Recently, someone I dearly love checked into rehab. The swirl of emotion that blew through this experience was epic — Sadness that a loved one was so lost. Anger at not understanding and feeling helpless. Fear that the program wouldn’t work. Embarrassment over being perceived as a disappointment or a failure…

The list goes on and on, but it’s that last one that really caught my attention.

Popular belief really does consider rehab a state of failure. A place to go when nothing else works and all hope is lost.

But it seems the opposite to me. Rehab is the place where hope is found. This is the point where a person asks for help. And somewhere, hidden deep in the asking, lies the hope that, with help, things can get better. That is not failure. That is a seed of success. A moment to be embraced.

Now I realize “embrace” might be a tall order for this experience, and I don’t mean get all Pollyanna on the subject. I readily admit nobody enters a rehab facility in a shower of rainbows and unicorns. It’s not a happy time. Sometimes, for whatever reason, people have to let themselves get really dark before they can find their light. And when living in the dark, a person is going to fumble about. Fall down. Knock shit over. Possibly break all kinds of things, hearts included.

All of that is really hard for the people involved. So, so, sooo gut wrenchingly hard. I acknowledge that. What I’m talking about embracing is the concept of rehab – the notion of repairing, overhauling or improving something.

If someone were rehabbing a building, that would not be considered a failure or a disappointment. And if you ask me, there is no more important living space any of us will ever occupy than the one found inside our own skin.

So, setting aside for a moment the bad decisions and bad behaviors that land a person in rehab, I see no shame in getting inside oneself, rolling up the proverbial sleeves, and undertaking a gut rehab. Demolishing everything inside that isn’t working or up to code and rebuilding and rewiring the inner space into a comfortable and beautiful environment.

After all, what are we, if not the architects and builders of our own lives?

Maybe watching someone we love undertaking an internal gut rehab is a good reminder that we should all be taking a good, hard look at the lives we have built.

I bet all of us could find something in our lives that is in need of fixing up. Perhaps a relationship has fallen into disrepair. Or your health has deteriorated. Maybe your priorities have become dilapidated over time. Or your compassion is on the blink.

I know I can certainly find a few things that could use some spiffying up.

My guess is everybody’s level of rehab is going to be different. Some projects are small do-it-yourself jobs and others might require a little professional assistance. Either way, calling in our own inner appraiser and doing a thorough walk through of the internal space we occupy can only be a good thing. It’s a chance to make something good out of a difficult time.

We should all be forever changed by a loved one going through rehab. Fresh starts require fresh patterns for everyone involved. My motto is, if a life experience is going to change us, let’s see to it that it changes us for the better.

That’s my plan, anyway. Which is why I, for one, am rehabbing my view on rehab.


6 thoughts on “REHAB-A-DABA-DOO

  1. After reading this I feel like I just took a breath of really clear, clean air. It’s so easy to get tight when we perceive things going horribly wrong or judge others or ourselves for failing. Thanks for sharing the blessing in all of life’s experiences, even the ones that seem incredibly, overwhelmingly crappy. I hope your loved one reads this and embraces the incredible love that comes from asking for help.

  2. “Sometimes, for whatever reason, people have to let themselves get really dark before they can find their light. And when living in the dark, a person is going to fumble about. Fall down. Knock shit over. Possibly break all kinds of things, hearts included.”


    poetry. I’m hooked on wisecracking.

  3. We all can help by not judging those that are in desperate need of professional help, but praising them for their bravery in their attempt to turn their lives around and supporting their families when their hearts are bleeding for their loved one’s recovery and acknowledge the pain and frustration they are dealing with to get them there. Excellent article Merry Carole, thanks for bringing awareness to a sensitive topic!

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