If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu
I attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting recently to support a group member. As the members entered the meeting space, I tried to imagine each person’s story and what brought them there.
Sharing that moment reminded me of my story. My mother died when she was only 71. Her addictions found their grip early in her life and held on tight all the way to the end.
I listened with compassion because I knew there was only a thin veneer that kept me from their circle.
A Better Way
One missed paycheck, one failed relationship or one bad decision is what separates us from holding it together to spiraling down to a dark, deep place. And what keeps a person from ripping the veneer and crossing to the other side is personal, I think.
For me, I’ve come dangerously close more than once, but my family has kept me safe. Wanting to be a good husband and father helps me resist the temptation to lower my guard and let the darkness win.
Watching my mother choose her addictions over her children harmed me. Her choices still make me believe that I’m damaged goods. Yet in God’s perfect way, her choices showed me a better way – a way that isn’t always easy, but a way that’s worth keeping the demons at bay and the veneer intact.
So, I live being fully aware of how thin my veneer is and remembering the things I need to do so it doesn’t rip. Things like:
– Asking for help
– Leaning on faith
– Counting my drinks
– Being committed to staying healthy
– Acknowledging my reality, which reminds me that I need to be careful – always
Sometimes the simple path to respecting the thin veneer begins with understanding how fragile the veneer is compared to the forces that try to break through it.
After the NA group members found their seats, candles were lit and the meeting started.
With what sounded like resolve to me, each person would begin with, “I’m John and I’m an addict.”
Understanding who they are and what they needed to do to keep living in the light while respecting the thin veneer was clear: Be strong, be intentional, and be authentic.
Simple and powerful, their resolve felt reassuring.
I left the meeting with a renewed awareness that will help me keep this side of the veneer a little stronger the next time the grip that squeezed my mother reaches for me.
What is A Simple Path?
This post is in A Simple Path, a series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Please be sure to check out my book on Amazon: 20 Simple Paths to an Amazing Life.