Excerpted from YOUR HOLINESS: Discover the Light Within by Debbie Ford, copyright 2018. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne/HarperCollins
Drenched in Holiness
Dear God, Spirit, Divine Mother,
On this day I ask you to grant this request:
May I know who I am and what I am, every moment
of every day;
May I be a catalyst for light and love
And bring inspiration to those whose eyes I meet;
May I have the strength to stand tall in the face
And the courage to speak my voice, even when
May I have the humility to follow my heart
And the passion to live my soul’s desires;
May I seek to know the highest truth
And dismiss the gravitational pull of my lower self;
May I embrace and love the totality of myself—My
darkness as well as my light;
May I be brave enough to hear my heart,
To let it soften so that I may gracefully choose faith
Today is my day to surrender anything that stands
The sacredness of my humanity and my divinity.
May I be drenched in my holiness
And engulfed by your love.
May all else melt away.
And so it is, and it is so,
I was in my fourth drug treatment center, and it was day ten of a
twenty-eight-day program. For over fifteen years I had suffered
drug addiction and the underlying insecurities and self-loathing
that had birthed it. I had been in and out of treatment centers and
could never seem to make it all the way through the program. At
around the ten-day mark I would begin to feel strong, willful, and
hopeful, and convinced that I “had it.” I don’t know what I thought
I had, but the ache that had led me into the treatment center
would usually fade away by this point, replaced by a desperate
need to escape. But on this particular day, I was keenly aware
of where my “prison break” would take me. It was no mystery,
because it had happened so many times before. I would finagle my
way out of the treatment center, claiming I was healed and had
found enlightenment and freedom from my addictions. And then,
either hours or days later, I would be back in the same vicious cycle
of filling my small body with drugs, chasing a feel-good
moment, and sinking back down into the depths of hell and hopelessness.
This particular morning, by the grace of God, I was finally
able to see where the path of running away would lead me. And
I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I couldn’t do it one
more time. I knew that if I ran away, I would either find myself
back in the same place or, worse, not survive. Even with this
awareness, the urge to escape continued to well up inside me,
and the voices in my head grew louder and louder: Run, Debbie,
run! Get out of here! You’re not one of them. You don’t need this. You
can do it alone! For hours I turned my attention to this inner voice
and listened. I wanted to believe it. I wanted it to be the truth.
But the harsh reality was, this voice had let me down many times
before. So for the first time I decided to resist the urgings of this
voice, and I chose to at least explore the possibility that there was
some force inside me that could give me relief, that could help
me where I clearly was not able to help myself.
So I excused myself from my group therapy session
(joyfully so) and proceeded down the dark, dingy corridor
that led to the bathroom. I have to tell you, the bathroom of
this treatment center was a disgusting place. It smelled like
dried urine. The stench was almost more than I could bear.
The tiled floor and the grout between the tiles, which probably
had started out gray, were now black with mold. I am a bit of
a clean freak, and my top priority is beauty. I need it. I crave
it. This bathroom was neither clean nor beautiful. But I was so
filled with toxic emotions and so desperate for help, I decided
to do the unthinkable: I got down on the floor on my hands and
knees in a prayer position and began to pray. I asked God—or
my higher power, as they call it in the twelve-step
program—to come to me, to help me, to rescue me from my pain and my
self-destruction. My body was shaking, and tears were rolling
down my cheeks. I was desperate. Although I had heard people
talk about God in many twelve-step meetings, for me God was
nothing more than a concept in my mind. The actual experience
or knowing of God did not exist inside me.
For a few minutes I listened to the ranting in my head about
how stupid this was, how disgusted I was to be here, and how
embarrassed I felt begging some power I didn’t even believe in to
help me. I felt angry at God, at my parents, and at all those who
had hurt me, believing that if it wasn’t for all of them I wouldn’t
be here, stooping to an all-time low. I tried to convince myself
that I could get up and leave, but my fear that I would die if I ran
away now urged me to stay.
I thought back to the day before I had entered this round
of treatment. I had been living in an apartment at Turnberry
Isle Yacht and Racquet Club in South Florida. I owned a
thriving clothing store in the Aventura Mall with one of the
most prestigious men in the state as my business partner. From
the outside, it looked like I had it all: I drove around in my
white convertible Porsche, wore the hippest clothes, hung out
with the coolest people, and regularly partied among Miami’s
nightlife until the wee hours of the morning. Certainly my outer
shell looked just right. I was the girl who had money, success,
opportunities, friendships, and the world at my fingertips. But in
the quietness of my inner world, I hated myself. I hated my life. I
was angry, judgmental, confused, and disorganized. I was tired,
desperate, and lonely, and the only thing that ever took away my
pain was the carefully selected mixture of drugs that I faithfully
consumed each day.
The truth was that the drugs had stopped working long
ago. And although I could barely endure the thought of having
to live without them, I knew I wouldn’t live much longer with
them. Just two weeks before, I had scored a bottle of Percodans
from a girl I had befriended who worked in a pharmacy. I
thought I had struck gold when I met her. She was the answer
to my dreams and the solution to the countless hours I spent
trying to round up enough drugs to get me through each week.
But on this dark day, this day of reckoning, that bottle was now
empty. It wasn’t that I had never experienced an empty bottle
before, but there had been a thousand pills in this big brown-glass
pharmaceutical bottle, and less than fourteen days later they
were all gone. I now needed to take at least ten Percodans to
catch a feel-good moment, when a few years earlier I had needed
only one. The bag of cocaine I dipped the ends of my cigarettes
into, to accompany my Percodan high, was empty as well.
