Permission to Heal

by P. Braithwaite

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I went to a Nar-anon meeting? No? Well, That’s probably because it was supposed to be anonymous. 😉

For those who don’t know, Nar-anon is an international support group for anyone who has been impacted by a friend, family member, or loved one battling narcotic addiction.

It’s weird, but until I found myself sitting at a pint-sized table in, what appeared to be, a third grade classroom, I thought al-anon and nar-anon were for folks who had loved ones in recovery. I thought the addict went to NA and the lover/family member went to Nar-anon. And I thought everyone lived happily ever after.

It was a nice thought, but I don’t know why I thought this.

Even as I walked into the meeting that night facing a reality that was NOT the one I just described (the person who inspired my visit wouldn’t even acknowledge the addiction problem), I felt like I was going to hear stories of triumph..I guess I thought everyone would be talking in the past tense.

I quickly realized that these souls were trying to heal while actively dealing with addicts in various stages of addiction. Translation: NO ONE was talking in the past tense.

But for various reasons, these folks could not walk away from their loved ones.

I realized it wasn’t about a happily ever after situation — it was a — how do I find peace and healing today… for this hour…in this lifetime…amongst the chaos…

How do I survive until the next meeting.

So I learned a bit about Nar-anon that day, but more than that, what I really learned (and continue to relearn) was: your own peace and healing CANNOT be contingent on the progress of another.

It just can’t. It doesn’t work. You have to make the choice to heal…even if those around you stay sick.

We fall into these traps — as soon as she does this, I can do/feel this — but those are our excuses because we are not ready to heal. We can spend our whole lives in this place of waiting, but there’s a good chance we’ll be miserable, and there is no guarantee that the person we’re waiting for will wake up. Chances are…we’re both asleep, but dreaming separate dreams.

I’m so grateful for those souls who welcomed me to their meeting, and let me cry with them. I look much younger than I am, and I’m sure they were a bit confused by my presence, but inadvertently they granted me
permission to save and heal myself.

I have so much respect and awe for the bravery it takes to heal. I walked into that meeting focused on “my addict,” and walked out scared, confused, but focused on myself.

Today, I re-remember that healing myself is my priority.

So as we walk toward the end of the world together (Mayan mayday)…let us be good to ourselves…so that we can authentically be good to one another other.

What’s standing in the way of your healing?