Birds chirped, and the damp air gave me a gentle pat. When I opened my eyes, the familiar off-white ceiling greeted me. The scent of my own sweat and the musty dogs wafted from the sheets and comforter that I was cocooned in. I missed fresh white linen in a hotel room, busy airports, and, of course, the paycheck and benefits.
The two dogs were on the opposite corners of the bed, divided by the comforter. I slept in the middle every night, making sure they did not touch each other. They had been fighting a lot. Walking them together had become impossible.
It was a Tuesday, group-counseling day. I slipped out of the dog-hair-tangled sheets and plodded into the bathroom. In the mirror, the slovenly face of a recluse stared at me.
I walked into a room filled with about twenty people. A few familiar faces smiled at me. Many eyes never looked up.
We sat in a circle and introduced ourselves.
“…I thought I was doing okay…but, I miss her…terribly…”
“I’m angry. At my sisters, at my mom…and at dad for leaving us.”
“…It’s been four years, and I’m still having a hard time, just crying…”
Some fidgeted and mumbled. Some seemed to have no reason to be there except they had no other place to go.
“We didn’t see you last week. How are you?” The facilitator looked pleased from across the circle. She had known me for a few years, and I knew she cared. She even followed me with her eyes when the group was dismissed. I, however, hurried out of the room.
I’m fine. I’m fine…
Continue to part two.