What Brought Me to Nar-Anon?
“What brought me to Nar-Anon?,” you ask. I must muddle through my brain’s recesses, wade through the competing and variety of thoughts.
In a “nutshell” (a fitting encapsulation for my “armor”), the answer comes to me: the immeasurable and incomprehensible PAIN!
Yes, more than a year ago, I walked into my first Nar-Anon meeting. It felt like a “coming home moment.” Not the recent “home” of chaos & constant fear. But the “home” of welcoming family & honesty & safety. The home of unspeakable kindnesses & compassion extended toward me. The HOME of understanding eyes & hands & hearts.
And no, the pain has not been removed from my life. Rather, it has been replaced with a newly found – or rediscovered – belief & trust in a Higher Power, myself, & others. Nar-Anon has taught me to choose how I react to life’s circumstances. NOT to expect change from others. TO appreciate EVERY occurrence as a lesson, an opportunity, even a blessing. And, of course, my human frailties and foibles preclude perfection on this path. But perhaps my character defects are something to be “embraced” – at least, acknowledged & recognized as grist for future laughter.
So, enough rambling for the moment: back to Step 1, a call to my sponsor, some service work. And then, to a Nar-Anon meeting where I’ll see sisters & brothers, hug the newcomers, let down my latest facade, get real, and share my innermost hopes and desires.
– Judy –
The first night I attended a Nar-Anon Meeting, I was afraid that I would meet a group of individuals who would immediately realize what a poor parent I was because my son was an addict. Instead, I found a loving, nonjudgmental “family” of people who “spoke my language”. They understood completely the fear and guilt I felt in relationship to my son’s addiction. And they assured me that I did not cause my son’s addiction, I couldn’t cure it and I could not control it. In fact, the understanding and acceptance they extended to me has been instrumental in helping me develop a new-found self esteem. I have become strong enough to take control of the guilt and fear that have consumed me most of my life rather then letting these emotions control me. I have definitely learned a better, happier way to live.
– Barbi –
I want to send out a big “Thank you!” for letting me come to my first Nar-Anon meetings and only cry through the entire hour for weeks. For years, I had tried to be strong and rational in my efforts to try to help my addict to see how he was destroying himself. I was mostly alone in this effort as my other family members had withdrawn from the addict in frustration and anger. When I found you who understood the heartache and shared similar experiences with their addicts, my grief began to pour out. That was the beginning of a year of healing and of learning constructive ways to cope with the addict whom I love. To all of you who have bravely shared your own pain, struggles, and small victories; I whole-heartedly thank you for being open, vulnerable, understanding, and accepting. Those are a lot of adjectives and I find everyone of them in the people that participate in Nar-Anon. Your courage and hard-earned wisdom inspire me. May God give us daily strength and, with time and perseverance, may he answer our prayers for our addicts.
– Maryl –
I have been in addiction all my life. My mother is still an active alcoholic, at the age of 86 years old. There were 5 other siblings besides myself; we all had been subjected to some form of abuse, physical, mental and even sexual abuse by the hands of our mother and stepfather. My life was very dysfunctional and scary for a little girl who was only 5 years old at the time, and yet I was the oldest child. The vicious cycle of addiction and abuse destroyed my childhood, and I grew into a young adult who was very co-dependent and afraid to be alone. My comfort zone was addiction, because I thought that if I helped everyone my world would one day be a happy one. But I was wrong. As the years went by and the relationships faded away, then came sadness, depression, guilt, shame, and anger with hate.
At 54 years old, I was sick and tired of being angry, mad and out of control, so I came to Nar-Anon. That day was a new beginning in my life! I was no longer alone; I had a new family that understood and had felt my pain. Nar-Anon saved my life and I am forever so humble and grateful to the weekly meetings and the warm fellowship. For each and every person who comes through that door, no matter on what night, there is someone to GREET YOU AND GIVE YOU THE BIGGEST HUG saying: “KEEP COMING BACK”!!!!!!!!!
– Karen –
I first came to Nar-Anon after my adult daughter’s swift relapse following her third stint in Rehab in a ten month period. I came to learn how to “fix” her. I am still coming to Nar-Anon more than six years later, and I am still learning how to “fix” me. I have learned to detach with love from my addicted child whether she is in a recovery phase, as she is now, or back in active addiction. I know that the tools I have learned in this program, while they focus on my behavior, have also helped my daughter. I believe that she would never have sought recovery as long as I was enabling her.
– Judie –
First Meeting Uncertainty, Jitters, Terror
I’ve been attending Nar-Anon meetings for 3 years. Thank goodness I took the first step and walked through the door! My son has now used for half of his life – started at 15 or so and he is now 30. Just putting that into words almost destroys me. He started with alcohol and weed and progressed to who knows what else. I knew he was abusing alcohol and marijuana in high school, but could never figure out how to make him stop. We took him to counselors, lived through DUIs, lies, stealing, you name it. How I wish I had attended Nar-Anon meetings then! Would he still be an addict? Yes. But I believe I spent years enabling him to spiral deeper into his addiction. My point in writing is to say, JUST DO IT. Just get yourself to a Nar-Anon meeting. Ask your spouse, your friend, your son, your daughter, your mother, whomever, to come with you, if that’s what you need. I did. My other son witnessed my pain and offered to go with me. What a gift! You too can get some control of your life. Not your addict’s life – your life. A social worker that I was visiting with led me to the New Perspectives group. She said, “you will find a room full of people just like yourself – regular people, wonderful parents, caring spouses, sensitive siblings, all dealing with the pain of addiction, but trying to improve their lives.”
