Hope Is What I Needed


This is a piece I wrote about Step 2 for my old treatment center, Renascent.  It came out today in their weekly e-newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

I lie in bed, staring at the imaginary blue worms on the walls and listening to what sounds like a ball game on a distant television.  Three sleepless nights pass.  The addicts beside me sleep endlessly.  I am envious. On the fourth day I have, for me, what is a foreign feeling slide over me, an almost overwhelming sense that something is different.  It’s not regret, nor remorse nor guilt.  It’s defeat – utter and complete defeat.  I close my eyes and pray.

It is in looking back now that I realize something about that stay in detox – that my best thinking, my absolute best intentions and my self-will had placed me in an abysmal state of body, mind and spirit.  I was truly broken and battle-scarred.  I could not do it anymore.  But that important realization was offset with the dreaded thought, “How do I stop and stay stopped?”

For the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t have an answer.  Which is strange, because until then, alcohol had done for me what I couldn’t do for myself.  When I drank, I was Clint Eastwood, James Bond and Albert Einstein rolled up into one.  I had the answers to questions no one was asking and I was King of the Hill.  A sad, angry, lonely hill, but nonetheless it was my hill.  But soon King Alcohol would dethrone me and leave me a servant to the Master.  I drank when I didn’t want to drink.  I drank when it rained. I drank when it was sunny.  I drank because that is what Idid.

At Renascent, I was told that there was a common solution to the common problem I shared in, and that plugging into a Higher Power would alleviate me of the obsession to drink.  But I couldn’t connect the dots between my out-of-control vodka-swilling career and this airy-fairy thing that would magically take me to a place where I didn’t have to drink.

To understand and concede to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic was one thing, but to trust in something else other than me?  And that I was insane?  That was something else.  But it was clear that I needed something, anything that would stop the pain, the self-flagellation, the suicide-by-installment-plan that I had going in what was once my only solution.  I needed a new solution.

Being willing to believe in a Higher Power, a power greater than me, was key to a new way of life.  I didn’t even have to believe, just be willing to see that there was something outside of myself that I could tap into.  And it didn’t have to be the G-O-D that I had preconceived notions about from Catholic school.  I could even redefine those notions to what worked for me.   That is what turned things around for me.   For I could place the values of love, honesty, forgiveness, charity, and everything else that I wanted and needed and were in me but lost, into a Higher Power that I could rely on and plug into.

I realized that during all those years of clutching the bottle, I was asleep to a power that would fill the void in my soul.  I was asleep to the one thing that would guide and direct me to a life beyond my imagination.  Knowing this left an indelible mark on me, as firm and profound as the marks left by hospital bands or handcuffs.  All I had to do was look inward and just know that I was more than my thoughts and my desires, more than my selfishness and worldly wants.  There was something else.     

But what was this thing about insanity?  I wasn’t in a rubber room.  I was an educated, well-travelled man!  But looking back, my actions and thoughts were anything but sound or sane.  Hiding booze, drinking and driving, hospital stays, getting arrested … these aren’t the hallmarks of a sane life.  But no matter what, I would still pick up and think “this time it will be different.”  That was the true insanity.  I could not drink like a normal person. And that is what I had to understand to get this part of Step 2.

For me, Step 2 boils down to one word – hope.  Coming from a hopeless state, hope was what I needed.   Being willing to believe in a power greater than myself was the bridge between the problem and the solution for me.  To come from a place where emptiness reigned to a place where a loving God would envelop me, would care for me, would guide and direct my thinking … I never thought it possible when I prayed that day in that detox bed, waiting for the madness and the blue worms to disappear.

Link is here: http://www.renascent.ca/2013/01/alumni-perspective-hope-was-what-i-needed/

6 responses to “Hope Is What I Needed

  1. Thanks Sherry – I still can’t believe the depth and ugliness of the DT’s I had when in detox. I never ever want to go through those four days of hell ever again. Yikes, indeed. Have a wonderful day. 🙂

  2. Yes, the things that we do when we are drinking and then somehow rationalising them all… it’s insanity! It’s also crazy that we simply do not, cannot see that. Not until we are ready.

    • Hi Michelle – thanks for your comment! Yes, it’s quite amazing how the justification machine ramps up to overdrive when we are in the midst of our alcoholism. You are right, we are blind to what is clear to pretty much everyone else but us. But until we are ready…very true. And sadly, some never get a chance to get there.
      So glad you’re here 🙂

  3. Of course I love the word hope! I remember a huge relief that I didn’t have to try and do it by myself anymore when I did step 2 and 3. I was so tired of trying on my own strength and feeling like it was all up to me. But it sure took a lot for me to get to that place of being willing to consider that I needed help from Something greater than me and ask for it.

    • Hey Hope – thanks for sharing your thoughts! Doing it on our own – that’s what got us into trouble in the first place. My best thinking got me to detox and treatment. Being willing to give it up to our Higher Power puts us in a position to hand the keys of our life over to our New Employer, and to get out of the way when it comes to our lives! Trying to control everything and everyone…well, didn’t work for me, that’s for sure. Glad you’re here and thanks for the comment 🙂

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