When I was at my worst after I cold turkeyed from over half a milligram of the benzodiazepine, Clonazepam, I felt that God was nowhere to be found. I felt wooden, hollow, void of anything good, whole, or loving. I felt utterly broken, shattered. My soul was sundered. I drug myself through the minutes that made up the day and night. I prayed fervently, often, crying out to God “Please. Help me.” Help never seemed to arrive. So I prayed, “Please. Take me home.” But that didn’t happen either. I lived through every agonizing second.

Years after I swallowed the last sliver of bitter green pill, the one I had swallowed so dutifully for almost 2 decades, my brain put itself back together. I was no longer lost in the sea of horror. I had my mind back, better than ever before. Euphoric to finally meet myself again, my heart cracked open to a gratitude I had never felt before. And God, being the Trickster He likes to be, rushed in. He finally had an aperture into my soul and He took it. For that, I will be forever grateful.

I’ve had time to ponder God’s role in my withdrawal and recovery. At my most fearful, terror wracked days, I felt much like an abandoned child, sobbing for His protection and love. Other times, I was full of rage and anger at Him. How could He, the God of love and grace, turn His back on my very primal suffering? What kind of God was He? I thought of the moment on the cross when Christ sobbed, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? I was so obsessed with that historical moment that I painted it. I called it ” The Abandonment Of Christ.” I understood on some level, Christ’s fear and frustration. However, now standing on this side of mental and emotional recovery from benzo withdrawal, I can say with surety, God never abandoned me. Just the opposite is true. Jesus went through benzo withdrawal with me. He didn’t just walk beside me. No, He felt my tortured anguish. Jesus suffered with me. Jesus was in benzo withdrawal too!

If God is indeed love, then His compassion reaches into our lives and feels our pain. God isn’t “up there” running the show. God is involved in our lives. He’s not separate. He is in us. He’s suffering with us. He’s here, in the midst of it, anguished with us. Our withdrawal and recovery isn’t just happening to us, it is happening to and among the entire universe, for we are a part of the whole. We are not alone.

If you are still in the dark nightmare of withdrawal these words may not soothe you at all. They may confuse or confound you. But when your brain heals more, you’ll be able to look back at your suffering and see that you were never alone. God wept not just for you, but with you. He felt your anguish and despair.

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