Debbie asked me to share my experience with our readers from an alcoholic’s perspective. Here’s a very small portion of my story. It is my desire that your faith and hope will be renewed through my sharing.
Hey, JC here. I hope you’re having a good day. I’d like to read you an email one of our regular participant’s sent in, and then I’m going to have a response.
“I so appreciated your kind words to me a few days ago to help lift my spirits and to get me to think better about myself.
In your story you said you also were an alcoholic and in 1998 turned your life around.
Would you be so kind to share what went through your mind during the years you drank, what you thought of others, were you in a relationship at the time.
I truly would appreciate hearing your story from you on that part of your life and it might help many of us who cannot understand the alcoholic’s thinking during their drinking periods or even when they are trying to abstain.
If this would be too hard for you I would understand but I think your readers would get alot of insight from this and I know I definitely would.”
“Thanks for encouraging me to share my experience. It’s my pleasure to do so with all of you.
From the time I would awaken until the time I will go to sleep, all I could think about was ‘Where I was going to get a drink from?’ ‘How I was going to fit that into my day?’ and ‘How I was going to hide it from the people that I was closest to?’
You know, I’ve shared often about what the common characteristics are that we find with alcoholics. They have the tendency to lie, steal, break plans, blame others for their problems and take advantage of those people that they’re closest to. During the worst months of my drinking, I certainly had all of those characteristics working within my life.
Thank God that I am not the same way that I used to be. And I really mean that. I have made living amends to those people that I’ve hurt greatly by staying sober since 1998 and that calculates for over 14 years to this present day. I’ve shared often on this website about how we never know when an alcoholic is right on the edge of hitting bottom.
Let me share with you a couple of experiences I had during the worst time of my drinking.
It was a 6 months period after my mom passed away and I really spiraled down into the very pits of alcoholism. I was working as a cabinet maker at that time; I had my own business. There was a contractor that I had worked for-for a long time. I’m sure that he noticed that I’d been spiraling downward and I was going through a difficult time.
I went to his office to pick up the check. It was just him and I in the small room. He handed me the check and he said, ‘I’d like to talk to you about something if you’ve got a minute’. He was about this much shorter than me and had a big smile on his face. He was a godly man and he had that special twinkle in his eye.
He began talking to me about how God would take care any problem that I had. If I would just surrender my life to Him, I would find help for my problems; He has promised that He would never leave me, He would not forsake me, I would find joy, I would be able to get through all the difficulties in life, and that He had a better way for me to live.
As I was listening to him sharing these things with me, I remember thinking “I just need to get out of here. Just let me out of here, I don’t want to hear what this guy is saying.”
At the same time I knew that there was something very special that he had that I desired as he was talking to me. And I remembered I left his office and it was probably 4 months after that, that I finally hit bottom and got sober. I remembered telling him afterward, thank you for that talk you had with me.
On another instance, the place where I was renting, in a warehouse, my landlord was also a godly man and he would come by once a month. He would knock on my door to collect rent. I had 2 entrances on my shop and during the time that I was drinking, oftentimes I would keep the doors closed and locked and I would have a beer sitting on my desk.
Any how, he would come around, would knock on the door, I would open the door and I have that beer sitting on my desk. I would hand him the check and he would get a big smile on his face and he would looked at me, looked at that beer and point to it and say, ‘You know that’s not the answer to your problem, don’t you? God is the answer to what ever it is you’re going through’. He would just smile at me and say, ‘Have a good day’.
I would close the door and that would be the end of it. He did this for several months, collecting my rent. When he would see me drinking alcohol or see that I was in pretty bad shape, he would remind me of what he told me.
It’s interesting how we never know what’s going on behind the scenes. If we’re godly people and we’re praying for the alcoholic, our prayers are being answered. God is faithful to send people across the alcoholic’s or the addict’s path to try and help them look at themselves and tell them that there is a better way to live.
The night prior to me hitting bottom and asking for help, I’d gotten to a fight with a guy that was about two times my size. I’d never really been in a physical fight before and I was in my mid-thirties when this happened.
This guy pulverized me. We got in to a fight on brick paver (pavement) and I had scrapes all over my body.
The following day, I got up to go to work and I went to the convenient store like I’d been doing for a long time, to get beer to take to work with me. I was feeling so awful that morning; I pulled into a parking lot on my way to work. I had a beer in my hand and I looked at myself in the rear view mirror. I was crying and upset. I just had this realization that my life was falling apart.
Something happened when I looked at that rear view mirror. I saw the scrapes all across my bald forehead from where this guy had pulverized me. He just ran me into those brick pavers and I had scrapes on my arms and knees, and I was messed up pretty bad.
I didn’t have to go to the hospital but when I looked at that mirror, I think God helped me because I realized that I had become the man that I so desperately never wanted to become. I was failing at being self-employed and that was a tremendous goal in my life, to be successful at business. I had three children and I was failing at being a father. I had a family and I knew if I didn’t change my ways, everything that I wanted out of life (the American dream), was going to completely fall to pieces if I didn’t pull my act together.
And that morning, I made a call to AA. I knew that I could go to AA to get help and the only way that I knew that was because I grew up with a mom who went in and out of treatment facilities and hospitals. She battled with a drinking problem for about 10 years. Then, she finally got sobered and she stayed sober through going to the AA Program.
I knew if I could get there, there was help to be found. I went into the AA meeting and one of the first suggestions that they put out there for me was for me to ask God to take away my desire for the drink, and I did that. The next morning when I woke up, I did not have a desire to have a drink. I had had a physical craving and a mental addiction to alcohol for months that I had no control over and I knew that God had done something for me that I had not been able to do for myself.
That was the beginning of a long relationship that I continue to have to this day with God. I remembered what my next prayer was and that was, ‘God I do not want to become a religious fanatic’, because I knew that he had done something for me that nobody else had been able to do; not myself, not my wife nor my children. No one could’ve convinced me to stop drinking and help take away that desire at the same time, the way that He did, on that day. That was the beginning of my journey for getting sober and also staying sober and I give God all of the credit for keeping me sober for all of this time.
Now, one of the things Debbie asked me was about the damage done to relationships during that drinking period. After I got sober, there was most definitely a definite period, where I had this realization of all of the hurts that had happened to my children, and I began to write them down.
As I started writing down all of the ways that I knew that I’d hurt them, I decided that I was going to make amends for those hurts and I put all of those things in letters for each of my children. I sent those letters to my kids so that they would have them and I spoke to each of my children individually.
I apologized to them and told them that things will be going to be different because I was sober now, and I mentioned in the beginning of this video, I have made amends to my kids. Not only through writing amends to them, but also through making a living amend to them for the past 14 years by staying sober.
I feel that it’s really important that when an alcoholic decides to get into recovery, the proof is really in how long they’re going to stay sober. I feel like there needs to be a trial period if they really wrecked havoc in our lives the way I wrecked havoc in many people’s lives. There should be a trial period where they have to prove themselves and reestablish trust.
Now, I have another relationship in my life where I did some serious damage during those drinking years. That person had decided to just shut me out of their life and I’ve made several attempts to join together with them in order to try and work out our differences because. I’m not the same person that I used to be. But it takes two people to be willing to work at something and they haven’t come to the place that they’re willing to try and work things out.
Some of those things happened during those years when I was drinking, but I do believe that God is working and I’m trusting that particular relationship will be healed someday and that amends will be made and things will work out for the better in that relationship.”