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Monday, February 3, 2014

I Love Candy


I began seeing a therapist recently.  Sometimes, my life is just a little too excellent.  I figured that puts me in the ideal position to grow a healthy future.  Kara and I are having a very nice time, getting acquainted.  We have quite a bit of ground to cover, so our sessions are brisk and lively.  It feels like having coffee with a friend, who I'm paying for therapy.

Kara wants lots of backstory which appeals to me because I like to talk about myself.  I can describe hair-raising situations with humor and clarity. They hardly seem scary anymore. Fortunately, most of the people who used to frighten me are dead or in jail. I've moved 700 miles away from the rest.  In the meanwhile, I work on making healthy choices.  I have to take some responsibility for allowing unpleasant individuals into my life; I did, after all, leave the door open.

Let me tell you a little bit about my first experience with therapy, though.  It's nothing like this time around.

In March of 2000, I'd just finished working on a project for a bank in midtown Manhattan. I was a well-paid consultant.  I created Powerpoint presentations and remembered everyone's birthday by baking them a cake. My eldest, Kirin Greene, was 14 at the time and about to start high school.  David and I discussed my staying home for awhile, just to keep an eye on things.  It wasn't the greatest idea.  I had lots more time on my hands, and by the freshman dismissal bell, I was always far too jacked up to be of much use to anybody.

Addiction is slippery.  Some things were going very well.  With David's help, I'd started recognizing some purpose.  I had a terrific job, very nice friends and successes in my personal life.  We owned a beautiful home.  I got my driver's license reinstated.  I'd been to the dentist and had six rotten teeth removed.  I'd opened a modest bank account, selecting Scooby Doo personal checks.

In ways, it seemed like I was really putting things together.  But I was still a mess, and most of my decisions were made with a wine glass in my hand.  I'd get too tight and need to drink so I could calm down.  I'd find myself too drunk and do more speed to keep from becoming sloppy.  It's a fair assessment that I averaged 130 minutes of sleep each night.

Poor David.  He'd stay awake with me as long as he could.  I just wanted him to go to bed and leave me alone, so I could have my little pathetic party.  My brain had become this frayed pinata.  As part of my routine, I climbed a ladder and hung it from a tree.  Then I beat it with a stick until the contents poured out.  I sat in the dark blindfolded, devouring my own thoughts until I was sick.  Until it wasn't fun anymore.  Of course, Dave knew there were problems bigger than just alcohol.  My secret was the loudest thing in every room.

"Why don't you go talk to somebody?" he would ask.
"Like who?"
"Like a doctor.  You can't keep this up.  You're gonna have a heart attack."

Maybe Dave's right, I considered.
I bet a doctor could give me something to help me fall asleep.

So, I looked up 'psychotherapists' in the Yellow Pages and called one that was a few blocks from our house.  I was very busy, and I didn't want to have to go far to get more drugs.

I spoke briefly with Dr. Korman by phone, and we made arrangements for the following day at 6:30.  The next morning, I drove down there, never realizing the appointment was for that evening.  I sat on the curb in front of his office for two hours.  I watched people park their vehicles and disappear into office buildings.  They held cups of coffee and little bags filled with breakfast things.  What a waste of time, this is, I thought.  I needed to go home and get high.

I walked back to the car and left Dr. Korman two voicemail messages, annoyed and confused that he didn't show up.  He called me back at 9:00 and explained that he taught classes during the day.  He only counseled individuals after school.  "I never see patients this early in the morning", he said.  "You'll need to come back later on."

After we hung up, I sat there with the phone in my hand.  I'd misunderstood.  I started to cry.  I didn't think I could do nighttime appointments.  That kind of commitment would interfere with my drinking.

I drove home and shut the car off.  I stayed in the garage for a while, listening to the sound of my breathing.

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