When I went into treatment on Monday, December 18th over thirty-five years ago, I thought my life was over. It was like the very thing that I’d been trying to outrun all of my life, finally came crashing in.
It being during the holidays, it seemed like the worst consequence that could have ever happened. I had been working in a department store in Los Angeles and everything around me was festive and holiday-like. Everything was red and poinsettias. Unfortunately, I couldn’t feel a thing. Emotions were beyond me.
Now I am sitting in a hospital with a totaled car, a pending divorce and virtually no hope for a job. Christmas and New Years are rapidly approaching.
At first I was resistant and fought everything and everybody. I stayed angry and afraid. I racked my brain trying to figure out what they wanted me to do. (Note. Not what I needed to do, but what they wanted me to do. Big difference.) Christmas approached and like everything in my life, I went into denial. (“It’s not a big deal!”) It was a big deal.
During this period I finally came to the conclusion I was where I was supposed to be, and, even though I didn’t believe them, I would try to follow their instructions. But during a particularly contentious group session I threw a fit and ran out of the room. I ran to a window and reared back my fist to break the window. Instead I turned around ran back into the group room and began to shout, “you’re not gonna stop me from not stop drinking.” I fell to my knee and began to cry like a baby. It felt like a fifty pound weight had been taken off my back. For the first time in years, I did not feel pain or shame. It was the spiritual experience like Bill W. spoke about in his personal story in the Big Book. The scales from my eyes fell away. No hurt, no pain, no regrets. Perfect peace.
I remember looking out the surrounding picture windows in the group room that overlooked LA Harbor and the island of Catalina. It was beautiful. I saw and felt for the first time since I was a child.
I didn’t even notice it was New Year’s Eve. Later that night I went into the darkened group room with the picture windows. I watched a spectacular fireworks display over the harbor. I saw and felt the beauty of the moment. I was totally present and at peace in the world. The next day my family visited and I saw them in a new light. I really felt their love.
The time spent in the treatment center changed my world. It was the most wonderful gift I have ever been given. Today I enjoy the holiday season with my wife and children and my friends and family. I know that not one drink or drug will ever give me the peace that my Higher Power bestows on me.
Have a wonderful holiday.