The next step would be getting my energy back and dealing with my mind. I would need to face all the reasons I'd gotten myself into this situation in the first place. Even before I went under, that was the part I was most scared about. Andre told me that many addicts come out of this treatment and keep their eyes shut for a long time. He wanted to remind me that when I awoke, it would be time to truly open my eyes. "Get ready to see a new world, my dear," he said with a reassuring hug.
I do remember counting backward and the room fading to black. And although they say you really can not remember anything from the treatment, I do recall something-the sounds. As powerful as the anesthesia was, it could not stop me from hearing those otherworldly sounds emanating from my body. The memory of those unforgettable sounds brings tears to my eyes today.
Clare and Andre had not been joking when they said I would wake up and feel as if I'd been hit by a train. It was horrible. Every muscle in my body was sore. Every hair follicle hurt. My skin, my eyes, my joints, my limbs-it all seemed to be one throbbing ache. Andre and Clare were there to greet me when I came to. Their smiles were encouraging. They informed me that I had done very well. "Rest," they said gently. The next twenty-four hours passed in a daze. I floated in and out of an uncomfortable sleep. I was cold and then hot, sweating and then freezing. As I was told, these symptoms were all part of the flushing process.
I was moved back into the hotel to regain my strength. It was a very emotional time. I was flooded with uncertainty, overwhelmed with emotions. So much had been blocked while I was addicted, and now those blockages had been removed. I was overcome with fear. I was on the border of a black depression. But at the same time, I felt something wonderful. I knew I was on my way back to health, to being myself again. I knew that I had taken a huge step on my way toward a life of balance. During those first few days, I spent what seemed like endless hours watching the surf on the beach. With a sea of ??emotions let loose inside me, I felt as if I were made of ocean, nothing but the pounding waves, the endless ebb and flow. I felt a sense of total surrender. A big part of me was gone, but another part of me was becoming whole.
Having Mickey around during this stage proved to be harrowing. We had both wanted to get me off heroin. But now that I was clean, this concern had morphed into constant, needy demands from him. As predicted, he wanted me to make a decision about our marriage and our life together. He had gone from bringing me into recovery to being the biggest threat to that recovery. I was in no shape to answer his endless questions about what would happen to us. I felt cornered, my back against the wall. I was drained. I did not have the strength yet to fight him. Though somewhere within I was able to identify the emotion of anger. Mickey was nearly twenty years my senior, and yet here he was trying to get me to take care of him, to soothe his anxieties. It was so fucking typical, and so fucking inappropriate at a time like this.
As Mickey's demands grew, Clare and Andre intervened. They made it clear that I needed time to focus on my recovery without any interference. They were really quite firm with him about this, and I was so thankful to have them setting limits that I was not ready to set myself. It would be several years before I could successfully implement my own boundaries around Mickey. He was not pleased, of course, but he was forced to give me the space I desperately needed.
Andre had been right. My eyes were open. I was seeing a whole new world, and a whole new reality. Not all of it was pretty; in fact, most of it was not. And it was clear to me that by coming down to Ensenada to get clean, I had only just begun. Back home I had a big mess to clean up. I would have to deal with friends, habits, places I frequented; I would have to cut unhealthy ties (as I had done with Myka) and create new, healthy ones. I would have to deal with Mickey. But one thing was certain: I was on my way. I had taken the first and the hardest step.
When I had said yes to Mickey's request that I come to Ensenada, I had said "Yes!" to living. "Yes!" to changing my life. And I knew now that there was not anything I would not do to stay on the path of recovery. You do not get many chances when you're a hard-core addict. You do not have many opportunities to find your way out. Heroin had brought me to my knees; Mickey had brought me to Mexico; Clare and Andre had brought me to this point of clarity. It was a powerful confluence of circumstances. It was a perfect storm in my life, a perfect storm that created an opening, a grace-filled clearing, for me to walk through. Once I was on the other side, there was no turning back. Although the task at hand-changing everything about my life-was daunting, I was determined.
