The Truth Will Set You Free
I believe we are only as sick as our secrets, and that as Christ said “the truth will set you free”, so here goes.
A little less than 3 years ago I was a broken woman. I had been struggling for 6 years since the death of my husband Read from a long and horrific battle with cancer, losing everything financially, trying to balance running my non-profit and raise our autistic son Wyatt. I never allowed myself to grieve. I thought God had abandoned me when in fact I had abandoned God. I had struggled off and on my whole life with drug and alcohol addiction and found myself hitting bottom. I was on 4 Xanax a day, 4 anti-depressants, Ambien to sleep, all washed down at night with a bottle of wine.
Thank God for friends and my brother who helped me go into detox at a hospital for a week, then into rehab for 2 months at the oldest women’s recovery center in the country, Friendly House. Here is my goodbye to drugs and alcohol letter that I wrote while in treatment.
We’ve had a relationship
for five decades now, the longest
love affair of my life.
I’m sick of your lies.
You conned me into believing
you could make
the depression and anxiety go away.
You lied to me.
You made me lose contact
with family and friends
from the age of 14 on
when I started using everything
from pot to LSD
Qualudes to heroin, anything to give me
a sense of comfort.
What a false comfort it was.
The one-inch scar
on my hand from shooting
with an infected needle
at the age of 16
is a permanent reminder
of your damage.
You made me believe
you could make the pain
of an alcoholic mother, the shame
of a brother with Down Syndrome
go away. Despite your help,
I still had to watch as you robbed her
of much of the joy of life.
Even with all your power, you couldn’t
erase the pain of my childhood and teenage years.
With you by my side, I entered
into sexual relationships that left me with
self-loathing and disgust.
You lied to me all throughout
my first marriage, when you told me
I was never enough
never pretty enough
never skinny enough—you told me
all those feelings could be erased
by the bottle of wine
I drank on a nightly basis.
It didn’t matter to me
that for all those years
I risked my health and happiness
to keep our relationship going strong.
I thought you were a way
to escape all my problems. All lies.
You tricked me
into believing I could escape
the pain of having a child
with autism, but when you wore off
you left me
I numbed myself with you
to help me deal
with my husband’s cancer.
You were there with me
on the day he died in my arms. I thought
it was so much easier
with you by my side.
So many times I tried
to quit and failed. I just couldn’t
say goodbye to the effect you had on me
the way you transported me
to a place where my problems
melted away, your chemical high
seducing me every time.
This breakup has been
one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I need to remember
the sick feelings of dread and fear you gave me
when I needed you most.
I need to remember how you left me
trembling and shaking without you.
I need to remember
the Hell of detox, so I’ll never be tempted
to get back with you again.
I want to quit you for good. I want
to leave treatment as a woman
of grace and dignity
with my head held high.
Dear drugs and alcohol, I’m ready
to break free of you. I’m ready to face the truth
Through treatment and AA, I have been able to rebuild my life. I no longer regret the past or wish to shut the door on it. And if my story can help others, then I know I am living in God’s will.
I’m excited for a new chapter in my life. With the amazing Eva Lund, we have started a new program at Special Spirit called Recovery at The Ranch, a half day utilizing the healing power of horses and animals to help those in drug and alcohol recovery. If you know of a rehab facility that could benefit from this, please let me know. Go to www.specialspirit.org to learn more.
With the help of loved ones, God and AA, I have finally found the meaning of the quote inscribed in my Grandmother Diddy’s bible:
I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God, but my God eluded me.
I reached for my brother, and I found all three.