Jennifer Maneely

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PHONE: 828-301-2028

What Rehab Was Like For Me

To start, I went to rehab twice. The first time, I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I was overwhelmed, I continued to try to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be. I wanted to be "the best" at the rehab game. I wanted to do it right and became the poster child of recovery. I didn't know how to get honest with myself. I didn't know how to be me because I didn't know who that was.


Sure, I was honest with other people, I didn't lie or steal anymore, but never really let anyone in, or allowed myself to really take a hard look at myself.


My whole life, I was simply trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be.


And I succeeded at the recovery game for a couple of years. Gawd, I was so good at it. And the sad thing is, I actually believed the bullshit I told myself.


And so I relapsed. And the relapse was a very harsh, difficult, and painful time where I did things I never saw myself doing. I started understanding what I was capable of in the most evil of ways. So, when I had an opportunity to return to rehab, I decided to start getting truly honest.


And it was ugly. I was angry, but I don't know what I was angry at, except maybe myself. I would run around the rehab facility sweeping and cleaning in an emotionally tormented sort of way. Most people just stayed clear of the room I was in when I was cleaning. I didn't really lash out at people or anything but I was a hot mess.


At some point in my using, showering became a thing of the past on most days. And so I got my hair all knotted up to the point I couldn't brush it. So, I did what people do in the crazy town of using, I took scissors to my own hair.


In rehab, there was a woman that would come by once a week and offer people haircuts as most of us didn't take care of those kinds of things when we were using, and I got my hair fixed. I felt human again, like that haircut represented pieces of me that were returning.


Drugs had destroyed my brain pretty bad, I had a hard time forming complete sentences. By the end of rehab, I was somewhat able to have a conversation again, and sometimes it even made sense. But it was still a while after rehab before I got my brain back.


The rehab I went to pretty much allowed us to eat whenever we wanted, because most of us hadn't eaten in months, myself included. I weighed 107 pounds when I checked in. I'm 5'6"...I now weigh 160 to put things in perspective. But because I was able to eat, I did, so much, and when I left, I weighed about 120. And very slowly, things started coming back.


I had moments of joy again, I had moments of anger, complete fear, sadness, basically all of the emotions you could have, I had them, and a lot of times, it all happened at the same time. But, I was getting my feelings back. I had not felt anything in a long time, so even through the anger, sadness, pain, etc, I was grateful (sometimes).


When I left rehab, I knew that was when the real journey started. And I had to continue filling in those pieces of my soul I had lost and had to make a choice to be diligent in changing my way of life outside of a structured environment. And it was then and still is on some days hard.


Here is my point:


Rehab was never a cure for me, it was a starting point. I was in rehab for 30 days, some argue that isn't enough time to heal, and they are right, 30 days was not enough time for me to heal. It was, however, enough time for me to be able to make a decision. I was still a hot mess when I left rehab. I was by no means cured or fixed. No rehab can do that for anyone, no matter how long they are in it for.


Eventually, a person has to decide to do the recovery journey for themselves, and on their own, with no one telling them they have to do certain things. Whether someone goes to a 30 day rehab or a 2 year rehab, that person has to decide how they are going to live their lives once they are out on their own.


I live for myself today, and had to learn how to live MY life, not someone else's life for me. Every decision I made, I made because I wanted to. My mom always wanted me to go to college and I never wanted to, so whenever I would try, I would fail...until I decided I wanted to do it for ME. And it took me a while, and I needed space to figure all that out for myself.


Upon getting out of rehab, most people are scared, if they aren't scared, it's because they have no intentions of staying clean and are excited to get out so they can go use. People need their space to figure out what they want. And that can take a few months/years, but people need to be able to live their own lives.


I say this as a reminder to the families, they may not live the life that you would want for them, but it's their life to live and own. And when people OWN their lives, they become the people you always knew they could be, but it may not look exactly what you thought it would for them.


It will look better.

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