Somehow Mickey and I managed to get through the last few days in Mexico without completely collapsing. He was hurt and scared. Now that I'd gone through the treatment, he was even more frightened than I was. He knew he had a lot to lose and that the likelihood of losing it had just increased. Between us there were many secrets and painful truths being revealed. But whatever the truth might do to Mickey, it was paving my way for a new life. As we left Ensenada for the long drive home, a new strength was rising up in me, giving me the courage and confidence to not only go home but to transform my life when I got there. I was readying myself for whatever might come.
And boy, oh, boy, was something coming.
A few months later, I was living in Beverly Hills, clean and sober. I had been on Tranxene to help with the detox and was finally feeling the kind of stability I had enjoyed at the farm. Outwardly my life still looked the same; I was living with Mickey again. But inwardly I felt that a shift was under way. Having found a chance at peace, I desperately wanted to maintain some sense of equilibrium in my day-to-day life.
I knew the odds. Living with Mickey had its risks. There was our medicine cabinet full of prescription drugs and there was the pressure of simply being in our incredibly volatile marriage that had me on edge. And that edge was a very slippery place for a newly sober individual. I was fighting to get my feet under me, create a routine, and interact with a newfound support system. Neither of us was ready for me to leave him behind. I did not yet know that for me to continue my growth this was exactly what I would have to do. Nor did I know that my leaving him might actually benefit him as well.
In the meantime I waited and watched. Observing Mickey, I was beginning to realize that actions speak louder than words. He had decided to go to Paris and film the sequel to the famed 9? Weeks with Angie Everhart. I was opposed to it. But again my opinion did not seem to matter. When asked if I would join him in Paris, I opted not to, knowing that if I made my life Mickey's life, I would end up in real trouble again. I'd seen how my drug use could escalate to the point that it threatened everything. I was taking my recovery seriously, and that meant not putting myself in a situation where I'd be likely to relapse.
Mickey seemed both relieved and furious. Relieved, in all likelihood that he would have the freedom to indulge himself in yet another sex-filled movie role without me watching over his shoulder, and furious probably because he was losing his control over me. I could see all this from the new perspective I had, and although I was not yet willing to leave him, the picture I was starting to see was far from pretty.
Just before Mickey left for Paris, I'd undergone a laminectomy for a back issue that had been bothering me for years. Unfortunately, postsurgery I began to experience severe pain in my foot. Night after night I would lie awake, a tickling sensation running down my leg and a maddening nerve pain thumping away. Because I was also on Naltrexone, an opioid receptor blocker, pain meds were useless. Naltrexone kept me from getting high, but it also kept me from getting relief.
I do not even remember how she found me, but an angel walked into my life at that time, in the form of ex-model Rita Souki. Rita was a forty-year-old bombshell from New Jersey. She had modeled in the day with Janice Dickinson, Joan Severance, Kim Alexis, and Gia. Dark and gorgeous, with two beautiful kids, she was introduced to me at a dinner party for my old client Paul Guez of the Marciano Brothers and Guess Jeans. Rita and I had laughed loudly, gotten along easily, and exchanged numbers.
Mickey was gone for a few months, though he'd call incessantly, usually in the middle of the night California time. Despite my need to recuperate and find alternative and healthy options to manage my pain, he'd beg me to come visit him. Again, things were not going as well as planned on the set.
"Mickey, I can not. I need to heal," I would cry in the phone.
"You can not or you will not?" he would demand, angry that I would not just get on a flight to take care of his needs.
"Sitting for ten hours would be the worst thing for my back, Mickey. I can not do it." And as I said those words, I heard his question again, and the answer came to me more clearly: "Actually, you're right, Mick. I will not do it, because it's not okay for me to do it. "I was beginning to see his selfishness and to really dislike who he was. What's more, I was beginning to see myself, too, and to recognize the need to make my own demands.
Then, for the first time ever, I hung up on him.
I was terrified yet exhilarated. I had power over myself, control over my life. I had a choice in what I did and how I lived. Imagine that. The phone rang again and again-until I finally unplugged it.
