After recalling this desperate and painful scene, my mind snapped back into the present moment, and I once again became aware of the cold tiles underneath me. There, on my hands and knees, not knowing what else to do, I began reciting the Serenity Prayer, which I had recently learned:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
I focused on each phrase, because I was desperate for a moment of inner peace. More than anything in the world, I just wanted a few minutes of quiet inside my noisy mind. I whispered the words just loud enough so I could hear them over and over and over again: "God, grant me courage to change." I wanted to change; I needed to change, or I was going to kill myself. I was begging and crying hysterically. With my head in my hands, I sobbed uncontrollably, rocking my body from side to side, trying to soothe my broken heart, until suddenly I realized that something inside of me had shifted: a calm had come over me, a silence that was palpable. In asking God, this higher power, to enter my awareness, something inside of me had opened up and relaxed. Slowly, the stress in my body and the screaming voice in my mind subsided, and peace enveloped my entire being. Even the filthy, disgusting bathroom floor didn't look so bad. There was a release, a letting go, a clarity, an expansiveness, but most important, there was some hope. My God, I had hope. Just what my soul needed most.
That morning I knew I had experienced something very important, significant…life-changing. Even though I didn't know what it was exactly, I did know that I was lifted out of the pain of my emotional body, at least for the time being, and brought into the precious present. I knew then that I could at least make it through another day. And at that point, one more day was all I really needed. I was spontaneously filled with a deep inner knowing that not only could I survive, but I would get through this dark night of the soul and be able to thrive when I was released from this perceived hellhole. And all I wanted to do was run back into my group session and shout out to my fellow addicts, "I can do it! We can do it! And guess what, there really is a power greater than ourselves that can help."
I share this experience on the bathroom floor of the West Palm Beach Institute because it was the defining moment when I discovered that a power greater than the self that I knew existed. It was in this moment that I began to heal and transform my inner world and form a deep, loving relationship with the power that I now know as God. It was my day, my miracle, my choice point. And every day for the next eighteen days, I made the choice to find my way back into that bathroom, which had become my holy sanctuary—a place where I could reconnect with the all-loving presence that had delivered me access to the higher aspect of myself and this inner resource that could shift a moment of pain to a moment of awakening. Through this daily ritual of prayer, I found the strength to finally make it through all twenty-eight days of treatment. On one warm Florida day nearly twenty-six years ago, I walked out of my last treatment center, knowing that I had tapped into a power and a resource that could remove obstacles, change people's perceptions of the world and their lives, and lead me to a future I couldn't even fathom. That day, I knew with every fiber of my being that I needed to further explore, understand, and, more important, devote my life to finding and knowing God.