Without guidance, I started seeking spiritual enlightenment at a very early age. As a first grader, each Sunday, I made my dad drop me off at the neighborhood church. There was no talk of religion in my house, so I don’t know where the desire to go to church came from. The only thing I can guess is I had friends who told me there were donuts there. Donuts are very spiritual to a six-year old. I loved everything about church. We sang and we ate the donuts (that’s probably where my sugar addiction started!) I liked the community, and I really liked vacation bible school because we ate “biblical food” like cheese and figs. It always comes back to food for me. I also liked making ashtrays for my dad.
Over the years, my spirituality grew stronger. After my parents divorced, I moved to another state and my trauma, drinking and self-medicating began. I was eleven during my first year in the new school. After months of being bullied and missing my family, I developed an eating disorder. It was my first foray into using control to self-medicate. I had no control over any aspect of my life, but I could choose to eat, or not.
By high school, I was going to church less and experimenting with drugs and alcohol more. When I got clean the first time I was 21 and so broken that I felt willing to do anything not to die. While I still believed strongly in a God, I didn’t turn my will over to him/it/her. For four years, I stayed clean and sober, but I was really just dry. I liked the community and social aspect of recovery because it reminded me of those early years of church, but I wasn’t emotionally or mentally stable enough to really grasp the steps or the change necessary. So I went back out for some more. At some point during those twelve years out of the program I gave up on God and declared myself an atheist. That self will run riot got me drunk and beat down until I couldn’t take it anymore, and I humbly walked into a meeting and picked up a white chip.
I went to meetings but resented every one where God or Higher Power was mentioned. Eventually I realized I wasn’t going to stay sober white knuckling it, and I only had to be willing. I knew I had to “get quiet,” so I started meditating daily.
It didn’t take long once I quieted down to start seeing a concept of God. It came to me during meditation. My first concept of my own higher power was listening to my gut, the voice inside of me that steered me in the right direction. Except, I knew that for this to work I had to get out of myself and find a power greater than me. In my next meditation session the idea of working for the Greater Good came to me. I liked that idea and could really get on board because it didn’t force me to commit to an idea of a Santa Claus I wasn’t ready to buy into but it held me accountable to not living out of my ego. That worked really well for a while. What happened next was a big surprise to me. I started really softening to the idea of a God. I determined what my God would be.
One night I saw a woman speak and when she started talking about seeing herself through God’s eyes and how much love and compassion he had for her I lost it. I realized at that moment that I’d never lost God; I just pushed him away because I had so much anger and resentment about my life. But what if everything that happened to me could empower me instead of beat me down? What if I allowed God to work through me so I could share my story to help others? I cried for hours that night. I felt this peace wash over me. What a relief to feel God’s presence again, to know I didn’t have to do this alone anymore.
It is still a little strange for me to use the word God. When I say it out loud, there are times I feel like I’m in an altered reality. Sometimes when I pray I’m completely clueless as to what I’m praying to but I do it anyway because I know my life is better when I do. I’ve gone through some pretty tough stuff in my eight months sober. I’m about to have my second surgery in six months. I’ve had chronic debilitating pain for the last three months, which has taken the majority of my active lifestyle away. Through all of it I haven’t thought about drinking. I’ve thought “Man, I should really make sure I keep reaching out to the people in this support network and keep picking up service work to keep my head out of the stress and most of all I better get on my knees and pray and thank God for keeping me sober!”
I know my higher power is in control of the outcome and damn if that’s not the biggest burden off of my shoulders. I feel closer to my family than ever before. I feel like I’m a really good mom for the first time in many years. I’m grateful for mindfulness because that is what brought me back to God and it’s part of the many tools I use to stay sober. Miracles happen when we become quiet and ask for direction. Even without donuts for motivation.