Sunday, September 13, 2015

An Open Letter to a mom coming out of rehab:

Dear mama,

I’m writing to you because I know you exist. I see you. I’ve seen you there for a while, but I’ve never said anything in passing...until now.

I was there the day you decided suicide was the only way out. It had to be, you thought, because if you died young, you wouldn’t be around to fuck up your children even worse. Because things like active addiction, post-partum depression, and childbirth don’t exist in the real world, all jumbled together in this great big mess that you don’t even notice until you’re so deep in it you can’t dig yourself out.

I don’t have any tips to give you about re-entering the world. If I did, I would follow them, myself. There was no way for me to prepare to walk back into the crime scene, sick with withdrawls, feeling how beyond repair my life had become. I mostly sat on the couch and stared at the wall a lot while my babies bounced around me and the movie Frozen ran in a constant loop. I won’t lie, I even got a little emotional every time Elsa let it go.

When you’re in rehab, you are completely isolated from the real world. You get used to that, after a while. Your old life starts to feel like some kind of dream, one you can talk to for ten minutes over the phone at night, when nobody is crying on it. And when you get home, everything is just as you left it, in some ways. But mostly, it’s not. And I think that’s OK, because it reminds me a lot of when I brought my second child home from the hospital, a squinting newborn, and I had a similar feeling. Like, the terrain is familiar, but everything has changed somehow, and I knew it would never be the same again. And yet, I survived. There was a new normal.

I should also mention something else I wish I had been told: You will be a completely different person when you get out of rehab. Stop and re-read that sentence for a minute. Get it? You will be DIFFERENT and feel different and everything around you will be different. I think that’s OK. Usually, it’s a good thing. It means you’re changing for the better, waking up, coming to, looking around. There may or may not be a lot of rubble around. Just step over it as best you can, and maybe think about getting a broom.

Get used to humility, because there’s a lot of that coming. Also, get used to accepting help. But, I think the most important thing to remember is, to get used to not being alone anymore. Because you’re not. There are so many of us, all over the world, going through the same thing. That, I do know.

Best of luck,


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