A spiritual journey begun at birth.

I am one of those alcoholics who believes that they were just born without the handbook to life. I was born into spiritual desolation, and it was no one’s fault. I was born into the human condition of spiritual depravity and poverty. I was one of those people who were “poor in spirit” that Jesus was talking about when He addressed the crowd during the sermon on the mount. My temperament was fussy, I cried a lot, could never be soothed, and always seemed to be looking for something else or trying to be someone else. I hadn’t a clue who I was, but I had a vague sense of yearning from a very young age, and a very vague that I might just not be like the others, but I hoped against hope that it wasn’t true. You see, I long for connection. Connection with others and connection with a Higher Power who I choose to call God. I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning, wondering if this time really will be the last time. I know what it feels like to feel like alcohol is the only thing that works, the only thing that made me feel whole. I thought, this is it. But I couldn’t even enjoy it properly because of the guilt I felt about going against my God and the religion I grew up in. The sense of shame I felt was indescribable. I had to choose, and I was forced to choose the only thing that worked: alcohol and drugs. My alcoholism began long before my first drink at the age of fifteen. You see, when I took that first drink, it was at that time that all of my human resources had failed me. Religion had failed me, therapy had failed me, psychiatric medications failed me, friends and family failed me, and the God of my understanding (the only God I knew existed) failed me. Alcohol gave me that sense of connectedness, so much so that I would drink to feel close to others. It was a spiritual experience in and of itself. I did not know this to be an abnormal reaction because that was the only reaction I had ever known. One of the most surprising things that I would later learn is that this does not occur with “normal drinkers.” This was absolute news to me, because I could not imagine it any other way, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not resist the power and lure of alcohol. I sought the effect all the while trying to prevent it from taking place. I wanted the effect without the consequences. The spiritual malady was full blown, the obsession of the mind was tearing me apart, and the physical allergy that I had to alcohol did not even phase me because it was the only reaction that I had ever known. I could not understand how or why I had all of a sudden gone to a relatively moderate drinker with the ability to control herself (or so I thought) to someone who was completely out of control, dropped out of college, on probation at work, spending inordinate amounts of money on alcohol, and driving drunk despite the known consequences. I could no longer have just one or two like I used to… why would I just want one or two? I will never forget that feeling. I will never forget that state of spiritual desperation and misery that I felt for my entire life. It was as if God was inaccessible to me. It was the most terrible kind of loneliness that an individual could ever experience. I remember saying that I wished I had cancer, because at least I could reason my way through the pain. With alcoholism and the manifestations of a spiritual illness, the mind and spirit is the very thing that is broken. I had gone absolutely insane. I thought I was crazy. I had no capacity to care about anyone other than myself. Selfishness and self-centeredness were my best friends, only to ever be remedied successfully by alcohol. What do I do when the only thing that worked was now out to get me? The worst thing was that I did not even see it that way. I still thought it was working. I thought I had this thing licked. I thought I could drink and have my fill and quit. But the sad part is, is that it is never enough. There are not enough drinks in this world to satisfy me. There is not enough of anything in this world to satisfy me. Psychotherapy did not work, medications did not work, counseling did not work, going into the counseling field myself did not work, family therapy did not work, boarding school did not work, psychological testing did not work, cognitive-behavior therapy did not work, dialectical-behavior therapy did not work, treatment did not work, partial hospitalization did not work, will power did not work. I felt as if my life was completely out of control and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt this way long before I took that first drink. I hated being in my own skin. It was torture. Alcohol released me from the bondage of self. It quieted the endless monologue of lies, confusion, despairing thoughts, and psychological torture that occurred in between my ears, but that I could not do anything to turn off or control.

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