So, I’m reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book, More, Now, Again. I picked it up off someone’s stoop around the corner from my apartment. I was walking Chulo and Eliot, the Miniature Pinscher who shit all over our new rug this past weekend, and I saw this pile of books. Then I realized that it was the trash of someone with whom I could be very good friends.
I walked away with five books that day. Three of them were memoirs about drug addicts. The other two wore the Oprah sticker of approval. I almost grabbed one more because it was this mangled and obviously dog-chewed copy of Don’t Shoot The Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training and I thought it was funny.
I also think this is funny:
Anyway. I love this book. It’s got super tiny print and it’s making me crazy because it’s the size of a book that I can usually get through in a day or so and this one is taking way too long. But not because I don’t love it, I do. I really, really love stories about addicts and stories about addicts recovering … or not, and stories of the outrageous things addicts do for their Drug of Choice. (It’s an industry term.) And, as I was sitting here reading I realized that I have group therapy envy.
There’s a passage about one of Elizabeth’s first days in rehab where she’s in group therapy and she describes the “feeling wheel”. In group, you discuss your issues, but you can only use six feeling words: peaceful, mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful. I love the idea of that. I love the structure of it and the idea that I could identify my basic emotions — which I rarely do. Though I love sharing the gory details.
When I was younger I never talked to anyone about my problems. I’d cry to my friends about teenage dramas with boys I loved and who didn’t love me back, but I never talked about not having a father or having a mother who slept most of the time. When I got pregnant at 19 and didn’t know anything about the father of my fetus other than he was a sailor named Chico, I didn’t tell anyone. But that all changed when I left home. No. When I left Georgia.
I started telling my stories to almost anyone who would listen. But, they couldn’t be people who were too close to me. And their behavior had to be what I considered worse than me. Or at least as bad. I could be really honest about my drinking, say, with someone who I believed to drink as much as, if not more than, me. But, with people who were casual drinkers or who never found themselves throwing up for the entire day after a night out (or two if it was from tequila), I’d play it down, or not discuss it at all. Basically, I edited my stories based on how I believed that my listener would react.
It didn’t start all at once. I let things slip little by little — testing my friends to see if they still liked me after they knew shameful truths about me. Once I did it a few times, and they did still like me, I couldn’t shut up. I had packed in years and years of stories that I had covered up because I thought if anyone knew what a horror I was, they’d desert me. After that worked out, it was as if I forced more and more terrible stories onto my friends as if I were daring them. Or as if I were pushing them to abandon me — I’m not sure.
In group therapy I could tell my stories without any ulterior motives. I’d be surrounded by people just like me — at least as far as our common issue goes — and I could simply work it out. Erica’s mom stayed with us this past weekend and we got into a conversation about group therapy after she overheard me suggesting to my friend D that he get a copy of, Co-dependent No More. Turns out she knows a great program in Pennsylvania that works wonders for the co-dependent lunatics. (I know that’s redundant but I couldn’t think of another way to put it besides calling them “co-dependents” and that sounded stupid. Okay. Who am I kidding? I meant, “besides calling US “co-dependents.”)
I think I’m going. It’s a week-long program full of emotional breakdowns and stories from other people who just might have more issues than I do. Who could ask for more? It’s weird, but I get so excited thinking about possibly working through some of my shit. I mean, I’ve worked through a lot. Seriously. A. Lot. (You should have seen the list I had to get through …) But there’s so much more. And the thing is, now that I have worked through some things and I know how much better I feel about those issues, I just want to get on with it. Let’s solve more problems! And if it takes two grand and a week off of work with a bunch of mopey co-dependents and living with a (eek!) roommate, then by Smoking Baby let’s do it.