I remember the night I got released from rehab as if it were yesterday.  I think it’s such a vivid memory because the overwhelming feeling of anxiety I had experienced that night was like no other.  Don’t get me wrong, the moments right before I was about to be sentenced to an unknown amount of time in prison were pretty fucking nerve wracking as well, but that night was completely different.  It was epic.  It was the very first time in my entire life when I wasn’t absolutely sure of myself…or what I was going to do.

While I was stuck in rehab I was kind of in my own little world.  A bubble…if that makes any sense.  The real world went on without me…as it always does and will…but I didn’t have to pay it any mind.  The only things I really had to worry about were getting clean from drugs and learning how to stay sober.  Real life nonsense such as relationships, social life, bills, work and whatnot were probably the last things on my mind.  Now as I was about to exit rehab…stage right…all those real life issues were about to hit me full force.

This usually isn’t such a big deal.  I mean everyone has these things to deal with.  It’s part of life.  But for me it would be the first time in several years that I would have to deal with such life issues and make them priorities, without drugs to fall back on and help me cope with any stresses caused.  It was like I was about to be tossed back into the deep end…this time with no floaties.  Truth be told, the thought of this scared the fucking shit out of me.  This is my story…….

It was a rather warm evening in September.  Almost too warm…considering that October was just a few days away.  The sweats and zip-up hoodie I was sporting were probably a little much, considering the weather, but I didn’t care.  I was just happy as hell to finally be getting discharged from that hellhole once and for all.  I was about to be a free man and I liked it…

Before I left…while I was waiting for the staff to draw up my release papers…I was sitting around with a few of the guys joking around and shooting the shit.  One of them asked me innocently enough, “Yo Matty, so what are you going to do when you get outta’ here?”  I paused and tried to play it coy.  I responded with, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to do something.”  Honestly, I really didn’t know what the hell I was going to do, but  I played like it was nothing, like I had a ton of options when I got out of there.  Perhaps I did, but I didn’t know.  Until he asked I hadn’t even really given it any thought.  Like I said before, I was in a controlled bubble world…no worries.  Now this kid asks this simple question and I start stressing.  That’s right about when the anxiety started to kick in.

Once I signed myself out of there, I said my goodbyes and good lucks to a few of the guys…then it really started to hit me.  I was actually nervous…nervous fucking nervous.  I was about to see the world through sober eyes for the very first time in God knows how long.  No drugs.  No alcohol.  No steroids.  Nothing…well nothing other than the short-lived cigarette habit I picked up while in rehab.  That would have to do.  I was practically shaking…not to mention I was sweating my balls off.  I don’t know if it was because I was really nervous to go back out there or because I was dressed for January in September…

Regardless, I managed to push my nerves to the side.  I tried to snap the fuck out of it.  I remembered that I was free…I was still handsome…lol…and still had money.  I’d be just fine…I hoped…so I strolled out of there with a smile on my face and my luggage in my hand.  I was still short a pair of pants, but I didn’t give a fuck because I was a free man.  This was my first taste of losing my freedom by the way, even though it was partially voluntary, so that’s why I was stoked when I was getting out of there.  At that moment when I walked out the doors, I felt as if I was ten years wiser.  At the very least, I knew I was about ten pounds lighter (hence me wearing a hoodie and not just a t-shirt).

Despite all of this anxiety that was building up inside of me, on the whole, I felt pretty fucking good…a little skinnier…but good.  I was free.  I can’t stress enough how good it feels to be released after being stuck somewhere for so long.  There would be no more shitty food served on a tray.  No more uncomfortable mattresses that hurt my back.  No more random bodily sounds of patients to deal with…both human and wildebeest alike.  No more being told when to eat, when to take my meds, and when to sleep by rude and obviously underpaid staff.  I could go on…you get the point.  Little did I know that several months later I would have to deal with the same shit in the same type of setting all over again…this time while wearing an orange jumpsuit…and I’d be behind bars.  Life’s a trip huh?

And there she was…my then soon-to-be bride.  She was leaning against my car which she had conveniently, yet illegally parked right out front of the rehab entrance.  As soon as I laid eyes on her, my smile that I was forcing a few minutes prior became real…very real.  Shit…I was probably beaming ear to ear…I was smitten.

She smiled back.  I won’t get into the details of the lovey dovey dramatics of that evening outside of the rehab.  Let’s just say that if this was a movie…this would be the scene where the cheesy music kicks in, the guy drops his luggage, the girl drops whatever she’s holding, and the two lovers sprint toward each other in slow motion until they reach each other in a loving embrace.  Use your imagination if you must…that was us in a nutshell.

For a brief moment, it felt as if the world had stopped.  All of the anxiety I was going through completely vanished, as if it were never there (but nothing like that lasts and it would be back, tenfold…).  I felt truly happy for the first time in a while…actually it was the first time in the longest where I felt my own feelings of joy, and not the artificial feelings of happiness caused by the pills I was consuming.  However, I can’t really pinpoint the cause of this new found feeling of happiness.  Perhaps it was because I was free from what felt like prison…both from rehab and drugs in their own ways.  Maybe it was because she was actually there like she said she would be.  Despite all of the bullshit I had put her through during the time we were together, I mean with the drug dealing and the drug using among my many other pains caused, she was still there, on time, with a smile on her face as if she were actually happy to see me.  Better yet…maybe…just maybe…I was happy for new beginnings…a fresh start with her…my family…and my friends.  I could leave the past in the past and the pills in the rehab.  I was 25 years old and I had gotten my life back.

At the time, despite all of my doubts and insecurities of what was to come, I guess you could say I was pretty optimistic about everything.  The way I saw it, everything–the wedding, job, new lifestyle, etc–would just work itself out like it always has for me.  Kind of like a cosmic reward for me getting off drugs.  I honestly felt that since I was technically clean from drugs, I would be a completely changed person.  Like it could happen overnight…as if the lies, the infidelities, and all the other bullshit would be over…I was dreaming apparently.  I was wrong…so very wrong…yeah, life was going to change, damn sure of that…but little did I know that it wasn’t going to change in the ways I expected.  I had no idea what I was in for…and it started on the ride home…….

To Be Continued…

Posted 03/05/2012 by Matty McDonald in Uncategorized

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