Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FEAST (07/12/18)
- TITLE: The Anniversary Banquet
By Marlene Bonney
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It started in just a little marijuana smoking with friends as we hung out in the school parking lot after hours. Later, it turned into partying at local bars with a fake ID and out-of-town excursions to hotel rooms of drug exchanges and houses of ill repute, if you know what I mean. I was living a freedom lifestyle that I hid from my family, lying my way through flimsy elaborate excuses—ruses that only fooled me. I became shackled in the highs and lows of addiction and didn’t even realize it.
When I could no longer hide the ravages of my behaviors, I alienated myself from those who loved me the most so that I could ignore the truth and avoid their daily confrontations. Already, I had blown my savings away like dandelion dust in the wind. But drugs cost money. I had none now. I then went down a path of dissipation that I am ashamed to admit. My dad didn’t know I had drained one of his overseas accounts by posing as his executor and, wealthy though he was, I salved what was left of my conscience with the knowledge that I would inherit it all someday, anyway. I was just taking what was mine a little early.
I had reached a new low that I only recognized when I was sober—which was not often. Knowing I would ultimately be exposed, I ran off with a couple of “loose women” to another country. I spent all “my” money on drugs, alcohol, and partying in over-indulgences that were encouraged at debauchery-catered dinners, gorging myself with fine wines and exotic foods. Until it was all gone. Like a race-car driver’s crash into a concrete wall, my life came to a screeching halt. I laid in a stupor of agonizing withdrawal, deserted by those who had no reason to stick around with no one to finance their own addictions.
A while later, working as a dishwasher at a local dive just to pay my rent, I was slaving away in the treadmill of defeat when, like a cloud lifting after a torrential downpour, I suddenly saw clearly. Here I was, a high school dropout just eking out a mundane existence, at best, and I had an affluent family back home! Even my father’s staff lived better! Humbled and dejected, I realized just a smidgeon of what I had done, and what I would have to do, to get back into my father’s graces.
“He was right all along, and I just threw his love away like trash,” mumbling under my breath as I sent off a telegram:
“I’m sorry, STOP. Can you forgive me, STOP. Can I come home, STOP. Your son, Aaron.”
I could not believe my reception from my father at the airport! This was a man I had lied to, taken advantage of, stolen from! He was welcoming me?!! Forgiving me?!! My shame enveloped me like that of the adulterous woman in front of Jesus. His tearful hugs and claps on my shoulders blurred together like balm in my aching heart.
And, as if that weren’t enough, the reunion was followed by an elaborate celebration, a party filled with former friends and relatives that surpassed any event that took place in the years I had been so lost. My shrunken, empty stomach was soon filled with good food, as wholesome as the hearts of the people serving it.
I cannot honestly say that the road to recovery from my rebellion has been as happy as that reunion feast, but it has opened the way for me to depend on God, the Great Forgiver and Author of Second (and Third) Chances. Addiction is not easily beaten and is a stubborn mistress that is always in the shadows, like a prompter behind a play’s curtain.
Congratulate me, though, because I just attended by 10th “anniversary of sobriety” dinner, and it was more than enough.
Loosely based on the story of the Prodigal Son found in the Bible, Luke 15:11-32
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