1 - My Own Personal Twelve-Step Program
I tried to stop wanting him. I went to the Baths on Tenth Street, poured gallons of icy water on my head. I brought home a twenty-four-year-old actor with thighs like pistons who smoked all my grass and made rugby love that left me with bruised knees, bruised elbows, bitten nipples and purple marks on my neck. When I saw the purple marks I remembered how my
I.V. using would-be lover told me he never shot up, he was only into blow. Did I want to see his arms? When I asked, “What are those scabs on your neck?” he said; “oh, I cut myself shaving.
I heard they have these twelve step programs for the families and lovers of addicts. They call these co-dependant groups or something, but I don’t need to go to one of these groups, I already know I am a patsy, I don’t need to sit in a smoky room and drink bad coffee to know an addict will lie as easily as piss or breathe. I already know because Rudy stole my money and magic chicken bone necklace twenty years ago, because my father told us the family car got wrecked when his bookie re-possessed it, because I blew the rent on a suede coat that was supposed to restore my vanished hippie beauty and then told the landlord I was mugged.
I know because I steal to the refrigerator late at night and eat all the chili I made to last a week in one terrible gulp, and then I call my friend Jan first thing in the morning and say I’m starved, I haven’t eaten for two days, please take me to breakfast at Vaselka’s. It will take more than 12,000 steps for me to surrender my compulsions, my shopping binges, my orgies of masturbation, my paranoia.
I think no one likes me. I’m not getting invited to parties, other women hate me because they suspect my secret; I’m not a woman at all, but a gray rain cloud with an androgynous mind and a ravenous catfish, a bottom feeder, for a sex. It didn’t help last week when my friend C. told me that Z., another poet, was dissing me everywhere behind my back. I was shocked. Isn’t she in one of those Twelve Step programs where they teach compassion, where they teach love thy neighbor, the wretched, the fearful, the lonely; or maybe that’s some other program. Christianity or folk dancing or word perfect?
My own twelve step program is yet to be written and if I ever climb out of this abyss of self-loathing and learn to believe in myself, I’ll write you a letter. I’ll tell you how I did it, I’ll let you know.