Trip #1. July 22, 2005. A dark room. Table, desk, chairs. With me is a staff psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse at Green Oaks Hospital. Nearby are my brothers, Mark and Jeff. As I sit and listen to the doctor’s questions, I have a vague recollection of my younger brother rousing me from my bed, an angry confrontation, my .45 automatic lying on my nightstand. There was no point in continuing into a black hole. Then shock and confusion on the drive to the treatment center.
The residuals of cocaine, Xanax, and Jack Daniels are still coursing through my veins, but the fog is lifting slightly. Raging anger is settling in its place. Battle lines are being drawn in my mind. They want to take me prisoner. It’s war. I’ll lead the inmate rebellion.
Questions from the psychiatrist pierce my anger like tracer rounds. What drugs have you taken? How are you feeling? Do you want to harm yourself? He scribbles my fate on the intake sheet. The anger is powerful. My belief is that if I died, it would teach everyone a lesson and do them a favor.
Trip #2. April 7, 2007. I am in a daze. An hour before, I had been awakened by my girlfriend (now wife). She had been out of town visiting family for Easter weekend. I had no idea what day or time it was. Not realizing the weekend was over. Two days had passed. I had blacked out. There was cocaine and empty alcohol bottles in the bedroom. My black-market Ambien bottle half empty. No idea how many I had taken.
The familiar ride to the Green. The familiar haze. In the parking lot of the hospital, I realized that if I did not get honest starting at that moment, there would be no hope for our future or my future. Right there in that parking lot, through all the drugs, the tears, and anger on her part. It was time for the self-styled emperor to put away his fancy new duds. There was no control. There was no life. There was no future. I was naked in the mirror. I finally saw Brian. What I saw made me sick to my stomach. I had failed at life. I had now, in my mind, failed every single person who had ever loved me. If I did not get honest starting at that moment, there would be no hope for a future with the people I love and who loved me. Families love. Families care. Families can also distance themselves when no effort is made to at least take one small step towards recovery.
Trip #3. October 15, 2015. Back in the Green Oaks parking lot. This time, I am alone. A rush of feelings and memories as I pull into the parking lot. My brothers are in fear. My girlfriend in tears. The intake desk. The familiar room where I sat with the attending psychiatrist.