Monday, February 23, 2015

Round Two

(Spring 2010)

The principal was relieved that I said the words, “I need help.”  I deflated into a chair in her office, weeping.  She picked up the phone and made several calls.  She was obligated to call Children, Youth Services.  She called my friend, Kelly, to come pick up me and the kids.

We all spoke in her office for a while.  I agreed to go back to inpatient.  Kelly agreed to take the kids to her house and take care of our cats while I was there.  We were up to two at this point.

Kelly drove me home.  The kids went with her.  I was going into withdrawal so I walked up to the Wine and Spirits store.  I was supposed to be packing an overnight bag for the kids. 

When I came to the next morning, I was soaked with sweat and my heart was racing.  I knew it was bad.  I was sure I wasn’t going to live until there was a bed open (in inpatient).

I’m not sure how I made it to the ER at Passavant.  I don’t know if Kelly took me or if I asked a neighbor.  I really did know I was sick.  I just didn’t want to be.  I wanted to be cute, smart and fun again.  I was barely a shadow of myself.

In the ER, I was immediately on an IV and Librium.

There were bruises all over me that I couldn’t explain.  I was dehydrated and anemic.

The ER staff was able to immediately secure a bed for me in treatment.  It was back to Pyramid, but this time in Altoona instead of Wilkinsburg.

I medically detoxed for the second time.  What I disliked most about detox was my “time” didn’t begin until one is in the actual rehab part of the stay.  What I liked most during detox was I could stay up and watch TV and have no schedule.

After about 3 days I moved to a room.  My roommate was a young heroin addict.  She told me she couldn’t believe I was there for just alcohol.  “Um, I wasn’t sipping it out of crystal with my pinky extended”, Miss Dual Diagnosis!  (lol)

Folks in rehab can sure be clicky.  Of course, I didn’t fit in!  So, I immediately went into my survival mode and had to prove I was the smartest in the room, at all times. 

Meanwhile, in crazy-town where the boyfriend lived, he had his secretary type me up a nice letter.  He let me know he was angry and wanted to break up, but decided to give me another chance if I promised to try harder.  Gee, thanks, jackass.

Honestly, I was terrified that he would break up with me over this.  That’s where most of my energy and thoughts were – on him.  I was beginning to convince myself that I loved him and the kids and I needed him.  I was sick.

Ethan turned six years old without me there.  Shameful.

In group and individual therapy I was my manipulative self.  Again, I could talk the talk.  All I wanted was out.  My new phrase became, “Change I must or die I will.”  There was truth in the phrase, but not in my heart.  I just wanted to be left alone. 

I joked, I smiled, I laughed and I quoted my way right out the door to another successful discharge.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Demons Are Patient

(Spring 2009 to Spring 2010)

It was 5.5 years since Rich passed away.  The last thing I was looking for was a boyfriend. Yet, there he was - on my couch, (which he bought) - with his dog. 

He kind of just appeared.  He was my lawyer.  Then we became Facebook friends.  Then he was at my door in the middle of the night.

It was surreal.  Rich was 22 when we started dating in 1993.  He didn’t even have hair on his chest.  We grew into adulthood together.  This guy was already a man – with a really deep phone voice.  It freaked me out.

Over dinner and drinks on one of our first dates he was describing his relationship with his soon to be ex-wife.  The time and the places when they began dating (early 90s Oakland) were similar to when and where Rich and I met. 

Here is what was the polar opposite.  He described their relationship as people who were negative, judgmental, critical and entitled.  Rich and I were nothing like them.  Rich and I were kind.  I said out loud, “Rich and I would have never been friends with you.”

All I could think that entire evening was - Rich wouldn’t say that; Rich wouldn’t feel that; Rich wouldn’t think that; God, I miss Rich.  I knew it didn’t feel right.  I sensed this man’s spirit of malignity.  I wanted to leave, but I stayed.  I just pushed it down with another glass of wine. I choked down all of my apprehension until I couldn’t feel anything at all.  That’s the way I liked it.

Over the next few weeks, my nerves and emotions were so completely out of whack that I broke out horribly.  I was 39 years old!  I mean horribly.  It was the weirdest thing.  I had to see a bunch of dermatologists and try different medications including Accutane.  My already low self esteem took a nose dive.  I didn’t want to leave the house.  I was convinced the boyfriend was using some kind of product that I was having a reaction to.  One doctor even joked that I must be allergic to him. (To this day I have scars on my chin and forehead from it.)  No doctor was ever able to explain it.  It had to be the stress of the “relationship”.

