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First I Came To, Then I Came To Believe

I can remember bits and pieces of that brisk fall night/morning (depending on how you wanna look at it). I pushed myself up after waking up with one of the worst neck cramps. I had passed out on the couch, lets back up just a minute let me rephrase that, it wasn’t “the” couch, it was “a” couch and it wasn’t mine. As I looked around, I saw that it was a couch next to a pile of boxes, a broken cabinet and 2 trash cans. Where was I? I turned around very disoriented and barely could focus on any passerby. I stood up and began to try and gain some sort of bearings to where I was in this urban backdrop. I realized I passed out on someone’s garbage pile. How did I get there? It’s a good thing no one I knew was around. I wandered around from street to street, still seeing double as I staggered about. It came back to me that I was in Queens and had left my brother’s surprise birthday party. I somehow made my way back to the apt of his friend who had hosted the gathering. I burst through the door and stumbled over a few bodies passed out on the floor, everyone was still sleeping so I went to the kitchen to see what was in the refrigerator to eat. After assessing there wasn’t anything of interest to eat, I did see a fresh six pack of Heineken so I decided to crack one open and continue the escape, I mean why not?

            Those nights of blurry, unknown blackouts had been more of a sick routine than not. Waking up in weird places all over the city and not registering the danger I put myself in day-in and day-out was just the norm. The crazy thing is that I always made it home. Sometimes there would be some bumps and bruises along the way but I always lived to tell the tale. I kept telling myself that I would not drink and do “that” again. I did end up drinking again and found new ways, new forms of chaos to engulf myself in. It was clear that this alcoholic would not have the ability to comprehend how to stop this destructive cycle. Unaware that there was a path that was being built before my eyes, I kept moving in my downward spiral to crash and burn at my bottom.

            My eyes fluttered open to see a grid of ceiling tiles. Confused and in a ton of pain I get myself seated up on what appeared to be a hospital bed. I’m wearing one of those glamourous gowns that exposes the backside, thankfully I still had on my shirt and pants underneath. I stood up and saw that my shirt had some blood splatter, and my forearm was bandaged up. I started to feel a bit of anxiety and stood up feeling dizzy and still a little tipsy from whatever happened the night prior. As I looked around, I made the conclusion that I was in a behavior health unit at a local hospital. A nurse informed me that I was brought there by my father and that I was extremely drunk, blacked out again and apparently took a razorblade to my arm. I felt so hopeless and lost. I was void of any direction, until I was brought to the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous.

            I was welcomed into AA with open arms, even when I was resistant in the beginning. I discovered a new feeling, acceptance that I was an alcoholic. I began to reach out for help in regard to a long time struggle I had, a concept of a higher power. What was this idea? What was it to have spirituality? Why was it important to sobriety? These questions I felt I needed answered. While exploring step two and step three I heard allot of things that intellectually made sense conceptually but never really gave me that feeling of comfort that I also kept hearing in peoples shares. I remember hearing that I was not in control, that I was the passenger. I heard the idea of staying out of my own way and to let go and let God.

I really was not into this God business, for many reasons. I had this hardship with the idea of religion and what in my naïve mind it represented. If there was a God then why had he/she/it leave me to struggle so much? At my home group there was a “Came to Believe” meeting in which we read out of the Came to Believe literature. I remember being twenty-two and finding it hard to connect to allot of the fellowship because of my age and still felt for a while that I had more chaos to experience. However, attending this meeting and reading this book opened my eyes a little bit. There is a passage in the book about a young person in AA speaking about the same hardships I was feeling. A phrase jumped out at me and has stuck with me; the question is not why I was left to suffer so much but whether I can tell myself that I have suffered enough. That statement brought me to a new open mindedness when thinking about God and a higher power. I was not convinced about an organized religious ideal of God or even to use that label yet. I was told that I could use the acronym G.O.D (Good Orderly Direction or Group Of Drunks…), I could use a doorknob as my higher power or even my DOG. The common thread was that I was not in control and I learned through this fellowship that it is okay to not know the answers to allot life on life’s terms situations. Overtime I developed mental and emotional tools to handle the “unknown” and what it meant to let things go. Coming to meetings and listening to others I realized that even though I did not believe in a higher power (even cursed at the idea of one) I was being carried all along. I put myself in that garbage pile on the side of the road, I put myself in the psychiatric hospital, I had put myself in jail cells etc... but it was my higher power that looked over me, woke me up, put doctors in front of me, put officers in front of me, put my family in front of me to lead me to open my eyes and ears to the main issue in my life, that was myself and alcohol. It’s okay not to believe in this idea, but a question a fellow alcoholic asked me was “Do YOU believe that I believe?”. For quite a bit that got me coming back to meetings until finally I myself started believing a day at a time.

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