My First Therapist

June 2006

“I need help.”

The second my therapist heard these sincere words formulate from my whiskey-drenched breath, he shot straight-up from his chair like something had prodded him in the back. His eyes awoke from their bored, sleepy state and were wide open in shock now. This must have been an apparent surprise for him considering every other time he would merely sit there, hand holding up his head to keep it from falling.

He sat up and cleared his throat. “Yes, yes! I believe that you do. I’m very happy you’ve come to this realization. It’s a huge step.”

With my head down, I nodded in shame. I wondered how long he had known this. Why didn’t he say anything before? When I asked, he didn’t respond, just looked at me with one eyebrow up and the other down—something I couldn’t do. I guess it must have been obvious, so he then changed the subject to something about alcoholism and diseases.

I glanced around the dull, square office like I had fifty times or so before. His two black bookcases filled with dozens of medical and psychiatric hardbacks. I always wondered if doctors and counselors had read all of these or if they were just for show.

How long had he known I needed help? Why didn’t he ever mention anything before? Did he know I was drunk? Did he know I was drunk every time we met?

He had to have known. He had the nose of a Jewish man, so he must have smelled the way it exhausted out of my mouth and pores everyday. It was always either vodka or whiskey. I never had time to down enough beer to get me feeling relaxed or buzzed enough to start talking.

I couldn’t talk to him sober.

My anxiety wouldn’t let me.

Even if he didn’t smell it or knew I was drinking before our little sessions where I’d blab on and on, anyone could see I had a problem. When I felt “relaxed” I’d speak about anything. I loved the confidence and insensitivity alcohol gave me. I couldn’t care less about what people thought about me or what nonsense would pop out of my gab.

No inhibitions whatsoever.

I felt comfortable being myself.

He started to talk about rehabilitation centers and asked whether I’d be interested in going to one. It wasn’t the second time I’d heard the term “rehab” before. My parents had brought it up one afternoon after I had woken up, hungover, as usual. I listened to their thoughts and concerns about me and how I was living: getting wasted before and during college classes, just like I had done in high school. So it had sat in the back of my mind while I carried on with the brain-cell genocide that was my drinking. Not to mention, my ample use of any drug I could get my hands on—ecstasy, MDMA, mushrooms, acid, cocaine, ketamine, meth, inhalants, and of course a garden variety of colored pills that would either speed me up, or slow me down.

I was growing tired of the tediousness of drinking everyday and the humiliation that came with blacking out, which was a daily enjoyment, let me tell you.i need a break so I figured I could go for something different—an adventure of sorts. So, I told him I’d be up for it, as long as I could smoke my precious cigarettes.

I don’t remember how I got caught-up in smoking cigarettes. I used to be gung-ho about not smoking, while my friends would smoke like chimneys on a winter’s day. After awhile, I caved and started to only smoke when I drank alcohol. But then I began drinking every day. Now, they’re just another thing my body craves.

It turned out cigarettes were allowed in the place they had been looking at, which calmed me down because I had heard at some places they were prohibited, which is utter cruelty. And stupid. How could you go cold turkey quitting cigs when you’re also trying to get off alcohol? Or meth, or heroin, for that matter. This world never ceases to amaze me.

I said Yes to treatment. So I sat back and let everyone else do the rest. Something I was pretty damn good at.

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