Writing Rehab (Personal Essay)
Katherine Tatom Writing 121 15 April 2013 Writing Rehab When given this assignment to describe what kind of writer I am, I panicked - Writing Rehab (Personal Essay) introduction. I spent hours staring at a blank page, trying to decide whether to fabricate a story, describe my feelings of inadequacy in the area of writing or simply drop this class. The truth is my past is very blurry, I may have been an excellent writer at one time in my life, but the chances of me remembering that are very slim. So this is not so much a story from my life, it is more of the story of why I can’t remember my life.
I was seventeen, on vacation with my mom. Like every teenager I was anxious to get back home, but I wasn’t like most normal teenagers. When we were fifteen minutes outside of Salem we stopped in a small town to get coffee. We pulled up outside of a building where I saw my dad’s car parked and I instantly knew, my parents were checking me into a drug rehabilitation program. Like I said before I wasn’t like most normal teenagers, I was addicted to methamphetamine. So, my initial reaction was, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.
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But my parents were prepared for that, because this was unlike any drug program I had ever heard of. The first three weeks consisted of nothing but silently backpacking through the desert. Aside from the one hour of designated group time every night, we were to remain in complete silence. I am not sure when, but sometime during those first three weeks, I began to feel like the only friend I had left in the world was my journal, it turned into the voice that had temporarily been taken away from me.
I think that’s the first time I realized writing didn’t have to be a stressful, miserable task. Journal writing was my only way of speaking for seven weeks, and to a teenage girl, seven weeks can feel like an eternity. Especially at that time in my life, when there were so many questions left unanswered like, will my parents forgive me? Did my parents put me in here because they just can’t deal with me anymore? Am I strong enough to stay clean from drugs? Do people back home notice that I’m gone? Where are we backpacking to?
With no possible way to find out the answers to my questions, it forced me to sit with my thoughts, and in some ways, find out the answers to more important questions like, who am I as a person? Do I want to stay clean from drugs? What will my life look like if I don’t? When will I get a shower? I would spend all the time I could, writing in my journal; when we would stop for short breaks during our trek; at night before group and sometimes, even during group. As I progressed in the program, it felt as though going home was getting nothing but further and further away.
So I focused all my energy on getting my high school diploma. What some people don’t realize, when I tell them I spent my senior year in a boarding school, is that it was a drug treatment boarding school. There, the focus was less on academics, and more on therapy for troubled adolescents. Not only did I miss out on my actual high school experience by simply not going, I received my high school diploma strictly doing workbooks with multiple choice homework and quizzes, rather than senior projects and college preparation.
This made it possible to walk with my graduating class, but at the time, I was so shocked that I accomplished something I believed I was incapable of doing, I failed to realize that while I had earned my diploma, I hadn’t been held to the higher standards of a traditional high school. Quickly after graduating the program I was back to my old ways, and spent six years slipping further and further into my addiction. Six months ago I made the choice to get clean and sober, which eventually led me to continuing my education.
It wasn’t until my first day of classes, when I was assigned to write a paper describing the “kind of writer” I am, that I realized I was in over my head. I am anything but a writer, and there’s no way I was going to be able to fake it, so the next day I dropped the writing class. It wasn’t until this class, where I was told that I was not being asked to explain in great detail what has shaped me into this amazing writer that I am today, but instead to explain what type of writing I feel comfortable with.
At that point I realized that this assignment may not be quite as difficult as I thought. I never stopped journaling, even when I was dependent on heroin. The people I was surrounded by were not my friends, by any means, and frankly could not be trusted. So, when I felt I had no one to talk to, I would write in my journal. Now that I am in drug treatment, I am spending more and more time journaling and writing letters to the people I have hurt over the years. I find that some things are best communicated in that way.
So, when I ask myself what kind of writer I am, the only answer I come up with is “not a very good one. ” As far as me being able to write a college essay, I am fairly certain I am not at the same level as my fellow classmates. That being said, I hope that by the end of this term I don’t feel so intimidated by writing assignments. If there’s one thing I can say about myself as a writer, it would be that I have no problem writing exactly how I feel, though I would like to be capable of writing an essay, no matter what the topic is, and less concerned with the grade I will receive.