And this is when Rita appeared, dropping by for a welcome visit. Standing at the foot of the bed in which I lay recuperating, she put her hands on her hips and looked around our rental. "You've got to be kidding me. This is where you guys live?" she said. "This is your bedroom and that's Mickey's?" she asked, pointing down the hall, looking baffled.
"Yeah. What of it?" I asked, not understanding her point.
"You are how old? And you have separate bedrooms? Carre, you're young and beautiful. Do not you fucking dare give your life up to this shit!" she declared, her voice firm and yet matter-of-fact. "Get the fuck out of bed. You're coming with me." And with that, Rita was in my life. She was amazing, both empowered and empowering. She would save my ass in more ways than one.
We spent the next month hanging out at her house-by the pool, sunbathing, going to the gym, eating healthily. We had dinner with her husband and kids, making home-cooked meals and barbecuing. It seemed like forever since I'd had a girlfriend, an ally, a family. I wanted the life they had. It nourished me to the core.
I confided in Rita, sharing with her all that I could not share with anyone else. She, too, had sisters, had grown up witnessing abuse, and had her own secrets. She helped me see clearly where I was at and that the situation I was in with Mickey was neither normal nor healthy. She also encouraged me to get help and go to therapy.
I had a week before Mickey was due home. And I decided that a move was in store. Rita lived on San Vicente, so I had begun to know the beach area as well as Santa Monica. I was not ready to leave Mickey, but I was ready for a change. I wanted to get out of the neighborhood that we'd been living in for so long and settle in one that fed me, that supported the lifestyle I knew would help me remain healthy long-term. Beverly Hills had ghosts and shadows for me, whereas Santa Monica was untainted, fresh, and bright. I found a house on Ocean and Sixth, and when Mickey arrived back home, I announced that we were moving.
He was so stunned he could not argue. He sensed a profound shift in me, and in a way I know that it terrified him. I felt compassion toward that fear. Change is scary. The steps I was taking required a tremendous amount of courage on my part, but that courage was rooted in the realization that falling back and silencing myself ever again would only lead to my death. And I was not ready to die.
The Santa Monica house was a charming two-story Craftsman with many rooms and hideaway spots. In all the time we were together, this was the first house I had chosen for us to live in, and it reflected my San Franciscan roots. The majority of my days were spent outdoors, running along the water's edge or working out at Gold's Gym in Venice. I could bicycle everywhere and loved the intimate sense of community the area provided.
Mickey, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by the new access to an outdoor lifestyle. He had a separate room on the main floor, with windows that he covered in tinfoil and an air conditioner that pumped freezing winds into his room. I would jokingly call it his igloo. I literally had to wear a coat whenever I went in to visit him.
I was thriving in this environment. And so were my beloved four-legged friends. Somehow, as depressing as Mickey's energy was, I was motivated to get up and out from the very first light of day. It was not unusual for us to pass each other at the front door; Mickey would be coming home from a night of raging, and I would be heading out for an invigorating morning jog. We were on two different planets, solitarily orbiting a shared sun.
My room was in the back of the house. French doors opened onto a small patio; there was a wonderful little loft above it with a second deck. Here I created my space, a small office and practice area. I could sit in silence and watch the sunset, hear the waves crashing on the shore. It was a slice of heaven. Finally.
It was clear that Mickey and I were growing apart and had become estranged in many ways. We had not had sex in over a year, which was fine by me. I was certain that he'd been sleeping around for some time and did not trust that he was going to great lengths to protect himself or me from any type of STDs. I had grown tired of the fight. It was so much easier not to talk.
And so it was that one morning as we passed each other in our hallway, Mickey asked, "Are not you going to say anything, Otis?"
"Like what, Mickey?" I looked him in the eye.
"Like, 'Where have you been?' Do not you wonder? " he asked me, trying to push my buttons.