– Pam –
I like what Barbi said about not being judged as a bad parent, or my addicts being judged as losers. Two of my 3 daughters, ages 31 and 24, are opiate addicts, and both are shooters. They are also really awesome people when they are not using.
Our family has always been very close and we have always talked things out and supported each other. It is very hard for me to look at the changes that have crept upon us. I don’t know what was real and what wasn’t and that just sucked the remaining trust out of me.
Funny how I thought I had overcome my childhood only to wake up and realize I have been running on rewind for a long time. I admit that I am a control freak, it stems from the “elephant in the room” that no one talked about in my childhood. Keeping everything in order, getting good grades, making sure my chores were done perfectly, never asking for anything to draw attention to myself, in case my step father was in a bad mood and drinking, which was the daily situation I lived in. I participated in every extracurricular activity I could to stay away from home. So, yes, I learned how to organize, how to plan ahead, how to prepare for disaster at a moments notice, how to disappear into the woodwork.
What I’m saying is, as much as my addicts don’t choose to be addicted, nor did I, the parent, choose to enable. Once disaster struck over and over and I couldn’t get up from the blow, did I realize that my efforts to help, to talk, to sort this thing out, were totally ineffective. While I have not bailed my children out or paid for lawyers and rehabs, (thinking I was not enabling…) I certainly paid dearly with time, energy, emotion, and every “little” expense that adds up to a lot of money. I absolutely financed the purchasing of drugs. Worse than all the money, was the lying, straight to my face, and shooting up in my house, even when I was home. I was broken-hearted that my girls did not respect me and used me like I was a fool.
Nar-Anon helps me to look past all of that, and look way down the narrow hall into a mirror to see myself. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone, myself included, had looked at me in all this mess. I’m not doing self inventory yet, and many days I still struggle with powerlessness, but when I keep coming back I am starting to see that I am responsible for living my life on my terms and I am responsible for the choices I make. If I give that power away to someone else, chances are they are going to run with it.
It is very hard to look at my life in my 50’s and imagine that much of it could have played out differently. At the very least, I might have saved myself sooner. But the 50’s are also the age where if regrets are there, and joy is not, there is no time to waste in turning it around. I am grateful that my blinders have come off. I am grateful to my girls and to my Higher Power for the opportunity to learn who I want to be and how I want to live for the next 20 years.
“So empty of me to be so full of you.”
I was very nervous attending my first meeting of Nar-Anon. I was not sure if I met the qualifications to be there, as my addict had passed away as a result of his addiction. I was welcomed with warmth, affection, and the assurance that I was exactly where I needed to be. I have been attending meetings on a regular basis ever since.
Even though I no longer have an addict in my life, I am still living with the repercussions of having lived with one for so many years. I still experience anger, guilt, and a deep sense of loss over his death. I still feel shame; of not being able to help him, of the anger, bad thoughts and feelings I felt toward him while he was alive, and, at times, of having these same feelings toward him even now that he’s gone. And, I fear the possibly of finding myself in a relationship with another addict in active addiction. I also feel helplessness and fear when thinking about one of my children possibly following in his footsteps.
I now know that coming to terms with my situation and the role I have played in it is a process. I have found a sponsor here at New Perspectives, and have begun my journey by beginning to work The Twelve Steps of Nar-Anon.
Although I have only been attending for a few months, I already feel more at peace than I have in years. Knowing that all my feelings and thoughts are, and were, normal, and being able to speak about them with others who completely understand brings an indescribable sense of relief. I cannot imagine myself without this group of peers that I have found. I feel that I am finally able to express my feelings and thoughts, and the benefit I am receiving from the experience, strength and hope of the other members of the group through their sharing is priceless.
For almost two decades, I offered my adult son, who suffers from the disease of addiction, advice about how he could change his life and be successful. When he would ignore one suggestion, I would come up with another; not surprisingly, he ignored that one as well; my frustration, anger, and resentment grew steadily as each year passed. And, my son continued his active addiction. I finally reached the point that I was at a complete loss as to what I should do next. A friend, who had experience with addiction and recovery, suggested I attend a Nar-Anon meeting that evening.
The one hour Nar-Anon meeting that evening was the start of a life-changing journey for me. I learned that I had not been truly helping my son over all these years; I was being controlling, enabling, and co-dependent. I learned how terribly difficult it is for any person who has a disease of addiction to overcome it. I learned there is a difference between my son and my addict. But most importantly, I found a group of people, many of whom are now friends, which truly understand what I have gone through with my addict. By following the Nar-Anon program, others and I learn how to take care of and protect ourselves from the chaos and insanity that accompanies the disease of addiction. We learn how we can enjoy our lives regardless of the decisions our addicts make. Should any of our addicts start down the road of their recovery, we learn how to better support their efforts.
The utter sense of hopelessness I felt eight short months ago has disappeared. Continuing to use the Nar-Anon program and attending meetings will help me enjoy the rest of my life.
– Anonymous –
My son is a drug addict, and has been one for 20 years. When I finally got tired of friends and relatives judging me for being a bad parent, or people judging my son as “worthless”, I decided I needed a program that would help me get through the next day. That’s when I walked through the doors of my first Nar-Anon meeting. Here, no one judges, criticizes, or ignores my situation. After realizing that I had no control or power over my addict I found a better way to live. I now focus on the things in my life that I can change … mainly myself, my attitude, and my actions. My addict has been clean for 4 years, but I continue to keep coming to Nar-Anon for the strength and wisdom I receive from my fellow members.
– Pam –