THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Shannon G."
Originally posted in May 2009(The author retains all rights to this material)
A MIRACLE HAPPENED
I was 16 years old when I walked into my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I didn’t know what to expect. I remember walking into a big empty room, where people were talking, laughing and setting up chairs. I wondered just who these people were and why they seemed so damn happy. I didn’t know what to say during the introduction part. All I could muster was, “I’m Shannon”. I guess everyone could tell I was new and they replied, “Hi, Shannon, welcome”. It was a large meeting, at least 60 people sitting in a huge circle of a church basement. I left that meeting scared, confused, and embarrassed. I didn’t think I fit in. And in many ways I didn’t yet…
It took me another ten years from that summer night to make it back. Everything was a fight and I thought I knew it all. And even if I didn’t, I sure as hell didn’t care to hear anything from anyone else. The armor that I strategically collected over the years was strong, it did exactly what I needed it to do. It kept the rest of the world out, where no one could hurt me anymore. Or so I thought, because in the end, it didn’t protect me from myself.
I came from one of those broken homes that I would hear people share about in meetings. I never got it, “Why are they bitching”, I thought. So what if you were molested? My story would trump theirs and you don’t hear me telling, “That daddy liked to play house and keep secrets”. Or about the fear that would paralyze me when I had to sleep over my grandparents because I knew that as the sun went down-so would the sheets and my pants at the hands of my grandfather. I thought that people were just using those things as excuses. Excuses for what their life had become. I never felt bad, just uncomfortable mostly when people would mention experiences of molestation, rape, death, and other horrific things they had survived. I never wanted to have excuses made for me. I felt that people were always saying that I was the way I was-because of what happened to me when I was a little girl and I hated that. Makes sense now, but then- it was all just nonsense.
To be honest, most of the years from that first meeting at age 16 until 25 were a blur. I don’t remember much, but being in a pain that I could never explain nor understand. And whenever I was high, that pain seemed to go away, even if only for a short time. I was sad and angry most of the time. The friends that I did have, seemed to go away one by one. I had already been in two rehabs by age 16. Anything that took me out of me I wanted more of, including other people. I didn’t know that I didn’t want to be doing the things that I was doing and that I was really just hurting. Like I said before, looking back it all makes sense-every part of it does.
My disease progressed rather quickly and I found myself in the same pain that I was trying to run from all along. I was lost and scared. By 18, I was working in a go-go bar and using harder drugs. I became seduced by the lifestyle, until everything I did revolved around the drugs. I found that the drugs no longer masked the pain and they no longer covered up all the things that had happened to me or all the things I had done. Somehow I knew that NA was there, I just didn’t think that it was possible for me to change. I thought that I was too far gone.
The wheels turned and the doors swung for a few more years. I would try to get clean, go back to meetings, maybe get all of 30 days-if that, but something would always draw me back. I would see familiar faces. I knew that this program had been working for others but I still I didn’t believe that it could work for me. In the end, at my deepest bottom, I wanted to die. And if only I had the balls to kill myself, I would have. I couldn’t stop using, no matter how hard that I tried. I was tired. Tired of hurting everything in my path and tired of hurting me, but I didn’t know how to stop. I decided to go into yet another treatment facility and attempt getting clean again. Nothing about me even believed myself back then, but something in me changed. A miracle happened when I was there. I came out and immediately went to a meeting. I raised my hand and said that I was just getting out of rehab. Everyone said “Welcome”. And as all the voices echoed across the room and the faces lit up, something in me knew that I would be okay. I was finally in the right place.
I did everything different this time. I followed all the suggestions. I got a coffee commitment, got a sponsor, and got a home group so people could get to me. And I stayed away from any and every part of the life that I had left behind. I started working my first step immediately. I was willing to do whatever I had to in order to not end up back in the hell I resided in. Everything was new, and continues to remain new to me. I am learning how to finally live life and not run from it. It wasn’t easy, I felt like I wanted to use everyday, but I didn’t. My grand sponsor used to say, “Tomorrow, just wait until tomorrow”. And that’s the only thing that kept me clean most days. Thank god, I was able to stay clean because then and only then was I able to begin my journey in recovery. I didn’t become perfect and I definitely still struggle with baggage, but I have people in the rooms to help me carry that weight. I never understood the joy people would speak of about getting a second chance at this thing called life, but just for today, I do. And I am eternally grateful to the fellowship of NA for that.
I was afraid to tell my story. Not sure of what, but afraid still. You may not know me, but chances are that you can identify with parts of my story or its accompanying pain. And if you think that you are too far gone or that this won’t work for you. Please believe me, it can and will work for you too, but only if you allow it to. And you are never too far gone, none of us are. There is always hope, even for the hopeless.