To new readers and followers of my blog, it will become obvious that I hold nothing back when it comes to my life before and since recovery from addiction. I became aware many years ago that the power of truth and transparency would set me free from my damaging secrets and false ego. I believe that real recovery from sunstance-use as well as other addictions begins with a bold paradigm shift inside. I have helped clients focus on discovering their real selves as well as their supressed feelings, desires, goals, and ambitions. Recovery and sobriety eluded me for many years, just as it did for hundreds of clients I have guided on the path to true freedom and release from worry and despair.
The truth, in all it’s sometimes ugly reality, is that human beings have made mistakes in their life. Addiction to mood-altering substances became a multiplier of those mistakes for most of us. The most powerful step in real recovery is dependant on acceptance of our mistakes. An understanding that the stigma of embarrasing and guilt-ridden addiction behavior is a road block to freedom from the very illness that we wish to recover from. Things we’ve done in our mind-bending addiction episodes are not attributed to moral failings. These mistakes are simply symptoms of the brain disease of addiction. My message to all of you who wish to end your damanging relationship with drugs and alcohol is that you move toward self-forgiveness of your past so that you can enter a new season in life. My recovery began when I understood that I had to be willing to empty the heavy backpack of shame I carried before I could become the sane and sober person I was meant to be. This idea is the foundation of my Recovery Journey Addiction Freedom Course.
There are some shocking details in my story “The Fall’, and I hope that you understand the necessity for my candor. My story takes me from a hopeless, sellfish, and even criminal-minded soul, to a committed professional on a mission to lead fellow sufferers to a new and wonderful reality. I hope that sharing my story provides evidence that even the worst of the past can lead to a life of caring, understanding, and a desire to love and help others.
The following events are true, names were changed or omitted to protect the many innocent victims. Love, gratitude, peace and respect go out to the unnamed in this story including those who remained unrecognized and unknown to me. My efforts at healing and making amends to those identified began nearly 26 years ago and continues …
After recounting the low points of my past few weeks, Father Tom suggested we go through my possible options at this point. I told him about my looming appointment with the Sheriffs department and what that would mean for my immediate future and the long-range circumstance. He spoke of reimagining my future in a way that caught my attention. He never once told me what he thought I should do, but he laid out possibilities for me. Everything he said to me seemed to be wrapped in a layer of hope. That’s the way it landed in my mind. His words brought new possibilities into my thought process that I had not been able to consider. We talked for nearly an hour and when the dinner bell rang, he stood and said something that I’ve never forgotten, and I’ve forgotten plenty of what happened and many of the details of those last days at the bottom. He said with a smile, “from what you’ve shared with me today I can see that God has been working around your mistakes for a long time, trying to capture you for a reason”. He said that he believed my circumstance at this very moment was a point at which I could give in to the capture and let God have his way after all this time. Father Tom asked if I would pray with him, I accepted. He simply asked God to keep a firm grip on me and guide me to a new destination. Just before he turned to walk away Father Tom said, “here’s something you can carry with you and it will always be true. “A setback is a setup, for a comeback”.
I sat alone to eat, away from the crowd. My mind raced with no focus and no solution to my predicament. I sat on the floor in the corridor near the offices head in my hands. I began reviewing the words that Father Tom shared with me earlier. I don’t know what to call it or how to accurately describe the feeling that came over me at that moment, sitting on the hard tile floor, back against a cinderblock wall, but I can say that a sort of peace came over me and I made a decision on what to do. John the mission manager walked up the hallway toward me and I asked to use his phone. The call was to my female bartender friend, the one who had taken me in (under my false pretenses), fed me, handed me money a few times and the one I lied to last before leaving the city. After a long discussion, some begging and several tearful pleas, she agreed to go to her local Greyhound bus station and pay for a one-way bus ticket for me from St. Louis to come back and face my responsibilities. I swore with all my heart that I was done drinking and drugging and that I was sorry for lying to her and would find a way to pay her back for her help. She told me that she cared about me and even though I had never before heard her speak of God or religion in any context, she said she had been worried and had actually prayed for my safety the past two nights. The only response I could come with was a thank you. I hung up the phone and asked John if he could get me to the Greyhound bus station by 8:40am in the morning. He kindly agreed that he would. Somehow, I was able to lay down on the steel cot amid all the noise and movement of the 50 or 60 men around me and fall fast asleep.
On the morning of December 13th, I was awakened by John, he had the kitchen prepare my breakfast tray early so we could head out to the bus station. I showered afterward and dressed in some pretty decent clothes that were placed under my bed during the night. I will be forever grateful and supportive to organizations like Sunshine Ministries in St. Louis and the ECFA, who is the accrediting body for hundreds of shelters like this one that I believe provided me the life-saving hand-up that I needed. Across the U.S., people like the Mission Manager John are life changers for people in need. John went out of his way along with other Mission staff, to support me and many others.
John got me to the bus station on-time and waited until I confirmed my ticket. He handed me a $20 bill and bear hugged me as I was about to board the bus. At the time I don’t think I understood why people like John or Father Tom did what they did, I was grateful for sure, but had no grasp of the powerful emotional and spiritual payoff one receives when helping others make positive change in troubled lives. The bus was scheduled to arrive at my destination 12 hours and 9 stops later. When I finally arrived, I called by bartender friend, she was about to end her shift at work and told me she would pick me up soon. When she pulled up outside the bus station she jumped out of her car and ran to me with arms spread wide. I didn’t know what to think about her enthusiasm, but I knew it was more than I deserved. It was really cold out and we jogged to her car where it was warm. She drove to a nearby KFC and bought chicken and sides and told me she could afford to pay for a cheap hotel room for the night. After check-in, she hung out and wanted to know what I had been doing and why I ended up in St. Louis, she also wanted to know what happened to the vehicle that our mutual friend, and my former boss, had assigned for me to use. She knew I had not returned it and that the company had reported it stolen after I had gone missing for a couple of days. I probably should have details to myself, but I told her most of what had happened since I saw her last and she became pretty angry, said some harsh things and stormed out of the room screaming that she couldn’t believe she was helping “such a scheming loser”. She was gone and there I was, alone but warm and feeling physically pretty well, but my brain was far from well, it was slipping backwards by the minute into the addict thinking that had almost killed me a few nights ago. I sat around the room for a while and all I could think about was how crazy it was to even consider walking into that Sheriffs office of my own free will. I remembered the $20 bill, I went to the big window of the hotel room, parted the curtains and looked out at the street. I could see 3 liquor stores within a half block. I took note of these locations just for informational purposes I told myself. I was done drinking; my mind was made up. I remembered the talk with Father Tom, the hug from John the Mission Manager, the promise I made to my angry bartender friend- no I was done drinking, I had to focus on using my set back as a set up for my come back-period, end of self discussion.
Stay tuned for the next release, coming soon.
Be safe and care for one another.
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Asking for Medical Help
If you or someone you know exhibits withdrawal symptoms, psychological problems, or any signs of self-harming behavior, contact your medical professional, call 911, or reach out to SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)