Pinstripes, sensing a vulnerability from Ana and me, pounced last night and scored large.
When I sauntered into Family Group yesterday all was well. I had spent the day with my wife planning the coming weekend. I didn't intend to spend the whole day with her; there was an AA meeting to get to and duties in the house to get at, but what began as a quick cup of coffee put an end to my planned day.
I should have known something was up. Perhaps it was the slightly strained conversation that I put down to tiredness. I considered - then discounted the possibility it might have been because of last Sunday's graduation dinner - when I was celebrated as a "wise, big-hearted, much-loved fellow", giving his all to the programme and working behind the scenes to support the work of the other residents. I felt a squiggle or two beside me at the head table at the time and worried some that my wife was getting ready to vomit.
The first sign was when my cashcard was declined for a cup of coffee on Tuesday. A quick text to my other half asked the question? "Are we tapped out?" A reply came back to read that, "no... it's not quite that bad... but we'll have to talk." Frankly, I would have rather we had spoken about it in private instead of in front of Pinstripes and the others. The first inkling that all might not be as tickity boo as I thought came during the checking in phase, when everyone introduces themselves and describes their feelings at that moment.
I saw the discerning eyebrow raise from Pinstipes after Ana described herself as "exhausted and frustrated". By the end of treatment we addicts know when to take advantage of each other's slip ups and jump into the fray. Forgotten were the flimsy issues one has to invent from time to time to stave off ambush from the facilitators. This has the dual advantage of taking the spotlight off us, while at the same time bringing the champion of the hour down and elevating our own place in the pantheon of the recovering.
I bravely withstood the inquisition and the delighted feedback of my peers. You could feel the disappointment in the room when Pinstripes said that we needed to move on. I sat in stunned silence, barely hearing a Mother Letter, those recounting 'using dreams', and a long overdue commitment reading on "Shame".
The focus had shifted away from me, but the damage had been done.