Tonight I feel drawn to a Twelve-Step meeting — not my home group — that I’ve been to only three or four times before. I’m one of twenty sitting in a loose semi-circle before a long table, where tonight’s leader sits.

Two seats from my right, a young woman begins to share.

“I almost lost my job because of the way I responded to a colleague. Later, my supervisor called my reaction ‘entirely inappropriate’. I’d completely forgotten the incident. It didn’t stand out in my mind. I didn’t even know I’d acted inappropriately.

“My parents are both recovered alcoholics. They’ve been in Recovery for twenty years. I was married to an alcoholic/drug addict. I was a doormat, addicted to keeping him high and happy. The way I acted was not healthy, and I didn’t realize it until my supervisor finally almost fired me for the way I interacted with my colleague.”

After the meeting, I speak to this young woman. She’s probably in her early thirties. Tall. Tawny skin. Blue eyes. She looks like a tennis player. She has a direct way about her. A ready smile. Positive energy. Hey, would she and Joshua get along?

“To get along, to be liked, I morphed into all kinds of characters,” she says. “I did things I didn’t want to do. I hung out at bars even in the afternoon. I went to the track. I didn’t want to go to these places. I was sending out mixed messages. Yes, I’ll go with you but no, I don’t want to be here. I feel miserable here.

Joshua does that, too, turning himself into a human pretzel — pleasing, fixing. Hey, would this young woman and Joshua be a good match? How can I get her phone number? Joshua can call her. Maybe they’ll —

Oh, Jesus, what am I thinking here? Is this my demon Controller coming out again?

Keep the focus on yourself, Ernestina. That’s where it needs to be. Stop interfering with Joshua’s life. He’ll find his own friends.

And by the way, who else went to the track when she didn’t want to, then berated and belittled her husband and son when they lost?

In these Twelve-Step rooms, I meet myself.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.