A Pilgrimage from Addiction and Despair to Medjugorje and YaleMay 8, 2012 No Comments
May 8, 2012 | MariaNews.com
In Search of Ecstasy: A Pilgrimage from Addiction and Despair to Medjugorje and Yale
(By Daniel Klimek) – I found myself on a cold washroom floor, distraught, sickened, trembling, my heart-rate pounding, as I spat into the toilet after vomiting senselessly due to another day of alcohol abuse. My addiction was getting severe. I could feel the stench of vodka in the pits of my stomach, the poison that was getting the best of me was becoming a part of me. I couldn’t go a week without getting completely wasted on hard liquor at least two or three or four times, sometimes it seemed daily.
I was a 17 year-old kid in high school. I attended a bad, inner-city school in Chicago.
My addiction began with a bad relationship.
She was a drinker.
She was a drinker partly because she had a troubling upbringing. She was abused by her father, physically and, at times she implied (though felt too ashamed to admit it directly), sexually.
“There’s no shame in that,” I would say to her today, if I could, attempting to console the wounds of her past: “In being a victim of something so horrific. There’s no shame in that.”
But back then I was far from a mature individual, my character was weak. So we became “drinking buddies.” Instead of helping her with her own addictions, I indulged with her and joined in the escape from reality that was our mutual intoxication.
We were in love. …. Needless to say, it was far from a healthy love. I noticed that around this time, as my infatuation with her and with alcohol grew, my prayer life (though, in those years, it was never that great to begin with) completely deteriorated. I stopped praying altogether.
Here, with her, with the love that we had, with the highs that we shared, I felt an ecstasy; an ecstasy that I didn’t feel in prayer. I felt a communion. I replaced one with the other, elevating the creature over the Creator through my actions. Notwithstanding, as the severity of my alcohol abuse intensified and as I eventually found myself in a darker, hellish pit of misery, I slowly started realizing that it was a false ecstasy and a false communion that I was experiencing, that I was seeking: a deceptive, superficial high that came from an empty and senseless place, leading to nothing more than a path of ruin.
I struggled in school. Sometimes I showed up to class intoxicated, once even vomiting, my state was so bad. It was horrible. It was depression, it was darkness. It was low and cold and lonely. The anxiety led me to troubling thoughts, thoughts of ending it, thoughts of the cruelty and emptiness that constituted my life, my existence. At times, the desperation was unbearable.
I couldn’t continue on this road for much longer. My body couldn’t take much more of it. If I did continue, I knew – as I do know today – I would be dead. There were times when I could have died from the excessive amount of substance abuse that my body, my system, took in.
It is a great irony, if not mystery, that we most often feel closest to God when we hit rock-bottom in our lives. That is when we encounter the mortality of life in a deeper way. Through the prism of melancholia, through the dark night of one’s soul – sometimes the darkest of nights – we cry out for help, a cry that is evoked from the innermost depths of our being, a cry so sincere and so desperate and so lonely that a merciful God, a merciful Father, can only see it for what it is: a prayer.
I started praying again.
Tags: Addiction and Conversion, Catholic Blog, Catholic World, Daniel Klimek, Medjugorje, Yale CatholicCulture, Featured Article, Reflections