Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal, Part Two

Here's the scene: I was placed in the intensive-care unit of the psychiatric hospital, put in a room with a bare plastic mattress on a single wooden bed, and the noise outside the room was intense: TV blaring in the group room, playing "Snow White" with the song "Whistle While You Work" resounding through the hallway, deeply disturbed people yelling at each other, an angry woman outside my cell fiercely demanding an ambulance because of her pain.

I climbed into the empty closet, which had no doors and no pole, just a white cubby really, and I cried like a baby. What the hell have I done to myself, to come here? I was depressed at home, but here I was scared. It was a lunatic asylum, and I didn't belong here.

I don't cry, as a rule. But there I crouched, weeping helplessly to the tune of "Whistle While You Work." It felt like a scene out of a Dostoyevsky novel.

Then the idea came into my head like a gentle whisper: Do the Steps. So I wept and repeated out loud the First Step, claimed it for my own: God, I admit I am powerless over this situation and my life is unmanageable (sound of my own sobbing here). Second Step: I believe that a power greater than myself will restore me to sanity! God, I really need your help right now(sound of woman screaming in hallway here)! Third Step: I'm making a decision at this moment to turn my will and my life over to you, God, and I need you to intervene!

At that moment, someone came into my room with sheets and blankets and made my bed. I climbed out of the closet and wiped my face with my hands. I survived the moment. The sense of powerlessness was total, but there was now a grain of peace. I felt like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car, but now I could leap out of the way.

It took a night and another whole day in that crazy environment to get myself transferred out of that unit into a saner one, but I survived the many helpless moments by turning my life and my will over to the care of my God.

It's a lesson I will never forget. The Steps work in all situations. With them, we can survive the traumas life throws at us. And I remembered what my sponsor had said many times: It came to pass, it doesn't come to stay. Funny, the things we have heard in AA that help in times of need.

I got home yesterday to discover that the narcissus are blooming outside my front door. I picked some this morning, and the fragrance wafts across my desk as I write. You all prayed for me and I got better. Prayer makes a difference.

Today's picture is a watercolor by my friend John Barnard, which I bought last month with my winnings from the fair in August. It hangs over my fireplace, reminding me that we are given many gifts, and it's good to freely give away the strength and hope we receive. There were several recovering alcoholics in that psychiatric hospital, many of whom had been driven to drink again in their despair. I was thankful over and over again that I hadn't picked up a drink, that I looked for help first. God gave me people to work with, to share hope with, to encourage, and it sure felt wonderful.
For today's poem, I'm offering the segment by Alexander Pope that contains the line "Hope springs eternal," thanks to the Walking Man, who looked it up for me:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
rests and expatiates in a life to come.
-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733


Gin said...

I am finding this out more and more. The steps work in all situations. With all I have going on this past week I have been near panic in certain situations, but I try to remember to breathe and work my program. Thank you for this reminder! Love the painting!

lakeviewer said...

I had to catch up a bit. Sometimes, I do miss one or two updates. Glad to know you found AA tools useful. We do appreciate and fight for our own sanity when we see others floundering all around. A strong faith and a routing to put in place are good things.

Syd said...

I believe in practicing these principles in all my affairs--in Al-Anon it's a given that the steps and traditions work in how we deal with life and each other.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

The steps they really work when you work them, truly and in every situation. I cannot fathom your courage in this situation, you listened, you did the work and there was the answer. Your courage and your love are so right on in this post...thank you!!!!

Karen said...

Chris, you can't know how grateful I am that you are here. I am grateful that you were there, if that was what you needed at that time, and I know that God has seen you through this one. One day at a time.

I am not an alcoholic but I have enough association with them to know the steps and the dangers and the hope. TWM gave you the right verse: "Man never is, but always TO BE blest."

Blessings to you and welcome home!

big Jenn said...

I'm glad you are home. jeNN

Steve E. said...

Back among the blogging. We know you're OK, now.

"It came to pass, it doesn't come to stay." ...SO true!


DreamDancer said...

Just dropped in to say Welcome Back and may God's blessings be with you. Peace, dear one.

the walking man said...

That you found the steps to your house full of blooming Narcissus was the final proof from God that no matter where or what circumstance or the condition you wake to find yourself in that God is ever nearer than you thought.

After all God is within you and goes where you take him willingly and without question, he goes because it is there you go.

I am happy for you kiddo and peaceful in thinking of you on your journey.

Lou said...

You grabbed onto something (the steps), and you held tight. Your spirit will be your light despite the difficulty of the journey.

Glad you are back, and glad the world was blooming for you when you came home.

Shadow said...

oh sweetheart, i'm glad to hear you're home again...

Tall Kay said...

What a beautiful testimony of the power in those 12 Steps. You were right where God wanted you to be, to be of maximum service to Him. I am so grateful you made it back, sober!