(This was originally written in 2005)
“By the Grace of God, there go I,” is a statement heard often at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It is a 12th-step quote about how the recovering alcoholic, could be the one sitting in jail for a DUI, murder, rape, and whatever else the ‘sick’ mind would allow it to do.
More then once I have said “by the grace of God there go I.” More then once, I’ve wondered how I avoided jail for my acts, while others sit in it. I will live with shame for the rest of my life, with things I have done while I was drunk. And I am grateful that my drinking days are over. That no one died while I drove a car is truly a miracle. And as my time with sobriety lengthens, I watch as people I know head towards prisons for 10, 20, 30 years and my heart bleeds.
These people are not violent career criminals. They are people who had bright futures in front of them and made bad choices. I wish for them and their families that they could relive that one day and change their choices. But these wishes will never come true , nor will the reality change.
My reality is that my past haunts me, but my future remains open. While for others, their past is their present and their future. “By the Grace of God, there go I.” One valuable lesson I have learned from my past is to not judge others. I will leave that to a Higher Power. I know in times of despair it is hard to have faith in any type of a Higher Power. For those who want to judge… please try and walk in their shoes. Feel their pain and their uncertainty.
The past has taught me, that all things do happen for a reason. Exactly what I don’t know. I do know that when I quit drinking over eleven years ago, my reality was then – right now. There was no future, there was no hope. Eleven years later and I can thank God for His strength and courage to move forward – one baby step at a time. Eleven years ago, I would have never believed that my poetry could have touched so many people. Eleven years ago, I would have never believed that I had something to give. I don’t say any of this to pat myself on the back. On the contrary; I say this with a pray that maybe today or tomorrow, your hope will be renewed and your future won’t look so bleak.
Believe me when I say that I know that those 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, or more look like the end of the world. But keep the faith. Those that know you won’t judge you or your family. You’ve earned respect for the strength that has carried you this far. With this strength, a future will once again appear. One you never imagined. I do believe that God has a grand plan for each and every one of us. But we must survive the adversity to find His strength.
“By the Grace of God there goes I.” That could have been me. And I’m not the only one who has said that. As an alcoholic, I use to believe that no one ever could truly understand my pain. When I quit drinking I realized that I was not alone. Neither are you. Your son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, or father is not a bad person. They made a bad choice. They didn’t run, nor did they hide. They accepted their responsibility and someday, hard as it is to hard to believe, it will work out for the best.
I don’t mean to belittle your pain. I know that pain all to well. It is from this pain and experience that I can guarantee you that there is a future. Just put it all in His hands…