Real bodies: Rehab notes
Sunday 25 April 1999
"Forget about outside issues," the Treatment Director had told her. "Everything important is in here."
Francesca began the case for the defence with, one suspects, uncharacteristic maladroitness. "What, forget about my children! Forget about my family and my job! You can f--- off!"
"You can't do anything about them," the TD reasoned. "You're in here to get better. You're in here for you."
"This whole programme bears no relation to the outside world," she shouted. "It's entirely selfish!"
"Exactly," the TD replied.
Of course, Francesca the lawyer has always been completely unselfish about her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She's shared it with everyone, including her children. She can inject herself in the arm with one hand while driving the kids to school with the other. She can fall down the stairs sloshed and still pick herself up to help her 12-year-old with his maths prep. She can attempt to kill herself with an overdose and afterwards entertain the two most precious people in her life from her hospital bed. Like all of us here, she's been truly unselfish about her behaviour. She hasn't kept it to herself; everyone's had to put up with it.
Lovely, lovely Francesca. In my mind's eye I see her in her sexier than thou lawyer's outfit, tongue-lashing some lout in the dock who's drunkenly smashed up his wife. But she can't see it about herself. She's a professional barrister, she's rich, she's smart - she has station.
Of course, part of the problem lies with misuse of the word "selfish". The "humanitarians" have taught us that it can be used only in its pejorative sense. But "selfish" can be good. If Francesca concentrates exclusively on the task of getting herself better, she won't be such a crap wife and mother. Francesca and I take a turn around the garden after Process Group and it's not too long before we're snogging behind the compost heap. This is absolutely delicious, as the wind is blowing the other way.
"God, I've been wanting to do that ever since I arrived," she says. "Me too," I say politely.
Snogging, I see, is the perfect displacement from all the emotional mountaineering that goes on here. It's anti-treatment. While it may be supremely selfish to snog another man's wife while she's banged up in a treatment centre, it's entirely unselfish to ruin my own recovery by doing so. Be selfish about your recovery, I warn myself, and you won't snog other men's wives in treatment centres - and other benefits.
"Come up to my room after meditation," she whispers huskily.
Next week: What happened in Francesca's bedroom.
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