Deep thoughts. Another way of describing this last leg of my three-legged stool is as follows:
If you do what you always did,
you’ll get what you always got.
When I hit my bottom, after my deep, dark, awful plunge into the oblivion and insanity of alcohol, I hurt. My body was literally bruised and battered, what was left of my shredded pride kept trying to resurface in painful waves, and spiritually, my heart was broken–all connection to God seemed to slowly pour out of it. As I sat on my grandmother’s front porch, smoking and thinking (and thinking and thinking), I sincerely wondered how I had ended up in this lonely place.
Later that day, I would have the first of many spiritual experiences while sober.
I realized that as wretched and wicked as I felt, God loved me. In fact, he had never left me; he had been waiting for me to hurt so much that I had to humble myself and realize that my best thinking, scheming, and manipulating had placed me exactly where I needed to be. In a matter of a few minutes, I became willing to attend a 12-step meeting. In that 12-step meeting, I became willing to admit that I was, indeed, *GULP*, an alcoholic and that I needed help.
I became so willing to change, that I visited the same group the next day and the next. I became willing to take the cotton out of my ears where it had remained plugged for too many years to count, and stuff it in my mouth, which had been running excuse after excuse as to why I needed to drink. I became teachable.
I had hope and optimism for the future. I saw light at the top of the Rabbit Hole I so loved to scurry in when I felt any emotion.
One of my favorite soul healers, Iyanla Vanzant, has said, “Your willingness to look at your darkness is what empowers you to change.”
Here’s a random fact about me: if you ask any of my very closest friends, they will tell you that I hate to look at wounds. I’m a mom of three, and there have been many times when my kids have fallen and hurt themselves. I am notorious for asking others to check the cut and determine the damage because it pains me to see the severity of the wound. I’m a chicken–I know!
For so many years, this fact applied to my own demons and shortcomings. Once I had been sober for a while, I slowly, carefully, cautiously began to pull the bandage off and take a look at the severity and depth of the ugly stuff. My mentors informed me that if I wanted sobriety, not only would I have to take a look, but I’d also have to ADMIT to someone else what I found!! I had become willing to stay sober no matter what, so I did as I was told. Once I began the process, I gained a little bit of courage. And my self-esteem and self-respect grew a teeny bit, as well.
Alcohol reacts like acid on my self-worth. When I would try to quit drinking before I got sober, I could go several days without a drink. My confidence would start to re-emerge. I’d begin to feel like I could drink like a lady after all! Then, somehow, I’d feel great enough to take a drink, and everything would fall to shit again. Any little bit of self-esteem that I had managed to scrape together would disintegrate.
This insane cycle repeated over and over and over because I was unwilling to admit that I was powerless over alcohol. I just couldn’t have one drink. I just couldn’t stay stopped.
The willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober requires a leap of faith into the unknown. In early sobriety (and presently) I have
- gone to a 12-step meeting on a Friday night, week after week after week since Friday nights were triggers for me
- prayed for the willingness to be willing
- called someone when I felt unsure about my thoughts or actions
- told my husband and kids that I couldn’t make dinner because I had to go to a meeting
- admitted that my way wasn’t the best way
- redefined my concept of God
- made amends on the spot for my bad behavior
- changed plans just to make a meeting
- gotten on my knees before God when I felt hopeless
- established and defined boundaries with others
- not attended certain functions and events where alcohol was served
- stayed away from people, places, and things that reminded me of drinking, even people I love dearly (the true ones will stick around, I promise)
- attended therapy and actually worked on things
- cried in front of strangers
- told a trusted confidante my deepest and darkest secrets that I swore I’d take to the grave
- forgiven others and myself
- walked alone and uncertain on unfamiliar streets in Italy just to get to a 12-step meeting
- stopped listening to music I used to love because it led me back into the Rabbit Hole
The list is infinite. It was nonexistent before I got sober.
My Honesty, Openness, and Willingness are pillars of my inner strength and courage, but their very existence and strength requires action on my part. My faith in God and His will for me keep me seeking truth.
I used to think I had it all figured out. Today, I am so grateful that I don’t know everything, and I’m willing to change.