Many people ask me what my rock bottom was. What finally made me stop drinking. When I admitted the fact that I was an alcoholic and surrendered. I can give you a long list of when it SHOULD have been. When friendships were torn apart. When my marriage started suffering. When my mother and close friends expressed their concerns about how much I was drinking. When I looked in the mirror and saw how bloated and puffy my face was and how red my eyes were. When I started having health problems. When I was doing even more idiotic, embarrassing and shameful things than usual. When I fell down a steep set of stairs, completely intoxicated, and should have been killed. When I continuously woke up not remembering what I had done or said the night before. Nope. None of those things did it.
Everyone’s rock bottom is different. I know many people in recovery who spent time in jail, received DWIs, crashed cars, lost jobs, homes, families and friends, lived on the streets or in their cars, and had much lower rock bottoms than I did. Others, like me, had what may be considered “high bottoms”, but they are just as much alcoholic as the others. I once heard someone say that it’s not how much you drink but how the drinking affects you that matters. Just as there are different rock bottoms, there are different types of alcoholics. Binge drinkers. Daily drinkers. Maintenance drinkers. Bar drinkers. Isolation drinkers. Social drinkers. Heck, I even went to college with a girl named Margarita Drinker. No lie. Her parents had quite a sense of humor, I guess. Or named her after having a bit too much tequila themselves. But I digress…
The point is that there is no singular description of the alcoholic. No scale that tells you once you fall below a certain level, you have hit your rock bottom. It is different for everyone. But at some moment, at some point, many people are somehow, and perhaps miraculously, apprehended by grace. I believe that is the moment when people finally surrender. It may be in utter despair. It may be when you realize you are simply sick and tired of being sick and tired. It may be while looking in the mirror and not able to face the person look back at you any longer. It may be after fighting back and resisting, be it an intervention, attending a recovery program as a “guest of the judge”, while at rehab or in the pscyh ward, or while dishing out your last dollar at the liquor store. However it comes, it is when you finally realize and accept that you cannot continue to live your life like this. That you cannot fight this battle alone. That only power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. It is when you wave the white flag and surrender to your Higher Power, whatever that may be for you, and at that moment, I believe that you are apprehended by grace.
For me, my surrender came seven years ago in NYC. I’ve shared the story many times. My hands were shaking until I got a drink in me at 11am. I was a mess, physically and emotionally. Looked and felt horrible. I had known for so long that I could not continue drinking the way I had been, but I could not imagine my life without alcohol. It dominated every aspect of my life. Hell, it was my life. It was both my best friend and my worst enemy. How do you fight your worst enemy or get rid of them while losing your best friend at the same time? But as I sat there with my true best friend who lost her husband to alcoholism, I was, in fact, miraculously apprehended by grace, and I was finally able to admit that I had a drinking problem. It was as if a 3,000-pound weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I believe that being apprehended by grace goes hand in hand with receiving the gift of humility. To accept and realize that we are only human, that we cannot fix everything, including ourselves, and come to understand that our Higher Power can is a true blessing. We somehow grasp that not only can we turn things over, we must. One of the definitions of grace is the “free and unmerited favor of God”. Free. Unmerited. We don’t need to do anything to earn it or receive it. We simply need to be willing to ask. And surrender. To allow ourselves to be apprehended by grace.
Because we are human, we can forget. We can stray. We can try to escape after having been apprehended. Foolishly. But yet we still do it. Staying on the right track, whatever that looks like for you, can keep you living a life of grace. It may be prayer, meditation, working a recovery program, or however you continuously remind yourself to rely on and turn to your Higher Power.
I am so incredibly grateful to have been apprehended by grace. To have found the path to a better life. Free from the bondage of addiction. It doesn’t come easy many days, but if I remember to practice what I preach, to turn things over to my Higher Power and stay humble, it gets easier to find my way back to the right path.
For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” –Saint Augustine of Hippo
“Grace comes into the soul, as the morning sun into the world; first a dawning, then a light; and at last the sun in his full and excellent brightness.”- Thomas Adams
“The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: ‘Grace,’” Max Lucado