The miracles of my recover began long before I got into recovery. Simply, it was a miracle I survived long enough to get into recovery. Clearly, I lived a reckless lifestyle that constantly put me at risk of death. Drunk driving, driving motorcycles drunk, risky drug deals, risky drug use, running and hanging with risky people. All things that could have and often nearly did bring a quick end to my life. There were a number of times I really should not have survived, yet for some reason, I did.
It was a miracle that my dog intervened the night I sat on the couch with a .357 magnum and got ready to make it stop. If not for her interruption, I would have pulled the trigger and met my end. It was a miracle I was still healthy enough of body and mind to be able to grasp and comprehend what was taught to me in treatment. Then, as I continued a life of recovery, the many subtle and not so subtle moments of "AHA!" and the profound changes in my personality and outlook on life. Such as the time I sat and thought and thought yet could not pinpoint that moment when "the desire to use was lifted" from me. All I knew was it had been weeks since the last time I had desired or even thought of using.
Here, I wish to share in depth just one of the miracles of my recovery. I hope you enjoy.
A Miracle Unfolds:
A Dream Passes From Vision to Reality
In the cusp of my eleventh and twelfth year of recovery, one of my dreams came true.
In 1986, at the peak of my alcoholism and drug addiction, my wife took our children and left, forever. She promised I would see the kids often but that is not what happened. I saw them only once again when they lived with me for a few months in 1988. I put them on a plane to go back to their mother and I never saw them or heard from them again. They were 6 and 8. They didn't exactly disappear, but their mother very effectively blocked communication between us. I thought of them often and usually whipped tears from my eyes when I did.
I waited until the youngest turned 18 and then began a search for them. On and off for six months I searched. I did not find them. I didn't really know where to look. I resolved that I would probably never see them again.
Throughout my recovery, there has been one question that people asked that was like a knife into my heart. They didn't mean to hurt me, they were just curios. And I seldom let them know how much the question hurt. I tried to act as if it was just another simple question and gave it a simple answer. I would hold the pain in until I was alone and then almost always cry. It was a simple question, it's just that it was a dagger into my heart every time.
"Do you ever hear from your kids?" they would ask. I would force a smile and respond "No, I gave up looking for them." Then I would cover up my pain by being real matter of fact, "If they want to, they'll look for me sooner or later." And as those words rolled out of my mouth, the pain would just rip through my chest and I would think silently to my self "they probably don't even care about me, all they remember is a mean drunk that screamed a lot." I would gradually fade away from the person or group and go be by myself where no one would see the pain or the tears.
I prayed a lot and "let it go" and "turned it over" and I did a good job hiding the truth from anyone who asked the question that lunged a knife into my chest. But the pain never went away. I couldn't escape it. A song would play on the radio and remind me of them. I would cry. I would turn it over. I would let it go.
And then the miracle began to unfold, slowly, unsuspectingly. As my twelfth year of recovery approached, I was thinking it was a significant and meaningful year.. there are twelve steps and twelve traditions. In one fellowship there is also twelve promises that "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
3. We will comprehend the word Serenity and we will know peace.
4. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
5. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
6. We will lose interest in selfish things.
7. We will gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
I read them over and over. They didn't say I would get my kids back. I decided that I had experienced most of those promises at one time or another during the past eleven years. They didn't always stay, but they did happen. I decided that number 2 and 9 were not with me as I approached my twelfth year. I did regret the past.. it took my kids from me. I did want to shut the door on that pain. My attitude was good and my outlook on life was OK but it was not whole. I didn't think it could ever be whole.
I thought that perhaps this will be the significance of my twelfth year.. I would somehow come to peace with the fact that my kids were gone for ever. The youngest had been of age for a few years now. They didn't come looking for me like I had always dreamed. I toyed with the thought that perhaps I should look for them again during my twelfth year. Where would I look? Perhaps this was the year they would look for me. Why now?
And so began my effort to truly accept and be OK with this part of my past. My kids were gone, probably forever, and I had no control over what they thought of me. I spent many days taking a little time to pray about it and journal about it and pray some more. From my heart, I asked Creator to make this OK with me.
Then came that day, a few weeks before my twelfth anniversary, that I awoke and I knew right away that it was good, it was OK. I had acceptance inside my heart and soul. They were still my kids, somewhere.
Days later, I began to receive a series of emails from some one looking for a person by my name. Looking for my son (named after me), I had found out that there were a lot of us out there. It was insignificant. As each next email narrowed down on my identity, I thought perhaps it was one of them. I pushed the thought away. "Why do I want to get my hopes up and tease my self?" "I'm setting myself up for a let down!" I resolved that it was an old Army buddy or some bill collector trying to find me. Then the message came that put me to my knees, literally- to pray "please God let this be me." Her exact words:
"Hello again, my brother and I are looking for our father. Do you have any children you have lost contact with? If so I might be your daughter and your son wants to talk to you too. You have 4 grandchildren now. If you had any kids please tell me their names and I'll let you know if it is us. I'm sorry if I'm being sketchy on details but I want to know for sure that this isn't a scam. If I am your daughter then I'll give you some information about you off my birth certificate to prove I'm your child. If not I'm sorry to have wasted your time and thank you for your time. Love,
Looking for my Dad"
By the end of the day after my twelfth anniversary, we had confirmed that she was my daughter- I was the father she was looking for. The next day she provided a phone number and I called her. We had a wonderful talk. They weren't looking for me to say I was a sorry bastard for not being there in their childhood. They weren't trying to find me to hit me up for money or dump my grandchildren off. They just wanted to say they loved me, missed me, and wanted me back in their life.
It wasn't over yet.. the dream was not complete.. the miracle had not run it's course. It wouldn't be over until I held each of them in my arms again and held each of my grandchildren (5... she didn't count his stepdaughter). Not until I had met my new daughter-in-law and son-in-law and thanked them for helping to find me.
