I had my first group counseling session last night. It was interesting. There were six or seven other young women, and every one of them was so sweet and compassionate. Their hearts are so enormous, but they’ve developed some heavily serrated edges to keep the world at bay. These women would no doubt be tough scrappers if encountered outside the group setting, but inside, there was no limit to their empathy for each other. It was great to witness.
I think I was the only one not court-ordered to be there. I wondered if it might seem odd to them, like they would think, “Why the fuck is she here voluntarily?”…but no such judgment was passed. Although it lasted an hour and a half, it seems like very little talking was actually accomplished. I mostly just said who I was and what I do. I said more than some of the girls. The time flew. We were supposed to illustrate our lives (literally…with colored pencils; I would have picked crayons, but alas). We briefly explained our artistic masterpieces, then everyone was standing up and hugging (something I’ll have to get used to) and out the door in a flash.
Group therapy is a new but fascinating realm for me. Some of the women had no misgivings about baring every bit of their souls for the group, while others were more guarded. I was categorically guarded. It seems a bit foolhardy to entrust people with such individual and delicate knowledge if they’re mere blips on the radar of each other’s lives. It’s a 12-week program. No one is on the same schedule, so you start any time and “graduate” 12 weeks later. People are constantly cycling in and out. What is the value in spilling the contents of my personal life for everyone to see, pick through, and discard as they please? That requires more trust than I’m ready for. I’ve spent most of my life building a defensive stronghold brick by brick, and it’s not going to come down overnight because the girl next to me is comfortable taking a chance on the group.
The intake paperwork asked a lot of personal questions. I wasn’t expecting it. What do first sexual encounters and family history have to do with getting clean? Granted I’m familiar with all the psychological assessment bullshit that probation and parole use because I see it all the time at work, and it’s not actually bullshit…it has a lot of value in a certain context. Certainly, I’m the first to admit that my drug use started as a means to cope. But I’m just looking to get clean, not stir up feelings or come to terms with my past. Part of me is chastising myself as I write this, because I know my attitude is completely unreasonable and faulty. The same memories that steered me toward drugs will be waiting for me when I’m sober. During the two years I’ve numbed my brain, I’ve merely stalled myself in dealing with the inevitable. I thought I had actually found a solution, but I just heaped a bigger problem on the pile, which appeared to make everything underneath it go away. I’m scared of lifting that off and encountering what I’ve been neglecting for so long. My biggest hope is that it won’t be so bad, that maybe drugs did serve a purpose in giving me a sense of detachment and distance.