Monday, September 9, 2013

The Souvenirs of Rehabilitation

Rehab has a gift shop, you know. Mine had an actual store you could go in and buy inspirational recovery books and t-shirts and some uplifting sayings carved on rocks sorts of things. There were also practical things that the inmates, patients, residents (I never figured out what to call us) might need: pens, pencils, legal pads, fudgesicles, lanyards (to hold our must-be-visible-at-all-times ID badges), wristwatches (an extremely popular thing to have; there are not a lot of clocks in treatment, but you have to be ON TIME to everything, so you feel set up to fail right off the bat until you figure out to just follow everyone else, since everyone is doing the exact same thing you are at the exact same time and then you don't feel like such a failure).

There were also various stickers you could purchase for your car - "Friend of Bill W." or that weird little triangle in the circle thing that I never knew the meaning of until now; I always thought it was something Masonic. Someone on the smoking porch told me to not get one, though. He said those stickers were "cop bait" and if I put one on my car, I'd get pulled over daily by some hopeful cop with a quota picking all the low-hanging fruit. I thought it would be funny if they had a sticker that said "My Child is an Honor Student in Alcohol Rehab" but on the whole, I have found that early recovery stuff isn't big on the jokes. Anyway, I resisted all of these things. I went into rehab with a ten dollar bill and a roll of quarters and managed to spend almost all of it on M&Ms and Cokes. I came home with change.

But I did come home with some souvenirs, all of which are way better than anything that was in the gift shop:

There was a sweet, unusual kid from Chattanooga who roomed with me for one night who spent all of his free time making origami. I was never sure how he talked the Powers That Be into letting him have his origami paper and the instruction book, since almost everything not recovery-related was forbidden. But he spent his time making boats and frogs and cranes, one of the latter of which he gave me.

Another roommate who was a bank president left a clean, neatly-folded handkerchief on my pillow when he left while we were all in group one day. He had seen me struggling with allergies.

I came home with a copy of a Jose Saramago book that arrived quite unexpectedly; again, surprise that something made it past the censors. Sure, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" sounds like an inspirational title, but it's pretty clear they didn't thumb through and run across the juicy bits.

I also have some natural bits and bobs: a rock from the trail that rings the property and a flower nipped from a vase-full that a friend sent me. I pressed it between some journal pages and gave the sweet nurses in medical the rest of them.

All of these things seem like the right things to have; all personal and connected to real people and a real, particular place. I've boxed them all up - along with all the letters I received and my rehab journal - in a little box labeled REHAB BOX and maybe when I am feeling unsafe or vulnerable or if things get a little shaky, I'll pop the lid off and rifle through all of those things just to remind me of the comfort and safety of the bubble of rehab and then get back to my real life, assured for another day by a rock, a crane and a handkerchief.


Marta said...

It's amazing how centered a rock in the hand can make you feel.

kmbutrfly said...