“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.
”As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Jung