There are a lot of them in life if you are paying attention. But there are some poignant ones. Ones that will stop you in your tracks and take your breath away.
In recovery there are moments when you are edged to tears. A newcomer admits they belong, a person who struggles makes it to thirty days, an old timer celebrates fifty years of living a day at a time without a drink. There are lots of holy moments in recovery. I mean it is a spiritual path designed to save you from yourself. That is kind of holy in and of itself.
However, I heard a speaker say the other night that the holiest of moments is when an alcoholic tells the truth about the true nature of his/her disease. That moment when the defenses come down and the denial slips away and the person who has been hell bent on fucking up their life, surrenders and says,
“I am a drunk”
“I belong here”
“I am ashamed”
“I am lost”
“I do not know what I am doing”
“I am in so much pain but I can’t stop doing things to make it worse”
Any moment where a drunk tells the truth about anything, is a holy moment...in my opinion.
Addiction is a disease of lying. Lying to avoid consequences, lying to get what we want, lying to protect what we already have. Lying to manipulate those who care for us into giving us what we want. Lying is just what we do...and it causes us to be forever separated from each other. Our lies cut us off from everyone else, because you cannot build intimacy or authenticity when you cannot tell the truth.
So we lie, lie, lie and slip deeper and more quickly into a trap of our own making, with a delusional mind that tells us very convincingly that “this time it will be different,” and sometimes we are right...whatever happens next is just different enough for our lying minds to convince us and sometimes those about us that “see this time, things didn’t get completely fucked, I can have one beer.” But if we really told the truth, we would be forced to admit that having one beer was excruciating and the lie here is that we can’t admit we feel that way to ourselves. We would give almost anything to have a whole bunch more and get away with it.
And so it goes for most of our lives. We lie and push people away and then bemoan the fact that we are alone and not understood. We find solace and comfort in the arms of other drunks on the path who say they understand as they imbibe just like us. We surround ourselves with others who are committed to not telling the truth and so we suffer more collectively, but always we suffer in private, captivated by our own delusion and deceit.
I had a hard therapy session with my son yesterday. And the subject matter of the session was his lying. His inability to tell the truth and the results of the lies in his relationships with others. He didn’t want to hear it but he did. I think. I am praying that yesterday was one of those holy moments where we got through to him. Where whatever it is that blocks us from the truth, is removed long enough for us to see that the truth is the only thing that will ever set us free.
I do not believe he was convinced but I also know that I have been around long enough to watch a seed planted, sprouted and grown from a tiny mustard seed that seems like it has no ability at all to grow. But it does. And so does he. I also know that holy moments do not come in the lives of others just because we wish them to...they come if we are very lucky, sometimes.
I had my own holy moment in the back seat of a car after my last night (hopefully) of drinking. I was there in the back seat likely still legally drunk, being driven back to where I was sure my car was not going to be found. I couldn’t remember because I was in a blackout when I drove it last. My head hurt, my lip hurt, my body hurt and I was covered in bruises from being thrown down a flight of stairs the night before. I was a mess internally and externally.
And as I sat there in the back of the car, something happened to me. Something changed inside me. I heard this quiet and still voice that said very lovingly, “Erin, how many times are you going to do the same thing over again and expect something different to happen?” And right there in the back of a Toyota Corolla, I had that moment of clarity, that moment where I could no longer lie to myself. I could no longer trust what my head told me about me. I saw that I was a mess and that drinking was a problem for me. I saw that so long as I drank, things like the night before were going to continue to happen to me. And worse, I could see that it was going to get worse...rapidly.
It wasn't until much later that I saw how horrible my life had been all along. My own self deception keeping me forever stuck with the idea that I was managing well...
And so my first holy moment came to me on that day and I have been sober from that day to this. Now I would love to say that this is the exact day that I stopped lying but that would be a HUGE lie. I didn’t, but I began a journey of attempting to be honester. I know that isn’t a word but it is now (and I know that the phrase "more honest" would be better here but I like the word I chose).
And I have had a ton of holy moments since that day. Times when I have found myself in the middle of lie, stopped and told the truth. Times when I had to own lies that I told for years when I did my amends. Times when I have had to have my deceit confronted directly by my sponsor or a friend. Every single time I am fixing to lie and I stop is a holy moment that spring from that first one where I called myself out on my own shit and saw clearly what was really the matter with me...I was a drunk and my solution to life was to kill myself with shots of whiskey day after day.
When I tell the truth, most especially when I don’t want to, I get free. Free from the delusional state of mind that allows me to live in an alternative reality. I get free and I get to live more comfortably in my own skin. I get to be ok with myself and that in turn allows me to be ok with others. I know today if I am lying it is because I am terrified. And that knowledge, in and of itself, helps me to be less afraid. And each time I tell the truth, I revisit the holiest of moments when I sat a drunken mess in the backseat of a car after a dreadful and demoralizing night and finally admitted the truth that had been true since I was 12...that I was a drunk and I was powerless when it came to booze.
That was the first time I told the truth about that and it was the holiest moment I have ever known. More holy than the birth of my children. More holy than anything I have ever experienced. And the most amazing thing is that when I can help another see the truth in their own life, I get to revisit my own truth and experience the miracle all over again.
Because, see the holy moments do not come and pass. They stick. They last. They are forever right there in the recesses of your mind and heart, blended into your soul on such a deep level that everything in your life changes. And you finally leave the darkness and walk into the light. And life begins anew right there.