1. divide into two parts of equal or roughly equal size.
2. reduce or be reduced by half.
I spent two years in a haze, coming up for air every once in a while only to realize that, yes, it still hurt too much to breathe. Yet there were neglected parts of me that I couldn’t ignore. When you spend most of your time in a drugged fog, you only seem to amass people who are as fearful of themselves as you are. I’m as surprised as you.
I worked two or three idiot proof jobs at a time to keep busy. I lived with a girl who was not bright, but infinitely loyal and didn’t expect anything much of me. I chose women that would never truly challenge me, which says a lot about my character at the time. We hung out with lowlifes and stoners and it was enough for a short time, but then I grew bored, no matter what I ingested. Boredom has always been the worst enemy of my apathy, boredom always seems to win the war.
I looked around and found a group, a LGBTQ group that met up once a week, and much like a new mother sick to death of baby talk, went in search of adult conversation.
The group was held in a church. When I walked in there was a table set up, with three smiling people armed with a multitude of sharpies and brightly bordered name tags. I was greeted with the kind of enthusiasm that always makes me skittish. There was normally a 3 dollar fee but since I was new, it was waived. I got may name tag and was directed to the library room to the right, where all of the women were. The mens group was across the way on the left.
Whenever there is a room lined with books I feel slightly more safe. The room was ringed with folding chairs, that were already mostly filled with women ranging in age from my 20 to well past middle-aged. There is a uniformity to lesbian gatherings, comfortable clothes and sensible shoes, a distinct lack of make-up and a weird fascination with bandannas. They were all chatting with each other, while i found a seat and tried not to look as awkward as I felt. Why does sitting “normally” seem suddenly impossible in a new and scary setting?
The group began, one woman starting with her name and an introduction to what the group was. This was a safe place for people to meet up, and talk about whatever was going on, politics, current events, personal concerns, food for thought, whatever might strike up a conversation with the group. You could choose to participate by raising your hand to respond or just hang out and listen. The moderator always came up with some kind of starter, but first we would go around the circle and introduce ourselves.
I really wanted to say “ My name is * and I am an alcoholic/addict/klepto” to see what would happen; I didn’t, I followed the rules and had several intelligent exchanges with strangers, which for me, felt a little miraculous. These were women with good jobs, long-term goals and savings accounts. I was smart enough to hold my own, even if my life reflected a stark lack of that intelligence, they didn’t know and I wasn’t telling them.
Afterwards, many of the women went to the local Bennigans, had dinner and/or drinks and spoke about all fo the stuff that might not be acceptable for the group at large.
I felt as if a little straw had appeared that let me take tiny sips of fresh air through the miasma.
I started going every week. I split in two. There was the life of stoned low expectations at home and this other life that started to spread with trips to the beach, dancing at the local gay bar and treks into the city. I had started to make friends, or at least half of me had.