picture taken from: http://www.alcoholanddrugabuse.com/blog/understanding-social-use-from-substance-abuse-alcoholism-and-addiction/
I will never forget the first Nar-Anon meeting I went to. I was a senior in college, about to graduate. I honestly do not even know how I ended up there that day. But regardless, I went.
In my mind, I thought it would be a place where I could get my 10,000 specific questions answered. Questions like: What do I do in this scenario? How do I fix this situation? How do I control for this element? How do I ensure they are safe? How do I keep them from abusing?
I figured, if I was in a room filled with people fighting the same problems, this would be one hell of a think tank on fighting addiction.
Unsure of the formatting and what exactly the meetings would look like, I entered the room hesitantly, picked up the pamphlet laying on the table at the entry way, and started making mental notes of all the different points I wanted to discuss.
The place was packed. Husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, daughters, and sons…
The group organizer that day told us to open up our pamphlets and read out loud and in unison the Twelve Steps. I begrudgingly rolled my eyes and locked in on what we were to read, believing the Q&A would come shortly thereafter and I could finally get what I had come for.
“We admitted we are powerless over the addict-and that our lives have become unmanageable.”
This is bull ****, I screamed it over and over in my head. I was not here to talk about my life. I was not here to think about my issues. I was here to discuss a problem- solving agenda. And that’s it.
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
No. No one other than myself can be in charge of my sanity. I call the shots.
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
Okay, I thought, I can go halfsies on this one. I believe in God and I know He created me, but I will be taking care of my life and my will.
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
And at this one I was ready to throw up.
I continued reading through the entirety of the 12 steps which felt like it took a life time and a half. In my mind, we were wasting so much time with this. When were we ever going to get to the part I actually came for?
After the group finished going over each step, the organizer made a few statements and announcements and then opened the floor for “sharing.”
Oh good, here it comes, here is my chance.
I honestly cannot remember who or what the first individual shared…but by the third or fourth person, I quickly realized I was in a room of incredibly broken people; people who had come not seeking solutions but rather looking to share their darkness. Looking to face it, hand in hand with this body of people. They were admitting they were powerless, that they had no control.
Quite frankly, they were not my kind of people.
If there’s a problem, you fix it. Plain and simple. The faster you can fix it, the more options you can bring into play and the more creative solutions you can offer…the more valuable you become. In today’s world, this kind of action and thinking is viewed as an asset. In the working world, people look to you, they seek your wisdom, they want to know your contingency plans (because rest assured you probably have 20+ different options for each scenario).
But the problem with all this is one day it will break. One day the root to your creativity will be so harshly broken, you will realize these skill sets are just armor. Armor to protect you from the fall. Armor to mask the painful truth that you are in fact, “powerless.”
It was easy for me to walk into that meeting thinking my story was different, perhaps one of the worst. But then I heard story after story and heart break after heart break and I realized I was not alone at all. People all around me were fighting this battle.
I remember getting in my car afterwards and completely breaking down. I remember spending the rest of the day sobbing, heart broken at the final reality that there was not a “fix this now” button. It just was what it was. I hated every moment of it. I hated the pace and the cadence of the group. I hated what felt like defeat; and giving up. I hated that there were no solutions. No fixes.
It has been almost 6 years since I first attended that meeting. I would like to tell you that I came to my senses and now regularly attend the weekly gatherings…but that wouldn’t be the truth.
The truth is it took about 5 years for me to go to another meeting. And every time since then, I walk away feeling those same emotions I initially did. They have by God’s grace toned down a bit, but the immense frustration that follows is still there.
One of the pains of addiction is it isolates. You think you are the only one fighting it and then you hear someone else going through the same struggle. The “me toos” begin to exponentially increase and before you know it, you start trying to count the families who actually aren’t impacted by this destructive illness.
And the stats don’t lie. Study after study confirms that addiction is one of the most under treated diseases our world currently faces.
I wish I could close with “…and this is how you fix it…”
But I do not have that solution. And neither do you.
So for now, I will close with the Twelve Steps. Regardless of whether or not you have been impacted by addiction, these truths hold so much power. If you are facing this fight, please know you are not alone. Speak up. Reach out.
- We admitted we were powerless over the addict — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.