March blew out with surrender. There was that day I drove home from the beach, drinking as usual. But then, a moment of clarity. Noticing how fast “just one” became six at 60 mph, I saw myself as I was: an alcoholic. Funny, after 35 years of “problem drinking,” in the end it was one lousy six-pack that did me in.
I had no idea what getting sober would take. I didn’t really want to quit drinking; I knew no life without it. I had started at 14 and never stopped. But the consequences were sad, or worse. Daily life started, ended, and endured with a bottle at hand. I had lost jobs, friends, a marriage, and more, been in scores of accidents and incidents, and my son’s “How many is that, Mom?” (always two) rang in my ears. How many times had I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “It’s just a phase”? Literally and figuratively it was a miserable, falling-down life. I decided to go to rehab. I had 28 days to hope.
I tried. But there I was, Day 24, still feeling trapped. I had learned that getting sober happens on the inside, but I was missing some essential interior piece, something I couldn’t put a finger on. Time was running out and I could not imagine life with or without alcohol. With had become torture. Without? How can you imagine something when you have nothing to base it on? Hope was disappearing.
In Lakota Sioux language, it’s ‘mitakuye oyasin.’ It means every living thing is related, and all of us deserve equal love and respect. This, simply but deeply felt, allowed me to change my life.
Hope requires faith. Faith requires something to believe in, something I didn’t have. It was plain that I would have to unearth some soulful power to tap into. Something people were calling “spiritual.” In my core I didn’t understand what spiritual meant. Something to do with love? With the divine? I had always been connected to God, but still, whatever the word meant, I knew I was not spiritual. I felt hopeless, and sick with fear. I was going home in four days and all I saw of a future was “relapse” written on the same walls that had always surrounded me.
But who knows what any day will bring?
That afternoon I heard Basil Braveheart speak. I knew about Basil from my roommate. They are both Lakota. Despite my state, I was excited. All my life I have admired the earthy connectedness of the indigenous cultures around the planet, such as the Lakota. Basil walked up to the stage chalkboard and wrote three words: ALL MY RELATIONS. The words struck a chord and I hung on to the vibrations.
All my relations. What is it? A philosophy? A belief system? It doesn’t matter what you call anything as long as you know what it feels like to live it. In Lakota Sioux language, it’s mitakuye oyasin. It means every living thing is related, and all of us deserve equal love and respect.
This, simply but deeply felt, allowed me to change my life.
I suddenly wanted to belong, to become whatever I was created to become. I knew that was not the drunk, lonely soul that I alone had created. I had found something that would allow me to put that self behind me and become my authentic self, someone I could love.
I suddenly wanted to belong, to become whatever I was created to become. I knew that was not the drunk, lonely soul that I alone had created. I had found something that would allow me to put that self behind me and become my authentic self, someone I could love. And in doing so, I understand that I am here, in this time, my lifetime, to do the positive and creative things that the Two-Legged were formed to do. It was a simple as that. I don’t drink anymore. I have other things to do.
I have no idea what other beings know of love, but I do know that the capability for humans to give it is a gift, and that is what I will spend the rest of my life trying to do. Loving everything that is put in my path.
My son and I were visiting colleges a few summers ago. We were at a small college in a small town where there was a large fountain crowned with a globe. Flags of many nations circled the fountain, and carved on the granite floor were quotes from Socrates, Desmond Tutu, and others. Socrates talked about being a citizen of the world. Desmond Tutu spoke of how our humanity exists only by being bound together with one another. And there, as I circled the fountain, reading, was this:
We Are All Related
Written in stone.