Getting real; staying clear

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen

I used to have a PC in my home office that prompted me with a warning before I logged off, “Are you sure you want to shut down?”

I noticed it every night, and I felt the twinge of a warning, but I poured another glass of wine and eventually crawled into my bed, where I thought I was buying time. My husband wanted a divorce, I wasn’t happy practicing law, and I had no regular spiritual discipline. I’m not sure I knew what was going to happen, “in time”, but it didn’t get better. In fact, it got much, much worse. I didn’t know I couldn’t stop drinking, I didn’t want to live without my husband and I began to wonder if I had made some rather horrific mistakes. Worse yet, I felt completely maladjusted to life and I was suffering. I was tormented by an elusive darkness that kept me hostage and hyper vigilant in terror, and I couldn’t name it. Nothing I had done had worked to shift it, and I began to feel hopeless.

I took only two weeks after I arrived in Missouri to start a new job, that I felt my facade begin to crack. Fresh out of a psychiatric unit in Michigan, I was putting up a good front, and the people that I worked with thought that I was sharp, exceptionally intelligent, and very nice. Alone in my temporary motel room, I finally admitted that I was an alcoholic and prayed for help. The next day, I met another alcoholic that worked there, and she gave me a ride to an Emergency room, leaving me alone with the admonition, “You are in God‘s hands now.” I didn’t know anyone in Missouri except the handful of folks who worked with me; didn’t pack a bag, and had no money or idea where I was going.

I had left that morning knowing three things. That I wanted to know God; I was willing to be uncomfortable, and I was not in control of anything. I had felt a surge of exhiliration mixed with terror when we pulled away from the motel I never thought I would return to, and that energy settled into something within me I can describe as a knowing. I was not alone in a mysterious way, and everything that showed up in my life after that dramatic exit, might have the imprint of God on it. I chose to stay present to that feeling, and a new courage enveloped me. It was a gentle courage, because I had stopped defending myself against the intolerable, and something within me was coming alive.

Surrender in the context of alcoholism and addiction feels like a very different animal. What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word surrender? Defeat? Resignation? Failure?

I was leaning into something that was alive, because It felt loving and wise and I wanted to know that something because I imagined that it knew me.

Alone in the Emergency room, a nurse attended me an administerd Ativan. “What city are we in?”

I asked. She was distant because I was technically homeless. I hadn’t yet established residency in Missouri. I kept looking at her and apologizing. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

There were actually four things that I knew that day. I had to stop saying that I was sorry. Especially to strangers. I had to stop feeling ashamed.

Dr. Carl Jung‘s Letter To Bill W., Jan 30, 1961
In reply to Bill W.’s letter dated -Jan 23, 1961

Doctor Carl Jung
July 26, 1875 to June 6, 1961

Dr. Carl Jung's Letter To Bill W., Jan 30, 1961

Read Bill W.’s letter to Dr. Carl Jung?

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cleardot.gifcleardot.gifcorner-bl.gifcleardot.gif‎”As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Jungcorner-br.gifcleardot.gif


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