A good friend of mine, one of my best friends, reminded me of something last night. Thanks Dennis.
In a handful of very short years I left a swath of wreckage in my wake that was enough to make my parents cut me off entirely. This is saying something too. My mom, before she became a nurse in the 60’s, was just one month away from taking vows – as a nun. I am not kidding. I pissed off a nun enough to turn her back.
Now that we’ve established that my past contains some monumentally stupid decisions, please allow me to bring this back…
December 1, 1992 1:30 am. Dawn Farm In-patient Treatment Center – top bunk of my sleeping quarters:
I hadn’t slept well in days. No more than a few hours a night. The shaking that had set in shortly after the alcohol worked its way out of my system two weeks ago was unbearable. Looking back 20 years later, imagine that you’re shivering like you’re freezing but you can’t stop sweating – that’s what DT’s (Delirium Tremens) are like. Now we’re not talking about sitting out by a campfire in the early fall type of “freezing”. We’re talking about laying out in the snow for the last hour or two, 15 degrees below freezing, 30 mile an hour winds, naked – that’s freezing. The shaking was so bad that I had to resort to drinking a Coke in a glass, through a straw. The hamster wheel in my head was going a mile a minute…
“What if I’m dying, what if this is the end, God am I really that bad? Fuck! What can I do, will it be this bad when I leave and go back to drinking (yeah, even in the midst of this I still planned on drinking again once I’d gotten my ass out of the frying pan)”.
Over, and over and over again these thoughts would circulate. My heart was pounding… I couldn’t stop them.
“Is this what it’s like when the DT’s kill you? I can’t keep living like this. I don’t want to die”…
“God, please… I know I’ve been a loser and I’ve pretty much wasted a great life, but I’ll make you a deal: I’ll give sobriety a chance, not a bullshit half-hearted attempt, I’ll give it the best that I’ve got, if you’ll just help me. Please”!
I was in tears at this point, exhausted, beat up. Spent… And that’s when my miracle happened. The hamster wheel screeched to a halt and I drifted off to sleep. The next four and a half hours of sleep were the best I had in years. When I woke up in the morning, when I sat up in bed, a smile crept across my face. I knew God said, “Okay”. I could feel it down to my baby toes – and I was going to live up to my end of the bargain.
I didn’t know how big a deal this was back then, how much that restless night would change me forever. It wasn’t until I was standing at a podium in front of a group of friends about to give my first “Open Talk” rubbing my “1 Year” coin with my thumb that I began to look back on that night as the night everything changed. That was the night. On the top bunk in a room in Dawn Farm, shivering and sweating like I’d run a Death Valley marathon from the DT’s, was the night that I was saved.
My name is Jim, and I am an alcoholic. 20 years and 355 days ago I made a promise to God that I’d give sobriety my best shot if He’d just help me… After all of the shit that I’d pulled; after all of the lying, cheating, stealing, manipulation and deception – enough to turn the back of my own once “almost nun” mother… God still saved me. Sure I did the work. I worked the Steps, I cleaned up the past and made my amends, but God carved the new path. I just went for a walk.
You may believe in a Fire and Brimstone kind of God, and that’s perfectly okay with me, but where I run we’re allowed our own conception of God…and from where I’m sitting, He’s just like my dad, only the love is perfect.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see…
From where I’m standing, those are the sweetest words ever written, said or sung. They’re my life in a nutshell.
Have an awesome day.