curled up on his bed on the couch at my feet. The steady rhythm of the rain dancing on the roof sends shivers of joy down my spine. I watch through stained glass windows, the nude trees swaying their branches in the stormy wind. An electric candle glows and dims on the table beside me. I am utterly at peace.

As I’ve crossed this great nation to explore the concept of resilience and to talk to benzo withdrawal survivors, I’ve had the time and the courage to look back at my own healing. I wasn’t always willing or ready to look back, it was far too painful and frightening. I am proud I didn’t kill myself and I am proud I didn’t reinstate. Both options presented themselves to me many, many times in my healing process. I can’t believe the amount of suffering these drugs can cause. As one benzo survivor called it: “it’s primal suffering.” Indeed.

My dear friend Paul wrote to me this morning and asked what is the “grail” that I seek on this trip. He wanted to know if I was conscious of what I wanted to be open to and to learn. Yes, I am.  I want to learn to always be open to life. I want to deepen my faith in God. I want to marvel at the magic of life, even in the hard times, and there will always be hard times. I want to mature, to wisen. I want to go back to California with an idea of how I will earn a living in the next chapter of my life, as this benzo chapter slowly comes to a close.

My benzo healing journey was a long and painful one. The amount of terror I felt every day for years was unbearable. The body pain, and the electric buzzing, fatigue, confusion, emotional rollercoaster, etc. was beyond human limits to endure. Yet that is what we do in withdrawal. We endure. We hold on. We live on the thin hope that one day we will awaken and feel normal feelings, and be pain free in our bodies. I lived on that small hope for a very, very long time. And now, it is here!

I am not pain free, but I am mentally stable and better than my prior normal. I trust that my body will continue to slowly heal over time. I may not be rid of every symptom, but I know I can live a good life. I have the emotional, mental and spiritual capacity now to appreciate life’s smallest gifts. Like the soft sounds of the rain tapping on the roof.

I want everyone of you who is still suffering to know that one day, it will come to an end. You’ll wake to a new day, and your heart will know peace. Your soul will know joy. You’ll be whole again. You’ll be able to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and move on. You may be surprised by the direction your life takes after withdrawal. You may find yourself called to do different work, or to pursue different hobbies. I hope you can be open to whatever gifts will present themselves to you.

It’s raining here in Tennessee, and Shakespeare is curled up at my feet. Ahh!  Life is sweet. Thank you, God.