Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bolton Carley

HoW addiction got me here

I can’t believe it’s come to this…

I’ve denied it since the days of big hair and stirrup pants. I’ve tried to focus on other things, but inevitably I fall off the wagon. It’s steadily gotten worse as I’ve aged. Life stresses and old age have put me in a panic. Admittedly, my marriage and job have been chucked into the backseat because my addiction was cozied up riding shotgun. In fact, it’s probably happened on more occasions than I wish to admit. Many a late night, I’ve been up sulking about the house with a drink and my thoughts.

All of it seemed harmless enough; just a hobby or a tension release. Nothing more, nothing less. Everybody else does it, too, don’t they? Apparently, that assumption was wrong. Mid-snit the other night, my husband came home to find me slumped over in his Lazyboy. His words were ones of love, concern, and compassion. He’s always been my cheerleader and keeper. Perhaps he knows better than I do, so I agreed to take this first step.

Now here I am walking into all these seemingly confident, uninhibited strangers. Polar bears are tap-dancing on my heart; my gut instinct is to run. Jesse Owens wouldn’t have anything on me right about now. Why? Why did I agree to do this? What was I thinking? Obviously I did not think through the process far enough to realize I’d be facing a firing line, or at least a circle of addicts claiming they’re no better than myself (of which I know they are stronger and further down the road to success). At this point though, I realize it’s too late to tuck tail and amscray. They’re all staring at me like I’m a piece of raw, fatty, flavorful prime rib in a lion’s den.

A familiar, yet unknown woman is already hugging me as I’m rooted to the stained shag carpet in uncertainty. What happened to a good old-fashioned formal hearty handshake or a new-fangled fist bump? Hugging? Really? Crap. They hug each other here? It must be one big happy family, or at least a family. Is there any chance I’ll fit in? Is there any chance they’ll understand my situation and not judge me harshly? Thank God that woman over there has already taken a seat and just gave me a jaunty, if not half-scared, wave. Maybe this isn’t old hat for everyone. Maybe she’s new, too.

I’m scanning the room hoping I don’t stick out like a sore thumb in a middle finger kind-of crowd. Already I’ve spotted a stocky, charismatic guy grazing at the snack table in back, trading one addiction for another. Another guy is knee-deep in his iPad, paying little or no attention to the rest of the group forming. The long-haired beauty queen with her back to me talks like she’s semi-worried about her children at home with their father. Then there’s some guy with a canary yellow shirt that people are flocking around. Good. Hopefully, they all glue-stick to him so I can slip in over in the corner to watch without notice like an old man at a strip joint. I know I don’t belong here. I won’t fit in with these people. It’s a guarantee. Even before I admitted my situation, people condensed me into nothing more than goat cheese on a vegetarian platter. I told my husband that, and he informed me I needed to give it a chance. I might be surprised at how much I have in common with these people and if not, I shouldn’t worry. He assured me they’d be accepting. How could they not love me? He asked. Yeah, right.

As I gage the situation, I notice they all chat amongst themselves like they’ve known each other forever. Will that be me if a few months? Will I be sharing the intimate details of my life with these people? Will they feel more like family than my real one? I hear it happens. Oh, how I hope they recognize my obsession and welcome me into their fold. Lord knows why it is so important to me, but it is. Perhaps, I am literally and figuratively starting a new chapter.

Now here I sit on the furthest perch I can get on this flowered couch pondering how to properly introduce myself. With all these somewhat anonymous people, how do I cleverly seek their friendship? Do I tell a light anecdote? Do I share why I’m here? Do I give my real name? Do I try a joke? Or maybe it’s best to keep it short and sweet. What’s that old saying about being a fool but by opening your mouth you remove all doubt?

Okay, I can’t get negative. I promised my husband I would give it my best efforts. I will not give up. I’m a fighter. I can do this.

“Hi, my name is Erica and I’m a… writer… or at least I play one on the computer screen….”

© Bolton Carley 2011

Bolton is a farmer's daughter/teacher/attempting writer/author of YA verse novel: Hello, Summer Vacay and blogger of lessons learned the hard way at


  1. Bloody hell - and you looked so confident and approachable and down-right exactly as I'd expected, only the multi-coloured, full-price version instead of the introductory pack. I remember having a thoroughly enjoyable conversation with you - pity the whisky blurred the words somewhat, but the enjoyment stayed. Sincerely hope you intend to be at the next one.
    And the writing of this? Brilliant

  2. Ha! I went to Writer's Rehab one time.
    But it didn't take.
    Fun read.

  3. love this; brilliantly observational! and the yellow shirt gets them every time ;)

  4. Erica, this is a perfect description of how many of us will feel when we finally get there. I'm sure they were delighted to see you. HUGS ARE THE GREATEST!

    Jeanette Cheezum

  5. Dear Bolton, if I'd only known, I would've hugged you more. And, hey, anybody who can so perfectly liken herself to an old man in a strip joint earns MAJOR stripes! You did good, doll.


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