I drank for twenty years alcoholically. During the last seven years of that time, I "sped my bottom" by adding prescription drugs, mostly diet pills and Valium, but some street drugs too. I had a Mount Everest of problems. The last year of my drinking, my husband left me, I landed in jail twice on drunk and disorderly charges, and I attempted suicide several times. My final straw came on the Memorial Day Weekend of 1979. As I lay in my bedroom after I had once again tried to kill myself, my twelve year old daughter, Kimmy, held up my wrists and said to me, "Momma, I'm just a kid.
I can't handle this any more. Please help me!" She then fell into my arms sobbing. Her cry was of tears of innocence lost. I said, "I'm going to quit drinking. I know I can.
Please believe me, baby." She said, "I can't, Momma. You've promised so many times before. I just can't believe you. I think we'll have to learn to live with your drinking." My pajamas were wet with her tears.
Three miracles occurred in the next couple of days. After Kimmy went to get dressed I cried out to a God I didn't believe in, that unknown, absent God of anger and vengeance, I thought, "Oh God, even though you aren't, if I could ask I would plead for you to show me a way to quit drinking." Then I got out of bed to get my bottle of vodka and make a drink of mostly vodka and a cube or two of ice. I remembered buying a half gallon the night before. I began my search, no, not in the linen cabinet, not on the tea cart, not behind the towels under the bathroom sink, not in any kitchen cabinet, not behind the lawn mower in the garage, not in the fridge, not in any of the bushes, which I noticed needed trimming, not under my bed or the guest bed, not in the bookshelves, not in the basement behind the furnace, not in the basement shower or bedroom closet, not anywhere.
I stormed into my daughter's room, "Where did you hide the bottle?" She was puzzled and still in after-sobs, "Mom, you know I just got home from spending the night with Cheri, and I came straight to the bedroom. I never throw away the liquor. I know you need it too badly. I always bring you a drink not take one away.
" The first miracle, the alcohol was gone from the house. As I left my daughter's room I began to think about my physical condition. I suddenly became aware that I didn't have a hangover. I actually felt pretty good, not perfect, a little weak and shaky. But I wasn't nauseated, and I didn't have a headache.
Second miracle. I sat down and made a very indecisive decision, if that's possible. Maybe I'd try to quit drinking. But how? Deep inside I knew I couldn't do it by myself.
A thought occurred to me. Several months before my mother had talked with a friend who was in AA. The friend had given her a card.
Mother had given me the card. I had stuck it in my purse planning to get rid of it in the circular file at the first possible opportunity, offended by my mother's thinking I had a drinking problem. I sat down and began to go through my purse, yes, gum wrappers housing chewed gum, enough change to support me for a year, a sock of Kimmy's, a ten year old library card, and, behold and lo, the card of my mother's friend. Then I took a Valium and sat for several more minutes. Finally, I dialed. She answered right away.
I told her I wasn't sure I had a problem with alcohol. She told me her story which had involved quitting and going to AA once and then going back on the booze by ordering cases of Scope from the drugstore. She told me about a meeting in my area. Maybe I would just check it out.
Third miracle. The next Thursday I went to that meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and by the grace of God and the fellowship of AA I have not had a drink since. Now it has been over twenty-three years. Is this the fourth miracle? Or is life with God just an ongoing, continuous miracle even in the face of deep hardship and pain, maybe especially when great overcoming is needed.
Of all the robes God wears I think restoration of friendships and relationships is one of His favorites. Once I started in AA Charles came back. Still we came very close to divorce in my sobriety. I was going to leave if he did not make changes. At that point he told me I'd have to make changes too. I said, "I don't need to make any changes.
I'm not drinking or drugging. That's my amend." Charles informed me he was sick and tired of my dragging up the past every time we had a fight and then blaming him for everything. I finally agreed to try to stop the personal history lesson every time we fought. I do believe God showed me through inventory that I did manipulate through my anger, that I tried to gain more power by always making Charles to blame for everything, that I portrayed myself as a saint who spent everyday tolerating this cruel and vicious human being. Now Charles and I have been married for 37 years.
God has truly blessed our marriage and transformed our hearts and given us His heart of love for each other. We have a lot of fun together, movies, dinners, traveling, biking, swimming and romance, a special blessing from God. My daughter, who now lives in California, is my best friend, and we burn up the telephone wires talking each other's ears off.
I am glad to tell you God has not deserted California despite rumors, fears and recommendations to the contrary. My daughter is a very Godly woman. I have two wonderful grandkids, and we visit them as often as we can. I have a successful business and am starting a new one with a friend. So life is full, and God is good.
I have learned over the years that this does not mean I will not have pain. I always got the message backwards. I would say, "Once I've cleaned up my act, then I'll look into the God thing." It's really the other way around. "First, you go to God, and then you heal.
Diana Burg Getting to Know God, Beginning the Journey is a book of exercises for seeking faith in life. Diana is a writer and author with several books in print. She writes novels and articles. Her passion is writing Christian books. -