Monday, October 1, 2012

Grip is not Got.

I must've told myself at least a dozen times this evening to get a grip. But, alas, it would not be got.

Drew, Danica and I met Max for dinner, then went to his NA meeting where he was getting his 18 months fob. Also celebrating some clean time was Carla (not her real name)- who was getting her one year cake.

Girls are so emo.
Every single one of them that shared, cried.
And crying is infectious like yawning, no?
(You just yawned, didn't you. Just reading the work YAWN makes your mouth open W I D E...)

I don't know Carla. Never met her before. But as I heard her story, as told by her friends, I was deeply touched. By the time her mom took the podium and started talking I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. When she finished, I was a mess.

Carla started going to NA meetings fifteen months ago. She was living on her own, had a job and a car and couldn't afford to go into treatment... so for three months she attended the meetings, listened to inspiring stories, sat in the back corner, still used drugs and cried. Then? She decided she was going to do it. Quit using and "do" the program. Get a sponsor. Ask for help. Make friends. Reach out to the other young women who were there. And today? One year later? She is clean.

And when she shared, she emphasized that she could not have lived through this year on her own. She needed friends. A community. A support group.

Every single young woman who shared talked about the value of friendship. The importance of transparency, the need for accountability, and the blessing of companionship.

None of them had it while living in active addiction. And now that girlfriends are part of their life? They have a strength they never had before. Someone cares. Someone enjoys their company. Someone wants to talk. Someone wants to listen. Life is richer. Fuller. Has meaning.

It's a beautiful thing.
No really.
Beautiful. So beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Again.
And again.

Danica leaned over at one point, put her hand on my knee and said, "You crying? Need a kleenex?"

You know, it's probably raging, retarded, out-of-whack hormones that are my problem.
That thing that's supposed to happen every 28 days like clockwork? Didn't happen this month, even though all the symptoms indicate it's appearance is imminent. Like any day now. Or yesterday even.

Plus, I've still got a big sad heart when I think about Kevin's passing. He's the middle son of 5 Heppell kids and we got to know him better every summer at Cultus as his family owned the cabin next to ours. Sleepovers, twilight kick-the-can games, firesides, typical boy-shenanigans ... all good memories.

I know he's in heaven. I get that. He's not in pain. He's a happy camper. It's those that are missing him, especially his wife, that makes me so weepy.

Kevin, in the back with the white t-shirt. Sarah, on the end right, grey sweater.

You know, when I think of Kevin, I think he was a kid who knew, instinctively how to be a friend. He had lots of significant relationships, which is kinda rare among young men. I loved watching him and Max just hang. Not alot of talking, necessarily, but rather keeping each other company. Especially the summer that he broke his leg.

He will be missed.

And while I'm grieving his passing, I'm a little bit looking forward to seeing how God's going to use these circumstances for His great purpose and His divine glory.

And now? At 1 am. My eyeballs are ON FIRE.

Next meeting I go to?
I'm putting my headphones in and I'm going to listen to happy music, not gut-wrenching shares. And I'm going to sit at the dark end of the room NOT UNDER A FLUORESCENT light right near the front. And I'm going to seasonally appropriate clothing like everyone else. Summer is over. Time to dress like it's fall. Even if the sun is shining.

Congrats, Max, on 18 months clean.

Heppell family? Still praying for you all.

May God fill you with peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope ...

Three things I'm thankful for:
1 . Hugs from Max, Drew and Danica tonight.
2. Job interview coming up.
3. At tonight's meeting, there was an older (grey haired) woman who was asked to read the How It Works page at the start of the meeting. She has some mental illness, so her manner was unusual and her speech was slightly impaired. She held up her laminated page (there are about half a dozen pages that get read at the start of every meeting) and read the first few lines. And then? Then. With a voice that gained strength and rhythm, with every line, she put down the page and recited the entire thing BY MEMORY with conviction and volume. IT? Was a beautiful thing. She had everyone in the room (when Max started with this group, eighteen months ago, there were about a dozen guys meeting in a church basement room. Now? At least 100, if not more. Maybe 150) joining in on the countdown and key phrases. It was like an anthem. A rallying cry. You should've been there.

Here's what she memorized:
(Bold words are what the crowd said in unison.)
I know, right. I was awestruck listening to her.
It was amazing.

Before coming to the Fellowship of NA, we could not manage our own lives. We could not live and enjoy life as other people do. We had to have something different and we thought we had found it in drugs. We placed their use ahead of the welfare of our families, our wives, husbands, and our children. We had to have drugs at all costs. We did many people great harm, but most of all we harmed ourselves. Through our inability to accept personal responsibilities we were actually creating our own problems. We seemed to be incapable of facing life on its own terms.  
Most of us realized that in our addiction we were slowly committing suicide, but addiction is such a cunning enemy of life that we had lost the power to do anything about it. Many of us ended up in jail, or sought help through medicine, religion, and psychiatry. None of these methods was sufficient for us. Our disease always resurfaced or continued to progress until, in desperation, we sought help from each other in Narcotics Anonymous.  
After coming to NA we realized we were sick people. We suffered from a disease from which there is no known cure. It can, however, be arrested at some point, and recovery is then possible.  If you want what we have to offer, and are willing to make the effort to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps. These are the principles that made our recovery possible.  
 1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had  become unmanageable. 
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  
 3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God  as we understood Him.  
 4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  
 5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature  of our wrongs.  
 6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  
 7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  
 8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.  
 9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.  
10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.  
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God  as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power  to carry that out.  
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  
This sounds like a big order, and we can’t do it all at once. We didn’t become addicted in one day, so remember—easy does it.  
There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance toward  spiritual principles. Three of these that are indispensable are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. With these we are well on our way.  
We feel that our approach to the disease of addiction is completely realistic, for the therapeutic value of one addict helping another  is without parallel. We feel that our way is practical, for one addict can best understand and help another addict. We believe that the sooner we face our problems within our society, in everyday living, just that much faster do we become acceptable, responsible, and productive members of that society.  
The only way to keep from returning to active addiction is not to take that first drug. If you are like us you know that one is too many  and a thousand never enough. We put great emphasis on this, for we know that when we use drugs in any form, or substitute one for another, we release our addiction all over again.  
Thinking of alcohol as different from other drugs has caused a great many addicts to relapse. Before we came to NA, many of us viewed  alcohol separately, but we cannot afford to be confused about this. Alcohol is a drug. We are people with the disease of addiction who must abstain from all drugs in order to recover. 

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