"No. I do not. Not anymore, Mickey. I know where you've been." And as I said these words, I realized I could not continue to care in the ways I previously had. It was as if the spell was broken. The part of me that had been all-consumed, the part of me that was obsessed and addicted and hooked-it was liberated. I was free. Or well on the way to being free.
Mickey did not like this. He tried to tighten his hold. I realized I was going to need support if I were ever to take the next steps in reclaiming my life. I needed to find a therapist, just as Rita had recommended; I needed to understand how and why I'd ended up where I was. And determine where I wanted to go next.
I found Dr. Nancy Sobel, and she soon became an integral part of my life and healing process. She gave me encouragement and steadfast support, and she invited deep reflection. She asked hefty questions that I did not always know the answers to. She got me thinking.
Mickey was angry about this choice. He saw therapists-as well as friendships outside of those he had preapproved-as a threat. I was able to endure his constant verbal criticism of these people, although I was worried about the threats he made toward them. I was never too sure how far he would go with his violence.
I decided to hide my therapy sessions from him, willing to take the risk of being discovered. I knew that most likely Mickey was still having me followed and that the phones were probably tapped. I'd learned to navigate around these roadblocks. I had to continue to live my life and get the help and support I needed to stay sane and sober. My "normal" was unlike other people's. I'd learned to work with it.
One day, as I was sitting in Nancy's office, she said, "You know, Carre, you have really changed."
"How so?" I smiled, sensing that it was true and wanting to hear her thoughts.
"When you first came here, you were a shell of who you are now. Like a shadow. Now you embody yourself. I can be here with you. You are present."She smiled back.
"It must be scary to have to move between these worlds that you are in: to have to go home and not be this full and powerful." She looked at me with love and concern. I knew that she was holding a place for me to come into my full power. Somehow I knew that she could already see the woman I would become, even though I could not see it just yet.
I thought for a moment about what she was saying. The majority of my present life was spent living separately from my husband, even though we inhabited the same house. Now the hardest part of being with him was to lie and pretend that I was not growing. Why would I do that? Why would I need to? And why would I continue to make that choice? To be anywhere other than in my full glory. Why would I choose not to shine?
Nancy continued. "How would that look, Carre? A life without Mickey?" she asked.
The question made me nervous. My heart skipped a beat. My eyes misted. Free-associating, I began to speak.
"It would be scary. It would be unknown. I've been with him for so long. I would be scared for him. What if he would not be okay? Who would take care of him? What if he took too many pills? What if he died? He does not really have anyone honest around him, anyone that gives a shit. . . . "My voice trailed off as I realized I was speaking only about Mickey and how it might be for him if I left. Talk about codependent! I was so conditioned to not think about myself. I laughed out loud.
"Okay. Let me try this again." I took a big breath and began. "It would be scary. It would be venturing into the unknown. It would be great. It would be freeing. It would be challenging. It would be my life. I would not have to lie. I could really grow and become who I know I'm meant to be. "The tears came again. There was some sense of grieving that was taking place. I was beginning to mourn the death of a relationship as well as the death of the unhealthy young girl who'd been ruling my life. "The problem is, I do not know how to get from here to there."
Nancy smiled and nodded. She understood. There was no pressure, just discussion.
"Would you like to talk about that? How to get from here to there?" she asked.
I thought for a moment, then looked up at her. "Yes," I said with absolute certainty. "Yes."
I knew that for me to leave, I would have to realistically address some of the concerns I had about Mickey's well-being. "Can you recommend a therapist for him? I do not know if he would ever go, but I would like to try to have a number for him to call," I said.
"Of course, Carre. That's a great idea. What else would it take for you to be able to leave?" I knew that this was one of her areas of expertise, dealing with domestic violence and finding safe houses for the women who were ready to leave their situations.
"I would want to take my dogs. I could never leave them behind. I would also need to... Have a safe place where Mickey would not be able to find me." I was thinking it all through.
"Are you scared he might come after you?"
