… continued from Valentine’s Day Eve, part five.
Entering the group room at the top of the stairs, I sought out the affirmations example sheet and picked a seat as far away from the queen as possible. Assuming affirmations were done in the same clock-wise order as last night’s, I would just about be the last person to recite my “feel good” statements.
The king and queen entered, donned their crowns, and the group gathered in the center of the room for the serenity prayer. Something I hadn’t noticed the prior evening – during the serenity prayer, everyone propped their left foot up on top of the coffee table. I asked about it later and was told it was to symbolize that nobody can stay sober on their own – it takes the help of others to do it.
The king began reading his script and shortly there after the affirmations begun. As the procession made it’s way around the room towards me, I had more of my wits about me than last night and noticed that everyone began with, “My name is so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic.” The group would then respond, “Hello, so-and-so.”
I figured I was an alcoholic by my prior reasoning – couldn’t stop drinking, couldn’t have just one drink, drank more often than not, drinking was causing problems in other (all) areas of my life, etc. But now I had to say it to the entire group? I was nervous.
It came to me. Deep breath. Here we go.
“Hi. My name’s Dan, and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Hi, Dan,” the group mirrored.
I then recited the same affirmations I had picked the night prior – “I am loved.” “I am living in the here and now.” “I am living on God’s time.” And, of course, finishing it up with, “And I am somebody.”
Next up: goals. Everyone was to announce a goal they were going to try to accomplish that day. I began throwing ideas around in my head. Okay, so there weren’t any ideas. The only thing that popped into consciousness was how to stay sober, so that’s what I said. “My goal for the day is to find out how to stay sober.”
I thought it would be well received. Even if it was an obvious goal, considering the environment, I thought the others may think better of me. It was a noble goal.
Somebody snickered. Other’s made eyes at each other, avoiding mine. Apparently my goal wasn’t a good choice.
Affirmations finished up with the serenity prayer again and we all headed downstairs for a short break of free time.
Next on the schedule was group. This session concentrated on DBT – Dialectic Behavoiral Therapy. Whatever the fuck that meant. I decided I was going to keep my mouth shut after the odd response I got from the group after announcing my goal.
A counselor named Andrea lead the group. I wasn’t sure if she was also a lesbian, but if she was, she’d definately be categorized in the Lipstick variety. She began talking about various scenarios in which you might find yourself angry, bothered, or otherwise negatively occupied in your head. “You need to get outside of your head in these situations,” she explained.
She had a plastic bag with her and began walking around the room – giving everyone a Warhead – those red balls that were really hot when you put them in your mouth.
“Now,” she said, “if you find yourself stuck in your head, suck on a piece of sour candy, or in this case, a Warhead.” She unwrapped her Warhead and popped it in her mouth, making contorted, uncomfortable looking facial expressions.
The group laughed in response and a few moments later, she had sucked off enough of the hot candy-coating to speak again. “I guarantee you it will break your concentration, but sometime’s that’s all you need to get out of your head – a break in your concentration long enough for you to realize where you’re stewing – in the anger, craziness, or whatever it is that you’re experiencing.”
Next she instructed us all to pop our own Warheads, which the group gladly did. You would have thought she had poured us all rasberry kamakazie shots with the speed in which everyone ripped open their candy.
It was amusing to watch everyone in the room contorting and making strange noises as if we were all possessed by demons like portrayed in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. But I wondered – really, how are hot candies supposed to keep me sober?
Smoke breaks in the subzero, my mind wandering, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, and suddenly lunch was upon us. Another visit to Christine in the cafateria seemed like a visit from somebody on the outside. She was always so chipper – the opposite of the downtrodden conversations that took place during affirmations in the morning session.
The afternoon included some more free time. I found myself somewhat bored. Still too nervous to introduce myself to the others, I holed myself up in my room again. I had been given a folder of various handouts, readings, worksheets, and a blue book. It was titled “Alcoholics Anonymous.”
I wasn’t bored enough to crack it open just yet. Instead I began reading through the various handouts that seemed as if they’d been xeroxed and xeroxed over again some 10 or 12 odd times – aligned on the paper crooked and the type blurring so badly it was hard to make out the font any longer.
Another group was on the schedule too soon for my liking. Crimeny – how many of these things do we have to go to every day?
This one was Cognitive Therapy, and it was most definately lead by a lesbian. Of course she was nice enough, but either the topic didn’t interest me, or the pattern of her flannel shirt hypnotized me right to sleep.
To be continued …