Where friends are

Where friends are

I remember the first time I heard it.
It is okay to glance back at your past. Just don’t stare.

More than a decade after my son’s recovery, I sometimes look back at the years living with his active addiction, especially when a newcomer attends an Al-Anon meeting.

Although I don’t stare, it is easy to recall the feelings of shame, isolation and fear. Not only was I afraid for my son, but I was afraid someone would find out he was addicted to drugs.

What would that say about me?

It wasn’t until I stepped into a nearby church on a rainy Sunday night – now 12 years ago – that shame and fear began to find their rightful place.

In that dank meeting room a small cadre of men and women greeted me. They talked freely. A son hiding in an upstairs bedroom was abusing pills. A brother had just lost his job, again. His family threatened to leave him. A daughter’s drinking upended the household where her mother sheltered her and her school-aged grandson.

Their stories held threads of my own. Their silence, as they nodded with understanding, soothed my hurt.

In the years since, my husband and I have attended Al-Anon meetings in many cities – even overseas. The stories reverberate, repeated by mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and all those who love someone with an addiction.

When I entered that church more than a decade ago, I was searching for something I didn’t know I was missing.

Today, I realize what I needed were the people, the new friends who “get it” and got me.
No longer did I feel that isolation. Nor shame. Even the fear faded.

And the friendships grew.

It makes me wonder, why wouldn’t others who suffer with a loved one in addiction want such friends in their lives, too?