The River Serene

Strangers in Denial
September 4, 2014
The Cornerstone
September 30, 2014

The River Serene



podcast-icon Listen to: The River Serene
Read by: Rebecca Balko
Length: 6:15



I remember when I first walked through the doors of recovery and began meeting folks who had been living sober for years. I thought to myself, “They are SO together” and I wanted my life to be JUST like theirs! I would sit and imagine how totally AWSOME it was going to be when I was like them – just drifting in my proverbial canoe down that sweet river called Serene! Yep, it was going to be just FABULOUS! After all, life in addiction had been really difficult, it was only logical that life clean and sober would be nothin’ but smooth sailing…right?

Sure enough my time came and I found myself floating down that sweet river Serene. There were people who offered to go with me, (telling me I didn’t have to go it alone), but you know…this was MY trip and they weren’t really “my type” anyway. I thanked them for their offer, but explained that I wanted to do it alone ~ Just me and the river. I was floatin’ down that peaceful stream, with the water so clear and smooth, a gentle breeze blowing through my hair while the warmth of the sun was cascading over me. It was everything I had hoped for and more! I floated along in a peaceful state of bliss, thinking to myself, “Man, this is a snap!” As I gazed ahead, I noticed there were gentle ripples in the water. Floating along, they continued slowly building and multiplying around me. I thought, “Wow, look at the water. It looks so pretty. I love water.” I laid back, feeling so comfortable and relaxed as I began drifting ever faster downstream.

Hearing something in the distance unfamiliar to me, I raised up from my relaxing state of slumber, in a feeble attempt to figure out the source of that strange sound. Gazing far ahead of me, I could barely make out something white on the water in the distance. I thought, “Hey -that looks like snow on the water. It’s so pretty. I love snow.” For just one brief moment though, I had a fleeting thought, “Strange that there’s snow on such a warm sunny day.” But, not wanting to leave the comfort of my sweet journey down the river Serene, I laid back to enjoy my ride filled with uninterrupted peace and joy that would never ever have to end…or so I thought

BLAM!! BUMP!! BOOM!! BAM!!

I shot straight up! “What was that?!! What  the Sam Hill is going on around here?!!
Suddenly I realize that what I saw up ahead was in fact…NOT SNOW and I am now in the middle of white water rapids!!! All I can do is freak out and scream: “AHHHhhhhh!!!” I thought, “How did I get here? How did this happen?  I don’t know how to do this! Don’t I need a raft? But I’m in a canoe!!! What happened to my peaceful ride?” Suddenly…up ahead… I see it. (Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse…it DID!) That loud noise that I had been hearing was no longer a mystery as I heard myself yell,”Oh NO – it’s the falls!!!!” I grab the ore, frantically paddling against the current with all that was in me! For every 6 fast paddles away from the falls I moved towards them another foot! Realizing my efforts were ultimately futile, drifting ever closer to the edge, I begin searching the shore line for someoneANYONE!!!! (But I couldn’t see a sole) I paddle and I paddle…But I’m still moving towards the edge! In desperation I cry out, “GOD!!!!! HELP MEEEEE!!! PLEASE!!!!

Suddenly, I hear a voice…”Hey! Grab the rope when I throw it!”  Turning, I see some people on the shore line. Thinking to myself, “Where the heck did they come from?” Followed by, “Who cares?!” They throw me the rope and I grab hold of it. Exhausted, all I can do is hang on tight and let them pull me to shore.

Although a metaphor, this was my experience in early recovery. Thinking I could do it, thinking it wouldn’t be hard and freaking out when the reality of “living” came crashing towards me. Finding that when my “self sufficiency” reached its limits, there was a God and a fellowship of people that could do for me what I couldn’t — pull me to safety. I am so thankful for that realization and that over the years the truth that was there in the beginning continues to be the same truth that saves me even today.

©2009-2014 Rebecca Balko