The doctor warned me that if I consumed alcohol while on that drug it would most certainly damage my liver.  It was a risk I was willing to take.   

Sure, the boyfriend was wholly flawed, but so was I.  He knew about the DUIs, losing my job because of alcohol, rehab, losing my license and now my mutant appearance and he still wanted to be with me.  I think part of my appeal to him was that I was sicker than he was.

The guilt of being with someone that was not Rich was making me desperate to escape.  I mean escape from myself.  I wasn’t trying to get away from my children.  I wasn’t even trying to get away from the boyfriend.  It was me that I didn’t want to have anything to do with. 

I was drowning in my fears, shame, guilt.  We had drinks together every night at dinner in restaurants then we would continue late in to the evenings at my home or his.  My children became used to the routine.  His children were there half the time to keep them company.

We looked like a little family.  He liked to call us the mini Brady Bunch.  I was miserable.  I was in a relationship with someone I didn’t really like, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be out of if.  I think I thought that no one else would put up with a mess like me.  Meanwhile, I wasn’t looking for a relationship to begin with.  I guess I liked having a partner.  I’m not sure if I even noticed myself getting sicker.

I tortured myself daily with thoughts of failure and inadequacy.  Now that I was a criminal, I figured I wasn’t going to be employable.  Even if I got a job, how was I going to get there with no license? I would go round and round with thoughts of how horrible I was.  I could absolutely not see my situation getting any better.  I slowly became more and more dependent on this boyfriend.  My addiction told me this was as good as it was going to get.  My addiction caused me to forget who I was.  My ambition was gone.  My personality was gone.  My laugh was gone.

I was alone during the day.  I was trapped in my cave - trapped with my demons.  Each day I opened that first bottle of wine earlier and earlier.  I figured I could numb and then be alert enough to pretend to enjoy the evenings. 

Wrong.  My demons are patient.

On an early April morning in 2010, I drank until I passed out.  I didn’t go pick up my child from half day kindergarten.  I woke up to the phone ringing.  I immediately knew what I did.  I jumped in my car and flew up to the school.  I can’t imagine what I looked like or how I smelled.  I know my teeth were purple when I dashed into that school and grabbed my son out of the principal’s office.  I said, “Sorry”, and ran.

When we got home I lied to all my emergency contact folks that the school called.  I assured them everything was fine – it was just a misunderstanding. 

I managed to get myself and the house cleaned up before CYS knocked on my door that evening.  I had a feeling they were coming.  When they arrived we looked like a happy little family.  The boyfriend and his kids were there by then.  The house and kids were clean.  There was food in the refrigerator.  The water ran and the toilet flushed.  CYS spoke to each of my children separately.  They were “fine”.  In my peripheral I could see the boyfriend seething.      

The case worker said there must have been a mistake.  He saw no problems in my household.  There would be no report filed. 

One month later, I did the exact same thing.  This time when I ran into the principal’s office, my son wasn’t there.  

I sat down and started to cry and said, “I need help.” 

She said, “I’m so glad to hear you say that.”

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sickness Attracts Sickness

(October 2008 - April 2009)

The lawyer who was accidentally appointed to my case got the job done. He told me to cry and talk about my husband in front of the judge.  Easy.  That’s what I always did anyway.  My big line back then was, “It’s not my character it’s my circumstance.” 

The consequences were cut and dry.  No wiggle room or leniency in DUI cases.  My license was suspended for 18 months, $3000ish fine, 3 years probation and the worst part, 90 days house arrest.  But, hey, at least I didn’t have to worry about getting to work!  Plus, I deserved it.

The trial was in November and Lawyer Boy asked the judge if I could begin my house arrest after the holidays.  That was nice of him I guess.  After all was said and done in the courtroom, Lawyer Boy walked me down to the office where I had to register for probation.  He was nice and told me if I needed anything to let him know.  I was sure that would never be necessary and thought to myself – I never want to see you again.

Here is my favorite way to describe what happened next:

I’m charming.  On a good day, I’m charming.  However, that day in the courthouse, with 2 DUIs in one hand and my first inpatient discharge papers in other…?  Crying, no job, no car, no health care, no plans to change any of it -  Lawyer Boy must have thought to himself,
“That’s the girl for me!!”

During the next couple of months we became a couple.  A toxic couple.  I was still on house arrest for our first date.  He brought wine and flowers to my house.  It was lovely.

