Right now, one year ago, I took my last toke of dope. That’s right folks, I’ve gone one whole entire year completely drug and alcohol free. On this day last year I was high and miserable and just couldn’t do it anymore.
My bottom came up and grabbed me rather rapidly. Just weeks before that I had still been well-able to control myself and be a “social” user. I could easily enough pass, safe in the knowledge that I could get high later. It was when I wanted to stop completely that suddenly I couldn’t stop at all. I had to get high. I had not control, no power to say “no.” And God was calling to me. I wanted more than anything in the world to follow. And I couldn’t. I was stuck. Completely paralyzed and enslaved.
I can trace back over years the many, many causes and influences on where I ended up. Perhaps my first husband was one of the worse. He drank heavily but wanted to put all the blame for our problems on my occasionally having a social hit with my friends. My second husband had no emotional tools and it was a dead relationship. So, once my responsibilities were met I’d self-medicate my silent misery. There are, perhaps, hundreds of factors in my evolution from normal, middle-class mother to miserable drug addict.
That was then. This is now. It didn’t take long once I discovered that total powerlessness for me to crash. There I was, last year. I dropped my kid off at his Lego Robot class. And died inside. I could go no longer. I talked to a friend who told me to go to a meeting. He was damn near rude and abusive about talking to me at all. I was inconvenient in his world. I remember the tone, the suggestions I should have my mom or husband haul me to the ER for Xanax. But I knew, oh I knew, I had no where else to turn. This was something well beyond a simple panic attack or blood-sugar crash. My soul was dying.
I went to the library. They had the old edition of the NA book right on the end of a stack. I took it to a seat in the very far corner and read and cried silently. This was me. I was home. I got as far as “give yourself a break” and knew exactly where I had to go. By some miracle I have not used once since. I had already tested powerlessness. I knew unmanageability and insanity were poisoning me. And I knew that God was right there with me. The same silent voice that came for me at the clothesline, in the garden, by the ditch with that insistent, “come, and follow me.”
I suppose to many people hearing God sounds more insane than being unable to summon the self-will to just quit. But I am not many people. The point isn’t whether or not it was real but my response to it. I can’t tell you much about God other than that She is gracious and merciful and grants miracles and respite to human beings right here and right now. I use He/She and Him/Her interchangeably for God as a constant reminder of how huge and transcendent and beyond mere human pronouns God really is. It is evil to try to make God into the image of a jealous and spiteful man. That isn’t the God I know.
No, the God I know has granted me 31,536,000 one-second reprieves from the hell I walked into. That’s a lot of mercy and grace and love.
Addiction is complicated business. There’s physical chemical dependency. There’s emotional and social damage. There’s hundreds, thousands of opinions. There’s science and pseudoscience and stereotypes and propaganda.
I don’t aim to promote either myself or the program I love. And there is no predefined idea or understanding of God. This is only how I understand it, only what works for me, only what has worked for me and I am only one person who is not bigger or better than any other person.
I know this, for me, from my own experience. I went through a brutal physical withdrawal my first few weeks. I was cold through the bone despite it being 100+F. My brain had little flashy things going on in it. I couldn’t eat or sleep or even poop. My family system came crashing down. My social system fell apart. Every emotion was magnified and intensified. Abuse I had been able to tolerate high was no longer tolerable. All the times I had kept silent in the face of injustice bubbled to the surface. At times guilt and self-loathing consumed me.
It hasn’t been an easy year. I’ve had to deal with a lot of shit. But I’ve gotten through all of it one day at a time with a clean mind and clean heart.
It hasn’t been an easy year but following wherever God leads me has been beautiful and surprising and challenging and rewarding. Other than a new glow-in-the-dark key tag I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Today, I am here and now. I am going to finish posting this and do a few chores and take the second half of my exam for Western Religions. Even if I fail it I’ll still easily pass the class. I am going to snuggle with my cats and have a hot-summer-afternoon nap. I am going to spend time with kids and water my flowers on the porch. I am going to fix supper and read bedtime stories. And I am going to go to bed thanking God for one more day clean and free.