When I first opened my eyes, all I could see was a grimy cream color on the walls surrounding me. I was lying on a twin mattress on a bare floor. The room was tiny and had no other furniture in it. The fluorescent lights burned my eyes and made my already throbbing head pound even harder. I looked down and saw I was wearing what looked like oversized blue paper scrubs. Joe was standing in the doorway of the room with his back to me. He hadn't noticed that I had woken up yet. I lay there quietly for a minute and tried hard to remember what had happened. Why was I in this tiny room in paper scrubs? Just what the fuck did I do now? My stomach was in knots and my mouth tasted vile and dry. I felt dirty and disgusting. I could only imagine what I must look like. I tried to sit up and felt a burning ache on my left wrist. I looked down to see my left forearm and wrist bandaged up. My stomach gave a lurch as I started to realize the enormity of what I had done. Brief flashes of the night before started to run through my head, and I had an image of running a razor back and forth across my wrist trying to cut myself. As hard as I tried to remember more I couldn't. Part of me was glad I couldn't remember anything. Another part of me was filled with dread. I knew I was about to find out what transpired the night before.
Joe must have heard me moving around and turned around to look at me. Even now writing this I can feel the sick feeling that overcame me. It's hard for me to even write this right now. I looked into his eyes and could see them burning in anger. His jaw was clenched. The veins in his temples bulging out. I knew at that moment that whatever I did was big and I was in trouble.
"You're going to rehab", were the first words out of his mouth. "You're going to be here in Smithfield for detox for a week in their mental health unit and then you're going to a 30 rehab in Wilmington. It's near the beach". The words rushed out of him so fast my head was swirling. I tried to take in what he was saying but my brain felt like mush. Rehab? Mental health facility? What the what?!
"This is it Danielle. This is the last time. I don't want to hear your apologies. I don't want to hear you say that you aren't going to drink anymore. You're going to a 30-day rehab facility and that's all there is to it". He finished this last sentence and walked out of the room leaving me there with my head spinning, all I kept replaying over and over in my head were the words thirty days. It might as well have been 300 days. It sounded interminably long. I knew deep down that I needed to do this. I had no choice in the matter. It was this or divorce. Or worse, death. That was the road I was traveling down, (at a very high rate of speed) and I knew that if I didn't change course that was going to be it.
He came back into the room a few minutes later and laid into me. It was all things I had heard from him before. This wasn't my first detox rodeo. Although the bandaged hand was a new added bonus. I just sat there and listened to all of the things he was saying to me. There was no use saying anything back. I just let his words wash over me as I resigned myself to the fact that I had run out of options. Rehab was in my not too distant future and there was nothing that I could do about it. I had reached the end of the line.
"What about my job?", I asked timidly. I vaguely remembered that I had a job.
"Don't worry about that. I already called Regina and told her everything. I apologized and told her that you wouldn't be back", Joe answered sharply as he stormed out of the room. I could hear him start talking to someone in the hallway as he voice faded away. I tried to stand up and saw that I had on a pair of hospital socks with the rubber gripping on the bottom so you didn't slip and fall. I hated those socks.
As I shakily got to my feet, feelings of shame started pouring through me. He had told her everything. She knew I was an alcoholic. All of the times I was ill at work or called out because I was sick from drinking came to mind. All of the sympathy Regina had shown me brought up more feelings of shame and guilt. I was a sham. A phony. I felt so ashamed of myself. I couldn't believe Joe had told her everything. But what choice did I leave him?
While I was trying to stay upright, a CNA walked in carrying a tray. It looked like a prison meal. A small container of milk, a small bruised apple and a sandwich with what looked like a piece of slimy turkey between two slices of stale looing bread and nothing else. My stomach started doing flips and the bile rose up in my throat as she handed me the tray. I rested it down on the foot of the mattress while thanking her. There was no way I was putting any of that food into my mouth.
I slowly lowered myself back down to the bed and let the gravity of what was happening to me sink it. This was it. I was really going to rehab.
The next few hours went by in a blur. Joe had left with promises of divorce and I just laid there contemplating my future. It didn't look good. While I lay here in my dismal little jail cell, I wondered if this was what it felt like to be in solitary confinement. Would I lose my mind and go insane?
