Tales From Rehab: The Lost Boys (and Girls)

It was, as I wrote on Twitter this morning, sad to see someone go before their time, but I was not shocked at all to see that Corey Haim had succumbed to his addictions and died today. It made me think, of course, about rehab, and the people I did my time with. These were real people, not some stereotype under the freeway, shooting junk into their arms and sleeping under newspapers. They were kids. Jesus, they were so young. 

Being that I was a silent partner in rehab, and also, at 30, one of the oldest people there, I became a big sister of sorts, someone who was a confidant (it wasn't as if I could tell anyone anything) and a secret-keeper. But the thing that blew my mind, time after time, was how young the other patients were. And yes, I call us "patients" because if you saw how helpless everyone was, you'd see that this was exactly what we were. 

The boys and girls, and I am not being condescending here, these were BOYS and GIRLS, 18, 19 years old, who knew how to hit a vein in their neck for the perfect hit of junk, but needed their hands held in the grocery store, terrified me. They terrified me because they knew everything about drugs and booze and getting what they wanted through any means necessary, whether it was throwing a temper tantrum to a pushover parent, or giving a blow job for crack, but they didn't know how to boil water. Or do their laundry. Or any of the "life skills" that rehab insisted we do for ourselves. 

We did our own cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and anything else that an able-bodied person should be able to do. And these kids had no idea. It shattered me. To see a girl who thought nothing of selling her tiny, 19 year old body for heroin get lost trying to wash her own dishes or come back from the grocery store with Froot Loops and chocolate milk for the entire week, broke my heart and made me beyond terrified of what would happen when she was released from the safety and comfort of rehab.

Yeah, I said safety and comfort. Rehab was easy times. We were monitored. Watched. Looked after. Bedtimes were enforced. The gates were locked. We couldn't do anything or go anywhere without someone watching over us. It was the safest I had ever felt in my life. But what would happen when we were kicked out of the nest, with our new sober wings not ready to fly yet? What would happen then?

What HAPPENED to those lost boys and girls, who spent all their grocery money on candy and cigarettes, who wore dirty clothes because they didn't know how to work a washing machine, who fluttered their eyelashes at the silent, 30 year old lady who knew that dishes had to be WASHED and when you drink the last cup of coffee, you MAKE MORE, so she (I) would do it for them? I'm sitting here in tears thinking of their faces, these lost children who weren't ready after 30, or 60, or 90 days to be back out on their own when all they knew how to do was steal, and fuck, and get high. 

They didn't know how to make their own beds.

My god, what happened to them?

Rest in peace, Corey Haim. And I hope that somewhere, somehow, the love the Lady Who Didn't Talk still feelsfor those lost children I knew for 30 days is felt in their hopefully still-beating hearts. 


Tales From Rehab: The Lost Boys (and Girls) — 15 Comments

  1. Oh, Miss Banshee, I just want to take care of you (in a big-sister kind of way, not a creepy-internet-stalker kind of way). The things you have seen and lived through, I cannot imagine. You make me want to keep the whole world in my purse, where it will probably get lost with the Tic-Tacs and the Chapstik caps, but at least it will be SAFE.

  2. Beautifully said, as always.
    The thought of what sort of neglectful parents those kids must’ve had, to have gotten to that age (still kids, sure, but legally considered “adults”) without those minimal life skills… I can’t even imagine it.

  3. Poor lost babies. I am so sad they didn’t have someone raising them . I thank you for being their mom when they didn’t have one .

  4. The sad truth (probably) is, some of them are back in rehab, some of them are back at it, some of them are no more….but some?
    Some DID make it, the way you did. Those do their laundry, they wash their dishes, they buy their groceries, and try to pay their bills on time.
    And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those that made it, considered the silent 30yr old who showed them how to do dishes, and make coffee when there was none, a big part of that.
    I know I find you influential, and I’m all the way over here. (and I mean that in a totally non-creepy way)

  5. I have read your stuff through several generations- all the way back to Los Angeles and Philadelphia and 9/11 in New York and the resting up in Savannah. And I’ve worried about you through the missing times. I have never personally had any of the kinds of problems you have lived through (I count myself as wonderfully blessed) but I always tried to put myself in your place to try and be sympathetic- and I was partially successful in that. But this is the first entry where I am really, really blown away. You are at your best when you are about others. I am impressed. reat yourself with the same regard you treat others and you can not fail to prosper.

  6. Thank you for sharing this.
    Corey Haim’s story upset me today because it feels like too many of these lost souls are being exploited for “entertainment” instead of reached out to. I don’t think self-destruction should ever make good TV.

  7. Sorry I didn’t comment sooner–it took me a while to process this. I saw this too when my sister was in rehab: kids with no life skills, no coping skills, and loved ones who were sometimes more interested in punishing than teaching. I used to ask my sister for follow-ups on the friends she’d made (and that I’d come to know during group sessions) and was always stunned at the losses. So many losses. It makes me cherish and bless the success she’s been able to have. (And you, too, Miss B!)

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