the good with the bad. The rehab itself is more open-minded but it still uses AA terminology.
But having the first three steps done, I’ve gotten the first phase done of my recovery here and Lance says I’m doing really well. I’m homesick but on the other hand I’m glad I came here. I feel so much better.