Wednesday, July 17, 2013

26 years - A day of Flashbacks and Reminders delivered on Butterfly Wings

July 17, 1987 is branded into my memory.  It was my first day without any alcohol or mood altering chemicals.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  A body whose cells have been saturated in booze, slurped up like a dehydrated camel, every day--- for a few years, rebels.  Mine had become accustomed and needed it just to function and feel normal.  Deprivation, produced massive shakes, dry heaves, chills, paranoia, hallucinations, and a foreboding that if you didn’t pour some more poison into your body, you would clearly hear the gates of Hell slam behind you;  trapped forever in the grips of something much worse than death. Even when my mind begged to stop the madness, my body wouldn’t allow it. Until the morning of July 17, 1987.   The buck and the booze stopped there. 

On that morning,I fearfully awakened from my chemically induced coma, and I discovered my last empty half gallon bottle of 150 proof vodka was bone dry.  A Milli-second of clarity flashed.   The bottles weren’t the only thing empty.  A lifetime of my worst fear, was now a reality... The house was empty.  Everyone had left me. Glancing in the mirror ( I could never really look full on) I saw this reflection of empty eyes - no lights.  Just hollow darkness peering out from an even darker soul.  A card carrying member of the living dead, skin over bones, crazy hair and all. 

The next three days were spent locked in a torture chamber of pain and suffering, shutting off the outside world.  I did allow entry to my compassionate, former husband. May God always bless him.  He brought cigarettes, which I thought might help my tortured body.  He held them to my mouth because I was unable to stop the shakes.  Later, he told me I looked like Linda Blair, in the final stage, before her Exorcism.  Yeah.  In retrospect that was a great correlation.  The demon of addiction had completely taken over my mind, body and soul. 

Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, bringing hope and healing and glory to God.  I was in such a terrible state, I lay in my self imposed tomb until the fourth day.   I will spend my lifetime continuing MY message of hope, gratitude and giving all the glory to God.  That day,  I made myself wash my hair and shower.  I sipped a little orange juice, pushing past the gag reflex.  My body had not seen nutrition in weeks and my bony legs wobbled like a newborn farm animal as I attempted to put one foot in front of another. I had feeble hope, that day,  but a fleeting thought infiltrated my still woozy brain cells.  I had not had a drink of alcohol in four days.  And that, was a miracle.  It was the longest stretch of time in a few years.

Months later when asked, what flipped the switch, I gave it some thought. I honestly did not know, but it was surely miraculous. What had happened?  Why, on July 17th did I not do, what had become so natural for me to do?  Drink.  My ego was so big,  I considered myself a woman of great strength, with massive amounts of discipline and will-power.  Yet this was a force more powerful than anything I could do or say to master or control it. 

Twenty-six years later, I think about those four days of detox and the torture, and it all comes rushing back--- the physical feelings- the emotion, and one small plea I uttered in the midst of the suffering.  I said, “If there is anything out there that can help. If there is a God of compassion,  I CAN’T DO THIS ON MY OWN AND I NEED YOU.  The words were probably just whispered, or maybe they were only in my head.  It didn’t matter.  I had just come to believe..... 

That was the day I came to. 

It wasn’t long before I recognized that coming to wasn’t going to be nearly enough. I knew my self-will had not served me well and it would take more than believing in a power greater.  So, I took an even bigger risk, and turned my will and life over to God, with the caveat... as I understood him.  This step forward has changed my life forever. 

Twenty-Six years later, every morning before rising, I still turn my will and life over to the  God of my understanding.  My God is kind, nurturing, non-judgemental, a bit of my ideal father/mother  figure too... occasionally letting me experiment with those things I think I have to do or must have.  He knows sometimes we learn our biggest lessons when He allows us to just take the training wheels off before we've learned to ride the bike.  When I end up crashing, He gently picks me up, and treats my boo-boos with his unconditional love.  I then ask for his protection and turn my will and life over to his care again. He keeps his hand on the back of my bike, running along with me, until I get all independent and smack His hands away. Repeat.   

Twenty-Six years later and this practice of turning my will and life over to the care of God has freed me of so much worry and leaves space for me to live in serenity, joy... And the kind of gratitude that makes me shimmer like a princess dipped in fairy dust.   He’s got my back.  I don’t ever need to worry.  I am always right where I am supposed to be and I don’t need to ask why, or try to  figure it out.  He is right beside me guiding me forward into a life of growth, enlightenment and the kind of intimate relationship I have been seeking all my life. 

I was reminded of that this morning.  As I rushed out the door to get into my car for an appointment, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  My hands were full so I couldn’t brush it off.  Lighting on my bare shoulder was a brilliant orange, multi-marked butterfly.  Not only did it land, it sat there for what seemed like minutes. I know it was a special anniversary gift, and a reminder, I AM Happy, Joyous and Free.  

All because I came to believe.