I was sitting in a meeting yesterday and someone said, "I think that I suffer from divine madness..."
I was looking out the window because I was having a hard time paying attention...but when I heard that my whole being became present. She was speaking my language...that is exactly what I suffer from...divine madness!
What this means to me is that I am nuts but divinely guided. Not like I hear God through my fillings or television but that I had to be crazy enough for God to be able to get through my intellect, reason, pragmatism and alcoholism.
There are a lot of people I know that are pretty sane. These are not my people...I do not feel comfortable around them, often do not feel that they are even part of the same species or race. They seem to go through life like a normal person with ups and downs and seem to handle it all without going off any seriously deep emotional cliffs.
This is not me. I teeter on the verge of emotional chasms every day. Since I got sober, my teetering has become less death-defying and more mundane but still I teeter.
When I am with fellow recovering people - I feel right at home. We are all batshit crazy but since we all share a common spiritual purpose and path, we appear less crazy and are committed to helping those who are still foundering. I have never participated in this group without being able to assess my craziness and not reach the conclusion that my crazy is really insane mediocrity. I am nuts for sure but not the kind of nuts that is going to off herself, go on a shooting rampage or begin speaking to the trash can. I hover somewhere around crazy's center.
When I was out there drinking, I was sure that I was losing my mind. I felt sanity slipping from me daily. I am pretty sure that I avoided addressing the drinking issue solely because I was terrified that it couldn't be that simple...I feared that I was just crazy and that if I allowed anyone to accurately assess that, they would lock me up.
In review of my half my life drinking or gearing up to drink and half my life refraining from drinking, I can say that the thoughts, feelings and emotions that plagued me for the first half of my life plague me still. I am really just a batty as I was back then, the only difference is the divine guidance that I have tapped into since arriving on the recovery side of the fence.
We say in the recovery community that one needs to come to believe in a power greater than themselves. For me that first fundamental godlike belief was in the power of booze. I trusted it, turned my life and will over to it and completely believe that alcohol and its powers saved my early life. I seriously do not know where I would be today had I not been given a way to check out and numb as an adolescent. Alcohol worked for me. It allowed me to distance myself from my very frequent and intense emotions and gave me a personality that could believe that I was hotter, less awkward and smarter than I actually was. Had alcohol not given me this alternative identity, I do not think that I would have made it to adulthood.
My main and most prevalent issue was that I turned everything over to alcohol. It became the foundation for all of my relationships: familial, social, sexual. Alcohol was my solution to everything and everyone. I did not know anyone that didn't drink to excess. I had not access to anything or anyone that was not as deeply steeped in booze as I was. I spent my adolescence and earlier adulthood praying and genuflecting at alcohol's boozy altar. I sacrificed jobs, relationships, friendships, health, money and whatever threatened my primary and main relationship with my God - Irish whisky and Guinness.
Then came the day when no matter what I sacrificed or how much I prayed that my now venomous God became a rapacious creditor that I had neither the funds nor stamina to pay. Alcohol stopped working. I could no longer hide is smoky pool halls and believe that I had a life. I could not ingest enough spirits to give me spiritual guidance. In the end, it all fell apart. Everything came crashing down on March 21, 1995.
I was coming off a seven day St. Patrick's Day bender (St. Patrick's Day was always a week long event in my social circle) and I was more or less on my way up or down the inebriated scale for days. To say that my mental state was spiraling out of control would not be an understatement. On an emotional level, I was walking a tightrope across the grand canyon without a net and dead drunk. Plummeting to my death was really a foregone conclusion. It was only a matter of time. I knew it. I think friends and family knew it too but were too self involved or fucked up themselves to notice or comment.
My last run started on the evening of March 20th, 1995 and ended with me sitting in a smoke filled room with a bunch of old people drinking coffee on March 22, 1995. I will leave the events of those two days for another article because seriously way too much shit happened to retell here and I would be losing my focus of what I am trying to say now. But what happened over those two days, forever changed my life. Simply put: I found a new director of my life who ushered my alcoholic demon to the sidelines and guided me to higher ground. This new deity in my life had no religious affiliation, no body of people worshipping him or her, there was no text or books written to consult for guidance and answers. This new divinity in my life was just there and turned my alcoholic madness into rich and fertile ground for a new, vibrant life.
I know today that I needed every one of those pitiful and incomprehensible demoralizing events to come to pass. I needed to be completely and totally surrounded by my alcoholic madness in order to be brought to my knees: humbly surrendered to the idea that I was in fact completely and totally mad. It was only here that any type of divinity could find me and it was only here that I could be willing to believe in something good and full of grace.
This was the beginning of my relationship with a new creator and director. One that I didn't understand or even really completely believe in. I just knew on some base level that without this new holiness in my life that my madness was going to kill me and I believed that with all that I was. I do not believe it could have been any other way for me. I needed the madness to drive me into the ground in order to be willing to believe in something greater than me. I had to be willing to see that the madness and the solution thereto were all part of a divine plan that I could choose to follow or not. I had to want it and bow to its benevolence. I had to be willing to relinquish all that I thought I knew including my adamant refusal to believe in any kind of divinity or grace.
So from my knees with my black eye, busted lip and battered body, I surrendered to the idea that I was in fact completely and totally mad. From there, I began to believe that there was a power greater than myself that was greater than King Alcohol. What I have today is a complete and profound gratitude for my divine madness that led to this moment where my fingers tap out the discrete and minute details of my undoing as well as my salvation. Today, I walk in grace with the knowledge that only divine madness would have ever gotten me here...to a place where I embrace the whole person: the broken, crazy, damaged, resilient, vibrant, benevolent woman that allows these words to appear on this page. In a few days, it will have been 24 years since I first surrendered to my insanity. May I always remember where I came from and may I always be grateful for what I have allowed myself to become with divine guidance. Today, I am just as divinely mad as I was 24 years ago...the difference is that I have spent this last half of my life embracing the madness and being guided by the light. I stumbled in the dark for a long time...today, I celebrate what the madness has taught me, given me and restored in me. Today, I am grateful for it all.