Then came a bittersweet phase of this miracle that had stalled.. waiting for one of us to learn patience or acceptance of life on life's terms or something. None of us had the funds to travel to the other and we were scattered in 3 states. I was anguished by the reality that it would be six months or more before I would get to hold my son. He is one of our soldiers and he deployed to Kuwait a few weeks after they found me. Neither of us could go see the other before then. It was ironic that I learned that my daughter's favorite song is Patience by Guns-N-Roses. I pulled out my GNR CD and played it over and over. And I wondered why my daughter would find me only weeks before my son goes away.
Life on Life's terms can be cruel sometimes.
We communicated back and forth over the next months with email and IM's. Shared little pieces of our past and bits of our dreams. And did the best we could to make plans for a meeting. A date was set for me to travel down there. Then the Army changed my son's return date. A new date was planned. Six months ticked by, one slow day at a time.
But that day finally came when I loaded the car and went to see them for the first time in 14 years. We were to meet in west-central Louisiana. A major hurricane was expected to hit the coast of Louisiana about the time I got to northern Louisiana. I had been tracking it for a few days and could not see why after all these years and six more months of waiting, the Spirit would send a hurricane just when we would meet.
My fiancé and I traveled for a day and that night got a room. I checked the weather channel and sure enough, the hurricane was behind schedule. It seemed to be stalled in the Gulf of Mexico but was still expected to be quit devastating when it did hit land. We traveled another day, hoping to reach our destination by night fall but didn't quite make it. This set us behind schedule by a day. We got a room in northern Louisiana and I checked the weather. Hurricane still in the gulf.. still strong. Next morning we headed out for the big meeting.
They lived in different places so it was decided to meet at there mother's home. This was a considerate and brave gesture by their mom but may have not been the best choice. Nothing went wrong, however, everyone was a bit guarded. As would be expected, we hugged when we met, then there were introductions of spouses and grand kids. We talked a lot about little things and were shown many pictures of their lives over the years.
My fiancé and I got a room for the night. We would go visit Fort Polk the next day and see the hospital where my son was born. Supposedly it was still there. The next day was gloomy with a light rain on and off. The hurricane was close to the coast but had lost a lot of strength. We met at their mom's house and talked for a while then my son, his wife, my fiancé, and I headed for Fort Polk. I got to see a part of my past but we never did find the hospital. We had a nice lunch together and talked a little more about what happened in our lives over the years. We went back to their mom's house and had coffee and talked a while then called it a day. Little Lady (my fiancé) and I got a room for the night. We wanted to go ahead and get it for the next night too but they were booked with college evacuee's from down south.. the hurricane would hit land in the morning. I went to try to find an NA meeting in Many. I found the address but there was no meeting, so I went back to the room.
The next day, we traveled in two cars and went to the Alexandria zoo. All of the concessions had closed just before we got there because there had been no one visiting all morning (still gloomy and drizzly side effects of the hurricane). We still had a good time seeing all the animals and chit-chatting along the way. It was fun seeing the grand kids excitedly moving from display to display to see the next animal. We shared lunch together and headed on back to their mom's house. Their mom asked us to stay for dinner and we talked about little things for a while. I got to meet their stepfather who seemed to be a decent man.
As it turned out, the weather got better through the day and we were able to camp that night in the northwestern part of the state. The next day was nice and sunny and I gave each of the kids and one of their half-brothers a motorcycle ride. We spent some time chatting and planning the next day. My son would have to leave the next day to get back to Texas and we would follow my daughter to her home in Baton Rouge.
We camped again in the same place that night and Little Lady got to see an armadillo the first time in her life. The next morning was kind of neat in that I was able to make perfect eggs over a camp fire. I seldom do that good on a stove! We got to their mom's house and chatted a while and made some tentative future plans for the next summer. We said our farewells to my son and daughter-in-law and their kids and thanked Tammy and Roy for their hospitality then headed out for Baton Rouge.
We stopped along the way for lunch and I got to chat a little more seriously with my daughter. A few important questions were answered and a better understanding of the things that kept us separated was gained. One of their aunt's had been instrumental in keeping us separated for all those years. We really don't know her motives but she had provided their mother with false information of how I was doing and where I might be. It seems that over the years, their aunt had called their mom 2 to 3 times a month and had let on that I was a looser and had done some prison time (not true). When my daughter told her aunt in February that they had found me, the family only heard from her again once for the next seven months. Their mom had called her and she said she was real busy and would call back. She never did call back they say.
We headed on after lunch and eventually arrived at my daughter's home. We chatted a little while then said our good bye's.
All and all, I guess the big reunion was somewhat low keyed compared to what I had expected. But I have to keep in mind that in a lot of ways we were strangers. We had not known each other for fourteen years and there had been a lot of false information and incomplete information provided to them. Also, spending much of our time at their mom's dinning table made it difficult to really be open about the past. Not to say anything bad about their mom, just that the human nature of everyone not wanting anyone to be uncomfortable in a biased situation kept the talk limited.
Hopefully, in the years to come, we will be able to rebuild our relationships and bring closure to those lost years.
By the grace of Creator and the help of the 12-step program, I can now honestly say that I have experienced all of the 12 promises in my life. Although they come and go, sometimes here, sometimes not, I have known the promise of a better life through the 12 promises of AA. I still find it ironic that this event unfolded on my twelfth year anniversary of being clean and sober. Most of all, I want to qualify the power of turn it over. Until I truly resolved to turn this matter over to the Creator and really did it, it was in my hands and not being resolved.
Thank you for your time. I hope this benefits someone out there. I can only keep what I have by giving it away.
Happy days to you and yours.