Get Sick To Feel Better
By Ned Wicker
Swirling within the seemingly endless spiral of alcoholism is a person out of control. “Darci” understands the helplessness of being caught in the grips of addiction and knows that without help she is not going to live much longer. She is tired of the spiral and appreciates the treatment center. She is beginning to gain back control.
She looks back at the last 20 years of her life and wonders how it all got to be this bad. Still a young woman, Darci shows the pounding her body has taken, as the deep lines on her face and ruddy complexion tell the story long before she shares a single thought. Her children are grown and now that they have moved out of her home, she agonizes over what might have been had she not been an alcoholic. There is not a lot of detail in her story, but it’s obvious that there is a sad one to share. She knows she needs to share the rest, but that will come at the proper time.
As she told her story I was reminded of the scene in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” in which Gene Wilder’s character wakes up in jail, still drunk from the night before. He swigs large amounts of whiskey. He is asked if he’d like something to eat. “No, eating makes me sick,” is the reply as he takes another enormous mouthful. In the month leading up to her decision to seek treatment, Darci did not eat much of anything, because it made her sick. Her day would begin by getting sick. She’d get herself together and go off to work. In the last 30 days she’d take a flask to work, just to make sure she had a few shots to take the edge off. The shakes would come, so she’d sneak off to the ladies room to medicate herself. It didn’t help. She said by mid-afternoon she’d be sent home.
She did not enjoy drinking. It was no longer pleasurable and had not been for many years. It was a necessity just to feel some semblance of normalcy. Alcohol was her food, and like watching sand from an hourglass slowly fall, her time was running out. Some people may not like the idea of being in treatment, but Darci fully embraces the opportunity. She has found love and acceptance from the other addicts, and she is beginning to get a look at life without alcohol for the first time in years. She has a good sense of humor, with an infectious giggle. I mention this because she has buried her funny side for so long. It’s just now reemerging. She looks to the future and knows that her first priority is to rebuild her relationship with her adult children. “I put them through hell,” she said. The others have had similar experiences and they understand fully.
Darci will never be cured of alcoholism, but she knows she can manage it by embracing the teaching from the treatment center, allowing herself to be loved and supported by fellow alcoholics, and most of all allowing her God, whom she has kept away for so long, become a part of her life again to fill the holes in her heart that alcohol once occupied. There is hope and she is claiming it. She knows it’s going to be difficult, but for the first time in 20 years, she is happy to get up in the morning and live life.
Ned Wicker is the Addictions Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center.
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