Thursday, February 7, 2008

D.U.I Think I'm in Love

A Med-time story.


"Yes, dear."

"Tell me the story of how you and Daddy met again, pleeeze."

"OK. But after this you have to take your medicine and get ready for bed."

"OK, Mommy."

"A long time ago, a mean judge made Mommy complete a two-week rehab program for alcoholics."

"What's an al-co-holic."

"An alcoholic is some one just like you, and just like me, and Aunt Ruthy, and Grampa Joe, and everyone else on Mommy's side of the family. And, when someone is an alcoholic, they have to stay far away from alcohol."

"Why Mommy?"

"Because it will make them do all kinds of things they really don't want to do."

"Like go to school?"

"Not quite, sweetie. It's kind of complicated. So, anyway, Mommy was at this court ordered facility when a handsome man dressed in white linen asked Mommy a very important question."
"What did he ask you, Mommy?"

"He looked at me with his big, brown eyes and said, 'Would you like some mashed potatoes?'"

"And what did you say, Mommy? What did you say?"

"I said...Yes. Thank you."

"And then later in the week Mommy and Daddy got in big trouble for kissing in the bathroom. And not too long after that you were born."

"Yay, I love that Story!"

"I do too, sweetie."

"Someday I want to go to a court ordered program just like you and Daddy did."

"When you get older sweetie pie. When you're a big girl. Now take your medicine and get ready for bed, OK?"

"OK. Goodnight Mommy."

"Goodnight, dear."

This program is becoming an awful lot like high school.
There are cliques; lots of them.
There are the Latinos, who always sit together and hang out in the weight room. There are the girls who have a special table in the caf. There are the tough guys, the quiet outsiders, the class clowns, the drama queens, the drama "queen", the arty kids, the hippies, the super smart, the super dumb, the special needs kids and the musicians.
And of course, there is the Prom Queen and King.

I think they met in the lunch line. I don't know if anything is really going on, but I don't really need tangible proof. We can all see it plain as day. And if these High School sweethearts make it out of here and try to make a go of it in the real world, they might have a story like the one at the beginning of this entry. God help 'em.

I'm getting a lot out of this program. Each day I am learning new and important techniques to help my fight for sobriety.

A few days ago, we learned to meditate from a native American counselor. He taught us about vision quests and animal totems.

We had a great class about whether or not we are in control of our happiness. The counselor asked us to name some things that bring out feelings of resentment. We filled up the board with nuggets like "Waiting in line behind the lottery ticket buyer at the convenience store," to "Getting cut off in traffic," to "People who don't mind their own business," and even..."New York Fans." He then asked us what all of these things have in common?

Yours truly raised his hand and said, "If we can prevent these resentments from affecting our lives, then we are truly in control of our happiness." Bingo! Chalk one up for Mr. Johnson. Dr. Phil would be proud.

Today, we focused on Petraska's "Rules for Change." Later on we dug deep into our treasure chest of cognitive distortions. Yeah, we (and by we, I mean myself and about 30 others out of the 70) are learning a lot.

One more anecdote...

The staff here has been going back and forth on the topic of whether or not we'll get to watch the game. I think they were waiting to see if we would behave ourselves which, for the most part, we have.

So, they wrote the schedule for today on the dry erase board. The evening's "classes" focused on something which began at 6:20 called, "The Perfect Finish." then the AA group which is scheduled from 8-9, and then the "The Perfect Finish Part 2" from 9-10:30. This of course is the second half of the game. The counselor went over the schedule with us before dinner. He pointed to the "Perfect Finish" and expressed his excitement at the unique "program" he had planned for us. He never mentioned football, but you could kind of tell from his inflections. That, and the $200 worth of Patriots gear he was sporting. We all gave him a big thank you and a round of applause for allowing us this unusual and exciting activity.

After the applause died down, a man named Dennis raised his hand. Dennis is a bit slow; a bit frazzled around the brain area, but a good natured, amiable guy nonetheless. So, Dennis is sitting there with his hand raised, waiting.

The counselor says, "Yes, Dennis?"

Without hesitation; with a completely serious and concerned look on his face, and the 70 of us staring at him, he says:

"Is there anyway we would be able to watch the game?"

Yeah, we all laughed. We all laughed a big genuine High School laugh. Then we filed out of the classroom and into the caf. We picked up our red plastic trays and waited in line; for the man in the white linen to ask us that very important question:

"Would you like some mashed potatoes?"

"Why, yes I would. Thank you."

I'll be home soon enough. In five days and a wake up.

Thanks for reading.

F. Alex Johnson

(transcribed by Muskrat)

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