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[the thread of the other brother in my story who’s trying to stay sober]

They made us sit in circle and talk. That was the hardest part as none of us had been talking a lot in our previous lives, that of being junkies and fiends. Not much talking is necessary when you’re only looking for the next bit of heavenly joy, also called hell. So when our leader, which is the word he used, asked us about love, I’m not the only one who’d just about lost it. The air in the room was thick with discomfort, a feeling we’d been practicing feeing. Just because you’re uncomfortable, doesn’t mean anything is wrong. In fact they tell us you pay attention to what you’re feeling. Nobody said a word that day and our leader let it slide.

Then the next day in group, we had a new leader, not that our old one was gone, but they said we needed to talk to more than him. I tried not to attach names to the people in rehab. I didn’t want to remember too much. I needed to limit what was filling my brain and names weren’t needed.

So this one morning a woman sat in our leader’s chair. Lovely to see a woman as that most of the time we were just guys. Sometimes we mixed it up with the women going through the same hell as us, but it’s not like we lived with them. We could see them wandering the gardens like us. Lost souls wanting to be someone other than who they were.

So our new lady leader asks us to talk about love. No fucking way were any of us willingly talking about love. Last thing on our minds, last thing on mine. I just woke up each day and did what I was told, which was boring or difficult and usually both.

“Merrill, tell me about love.”

Now that’s pretty open ended so I gotta ask what she means. She’s got that leader technique, “Whatever you think about when i say love.”

Now if feel this big thing coming up in my chest. I am not gonna fucking cry here. Haven’t so far, not happening today. Why the fuck she’d asked me first. “Why not ask Chuck over there.” I point to the one guy I like of like. Sorry to him.

“No, I’m talking to you. Love, what do you think about love?”

I’m having such a hard time now. This feeling is about to strangle me and I’m having such a hard time keeping it down. And it’s coming up fast so that either I’m gonna throw up or I’m gonna cry. I hold my breath, chin tucked in to stop it and I hold air and I’m trying to not move, look cool enough, look in control, and then it explodes. I fucking start to cry.


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