I went to a meeting last night for the first time in probably fifteen years.
My grandmother was the beating heart of her meetings for forty years in Durham, NC. My mother is an addict, my sister is an addict, I am an addict. It’s nice to say those things out loud to a room full of addicts. Here in these rooms we admit to being powerless over something beyond our control; we admit to knowing the Dark Place.
So many people don’t know the Dark Place. It’s dark! Scary, intimidating, impenetrable.
For those who know it, one either escapes on their own or dies there. There is one rule of the Dark Place: nobody can escape for you or tell you how you will do it. You either do it on your own, for your own reasons, or you’ll die. That’s it.
I was a blackout drunk. All day, every day, for four years straight, and on and off for a few years prior and after. I lived in Cambodia, and over the course of those years I lost jobs, apartments, friends, and belongings. I don’t remember a lot of this time, but I remember the end. Boueng Kak Lake, the end of all things. The two dollar a night six by four foot room that had a cot alone. Sneaking up to and out of that room so the owners wouldn’t see me and demand rent payment. Finally, lying in that cot for ten straight days and not getting up. I’m still not sure what made me get up, but salvation is a story for another post.
Look how far I’ve come! my spirit says. I’ve moved to Portland, I’m on the Dean’s list at university, I’ve been found by God—yep, you read that right, not the other way round—I’ve got people who love me and whom I love, a job that keeps me fed, clothed, and safe, a best friend who supports me endlessly with his labrador, Gryffindor personality; I love that he’s made of Light and he doesn’t fully know it yet. I’ve got support systems, coping mechanisms, yoga, tai chi, writing classes, Latin for years, career ambitions, a large tax return coming to wipe my very few debts, and a cat that keeps me company in the Dark Place, let alone the deity who never leaves my side. I am good. I am in the Light. So why go to the meeting?
There is a girl I work with in the Dark Place. There’s no need for details, but man. She’s really in it, spiraling down to the Bottom.
Two days ago was my sister’s thirty-second birthday, and I couldn’t share that with her. I couldn’t call her. I couldn’t bring myself to speak to her. She is in a Dark Place I cannot reach, and I am sad. I am helpless, because as previously stated, the Dark Place has one rule: You must get out on your own. Helplessness is my least favorite feeling, and here we go again.
The coworker is in indeterminate shape. I have a hard time deciding how much of my experience I am projecting onto her, so I don’t know how far down the rabbit hole she is. Best guess? A month or two from homelessness, and perhaps a week or two from joblessness. So, not so good. Yesterday, she exclaimed to everyone who was in earshot, “but it’s not my fault.” And there I am again in the six by four room, fifteen hundred dollars in food debt to a “friend,” not a cent to my name, can’t get out of bed. Won’t get out of bed.
Insert minor anxiety attack in my workplace bathroom.
So I went to a meeting, not knowing what I was looking for or going to find. I found a room full of strangers who can never drink a drop of booze again. People who can talk about their problems, people who have accepted who they are and speak their truth out loud to others. People who tell the truth.
How many of us can say that? How many of us can tell the truth about who we are? How many of us can even see the truth of who we are?
I’ve been doing this wrong. I’ve been acting with what I thought was compassion, but I now realize it’s been false. I’ve been trying to “help” the coworker, but I’ve forgotten the One Rule: she must help herself. I can do nothing, and for this I am sad. But I have to be sad on my own, I have to heal on my own, I have to look at myself and my truth and do it alone. As must she.
I am grateful to the coworker for helping me see. I asked God for vision recently, as I didn’t see something that was there in front of me. I cried and got down on my knees and asked for Holy Sight, and She responded. She got my coworker to expose the Darkness in her and remind me that though I am in the Light, I am not healed. I have not finished my work. I have not taken inventory of my wrongdoings nor made amends to those I wronged. I have not forgiven myself for the six by four room. I had not seen the truth of who I am, but I see a little clearer now.
I am not only a Child of Light, a friend, a lover, a daughter and sister, I am an addict. Just because I am clean and better does not change that truth, and I cannot undo my past. My name is Missy, and I am an addict in remission.