So I excused myself from the group-therapy session I was attending and proceeded down the dark, dingy corridor that led to the bathroom. I opened the door to the bathroom and was appalled by the smell of dried urine. The bathroom was a disgusting place. The stench was almost more than I could bear. The tiled floor and the grout that held the tiles together, which probably started out gray, were now black with mold. And even though I'm a bit of a clean freak, I forced myself into the room because at this point I was so filled with toxic emotions and so desperate for help that I decided to do the unthinkable: I got down on the floor on my hands and knees in a prayer position and began to pray. I asked God—or my higher power, as they called it—to come to me, to help me, to rescue me from my pain and my own self-destruction. My body was trembling, and tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was desperate for help, for understanding, and for salvation. And although I had attended synagogue all my life, attended many 12-Step meetings, and heard all types of people talk about God, for me God was nothing more than a man in the sky, a concept in my mind that brought me neither comfort, peace of mind, nor faith. The actual experience of God, spirit, or divine consciousness did not exist for me.
So for a few minutes, I listened to the ranting in my head about how stupid this was, how disgusted I was to be here, and how embarrassed I felt begging some power I didn't even believe in to help me. I felt angry at God, at my parents, and at all those who had hurt me, believing that if it weren't for all of them I wouldn't be here, literally experiencing an all-time low. I tried to convince myself that I could get up and leave, but my fear that I would die if I ran away had led me here, and now it urged me to stay.
I thought back to the day before I entered this treatment center. I was living in an apartment in North Miami Beach, Florida. I owned a thriving clothing store in a prestigious mall and had a powerful business partner who had given me the opportunity of a lifetime. From the outside, it looked like I had it all as I drove around in my white Porsche convertible, wore the hippest clothes, hung out with the coolest people, and partied in the Miami nightlife until the wee hours. Certainly I had gotten the mask of my outer shell to look just right. I was the girl who had it all: money, success, opportunities, friendships, and the world at my fingertips. But what most people who knew me didn't know was that in the quietness of my own inner world, I hated myself. I hated my superficial life. I hated my insecurities and my fear. I hated the emptiness that taunted me day in and day out. I was angry, judgmental, confused, and out of control. I was tired, desperate, and lonely, and the only thing that ever took away or at least quieted that noisy little voice of my pain was the carefully selected mixture of drugs that I would faithfully consume each day.
The truth was that the drugs had stopped working long ago. And although I could barely endure the thought of having to live without them, I knew I wouldn't live much longer with them. Just two weeks earlier I had scored a bottle of a thousand Percodans from a girl I had befriended who worked in a pharmacy. When I met her, I thought I had struck gold. She was going to be the answer to my dreams and the solution to the countless hours I spent trying to round up enough drugs to get me through each week. But here on this dark day, this day of reckoning, even that bottle was empty. It startled me. It wasn't that I had never experienced an empty bottle before, but there had been a thousand pills in this big, brown glass pharmaceutical bottle, and less than fourteen days later they were gone. I now needed to take at least ten Percodans at a time to catch a feel-good moment, when just a few years earlier I had needed only one. The bag of cocaine that I dipped the ends of my cigarettes in to accompany my Percodan high was empty as well.
Here I was face-to-face with an out-of-control, all-consuming drug addiction, surrounded by ashtrays, empty cartons of Salems, and my bottle of ten-milligram Valium that I used to begin each day. I was obsessed with trying to figure out how my life had come to this. I seemed to be a genius at rationalizing, denying, lying, and making up excuses for my bad behavior, but on this day, with the empty bottle in hand, I knew in the depth of my soul that I just couldn't go on living like this. I couldn't pretend that I was OK for one more day. The scene was still vivid in my mind. All my clothes were thrown all over my room as I ransacked every drawer looking for pills that I might have hidden and dollar bills that might still contain some residue of cocaine. My purses were scattered across my closet floor as I searched tirelessly, knowing there must be something, some residue, somewhere. All the plastic bottles in my bathroom that had held my pills were now uncapped and lying on the marble countertop.
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