I dream that I sit in a movie theater. I look up at the screen and recognize myself and other people I know acting in the movie. The plot looks familiar. The movie becomes so engrossing I soon forget it’s a movie. I come to believe that what I see on the screen is real—the truth about what I am and how life works.

Thinking the movie is real, I do my best to act my part. I strive to achieve the right job, the right spouse and the right amount of money in my 401K plan. I wear the right clothes, drive the right car and use the right underarm deodorant. A tiny voice within me tries to tell me that something isn’t quite right, that I should be heading in a different direction, but I manage to ignore it. The more I ignore it the more painful life becomes. I kill the pain with alcohol and drugs.

Life becomes a never-ending endurance test. I wearily drag the heaviness of my being from one day to the next. Finally the job is gone, the spouse is gone and the 401 K is all dried up. Little red veins start popping out on the sides of my nose. I have no interest in anything except staying high. The pain is so great I can no longer ignore it.

I receive grace in the form of alcoholism. I learn that I have a disease and if I don’t follow the prescribed treatment program, it is going to kill me. I choose life. I take the steps and “uncover, discover and discard” all my old beliefs, ideas, thoughts, even my ideas about God. I learn that I’m not the actor in the movie on the screen. I realize I am the light pouring out of the projector.