#scintilla13: a closed meeting.

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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.

8 thoughts on “#scintilla13: a closed meeting.

  1. I am glad she helped you reset your course. I have loved addicts before, never as a lover, but as a sister, niece, and cousin and I cannot imagine the pain of being closer than I have been in the past.

  2. “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.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. To love an addict is to know the bottom of one’s soul, the very pavement of our hope.

  3. Peeling back pages and finding more and more about you further emphasises the fact that you are a strong, AMAZING woman and I am beyond proud to know you.

  4. This one gave me so many Feelings, I’m not sure quite how to process them.

    It’s amazing the directions your mind goes in with these prompts. The dual meaning of the word “meeting” and the way chance figures into both is crazy.

    I have nothing useful to say except <3

  5. I would bet that, knowing you and how your face works when you listen well, she could tell that what she said was making a difference.

    You know I have experience with this and it is the most gutwrenching thing in the world to love someone whose life is led by addiction. I’m glad you got out of it the way you did, without having to go to meetings of your own. I am extremely grateful for that serene woman and her care for you that day.

  6. I’m so glad she came into your life exactly when you needed her. And I do know what you mean by the ones with the glowy souls. I think you’re one of them.

  7. “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”

    Oh, this, Dominique.

    And the woman? I have found that addicts that have been clean for a time, are both the most understanding of codependents and the toughest on other addicts. Maybe because they know their selfishness in a way that nonaddicts never will. And I am glad she was there when you needed.

  8. some of the wisest people i ever knew were my mother’s program friends. the ones with 15, 20, 25+ years sober. their perspective was unparalleled. i am so glad someone was there for you in the middle of all of that, even for just that one blessed moment.

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