My Lament: A Cry for Surrender
By: Tami Harper Winn
“Be advised,” the judge said, “The penalty I can impose for this crime is a minimum of ten years in prison with a maximum sentence up to and including death.” Those words slammed into my stomach with the force of a Mike Tyson TKO. I hit the floor in the courtroom on all fours, head hung in defeat, waiting for the hangman’s noose to be glided over my head and around my neck. I couldn’t breath. The bailiff noticing this, tried not to draw attention to the scene on his way to me. He lifted me off the ground, discreetly helping me out of the courtroom so I could try to catch my composure. Impossible. I fled to the bathroom on the fifth floor of that courthouse and flung myself onto the ice cold tile, gasping for breath through tears of anguished cries. Yes, that was my son that judge was speaking to, my flesh and blood, my baby boy.
Just a few short hours before this scene occurred, I had finally fallen into a fitful sleep. But that didn’t happen until God had heard me out, not until I had gotten the last word in, and believe me I did. You see, after staying until closing time at the pub across from my house, I managed to stagger my way back home, fully loaded from the ankles up. Reality met me at the door. There, alone in the middle of my living room, I fell to the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably. I felt a terrible emptiness threatening to rip me apart from the inside out, a deep darkness creeping into the huge blank void called my soul. The pain seared through my torn heart. I felt as if I was dying. Broken beyond recognition, I was merely a skeleton of the person I had once been. The ghost of who I had one day dreamed I’d be beckoned me from the corners of my mind, incessantly reminding me of the part of me that had died the day I picked that bottle up. Impending doom rushed at me from every side. This was it. My lament.
On my knees, there alone in my home that night, I cried out with all the force left in me to a God I did not know anymore. With the faith of Abraham, I brought my son to the alter before my higher power through prayer on my living room carpet. There, I placed his very life before my higher power, while that very son sat across town in a tiny cement room, waiting for his penance to be decided. I pled for his life. I pled for his soul. I pled for mercy. I pled for his forgiveness. I pled for his future. I pled for my sanity. I pled for all that ever was and would ever be. I screamed obscenities at him. I threatened him with my suicide. I threatened him with eternal emancipation. I begged for hours, my knees raw from the carpet beneath them. Heaving and weak, my body beaten into submission, I finally gave. Collapsing to the floor in a pathetic and broken heap, I surrendered my son and myself back to my higher power. I had made a mess out of everything, my best efforts strewn across the tattered remnants of the suffering that everyone involved had endured.
Exhausted from the crying and pleading, I curled up where I had collapsed and sought slumber. My higher power had won the battle for my soul that night because I had come to him with the desperation of a drowning woman. I, on the other hand, had lost the war I had been waging against myself and was beginning to understand that. Tomorrow would be the day that my son’s fate would be handed to him. In that moment, in the quiet hours of the night, I had finally conceded to my inner most self that no matter what happened tomorrow, I had absolutely no control over it. The impact of feeling completely powerless was driven home, piercing me as deep as nails into a cross. I was defeated. My lament had been heard.
In the courtroom that morning, before sentencing, I knew that this time only God would be strong enough to carry me out of it -- should my worst fears come true. Without question, my higher power suited up and showed up. The judge handed down his sentence after what seemed like hours of debate between attorneys. I held onto my breath like it was my last. The sky parted. Angels sang. I wept. My son wept. Then I exhaled. The sentence given was minimal by all accounts, six months and rehabilitation, a fraction of what the judge had at his disposal to use. This sentence offered hope. It offered hope to my alcoholic child. Even more so, it offered me hope, his alcoholic mother. There would be a tomorrow for him and for me. It was what I now refer to as the beginning of my end. It was the first time I thought maybe, just maybe, there could be a way out of this madness for both of us. I would later come to learn that this was my first spiritual experience, the first of many more to come.
I would like to say in that very moment I decided to get sober. I'd like to say that having seen the err of my ways I got straight. But that’s not my story. Unfortunately, alcoholism and addiction is cunning and baffling, insidious in its very nature. The insanity of the disease defies all rational thinking. To most “normies”, they might think that what had just happened should’ve been enough for me to see that I needed to make a change. It makes sense for them to think that way. To everyone else that may be the normal way of thinking, but I am an alcoholic, and there is nothing normal about the way I think. In fact, I did just the opposite that day. I left the court house that morning after sentencing and celebrated, go figure. I celebrated by getting completely hammered while playing Frisbee golf with my friends at the park. What can I say? It was a beautiful afternoon and all was right in the world. Why wouldn’t I celebrate?
~Tami Harper Winn~
The story written here is solely the work of the author’s. Any use or reproduction of this article is prohibited without written consent of the author or credit to the author through works cited.