Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Only Way Out

The Only Way Out
By Michael Cannata  

Going in was the only way out. He knew that now. In the past, every minute he was in there, the only thing he wanted to do was get out. He didn’t want the kind of help it offered, even more, he truly believed he didn't need it. When things got real bad, when he lost all sense of reality, places like this helped… for awhile. No matter how much he needed their help, every time he wound up there, as soon as his head cleared, the urge to escape always got the best of him.

Once it served its purpose, giving him a place to stay until his body healed from the abuse he subjected it to, he was ready to leave; to get back to his friends. Back to the life he had lived since he was a teenager. He was thirty years old now. Nothing had changed, no matter how much therapy or counseling they threw at him.

Getting out was easy. He had mastered the system; He knew all the right things to say to get out. The saddest thing was that he never knew the right things to do to stay out. Every time he got out he felt he was starting over; regrettably, every time, he wound up right back where he started… nowhere.

Growing up, he blamed everyone but himself for his troubles. He'd blamed his family for shutting him out, never realizing the truth. In reality, he had walked away from them a long time ago. They didn't understand what he wanted; they only seemed to focus on what they thought he needed.

He craved their approval, but he never approved of what they asked him to do. While he desperately wanted them to be proud of him, he never tried or cared enough to give them anything to be proud of. They just didn't understand him. It had finally come to the point where he had lost them and, in the process, he had lost himself.

He finally realized that the clinic wasn’t a place to escape from. It was a place to turn to. While it offered nothing that he wanted, it was the only place to get what he needed. He had spent long, desperate times in places just like it. Arrests, overdoses, episodes of emotional conflicts; there were a lot of reasons why he wound up there.  Yet he had never walked in voluntarily. He wound up there because it was where he was sent when they found him lying in the street or alley, broken and suffering from his addictions. He never went in because he wanted to be there.

He finally understood. His friends, his family, they weren’t the problem. HE was the problem! He had tried everything to improve his life and win back his family, everything besides taking responsibility. Now, after waking up in his own vomit and with none of his junkie friends around to help him get up, he had walked the 5 miles to the clinic.

                He stood outside the rehab clinic because he realized that it was the only place he had left to go. If he went in he would be taking the first step towards getting his life fixed. In his heart, he still feared what they, what he, might find inside. He wouldn’t just be opening a door to a building; he would be opening his life to the sort of scrutiny that he feared most; the truth. It was a place that could only help if he was willing to finally admit that he was helpless. And he was. If he wanted to escape the path that would lead him into hell, it was the only way out.

He lingered with his hand on the door; afraid of what he was about to do. All he had to do was go in. His hand closed on the few crumpled bills in his pocket. What would he say to them when they asked him why he had come? Maybe he should wait a bit. Sit in the park and think about just what he would say.

After all, there was no rush. A drink would help steady his nerves, give him the strength and courage he never had when he was sober. It was still early and it was such a nice day.

"Later," he thought to himself. "I'll come back later… maybe tomorrow." He really needed to think this through… again.

He turned and walked to the liquor store just a few doors down. "Funny," he thought to himself again. "Why does every clinic have a liquor store nearby?"

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