While I waited to see what fate had in store for me, I felt really sick. I wanted to throw up, I was freezing cold, I kept breaking out in cold sweats, my heart was pounding, my head ached and all I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep. The mattress was covered in a threadbare sheet and had no pillow. I tried to get as comfortable as I could, but it was impossible. The hours ticked by. I had no idea what time of day it was. Day or night. I couldn't tell you what day of the week it was. If you didn't have problems before being in this room, you definitely would after spending a few hours in it. I had never felt so low in my entire life. I had finally reached rock bottom. I thought I had hit it before. Laying on a shitty mattress on a filthy dirty floor, naked except for a pair of oversized paper scrubs was probably the lowest point I have ever been in. In my entire life.
Finally, a nurse appeared in the doorway and looked down at me. She told me she was there to take me over to the mental health facility and to come with her. When I exited the room there was a uniformed police officer standing in the hallway waiting. My heard began to pound, a huge lump formed in my throat, and I felt my knees begin to weaken.
"Hi there. My names officer Dan and I'm going to take you over to the mental health unit. Please follow me." He turned away from me and started walking away. As I followed him and the nurse, we passed several rooms on either side with people in them. We passed one with a young guy passed out on the mattress with an I.V. in his arm. I could only imagine what his story was.
I shuffled noiselessly after the officer and nurse with my hed hanging low. I had my arms crossed tightly across my chest because I didn't have on a bra. I wasn't a small girl by any means, and it was obvious I wasn't wearing one. For the first time I thought about clothes and how I was going to get them. How was I going to get anything? I didn't have a single thing and panic started to set in. I not only felt physically sick and tired, I was mentally exhausted and now panic was starting to set in. I still had no idea what time it was and didn't see a clock anywhere. I just continued to follow along quietly trying to hold back the tears that threatened to fall down my face.
We reached a locked door at the end of a long hall. There was a bench and a phone with a sign telling you to call *211 for assistance. The officer picked up the phone and said a few words that I couldn't hear. He hung up and turned towards me.
"Have a seat. It's going to be a few minutes. Are you okay? Do you need anything?", he asked. I shook my head no and went to sit down. He looked at me and said, "That's a beautiful ring you're wearing. My wife would love that ring." I thanked him nervously and fingered my ring as I sat. I always get compliments on my wedding ring, but I thought this was a weird situation to say that in and the comment about his wife loving my ring made me think he was going to cuff me and take the ring. It was a stupid thought.
The officer and the nurse started talking to one another and I sat there quietly staring down at my shoeless feet. The scrubs I was wearing were for someone that was at least 6 feet tall. My short 5'2" frame was swimming in the pants and my feet were all tangled up. The minutes went by and the cop and nurse continued their conversation, laughing and joking while I sat there miserable, at the lowest period of my life. I couldn't believe I was here again. I had detoxed at Smithfield once before. Everything was starting to look familiar. I looked through the window on the door down the long hallway beyond. I tried to picture what it looked like inside the facility and could vaguely remember the sitting area and the tiny, private, barred windowed rooms.
I looked down at my hands folded in my lap and started playing with the bandages on my wrist. I tried to peel it back a little so I could get a look at the damage I inflicted on myself, but I couldn't see anything. Besides, it was stinging and throbbing, and I would see what lay underneath soon enough. There was no rush. I started to think about what lay ahead. 7 days of detox and then 30 days of rehab at a place that was over two hours away from home. I didn't have anything with me, I felt as sick as a dog. I couldn't imagine feeling any worse.
What felt like over a half hour passed and the officer picked up the phone again. From what I could gather, there was some confusion about the admission part of my stay and I would have to wait until it was corrected. They weren't sure how long it would take. I started to feel sick again at the thought of having to go back to that room. My stomach gave a lurch and I covered my mouth with my clenched fist. The vomit rose into my mouth and I swallowed it back down. The nurse saw me and ran to grab a trash can. She got it under me just in time, as another rush of vomit filled my mouth and I couldn't hold it back any longer. I emptied what little was left in my stomach and then just sat there retching. Tears ran down my face and my nose started running. I wiped my face on the bottom of the paper scrubs while the officer went for paper towels.