34 months free! YAHOOOOOOO!

Today I celebrate 34 months free from the beast. It’s been a long, hard, dark, road to have to travel, but here I am, still standing, and BETTER THAN EVER!

I still have symptoms, but my life is sweet. I’m wallet poor, but heart/soul filthy rich. I’ve learned so much about who I am, what life is all about, and most importantly, how to love, and how to let go and let God lead my life. I’ve fallen in love with God in a way I never thought possible.

Symptoms: still wake up tingling. Bone pain, muscle pain, weakness at times, head pressure, dizzy, benzo belly, ears screeeeeeeching, (I don’t think that one is ever going to go away. I’ve heard it can be permanent.) insomnia, spine burning. But even with those symptoms, life is good. I have a full and normal range of emotions again. They are not so big and overwhelming anymore. I have boatloads of hope and anticipation of a good future. I also have an abundance of acceptance and appreciation.

My friend Paula and I went to dinner last night. We talked about the years I struggled to recover. She thinks that my inner ambition, the desire to keep doing something and do that something well, is what helped me hold on. I think she may be right. I threw myself into gardening. My front yard became my sanctuary of healing. It also became a gathering spot for the neighborhood, even for strangers from other areas. It gave me a reason to wake up in the morning and face another day of terror, anxiety, depression, pain and existential angst. (Those symptoms are long gone, thankfully.)

I also know that working the 12 steps of recovery, as suggested in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, helped me a great deal. They were instrumental in helping me find my way back to God. They also helped me learn how to be of service to others and to deflate my oversized ego. I used to have an undercurrent of shame running in the background of my life: ashamed of my sexual abuse at the hands of a neighbor and the subsequent assaults from other men that followed. I never felt I was good enough for anything. I always had to prove to myself and to others, that I was Ok. That meant I had to be perfect… in everything. Looks, weight, grades, accomplishments… it was exhausting! Then of course I felt shame over how I coped with feeling shame, which was to numb out with red wine at night. Shame becomes a very circuitous emotion, feeding and looping back on itself as it grows bigger and bigger.

ALL OF THAT IS GONE FROM MY LIFE due to having to survive benzo withdrawal. So, in a strange way, I am grateful for this dark road I have had to travel. I have zero shame. I have only deep and wide compassion for myself and the experiences I have lived through. I no longer feel driven to prove myself to anyone. I know, in every fiber of my being, that I have enough. I do enough. I am enough. (Someone posted those words here on my blog in a comment one day. I’ve taken them to heart. Writing a new book about them, in fact!)

Benzo withdrawal was the ugly, painful grit in my shell. With the help of God, I’ve turned that grit into a pearl. A beautiful, shiny, pearl. If I can do that, so can you!

I’m teaching a workshop this Saturday at Stanford University, How To Boost  Your Creative Brain Power. I can’t tell you how scrumptiously delicious it feels to be well enough to be an adjunct professor at (freaking fabulous!) Stanford. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think life would take me here. I am so grateful.

I’m a better person for having lived through withdrawal. I’m a MUCH better person to be free from that poison that kept me so sick for EIGHTEEN YEARS OF MY LIFE!

I’ve still got healing to do, but so what. This moment, I feel that the possibilities ahead of me are infinite. One step at a time. One day at a time. Easy does it. I trust that good things are ahead. I trust God has his/her arms around me. Thank you, God.

Thank you too, all of you, who read my blog and those who comment or write to me. I love you all. I pray for you all every day. I know if you hold on and don’t reinstate, you can get to this place of peace, serenity and grace. I’ll be looking for you here.

Below is the new book that will be coming out soon. (Cover mocked up excuse water mark.) Thanks to everyone who read it and helped me edit. I appreciate your time and help.

Keep fighting the good fight. It is worth it.