KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — The faces of recovery vary from person to person, as recovery isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Here are some stories of recovery:
As I sit here thinking about what to say, I can’t help but reflect on my life.
I think of my life before drugs and alcohol and go all the way back to kindergarten at Leesburg Elementary in Mrs. Delp’s afternoon class. I remember each kid standing up and sharing what they wanted to be when they grew up. The vivid memory of wanting to be a missionary comes forth.
I remember testimonies from missionaries in church. It had always been inspiring to hear their stories of sharing the gospel in other countries. Other kids in my class had aspirations of being police officers, firefighters, pilots or astronauts — but none of us said we wanted to be a drug addict or an alcoholic.
Drug addiction never crossed my mind. I didn’t even know what drugs were back in 1981. Thirty-seven years later, I’ve experienced a life filled with drugs and alcohol.
For 20 long years, I looked to them to fill a void in my heart and numb the pain from the hurt that laced through my emotions. From 18-35, I was in and out of jail countless times. I destroyed every relationship in my life.
Everything I ever loved was being lost and I seemed to be unable to make the right decisions.
My mind was clouded to the point of not having clarity or proper perspective. This went on until I was 36, when I caused a devastating car accident nearly killing and paralyzing my wife.
There are certain events in life that can either destroy you or be the very thing that brings you to your knees in surrender. Nearly killing my wife had finally opened my eyes to who I had become.
I contemplated and planned my suicide the weeks following the accident. One night, in a concrete-walled basement, I cried to God for help. I remember the preacher’s sermon and how, if you cry out to God in your desperation, he will hear you. I asked him to show me what to do and how to change. My phone rang after I prayed — it was my sister. She had found a faith-based recovery center my family would help me get into.
I knew God was answering my prayer. My life began to change immediately.
During the course of the year, I learned about the tools needed to be successful in life and sobriety.
My relationships were beginning to be restored. My wife forgave me and we began repairing our broken marriage. Today, we follow Jesus together.
Today, I am six years clean and am a pastor and program director for True Purpose Ministries, where I work with men with addiction everyday and show them recovery is possible.
Addiction has a multitude of faces.
By the time I was 36-years-old, I had achieved success in the eyes of many. I had a beautiful wife, two beautiful children, a good job and was doing financially well by most standards.
However, on the inside, I was empty and broken with a life full of lies and deception. My marriage had become a living arrangement between two people who were once sweethearts in love with life.
The years passed, but my pride didn’t sway until I was in a hospital bed after a seizure due to a blood alcohol content of .41. I spent the next six days in ICU and, for the first time in my life, saw the hurt and devastation I was causing.
God met me in the midst of darkness and offered me another chance to find out who I was created to be. I put my hurt and hope in him over four years ago and went to True Purpose Ministries.
God’s word became my truth and fuel to invest in more than my own selfish habits — to invest in the future of my family.
I’m still getting to know my wife again as well as my new self. It’s a new life with new love. I’ve learned facing battles daily and standing in God’s promises beats losing everything that’s anything to me.
I have led a life of destruction.
I developed anxiety at a young age and was scared to be home since my parents fought a lot. At 8, I found porn magazines and videos. That was my first addiction.
I became nervous all the time. The only way I knew to deal with it was to self-medicate, which started with marijuana, then moved to pills and eventually turned into whatever I could get. I wanted to fit in with the crowd.
After a while, it became a way of life. It was all I knew to do to cope with my feelings. I began seeking acceptance from women, jumping from one relationship to the next. I was running from my issues, always blaming others and never taking responsibility for my choices. I felt I couldn’t trust anyone, had no confidence and low self-esteem.
There were times when I would apologize for how I was living and other times I would ignore it.
After 22 years of living like that, it felt like the world had chewed me up and spit me out. God had never left me alone. When I finally turned to him for help and comfort, I realized he had been waiting for me all along. I thought I could do it on my own and only go to him when I had figured it all out.
The condition of my life and my addictions humbled me to the point where I finally surrendered. I decided to get help and went to True Purpose Ministries, who set me aside away from the world and its distractions and pressures to provide and peaceful, loving environment.
Since then, I’ve learn a lot about myself. I’ve learned how to deal with others and different personalities, self-control and living a healthy, Godly life. Jesus is molding me into a humble servant who looks to serve others instead of my own selfish desires. I’m learning to be a leader instead of a follower.
I am recovering.
The next article of the series will be published next week Wednesday, June 5, in The Mail-Journal and on InkFreeNews.com.