The First Nar-Anon Meeting was SCARY
Would I have to tell my entire story
The first Nar-Anon meeting I went to was scary. Not because of the people I might meet there. It was scary for me because this was the first time I would tell people about the addict in my life. It was scary because I would have to say the words out loud and face this truth.
I remember trying to find a meeting to attend. I wanted to go somewhere far enough from my home so no one would recognize me. Luckily for me, there were dozens of meetings spread out over each day of the week. Filled with anxiety, I picked a location and day to go.
I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was what I saw on television or in movies. Images of people sitting in cold, hard, chairs spread out in a circle filled my head. Would I have to tell my entire story at the first meeting to a room full of strangers? Speaking in front of large groups is not something I enjoy. I tried not to think about it because it only made me more nervous.
The meeting was held in a community center building. It was an old, plain, square structure and in serious need of some fresh paint. I was early, so I sat in the car and debated going in. Part of me wanted to go home and forget why I was there in the first place. However, that part of me lost the battle in my mind. I knew I needed to go in.
As I walked up to the double glass doors, I noticed the white sign taped to the glass. It read Nar-Anon, Community Meeting Room. This is real. My hands began to shake as I opened the door. I kept thinking, is this my life now? I proceeded down the hall until I found the community room. There they were, the plastic chairs set up in a semicircle. The trembling in my hands now spread up my arms and all the way down my legs. I felt ill. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. Instead, I took a deep breath and looked around the room. Along the far wall was a long table with a coffee pot. The smell of fresh coffee filled the air which I did not notice when I first walked in. I grabbed a cup and poured some coffee, welcoming the simple distraction.
It would be my turn soon
Other people arrived and began to settle in the chairs. I found a seat for myself and focused on the coffee. I was the only woman in this meeting. As it turns out, I was the only family member of an addict too. The others in the meeting were in recovery themselves. Each one of them shared a story after introducing themselves. For a while I felt like I could breathe as I listened to them. I knew it would be my turn soon.
As each member took their turn speaking, I was fascinated. I forgot about my shaking hands and the nauseous feeling in my stomach. Their stories were heartbreaking and frustrating and sad and happy all at once. I was on the edge of my seat and hung onto every word and every detail.
Then it was my turn. I was nervous yet determined. My body moved in slow motion as I stood up. I said my name and why I was there, telling a room full of strangers my story. I cried. They listened. I suddenly felt a calmness wash over me. I felt safe in this room of unknown faces. It felt good to talk to people who understood. They did not judge me. They offered support with their kind words. When I finished speaking my anxiety vanished. My hands were still. I wondered why I was so nervous in the first place.
My story was not unique
Going to that meeting was scary but I went, in spite of my fear. This one meeting gave me strength. My story was not unique. The chaos I was living in because of my loved one’s addiction was familiar to other people. I was not alone. Meetings became a regular part of my life. I drew courage and knowledge from other people. Being around others who were going through the same thing helped to bring me out of the darkness. It helped me heal. I have been to many support group meetings, but none affected me like that very first one. I will always be grateful to the first group I met in this long journey.
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