Saturday, September 8, 2012

A year ago today...

I dragged my depressed psychotic ass to a rehab in Dickson Tennessee.

I roomed with a 25 year old heroin who was angry...dang, she was angry cause she had to protect her mama from all those bad men mama chose.

sometimes she could, sometimes she couldn't, all her life she lived in that shallow breath PTSD state where she never knew what was coming... heightened alert, fight or flight, the central nervous system cannot perpetually exist in that state, so she did what we all did...

go crazy.


beat someone up.

go to jail.

pop a dozen oxy, wait for the pain to go away...via the high or the overdose, either one she didn't fucking care...JUST GO AWAY, PAIN. I don't wanna feel anymore.

Ghetto Barbie.

She was a trapped panther in that house in the country.

Constantly pacing, pacing pacing...

A little fireball of street smarts and pain.

There we were.

I needed to relearn my mothering, she needed a mama...there we were.

She showed up on my second day, she was wary and wry, this wasn't her first rodeo, she knew the game.

Relapse, one month out and back she was again.

Her mama had gotten her shit together finally and was throwing hard earned money at the problem that wouldn't go away.

We were an odd combination: me, the chubby mama from suburbia who melted into a puddle of depression way back in Cali, and she: Ghetto Barbie, tiny white girl using on the streets of Atlanta/Richmond/Nashville, wherever she could hook it up.

I loved her, and I wanted her to get better, change, see the light, come to Jeezus, you get the gist:

I didn't want her to die.

I wanted her to stop hurting.

She was never going to see her Mama getting beaten again, although the memories haunted her and made her into the taut sinewy animal I came to know.

Well, I was perfect for her in this sense: I was codependent to a fault, and if Ghetto Barbie knew how to work her own mama she sure as hell knew how to work me.

Pretty soon I was cooking her meals for her cause...fuck, I don't know why.

I needed to mother.  She needed a mama.  Problem solved.

Except, as with any codependent relationship, she didn't do what I thought she needed to do.

She did not participate in the therapy, talked shit about anyone and everyone, projected like a mad women onto all that crossed her path, and she avoided the reason for coming in the first place: she avoided the pain.

She smoked, and laughed, smoked and laughed, smoked and laughed,
but when the doc's light went on she stared at the ground, for two hours every day.

And afterward, everyday, it was the therapist's fault for not drawing her out.

We were rebels together too.

Anyone who knows me knows that my inner child is 15 years old, and she's a rule breaker...

Hand in hand, we were a perfect storm.

We hid in closets during AA meetings, broke into houses on the property that were off limits and drank coffee with sugar: contraband!

When I discovered a vicodin and a viagra left in the crevices of my cosmetic bag instead of flushing them down the toilet we giddily swallowed them effect, what a shock.

We hiked down roads that were off limits, hated the same girls together, frustrated the 'adventure' therapist with our appallingly rude lack of interest in his sessions. (presenting Star Wars as Recovery to a bunch of women for two hours?  Fuck you, Bobbie, I'm still pissed.)

So it is only know that I have been back for a year and I write this shit down that I realize that while I was helping her she was helping me.

I was her mama, yes...her rehab mama.

but she was the companion to that 15 year old girl who was me, the one who felt so alone after the rape, the one who needed to be a kid and not a warrior and yet felt she did not have a choice.
See here:
i was a teenage slut

She helped me to be a kid again, free to poke snakes and laugh hysterically and smoke until we were green.

As I reflect back on all that I learned in rehab, I realize that although the therapy was top notch (and I mean top fucking notch...Karen, I am forever indebted to you for saving my life), a large part of the experiences that I had there in Dixon, Tennessee that helped heal me had to do with the community of women that I was among.

Today, it is Ghetto Barbie that I am grateful for.

She helped save my life as well.

Rehab is like summer camp for fucked up people.

You vow that you will stay in touch, but it never turns out like that.

GB and I have spoken a few times, and I know she has had some setbacks (Say this to yourself in a southern drawl: :"APPARENTLY, popping a few of my Gramma's Percocet was not APPROPRIATE")

I call her, she never answers, I assume she is using, it's the codependent in me that keeps me on the hook.

A year ago today I started to change my life.  But I couldn't have done it without everyone that I did it with, and today, I want to acknowledge my rehab daughter, my partner in crime, Ghetto Barbie.
Thank you, chica.
Deuces ;)
Keep your nose clean, stay away from the pills, the heroin, and the bad people.
Take deep breaths, keep yourself grounded and watch your anger.
Call me when you can, visit if you want, and NO, I will not make you another quesadilla, I thought I taught you how to make those yourself.
I love you, GB.
Stay safe.


  1. Hi Katie - I don't know how blogs work - I was expecting to see hundreds of comments here, I assume I'm just commenting in the wrong place. Facebook would probably be the way to get a message to you but I fucking refuse to participate.

    I just discovered the podcast "Mental Illness Happy Hour" a couple of days ago. I'm a huge fan of podcasts they are so perfect to listen to on my long commute. The first episode I heard was yours. It was captivating. I can relate a whole lot to many things you said. When you were describing your stepdad, it was like listening to my own life. I laughed when you called him a big baby. that is exactly what mine was, and still is. Then you said something about him throwing a temper tantrum - I couldn't believe it. That's what I used to call my stepdad's little fits, too. The fucking prick. We used to have a little refillable ketchup bottle (like at a coney island)we're sitting around the dinner table one day and there was very little ketchup in the bottle, and he couldn't get any out, so he slams it down on the table, causing it to shoot all over everything, and storms out of the room. Such a little bitch!

    I didn't come here to compare stories, and I don't enjoy writing, so I just wanted to say hello, and to wish you luck. Congratulations on all of the huge accomplishments you've made so far. You inspired me to work on myself a bit more, and I thank you for that.

    Your friend, CJ

  2. I heard you on the podcast yesterday. Your life and my life is almost parellel. You have inspired me to once and for all leave the bastard that i am with. You have no idea how much of our past is the same and how you have inspired me for everything i am trying to do this week. Thank you angela

  3. Are you on facebook???? I read your blog here randomly (coming from a comment on a post linked to from "being liberal" on facebook) and I am in love with your writing style! I would LOVE to read more! Are you on anything more often than this?? <--- search for me on facebook --heather hernandez pic of two kids.. :) hope to hear from you soon!

  4. You rocked the Mental Illness Happy Hour, Katie. Shit was real. Keep on keepin' on. (That last thing was said ironically but not really.)

  5. Anonymous: Thanks, homeslicwe. I will take irony, I will take sincerity, and I'm throwing it right back at ya!