After breakfast I fell asleep in the meditation. Meditation is compulsory and lasts for about 45 mins. Everyone sits down in the main hall together trying to meditate between constant coughing, throat clearing and shuffling sounds, as some soft music comes weakly from the speakers. It’s pointless really. So I fall asleep sometimes.
The group meeting was after that. We wrote down answers to a list of questions the counsellor put up on the board. “Explain what it was like for you to live in the blindness of addiction?” “Can you see that you were living a double live?” “Describe how you lived in illusion and fantasy?” “How complicated did this make your life?”
These questions were easy to answer. I became honest with myself. While in addiction, I did live a double life. I always tried to hide my drinking to family and often lied about where I had been or where i was going. In work people knew more about what was going on with me than my family. I tried to keep the veneer of normalcy (i guess) going but the veil had slipped off a good time ago and I was the only one who still thought I was wearing it. It was my late teens and early twenties and the level of drinking and partying was insane. I would often go drinking to bars on my own the following morning of a party while everyone else would be dying of hangovers. I would continue drinking to cure any hangover and keep going right into the night and next day. I would bump into perfect strangers in bars and end up talking with them for hours on end, bar hopping, doing drugs, whatever…Madness. It seemed fun at the time and it was all new for me. Luxuriating in that drunkenness was bliss at the time. For a moment I felt centered, like this was how I was supposed to feel, cause most of the time sober I felt shit. I felt nervous and everything seemed difficult. I was always slow to catch onto things and often awkward and shy around people, not knowing what I should be saying. But with alcohol all that stuff vanished. I spoke with the confidence of a parliamentarian. It was confidence and oblivion: the pill to everything that was missing in me. It made me whole, just for that short time. It made me feel at peace. I knew drinking like this was not good. Alcoholism was in my family and it affected us all. I was guilty but at the same time It stopped my overwhelming rush of thoughts, fears and doubts that would wash over me everyday from the moment I woke up in the morning. It was the answer to my prayers. At least so I thought.
Mark, our counsellor, was getting us to read out the answers. Then he’d probe us with questions, like an interrogator, to see how we held up. Why do you think you did that? Are you a people pleaser? What do you think gives you the right to think other people should like you?
Most of us found it difficult to answer these auxiliary questions he had, lined up, like grenades. But Mark wasn’t asking because he wanted us to feel bad or wanted to catch us out. He wanted us to think about our own thought process.
There was a break then until 12, when we had Mass. I took a walk around afterwards and bumped into one of the younger lads in the group, Adam. He was out working in the grounds. He was complaining about how pointless what they had him doing was: What they had him doing was sweeping the stones into the path from where a few of them had gone into the grass. It was pretty pointless actually. He was also picking up twigs from the grass. I felt lucky landing the job in the restaurant come to think of it.
After dinner I rang Siyana and she had loads to tell me about what was going on in her work. That’s one of the things I first liked about Siyana: there were never awkward silences. She had no problem talking. I think that’s another reason we blend so well, cos I’m fairly quiet. If i’m in the room with another quiet person we usually don’t get along, unless I’m drinking of course. I told her I’d call her back later as she had to get back to work