Friday, August 29, 2008

This Is a Story Of Redemption

So, today I was on a bus. Yes, my summer friend (the bus) and we got reacquainted for a little over an hour. Generally my ipod is my time-passer of choice, but today I went the book route. For about a week now I've been reading Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. I originally chose this book from a list assigned for extra credit in Abnormal Psychology. I looked through several options and my general curiosity to understand problems that occupy the world I live in... won out. So, I began to read a personal account of a renown journalist and her alcoholism. My first thought on the book was that it would be interesting, but nothing that hits to close to home since I myself and none of my immediate family are alcoholics. However, as I was sitting on the bus ending the last fourth of the book I realized that addicts share many trates and all of a sudden a general interest in a school assignment hit home, very close to home.

Caroline spoke of her upper/middle class family. She spoke of being the daughter of a Freudian Analyst and an artist who were always "appropriate", secretive, and collected. She did not come from a family of alcoholics, she was not beaten or molested. She came from what looked like a perfectly fine family, and she often wondered why she turned out to be an alcoholics because she could never exactly point out what caused it. I often felt the same way. It's like being stuck in a gray area and I just wanted to go to the doctor and them tell me I was ill and send me away with a fix. However, addiction is not like that, and I, being the daughter of a pastor, felt that I had no excuse to be caught in the life I lived.

It's just a life stuck in gray areas and places that can't be defined or understood by people who have never lived them. I began to read more and she mentioned being at AA meetings and how addictions travel in pacts, rarely ever do people just have one. Many of her friends in her meetings (predominantly women) struggled with eating disorders. This passage took me back to many memories that are several years old. As I read about the habitual things people did who struggled with eating disorders I remembered every time that I did the exact same thing. I remember going running because I felt that I needed to punish myself for being hungry. I remembered that after I had not eaten more than 200 calories a day for weeks I ate a half of a cake in one night and I was in so much pain that I thought I was dying. I vividly remember walking into the living room and beginning to cry as I walked towards my mother. Through my sobs I got out "I didn't mean to eat that" to which my mother replied "No one made you do it" and I took some napkins, walked out into the woods, and rid myself of the cake. That was my first addiction.

I read more as she recounted all of her sexual experiences that she couldn't get out of so she drown them in alcohol. She described them as "surreal" as if she was never even there. This brought me back to the present. The very thing that "no one understands" in another persons words. I read my own thoughts in another persons autobiography. Then my mind began to run a thousand miles a minute.

I've compartmentalized my life and forgotten how much my addictions are effecting my current life. I used to be addicted to morphine. I used to do drugs. I used to drink too much. I used to mess around with boys at parties just in time to disappear. I used to do all that stuff. It's been a long time since that stuff, in fact it's been so long that I've convinced myself that that wasn't me. For the millionth time in my life I overestimated my own strength just in time to face plant into the ground. So, now where does this put me?

Well, my life has been great. I have been blessed in more ways than I can count. I got sober, and started devoted my attention to learning how to developer healthy relationships. However, this summer there was a slight set back. A certain event sent me into a slight whirlwind and I found myself in an all too familiar place. I found myself downing alcohol while I lay there praying it would end. I found myself smoking just enough weed that I couldn't recall anything. I found myself being the person I "used to be", except this time I don't know if it's because I'm older, because I've seen more, been through more, or because I found a sense of morality, but there is a voice deep in my soul that won't leave me alone and all it ever says is Catie suck up your pride and leave it alone. Run because you might not make it back again.

I decided to give this all a little more thought than normal because the issue faced me head on the other day. I found myself spilling a little more than may have been necessary to a good friend. It wasn't really the conversation that made me question my lifestyle as much as my reaction to the conversation. He told me that it's going to be alright, and all I thought was apparently you didn't hear me. Then the conversation progressed and I found myself staring at the ground with a thousand things running through my head and I'm not sure if I've ever felt that misunderstood in my entire life. It was not anything he said. It was a feeling of not really understanding it myself, and knowing that no one else really could either. There I was in the same place I "used to be." In a moment of desperation when I knew that I had to do something. I couldn't go back. I couldn't half way do this. It's time to commit to change. Right before I left my friend suggested that I write down things that I need to change and ways to accomplish this. So, I began my walk home. I was walking in the dark thinking of all the things I needed to do and everything seemed so gray and unsure. I was desperate for something concrete. I was desperate for a sign(which I generally don't even believe in). So, I started to think about the reasons I changed last time, and I remembered a story. It related very closely to the "surreal" experience that Caroline so perfectly described.

It was the second week of college and I got a call from a friend who wanted to go to a bar and play trivia. I went with all intentions of returning to my room at the end of the night. It turned out that I couldn't leave. I was taken back to the friends house and it didn't take me long to realize that he never had any intentions of taking me back, and I was stuck. So, as we entered his apartment he made me a large glass of coke and rum (10% coke and 90% rum) so as I realized my fate and fear began to run down my sleeves I downed the drink and followed him to his room.

That was it for me. I realized that I was gambling with the house, and it you play long enough the house always wins. So, as I was driven back to my dorm at 5:00am and dropped off I walked in utterly defeated. I'd played a game too long that I never had the business to play in the first place. So, as I walked down those dark streets recalling that moment. I started to feel the first sense of clarity that I've felt in awhile. I realized that the game only gets more dangerous. It doesn't really matter what I have been through or what has happened to me. I can't do it again.

So, I started to pray on that street. I haven't prayed in awhile except while drunk and very angery at my life. However, as I began to pray I realized another reason that I left that life behind me. Jesus is the only person who has ever understood me. He's the only connection I've ever had to a real feeling of intimacy or love. He gave me a chance to start over, and amazing friends, and a million opportunities to love people. For that, I'm eternally grateful, and for that I can't go back. I don't understand why the incident this summer occurred. I don't understand a lot of things, but there are some things that I'm not supposed to understand. All I need to know is that there is a chance for real love waiting for me. There is a chance for freedom and I don't have to earn it and I don't even have to deserve it... all I have to do is reach out and grab it.

So, all this turned out to be is a story of a girl, a life, a great God, and all the beautiful things in between. This is a story of redemption.


Courtney said...

i almost forgot! :P no but good job Catie! it makes you really think about life and habits or addictions we might have that we go back to when we dont have anything else to go to. I'm feelin this one

Margaret said...

Hey girl! Yep, read it again, and I really love it. Its never too late to begin again. Never, never, never. The most awesome thing about life is that we aren't bound to the past, we can truly experience change in our hearts- a lasting change.

Jennifer said...

I love you so much, Catie...we most definitely need to have a looonnng chat soon, okay?

I miss you like crazy...


Chinedu said...


Great post! I'm very encouraged by the words you've shared and I know that God will use it to affect others. God only knows that everyone has issues, no matter how "simple" we all claim to be. I know it probably wasn't the easiest thing to share but sometimes that's what helps us heal. You mentioned you didn't know or understand why things happened this summer and perhaps you're right that we're not meant to know these things. Instead, we can rest assured that God will be glorified by these events and the rest to come thereafter.

Stay firm in the faith,

GuyWy said...

This was the biggest rollercoaster of a blog post I've read in a long while -- going back and forth from sad to happy with a constant intensity. I liked it a lot.

Realizing that judgment by the world or even by your internalized morality doesn't really matter -- as it seems you have -- can be a big help in allowing one to refocus on what is really important. I hope that makes sense...

Keep writing (not that you wouldn't),