Peter M. – Hanley Center Alumni
Thank God for Hanley Center.
It feels strange to use the word “God” as something other as a euphemism. For 44 years I was an atheist. Yes, I was in a 12-Step fellowship and going to meetings and staying sober, but I never bought into the “spiritual angle.” The “God” part. I was going to stay sober on my own, or with the help of the folks in the meetings, but there was no way God was going to be any part of my recovery.
And then I relapsed.
In all honesty, I hit my bottom before I picked up that first drink. My life was crumbling around me; marriage, family, work and home. I was in terrible emotional pain and there was no meeting in the world that was going to help me. I went back to the bottle, my old solution, and it took me to where it always had.
The misery of my addiction was back and I knew I was in trouble.
Treatment is not something I wanted. I thought it was for weaklings and losers, junkies, and back alley bums. It took some cajoling and more than a few tears before I decided I really did need help. Looking inward and being honest about my condition was hard, but it was necessary. I didn’t know it at the time but this was God, the Universe, or whatever you wish to call it, pushing me in the right direction.
I knew I was an alcoholic but I thought my big brain would get me out of addiction and back on the right path. I had been a normal drinker for so long. Alcoholism was a recent development, arriving in middle age. I clung to the hope that I could return to my former state, but like a man with no legs, I would have to come to the realization that I’d never run again.
I thought I came to Hanley Center for psychological and psychiatric help.
If I could just ease my depression and develop good coping skills, my desire to drink would vanish. Every morning began with a discussion about the 12-Step program of action. Hadn’t I already tried that? Hadn’t it failed me? What was going to be different this time? Never mind that I had approached the program with the scalpel of my intellect always ready to dissect it. I questioned everything about the steps, asking “why” at every turn.
Then a wise counselor at Hanley, a man who was living in sobriety and sharing his experience with us, told me that no one knows why it works, we just know how it works. I had heard that before every 12-Step meeting I had ever attended, but had ignored that instruction. But what about God? How was I to understand that?
“If you think you understand God,” he told me, “your God is too small.”
Somehow that struck me. Later that morning I reflected on this idea. I don’t know why or how it happened but I had a vision of the Universe where everything was as it was supposed to be. Everything was in balance. The Will of God was time, and I was a servant to the Will of God. I cannot live in the past, nor am I living in the future. I am always in this very moment. I cannot change what has been or manipulate what will be. This was truly a Power greater than myself and I had to take hold of it.
The Big Book says that sometimes spiritual experiences come as “sudden and unexpected upheavals”, though it is in no way a requirement. I had to wait 44 years for such an experience, but it did come suddenly and unexpectedly. Using this new gift, I came to realize that I ended up in treatment not because I was a bad person or a failure but because I *had* to be there. All of my problems that I thought were ruining my life were propelling me to a place where I could begin to live in the solution.
Thank God for Hanley Center.
Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.
For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.