Recidivus: An addict’s resurrection story

The powerful image of Christ’s resurrection on Easter serves to show light beyond the darkness. Bruno Van Der Kraan/Unsplash

Easter is my favorite holiday. 

I was dead on the inside. Years of drug and alcohol abuse left me morally, physically, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I prayed for the end, but I was granted a new beginning when I’d hit rock bottom.

May 5, 1999, my husband went out to have a margarita at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Rio’s, for Cinco de Mayo. On the way home, we bought a blender, margarita mix, and a fifth of Two Fingers tequila. It was on like donkey-kong from that evening on.

The weekend cocktails soon turned into drinking straight from the bottle. Those tiny shot glasses were for the birds. Then came the drugs – coke, meth and whatever else I could get my hands on. I felt bulletproof and young again, but this depravity was not an ordinary mid-life crisis.

I had a wonderful job in pediatric cardiology and a lovely home in Missouri. I’d been blessed with three beautiful, healthy sons and a devoted husband who all watched me helplessly as I slowly trudged on for the next 15 years to the inevitable suicide attempt.

In and out of hospitals and psychiatric institutions became regular events. The paramedics knew me well as they would say: “Oh…it’s you again.” Multiple stints in jail for drug possession and drunk driving resulted in court-ordered rehabs that did nothing to inhibit my insanity.

Small doses of hope following each attempt at recovery were always dashed in a momentary lapse of reason, followed by another binge. Crises and chaos ruled my life, echoing the misspent teen years. I loved it till I despised it, but even my hatred for the seemingly endless hell I was in couldn’t stop me.

Fast-forward to March 2015 and my last suicide attempt with an overdose of pain medication. I was in a coma for six days at Mission Hospital. It was the fourth anniversary of my husband’s death and ironically our 20 year wedding anniversary. There was no hope or struggle left in me.

Every time I had tried to quit drinking, I experienced seizures and delirium tremens—visions of demonic monsters—scarier than even the horror films Stephen King made. But in those six days, there was nothingness: No bright white light, no devils, and no pain. The worst part was no love.

I woke up to my mother and 28-year-old son, David, holding my hands with tears and fear in their faces. I vowed to change. Not for me, but for them. I was transferred to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, where I spent a week on the rehabilitation unit and a few days in the medical ward because I was so physically ill.

On the way home to pick up medication for bipolar disorder, I bought a pint of vodka. Not the good stuff — rot-gut, off-brand vodka. I waited for my mom and David to fall asleep and took a drink.  “You are Lucifer,” a voice whispered in my ear. I poured the rest of the bottle down the sink, and I haven’t had another drink of alcohol since that night.

Easter Sunday always ushers in a well-spring of new life and renewed faith that the darkness precedes the dawn. The resurrection of Christ celebrated by Christians around the world holds the promise of life after death. Whether one believes or not, there is always a reason for hope.

Wildflowers bloom at the start of Spring. DeeDee Prince/courtesy

If flowers can stay buried under the cold, hard ground during winter to bloom again in the Spring, so can I. Every morning is a rebirth for me after the many years I didn’t believe in anything. 

Today when I see the cross, I also see the empty tomb.