A couple days ago I looked up a support group called Narcotics Anon. I heard the meetings are similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, but geared towards the loved ones of addicts instead of the addicts themselves. I searched for meetings in San Diego and found one that meets Tuesday nights not too far from my apartment.
After I finally made the choice to go, I started shaking. In that moment I felt the weakest I have in weeks. I started crying and breathing shallow and uncomfortable breaths. This strong reaction took me by complete surprise. Shouldn't I feel empowered now that I've made the choice to seek help and support? I didn't. I felt nauseous.
Before I left to get in my car, I grabbed the bear that Blake bought me. I decided I needed to take him with me; I couldn't leave my room and face this meeting unless the bear came too. I felt like I had reverted back to a little girl desperately needing her teddy. I didn't want to completely embarrass myself, so I compromised that I would leave the bear in my purse the whole time and only squeeze his hand from inside if I needed to.
As I walked up to the church, I sent a message to Blake asking him to help me find the strength to get through this. I kissed my twin freckle, checked to make sure the bear was snug and concealed in my purse, put one foot in front of the other, and went inside.
I don't really know what I was expecting to see, but I came upon a table set up with bright colored fliers and two elderly people wearing big name tags. I saw that they were volunteers for a kid's summer sports camp and realized I was in the wrong place. The woman enthusiastically asked me what I needed, but I didn't know what to say. I simply told her I was here for "a meeting" and asked if she knew where it was. Oh... "a meeting." I think she knew what I was referring to.
For the next 10 minutes I was passed off and guided around the church. Maybe it was my imagination, but I felt like after each new person was whispered to about "the meeting" I was looking for, I was immediately looked up and down. My head started to fill with self-doubt. Did they think I was an addict? I wanted to blurt out to each person that the meeting wasn't for me, it was because my boyfriend just died! That would make these judgmental people feel bad! I started to panic from the weight of my insecurity, frustration with how I thought I was being judged, and the let down of realizing the meeting had been cancelled.
I shut off and went into auto-pilot while a lady tried to find the number of someone who could give me more information. As I sat in the chair in her office, I cried unapologetically while inside I allowed my anger to build. SO WHAT if I was actually there because I am an addict? Shouldn't these church people be proud of me? Shouldn't they be praising me for showing up, not making me feel judged for it? I decided that this must be part of the reason why it's so hard for addicts to come to terms with their addiction. Because people treat them like they are lesser because of it. If they can function normally with their drug use and it doesn't seem to have any obvious effects on their lives, why would they want anyone to know? Why would they agree to get help if the help is doled out condescendingly?
This rant in my head was interrupted when the lady apologized and told me there was no number listed. I was about to get up and go when she very sweetly told me how much these meetings helped her when her boyfriend died of an overdose and encouraged me to try to come back next week. I reached in my purse to grab the bear's hand. She went on. It was like she was explaining my exact situation back to me, only with the insight of being years past it, married to someone else, and raising three children.
Am I the judgmental one?
Did I assume just because these people worked at a church that they couldn't possibly be understanding of a person who uses drugs? Did my insecurity of being judged for this actually stem from the fact that I am judgmental of people who use drugs and didn't want to be mistaken for one? Is that why I awkwardly referred to it as "a meeting"?
So I didn't get to go to my first Narcotics Anon meeting last night, but I did have a valuable experience. I believe it's human nature to make assumptions and judge when you don't have all of the facts, and even when you do. We would be lying to ourselves if we boasted that we are free of biases, free of prejudices, free of jumping to hasty conclusions. The point isn't to never make assumptions or judgments, because that is nearly impossible. Instead, I am going to try to keep an open mind, to realize that the assumptions and judgements I've made about a person or thing might not be true. I think this will always be a constant battle against human nature, but one very worth fighting. You never know when someone will surprise you, so you have to make sure to give them the chance to.