I have long been pretty open about my dad’s drug addiction. I don’t hide how he died. But my openness has rarely been about seeking support or advice. And, frankly, as well-meaning as friends and others have been, I have known very few people who could really relate. When I talk about my dad, the things he would do and say when he was especially drug-addled, most people listen as if they’re hearing someone read from a really interesting novel or watching a movie; their reactions, even the subtle facial ones, convey that my reality can only ever been a story to them. I am hyper aware of the judgements they must be making, of my dad, of me, and I can see the wheels churn as they consider what they would do. I have felt resentful and annoyed and frustrated. As a result, my delivery has become more and more matter-of-fact, so that even when I’m opening up, I’m building a wall.
I don’t find myself doing that in my meetings. In that room, I’m surrounded by people who know what it’s like to love someone who has the disease of addiction, be it a parent, child, sibling, lover, spouse, friend, or some other relationship bound by blood or otherwise. They are not shocked and I don’t feel alone. In many ways, these are people I actually would appreciate feedback from, but i have to seek it out myself, either during the break or afterward the meeting’s over; but for that hour and a half, we just listen to each other. And through those shared experiences, I have gained so much insight into, yes, drug addiction, but more than anything, I have come to learn so much about myself, my behavior, and my reactions, and have identified ways in which I need to change. Because that’s really what the program is about — turning the focus away from what the addict in our lives is doing, thinking, and saying, and putting it back on what many of us have neglected — our own personal health, happiness and well-being.— Girl Talk: Why I’m Thankful For My Weekly 12-Step Meeting