I am too young to remember the television show The Twilight Zone but I do remember watching reruns. Like something straight out of a Alfred Hitchcock movie, so has the last few years of my life unfolded. Most people in life learn from awful experiences and strive to make sure that they never happen again but it hasn’t been that simple for me. I look back and wish that I had learned from the pain faster than I did. There is a saying that goes around meeting halls that says something about being sick and tired of being sick and tired. That is such a cliché but its true. I am tired of being tired but not so much tired of using drugs and alcohol, although I am for sure tired of using as well. But I am tired of the pain caused from drugs. The pain it has inflicted in my life. I am tired of the hurt. Tired of hurting others and tired of hurting myself. Drugs are much more costly than I ever could have imagined. The price of using is not worth the cost of losing everything and everyone anymore. For the longest time, I was fine with having my dope to have a good time. And then after it wasn’t a good time anymore, I was okay with using dope because it would help me cope with the loss a good time. And then once I lost everything, my family, friends, wife, closeness with God, freedom, self-respect and self-worth, the dope gave me an escape from all the emptiness in my life. But it couldn’t provide an escape from the pain for long. The pain to stay the same is finally greater than the pain to change. Change hurts and it involves looking at yourself and finding out what hasn’t worked and weeding those things out. It involves doing things differently. But that pain is not as bad as the pain I have felt for the last year. I don’t have all the answers to recovery and to life. I know the One who does and I am trusting Him once again to keep me sober. I am taking all the steps that I know will help me stay sober and will lead to a productive life. I know that there are obstacles in my life that may never be overcome. There are a lot of areas of my life that are simply out of my control but I can control somethings in my life and I have to trust God to do for me what I can’t do myself. God has been with me through every step in my recovery to life abundantly. He has been with me through the up’s and the down’s of my drug addiction. I have tried to get sober for so many different reasons. I have tried to get sober for myself. For my son. For my family. For my wife. And for myself again. I have had success with some of those reasons for a limited basis but for the most part, I have failed with every one of those reasons as a core reason for getting and staying sober. People in rooms of AA have said it is a selfish program and you have to do it for yourself first. Surely if I couldn’t do it for myself, I could do it for my son or to get my wife back or to have my family support me again. I had a 16 month attempt once when I was trying to do it for myself. You know, because I deserved to be sober and to enjoy the good things in life. I deserved to be able to be a good father and a good son and brother and husband. I deserved to have a nice life. Every reason I have ever had to stay sober as ultimately failed to be good enough for me to actually stay sober. I have been praying and reading and truly believe I have come across a good enough reason to stay sober. I believe that, scratch that, I not only believe it but I want to stay sober this time simply because of God. Because He has been with me through everything. Through every hurt and slip-up and fall. Through every good day and every high of sobriety. He was with me everyday that I had a normal family situation and everyday that I had nobody to turn to because of my actions. He was with me everyday that I enjoyed or suffered with freedom. He was with me everyday that I struggled incarcerated. I couldn’t run Him off, although I tried to do just that many times. He didn’t lose hope from the pain I caused Him or give up on me when I failed to meet expectations. He has been with me every step of every right and wrong path I have taken over my life. Why would I not want to stay sober for Him? Why would I not finally give up and allow Him to fill my life with Himself? He knows that I don’t blame anyone but myself for my situation. He knows my heart and He knows that I accept the mess that I have created. He also knows how much He loves me and how He can give me what I have always really wanted. So I am not staying sober today for myself or my son or my family or my wife. Even though they all deserve that from me. They deserve a sober me. I have put them through hell on earth. But that, I am sorry to say, was not enough for me to ever stay sober. Lord knows I have tried and they deserve it after everything I have put them through. And that pains me to say but its one of the hard, cold facts of my life. Today, I am staying sober because God and who He is. I am thankful that He has been with me every step of the last few years. I would never have made it through them otherwise. I am thankful that He sees all my sin, past and present and still loves me and still would send Jesus to die for me. I am truly thankful for that.
