‘I hated those
fresh-faced shiny smiley singin’ Christians!’
I always sought courage from a bottle: “spirits!” instead of the Holy Spirit. The “spirits” would melt away my shame and self-consciousness and, for a moment, I would be at peace.
My earliest memories were not those portrayed in some early pictures of me - as a happy child. I remembered always feeling sad and empty, trying to win love from everyone. I was painfully aware I was different. I felt imprisoned by my own ideas of myself, victim to an image I never doubted nor held up to the truth. But alcohol was the magic elixir that seemed to free me.
I drank straight through college.
I moved to San Francisco in the late 1960s and found drugs. At first something incredible happened to me while on LSD - I transcended my body and experienced an altered state where only love reigned! I stood overlooking the city and knew heaven! I felt totally happy and free! I was alive!
In the months that followed I tried to recapture that experience to no avail. Now I was doubly depressed. It was as if I was thrown out of heaven and back into hell. I turned to alcohol again for relief, ran with the wrong crowd. I just didn’t care; I wanted out of my own skin. Within weeks I contacted hepatitis and fell into a coma. I was given the last rights. No one of my age, all of twenty-four, ever survived such a severe case. My family rallied around me and many people prayed, including all the kids at my little sister’s school. Not only did I survive but I was released in ten days! The doctors were amazed and claimed it a miracle!
So I cruised on the love for a moment but the old ways pulled me back, to the devastation of my family. I just couldn’t enter their world. The old feeling of worthlessness haunted me. Guilt was stronger than ever, especially since I was also drinking against those good doctor’s orders. They told me I could drop dead should my liver give out.
I futilely tried to escape myself with an adventure so I hitch hiked 3,000 miles through Mexico. While there I became involved with some drug dealers and was thrown in jail, with no idea how long or how I would ever get out. It was easy to find drugs there and of course I had the worst LSD experience ever. My insane life was revealed to me. The prison I was in was no different than the prison of my mind; I was the prisoner and the jailer. I sentenced myself to punishing and painful situations. I was finally released four months later due to a friend who smuggled in some money; another miracle!
When I was back in the states I still had no idea how to live, the best I could do was to drink and hide all those horrendous feelings. My life centered on drugs and alcohol. I had a visit to the liver specialist. My liver was enlarged and I lied about my alcohol consumption. I was told to quit entirely, or I’d be dead soon. Those were the dreaded and devastating words and yet I knew - I knew, I couldn’t and wouldn’t.
Then one day, quite out of the blue, while waking up from a night of blackout drinking, alone, bloated, finished with another boyfriend, I turned the television to one of the Christian channels. This was not like me at all! I hated those fresh-faced shiny smiley singin’ Christians!! But there was some preacher, talkin’ soft (!) about somebody “out there” receiving a healing!! It took my breath away! I was beyond desperate; somehow, and it could only be the pure Grace from God, I let that healing be for me. I never took another drug nor drop of alcohol from that moment on.
The next night I was in an ongoing therapy group with the only requirement that you attend AA meetings. I used all the same energy and habitual determination and went to meetings sometimes twice a day. When we joined hands and I said the Our Father prayer, I experienced the ancient memory of my own innocence so long buried and left behind.
Love flooded my heart. I was so grateful for the Steps because I knew I was on the way to thinking new thoughts and even a relationship with a God I long since hid from. I could somehow repair my past with amends and forgiveness. I could choose life and freedom!
I finally was having that experience I had had on drugs I so longed to have again of love universal but NOW my Source was and always shall be my God!
Diane is also teaches A Course in Miracles