By Louise Drummond
(Ed. Note: This is Ms. Drummond’s Introduction to her soon-to-published book entitled The Phoenix. Our readers should be warned that what follows is brutally candid.)
My first memories are of violence: my father toward my mother, and both of them toward us children. Incest started on my fourth birthday. This went on all during the years my childhood, until my father fled to another state because he was reported for molesting a child outside of the family.
I don’t have to tell anyone who has been through that kind of life how frightening and confusing it is. I began drinking alcohol for relief before I was out of high school. Two pregnancies resulted, but I hated sex. I had a child but was unaware of my adult status. I ran away with a man to save myself, and he shot me, then a year later committed suicide.
I would like to tell you that I was a good person anyway, but I was not. I tried to be, but the need to control my environment and the models I used to do it, made me act as a self-centered bully all too much of the time.
Nor was I honest. I began stealing in childhood, and then graduated to cheating on my taxes, then to stealing my daughter’s inheritance. There was little about me that was likeable. I was giving back to the world exactly what it had done to me. I still feel shame over some of what I did.
I became addicted to alcohol after my husband’s suicide. I was in yet one more relationship where I was letting myself be dominated and the effect of sweet wine was a distraction. I had a two year run, that time. I saw a psychiatrist for a couple of years. We talked about a lot of this stuff, but I never could get in touch with my emotions about the incest and never told him how much I was drinking. I did learn that, as an adult, I was a victim by choice and took responsibility for my life.
Later, I discovered marijuana. It has some very interesting effects, among them calming post-traumatic stress. Luckily, I was living in an idyllic village where I felt every little threat; that allowed me to concentrate my attention on my internal processes. And, it showed me the beauty in life. I began to center.
Another stint of alcoholism and I wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous, thank God! I had been going to Vedanta lectures, attending an incest therapy group, volunteering at an abused women’s shelter, and I was looking for life to present me with the way to quit drinking. AA clearly knew how not to drink.
Not only have I been free of alcohol for twenty-nine years, I have learned a way of life that makes life worth living. As addiction is an elevator ride to the agonies of hell, recovery through the methods of the 12-Step programs leads to freedom and joy. One learns that there are choices available that had been unimaginable before. Most important of all is incremental change in a safe and usually nurturing environment. All of the Anonymous programs use the same methods. They work for any problem because they concentrate on solutions. The past is important only to understand the present. And, your best effort, made day by day, or minute by minute basis, is good enough on the spiritual plain.
I believe that there is a benign universe and when we free ourselves of the pain of the past, we put ourselves into alignment with natural forces, for in all the world, there is only now, this minute. I believe that there can be forgiveness and redemption. Amazing Grace is available if one asks for it and is willing to practice doing the next right thing, with a little help from friends who have been there and know the way.