11. Full of Possibility

11. Full of Possibility

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Full of Possibility

Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible.

~Mao Zedong

It is early morning on St. Patrick’s Day and the rain falls in a fine gray mist against my kitchen window. The parade crowd has gathered in the street below and I strain my neck to catch a glimpse of the excitement. I shift awkwardly in the old wooden chair that has become my grave. My cigarette smoke dances under the cracked window as a chilly gust of wind blows off the Hudson River.

A small child pays the street vendor and runs away flying a brightly colored flag. My breath catches in brief delight at his moment of wonder, helping to distract me from my worry. My husband didn’t come home last night and I really don’t blame him. A woman throws her head back laughing as the band director whispers in her ear. Why don’t I just take a short walk and be a part of the celebration?

My hand shakes slightly as the rum hits my lips. Breakfast. I’m wondering if this drink is enough to kill the pain in my soul. Who am I kidding? I’m a disconnected, useless woman. I haven’t showered in three days. Below me on the street are the normal people with places to be and lives to live.

Anyway, I am safe in here. I am like a shadow against the window frame that no one notices. The marching band stirs outside and I walk away.

•  •  •

Another morning and I watch the sun rise again and the blood rushes to my head when I stand. When did I eat last? My heart races and I think I’m dying. I am so alone. I stumble across the room and a newspaper crunches under my foot. I pick it up and look at it stupidly. Something has to change for me. I have nothing. No husband. No money. No dignity.

I search the church directory for something to grab me and give me some hope. I only feel numb. Tears flow now, hot and fast on my drunken cheeks. I crumple the paper and throw it aside. My beautiful six-year-old son stirs in his sleep in the other room. When he wakes, I will try to look sane. If I don’t get better soon, he will stop loving me.

I look around wildly. There is truly nothing left to do. I am desperate to be free of this constant, haunting ache. It occurs to me suddenly and inexplicably to pray. I move to my bedroom and light a candle, placing it on the floor. I kneel, face down, and feel a small flush of heat on my cheek. My nose is pressed crookedly into the carpet and my chest is wet with silent weeping.

I whisper, “God, if you are there and you are real, I need help. Help me. Please.”

•  •  •

I shuffle through the metal door. They are admitting me for detoxification. The clock is ticking too loudly. The other patients look dangerous. I feel a cold, slimy sweat pour over me and my belly is hollow.

They ask, “Do you know why you are here, Megan?”

I say, “I want to learn.”

•  •  •

I slip into the bubble bath and let steamy air fill my tired lungs. It’s Easter and I’m looking forward to walking barefoot in the grass with my son. I am grateful to be doing something simple. It might be fun. I can’t handle much. I am still raw and ashamed. Last night at the recovery meeting they said, “It will get different before it gets better.” I know I belong, but I’m not thrilled about being labeled an alcoholic. It really doesn’t matter. I am part of something bigger than me now. I’m beginning to understand I’m not a horrible human being. Yes I have lied, manipulated and allowed myself to be abused. But I am not that person today. Some might say I don’t deserve to feel any peace. Yet, I do. I am not alone. The tiniest flicker of grace fills my heart. I sink deeper into the bath water.

•  •  •

Today, my car broke down again. I am overwhelmed with worry about how I will get to work or afford repairs. I need to stay in the moment and focus on what is working right now. I have a home, my family, a good job, people who care about me. I am sober, but barely sober. All this responsibility is too much for me. What am I going to do? I cannot find my balance. I am sick of my useless car. I work so hard and never get ahead. I am trying not to get pissed off at the powers that be. I do everything right and I still get punished! My bowels churn and I head for the bathroom.

I sit on the toilet and the tears come spilling out. They clean the dust off my attitude though. I hear the gentle voices of wise women in sobriety reminding me that my thoughts are heading in a dangerous direction. When I’m resentful, I can create the havoc that I fear. Long, slow breaths. Find something to appreciate. I begin with the intention, “I want to feel grateful. I want to feel peaceful.”

Right then, I think of a man I was helping at work who spoke of a young woman who had to have her colon removed. And it occurs to me, “Good God, Megan, at least you have your colon!” Now, I am laughing at my own ridiculousness. I’ve survived worse than a broken car. I’m laughing and crying all at once and the tension disappears.

•  •  •

I’m at my old rehab today visiting a friend and giving back what I’ve been given. I can forgive myself when I serve others with tolerance and acceptance. Lately, I admit I’ve been a little lost simply living life. I appreciate work, softball practice, cooking dinner. Standing in the rehab lobby, I see where I have been. Yet, the memory of this place does not claim me. I am no longer frail and lost. I feel wide-eyed and ready. I am a complete circle, really. I’ve had many truths in my life, each one leading to the next. With a small smile, I go ahead and accept myself.

•  •  •

I am lying in bed sensing the soft light of early morning. My thoughts are like wispy fog and I am refreshed. The future is a mystery but knowledge isn’t necessary to feel full of possibility. I am not unique but I am bold enough now to say I can forgive myself and I deserve joy.

I feel this joy to the extent that I can give it away to others. I think I’ll share my story so someone else might know they, too, are on the verge of a gorgeous metamorphosis. Today, I believe in miracles because I am one.

~Megan McCann

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