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The Moment of the Miracle

Everything Changes at Once

Collage/painting by the author's wife, Trish


“You say, Thank you for lifting this corner of the curtain so I can see the truth, maybe just for a moment, but in a way that might change my life forever. And that moment is astonishing…”

- Anne Lamott


There was a moment when I felt the truth hit home.

It had taken a few steps along the way, smaller realizations leading to an epiphany.

I discovered that there is a difference between knowing something and knowing something.

Here’s what happened:


I’d been working to understand what was happening to me and to come to terms with the problems stemming from my alcohol, drug, and tobacco use.

I was wrestling with questions like these:

What is alcoholism? Do I have it? How do I know?

Why, after quitting cigarettes dozens of times, can I not stay stopped?

When drinking and getting high were so much fun for so many years, why are they so awful now? Why don’t I feel good when I do the same thing that used to make me feel awesome?

What is happening to me? Am I going to fold up like a tent and just sit in a lump for the rest of my life? Who the hell am I without a joint and a beer in my hands?

Will I ever laugh again?


I began to get an understanding of much of this.

I was told that the only diagnosis of alcoholism that would matter would be my own. I could hear it from doctors and girlfriends and bosses and whomever, but none of it would matter if I didn’t make that diagnosis for myself.

Although one can argue the finer points of the elusive exact definition of alcoholism, it slowly became clear to me that I had it.

I was learning, and it was happening in my head. It was a good place to start, but it wasn’t going to be enough.

I’ve heard it said that the journey from the head to the heart can be the longest journey of all.

Thankfully, this particular journey from the head to the heart, and at the same time, my soul, came quickly.


I found myself at home in the evening, alone. I’d been out and about with all of the stimulation of the city.

Instead of seeking more stimulation by playing music or reading or watching something, I hung out with myself in the quiet.

Being quiet, with myself, was not my usual thing. Doing this opened a door for me.

I had a full-length mirror on the wall, and I sat on the floor beside it.

I looked into the mirror and studied myself. It was difficult to look myself in the eyes, but I stayed with it.

When the full understanding got to my heart, I knew in my bones and my soul that I would die if I were to continue to drink and drug.

I spoke out loud. I said “You could die.”

That had never been so real to me. I let the gravity of that sink in. I felt real terror at the idea of dying an alcoholic death, whatever it might be.

I stayed with that feeling rather than doing something to distract myself or run from it.

And then it transformed into a solid understanding that I was going to do everything I could to make sure that did not happen.

This is one of my most private and profound moments of my life.

I changed.

“And that moment is astonishing…”


I’d stopped using alcohol and drugs for a short while at that point.

I battled my tobacco addiction for a while longer, but it wasn’t long before I was able to put that down, also.


My instinct for survival remained intact. I put myself in a position for this epiphany to happen.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, I feel for you. I’ve been there. I don’t know exactly how and why I was gifted this moment of grace.

Whatever you can do to place yourself in the path of grace will increase the chances of being set free, and moving into a new phase of life.

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