Life is such a journey of ups and downs. I started this blog as an outlet for me to share my journey with others that were going through the same thing I was. I also thought it would be good for me to have a place to vent and to share my ideas and things that were going on in my life. I also have always wanted to help people. I know that getting sober is about giving back and helping other people. I got away from that. I became selfish in my thinking again and started making bad decisions again. Jails, institutions and death. They say those are the three outcomes for people who abuse drugs and alcohol and don’t stop on their own. Well, I guess I have experienced two of those three this year alone and for sure don’t want to try the third. I have not shared on here in a while and I guess now its obvious why! That is where my bad decisions and selfish thinking got me. It’s where it always leads for me.
It has been almost a year since I shared on here. It has been closer to three years since I shared anything on here that wasn’t driven by selfish motives or manipulative reasons. That saddens me to admit but its the truth and if I want to move on past all this, admitting is the first step. Sometimes I feel I am exempt from having to admit things because I feel they are obvious but that is just a coup-out. Admitting sometime is just acknowledging facts. Is it obvious? Most of the time, yes but sometimes it just needs to be said. I have a problem with that but I am working on. The last two years has been rough. It has been the hardest two years of my life without a shadow of a doubt. I have used and abused drugs and in turn did all sorts of horrendous things to support that habit. I have hurt everyone that I love. I have hurt the loved ones of people closest to me. I have stolen from my family. I have manipulated situations to work out how I wanted them to. I have cheated on relationships. I have been an absolute terror to everyone I came in contact with. I regret all those things. I regret hurting everyone and taking from everyone. I truly do regret those things but they happened. They are real. There is nothing I can do to undo the damage I have done to most of the relationships in my life. Are they damaged beyond repair? I do not know but I know it will take a lot more than 42 days sober.
When I started this blog, I started it to share my journey into recovery and it saddens me that the last three years took place but they are part of my journey. They are part of my journey and learning to live in Christ the way He wants me to. When you think about it, we are all in recovery. Life is about recovery. From hurts and hangups and addictions and vices. We all have them. Mine is more pronounced that a lot of people’s but every Christian heart and life is in recovery. My journey has had it’s fair share of disappointments. And I am the main reason why. Self inflicted wounds. Selfishness at its worse. That has been my downfall. But tonight, I am so thankful for God’s grace. I am thankful that His Love is unchanging and that He has been my God through all of my journey. He knows where my up’s and down’s will occur before they happen and He still loves me the same. I am thankful for that. I am thankful that He is constant and faithful when I am not.
You know that feeling in the back of your head that keeps you down when everything else in life is good. That hurt that you want to go away so bad but you know there is nothing you can do to make it go away. You know that you were wrong. You know you are the cause of so much pain. That’s the feeling I have right now. The last few days it has been much stronger and felt heavier than it normally does but It is always there. I know that I have let you down. I have hurt you and the wound is deep. It sucks because I know that you don’t believe me. I know that my sorry is not enough. I have said it to you so many times that it has lost its appeal. It has no meaning to you. I get that. I understand it. I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish I was a better brother than I have been to you. I will never know what all damage I have caused by my actions but the truth is there is nothing I can do about it now. I know these are words you have heard a hundred times. Maybe Jesus had me in mind when he answered about how many times we are suppose to forgive someone. I know that asking for forgiveness without putting any action behind it is vain. It means nothing. That is one of the hardest things for me. How can I put action behind that “I am sorry” without the opportunity to put it in place? Its tricky because I don’t want them to think I don’t care because I do. I miss them so much. I miss talking to my sisters and being a part of there lives. I miss my nephews and my nieces. I miss the conversation. I miss there little hugs and there looks. I miss my brother in laws. I have never taken the time to get to know them as well as I would like to but I would like the chance to. I know that I am the cause of the strained relationship. I know that my actions, my stealing from their parents and robbing them of there time and attention was wrong. I know that my manipulation and doublemindedness was wrong. I am sorry for those things. I am sorry for not being an Uncle or a Brother. I am sorry for taking and never giving. I am sorry for my words and I am sorry for my silence. These are not just words. I truly am hurting because I know JUST how wrong I have been to you. I know you have heard these things before. I don’t know what to tell you but I am sorry and I am going to put action behind that. I will strive to be better. The pain is real and I know that and I just want you to know that I love you and miss you.
