By Sister M. Keith Marcinak, OSF
She came to believe in a God to whom she had previously given lip service when she was drinking.
I was an alcoholic for the books. I drank, got drunk, and had many blackouts. I was filled with anger, resentment, guilt, self-pity, false pride, and self-recrimination. But I continued to drink. I asked God to “get me out of this mess that I created and then I will lay off the booze.” In my small mind, I was lying to myself. I would not know this until years later when I got sober.
I hit my bottom 45 years ago and went through unsupervised withdrawal because I was not going to treatment for another day. I shook, sweated and saw spots on a wall, and finally acknowledged I was beaten by alcohol. I was then sent to a treatment center in Thunder Bay, Canada. I was the only white woman in a homeless Native Indian treatment center for skid row alcoholics in Canada.
When I got to the treatment, the first person I saw was a wake-up call for me. I looked at the person and it was like looking into a mirror. This was a conversion moment for me. I saw myself in that skid row drunk. I then readily admitted that I was an alcoholic, powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. All I had to do is look at the wreckage of my life. Everything that I had hoped for at that time was not coming to pass. This was all due to my drinking.
I listened to my counselor who was an ex-Marine and had a mouth like an active Marine. He spared me nothing. I still remember his words to me “I do not care what you are, you are nothing but a drunk.” That was a great leveler for my alcoholic ego. I can laugh at those words now but at the time I was scared. Scared into sobriety.
I attended the area AA meetings and I found a place where I was welcomed because of my drinking and my desire to stop drinking. There were no recriminations and there was laughter. Something new for an alcoholic. The rooms were filled with a variety of people, all with a common purpose to stay sober. I saw the 12 Steps on the wall and it hit me that this was a road map to God and spirituality.
Steps 2 and 3 were a spiritual thunderbolt for me. I came to believe in a God that I had previously given lip service to when I was drinking. There was no room in my life for God when I was thinking about drinking. I came to believe that if I was to trust my Higher Power that for today, if I put the 12 Steps into action on a daily basis, I will not drink and will live a better life.
This daily practice has helped me stay sober for over 45 years. It is all because of the grace of God and my response to his grace.
A Web Exclusive from the Alcoholics Anonymous Magazine Grapevine
What an honest expose of your journey, Sr. Keith! I am so humbled and deeply struck by your sincerity and no-holes-barred description of where you have been and where you are now. Thank you! And the journey continues…
Thanks for the honest and vulnerable sharing of an aspect of your life that now helps so many people to understand and deal with on a daily basis. You are a mentor to so many.
Blessings! Mary T.
Dear Sister Keith,
So powerful, so humbling, so open! Thank you so much, Keith. What a trying experience you had. Yet, the Lord never let you down, stayed with you in your darkest moments and you came to see that light with the help of others and yourself determination.
A deep suffering you endured, but finally seeking help you have become this awesome, beautiful person who now shares these times and give hope to others who are struggling. Warmest Congratulations to 47 years of sobriety. May our loving God continue to bless you.
Wow so very honest and open.
Thank you for sharing your story, dear Sister Keith. I am deeply moved by it, and also inspired by it–you are a gift to us all. Sent with my loving thoughts and prayers, Brigid
Mary Keith, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It will certainly be a help to those who are struggling with an addiction. To find God and grace in the midst of such turmoil is miraculous. So glad you stayed upon to hear God’s voice. Congratulations on 47 years of sobriety!