Real Bodies: REHAB NOTES

"NO WONDER I became an alcoholic," Tim said. "I was a bloody pub landlord."

There were two obvious mistakes here. The first was that no one becomes an addict. Addiction is like being blue-eyed, not like being an arms dealer. You don't become one. The second mistake, pounced on by the treatment director, was that Tim's sentence is the wrong way round.

"No, Tim," the TD said, "you became a bloody pub landlord because you're an alcoholic."

The truth of this became alarmingly clear as I surveyed the Group. We have a pharmacist who "just happens" to be a drug addict, a care worker who "just happens" to be a compulsive helper and a restaurateur who "just happens" to be an over-eater. We alcoholics love going to pubs because of the "ambience", "log fires", "companionship" - you name it, anything but the alcohol.

Veronica is a psychologist; it came as no surprise that she's a total screw-up. She had an unhealthily close relationship with her father, before marrying a German aristocrat who required her to flog him. When her father remarried, he fell out with his new wife because he insisted on keeping a photograph of Veronica, nude, beside the bed. When Veronica's German husband left her, he married a hooker from a house of correction in Hamburg.

Surprise, surprise, it turns out that Veronica is an extreme relationship addict. And she has peculiar relationships because she's a relationship addict, not the other way round, as she thinks.

So when Veronica requested a trip to London to see her small son, there was much wise shaking of heads as to the real reason behind the trip, but eventually it was allowed.

Predictably, it was a screw-up. She didn't tell her boyfriend she was going because she'd arranged to meet an ex-patient, Steven, who is also a relationship addict.

The two of them were in her bed, in flagrante, when Veronica's boyfriend arrived, suspicious that she hadn't contacted him. There was a scene. The next day, the boyfriend - vindictively, in my view - phoned the treatment director and gave him the gory details. Veronica is now being attacked in Process Group.

"You wanted Steven's penis, didn't you," the TD challenged her. "You wanted Steven's dick."

We all rocked back in our seats as "penis" and "dick" flew around the room. The TD is most fastidious. Hearing him say this was like hearing your mother say "Right on!" - excruciating.

"No wonder it was a screw-up," Veronica evaded. "Why do I always pick these people? Steven's a f--ing relationship addict, anyone can see that."

And anyone, except Veronica the psychologist, can see that's why she picked Steven.

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