Everyone thought that I gave up alcohol for lent. Because it was what i told them. It was, after all, the most convenient thing to say, instead of going into a long-winded explanation of the circumstances leading up to the six-week abstinence. In truth, I hadn’t the slightest clue as to when lent actually began or ended, so it took some haphazard guessing that I was still within that forty day range when asked why I wasn’t drinking.
Over that time period, it was surprising the amount of things that transgressed. The first of which being that Wellness thought it would be a good idea to call me in when I sent an email to the Goody Goody working at the university detailing the dark humour of my stint in the mental ward. To clarify, being that Goody Goody’s name precedes them, the email was forwarded to Wellness with a tinge of concern, despite the tone in which I wrote it. In any case, Wellness’ Crisis Jane thought it would be a great idea to dissect what I had written on a primary level, failing to see the second degree humour of it all, and instead asking if it was some kind of cry for help, especially since I wrote in third person with first-grader English.
There was not much else for me to do but to dismiss what they were asserting about me; after all, who were they to try and analyze me only after meeting me through my file. Following my straight faced replies, Crisis Jane thought it would be a good idea to “warn” me that pulling any more “stunts” like the aforementioned would lead to the Student Health Center to slap a “no” on my study abroad application, since they’d have to be consulted.
What they didn’t mention was the actual truth: the delay on my study abroad application was put on hold because of Steinhardt’s hesitancy to let me go for an entire year with few courses contributing to my MCC degree. The health center, in actuality, had not been consulted as the little birds have told me.
It was more than five weeks in when I was in Toronto visiting when I found myself at The Football Factory with some company, some with whom I was familiar and some not so much. It wasn’t so much that I was dying of first of a beer, but rather, deciding to have a drink as opposed to digress into the lent excuse with strangers. The point of the whole six-week abstinence, as many would come to agree with me when I told this story, was to demonstrate that I had self-discipline to abstain from alcohol, as well as to follow after with responsible drinking. In the grand scheme of things, it being not exactly six weeks just didn’t seem to matter to me.
It was shortly after this that I met with The Intern for our last meeting. Generally, the last meeting at Counseling and Behavioral Health is meant for referrals to other therapists outside of NYU and as a general follow-up. Since I’ve had the “pleasure” (it could be assumed in both sarcasm and genuineness) of bonding with the many folks at the center, that duty of referring me out could and was delegated to the others that I was seeing, including the PhD.
Anyway, our last session had no particular theme or topic on which it concentrated; it was instead much like how my sessions with The Shrink turned out – conversation about whatever. Partially serious and partially joking, I asked if we could be friends. At first, the Intern evaded the question by directing the conversation elsewhere, but when I kept bringing it back, the Intern finally answered with a “no.” There are numerous reasons as to why one cannot be friends with their therapist afterward, the major one being about context and situation. In retrospect, I merely asked the question so as continue walking along that fine line and pushing boundaries as I had always done just to see if I could. But I did ask the question so as to confirm what I had suspected – the Intern surely deserved that MSW and wasn’t doing things strictly by-the-book blindly but understood and made the choice to do so.
And so followed perhaps one of the moments in which an idea was never so succinct, in spite of others having told me before. It didn’t matter if it may seem trivial, but the issues I faced were traumas, and it didn’t quite matter if it did or didn’t match up to others’. If something had an effect on me, then that was all that mattered. Perhaps it was just how the Intern articulated the aforementioned, or simply the context of it being the “end” of something, but I realized I shouldn’t have to compare what I’ve experienced to others as a means of gauging whether or not to dismiss or address the pain.
Coming back to “lent,” I met with the Cat Lady several weeks after my last session with the Intern. It turned out that the measure of time, which had not mattered to me, had in fact mattered to the Cat Lady when I told her. She told me that I had failed, and that I had to start again the six-week alcohol ban. Apparently, we didn’t to seem the share thoughts on the exercise being one of self-discipline and self-regulation. It was perhaps with that instance that I began questioning things up front as opposed to following someone with a degree, in belief that they had my best interests at heart. I refused to engage again in this exercise, stating that I had already demonstrated to myself according to what I felt the point of the alcohol ban to be. It is tiresome to think of was to worm yourself out of drinking when you are doing so not because you want to, but because someone doesn’t believe you when you say you do not have a problem. At this point, much of what I have told had been a secret; in which case meant that I was quite dodgy and evasive with questions and speculation. In other words, I was constantly uncomfortable, and unnecessarily adding to it was not something that I wanted.
The real kicker of it all was when I had actually called Wellness feeling an overwhelming despair. I’m not one to talk about my feelings or emotions, especially over the phone, so the call was rather curt and quick on my end. The next day’s follow-up was met again with Crisis Jane (I do believe, but I’m not completely sure) and my flat responses, and general refusal as to what had transpired in my mind the evening before. After all, it is rather difficult to talk to a stranger, knowing that there is nothing they can do in terms of time spent or advice. But the reply by Wellness to my want to leave was, “if you don’t want to be here, don’t call us.”