This week's "Here's To Your Health" is from a recovering alcoholic named Fiona D. who lives in Ireland, in County Mayo, in a pleasant little house in a town immediately on the seacoast. She frequently walks down to the beach for relaxation, where she can look out on one of the most scenic views in all of Ireland, with seals and dolphins playing in the waves near water's edge. Fiona is a friend of Alcoholics Anonymous and so we asked her to be this week's guest columnist.
Here then is Fiona's story: I was at an AA meeting last night and as they read the chapter, "We Agnostics," from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, my mind wandered back to the moment when I first discovered a Higher Power in my life.
It was July of 1999 that I sat with white knuckles clutching a table with one hand and a liter of Coca-Cola with the other. I secretly bargained with God, trying to make a deal with Him that would allow me to drink for another year so I could get drunk out of my mind on my 40th birthday. I already had the party planned in my head and I wasn't yet thirty-nine. Three weeks later I was in a treatment center, looking at the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous posted on the wall and thinking, I'll never get this God/Higher Power thing. I was brought up in a semi-religious home until I was nine years of age. Semi-religious, in that we were rarely brought to mass as children, but we were baptized and made our First Communion.
All changed the year I was nine when my parents separated and we were brought to live in a small village where religion dominated all aspects of our lives. Culture shock cannot adequately describe it, fear both real and imagined scared the life out of me and the literal interpretation of God taught there did nothing to allay those fears. How could any God allow what was happening in my life? I was sure there couldn't be any God and if there was, He was going to strike me dead. This was the childish, fear-filled mindset that I carried with me into my teenage years and beyond.
At the tender age of 9, I turned my back on God and began living a life based on self-will and fear. Then suddenly at the age of thirty-nine, I looked at the 12 Steps on that treatment center wall and realized that I hadn't taken a drink of alcohol for two weeks, something accomplished only once in the previous twelve years. I was a daily imbiber and now all of a sudden two whole weeks had passed without a drink of alcohol? It was for sure that I didn't or couldn't have done it and so it must have been done by a Power Greater than me.
From such small beginnings has grown a deep abiding belief and trust in a Power greater than I. A Power that has nothing to do with the one I carried in my youth and for many years after, rather a Power that lives in these three pertinent ideas contained in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous:
A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
B. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
C. That God could and would if He were sought.