I listened with heart pounding, eyes fixed on a distant spot on the wall. Half-listened really. My lips moved silently, practicing the words I had practiced so many times before. My turn was coming. I could pass with a wave off, as usual. Or I could speak. I had been here many times, sitting among the addicts of the the inner circle, or the Circle of Lost Souls, as I like to call it. As I glanced nervously around the room my mouth went dry as I recognized a few faces from previous weeks. Tonight, I would speak and these people, my fellow addicts, were here to listen and encourage.
Over in the far corner sat John, picking at his nails as if the most fascinating thing in the room could be found beneath them, and quite possibly in his little world, that very well may be true. His addiction so gross I won't even go into it. Unless you email me and ask. Let's just say if he was slicing the meat behind the deli counter I'd be a vegetarian.
Oops, I just remembered, I'm not supposed to talk about the others at the meetings, privacy and all that but... well, whatever.
Margie double oops, let's call her Barbie, stood abruptly, waving her arms about as she introduced herself, her voice projecting around the room, out the door and down the hall to the Parents without Parameters meeting. She always does this, I know now, since she's addicted to being the center of attention. Several meetings ago (my first night here) they asked her to leave. Ok forced her to leave. Bodily. She wasn't happy but hey, she was the one who stood on a table, showing off her new belly tattoo (of a teapot, since you asked) and sang "I'm a Little Teapot" (yeah, did the dance thing, too) while Brad um, Brian, was tearfully recounting how he celebrated his one year anniversary of being addiction free (picks lint, monkey-like off of strangers. I believe he eats it too. Excuse me, ate it. Past tense. Addiction free now). Anyway, I hear they're dating.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Here it comes. My turn, if I choose to speak. Which I do. Will do. Choose to, that is. Our leader, or our "Angel of Addiction" as he is known, makes eye contact, waiting for the slight shake of my head he's come to expect from me. I nod ever so slightly as his eyes widen. I take a deep breath, my chest heaving as I rise from my seat so forcefully the chair falls back, hitting the bright tile floor with a clatter. Grrrreat, now I have everyone's attention. Even
I exhale quickly, my voice cracking as I begin to speak. "For years I've fought the idea, the very notion of my addiction. I didn't have a problem. I could stop."
Angel of Addiction: "Let it out! Let it all out!"
I imagined gospel music, a chorus of large-lunged women singing behind me -"Oooohhh! Oooohhhh! Oooohhhh Oooohhh!"
I warmed to the speech I had been practicing for weeks, no wait, months. I paced around the room, hands waving over my head, my voice strong and loud."I could quit at any time, if I wanted. I just didn't want to, is all. Didn't. Want. To. You ever feel that feeling, my friends? Even when my family held the intervention last fall, I couldn't see it. Could. Not. See. It. Oh yeah. It was their problem, I told myself, not mine."
Woman to my right: "Ha! Tol' myself the same thing, mhhm hmmm."
"My friends, I was in denial."
Murmurs of empathy, a "Tell it, girl!" from the back.
I strutted around the Circle of Lost Souls, singing along with the gospel girls in my mind. "No sir, I was not funky like a monkey!"
"No you weren't, nuh-uh."
"I wasn't chillin' like a villain!"
Heads shook in agreement, "Not you, no chillin' for you."
"Know what I was? I was denyin' like a, well, like something that rhymes with denyin' but isn't a good thing. A bad thing. A bad thing that rhymes with denyin'."
"Mmhhm hmmm, she was denyin' alright."
I froze, dropping my head in shame as my moment had arrived, the gospel girls in my head humming their encouragement to me. Clearing my throat, I looked up, my tear filled eyes meeting each and every pair of eyes around the circle. Except for
Bill's uh, Bob's, but only because one eye was focused on the ceiling and the other eye, well I think it was looking out the window but I couldn't be sure. "But now, I can deny no longer." I drew a deep breath again and exhaled slowly, the words rushing out of my mouth, unwilling to be contained any longer.
"My name is SharonK and I'm addicted to movie theatre popcorn."
Don't judge me.