Today, I feel sad. I can’t really pinpoint why. It has been an ordinary day. I took care of my horse. Went to see my chiropractor for an adjustment and a massage. I came home, had some lunch, read my book in the sun. I’m not at work at the moment following a minor op relating to the whole thyroid saga so there’s nowhere I’m supposed to be and nothing I’m supposed to be doing.
But what I’m feeling, is what I’ve been warned about. That hankering for ‘fellowship’. Of belonging. When I loved AA, I so loved all that stuff about ‘finding a tribe’. The trouble is, just like a bad boyfriend, I’ve fallen out of love with AA and there’s no undoing it. And yet …I miss it.
So yesterday, after I got back from going to see my therapist, I was re-running ‘meetings, the greatest hits’ in my head. The funny ones, the ones where I sat next to someone famous, where I did a great ‘chair’ [lead]. The one where we all went for pizza after and laughed til we cried. A host of friends, new friends, of thinking, ‘I’ll never be alone again’.
My therapist is an addictions and family / trauma specialist. He runs two nationally recognised treatment centres, and is not a 12-step dogmatic – he’s integrative. He and I have been having a series of conversations over the last two years or so as I’ve recuperated from thyroid surgery. He is the first ‘helping’ professional I have met who needed no background info when I told him I had Graves disease. He ‘got it’.
He used to work in a psychiatric unit as a nurse before he trained as a therapist, and my relief was palpable when explaining my situation, he said, ‘I used to see people like you, with Graves, locked up on the psych ward, wrongly sectioned, it was their thyroid’. YES!!!!! After years in the wilderness with this stuff in ‘recovery’ someone ‘gets me’.
So I go to see him yesterday, a very informal session, we sit in the garden with coffee and he agrees, after all this soul searching, that I’m right, that more than likely, all my history is fully explained by my thyroid problem and it’s significant impact on every system in the body, not least the brain. We discuss my drinking again, and he agrees with me that – with as much certainty as one can ever muster in these situations, human beings being complicated – that I should never have been in AA. In fact, when I ask, he proffers that AA is packed with people who shouldn’t be there, they have issues, sure, but they are not ‘alcoholics’. They are self-diagnosing, and they are mistaken.
I leave the session feeling validated, affirmed, heard. We’ve discussed rationalisation, denial, wishful thinking at length before. I feel I am being sane. It’s a lively hour. It’s all good.
I get back in my car and feel suddenly, sad. It’s over. Who will I be without it? Who am I then if I’m not _________ and I’m an alcoholic? What if I’m wrong? Will my friends still speak to me now I’ve left? Will I want to speak to them? What have I been doing with the WHOLE OF MY THIRTIES? What if I go crazy? What if they are right? Now I’ll never get to sit between Eric Clapton and Anthony Hopkins (what, like opposed to two middle aged Irish blokes in bad acrylic?). What about all the lovely people I met who welcomed me and made me at home? And now I’ve just gone and pissed on their kindness? Is it a cult? What now? And on and on and on ….
Yesterday evening I just curled up in a ball and had a good cry and I couldn’t have really articulated what for, just because. And I had to remind myself, overly sharing personal information in a room full of people you don’t really know is not intimacy. It might feel like it, laughing together, but it’s not really. And what aboout all the million times I’d been honest and got cross shared, or controlled, or ‘corrected’. It drove me crazy. And that has been my REAL experience, not the one I wish it had been.
Some people are married less time than I was in AA. Some people do less time in prison for Murder than I spent in AA. I am institutionalised and now I’m on the ‘out’. I’m deprogramming, sifting, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. And that IS sad.