This post is not really over. I feel the need to write it all down more for myself so that I don't forget.
I remember going to my first AA meeting, and it was horrible. It was not the place for me, it just didn't feel right. I went to three AA meetings altogether. My feelings about organized religion tainted every single part of it, especially when at one meeting the group said The Lord's Prayer at the end of the meeting. That left me pissed off and feeling more alone than ever.
Eventually I found WFS which was much more my speed and that is where I would go should I choose to quit drinking again. I spent a year as a member of WFS and it was a challenging year that I could not have done without the support of the women I met there. I remember walking into that first meeting with about a month of sobriety under my belt. Instead of in a church it was held in a treatment facility. The room was small and cozy and the women that were there already were having an animated conversation and laughing heartily. It felt like a hug walking in there.
The other night picking up Scumbag to go to the ED meeting I was afraid of so many things. I was afraid I'd get to his apartment and he would not be there (even though we can confirmed plans just a half hour before). I was afraid to hit any red lights on the way to the meeting thinking he would jump out of the car and start running. In the car he kept saying, "my stomach hurts" and "I'm getting carsick".
He was nervous of course, but I didn't want to let on that I was nervous too.
He asked me, "you've been to this before?" knowing perfectly well that I had been before. He wanted to know what it was like. I tried to explain it in terms of an AA or NA meeting since he's familiar with that format. I basically just said, "it's people with eating disorders there with their parents, or their boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, siblings. Whoever. It's also parents there without their ED kids needing support, and it's very informal. There's no 12 steps, there's no formal reading, it's just people talking and there's a therapist there who sort of facilitates".
He asked, "do I have to talk"?
I said, "no, but you'll be asked to just give your name at the beginning and whether you are there as support or for yourself". I also added if he wanted to use a fake name I didn't care, I wouldn't say anything. Funny thing about that is he already uses a fake name just in life as a performer and only a handful of people know his real name.
He wanted to know if he could say he was there as support and I said "if you feel like you have to, but that's sort of misleading to the other people there". When it came down to it he used his stage name instead of his real name and he said he was there for himself. I imagine it probably felt a bit like saying "my name is___and I'm an alcoholic".
The meeting was full, a good group. I'd been before where it was just support people and small. I was terribly afraid that would happen again and it wouldn't really speak to him at all. But this particular group was half and half people with eating disorders and support. Some together. There was even a young man there with his mother, both of them having ED, and he was also obviously gay. I swear it was like the stars had aligned perfectly that night just for me to bring Scumbag there so he could get the most out of it.
I felt like we just had one shot at this, and if he hated it there was no going back.
It was a good meeting, lot's of interesting talk about acceptance and boundaries and how to approach the problem with love and empathy instead of anger. Several of the people there with ED did a lot of talking. I spoke very little, feeling self-conscious with Scumbag right there next to me. He did not speak at all, but he was really listening. I could tell, head down, ears open.
We got out of there quick when it was over and he lit a cigarette on the walk to the car. I patted him on the back and said, "thank you for coming with me, it means a lot". Then I just let it be quiet until he was ready. I could tell he was processing what had just happened.
Not far driving home he started talking. He wondered how much of addiction was hereditary. We talked about nature and nurture and that addiction can totally be hereditary but that doesn't mean there's nothing that can be done about it. It doesn't mean you're stuck with it.
He said there was some comfort in hearing that there's not a cure. I found that interesting but his take on it was that if you think there's a cure, and you can't be cured, then you are just not worthy, you're a failure, and you feel worse knowing you're not good enough for the cure to work. So we discussed how having an eating disorder is more like making it manageable, like living with diabetes. There are steps you can take to stay healthy and be mindful even if it never completely goes away.
One thing I reminded him of was that the people there who spoke, they all mentioned therapy, both individual therapy and family therapy. That it just can't be handled alone. He agreed but I doubt he's ready for any of that just yet.
We finally got where we were going and we had been talking about the anger/boundary issue. I told him how hard it was for me to ask him to move out last summer. How it killed me, that I didn't want him to leave but I had no other choice at the time. He understood. He said, "well yeah, it's hard to live with someone you love and watch them destroying themselves every day".
Holy shit. He get's it. He got it back then, he get's it now. He's always understood why he had to move out.
So then I asked him, "well what are you going to do when your mom moves up here and you move in with her"?
His answer to that, quick as you please, "she'll have to start going to those meetings with me".