somewhere around the third of december things start to move. i have for the most part stopped crying uniformly. i am still crying, but not uniformly. i have figured out the puzzle of the assignment sheets and have managed to get my little self to all the groups to which i am assigned. i am using my newly-granted tool, the black ballpoint pen, to ease my anxiety about being in public spaces and i am sitting in public spaces doing crossword puzzles. i use crossword puzzles defensively, to stake out acceptable territory and get comfortable seating prior to groups.
i learn to ask before i introduce myself each time nt to have everyone shout out "hi, (my real name)!" in mechanical AA meeting style that just makes my blood boil. it's so hollow that it isn't even a greeting and it's like you're not even there to the extent that when you ask them not to do it they can't help themselves, which only goes to show you how much they're really paying attention, which is why i hate it in the first place.
yeah. so. this guy comes in. vinny. and we meet him for the firs time in afternoon community meeting. now, community meeting goes like this: we all sit in a big circle and everybody says their first name and then they say a goal for the day or if it's the evening meeting they might reflect on the morning goal if they remember it or set a new goal for the evening if they're not an advanced player and they name a coping skill they might use and then they say a thing they're grateful for and then maybe if the person making the agenda had a sense of humor or mercy there might be an oddball item on it like name your favorite piece of furniture and in case you can't remember all the items on the list, they're all written out for you on the whiteboard on the wall:
thing you're grateful for
favorite piece of furniture
i'm kind of fuzzy on sequence here, but i know "piece of furniture" was on the board on december 4. i know this because it wa a saturday night and my favorite piece of furniture at the moment was "communion table".
i do not know what day vinny came in, but i know what day vinny left. the day vinny came in we got our first look at hi at evening meeting and what he had to say was that he was very happy to be here because he'd been on the waitng list to get in for three weeks and he was really serious about his rehab and that in the time he was waiting to get in he'd had to do all kinds of crazy drinking and drugging and he was tired.
i was thinking that perhaps this was not the soundest reasoning in the world, but once you get to rehab, maybe you get clearer thinking and at least he'd made the trip.
later that evening vinny regaled us with (he thought) very funny stories of how he and his wife had come to admissions together and lied about being married hoping to get put on the same unit. of course they fooled no one.
couples are split up in rehab, for good reason. go look it up if you want to. i don't feel like explaining it. anyway, one thing that they really like from people going into rehab is honesty. no matter what you've done, they consider honesty a really good sign that you're ready to turn yourself around. so lying at admissions and then laughing about it later wasn't a really good start, you know?
and then there's this thing: you're not supposed to communicate with the other units. when you go to the caf, you're not supposed to talk to the other inmates. it's sort of like prison that way, only friendlier, and it's for therapeutic purposes. but see, according to rules, the staff can't monitor the patient phones. so patients can call the patient phones on other floors so while you're not really supposed to be talking to the other inmates on other floors, you can do it. and no mater what everyone pretends, there's no such thing as a private conversation up there (acoustics being what they are) and it's no secret that vinny and his wife are talking to each other every twenty minutes.
so when mrs. vinny bounced from downstairs, ("bounced" is the term for "left rehab without finishing the program"), vinny swore up and down that she got kicked out for acting out and demanded to be released. of course we all knew that you don't get kicked out for acting out; they simply board you and put you in the quiet area or in a pinch medicate you, but they don't kick you out, but we all knew vinny to be a liar already and we all knew he wasn't really on board with rehab to start with so when he demanded to be released even though it caused a fuss and tied up resources for a number of hours and there was all the usual nonsense of posturing and screener calling and scene making and loud yelling in the end we weren't sorry to see him go.
it was december 6.