Past Fear E5

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Continuing her session, Dr. Alison says, “It may be a dream or, like the others, it might be recollection of a past event. Have you ever experienced blackouts?”

“Sometimes I wake up with a feeling that I did something wrong. Other times I wake up somewhere without remembering how I got there.”

“Give me an example.”

“When I was younger, I would sometimes wake up in a girl’s apartment and not know who she was. Now, I might remember watching a game on television in the living room but awaken in my backyard or on the floor in the bathroom.”

The therapists mutters, “Parasomnia” while jotting down some notes.

“I was just noting that the broad medical term for disturbing, sleep-related events is parasomnia. They might be recollections of repressed memories prompted by lowered inhibitions or unfulfilled fantasies.”

“How do I stop them?”

“There are medications that help some patients. But they don’t react well with alcohol so I can’t prescribe anything yet. That’s why it is important to begin attending the group that meets on Saturday.”

“So you can’t stop any of this. Why am I paying you? Can I just go to the free meetings?”

“You can. But there may be some things that you prefer to share in private instead of a group. Besides, though related to alcohol, we addressed other issues this week. I’m going to make a suggestion. You don’t need to answer now; just think about it.”

“What’s that?” asks Marcus.

“Your actions affect other members of your family, especially your wife. Consider having her join you for at least some of your sessions here.”

“I was fine until my son began poking around on the internet. Now everything is snowballing out of control.”

“Marcus, don’t fool yourself. Before you came here this week, things were spinning out of control for most of your life. Let’s end this session on a positive note. You are finally beginning to take control. Even if you don’t feel it yet, you are gaining more solid footing.”

Group Session

The next day at the group session, Marcus is surprised to see Dr. Alison heading the class.

During a coffee break, he asks her, “Why didn’t you tell me that you run this session?”

“Would it have made a difference?”

“Probably not,” Marcus replies.

“Good. Sometimes there is another conductor. But I am here as much as possible. Let’s get back to class. You’re up next.”

Dr. Alison brings the group to order before saying, “If we all come here to listen without sharing, what would happen…?” Pausing for a full minute without a show of hands, she continues, “Exactly, silence. No letting go of harmful emotions. No camaraderie. No progress.

“Today we have a new member. Would you care to introduce yourself?”

“My name is Marcus and I’m not an alcoholic. I just like to drink,” he says with a grin.

Everyone says in unison, “Hello, Marcus.”

“Would you care to tell us how long it has been since your last drink, Marcus?”

“Sure. I drank yesterday. And I can’t wait to get home and drink today.”

“We appreciate your candor. Many here began where you are now. The goal is to extend the interval between your last drink. So see if you can avoid alcohol today.”

Spin the Bottle

At home, Pam asks Marcus how things went. She is eager to see some progress from all the debt they are incurring.

“My shrink conducts the alcohol class too.”

“That’s great, right? There’s someone there who’s familiar to you.”

“I guess, maybe. She wants you to come to my private session.”

“Really? Did she say that in front of the whole class?”

“No. She mentioned it on Thursday.”

“Do you want me to sit in with you?”

“I don’t want to do any of this. But I’m going along to keep everything from falling apart. What I really want to do is go off the grid and hide in the wilderness.”

“Okay, I appreciate you ‘going along’ with everything. I’ll sit in with you next week,” Pam replies while holding back her anger from his negative attitude. “Did anything else come up in class today?”

“Yeah, Dr. Alison said I can have two drinks,” replies Marcus deceptively.

“That doesn’t sound right. I thought the class is supposed to help you abstain from alcohol.”

“You weren’t there! Two drinks is progress,” Marcus reasons.

“Well there is no more alcohol in the house. We can’t afford it.”

“I can’t stop cold turkey!”

“You said before that you’re not an alcoholic. So you should be able to do without.”

“Everybody’s a shrink around here. Okay, I can drink a soda. Watch me.”

During the evening, Marcus becomes agitated and chain smokes cigarettes to calm his nerves.

The next morning, he tells Pam, “I need a drink.”

“You did good. Take one day at a time.”

“No, woman, I can’t go through this! I need a drink today. Give me twenty bucks.”

“You can’t drive and I’m not driving you to the market.”

Grabbing Pam’s purse and rummaging through her wallet, Marcus removes some cash and walks out the front door on his way to the liquor store.


Pam calls the therapist. “Hi Dr. Alison, this is Pam. I’m Marcus Alexander’s wife.”

“Hello Pam. Is everything all right?” asks Dr. Alison.

“Marcus is on his way to the liquor store after taking money from my purse.”

“I hesitate to mention this because of your current financial burden. But it seems to me that Marcus would benefit from a detox treatment center.”

“What’s that now?” asks Pam.

“It is an in-patient medical facility with nurses and counselors. He would normally stay there four to six weeks around the clock.”

“It doesn’t sound like something we can afford. I’m already maxing out credit cards.”

“The other option is for you to run a detox program at home. He cannot have access to alcohol. You need to hide all cash or anything with which he can harm himself or others. It may be necessary to lock him in a room.”

“None of that is possible here. At nearly 400 pounds, he can burst his way through any door in the house.”

“We can continue with the group sessions but he appears to have multiple addictions and, though it is early, he has so far been noncompliant. Did he talk to you about joining his private sessions?”

“Yes, I will be there next week. What should I do when he comes back with more alcohol?” Pam asks.

“Don’t bait him into a physical altercation. Offer to help him taper his consumption. How much does he normally drink?”

“He can drink a half pint of whisky and a six-pack of beer over the course of a few hours.”

“That is an enormous amount of liquor. See if you can offer two drinks per day and let him determine when he absolutely needs it. Try to spread them out.”

When the blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.12, vomiting is a common defense against poisoning. After 10 drinks, your BAC will reach 0.2. By this stage, most people blackout and have little or no recollection of what happened.

“Okay, I’ll do that when he comes back home,” says Pam.

“If he hasn’t already been, he should visit a medical doctor to have his liver, blood pressure, and pancreas checked. These are all things monitored during professional detox treatment.”

“I will see what I can do. Marcus is receiving disability checks. I don’t get paid for the days I take off to monitor and drive him around.”

“Let me look into whether government-funded programs are available.”

“Thank you. Oh! He’s coming back. I’ll talk to you later.”

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