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.
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