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prompt: write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.
i really had no business at a narcotics anonymous meeting.
by this point, “used up” was the only term that could be used to describe me. i was shaky and lost. i thought i’d abandoned my original ideas saving him (god, how trite) and yet, here i was, again.
it’s very hard to keep track of the twists and turns of the particulars. explaining how i got there is a longer, more private endeavor, and not all mine to tell. but i think, if my memory hasn’t fuzzed this one out, i think we were supposed to be separated. i think he called me and told me he needed help and i think by this point i knew there was only so much i could do, that help needed to be something far larger and more empathetic. i still thought it was my job to deliver it.
if you’re not familiar with twelve step program meetings, there are some that are open and some that are closed. this wasn’t the first i’d been to; we always searched for open meetings, meaning that non-addicts could sit in. the only one we could find this time was closed. i walked in anyway, he asked around a little, and a woman said she’d keep me company outside. that wasn’t the goal of the asking around, but it was what came of it.
she was older, somewhere in her fifties. long gray hair and a weathered face and most importantly, one of those glowy souls. you know the kind – the radiant people.
“what are you doing here?” she inquired, not unkindly.
“he called. he said he needed help. i’m the only one…”
“could he not get himself here?”
that, i had no answer for.
for the first time in three years it was ok to talk about how this affected me. for the first time, someone told me flat out that there was nothing i could do, and if i kept trying it would be me, in a meeting room someday. this fight would destroy me, if i let it.
someone finally told me i was worth more. that there was a lot of life left in front of me. i’d mostly forgotten that, at twenty years old.
i don’t have the right words to explain what it is to love an addict – there are years now between me and this, and that distance has dulled it all a little. thank god for that, really. so i can’t tell you how empty and hopeless it is, and how quickly you lose all sense of light. how the fight seems eternal and unscalable. but more than anything, how soon you completely forget that it’s not your fight. people told me, sometimes, but those people loved me and did not love him, and i loved him, so their opinions weren’t to be trusted. the word of a neutral party was far more powerful.
i never saw her again and i doubt she knows that she reset the course of my life a few degrees. which was just enough to change things, eventually.