"Not so much that... It's just that I know how hard it is to be badgered by him. And that my chances of really leaving him, for good this time, will depend on my having a place he can not get to . Inside and out. Emotionally and physically. " And it was true; I was not scared of him physically anymore, although several friends warned me that my mind-set was naive. I was sounding to them like a textbook case of someone unwittingly falling into victim mode again.
I knew myself well enough to be honest about what it would take for my attempt to be successful. I had to cut him out entirely, extract myself from our very enmeshed lives. Down to our accountants and friends, he had infiltrated every aspect of my life. From past experience I knew that Mickey could get just about anybody to give him the information he wanted. He was an absolute master manipulator.
"What if I told you that I knew of a house that will be available in the next month? A perfect safe place with a backyard for your dogs, tucked into a quiet neighborhood in the Pacific Palisades?" Nancy asked, as if testing my sincerity.
Excitement sparked in me and I sat up eagerly, only to slouch back down with a sigh of doubt. "I'm scared," I said simply.
"I understand. I'm not going to lie and tell you it will not be scary. That is part of life and change. But I will tell you right now you can do this. And you are ready to do this."
I knew that it was true. I also knew that there had to be a method to the extraction process.
"Okay. Let me give it some thought. Let me see if I can convince Mickey to see a therapist. Let's go from there." With that, our session was over. I was out the door with a lot to consider.
Within a few days, I knew that I could and would do it. I knew that I was ready. So I began to organize the details that would enable me to leave. I got a new credit card with my own account that could not be traced. I made a reservation at a hotel under another name. I began to pack my belongings and then secretly took them from the house-a few boxes at a time-and put them into storage. I did not have much. I did not want to take anything that was Mickey's. I just wanted out.
Mickey agreed to go to therapy, and I set up an appointment for him to see an addiction specialist whom Nancy had recommended. My husband was at an all-time low, and the antidepressants and antianxiety meds he'd been on clearly were not working. It was an enormous relief for me to know that at the very least he had someone to go to who was a professional and might really give him sound advice. I had tremendous compassion and concern, desperately wanting Mickey to have the opportunity to work on himself and his life. I wanted to see him happy. Even if from afar.
Within a week my clothing was moved out, and although Mickey did not know it, my room lay empty. I organized a joint therapy session and, when asked, told him not to worry, that it was no big deal. Just a check-in on neutral ground.
It was on an afternoon in early March of 1 997 that we met in the doctor's Beverly Hills office. Mickey and I came separately. When I arrived, he was already meeting with his therapist. Nancy was sitting in the waiting room. After a supportive hug, we entered.
Mickey stood up to greet me, then looked around. He had not known that Nancy would be there, and in a flash I could see his mind at work putting two and two together. He was panicked. He was nervous, and I was, too. I took a deep breath. My future lay before me. I was terrified.
"Thanks, everyone, for coming today," I said, attempting to open up the conversation. This was my call. I knew that it was up to me, and I had to take the lead. I swallowed hard, closed my eyes, and envisioned my life, my safety, and my love for Mickey as well as for myself.
"Mick. This is really hard." My lip trembled, and my palms were sweating. "Our life together, it's been full of so much. And so much hardship." I looked down at my shaking hands.
"What's up, Otis?" he asked. I knew he felt small. And I knew that his defense mechanisms would soon lead to his rage. I had to be ready for that, yet still be unwavering.
"I need to leave you, Mickey. I am leaving you, Mickey. That's what's up. "I needed to summon all the strength I had to be able to look him in the eyes.
"No, Otis. No... What? What do you mean?" He was shocked. And began to breathe rapidly, the first signs of a panic attack coming on. Usually this was where I backed down. But instead I pushed onward.
"I'm sorry, Mick. I love you. But I can not be with you. My things are already moved out. I'll be coming back in a few weeks for the dogs. I'm sorry." I started to weep. My heart was breaking, but I knew that there was no turning back. As painful as it was, I was ready.
"Wait, Otis. You can not do this. When did you move your things out?" Mickey began crying, too.
