On this day, 9 years ago, I was broken and desperate enough to put meaning and words to the thousand forms of fear and unmanageability that I had created in my life. I admitted to my crippled spirit, that to continue the way I had been living was to die, or worse, live isolated, alone and spiritually desolate. I had become a slave to substances. They twisted my perceptions, personality, my thoughts and feelings. Always conceding to the thought of MORE. It was never enough. As I sat in the Chicago Saint Elizabeth Hospital psych ward on June 3rd 2008, amongst forgotten men and women, I can distinctly remember looking down at my bandaged wrists that covered deep vertical gashes and thinking, ‘No more.’ It was my first sober moment in 3 days, and possibly the greatest moment of clarity I will ever have in my lifetime.
I knew after taking my first sip of champagne at 12 years old that something was different about the way I responded to alcohol. I set out to get drunk; I drank alone, got sick, blacked out, and immediately upon waking the next morning wanted to do it all over again. Any opportunity I found to drink after that, I would strive to ‘toe the line’ somewhere between buzzed and numb; overshooting the mark on a regular basis, always resulting in oblivion, with entire memories and experiences missing from my recollection. You can imagine the compromising and dangerous situations this kind of behavior puts a young woman in.
Truthfully, I didn’t care.
I didn’t want to feel…. I had discovered that drinking and drugs numbed the unmanageable feelings I walked around with constantly. Alcohol became a way to temporarily quiet the steady chatter in my mind that told me I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough… relief however, was fleeting.
At 21 years old I was finally brought to my knees in that hospital, after having every intention of leaving this earth, and I was given a second chance. I was gifted a deep desperation and willingness to never go back to the bottom I had scraped myself off of. For any addict or alcoholic…this is such an incredibly painful, but VALUABLE place to be. I knew in my heart of hearts that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol – and hitting bottom, almost dying, losing everything, was what pushed me to the understanding that I couldn’t live like that anymore.
Fast forward to today… Grace is abundant.
Sobriety has provided many gifts that stretch far beyond the material; Repaired relationships, the courage to pursue my dreams, a beautiful 2-year-old little boy that has never seen either parent drunk, a marriage founded upon spiritual principles. But most importantly, the inner war that I waged upon myself for years has settled and I have finally found peace.
If you are struggling, or have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, there is so much hope to be found. There is a better way of life that is just on the other side of fear and ego - there is a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Grace is within reach. It is available to each and every one of us, we need only believe it and seek. We deserve to live freely, unbound by the chains and confines of addiction; Beyond them, the possibilities are limitless.