Don’t Drink and Garden

Our second hour of group therapy for the night is starting. There is an unspoken rule in group sessions. Essentially, everyone knows that if you don’t look at the Counselor or you try NOT to be picked for sharing — you are the MOST likely to be picked for sharing. It is just like elementary school.

            I could not stop thinking about how Sheila was so stupid in the last hour telling me I cannot possibly garden and not drink because I am an Alcoholic and we always drink when we’re doing our favorite things which makes them worse, and us bad at enjoying them, she said. She believes all Addicts lie and that it is impossible for an Alcoholic to do something they love without being drunk. She clearly doesn’t take the time to really see us. I know she doesn’t. That doesn’t sit well with me because we’re here to get help; so, if the Counselors don’t even believe in us — or believe in things we tell them — then how are we supposed to grow and get better?

Sheila accused me of lying about drinking while gardening. And I hated her for it

“Autumn, you’re never going to get better if you can’t admit that you couldn’t even do one of your favorite things without alcohol.”

“I told you,” I replied in front of everyone in the group, “I drank at night alone in my bedroom. Not while I gardening during the day.”

“Just keep denying the truth that you’re out of control, Autumn.”

“Those two things are not mutually exclusive, Sheila.” I retorted. What an asshole she is.

            I knew I needed to do something to stir things up. I am a troublemaker by nature — I just can’t help myself. I never do things to hurt people — at least not intentionally. But sometimes I make trouble to get a certain desired result for the greater good. It became clear to me in a matter of seconds what I could do to stir things up — and what was better is that I knew it would benefit everyone single one of my companions here, many who I had already talked to about this specific problem.

  I positioned my chair in the corner, and sat with my legs crisscrossed in my lap, and tried to look as un-wanting-to-be-picked and pissed off as possible so that I would be called on.

            And Jess did not disappoint. I could have almost set my watch to it after she started, “so does anyone feel like sharing anything tonight?” Once in a Harvest Moon someone had something they wanted to share, but almost every single night no one wanted to share — or — if they did — they certainly did not want to go first. But I really really really did want to share so so so badly, I just needed the Counselor to be the one to figure that out — in the only way one could — and my “don’t pick me don’t pick me don’t pick me” body language? Nailed it.

            “Autumn, you are looking particularly unsettled tonight. Why don’t you share with us what is upsetting you?”

            I intentionally take an uncomfortably long beat, then slowly sit up, lean forward, elbows on my knees which are now firmly planted above my ankles which have moved to the floor. I shake my head.

            “I am really upset!” I begin, being, in fact, upset. “I’m fucking pissed off because every single Addict in this room is lying. And they are doing it every day. And it is driving me crazy!”

            “Whoa, Autumn, that’s a very serious accusation,” my Counselor chimes in as the roomful of Addicts start to get restless themselves. “You know you’re not supposed to judge other people’s stories or truths.”

            “May I finish?” I continue very rudely.

            “Go on, but keep in mind what I said because I will stop you if you don’t abide by the rules.”

            “Fine,” I comply — and start to look around the room at my fellow Addicts with a stare that meant to convey — “this is a Mutiny, so stick with it guys, you all know I have love for you.” “Basically, what I mean is that every single day in our first session we move around the room person to person and we have to go through our list of how many days clean we are and what our drug of choice is and how we are feeling that day and if we have had thoughts about our drug and if we have had urges about our drug, and every single day I am the only person in this room telling the truth, because I’m the only person who says that I have thoughts about Alcohol — my drug of choice.

“It’s like a tradition for everyone to just glaze over that part of the narrative. All I hear is, ‘no thoughts, no urges, and today I feel [whatever stupid emotion we are supposed to pick off that laminated chart that belongs in a preschool classroom] fill in the blank.’”    

Now I have everyone’s attention. Literally everyone including the Counselor is staring at me like, “go on—” and the room is an uneasy quiet as my fellow Addicts start to wake up — almost like a “maybe if we try to give this shit a chance it will help us instead of just going through the motions.” I felt great about what I was doing.

I was going to change Rehab.

“My point is that there is no way that you are not having thoughts about your drug of choice. There’s just no way. This is a short-term program; depending on your insurance, you are here for two months at best, and likely less time than that. That means we don’t even get to have the 90 day chip before they kick our asses out of here. And what’s more: I know you’re thinking about your drug of choice because alcohol is what I’m thinking about all day long. I cannot stop the physiological cravings — and people talk about how they need a drink around my law office all day long as a fucking joke — and on the way to work and then on my way here and then on my way home I pass about 14 different liquor stores or bars. Alcohol is constantly in my face, and I miss it so fucking badly every moment of every day that I have SO many thoughts about it — it is a miracle I get anything done at all.

“Now some of you have been taking oxy or heroin or snorting coke or maybe you’re an Alcoholic Addict like me. And you’re just getting clean. I know there are people here who have been taking oxy for 11 years and they’ve been here, like, 11 days. Sorry to call you out —  bot come on man, there is no way you’re not having thoughts about that drug.”

“Well Autumn. That was a thought-out comment. Would anyone like to react?”

The room was now silent but not with animosity.

With understanding.

And thoughts.

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