I sucked in a shaky breath and my voice cracked when I spoke. “Yes.”
“Perfect. That’s all I need to hear,” he said, his bespectacled stare holding mine. “You’ve fought bravely this entire time, but you’ve lost this fight, Andrea. The good news is that you haven’t lost the war. And you’ll no longer have to fight this war alone.”
As expected, things sucked at first.
With no phone, no internet, and limited access to TV, it was an immediate shock to my system. Heck, even my little room with its single bed and dresser was a huge change, but these things weren’t the biggest differences in my life.
Crying. Dear sweet Lord, there were a lot of tears. I cried when my parents left. I cried when I had to take the inpatient survey and got to the question: have you had thoughts of self-harm? I cried when I was shown my room after the tour of the facility and the grounds. I cried myself to sleep that night, and that took hours, because the sleeping pills had been taken from me. I cried in the morning, because it was the first morning there, and I realized my life had spun completely out of control.
I was in treatment.
And I wasn’t supposed to be there. I was supposed to be a doctor. No. Scratch that. I was supposed to be a teacher. I was supposed to be a daughter and a sister, a friend and maybe…maybe even a girlfriend, and now, I was none of these things.
A nurse served breakfast in my room after she took my blood pressure and temperature. The utensils were plastic. Plastic. As was the plate. What did they expect me to do? I ate some of the eggs and a piece of bacon, but it tasted like sawdust to me.
Dave showed up about half an hour later. “Walk with me.”
I didn’t really have a choice, so I pulled myself off the bed and followed him out into the wide hall. There were other doors that I guessed led to rooms like mine. As we passed them, a girl who appeared younger than me smiled at Dave, but looked away when her gaze met mine. She disappeared into one of the rooms, and all I could think was how thin she was—so thin that she appeared ill.
“How are you feeling this morning?” he asked.
Folding my arms across my chest, I shrugged a shoulder. “Okay. I guess.”
“Okay? Today is your first day in treatment. You’re going to be here for at least thirty days,” he said, shooting me a look of disbelief. “And you’re okay?”
I shuddered. Well, when he put it that way… “I’m a little freaked.”
“That’s completely understandable. You probably feel like your life is out of control. You’re where you never thought you’d be.” He stopped in front of a dark-colored door while I wondered if he was able to read my mind. “Most, if not all, feel that way at first. Come on in.”
Dave led me into a small office with shelves overflowing with books. As I sat in a chair, I looked over the titles. None of them appeared to be medical tomes. I squinted. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be…a slew of romance novels. What the…?
“You’ve noticed my books.” He dropped into the chair behind the desk and shrugged unapologetically. “I love me a happily-ever-after.”
“You’re welcome to borrow as many as you like,” he offered.
With no television or internet, I would so be taking him up on that offer with a startling quickness.
“Alright, I’m going to give you a little background on who I am and what we do here.” Leaning forward, he picked up a baseball. “I’m a clinical psychologist who specializes in addiction counseling and treatment. Sounds spiffy, huh? Now, The Brook treats a whole wide variety of things. After all, variety is the spice of life, or so they say.” He tossed the ball up and caught it.
Okay. This guy was kind of weird. Cute. But weird.
“We have people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. We also have people here due to eating disorders and some who have depression. We’ve even had some who have extreme phobias and some quite random addictions. But what does this all mean to you?”
He tossed the ball again, catching it. “Some just do drugs. Some people just drink. We treat the addiction in those cases. But in others, we treat the disorder driving those addictions. If we don’t, then all we are doing is treating the symptoms, but never the cause.” Catching the ball once more, he put it aside and then tapped a slip of paper on his desk. “Now, based on your answers to our generic-as-hell questionnaire, you say you don’t drink all the time. Is that the truth?”
My fingers were digging into the skin of my arms. “Yes.”
“Are you lying, Andrea?”
I blinked. “No.”
“But you drove drunk. Most people who drink occasionally do not drink and drive.”
“Don’t answer that question yet,” he cut in, and I frowned. “Answer this. Was that the first time you drove while under the influence or have you done it before, but were not that drunk?”
I shook my head a little. “I’ve never driven…” Pausing, I wetted my lips as my gaze shifted to the window behind him. “I might have done it before, after one or two beers, but I normally wait at least an hour or so.”
“Normally? What made you not wait this time?”
My muscles were tensing up as my face heated. “There was this guy there, at the bar, who I didn’t recognize at first, but he knew me. We must’ve hooked up, and I wanted to get out of there.”