Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rehab, the non-famous kind

I don't feel sorry for celebrities who have substance abuse problems (unless they are named Owen Wilson).

I don't feel that they are suffering much when they pay thousands of dollars for a place overlooking the ocean and get access to massages, manicures, pedicures, canoeing, hiking, roller-blading as this little poptart (photo, above) had until she tested positive for cocaine and left her expensive haven.

Louise had a snippet on her blog about this: Watching the Snapple Lady cry on Celebrity Fit Club, and trying to figure out how come if they’re in drug rehab, certain celebrities (not the ones on my beloved Fit Club, that’s for sure) are still able to get massages and manicures/pedicures.

Rehab might be nice if you have the money to pay for a 5-star place with French cuisine, lounge with fireplace, canopies over cushy beds. I remember writing about such a place for PayPerPost sometime earlier this year.

Real rehab is dingy. No-frills. Quite institutional, really.

It's about not going outside at all, except in the fenced strip of backyard facing a grungy alleyway in the most vibrant centre of a cosmopolitan city. Or at the front door (this was the second rehab) where you really could walk away if you chose to.

Watching the even lesser grunge of humanity walk down the alley or parking lot and stare at you like an animal in a zoo, 'cuz you have that bracelet on your wrist that brands you as an "inmate."

It's about wire mesh on windows and windows that don't open more than a foot wide, lest you slip out. Like you couldn't walk out any time you wanted.

It's about no lock on your bedroom or bathroom door.

It's about pre-fab food made by some organization that couldn't muster even the quality to land the contract with Air Canada's food services. When even first-class airline food is borderline in the edibility department, rehab is more along the lines of hospital food. Predictable, bland, without a smidgen of humanity or imagination.

It's about feeling so low and so removed from the rest of the world that you are grateful even for the food, the free tea, the ability to smoke cigarettes, to swear, cry or shout.

I never shouted, mind you.

It's about being treated like a child with a disability. Being talked to slowly and clearly, as though you were deaf, dumb, or demented. Or just old and infirm.

It's about looking at the downtown skyline at night and wishing you were normal enough to share the real world with everyone else who somehow, magically, doesn't have your crippling disease. Listening to morning traffic and snatches of conversation as people walk past the building. Feeling invisible to the world, shut away.

It's about walking out a week or a month later and feeling dizzy from the sudden wide-openness. Feeling like you might just fall down because of those muscles you didn't use in any meaningful way except for a 12-metre hallway from bedroom to office to kitchen to smoking lounge. Feeling the scariness of complete freedom after willingly checking yourself into prison. Knowing you'll most likely fail again. Wishing you could just turn around and go back in for another week, where you know at least somebody's watching out for you. But you have to pay your rent, so you walk out, free.

The Lindsays of this world have no idea how good they really have it.


Amy said...

Great post. I disagree with the Lindsays having it great, though. There's something to be said for hitting rock bottom that gets people clean and sober. The cushy rehabs could be a clue as to why these celebs aren't hitting that bottom - or are taking longer to do so. Sad.

lattégirl said...

I think you're right -- they don't really hit rock bottom. They have never been unable to pay their rent or buy food... although I suppose they've lost sponsors, which is the equivalent of me losing clients/work. Thanks for stopping in (at my behest, I admit.) xxoo

uno said...

A poignant post.

lattégirl said...

Uno, you have no idea how much your comment means to me. (Well, OK, a LOT!)

Chunks said...

I loved this post! It was very open and honest.

I couldn't handle being a celebrity and I think many of them suffer from the addiction of the attention they receive. It's sad.

Jeni said...

Your points and your message in this post were totally and I do mean TOTALLY on the money!

What constitutes "rock bottom" for the celebrities though? I do wonder about that too and think a cushy rehab like they can get into is far from being regarded as the dregs of society if you lose EVERYTHING and are locked away in a place like you described here. And your description - oh yes, that and then some too.

They share so little of the realities of life though to begin with, I suppose it stands to reason they wouldn't have to share the really nasty, raunchy side the rest of us get to enjoy - or endure. (Enjoy being used very sarcastically there.)

lattégirl said...

No, I guess they don't share our realities. I've seen video clips of that dreadful Spears woman and I wouldn't want to live her life even for 5 minutes, with all the paparazzi shouting her name so she might glance their way.