My very first meeting…

I had mentioned, back in September, in a post called Books Matter, that I would post about my first twelve step meeting. I’ve gotten a lot of requests to tell on myself since then!  My behavior is a source of hilarity to me NOW but at the time…

Well, let’s just say I was a little bit nuclear bomb angry,  fearful and lived in a cloud of constant anxiety and heart palpitations. I was not at this meeting of my own free will. As previously mentioned, one of my dearest friends had finally grabbed me by both shoulders and told me, “If you do not go to that meeting tonight I will come get you, duck tape your fanny to the bumper of my car and DRAG you there!” I could tell by the flashing of her brilliant blue eyes that she meant business. She was done with the never-ending nonsense caused by the chaos in my life. Her knee’s were sore from praying for me and it was time for some action.

So for my friend, and mostly because I was scared of loosing my friend. I went.

I walked into the room at church set aside for family members of addicted people. I was petrified and numb but I do remember feeling shock at the number of people who were there. There were at least thirty people sitting around in a huge circle. As I slowly walked closer I realized, I knew at least half of them!

How could this be? I had had no idea they were dealing with the same thing I was. I thought my misery, anxiety and fear had marked me and was following me around like an invisible cloud of dirt. I felt that everyone who came in contact with me could see the dirt cloud, or maybe smell the shame that rolled off of me. How was it that these people were roaming around with no dirt cloud?

I hesitantly sat down, keeping my purse in my lap so I could make a quick get-a-way. My anxiety level was through the roof and I was sure the person sitting next to me was getting nervous listening to my heart pound. The kids were safe in child care, but what was going on at home? Was he there? Was he drunk? Was he angry because I was not there? Was he thrilled I was not there so he could drink in peace? What mess was I going to come home to when this dang meeting was over?

I did not even hear the opening remarks because I was so consumed with what was going on in my mind. And the anger I used to protect myself started welling up– a nice hot balm to cover my unbearable anxiety.

People said interesting things as the talk went around the circle but I only half listened. Everyone here was so calm! No one could possibly know the unbearable anxiety I lived with on a daily basis! No one here was even angry!

The books got passed to me and I looked at them in amazement. For an avid reader who loves books I could not focus on a single word.

Then everyone was looking at me expectantly. It was my turn to “share”. I still had no concept of what I was supposed to “share” or do and between my now boiling rage and the skin crawling anxiety I could not hold it in anymore.

I jumped up in that circle and yelled, “I don’t need to be here! I am not the one drinking away my marriage! I am not the one drinking up all our money! I am not the one the kids don’t even know! I am not the one with a problem! HE IS!”

It was a very bizarre as it was like I was an observer to my own performance. I had never embarrassed myself in public this way! I was at church for Pete’s sake! Sit down and SHUT UP!

I quickly did sit down and waited for the explosion, the laughter, to be asked to please leave.

Nothing happened.

The conversation simply moved on to the next person who shared about how these meetings had helped her deal with the toxic emotions caused by trying to walk on eggshells around the addict in her home.

My rage abated under my acute embarrassment and I actually managed to listen to her even though my skin was still crawling with anxiety. My heart pounding rendered cardio unnecessary for me in those days. But as I listened to her, and then the rest of the people in the circle my heart did seem to pound a little less.

Finally this embarrassing thing was over and I jumped up quickly to leave, but I was stopped by a kind older man. He thanked me for coming and sharing and asked me to come back.

He was joined by several other’s who also asked me to come back and to my surprise I said I would. They were so kind, so sincere, I felt like I had to after my “show”. I would come back next week and behave myself this time! I wanted these nice people to know I was not a psychotic maniac!

I wandered away slowly, wondering what had just happened? Why were these people being so nice to me? Why was there such an air of calm in this room? Why was I feeling calmer?

For some reason I felt no rush to get home to either clean up a mess or try to prevent one. I wanted to enjoy this calm feeling. I wanted to come back.

So I did.

And I kept coming back. It works if you work it!

 

I dedicate this post to everyone “out there” suffering under the weight of another’s addiction. There are rooms full of experience, strength and HOPE available for you too! Contact me, I’ll help you get hooked up! xxoo-Alana

 

Gratitude and grief

 

 

pianoThe season of gratitude is upon us. Tomorrow many will be gathered around tables laden with food and follow a tradition of verbalizing what they are grateful for. I love this tradition. I love hearing what pleases the heart of the speaker. I love hearing the different things that people are thankful for. Some make speeches and some falter and laugh and can only manage that they are grateful for a good meal, or football.

Gratitude reaffirms the heart.  It’s a heart change that acknowledges goodness and places focus where it should be, on good things, abundance and LIFE.

But I have always worried about those who have circumstances that seem impossible to be grateful for. What will they say? How will they manage to “fit in” this season when life has thrown nothing but curve balls all year? What if they are in a season of crushing losses, defeat, health crisis’ or even facing death? What are you grateful for now?

A wise old nurse told me one Thanksgiving, “I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t have new boots. Then I took care of the diabetic who just lost both her feet.” She smiled and offered me some of her homemade cranberry sauce.

Um, ok. Wow. Good visual, but does the fact that there is always someone out there somewhere in worse circumstances make your personal circumstance better? Easier to bear?

It’s all a matter of perspective. I can look down and see the muck at the bottom of my pity pit or I can look up and see the light. No matter what happens or is happening on this sphere, my ultimate destination is heaven. My Redeemer lives and so will I. If I can give thanks for NOTHING else– that is enough!

And rather than hide that light under a bush I can share it with other’s who may not know the Light, or have that Hope of Heaven. If nothing else, I can still provide that to someone in need of comforting.  In this current season of my own life, I am grateful for that.

So let us be a grateful people.

Let us not allow divisive politics, depression, social issues, health crisis’, loneliness,  monetary woe’s, or anything else to mar this season of gratitude. Let’s share our light, our gratitude, and allow Light to overcome darkness in this land and in our lives.

 

That being said, there will be those among us who are grieving. This will be the first holiday season spent with out a loved one who has passed on. This is incredibly difficult. I can tell you from personal experience that Christmas has never been the same for me since loosing my mother. She adored the holidays and Christmas was her time of year to shine. Christmas will always be dimmer without her light shining here on this earth, and the first few were especially hard. So let’s be grateful for everyone in our lives and extend comfort to those who are missing someone special to them. They may have a hard time coming up with something to say at the table while their mind does mental gymnastics around the missing one. We can be grateful that we can extend kindness to them and let them work through it without condemnation.

This weekend I will posting a guest blog from Amy K. Hines related to this subject and I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I do.

And I am grateful you spent the time to read this post and I pray you have a BLESSED Thanksgiving full of joy!

photo used in this post is courtesy of Zan Phillips, Zan Phillips Photography, Jackson Mississippi. Thank you Zan for sharing your amazing work with us!