How low can you go? How far from everyone can you be? No phone calls or text messages. No letters from home and no home for that matter. That’s how far I have gone. Everybody has a limit. A breaking point. And once you get there, people just give up on you. They wash their hands of it and say they will just pray for you. I have been there many times. I have been the one that everybody gives up on. Sometimes life is hard. Yes, I have used drugs to the fullest extent that they can be used and I have done some bad things in order to get dope. But some things in life happen and the world beats you down. I would not want my worst enemy to go through what I have gone through. A lot of times people say that the tough times make you stronger. Some tough times do make you stronger. Some tough times push people beyond what they can handle. I am sure you have seen the homeless guy at the corner store or on the bench downtown. Ask him how he got there and he will tell you he got there because everybody gave up on him. Yes, he probably made some bad decisions along the way. Maybe he was molested as a child. Maybe he held that in all his life and never told a single soul about it. Maybe he turned to drugs and alcohol because its the only thing in his life that would stop the pain and suffering he felt inside. Maybe he made a lot of wrongs decisions along the way and the drugs and alcohol would no longer stop the pain and suffering he felt inside. Maybe then his family gave up on him. They pushed him aside and they left him to die. Maybe he tells you its at that point he gave up on himself and lost the care or want and just didn’t care anymore. Think about that as you ride by and see that homeless man sitting there. He has a story. I know because that’s my story and we all have one. Even the ones you turn your nose up to. There is a story behind every person and you play a part in that story. Whether you play a huge part or a little part is up to you. You have no idea how you play into someone else’s story!
After a few months of sobriety, I wrote about Faith and what it meant to me. I remember looking up all this information about the shield and the way the Romans used the it and wondered about the way Paul used it when he wrote about it. I knew the information about it. I understood it. I relied on my knowledge and boy, was I wrong. I wonder how many other things I have been so right about in my own head yet totally missing the mark. I am learning that I have missed the mark my whole life. Yeah, I have had some good times and times that I felt close to God. I know God has worked miracles in my life. I know that all things work for the good to us that believe in Christ but He has sure opened my eyes the last 24 hours. I blogged yesterday about the thoughts that were going on in my head. When I finished, a guy from the outside came here and confirmed that God is enough for me. He answered EVERY thought I wrote about. Even gave the definition of losing and made a big point about that. ( winning was the title of my blog yesterday, FYI) I surrender to Him. I am sold. And bought at a price that was paid on that Cross. God has forgiven me and I am letting go of my past. Of my struggle. Of my addiction. Of my sin. Of my life. The battle is over and I am overcoming this thing. Not I but God. I have felt so much lighter today. Not because I lost weight but because God has taken those chains off of me and He became my Daddy. You have no idea the relief I feel. The love that I feel. The happiness that God has brought me in a homeless shelter full of other men with broken lives. I don’t care who believes me or what people say about it because God is the only one that matters. I could tell you so many other things that have taken place here that confirm His word. His truth. The guy who came to speak said something that really stuck out to me. He said that before we invite and accept Christ into our lives, we can live in sin but the moment He enters our life and we accept Him in, we have NO right to sin anymore. I know that I have heard something similar to that a hundred times but I heard it and saw it differently last night. I rededicated my life and reaccepted the call He has put in my life. The great part about it is I don’t care who believes that or who judges me by my past. I am over that. My eyes have always squinted back to others when I have done things in my past, always just seeing if others saw me. You know, just making sure they saw what good I was doing. But now, I don’t care who sees it or who knows it. My eyes are fixed on the One. My Daddy. My All. My God is for me and that is enough for me.
