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“‘You’re only as sick as your secrets,’ they told me in group therapy. They told me this at 12-step recovery tables. My therapists told me a variation of this, though it was more scientific sounding and not as pithy. Carrying secrets, which are really shame and guilt, keeps you from attaining any measure of contentment or comfort.

This lead me to a period of graphic over-sharing. My particular favourite was to share my trauma, much of it caused by men or authority figures, in the smoky meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous full of old men who were uncomfortable with young women being at their meetings. I would smoke and try to make eye contact with the pervy old man who would graze my tits or ass every time he passed me in a crowd as I told the story of being sexually assaulted. He would never meet my gaze. He would never stop trying to touch me. He’s probably dead now.

I desperately did not want to be sick anymore. I wanted to be free of the shame and the guilt and not having the fear of others finding out how terrible I was in these past lives of mine. I could be different. I could do different. I could change everything about my life if just given the opportunity to not be that sick person anymore and to get the resources I needed to be different. Group therapy and 12-step recovery did nothing to change me. The amount of vitriol and hate I faced in therapy made me feel worse and hide more. The platitudes and admonishments to “seek god’s will” in those “Program” rooms offered as the answer to every personal problem made me hate myself even more.

Nothing fails like prayer. Nothing at all.”

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