I met a young man at work many years ago now who changed my life for the (way!) better by asking me a simple question. At the time, he was a resident at G.R.A.C.E. House, a halfway house for adults with substance abuse dependence, here in Auburn. And he was about six months sober at the time, working as a volunteer at Auburn Public Theater through the G.R.A.C.E. House work program. It was obvious to him and to very few others interestingly enough, that I was in some pretty deep emotional pain. He asked me about what he had determined was causing the pain and then listened carefully – such a gift! – as I did my best to explain what was going on. When I finished, he asked if I had ever been to an Al-Anon meeting. At first I was shocked. A what?! And then I was mad. Why should I have to do that?! And then, after sleeping on it and thinking about it and talking about the idea of attending an Al-Anon meeting with a trusted friend, I did it. I attended my first Al-Anon meeting.
Over the last six years, I have attended meetings regularly and at every single meeting I feel maybe a little like Helen Keller must have felt when Annie O’Sullivan came along and first spelled “water” on Helen’s hand. Ah, language! Now I can finally “see”. One of the great and many blessings of attending meetings is getting to hear the stories of recovery that people share. Because for me, stories have been my greatest teachers.
It was at an Al-Anon meeting, I think, that I first heard the name Chris Herren, a drug and alcohol recovery advocate who travels around the country sharing his story of recovery. And his story is pretty amazing. In an attempt to make a dent in the current heroin epidemic/crisis in Cayuga County (and the world, it seems), Auburn Public Theater is humbled to have the opportunity to bring Chris to Auburn to speak with students during the day and to the general public in the evening. I hope you’ll consider attending the evening event.
I’m not sure how I managed to battle all the resistance my friend’s question raised in me or how I managed to actually drive myself to that first meeting in Syracuse on a dark, cold, rainy Sunday night in October all those years ago. But, after all this time, I do know why. The pain was finally great enough. And I will be forever grateful that I did.