Today’s challenge was a little obscure, to write an autobiography, all though not our own, or anyone’s technically. Its was to write as if this was a real person but then it isn’t, but the audience had to think it was, but then not? confused? Yeah, me too!
16th February 2017
The stage is bare except a circle of chairs and a white board with, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ written across it. The chairs are occupied but the only face we can see clearly is that of Geoffrey Lee.
Ok, we have time for one more person to share tonight. (Geoffrey puts his hand up, the facilitator smiles and nods) Oh lovely, a first-time sharer.
Hi, my name is Geoffrey Lee and I’m an alcoholic.
Hi (smiles, slightly awkwardly) sorry, I’m a bit nervous. I have been sober now 11 months, 2 weeks and 5 days. I don’t know if I want to get to a point where I don’t remember the days and weeks or if that would show a lack of commitment on my part. For now, anyway, I definitely can’t forget. For the longest time, I blamed my addiction, or I should say ‘problems’ because I certainly wouldn’t admit to being an addict, that was for other people, you know? Other people were addicts, that happened to other people, I was just stressed, that’s what I told myself. I had a rough time growing up, I had a stutter until 15, much to the eternal shame of my father, he made me go to speech therapy and it obviously helped but even when I spoke without it, it was like he never forgot I was broken, that he was waiting for me to go back to being the stupid kid who couldn’t talk. I actually heard him describe me as that once when he thought I was sleeping, to one of his friends. My mum died when I was a really young, so he was all I had. I think he somehow blamed me for her being gone or maybe I reminded him too much of her? I don’t know but life wasn’t a fairy tale. I don’t mean to say I had it worse than anyone else, I was lucky compared to a lot of people in the world. A lot of people in this room in fact, as I’ve heard tonight. Anyway, I got out as soon as I could, went to uni to be a surgeon, my mum died of complications in surgery after I was born, so it had always been an obbsession of mine, to help, I didn’t want anyone else having to lose their mums. I made it my mission to be the best surgeon in the country. I studied hard and graduated top of my class. It is stressful though, being a trauma surgeon and the reality soon hit, that no matter how hard you try, sometimes people can’t be saved. It hit me hard, it started with me having a whiskey after work with my friends and colleagues to unwind and decompress at the end of a shift but it quickly turned into two and three and before long I’d be the last man standing every night. But it wasn’t enough, I couldn’t function without a drink, I actually used to tell myself I made a better surgeon with a drink in me. I operated on dozens of people that way. One day I was in the O.R. and about to operate on a young woman who had haemorrhaged during child birth, I had already had about a quarter of whiskey. I was about to cut her open when my colleague stopped me, you see, she had a C-section not a, what we call, ‘natural’ birth. I dislike that term. I was so drunk I didn’t realise that I was going to cut into her bladder, I didn’t see that she had already been opened and I was going to cut in further through the site of the haemorrhage and into her bladder. My colleague noticed and pulled me out and I got fired on the spot with a medical hearing pending. I hit my rock bottom. It was as if I was about to kill my own mother, the reason I came into medicine was to save her and get my father’s approval, I can see that now. I blamed everything on other things, I would drink to cope with other people’s issue and problems that happened to me. But in that moment, I saw so clearly, that I was the issue and the problem, that I couldn’t control other people’s actions but I could control my actions. That was 11 months, 2 weeks and 5 days ago, I’m worried at the moment, the final hearing on my medical negligence case is next week, I could be struck off and while I know I should be, I’m scared what I will be if I’m not a surgeon and I’m worried if I do get struck off, if I will be able to handle it, if my sobriety can survive. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing with us Geoffrey. Thank you for everyone who shared. I’m afraid we have to end here but as always there is coffee in foyer and I encourage you all to talk and help each other. I’ll see you all next week.
The group stands up. A few people go over to Geoffrey and give him a hug, or a supportive hand on the shoulder, they leave.
Are you coming Geoffrey?
Sure, do you mind if I stay in here a minute? I just need to catch my breath.
Of course, take your time (he exits)
Geoffrey sits back down and all emotion slides off his face, he straightens his clothes and looks directly at the audience. He stands with an air of confidence, there is no trace of the man we just saw pouring his heart out. He smiles at us, almost charming. Then the smile vanishes.
Was it convincing? I don’t need to ask, I’m what you would say, ‘humouring you’. My name isn’t Geoffrey but I am a surgeon, at a very well-known hospital, I find it fascinating seeing what is inside people, I could tell you but it’s more fun to have you speculate with your neurotypical fear. I don’t drink, never have. It doesn’t fit in to what I want my life to be. I’m a psychopath, by the way. I like to come to these meetings, it’s interesting. I learn a lot about people. The ones who I can use for sex, the ones I can manipulate to do things for me, that might cause me to be incarcerated or injured. Not that I fear either of those things. I can’t. Fear is for you, not me. I can see on your faces that some of you are feeling it now. I learnt that at these things. They are fascinating to me, I am gaining information, learning all the time. Not to be a better manipulator I don’t need to learn that. But knowledge is power and addicts are so easy. Anyway (he transforms again into the Geoffrey we saw first) I better go mingle, I’d hate them to think I was rude.
Geoffrey collects his things and leaves, just before he exits, he turns around, with full swagger and charm.