Here I was, face-to-face with an out-of-control,
all-consuming drug addiction, surrounded by ashtrays, empty
cartons of Salems, and the bottle of 10-milligram Valiums I used
to begin each day. I was obsessed with trying to figure out how
my life had come to this. I seemed to be a genius at rationalizing,
denying, lying, and making up excuses for my bad behavior, but
on this day, with the empty Percodan bottle in hand, I knew in
the depth of my soul that I just couldn’t go on living like this. I
couldn’t pretend that I was okay for one more day.
All my clothes were thrown all over my room since I had
ransacked every drawer looking for pills I might have hidden
and dollar bills that might still contain a residue of cocaine. My
purses were scattered across my closet floor from my tireless
search, knowing there must be something, some residue,
somewhere. All the plastic pill bottles in my bathroom, where I
would typically hide a few pills here and there, now lay uncapped
on the marble countertop.
As I had frantically searched, I felt the desperation, the fear,
the powerlessness of needing a fix and being unable to find one.
I could have picked up the phone, but I was too ashamed and
humiliated to call even my drug dealers. No one could consume
this amount of drugs in such a short time. No cute leather dress
or outrageous dangling earrings could hide the pathetic nature
of this scene. Even my drug dealers would know what a loser
I was. When I realized that I would be embarrassed in front of
people I considered the scum of the earth, I knew there was no
other option. I had to get help. The thought that I was going to
die had been second to the sleazy feeling of being a blown out
drug addict—the poor little rich girl. There I had been, with
everything, and yet with nothing, because I had lost myself.
After recalling this desperate and painful scene, my mind
snapped back to the present moment, and I once again became
aware of the cold tile underneath me. On my hands and knees,
not knowing what else to do, I recited the Serenity Prayer: “God
grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the
courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference.” I focused intently on each phrase because I ached
for some serenity. More than anything in the world, I wanted
a few minutes of peace inside my noisy mind. I whispered the
words, just loud enough so I could hear them, over and over and
over again: “God, give me the courage to change.” I wanted to
change. I needed to change so badly. I began begging and crying
hysterically. With my head in my hands, I sobbed uncontrollably
until I suddenly realized that something inside me had shifted. A
calm had come over me—a silence that was palpable. In asking
God, this higher power, to enter my awareness, something
inside me had opened up and relaxed. The stress in my body
had released, and the screaming voice in my mind had subsided.
Peace had enveloped my entire self. Even the filthy, disgusting
bathroom floor didn’t look so bad. There was a release inside me,
a letting go, a clarity, an expansiveness, but more importantly,
there was hope. My God, I had hope. Just what I needed.
That morning I had experienced something very special.
Even though I didn’t know what it was, it had lifted me out of
the pain of my emotional body, at least for the time being, and
brought me to the perfection of the present moment. I knew then
that I could make it through another day. And at that point, one
more day was all I really needed. Suddenly I was filled with joy
and excitement, and I wanted to stand up and shout out to the
world, “I can do it!”
I share with you this experience on the bathroom floor
of the Palm Beach Institute because it was the moment when
I knew that a power greater than myself existed. It was the
moment when I began to heal and transform my inner world and
form a deep, loving relationship with the power that I now know
as God. Every day for the next eighteen days, I made the choice
to find my way back into that bathroom, which became my holy
sanctuary—a place where I could reconnect with the all-loving
presence that had delivered me to a higher aspect of myself.
Through this daily ritual I found the strength to finally make it
through all twenty-eight days of treatment.
On a warm summer day nearly twenty-four
years ago, I walked out of my last treatment center, knowing that I had
tapped into a power and a source that could move mountains,
change people’s lives, and lead me to a future that I couldn’t even
fathom yet. I knew in every cell of my being that I needed to
further explore, understand, and devote myself to finding and
knowing God. Hallelujah!
Dance with me.
Hold me tight like a lover.
Spin me around until a smile covers my face.
Lift me up, and when my feet touch the ground,
Let me know that I am one with you.
As I resumed my life, I was consumed by the need to
understand how this shift had occurred. Why had I found
the strength this time that I had failed to find so many times
before? How had I gone from feeling deep pain, agony, and
despair to experiencing peace, joy, and contentment? How had
I felt so alone and separate one moment, then, a moment later,
completely connected, one with all that is, seen and unseen?
How had I gone from seeing the world through the self-centered
eyes of my wounded ego to glimpsing the unbelievable intricacies
of my spiritual path?
To this day I remain awed and fascinated by what’s available
to any one of us when we open ourselves up to the unseen forces
that exist within and around us. The quest to understand this
powerful source has led me on a long, unbelievable journey, from
the depths of darkness and despair to unimaginable moments of
light, love, creativity, and joy. And now, excitedly, I share with
you what I have learned from the greatest spiritual teachers of
our time, as well as the ancient sages and spiritual masters whose
teachings continue to live on in our awareness. In the pages
that follow, you will find a process that will unleash this power
within you, so that you can heal your heart at the deepest level
and return to your rightful nature, your truest essence . . . your
Photo: Joyce Ostin
DEBBIE FORD (October 1, 1955 - February 17, 2013) is the national bestselling author of Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Secret of the Shadow, Spiritual Divorce, The Right Questions, The Best Year of Your Life, Why Good People Do Bad Things, and The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse.
YOUR HOLINESS by Debbie Ford
HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
Hardcover ¦ $22.99 ¦ ISBN: 978-0-06-269494-2
On sale MARCH 6, 2018.