When the newcomer stepped out of the car and approached the door, she hesitated. She really didn’t want to go in, but she had promised the counselor that she would. This was her fifth time in this room, the first four times were required, this time her presence was voluntary. The room smelled of fresh brewed coffee, probably the only thing that was comfortable to her, and there next to the coffee pot was the over-animated woman whose personality didn’t seem to fit her body. Good, they were the only two there so far. As the newcomer poured herself a cup of coffee, the animated one began her song and dance. “Good to see you back. This really works if you work it.” Blah! Blah! Blah! All these repeated phrases were accompanied by the big bear hug.
Eventually others began to file in and get their coffee, and hugging and chattering commenced. The newcomer still felt so out-of-place because she knew no one and really didn’t want to. I can’t do this. I know I promised the counselor that I would try this again, but I cannot take one more night of the Stepford Wives, their superficial smiles, plastic antics, and ritual chants. You see, when a newcomer joins the group, it is customary to try to make them feel welcome. Sitting in a room of 30 or so people all saying things like, “You are welcome, wanted, and needed,” or “Keep coming back,” or “I am so glad you are here,” all sounds so artificial. To the newcomer, it is very foreign and even to some degree, sickening. How dare someone tell me they love me when they don’t even know me!
The newcomer is told that they are in a safe place and are invited to share very personal things, such as fears and failures, with the group, who are all strangers. They assure the newcomer that what is said in the room, stays in the room. She is also told, “if you want what we have, do what we do.” Are you kidding? I could never do this!
Promise or no promise, the newcomer had decided it was time to leave and go to the dungeon instead where she could get the fix that, in spite of the fact it turns her into a prisoner, was familiar and normal. As she reached for the table to set down her coffee before leaving, she heard, “Hi Cindy! I am so glad to see you again. I have been hoping I would.” There stood one of the strangers, but this one knew her name. This one asked the newcomer to sit by her. This one stood and chatted with her on the break. And this one said, “See you tomorrow night,” as if they were old friends.
Why was she so happy to see me? Why did she choose to sit with me and talk with me instead of all the others she actually knows? Why does she want to know more about me? Hmm… Strange. I guess I will have to return tomorrow and see what her angle is. The stranger’s name was Amy and the newcomer was me. Because Amy greeted me by my name, I stuck around that night. And I did come back the next night, and the next, and I continue to go back as often as I can. The result is, I no longer use drugs and have been going back and staying clean for almost seven years now. The subculture in which I am a long-standing and lifetime member is Narcotics Anonymous.