Laughter, tears, experience, strength, hope, education, support…all in the same room, all free of charge from very genuine people who know what you’re going through. That’s what’s available at your local Nar-Anon meetings.
They’re amazing people. Some of us are at the beginning of a terrifying journey and others are seasoned veterans in loving those active in addiction. Some have family who are on the road to Recovery. Some write their loved ones in prison. Some love those long unaccounted for. All of us struggle. We choose not to struggle alone.
You don’t have to be an addict to hate the Disease of Addiction and your life can be turned upside down though you’ve never taken a single hit. All that’s required is that you care deeply for someone in the throes of addiction or the process of Recovery.
No one in our country is truly immune to the wreckage caused by addiction. We all know someone who is affected directly or indirectly by the Disease. The only variables are how much you’re aware and how much you care.
It seems easy for some folks to pretend that alcoholism and drug addiction don’t touch their families, their neighborhoods, coworkers, or their communities. Some of us don’t have the luxury of denial. We have front row seats to the horror show.
The worst kind of powerless is watching someone you love suffer and being unable to stop it.
Our experiences are diverse and yet unified. We know emptiness and longing. We know anger, outrage and injustice. We’ve struggled with guilt, shame, and the wonder of where did we go wrong? Knowing it’s not our fault doesn’t take away the heartache or bring peace and it doesn’t make anything feel okay.
We want to know they’re safe. We want them to get and stay clean/sober. We want to know that they’re going to do whatever it takes to get better. We learn to live with the unknowns.
Our hopes ride an exhausting roller coaster of highs and lows. We have watched the addictive transformation from Jekyll to Hyde. We see signs of improvement only to watch relapse and regression follow. How many times can a heart break?
We don’t give up. How could we? They’re our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, partners…the list goes on and on. They’re our family and they’ve been taken away from us by a force more powerful than any – a force that is hell bent to destroy them.
Some come back to us. Some only visit. Some come up for air, and some hit bottom. We hope they surface in rehabs, IOPs, therapy, meetings, halfway houses, even jail, or prison. Whatever it takes to make them stop.
We fear the “rule of threes” all too well. Our friends in Recovery advise us that for those who stay in the course of addiction long enough there are ultimately only three places one can end up: Jail, Institution, or Death. It’s unimaginable to go on living while we wait for the phone to ring but we do our best. Sometimes we even have good days. We lean on each other. We learn to live in a world that judges us and those we love. We learn to live with the ignorance of those who somehow choose to see addiction as a moral problem despite overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary.
We learn not to enable. We learn to take care of our side of the street. We learn to be diligent in separating what we have control over and what we do not. We choose to invest our energy in places where we can make a difference. We accept that we cannot go through this journey alone.
We come together to do what we can. Please join us.
*I urge those in the greater Bangor area and beyond to attend the weekly Nar-Anon meetings at St Francis Center on Center Street in Bangor (directly across from St. Joseph’s hospital. They meet Thursday nights at 6:30. I had the honor of meeting those folks recently and they are extraordinary.
For those not in greater Bangor I encourage you to Google “Nar-Anon meetings (your area)”
Authors Note – I am not a member per se of Nar-Anon. When I write about anything that affects society as a whole I say “we.” I am a Recovery Ally and I am a part of all that I have met.