And he used that against me. Because, that’s what you do when someone you love loses it. Right? You calculate and scheme the best way to undermine a person at rockbottom. Isn’t that what all people do? All opportunists with a keen eye on what is right and what is wrong? Of course not. No loving man would do such a thing.
But he did. And he still does.
Now he has the upper hand and I have a therapist who makes house calls and an entire pharmacy’s worth of pills to take every 12 hours. Because that’s what the doctor ordered and I’m obviously too sick to be heard lest I say too much. Otherwise I’d be at home, 2000 miles away, taking my twins to preschool instead of sitting here on the lawn, drooling all over myself at a subpar aftercare facility.
I’d be anywhere but here, that’s for sure.
It happened quite quickly and slickly if I remember correctly. There one day and here the next. Left behind was my life in shambles and the new me, living a new life, in shackles. Figuratively, of course. I wasn’t literally tethered or bound to anything. Well, not at first, anyway.
And it’s not that I didn’t have an advocate or have a clue what was really going on. I haven’t been bamboozled and hoodwinked by a rich man who wanted out of his marriage and knew no other way but to sell his crazy wife down the river. At least, I didn’t think so at the time.
After all, I did have an advocate. An independent liaison. Someone who was supposed to protect my best interests while we negotiated what needed negotiating. She just wasn’t very good at her job (or at least the job I thought she was hired for) but she made me feel like she was. It’s only in hindsight that I see the cracks in the crazy she spoon-fed me.
Get better then worry about the kids, the house, the car...The children will be looked after by your mother-in-law while you are away. You like her. More than your own somedays. It will be ok. She will take good care of the twins, for you.
This is such a short time in their lives. They’re little. They wont remember this. But your sickness could change who they are inside. Get better for the twins.
Don’t you want to feel better?
Yes! Yes I do!
After a few hours of being confused then schmoozed, at the intervention, it was easy to believe that I was sick. That what I was feeling inside was the result of something awry inside my head instead of inside my marriage. I clearly was the one who needed to change. Because everyone was telling me I was the problem. Everyone else collectively agreed: I’m sick. And I felt sick right then. Sick to my core. I’d have said yes to just about anything. Just to make it all stop. To make everyone, including myself, feel better.
Even if I wanted to, frankly speaking, I couldn’t argue with what they were saying because it had a ring of truth to it. I hadn’t felt like myself at all since the twins were born. I had been depressed. Everything was off kilter. Perpetually…wrong. It wasn’t too far fetched to consider that maybe it was me causing it. I felt sick. All of the time. I was tired and I was angry. And disappointed in him. He who could do no wrong. He who had done no wrong.
When I looked in the mirror at myself, someone else was starring back. I wore a ton of makeup. Heavy cartoonish crap. I had aged and I was having a hard time disguising that fact. The black circles under my eyes never went away. I couldn’t stand up straight from the weight of my own feelings. And he was doing just fine. He never looked better. At least on the outside.
At that time, I’m sure I looked more like his mother than his wife. A curmudgeon. A shell. If I fixed me…If I got better then everything else would be…better…thats what they said. And that’s what I chose to believe. It was ALL me. And I could control me. He was still perfect. And soon, I would be again. The promise of a return to me, was unquestionably attractive.
So I agreed to get help with my advocate by my side. I would submit to all of this. I would agree there was something inside me that needed fixing. And agree to inpatient care because a change to my environment would speed up the healing process.
I’d naively acknowledge in writing how badly I needed an in-patient program and that perhaps I might harm myself someday if somehow this something got out of control (I was told to write that just so insurance would approve the expense) and I’d swear via my signature that my home life is a hindrance to my healing process. And it would be all about the process for the next few weeks. Just a short period of rest and healing and then I would be all better. And everyone else would feel better and life would BE better because I was finally better.
And in the middle of all that head nodding, I let that niggling feeling deep down inside me that screamed WHY THE HELL ARE YOU AGREEING TO THIS be labeled as fear of the unknown instead of a red flag. A first step in the process. Instead of something I should run screaming away from.
Because, after all, I got to pick the place where I would rehabilitate my broken brain. So I was most definitely in control of this. Nothing was happening to me, I was agreeing to it all! So go away feelings of dread. Stop waving those red flags. Stuff yourself deep down inside me again. I’m in control … look … see …
I decided, and everyone else eagerly agreed, that if I’m going to a mental hospital (I could never think of it as anything but), I didn’t want to encounter too many actual crazy people. But I didn’t know a thing about what qualified an institution as an actual nut house or a sanctuary or a rest home or a spa. The list of acceptable facilities provided by insurance meant zip to all of us. The only people I ever heard of going “away” for rehabilitation of any sort were the people in the pages of People magazine and US Weekly. So I did what any normal American would do – I took the advice of a celebrity in crisis and headed west.
I didn’t demand Promises or Betty Ford, but I did have a list of criteria that my funny farm must meet (nothing earth shattering). I needed to go somewhere warm, the winter always depressed me, and somewhere upscale, I wanted to feel safe. I needed the therapy to be spiritual, but if someone mentioned Jesus to me one fucking time I was out. But I craved the earth. Somewhere fancy but not a resort. Remote but not a horror movie in the making type remote. If they could give me those things, make a facility with that criteria come to fruition, I’d happily go onward and get better. I didn’t demand that the doctors have a certain level of education. I didn’t ask what type of therapy they promote. I didn’t ask for qualifications or testimonials. I asked for fresh paint and a view.
A few days later, in the formal living room at the front of our house, a room we had professionally decorated eight years ago but never once sat in, we all gathered around and glared at a pile of brochures the advocate brought over. These were the places our insurance company approved. These were my options. West coast (check!), warm weather (check!), family therapy (check!) …. (check!)(check!)(check!).
I hand picked the Bergdorf Goodman of mental institutions, a place called Evermore located in Northwest Tucson, Arizona and I was quite happy about it. Excited even. While the idea of going away somewhere, to be analyzed and prescribed and revived was scary, it wasn’t a negative prospect at all. I was going to get better at this place. There were experts there waiting to cure me. Nice people with soft voices and prescription pads. I would BE better soon. Real soon. Sooner than soon.
And that is how I came to find myself on the other side of the country living out of a suitcase filled with brand new clothes for what should have been…at max…45 days but was now somewhere in the neighborhood of 411 days. Because I needed to get better on the other side of the goddamn country … and I put that shit in writing.