When I decided to admit myself to treatment, I had no idea the process I would have to undergo. In my mind, going to treatment was like the TV show Intervention or Dr. Phil, where the addict says, ‘Yes, I will go.’ Then the family cries, hugs it out and then a plane scoops her up and the Clinical Director meets her at the front door at midnight. Well, not so much. There is paperwork, interviews, more paperwork, insurance, lab tests, lab results, insurance etc. The process of admitting into treatment is anything but an Intervention swoop and rescue mission.
When I finally received the admission date from the Carolina House, my husband immediately booked my flight. He booked it out of Baton Rouge. We rarely fly out of BTR; we always fly out of the New Orleans airport. Today, I find myself right back where it all began. In the very airport, the very terminal seat where my journey to treatment started.
For this week’s trip to Dallas I chose to spring the few extra dollars for the direct flight out of my home team airport. I have flown out of here one other time since that treatment bon voyage, but I was not ready to confront the feelings and old memories that come along with returning to this place. Today, I am ready to recount what was one of the most difficult days of my life.
December 13, 2010. It was a day I felt I had waited a lifetime for. The alarm buzzed at four in the morning. I do not remember anything about that morning except bending down and hugging my sweet puppies one last time. Starbucks wasn’t even open yet and I was already an emotional wreck. My husband and I climbed in the car in silence. All my mind could focus on was the anxiety of if I forgot something. If there was any indication how far gone my mind was, it was my luggage. My suitcases (plural) weighed over 100 pounds. I packed everything, included eight pairs of running shorts because everyone knows when you go to eating disorder treatment you get to have scheduled runs.
“Your luggage is overweight.” The Delta workers voice snapped me out of my husbands arms.
“What?” I said leaning on my husband as we stood before the airline counter.
“Your luggage. It is overweight by, well, a lot. It will cost $175.”
I handed over my credit card and the Delta employee looked as if I lost my mind. Little did she know, my mind was beyond lost at that point. From there, Jordan practically carried me to the security line. I was not ready to detach, not ready for this goodbye. A week before, I had decided that I wanted to fly to Durham, NC, alone. This was my decision and I needed to do this for me. I also just felt it would be easier on everyone this way. I carried a heavy heart, at the time, that it was all my fault so I wanted to protect my sweet husband. The security line would be our farewell.
He waited in line as long as he could stand it. Neither of us saying a word. Neither of us ready to let go. He finally peeled my arms away and said, “We have to do this. I need to go.”
“Please don’t go.” I muttered trying my best to hold back tears, but failing miserably.
“I love you and am so proud of you. Go and get better. Focus on you and take care of you for once. I will be fine. We have the rest of our lives together. I just need my McCall back, healthy and happy.” He was completely sobbing at this point. We both were. With tear-blurred vision, I watched as he slowly descended down the escalator. He was gone. It was up to me now.
Today, as I walked through the security and over to the terminal, I could not help but wander to the same seat I sat in nearly three years ago. How much life has changed since I last sat in this seat. Being able to sit here and not be overwhelmed with emotion and sadness speaks volumes to just how far I have come. The grief process is an incredible one. When I first returned home from treatment, I would get so angry at myself for being overcome with sadness and grief triggered by old memories and places. Today, I understand that it is a natural process and that grief takes time and we will get there when we are ready. It may be a few months or, in my case, it may be a few years. But nonetheless, with help and faith, we make it through and are able to look back at the strength and perseverance of our spirit.
As I sit here in this moment, I am fiercely proud of that decision I made back in 2010. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of my past and reflect back on how far I have come. It is truly surreal and the gift of recovery never gets old.
So now as I close my laptop and board my plane to Dallas, I can’t help but smile. Little did that tired, lost woman in this seat know what was to come in her life. She was clueless to the fight and incredible journey ahead of her. But moreover she had yet to realize the incredible seated strength she had sitting inside of her all along.