Forgiveness. Redemption. Restored. Healed. Promises. Overcome. These are words that I have heard a lot lately. Words that are very common in “these” type settings but words that have really been music to my ears recently. There have been times in the past that I have felt all these words were happening in my life and that they were becoming truth. But I always seemed to screw those times and opportunities up in my life. I would give God control of my life for so long and then snatch it back when I felt like I was good enough to handle it. Reality is, I will never reach a point where I outgrow God, when I outgrow the need for a Savior. My life will always be screwed up if I am the one at the helms of it. My life will always be in turmoil as long as my daily walk consist of just me. I have seen that picture painted over and over by the facilities and institutions that I end up in each time I run the show. The picture gets bleaker and blacker each time I paint it. If you know me, you know that I am a thinker. I like to look and see where I went wrong and what I can do differently. I am chewing on some things while I am here at this place and I think I am tired of struggling with this crap. I am tired of the same words coming true in my life. Why do they have to? Why do I have to be an addict or alcoholic the rest of my life? Really, why? Who else has to be labeled by the consequences of their sins? Now don’t get me wrong. I am not sitting here saying I think drug addiction is that simple but I am wondering if maybe I have been doing this all backwards and that maybe going to certain twelve step programs is not the right thing for ME to do. Maybe going to other programs work better for me. Maybe I need more God and Jesus and less”god of my own understanding”. Maybe my own understanding got me in the worst times I have ever went through. Maybe my own understanding got me in jail, institutions and will no doubt lead to death. Maybe its time I use the God of the Bible. Are they one and the same? I don’t think so. I think anything made from my own understanding is probably doomed to fail. And who can understand a god made from their own mind. Can this be as simple as learning the God of the Bible and start to understand what it tells me? I can not help but think of Charlie Sheen and the whole “winning” video. Anybody who has not seen it should really look it up on Youtube. It is funny but maybe he was on to something. Maybe the key to happiness and a drug free life is found right there in God and the Bible. What if I have just been following something the world came up with. I believe in Christ and if I believe in Christ then I must believe in Satan. I know Satan is about deceiving. Have I just been deceived into believing in a god of my own mind? Maybe one day I will be able to look at this and call it an “Ah Ha” moment. I truly believe that one day I will say that the answer to my life long battle with addiction, with myself, ended right here at this rescue mission through Jesus. I believe God Forgives. He Redeems. He Restores. He Heals. His Promises come true. He has the power to Overcome. To me, that is winning!!!!!!!!!
It has been so long since I wrote that it feels so different to do this. I have sat looking at the title line and wondering where I wanted to go with this. The destruction is miles wide from the damage that I have done in the last year. Lives have been hurt and the pain is deep,both that I feel now and the pain I have caused. I have hurt every single person that I know. I have stolen from my family again. I have stolen from my best friend and I have lost everything, again. I got my shovel out and dug me a whole new bottom. I type this from a homeless shelter/rehab and I feel blessed to be able to do that. That is where my journey has taken me. It has taken me to what amounts to a homeless shelter with people who have NO where else to go. People with one arm and people with one leg. People that talk to themselves and people who stink and haven’t seen a razor in month. There are people who have been living on benches for a few years. These people have burnt every bridge and made every wrong decision they could. “What am I doing here with all these people?” is a thought that comes daily, hourly, sometimes every minute. It is a tough pill to swallow but reality is that I am one of these people. I have been kicked out of every place that I have to go. I have made those bad decisions that got me here. I own those mistakes. I am not thankful for those mistakes, yet. And I am not all “pink cloud” and “everything is so good”. I am mad and I am hurt. I am grieving and I am struggling. I am lonely and its a tough place to be in. I am not asking for smphany from anyone. I am a man and I know that I am the one responsible for all this. God is still God. That is a lot to think about. God is still God. I am more confused now than I have ever been. Honestly, God is about the only thing I know right now. And I am okay with that today because I know there is a season for everything. I have had a drought in my life for a long time but I feel the breeze blowing in and I see the clouds forming and it sure looks like rain to me.