This was a huge green light for me to continue to be sick.  Now I had a partner – a drinking buddy with kids the same age as mine.  Perfect.  It was meant to be.  He knows all my “stuff” and loves me anyway.  He even read the police report.  I thought - I guess I’m not so bad after all. 

He became part of my disease.  I wanted him to take all the pain away.  I wanted to hide behind him.  I wanted him to save me.  I wanted the world to think he was just fine and therefor I was, too.  He was a giant bottle of wine.

On our first date that I was off house arrest we went to a nice restaurant in the East End.  There, he ordered a “Bombay Sapphire martini extra dry, up, with a twist and when I say extra dry, I mean extra dry.”  I ignored how pompous he was. 

As he sipped his second martini and his eyes began to glaze and squint, he told me he trusted that I would get myself together.  He went on to say he never had more than two martins at a time.  The next sentence he said was to waitress when he ordered a shot of whiskey and a glass of ice.

I could see what was happening.  I could see who he was.  I could see he had issues and hurts and hang-ups, too.  I didn’t care.  I ignored it.  I wanted to drink the way I wanted to drink and I figured this fellow certainly wasn’t going to judge me.  He was doing, too!

By the end of that evening, I suggested that maybe I should drive home.

Monday, February 2, 2015


In May of 2008 I had no job, no health insurance, no car, no self-esteem, no plans and no hope.  Plus, I was still facing charges from the car accident back in February.  So, we got a kitten and named him Phineas.  M loved him.  E wanted nothing to do with him.  He didn’t care for furry things that could move around by themselves.

We were actually ok.  No, not really.  That’s just a lie that addicts tell themselves. There was a hell in my head that oozed on to every part of my life and every person in my world that I held hostage in my grief and addiction.

At this point, I was pretty frightened, but not quite enough to do much about it.  I was attending some “support meetings”.  I had been in touch with my lawyer to let him know that I had done it again.  There are a few appearances one has to make in front of magistrates/judges when facing criminal charges.  My lawyer went to the initial arraignment with me.  I certainly wasn’t going to fight anything.  I was guilty.  It was a whole lot of hurry up and wait.

In the meantime, I met a woman who attended the same kind of meeting I half heartedly attended.  Turns out, her husband was a criminal defense attorney and she offered up his services to me.  Great! 

I politely fired my attorney and this other fellow went to the next couple of court appearances I had to make.  It was all fine on that end of things.  At least I knew I had a competent lawyer and I wasn’t going to get a bill.  Then I got a letter from the wife explaining to me that she over stepped her boundaries and her husband withdrew from my case.  Grrrr.

In retrospect, I’m sure she knew I wasn’t well.  I was still drinking and doing nothing to improve my mental health.  She had to separate from me to protect her own sobriety.

At this point, my pretrial conference was only a week or so away.  I hurried up to call the first lawyer to tell him I made a mistake and really did need his services!  Frustrated with me, he looked up my case to see what was coming up and what he had to do.  He called me back to tell me there was nothing he could do because another lawyer had been appointed to my case.

Appointed?  How?  I never contacted anyone.  I don’t qualify for a public defender. (Apparently, one has to be dirt poor to get one of those.)  Who?  First lawyer said it was PKN.  I never heard of him.  I never contacted him.  I never hired him, but he was the name of counsel on my case.

So, I called this PKN person and he doesn’t know me, never heard of me, never agreed to represent me.  We were both puzzled.  He told me he would not leave me hanging.  He did not represent me, but he would appear at the pretrial conference to clear up this obvious clerical error.

The morning I was to be in court this PKN person was a no show.  Great.  The prosecutor questioned me about my representation.  I explained what happened.  They sent me to the public defenders office where they told me the exact same thing.  PKN was my lawyer.  Grrrr.

Keep in mind – I’m in active addiction through all this.  So, I call PKN to tell him about himself and I used the f word a few times.  He maintained that he didn’t represent me.

In true alcoholic form, I went to my trial without a lawyer.  I sat there and cried as I heard verdicts and plea deals and victim impact statements, etc.  I heard the judge say my name to the clerk who said PKN back to him.  The judge got off the bench and went to his chambers, I guess.  About 15 minutes later this goofy guy with Muppet hair came bouncing up to me.  I was easy to find because I was the only one left!  He said, “Are you Denette Rust?”  Um, yes.  “Hi, I’m PKN, I’ve been officially appointed to represent you.” 

My thoughts – are you kidding me with this?  I hate you…

Things are about to go to a whole new level of crazy.