A New Beginning

Although Shellye agrees to attend rehab, Jake doesn't think he needs to go. As Shellye packs, she says, "Dr. Phil said both of us need to go, but Jake was kind of back and forth yesterday about whether he was going to go or not. I'm worried about him not coming."

She weeps in the car on the way to the airport. "It's really hard. I miss my kids. I never left my kids before. It's really, really weird," says Shellye. Yet, she tries to look on the bright side. "I'm really blessed to have this opportunity."

Shellye drinks at the airport. Once on board the plane, her tray is littered with beer cans.  Finally, she lands in Belize City, Belize at the New River Cove Treatment Center. "Here's to you, Jakob," Shellye says, chugging a beer before her treatment begins. She puts the beer down, then picks it back up to drain the bottle.

 

In her room at New River Cove, Shellye hangs a picture of her son on the mirror. "Here's my inspiration," she says.

After grappling with the decision to attend New River Cove, Jake finally joins his wife. "The reason I didn't go to rehab with Shellye at first is that I felt overwhelmed with so many obligations I had with work as well as home. I didn't expect this. I was under the impression that it was going to be about her and her situation with drugs and alcohol," Jake admits. "When I got here, I was tense, and I was ready to jump my wife for some of the things that have been going on." 

New River Cove allowed cameras in the treatment center so Dr. Phil could monitor the couple's progress.

 

In the first week, Shellye sees some improvement. "This is my first day of being sober. Usually, I don't feel this good until after the first beer in the afternoon," she jokes.


"Our group sessions have been eye-opening," Jake says. 

During one session Shellye says, "I feel like he doesn't treat me with respect. He doesn't love me."

 

Jake shares his thoughts. "I felt manipulated. I felt angry. I felt embarrassed. We've been together for over eight years. The lack of communication is just amazing." 

In the third week of treatment, Shellye hears feedback from the other patients in the Freedom workshop. "I'm a little worried about what I'm going to hear," she says nervously. 

One man says to her, "My experience with you is you've been selfish and self-centered with your drinking. You don't give a flying rat's ass about your children."

Jake tells his wife, "My experience of you is that you are a manipulator. You hide behind your looks so you don't have to engage emotionally with people."


Shellye wipes her eyes during the feedback session. Later, she reflects, "I was angry for my drinking, putting my children's lives in jeopardy. I'm just tired. I'm just tired of myself. I'm sick of it. It felt good to let it go."

Jake has a tearful admission. "My son, Jakob's, heart stopped seven times. I'm there watching him, and I told God to take him. I've given up. I feel guilty. He's my inspiration. He's my hope. He's my future," he says. "I love my kids. You find out so much what you've done to them being a drunk. I wanted to just jump on a plane and go back and say I was sorry, and hug him and tell him how I really felt."

By week four, Jake sees a major improvement. "We went to a meeting in a local town here in Belize. They were talking about their problems with alcohol. For some reason, I just felt touched, and I decided to share with them what's been going on in my life. Reality is starting to hit. I'm no longer a funny drunk. I want to be a father," he says. 

Shellye welcomes Jake's new attitude. "I'm seeing a man changing in front of my eyes, so I have a lot more hope today," she says. 

On graduation day, one counselor praises Jake. "You came in stumbling. You're going out on solid ground," he says.

 

Shellye looks forward to starting a new life as a better parent and wife. "I've got a lot to do when I get home. That makes me a little nervous because chaos causes stress, and stress leads to using," she says. 
  

Jake and Shellye celebrate a happy reunion with their kids and their mothers. "I just couldn't hug them or kiss them enough," Shellye enthuses.

Jake is glad to be home as well. "I'll always remember the way my children looked at me. The smile on their faces and how much they missed us said it all. It made me feel like Shellye and I both did the right thing," he says.

 

Jake wonders how they'll sustain their momentum now that they're out of treatment. "My biggest concern about our future together is, obviously, one of us relapsing. A relapse can happen to either one of us. It's very real," he muses.

Shellye is determined to keep moving forward. "If for some reason he were to relapse, I would have to pack my bags and go," she insists.