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Speaking up at Nar Anon This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Carmel, NY
I sat alone amongst strangers and tired faces in a small, windowless room, anxious for the meeting to begin. The florescent lighting beat down upon me, making my skin look sickly and the lemon pastries before me seem unappetizing. I questioned my decision to come and be a part of this weekly discussion, but as I was convincing myself to quietly and discreetly leave, the meeting had already begun.


Everyone listened intently as a blonde, middle-aged woman at the front of the table read out of her binder, reviewing the importance of taking the twelve steps seriously and simply living for today. I attempted to process the meaning of her words, but at the time they remained unclear and senseless. I grew increasingly uncomfortable as she continued to read aloud, but I knew there was no turning back. I figured I could just stay silent, but soon enough we were introducing ourselves, and that notion was long gone.


“Hi, my name is Janet,” was not exceptionally painful, and my muscles became relaxed as sat up in my chair, more willing to contribute to the group dynamic. But then people began sharing their personal stories about their husbands, their sons, their daughters, their brothers. They spoke about the heart wrenching pain they were forced to live through and still continue to struggle with to this day. They spoke about how their entire lives once focused around a single person, and how they are now slowly learning to live for themselves, thanks to the twelve steps. After seeing a grown man repressed by emotion and tears, I became weary of telling my story to a group of people I had not known just an hour before. The deep recesses of my mind tried to piece together a coherent story I could tell the group, while I consciously wrestled with the idea of spilling my guts. In the silence of the meeting, it was now or never. I chose now, and I spoke.


My story came out jumbled and discontinuous, jumping from my current feeling of being second to my parents’ addictions, to forever living in my sister’s shadow, to simply be looked upon as someone who provides a nice tax write off in the spring. But even though my story was not chronologically correct, the floor was mine, and I was free to say all that I wanted without interruption or judgment. I felt empowered by hearing my own words and listening to myself talk about the reality of my life aloud. I realized I was no longer surrounded by strangers, but by friends dealing with the same pressing, yet closeted issue I have battled since my years in middle school. By taking the risk and speaking up at the Nar-Anon family meeting, I discovered a place where I can openly let my feelings out and talk honestly about the current situation of my family.





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