The other thing that's hard is the whole family thing. This is not an individual disease, it's a family disease. Even if there's just one alcoholic in the family, everybody's affected by it on some level. I had a difficult time with that. Even though people were very happy that I wasn't ending up in emergency rooms or on the front pages of newspapers anymore, they didn't like how I was different. My mom once said, "You can't make the daiquiris anymore?" She didn't get it. "That's great you're not going to shoot heroin anymore, but that doesn't mean you can't drink, right?"
Plus other people who may have problems have to look at their own stuff when you're around. You become like a giant mirror. People start projecting their worries and problems on you. The fact is, I'm too busy worrying about my own problems to pay attention to yours. But if you decide you want to get sober, I'm your guy, on what ever level, what ever I can do—because what I've learned is that in order to keep this thing, I've got to give it away.
Somehow I was picked to move from the darkness into the light. I don't know why. I didn't do anything for it, I didn't "earn" it or "deserve" it. At all. At all. I just stayed alive. I stayed alive and I stayed connected to some kind of treatment, or some motivation, some goal. I hung on to hope, and hope opens you up to change.
That's what this book and the stories in it are about, and that's what I want people who read it to take away from it—the hope that this thing can change. No matter how long it's gone on, no matter how bad it is. And also, these are interesting stories. Lives that are transformed inexplicably are interesting. They're interesting to read about, they're interesting to ponder, they're interesting to meditate on.
But more than anything else, they show us that what's right in front of us is not all there is. There's something else going on out there. I have evidence of it in my life, the people in this book have evidence of it, and it's reinforced for us over and over again, as long as we keep ourselves open to it. And that is grace.
* In her biography of Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever quotes from a letter Jung wrote to Wilson, discussing this idea of spiritual transformation. Jung comes up with a great summary: "Alcohol in Latin is 'spiritus' and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum" -- spirit against spirits.
To read more of Moments of Clarity, click here.