New York City, New York
As I awake on the floor on my Fifth Street apartment the heat and humidity are beyond anything I have ever known. They simply shroud me in eternal and endless heaviness. The pain behind my left eye—always my left eye—is the rallying point of my awareness. It captivates me with its intensity and aliveness, as if it lives, separate from my body, some crazy science fiction being throbbing inside of me. Waves of nausea and dizziness sweep over me. Standing up is not an option. Figuring it out is not an option. Moving is not an option. My only option seems to be to continue to rock from side to side, hitting my head on the floor—north side higher, south side lower in this, my crazy East Side tenement apartment.
Time fades in and out as I float through consciousness. Eventually, with the afternoon sun high on the long, streaked windows, I stagger to my feet, find the wall, and, clutching it, stumble toward my bed. In the most non-habitual moment of my life, I do not reach for another joint or another swig of old, stale beer or my precious migraine medicine. Instead I reach for the telephone, my beloved red princess phone with the extension cord long enough to stream up and down my railroad flat, one skinny swimmer’s lane in length and width. For no apparent reason, with no obvious logic, I dial information and, in a voice I do not recognize as my own, I ask for the number of the anonymous 12 Step fellowship someone had casually mentioned to me. For no apparent reason, with no obvious logic, I call that number and ask about a meeting. For no apparent reason and with surely no obvious logic, there is a meeting beginning in seven minutes, one-and-a-half blocks from where I sit.
I mindlessly and miraculously find my Birkenstocks and my keys, make it again to my feet and stagger toward my ridiculously heavy apartment door, adorned with security locks. Fumbling them open, heaving the door toward me, the smells in the hallway lurch my stomach forward. I persist; out into the hallway, tentatively down each of the four flights of never-ending and uneven steps, down to the street door. Yet another door to yank, its sticky, dented doorknob repulsive to me. As I open it and step onto First Avenue, its sounds and intensified heat assault me. I stand, trembling. Yet, one step at a time, I find my way across First Avenue, walk down the shortened block to East Fourth Street. I see the church on the other side of the street, the church with people comfortably milling outside it. I see the church and swear under my breath that I will never, ever enter it. Passing the church, I walk to the end of the block, cross the street and walk back toward First Avenue. For no apparent reason and with no obvious logic, my feet take me up the three concrete steps and into the church. You are all there, waiting for me.
And since that day, literally one day at a time, I have continued to return to that and to other churches. And one day at a time I have been given exactly what I need to become more of who I really am, to practice partnering with something that is not my anxious and hyperactive mind. And one day at a time I am accepted exactly as I am, as the doorway to who I might become creaks open a tiny bit more.
Why I have been blessed with this gift of rebirth on August 27, 1986, and why I am given it today, August 27, 2016, I do not know. So many of us tragically don’t find our way through addiction. The only thing I can imagine is—to offer the blessing back to you.