I was healed of alcoholism
By the time I was an adult, alcoholism was taking control of my life.
I was not the stereotypical teenage alcoholic. I went to Sunday School every Sunday. I was a shy child and a shy teenager, kind of a bookworm, and had great difficulty in social settings.
One afternoon when I was preparing to go to a party at a friend's house, her parents noticed how nervous I was about being around other teenagers, and they offered me a glass of wine to relax. Well, that glass of wine turned into a very long habit of alcoholism that lasted almost 15 years.
By the time I was an adult, alcoholism was taking control of my life. I was addicted not only to wine but also to prescription medication to alleviate some of the symptomatology associated with alcohol abuse.
About 16 years ago, when my drinking had gotten out of control, I was consuming a bottle to a bottle and a half of wine every evening. My addiction to medications was causing severe side effects, and my kidneys were no longer functioning properly. I had been told that the damage to my kidneys was going to result in the need for surgery or some other kind of medical intervention.
On a train trip to my mother's home for a long weekend, I fell asleep. When I awoke, it was the middle of the night, and the bar car on the train was closed. I was frantic—for the first time I realized that my addiction to alcohol was so severe that there would be side effects if I tried to quit drinking.
I went into pretty serious withdrawal. I was shaking and in severe pain—all the symptoms of anyone trying to quit using an addictive substance. As soon as the bar car opened up, I bought five bottles of wine just in case I needed it, and started drinking right away. The withdrawal symptoms disappeared, and I was feeling much better. "Gee, maybe it was all in my head; maybe I don't have a problem," I thought.
I started to glimpse that there was something that needed to change in me.
When I arrived at my mother's I was pretty drunk. She saw me and said, "It's over. Something has to be done. You have to stop lying to yourself." Because of the kidney disease, my skin was very sallow, I had lost a lot of weight, and I just looked awful.
Having raised her children in a Christian Science Sunday School, my mother knew that I knew she was talking about prayer—that something had to change in my view of myself and in the way I was treating myself. She was praying, and my grandmother, a practitioner of Christian Science, was praying. My grandmother would send me letters in which she would talk to me about God. And if I saw the word God, I would tear them up. I just really didn't want to hear it. I felt like they didn't get it. I thought I needed this life, needed wine, and that I was living the good life—so culturally rich.
I had no desire to change. I really liked the way I was. I was successful with my work and felt respected in my field, and liked the way I lived. I thought wine was a beautiful substance. I liked the glasses that it was poured into and liked being part of the wine culture. I fancied myself as being somewhat of an expert on wines and visited wineries. I felt that culture was part of who I was.
Through talking to my mother during that night, I started to glimpse that there was something that needed to change in me. But I never assumed that it had anything to do with my abuse of alcohol.
The next morning, I woke up excited about the day. It was the Fourth of July, and we were going to be going to a park, and swimming and having a lot of fun. My four sisters and two of my three brothers were there, and it was going to be a great day. I had sent my younger brother out to the liquor store to buy a couple of bottles of wine and was prepared to be happy and relaxed. My brother had put the wine bottles in the refrigerator for me.
As we were leaving for the park, Dwight, a friend of my mother's whom she knew from church, arrived at our home. He didn't have anything to do that day. His plans had fallen through. I had never met him before. He folded himself into our day and joined in.
During the events of the day, swimming and walking and playing volleyball, I became aware of him and the way he treated people. I was inspired by his kindness—he was so completely kind, and that impressed me. But he was just one of the many people whom my mother knew from church, so I dismissed him as someone I would never get to know.
As we were walking around, however, I started to think about myself differently. I started to realize that I wanted to be a good person, that I wanted to live the kind of life that I was seeing in Dwight. I started wondering what made him tick. And I started to enjoy speaking with him because when he talked to me, for the first time in my life I felt like someone was speaking to who I really was—that he wasn't seeing my perfect haircut or my makeup or the clothes that I was wearing or the fact that I had a particular type of perfume on. I felt like he looked at who I was, saw that I was a good person—and he spoke to that.
