A Moment of Clarity

I grew up in a home where nobody used drugs or drank. My parents were great. They took me to church and tried to teach me about God’s love.

When I was in junior high, my asthma got really bad, and the doctor prescribed medicine to control it. The medicine gave me a lot of energy and made me feel happy and beautiful. I loved that stuff! A year later as a freshman, my boyfriend gave me some LSD. It was magic—tons of fun. A couple of months after that, I drank for the first time. That night I mixed five asthma pills (instead of the prescribed half a pill) with a bottle of wine. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor in the hall at home with my 4-year-old sister kicking me in the head asking, “Are you dead? Please don’t be dead!”
I spent the rest of the night in the bathroom throwing up, but I couldn’t wait to get drunk again. I was an addict from that first night I drank.

Within six months, I was smoking dope and shooting up all kinds of drugs: amphetamines, crank, crystal meth, morphine and anything else I could find. My drug of choice was anything I could put my hands on. I just wanted to change how I felt. Something happened to me at puberty. I was so unhappy, but these drugs made me feel a lot better.

When I was 16, my Dad found my stash of drugs. He was going to take them away from me. I couldn’t let that happen, so my best friend and I ran away to a city about 700 miles from home. We moved into a little hellhole of an apartment, and we used every drug we could find. My friend’s veins wore out, so the drugs settled under her skin instead of going into her bloodstream. She got gangrene in her arm, and one night she got delirious from the high fever. I stayed up to take care of her, but I wasn’t doing too well myself. I had been hallucinating from all the drugs I was taking. I saw three little guys about three feet tall who followed me around, and I saw a sixfoot creature with the head of goat, the body of a man, and the legs of a horse. It accused me of all kinds of terrible things, tormenting me day and night. These four creatures bothered me all that night that I was trying to take care of my friend. About five in the morning, she stopped breathing. I got on my knees and cried out, “God, this is the only friend I have in this world. Please don’t let her die! If you’ll help her, I’ll do anything you want.” At that moment, all the voices stopped, the creatures went away, and my hallucinations were gone. And my friend started breathing again. A few hours later, the doctor at the hospital told her, “I don’t see how you’re still alive.” But I knew.

I panhandled enough money to go home, and my Dad welcomed me with open arms. My father said, “I want you to know that your mother and I love you. Welcome home.” I stayed sober for about 6 months, but then I started smoking dope and drinking again. From 17 to 30, I struggled over and over again with my addiction. I just couldn’t get over it on my own. I tried church, exercise, marriage to a music minister, having babies . . . everything imaginable.
After I had my daughter, I got drunk at a Passover dinner. That pushed me over the edge, and I got drunk every day for the next eight years. At that point, I walked out on my husband and my two kids.

When my kids became teenagers, 16 and 13, they came back to live with me, and I started drinking and smoking with them. The sad thing is that I didn’t see anything wrong with it. My rational judgment was gone. For the next two years, the three of us spiraled down into drugs and drinking, bars and parties.

My oldest daughter got pregnant, and she got sober. She asked me to stop drinking or smoking dope around her baby when it was born, so I promised I’d stop. But six weeks after the baby was born, I was holding my grandbaby and drinking whiskey. I looked across the room at my single, jobless daughter, and I had a moment of clarity. I realized that I was ruining every person in my life, and I cried out for help. I called my doctor and told him about everything I was smoking and drinking. He put me in a rehab center to detox, but between getting out of detox on Friday and going to treatment on Monday, I stayed drunk and high. That Sunday afternoon as I was smoking my last joint, I pulled over to the side of the road and cried my eyes out. I felt completely empty and hopeless. I looked up and said, “God, if you’re not there, I’m screwed!”

I went to AA that day and got a “desire chip.” The next day I woke up without craving a drink for the first time in eight years. I’ve been sober now for 11 years. It is God’s grace that has brought me through. Actually three things have made all the difference in my life: God, my willingness to ask people for help and my willingness to help others.

Today, my life is full of joy and the wonderful grace of God. God has healed our whole family. My daughters’ lives are full of grace and joy, too. And that’s something I’m incredibly thankful for. —Brenda

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