“I awaken with no memory of the previous night. Only differences to the routine of morning stand out as markers to the forgotten tale: I’m in bed yet fully clothed. Vomit coats my blouse. From the window I can see my car with its doors wide open and headlights amber in the receding darkness.
I follow the trail of my binge downstairs, each step hesitant, moving into the unknown. Yet as I journey through non-memory a thought like a distant voice begins to urge itself within my mind: If I continue like this then I will die. It is that simple.
Yet with death itself haunting my thoughts I still can’t see a way through. How can I stop drinking — how does life exist and move and happen without alcohol to ease its motion? I’ve tried to stop drinking before only for the withdrawal symptoms to hit so hard that I had to drink again to function. I never had the opportunity to attend rehab or take time off work to ride the ghastly train of recovery — life demanded constant money. Yet the more demands life made, the more I drank to escape them.
I stare hopelessly at the broken glass from at least ten bottles of beer. Two empty wine bottles sit on the counter. At some point I must have hit the Baileys too.
Viewing the aftermath of my alcoholic binge, I sit on the floor and disintegrate. I fall apart, crack open and what pours forth is anger — anger at God. I rant, I shout: ‘How can you be so cruel? How can you allow such suffering?
What chance did I have, to be born to the parents I had, what chance did I have when I was abused in my early years? How could you not just have some pity, some compassion and come into my life and help me? I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I’ve tried everything and nothing works. I’ve been fighting and fighting this thing, but if you’re really real then you can do it. You can do what I can’t do. Do it and I’ll go to church.’
I expect nothing. I’ve reached the end of myself and sit dazed on the empty floor. Then. Love reaches into me and grabs at a darkness I feel for the first time — a duality flickers within me for a moment as the demon howls before He pulls it from me. I feel it being dragged through my torso, my heart and up and out. I feel the demon leave. Then I feel the light of love and life in Him enter. In a flash I know the inner feeling of both evil and good and they are complete opposites. There is no grey area, there is no middle ground except the unknowing human heart.”
I never drank again. I never had any compulsion or desire to take a drink and I never had a single withdrawal symptom, which is incredible considering I’d gone cold turkey before, only to drink again when the withdrawal became intolerable. That was almost twenty years ago and I still have zero interest in alcohol. I’ve been pressed and encouraged to drink on many occasions, but I never do.
I gave the alcoholism over to Christ that day. It’s deeply sad that it took complete brokenness for me to turn to Him. He doesn’t require that of any of us but too often we seek him only when we have nowhere else to turn, when it’s either Him or death. I’m painfully aware of course, that there are many who choose death when faced with that choice. I am so grateful that I chose Him.
The days following the miracle went by in a haze. I couldn’t quite calibrate the world and my relationship to it. Every thought and moment had previously been taken by alcohol and with the demon gone, I was confused. Survival was turning into life. Instead of the daily ordeal of hangovers followed by black-outs I now had space to do….what? I didn’t know.
Like the first shoot from a new seedling, I tentatively peaked at life. I began to see how evenings offered companionship and conversation rather than being focused on drinking as much as possible without anyone noticing just how much I was putting away. Bedtime became about fluffy pillows and warm duvets instead of comatose drooling and occasional soiling. Life was more than sucking the dregs from long emptied bottles.
And there were so many bottles! Some were hidden in my wardrobe, which I gulped down whilst pretending to visit the bathroom. More were stashed beneath the seat of my car.
Five days into my sobriety though, with the house to myself, I dragged each bottle into the light of day along with my shame. All the rest of it, the blackouts, the risky behaviours and the horror — it existed in my memory, but each one of those bottles glinted in the light as evidence of the person I had become as an alcoholic. They were like broken shards of glass piercing my shattered heart. How could I have done that to myself?
When the bottles had finally gone I felt a little brighter.
I’d like to say that I went to Church, accepted Jesus Christ and lived happily ever after. Wouldn’t that be great? But no, that took time. I was completely lost and flummoxed by my miracle. God had done something so amazing that I could never again doubt his existence, yet I had no idea that I needed to ask Jesus into my life, to fill my heart with the Holy Spirit. I was like a walking void — the demon had gone, but I was stumbling on a path so new to me that I didn’t know what to do next. It didn’t even occur to me to pray.
Also, there was the uncomfortable knowledge that something evil had been within me and I hadn’t known about it, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have had the first idea about what to do. Turning to God through Christ just hadn’t been in my tool kit.
During the miracle, I had felt within myself the incredible experience of Satan’s utter darkness contrasted against the complete Love of God. It was an extraordinary feeling, and ‘knowing’. It was the briefest moment, yet I have never been the same again. Although the following years would be full of conflict and spiritual warfare, there was simply no way I could ever doubt the existence of God ever again. Or, the existence of Satan, and that has been truly sobering!
Apparently, a recovered alcoholic shouldn’t exist. It’s impossible. Only recovering alcoholics can speak to the world of their never-ending conflict with alcohol. To be recovered is an illusion or a lie — either the recovered alcoholic is deluded or they were never actually an alcoholic to begin with, they’re just pretending, overly dramatic, attention seeking.
I am a recovered alcoholic, and I’m not alone — not that you’ll find many of us speaking out about it. We risk derision, abuse, hostility and this is only exaggerated when inevitably, we few whisper tentatively of miracles.