A New Life

I wrote a blog last night but it didn’t feel right.  It was one of those fluffy blogs I wrote so I wouldn’t have to deal with what I was really thinking.  Tomorrow is Easter and I am actually looking forward to going to church and celebrating Easter this year.  Last year was the first time in over 20 I have been in church for Easter.  In fact I have only been going to church again for about a year now.

I hated Easter as a child.  Weird huh?   My grandmother had an odd sense of fashion.  She would usually make a new dress for me.  I went to a church where most families were affluent.    All the other kids had new clothes but they were from the cool stores.     I was already a misfit and the odd homemade dress didn’t make things any better.   Grandma didn’t think it was appropriate to celebrate Easter with things like chocolate bunnies, egg hunts, etc.    Thank goodness Carol and Mama Pearl let me help boil eggs and color them.  They would always have jellybeans and marsh mellow things to eat.

Once I was a Mom, things changed.  I made sure my kids dyed eggs, visited the Easter bunny, went to egg hunts, and anything else I could find.   We spent Easter at sunrise services, church and family dinner.    I even played the Easter bunny at the hospital where I worked.

The other issue was that I never really believed that Jesus died for “ME.”  I understood God’s love for all those good church people but I wasn’t convinced He loved me.  I wasn’t even sure He even liked me.      I would take communion and wonder if God was unhappy with me for taking communion without being pure.   So Easter would be a time of even more confusion about my faith.

There came a time when the church I attended abandoned me; or maybe I should say some people from the church abandoned me.    Alcohol and drugs were taking over my life.  When I needed God and the church the most, I felt the farthest away.  Soon everyone and everything in life would be gone.   I left my home in South Carolina and moved to Maryland to try to start over.  But, I was an alcoholic and addict.  A change of scenery couldn’t change that.

In a recent blog, https://cathysvoicenow.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/a-dogs-thoughts-on-recovery I told the story of my last night of drinking and my first meeting with Alcoholics Anonymous.    I want to share the story of my first sober Easter.   I was 7 days sober and alone.  All the women who had been taking me to meetings were going to church and spending the day with family.  I lived with my brother and his roommates.  They were all away for the weekend.  I couldn’t call Jan, my therapist on a Sunday.

I was so very alone. I missed my two children with every beat of my heart.  It had been four months since I moved from South Carolina to Maryland. It had been four months since I saw them or hugged them. I could imagine them going to church, being part of the Easter dinner with their grandparents, and eating the chocolate bunnies they loved so much.  Even now, the pain from that time cuts deep into heart.   I tried to pray but felt God was so very far away.

When we had our Maundy Thursday service last week, we read the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  I started to think about how lonely Jesus must have felt.   One friend betrayed him while another friend denied he even knew him.  Some of the people who had been following Him now abandoned Him, while others turned on him and cheered his death.  At the end, He even asked why God had forsaken Him.   I can only imagine the feelings of isolation and being alone He felt.

That Easter I wondered if I would be able to find my way back to a place where I didn’t feel so very alone.    I told-not asked-God that I needed something to happen or I was done with whole sobriety thing.  Alcohol and drugs are great at numbing emotions. But, now I felt everything—magnified.   I wanted to drink more than I wanted to breathe-but I didn’t.  I can only believe the grace of God was what kept me sober.

I looked across the room and noticed the “Big Book” sitting on the counter.  I walked over, picked it up, and opened it.  I started reading and couldn’t stop.  I came to this passage from page 28, the chapter titled There Is a Solution:

“We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works.   The distinguished American psychologist, William James, in his book “Varieties of Religious Experience,” indicates a multitude of ways in which men have discovered God. We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.”

A short time later, the phone rang.   It was Jan.  She had an idea this would be a difficult day for me.  I suddenly didn’t feel so alone.  The phone rang again.  It was Pat.  She was one of the women from AA and said she was coming to take me to a meeting and out for ice cream.   I wondered if the book was right.   Maybe all I had to do was to be willing and to try.

I was right.  On Wed. this week, I will celebrate twenty-five years of continuous sobriety.   I can tell you that I have not felt that overwhelming sense of being alone again. I have my children, my grandchildren, family and friends.  For the past couple of months, I have seen some interesting things happen in my life.   I have some great new connections and opportunities for writing.  I have an opportunity to share my recovery story with some women who are just starting this journey.   I have two new unexpected friendships.   I am getting physically stronger after some setbacks last year.

Most importantly, my relationship with God continues to grow.  We have a saying in recovery- “We claim spiritual progress not spiritual perfection.”      I can’t explain it; at least not yet.  I just know I am exactly where I need to be.

I wanted to share this quote from one of my favorite authors.  ― Anne Lamott

“You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee. God loves you crazily…….like a slightly overweight auntie, who sees only your marvelousness and need.”

Happy Easter Everyone!!!!

4 responses

  1. Thanks for skipping the fluff and sharing your heart. Good to see you are giving church another chance and how God is answering your prayers!

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  2. I love hearing your story. You always tell it like it is and you do not do the “fluff” as you call it. You stuck by me when I was a crazy hot mess and I couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor. I wish I could be there when you get your chip this week. I will be there with you in spirit. I told some my story to some of the new women on the unit today. I told them to get a sponsor who will kick their butt and won’t take their BS. I knew God would get your ass back in church eventually. OH can I say that on here? LOL

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    1. I guess you can say that on here. LOL Can’t wait to here how the new job is going. Did you ever imagine you would be working on an addictions unit? Love you and you are still a hot mess at time. 🙂

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