As the day progressed, we ended up going back to my mother's home, and as we arrived back at the house, I realized that I hadn't had a glass of wine all day. I went into the kitchen, found a glass, and poured myself some wine. I brought it outside to the picnic table on the deck. I sat down with this glass of wine to put what I'd always felt was the punctuation on my day—the real peace and calm and joy to the day.
I hadn't taken a drink yet, when Dwight walked up to the table, looked down at me, and said, "Can I have something to drink?" I remember looking up at him and down at the glass of wine, and feeling as if it were completely foreign to me, as if I could no more drink that wine than I could dye my hair purple.
I felt like someone was speaking to who I really was.
I remember getting up, going into the kitchen, and pouring out the wine and pouring two glasses of lemonade. We sat and began talking. And from that day on, I was never even tempted to drink alcohol again. I never took medication again, either. And from that day on, I was free of pain and free of bleeding. I realized that I was healed of the kidney malfunction, and I never had any problems with that again.
When my mother returned to the table, she looked down at me and said, "Hi!" And I said, "Mom, do you remember that hymn we used to sing?"
My mother burst into tears. She said she saw a whole new me. I was not the same girl that she had picked up at the train station the day before. My skin had taken on a normal hue. My eyes were clear and bright. I was me again, the child she remembered.
Dwight later explained to me something about his day. He said when his plans had been interrupted, he remembered that he had read a statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy that explains the way Jesus healed. It said: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (pp. 476-477). Dwight said that this statement had fascinated him, and he realized that it was key to spiritual healing. Because he couldn't do what he had wanted to do that day, he decided he was going to try to practice this kind of "seeing" or "beholding" as Jesus did.
So, at our gathering, instead of seeing cute women and handicapped men, and old and young, and wealthy and poor, he was going to try to see the perfect individual that God created—the child of God that Jesus saw. He was going to practice this one idea all day.
That seeing, or beholding, is what I felt. I started to see myself through his eyes, through those spiritual eyes. And all of a sudden it was clear to me who I was, and I was healed of uncontrolled drinking. But more important, I was healed of a false view of myself.
Now to go back to the original problem, I always thought that the problem was drinking or drug addiction. But I came to realize that those were just symptoms of the problem. The problem was that I'd felt separated from God. That's really what sin is. I looked up sin in the dictionary, and it said the basis of this word is sunder, which means to separate. Well, that's really what I was drinking to get away from—the fear that I was "sundered" from God, from good, from love—that I didn't have enough confidence, enough love, and wasn't loved enough to feel comfortable in social settings. And that without drinking, I couldn't be myself, couldn't be relaxed and peaceful and calm. As long as I was focusing on the problem—the drinking—I was completely missing the point. And I started to see, as I thought about these ideas after my healing, that really what the alcohol did was mask the real problem. I needed to feel uncomfortable with a false sense of who I was so that I would seek out a right sense of who I was and find my relationship to God. Realizing that I was the expression of God, I saw I included the qualities of wholeness and completeness.
I had the right to be the very loved of God, the very expression of Love. So instead of worrying about how other people were seeing and thinking about me, I had the right to care for others, to be kind, to be loving, to be helpful, to be supportive in social settings, rather than looking at how I was going to be supported, loved, or treated.
That's just completely transformed my life. Mrs. Eddy wrote, "... sensitiveness is sometimes selfishness" (Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 8). And I learned that to be self-conscious is to be conscious of yourself—while love is never self-centered. Love is always unselfish.
I was not the same girl that she had picked up at the train station the day before.
Actually there was another healing that happened that same day. I was completely healed of having to wear glasses. And I didn't realize that for a good month. My life was so transformed that my daily routines were different. It was a month later when my mom called me and told me that my contacts were sitting in her bathroom cabinet and asked if I needed them. I hadn't even missed them. I had gone from not having read a word of the Bible or Science and Health for 13 years to studying them every day—and had done it without corrective lenses. The same hunger that I had had for alcohol had been replaced by a new spiritual yearning. And so I'm just really grateful. It's amazing how free a person can be from feeling separated from God.
Today, 14 years later, I now help others who are struggling with that problem, as a Christian Science practitioner. I devote my full time to that very kind of seeing, that beholding that Dwight taught me so much about years ago. I am very grateful to give back a little of what he taught me.
Excerpted from Sentinel Radio