14 years, 4 months 19 days
thirteen or so..
the alcohol consumed on that fated night
(that virus infects my memory still) moots
i remember ...
thirteen drunks in a holding cell, just like me;
disreputable, derelict, powerless
just like me.
i saw my life...
its sorry reflection undistorted in
the funhouse mirrors of their faces. i was
one of them.
i was with them;
that jail cell, the narcotic spaces were but
some of the flagrantly normal structures on
a revelatory godtouch this; the truth
of my drinking revealed in a moment of
i asked for help.
i beseeched god like one who begs a stranger –
a stranger who knows aught about me. then i
incapable of resisting impulses;
obsessed by wide gates & glittering broadways –
committing self-murder by installment;
shortening my demented life with each drunk –
a drunken assassin, the car, my weapon
of choice, ill-contained my lethal, spiritless
a sadly unmanageable melange of
grandiosity, anomie & spirit
self-loathing voided my stomach; leaving a
gaping, insatiable hole only love might
i prayed until...
god demurely came with sedate reserve &
sobriety; spiritus sanctus, blessed
to everything ...
turn, turning -- i changed the basis of my life –
to god. psychic change came independent of
from sinking sand...
lifted he me from deflated ego's
living terror & my
less than adequate
with tender hand...
his specializing power cleared the way back
from isolation through desolation to
on bended knees...
i made a decision to commit to a
future of right actions & choices. grace is
now, i'm ready...
to serve god & man; to labor in
consciousness, even beyond ordinary
watching my feet,
i let my prodigal faith look up the road.
faith fears not; scouts ahead -- while i attend to
with heavy heart
i catalogued the contents of my shadow –
old resentments packed away; the grotesque parts
of my self;
hurts inflicted by others, the rejections,
the criticisms, the disgrace, the threats to
i conjured up
the faces i stamped on the randomness of
events. (i have always been competent in
the victims of my selfishness, my godplay,
my cruelty & vengeance yet afloat in
i began to
sense patterns, attitudes, habits of mind that
could make automatic my flawed responses
self-will & negative thought filters had run
me afoul of friend, foe & stranger alike.
this, i wrote –
wrote the darkness
conscious. i took my writing to god, to heart.
i found a sober drunk, a friend & sponsor,
to talk to.
i read to him
my self-confession; told him of all my wrongs.
when i faltered from the weight of a secret,
he shared one –
one so debased,
so vile that it made my guilt seem second rate;
& then he yawned during the telling of my
he heard me out;
showed me that the only consistent factor
in all my triumphs & tragedies was that
i was there.
he showed me that
shit happens, some events are random, unskilled
conduct offends & some people are sicker
stripped away, i repossessed my shadow; stepped
inside, looked around. the darkness joked & my
alone (save that my creator was near) &
at perfect peace, i really could look the world
in the eye
& shared my anger fear guilt & shame, could i
release them, the pent up forces that they were,
might i even
step clear of my practiced defenses & dare
to face people & events without ego
i am ashamed
to say how daunting it was (& is still) to
act in ways contrary to those tendencies,
flaws. each day did i labor, sometimes light,
sometimes heavy, to do some things different;
next right things.
when i rested
though, those shortcomings would come back like weeds;
i wondered if god really cared enough to
after a short parenthesis that i was
willfully trying to make myself over.
when i opened
up my heart, god's laughing grace, operating
therein, resonated in the space between
sounding the deep
reservoirs of spirit -- interior to
habit, to compulsion, to thought, to self.
working on me,
in me, even when i doubted; moistening
the dry interiors of ego -- keeping
& then i knew ...
he surely would remove my shortcomings in
his time, at his pleasure & in the succor
of his love.
& self-forgiveness from within, i trained -- to
act against compulsion is spiritual
made a list of
all those i had harmed; checked it twice, even thrice
then called again the friend who made me explore
could i do this?
could i move through my shame & self-loathing? could
i risk exposure? my sponsor thought i could;
said i must!
into my shadow
again i went. much less dense than before, i
could see so much clearer -- the relationships
sexual exploitation, controlling &
abuse; the dishonesty, breached agreements,
were soaked in scotch, demon rum, cognac & beer.
others, though, bore the stench of drugs & instincts
more important ...
i saw how my egocentric connections
to others left them at best angry, injured
i saw the harm
i caused people, the damage done ... & sat me
down 'midst the wreckage. how could i possibly
pay for this?
was i willing
to yield not to dependence on shortcomings;
like i had surrendered my dependence on
was i willing
to make amends -- to take crucial action
appropriate & requisite to repair
caused by errant
self-will & noxious character defect. if
i opened wide my heart, could this shadow make
make me whole?
consideration, we picked from my list, my
sponsor & i, just a few of the wounded
to arrange a
face to face meeting. i saw most of these -- those
who agreed. some i wrote letters, others i
put on hold
until i was
willing enough to treat with them. i made all
i saw or wrote know how wrong & sick i was;
i humbly made
restitution, reparations, recompense
for damage i caused & in that same process,
from some guilt &
shame; freed myself to act independently
of my compulsions; freed myself to live
in a world
less than perfect
with woefully limited physical strength,
mental acuity & emotional
but secure in
my connection to infinite reserves of
spiritual power if i just let god's
will be done.
so i review
most nights the deeds of the day. if i have harmed
anyone, i quickly try to make it right.
have a belly
full of accord than bloated with toxins of
angst, anger & acrimony. perhaps this
is god's will.
i am not sure...
so i pray, silently & aloud, asking
the good god of my understanding to
speak to me,
reveal that will
to me in ways in which i am familiar –
in the solicitous attentions of friends;
& again by disparate messengers; the
seamless ease in which events ebb & flow. god's
in the way that
new doors of opportunity open when
old familiar ones close; & in glimpses of
thoughts, in the space where my prayers are always
answered, where knowing comes without words, even
have i had a
spiritual awakening, a psychic
change? my personality has certainly
i don't think the
way i used to, placing blame on everyone
but me; contrary & in collision with
i am slower
to anger, much more patient & even more
considerate of others. i don't avoid
but embrace the fullness of being human;
nor do i have to drink or drug
& the message
i carry? i've been delivered from bondage!
just like me, so u may also be, if u choose.
watch me step!
please step with me.
step into a faith that works. i like the way
u work it. never again will u have to
© Joseph McNair;2009