Alone And Terrified
Over 26 years ago I began a life without the use of drugs and alcohol, following years of chronic substance and alcohol abuse which ended with my arrest on May 2nd 1989. My initial intentions in being clean and sober and going to 12 step recovery meetings were to manipulate the legal system in an effort to get my charges dropped. My God had a different agenda for me as I discovered, early on, how much I had been wanting and waiting for this new life. I remember my first 12 step meeting I attended in New York back in the summer of ’89. I was truly shocked, not offended, with the level of honesty with which people shared. I didn’t know it was ok to admit such things about yourself. And to see people applauding, relating and hugging one another. All very foreign to me, but I immediately felt the freedom, love and potential for change!
Although I’ve maintained my abstinence from drugs and alcohol in these 26 plus years, there have been times I chose my disease to resurface in other ways and wreak havoc in my life and the lives of others. The tendency is to think of alcohol and drugs when speaking of addictions and recovery. Issues related to addictions and unhealthy dependencies also include nicotine, caffeine, spending, sex, pornography, food, relationships, body image, religion and gambling. I went to any and all lengths to feed and anesthetize the bottomless pit of the hurts from my past. I protected my deceit and darkness by putting my very life in front of it and calling it something else. Til the enemy decided to betray and expose me, rendering me defenseless, hospitalized, divorced, penniless and alone. On my knees in the dark, alone and terrified, I had once again become my own worst enemy and turned my back on the very thing which restored my life to sanity, my God. Despite my efforts to dwell in darkness, He once again would demonstrate His unfailing grace and mercy. God loved me that much, that He picked me up, cleaned me off, saved and forgave me.
To stay on my path of recovery and no longer depend on the devices which created unmanageability, I needed to apply the spiritual principles of recovery to my daily life. Honesty, hope and faith are the foundations of my recovery. Honesty meaning that I surrender, my life is a mess, my way does not work and I can’t do this alone. Hope is the next step in regaining a sense of victory and success back in my life. Not society’s definition of victory and success, but in terms of having integrity. Being where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing and with whom I’m to be doing it with.
The journey of my recovery from past hurts and brokenness is lifelong. In order to avoid complacency and short cuts to my rec0very, the application of humility became crucial for me. This meant acceptance of and responsibility for not only my defects of character but also my God given talents. For years, I thought my inventory began and ended with how bad of a person I was and the horrors of the things I had done. Just as important was identifying and maximizing the potential of my strengths. It’s through my assets that God was able to use me, my past hurts and my accomplishments to reach others. It was here that the true desires of my heart were revealed and I was uniquely placed and given tools to change lives, one a a time.
Deep within me resides an intense fire to lead a godly life and teach others. I’ve come to truly enjoy not having to look over my shoulder nor having to cover up for the lies of my disease. Discipline, which is something I’ve lacked throughout my life, helps me to adhere to the things that work for me and help to neutralize the cunning, baffling and powerful ways of my disease. My discipline was fortified with the loss of my sister to the disease of addictions as she committed suicide years ago. Her life and tragic death has not been for nothing. I’ve used it to carry me, when all seems lost and over. It sounds like such a cliche, but it’s true. Don’t ever give up! My God has a plan and path for me. I have a pretty good idea what I am to be doing each day to remain in His Light and protection and it’s on me to make that choice. On my own, I will fail. You may find times in your life when you think giving into temptation outweighs all the blessings. The M.O. (modus operandi) of your disease is to blind you from everything good you have. It’s to cause you amnesia of your previous consequences. A sure sign of danger, is if you begin thinking that you’ve got it under control. Surrender, the epitome of recovery, is admitting you need something greater than yourself. It is up to you to discover what that is and keep it by your side each and every day.
A little over a year ago, my faith and my sense of freedom in being powerless over others and situations was put to a test. In a matter of weeks I lost my mom to complications derived from Alzheimers, lost my job and closed on a home on nearly the same day. My wife lost her job just several weeks following. Life changes were happening seemingly all at once and having my integrity questioned by loved ones was about devastating in and of itself. I recall times feeling very alone, confused, resentful and terrified. My perspective was becoming distorted and life began to overwhelm me. My daily plan of rec0very was being replaced by completing tasks and attempts to please others and my faith was being replaced with worry, anxiety and fear. The enemy was getting a foothold. I saw what was happening and became determined to not lose myself again and immersed myself back into the things that had worked time after time. Most importantly were prayer and honest and open communication with my wife. It truly was an amazing lesson on the importance of keeping spiritual principles, the Serenity Prayer and a support system in place. Were there some things I should have and could have handled better? Absolutely! But, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The experience I went through now provides me with immeasurable peace in that could I see God had me all along. And He so perfectly had the plans for my life already laid out.
I am far from perfect and life’s challenges have a way of exposing my seemingly well hidden weaknesses. My tendency was to over-personalize things and emotionally over- react to situations. But, I was changing and was no longer the controlling and insecure man of my past. God was softening my heart, healing my hurts and releasing me of my need to depend on the corrupt ways of this earth. This was best reflected in that I was able to move through the experiences of last year and not self sabotage. I allowed myself to feel and learned to be ok with having feelings. And I stuck around for the miracle of my God showing up each day through this time, providing for me and my family in such blessed ways. Even when I would succumb to fear and try to take back the control and figure it all out on my own, He would lovingly and sometimes not so gently remind me, He was keeping to the plan He had for my life.
Join me next time as I break down Recovery Principle 7: Humility. And enjoy some pizza this week!