I am currently 58 years old. For 42 years of my life, I drank and used drugs. My addiction has hurt everyone in my life who has ever cared about me: family, friends, employers, husband, and men who loved me. From the age of 16, my using caused problems. I began an endless cycle of psychiatric wards, jails, treatment centers, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and halfway houses. My life was a hell I couldn’t escape from. I tried many times to kill myself and figured that I was destined to go on until the bitter end. It was not that I didn’t want sobriety – I wanted it more than life itself. I would go to AA and pick up chips even though I was taking drugs. I would go to NA and pick up chips even though I was drinking. There would be brief periods of abstinence, but no lasting sobriety. Every time I attended a speaker meeting, I would fantasize about being able to share my experience, strength, and hope (of which I had none). Every time I went to an AA birthday, I would cry because I would put myself in the birthday person’s place and think about my family being there and being PROUD of me.
When I came to The Healing Place, it was after having been unable to stay sober following surgery. Five weeks before I came into detox, my father had congestive heart failure. My sisters and I kneeled and prayed that he would survive. All I could think was God please let him live long enough to see me sober and know we’ll be able to take care of my mom. Three weeks later, I was in detox. After eight days, I left The Healing Place and went back to the halfway house I was living in at the time. A week later, I was back in detox. Thank God the women who ran the house were alumni of The Healing Place. I still wasn’t going to stay. I was going to leave in my car, go to a shelter, and as soon as I got my disability check I was going to get an apartment. My car was wrecked in detox. I got one check and that was after I had been in the program for more than a month. By that time, I wanted to stay. God did for me what no one in this whole world could do for me.
My God is no longer an external deity looking down from afar; he lives within me and within everyone. I can now look the world in the eye. When I first came to The Healing Place, I was filled with shame, regret, fear, and self-loathing and I walked with my head down. No longer. I hold my head high. The program taught me the Big Book and, through it and the program of action it entails, how to stay sober. I had a Big Book that was four years old from another treatment center and all I had in it was a painting that someone had painted in it. My book is now highlighted, written in, doodled in, and has become an extension of my right arm. The program requires that we get a sponsor and my sponsor is the one person in my life I can trust above all others. Before coming to The Healing Place, I didn’t trust anyone. How could I tell anyone all the things I had done, experienced, and thought. Wouldn’t she hate me? Be disgusted to be around me? My sponsor loves me unconditionally and I love her in the same way. Through her, I have learned to love others in the same way. I now go to AA/NA meetings and enjoy what is going on in the moment. No longer do I fantasize about my birthday or what I am going to say. If this program has taught me anything, it is that if I do what I have been taught and have faith that God has me no matter what, I will stay sober one day at a time. Should I stumble and fall, I know The Healing Place has its hands open to catch me and heal me back to life.
My love and prayers go out to all still suffering from this terrible disease. Please know – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Posted on April 9, 2015
by Marla Highbaugh