"That's the thing, Mickey-we're so far apart, you and I. My room has been empty for a week... And you never even noticed. That's where we're at. So far apart that you did not even fucking notice your wife's belongings are gone! We have not been together in a year! A whole fucking year. I'm twenty-seven years old! I'm your wife! We're married! And we do not even make love... "
I was angry. I was hurt. I was crying, but I knew there was nothing more to talk about. It was over. I had mourned the loss of this relationship for the past few years. I could walk away.
I stood to leave. And Mickey did, too.
The doctor spoke. "Mickey, sit down. Let Carre go. And let's talk."
He had a wonderful and gentle manner. I knew that Mickey trusted him. And I knew that I could walk out the door and if there was any chance in hell Mickey might get on the right track, it was with this man in his life.
As I stepped past Mickey, he reached out and touched my arm. I looked at him, deep into his eyes, and lifted my arms to hug him. It was one of the most painful, honest, and relieving embraces we had ever shared. Our bodies shook with tears and with the pain we both held. My heart physically hurt.
"It's not that I do not love you, Mick. I will always love you. I'm doing this because I love you. And because I love myself. "I pulled away and walked toward the door.
Stepping out into the sunlight on that busy street in Beverly Hills, I kept on walking. I did not look back.
On My Own
There were many challenges in those first days, weeks, and months after I left Mickey. I was adjusting to a new way of being and to a new world, calibrating my life to my own rhythm-something I had not done since my teens. Moments of doubt passed like shadows. But I had a support system in place that was growing stronger every day. I was reassured repeatedly that "this, too, shall pass," and that I would gradually find firm ground. I was going back to the basics, learning to put one foot in front of the other, pushing myself forward one step at a time.
I'd been on several different medications to treat a multitude of symptoms. Most were antidepressants. And truthfully, for a time they saved me. They helped make me available for the psychological and spiritual work I needed to do. At this point that work consisted chiefly of attending therapy several days a week. Despite some setbacks, I was making headway.
My life was still full of secrets, but now the secrets were intended primarily to ensure my privacy and safety. I let no one else but my close inner circle know that I was staying at the Oceana Hotel in Santa Monica during the first month after I'd left Mickey. Then, just as Nancy had promised, the quaint Palisades home became available to me, and I began the process of moving my belongings in. It had been a long time since I'd lived in a house that was truly and solely mine. And this was met with as much excitement as anxiety.
It took quite a while and quite a bit of work to get through a day without feeling as if doom would be walking through the front door any minute. With wonder I realized that I had a choice as to who could come into my home and who could not. I was finally allowed to tell people to leave if they were not welcome. I had endured nearly a decade of cohabiting with men, all sorts of men-the men who worked for Mickey, the men who did not, that damned omnipresent entourage. Away from all of them, it took me some time to accept and rejoice in my newfound freedom.
This new home was situated on a small cul-de-sac just off of Sunset in the heart of Pacific Palisades. It was smaller than any place I had lived in for years, and I welcomed the simplicity of it. Two tiny bedrooms, a bathroom in the middle, a charming living room, and a kitchen that led to a lush fenced-in garden with a deck and trellis. Once I had settled and carved out my space, I knew I was ready to go and retrieve my dogs. That had been one of the most painful aspects of leaving my Santa Monica home. I knew that Mickey would have someone take care of them, but the Chihuahuas were my one constant, and without them there was a void in my life.
I had a small convertible BMW and was not sure how I would manage to pick them all up and get them safely to my new place. A greater worry was getting them out from under Mickey's watch. I did not want to run into him or have to confront him. So I waited until I knew he was away filming and drove several times around our old house to assess which assistant was on duty.
The door to the Ocean Avenue home was unlocked, and as I snuck in, my beloved herd greeted me. They were beside themselves, whining and shaking and wagging their tails. I gathered up the ones that were closest to me, trying to leave those pups I knew Mickey was closest to behind for him. Angel, Monkey, Romi, Esmeralda, and Raphael were led out to my car, and in an instant I was off, speeding home. Beau Jack, Choco, and Loki would stay. That much had already been decided.
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