I went to comical lengths to hide my drinking. I guess it’s part shame. And for me it was also related to the basic fact that I drank to try to achieve privacy. Some weird not-grounded-in-reality need for privacy, because I drank even when I was as alone as humanly possible. Like, in a tent in a state park in Maine where the nearest person who knew me was hundreds of miles away. I drank then. In an idyllic place on an idyllic vacation. A topic for another post.
I’m not sure exactly what it is that I’m looking for, but I know what it is not. I am not looking for a fix that will merely mask the pain. I want to be free from the madness whirling around in my head, and I want to help spark the revolution that saves the world. I suppose what I’m really searching for is truth. I’m trying to understand truth with a sense of awe–– the way I sometimes feel when staring up at the sun and thinking about how long humans have turned to the sky and stood in amazement.
Our guest post today is curated from The SHAIR Podcast. In this episode, country singer Brinn Black shares about her life as an adult child of an alcoholic. We think our readers will appreciate Brinn’s sweetness and candor. When asked, “What is the best suggestion you have ever received?” she replies, “To let myself be loved.” And to the question, “If you could give our listeners only one suggestion, what would it be?” her answer is, “Just to give themselves some grace.”
Back in the day, you loved to party. Whether you got drunk or high, it was how you had fun. Well, not really. It took you a while to realize it, but substance abuse was an attempt to run away from problems, and it wasn’t very successful. Eventually, you realized you wanted (and needed) to stay sober. After some hard work, you managed it. You began your new life in addiction recovery, and you’re rightfully proud of what you’ve accomplished. But then you hear about the party. It sounds fun and repulsive at the same time. Can you have a social life while in addiction recovery?
A sober summer can be stress-free and enjoyable… if you manage it right. I got sober in May in the gorgeous beach town of Encinitas, California. It was glorious, summer-like weather year-round and surfers, yoginis and healthy vegans populated the landscape. Enjoying my first sober summer was pretty stress-free—in most regards. Besides the crying, agitation, anxiety, not sleeping or oversleeping, I was able to be sober and hang out with my sober pals, and it sure did make that first sober summer enjoyable.
My son is a recovering heroin addict and his addiction lasted fourteen years. At the end of his using, he was shooting heroin into his neck, having destroyed his veins in his arms, legs and feet. Today, he is ten years sober. That doesn’t mean his addiction is over, but it does mean that Jeff made the decision to change his life.
After my first dramatic encounter with God that previously detailed, I stopped drinking, joined a religious order and went through 5 years of seminary. I also obtained a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, a Master’s in Divinity, a Master’s in Moral Theology, was ordained a priest and was assigned to a large parish in Delaware. A lot of stress to be sure, but I went into it free of alcohol.
Growing up, most of what I knew about God was based on what I was taught, not something I had ever spent time figuring out for myself. It came down to “do what you’re told or God’s going to send you to hell.” Not a very pleasant view. My homiletics professor in seminary summed up my relationship with God very aptly: “We are all sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Up to that point, that’s basically what I believed.