Monday, March 19, 2012

A Spiritual Experience Described.

During my time in rehab, we didn't spend much time talking about AA's Big Book. In fact, we didn't discuss it at all. Instead, our counselor handed us a one page, printed copy of the 12 Steps and said little more before returning to our daily, seemingly endless group therapy sessions. When he kicked me out of rehab on the 27th day of a 30-day program for not "getting with the (AA) program", all I took home were the visions of relapse and an early grave he predicted my future held and that one page, tattered copy of the 12 Steps. Dying before age 40 didn't seem all that appealing, so I sat down and narrowed the 12 Steps down to the 3 Steps that promised to remove the urge to drink, which was stronger than ever. The monkey was digging his claws into my back hard at the time I needed him gone THEN. A couple of weeks later, a life-changing, life-saving, soul-changing spiritual experience occurred, as described below.

It must have been the fifteenth or sixteenth night when the miracle happened. My routine had been the same that night as all the others. I started the night using the 3 Steps, as usual, asking humbly and sincerely, without fail. This ritual was repeated many times each night with a few short breaks in between. During those breaks, I’d talk to my Higher Power in a more casual way, describing how my addiction felt like a dark cloud, confiding my fears, and asking for help in overcoming both. This monologue had gone on for two weeks straight and I was starting to wonder if it was a waste of time. Somewhat frustrated, I started to ask myself if He was even listening. I never got the chance to finish the question. Out of the blue something jolted me, causing my entire body to shake and jerk. Every muscle clenched and released, repeatedly and uncontrollably, as if some invisible giant was grabbing me by the belt, lifting ninety percent of my body off the bed and slamming me back down. My chest constricted and my legs flailed, thrusting my chest upwards and releasing me again, which must have resembled a seizure. The movements knocked the breath out of me, which was frightening at first. But as the experience continued my fear was replaced with an energy I’d never felt before. Soothing waves of incredibly powerful warmth and love pulsed through my body, dissolving the fear and tensions I’d carried for so many years. It felt as if God had walked into the room, laid both hands on me, and penetrated my body and soul with some kind of divine electricity. I laid back and went along for the ride, alternately feeling like I’d stuck my finger in an electrical outlet and flopping limp back into my pillow. I can only describe the feeling as having been ZAPPED with the most amazing energy on earth, and for which there are no words. It felt like love multiplied by infinity. The experience lasted for somewhere between 15-20 minutes. When it ended, I felt both exhilarated and exhausted. Within minutes, exhaustion won out and I fell into a deep sleep. When I woke the next morning my addiction was gone. The intense cravings that had driven me to drink for more than twenty years had vanished and haven’t returned even once in eighteen years.

I’m not quite sure what happened that night, but one thing is certain. A miracle took place. No doubt exists in my mind that a Higher Power not only heard my plea for help, but reached out and healed my soul. Love walked in, grabbed my addiction by the scruff of its dirty neck, and marched it out the door. The inner turmoil and tension that had lived within me for most of my life evaporated in an instant and were replaced by a quiet calmness and inner peace, which remain to this day. Because this experience was deeply private and personal, I rarely talk about it and have never described it in full detail, until now. The reason for my reluctance has been because it’s difficult to believe in miracles unless you’ve experienced one of your own. Another reason I’ve avoided talking about the experience is because mentioning God, or a Higher Power, could be considered too “preachy” by some. Unfortunately, the only way to describe the experience is by telling it exactly as it happened. It is as it is. Whether or not anyone else believes a spiritual healing actually occurred is their own choice. The fact that the word miracle exists certainly suggests that inexplicable events have occurred throughout history. Some might choose to view my experience as self-hypnosis, or even temporary insanity, spurred by desperation. To me, it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that it worked. My addiction was instantly and permanently erased, which was a true miracle, regardless how it came to be. 

I only recently learned that Bill Wilson and other founding members of AA wrote about their own experiences, claiming they were cured of addiction through a spiritual awakening with a Higher Power. I know their message completely contradicts the "forever recovering, incurable disease" mentality that so many have been taught in today's AA. But, I also know that Bill, Bob, and the others knew what they were talking about and that AA's original message was (and still is) the correct one. Anyone willing to believe in a power greater than their own can receive the same cure... but only if they want to be cured, fully recovered addicts.

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