For the next ten weeks, I’m doing outpatient treatment. Three days a week, three hours a day. This is where that one day at a time saying comes in handy, as a less overwhelming alternative to staring at a calendar and thinking, TEN WEEKS?

I cried the first time I went to an outpatient session, because there was a resentful, childish part of me that felt like I’d paid my dues in rehab. It seemed so unfair that I had to come right back to the same facility and sit in the same plastic chairs and engage in the same excruciating business of talking about my feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings. I just wanted to be done with all of it — the group therapy, the serenity prayers, the awkward feedback models we’re required to use (“So what I hear you saying, Bob …”), the dingy weird-smelling conference rooms.

Now that I’ve been to a few sessions, however, I get why this program is so strongly recommended as a follow-up to inpatient. This fellowship of people who are going through the same things I am, combined with a counselor who knows how to pick and pry, is a pretty powerful thing. The process of sharing is likely never going to be easy for me — every time I’m faced with a tough question I can feel my body going into freakout mode, like WHOOP WHOOP WARNING EMOTIONAL GUARD COMPROMISED PULL UP PULL UP — but at the same time there can be a queasy relief in being put on the spot. Because sometimes the crack that gets chiseled open reveals something I didn’t see before.

Today I described my difficulty reconnecting with friends and family and how crappy I feel as a result, and someone gently asked me, Do you believe you deserve to feel better? My answer was instantaneous, and it surprised me: No. No, I deserve to feel like shit, because I am shit.

I guess my resistance wasn’t really about the uncomfortable chairs. It was about not wanting to spend ten more weeks confronting the uncomfortable truths. Like how the reason I’ve been turning away from everyone who’s held out a hand recently is because I’m not okay with myself right now, so how could anyone else be?

It feels awful to talk about this, I think, time and time again. It feels worse not to, some part of me whispers.


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