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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Coffee, biscuits and the 12 step programme


It was in Amsterdam that I attended my first (and hopefully, the last) 12 step programme. You know, the system which addresses the addiction problem. It started with alcoholic anonymous and spread fast and large to include everything, and when I say everything I mean it literally. The 12 step programme treats anything which can be treatable, though I am not sure about the final result.

I came to it unexpectedly, I have to admit. I was walking in the centre of Amsterdam, a rare Saturday when I had nothing to do, apart from exploring the streets and having a nice coffee in different cafes. In retrospect, I should have probably stuck to the occasional coffee in a cafĂ© because I would have avoided some embarrassment, but we always learn by trying, don’t we?

It was the announcement which triggered my interest: ‘Co-dependency network with coffee and biscuits’. True, it was the promise of free coffee and biscuits which prompted me to come inside the church building rather than the word ‘co-dependency’ (I had no idea what it meant), but I reckoned that I had nothing to lose and lots to gain: meet new people, discover what Amsterdam had on offer in terms of events, join an exciting network. Ha-ha-ha.

It all started nice and cosy. I got my free coffee, chatted with members who all appeared as very nice and welcoming (maybe, perhaps, slightly, too welcoming? As if I had some kind of problem?). And it was only when we sat down around a large table, and it was the third speaker who was chatting away that it downed on me that I was a fraud and would soon reveal myself as such.

I realised the mistake of my attendance only during the speech of the third person because I couldn’t believe during the first two that they all were talking about the relationship problem. When the first speaker stood up and solemnly proclaimed: ‘Hello, my name is John and I am a co-dependent’, it did strike me that I ended up at some kind of recovery therapy thing, and ransacked my brain for a minute or so for a possible solution. These people were really nice, really pleasant, forcing on me biscuits and coffee and I kind of gave the impression that I was very happy to be at the event. Could I say that I was co-dependent with my cigarettes, I came up with a possible solution, but it came under scrutiny when the second speaker stood up. It was again the same story. This person, and it was a woman, was also suffering from malfunctioning relationship. When the third speaker confessed to the exact issue, I understood that I was in trouble. What could I possibly say when my turn came (and I was very obviously the next)? If I had a boyfriend, then I could think of something (now, that I’ve been in several serious relationships, I realise that all of them have been co-dependent to a certain extent. Hey, with some of my exes I am still in contact on Facebook! It is co-dependency, no?), but I was very much single, I didn’t even have a cat or a dog and mentioning the dependent relationship with my cigarettes wouldn’t go down well with the crowd, I could see. I couldn’t even figure out what was exactly the problem of co-dependency when my turn came (apart from the fact that one had to have a partner) and so, I said the first thing which came into my mind.

“Hello, my name is Ekaterina and I am co-dependent on free coffee and biscuits.”

I have to say that a couple of people did laugh, but my line failed to impress the organisers. I should have invented a mythical boyfriend instead. But I simply tried to cheer up the crowd. What the fuck were they talking about? Hello, I am co-dependent? Were they insane or something? Shouldn’t one simply finish the malfunctioning relationship and move on?

As to me, I was asked to leave the premises and needless to say, I never returned.

But coffee and biscuits were nice.
 

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