So following yesterday’s Carols By Candlelight service and Gareth’s preach on “Answering God’s Call”, it got me thinking about a post I had initially planned for next Monday, but as that was Christmas Eve, I had then decided to post it on Sunday instead.
As you will see from my previous posts, I have this thing about counting, at the end of every day I write in my journal, at the top of every page I write two numbers, one is the number of days I have been sober, my “SoberDays”, the other being the number of days since my life changed.
That count started on Monday 19th March 2012, 39 weeks ago, the day everything changed, my world has never been the same since.
Since my life had quite literally caved in on me, with the collapse of my relationship on the 13th March 2012, I had barely eaten, but I had lost any and all resistance to alcohol, I was somehow surviving on it. As much as I knew it was the root of all my problems, I couldn’t resist, I tried, but it had me and I apologised to Victoria every single time I left the house to get my fix, I couldn’t fight anymore, I had nothing to fight with and in my mind for.
That week culminated in the last of my moments of suicide contemplation.
But during that week I realised I needed to sort something out, not me but my relationship, I had this grand idea, if I could speak with Victoria’s Pastor I could tell him how sorry I was, he would then be able to broker something between us, get us back together, that was the plan. It was a shallow thought, selfish I know, but in my mixed up brain, it made sense.
So I told Victoria I was struggling, which to be honest I was, I asked if I could speak with Gareth, I needed to make sure she was okay with that, I would never have done it if she wasn’t. She was okay with it and agreed she would get me his contact details.
So on the Sunday she returned from Church, having filled Gareth in on the situation, she handed me his mobile number, so I made my mind up to ring him first thing in the morning. That night I continued my drink binge, four or five pints at the pub and then best part of two bottles of wine at home!
I woke the next morning, as I had for many years, slightly fuzzy, but not with a massive hangover, it never got like that, I just had this constant haze that hung over me, never fully alive, but hardly ever unable to rise, just a permanent hangover. But this morning was going to be different, I was still determined, I was going to make that phone call.
The kids went to school, Victoria went to work and I was alone, I had set the time in my head for the phone call to 9.10 am, so I had half an hour alone in the house to build myself up, to pluck up those few ounces of courage I had left. I held the phone in my hand and wandered around the house, similar to the way I would when I was trying to fight the urge to drink, but I didn’t want that, I could if I wanted to, there was still a quarter of a bottle of wine left over from last night, I had placed that on top of the fridge, I could at any point turn my back on making the change and just sink back, but I kept holding on, looking at my watch, the clock, the time on my phone, checking it every few seconds, just waiting, with the nerves building as the time slowly ticked by. The time moved on to 9.10am and then stood still, it was waiting for me now.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, fighting the urge to turn away, then pressed the call button.
It didn’t take many rings, I’m glad it didn’t, if there was no answer, would I leave a message? Would I call back again? Would Gareth call back anyway? Well all that didn’t matter when I heard the word “Hello”. My response.
“Hello, it’s Wayne, Vic……………”
At that point my situation hit me like a ton of bricks, who was I? This was someone who only knew me through my partner, but I wasn’t that anymore I was anyone’s partner, how could I explain who I was, when I didn’t know who I was anymore, I was lost and I couldn’t find the words, my mouth just ceased to work, my brain froze and my heart sunk.
Luckily Gareth had been forewarned and was expecting a call, but I’m not sure he expect this, he gathered who I was and asked how I was doing, at that point any coherent conversation on my part was over, I managed to say not “very well” then broke down into tears, unable to control my emotions.
I don’t recall all the conversation, I wasn’t really able to communicate, but Gareth agreed to meet with me and kindly arranged it for later that evening, the sooner the better for me, I was falling here and I was scared of how far it was I was going.
So with the goodbyes said until we met again later, I ended the call, already despite my brokenness on the phone I felt lifted, I had made the first step, that was over and now any thought about this being about my relationship was gone, this had just became about me, I was lost, I was broken, I was failing!
But I got myself dressed and walked into town, brought fresh underwear and toiletries, I came home had a shower, then shaved for the first time in about a month and then did something with my hair for the first time in months, I was going to clean myself up, that phone call was the beginning of a new life, I knew that now, it was time.
I went out to work for a few hours in the afternoon, but nerves took over once again as the day rolled on, as tea time neared I started to panic, I had to leave but there was lots to do, I made it clear I had to go, finished what I was doing quickly and rushed home. Victoria was out for the night, so the kids were to stay in the bedroom watching a DVD, whilst I met with Gareth and our mutual friend Alex.
I couldn’t eat again, I hadn’t eaten all day once again, everything felt like eating cardboard at the moment, so I just didn’t bother, I couldn’t face it, but then a couple of odd conversations between myself and Victoria took place.
Firstly as Victoria got ready she asked if I needed to go to the shop. This is a question she always asked I when she was going out, because she knew I would want to go to the shop to stock up on my alcohol store, if I run out I couldn’t take the kids with me to the shop, so I had to have enough to get through the night, but I was taken aback by the question this time, despite it’s normality.
How could she think I was going to drink in the presence of a Pastor, I was slightly shocked, but my response was “why are we out of coffee or milk?” I told her I knew I couldn’t drink in front of them, it just wouldn’t be right.
Then later she obviously sensed my nervousness, but inability to eat and my general uneasy pacing around, she asked how I felt?
One simple word, scared, she asked why, I knew both of them, why was I scared?
“I’m not scared of them, I’m scared of myself!”
There was no thinking there, just a straight honest response, it was me I was scared of, a lot had to come out tonight and I was scared what I would find out about myself and how I would be received.
After Victoria left I stood at the curtains, spying behind them, trying to watch for them arrive without being seen, I saw them pull up and I headed to the back door to meet them, nervous, trying my hardest not to shake, to keep it together.
So we all sat down in my front room, me on one settee and Gareth and Alex on the other, after some general chat we got down to business and Gareth started to ask questions, starting with the situation of our relationship, I started to talk, but broke down, tears and blubbering incoherency had taken over, I tried to answer all of his questions as honestly as I could between all the sobs and tears. I don’t remember all of the conversation that night, but four key things remain fixed within my memory.
Firstly I thought I had honestly answered the question about how much I was drinking, as I tried to organise my mind to offer an honest answer it wasn’t until a week or so later, after confessing my drinking to many people, did I realise that what I said that night was nowhere near the actual amount, I had hidden that from myself and I was going to have to dig down further over the coming weeks to get to the bottom of the answer.
Secondly, Gareth never pushed the religious aspect of it all, he was keen to listen to me, to take it all in and find some solutions to the problems, he asked if he could pray for me, he didn’t force it, I agreed, I don’t remember what he said, I had my head in my hands in tears, trying to pull it together. He mentioned one story from the bible, the one about Jesus calming the storm, as you may recall, the same story I heard two weeks later as I walked into Church for the first time. We briefly discussed Church and religion, Gareth invited me to Church at anytime, if that was what I wanted and it was left at that.
Thirdly, as I explained my reason for drinking was that I was convinced I needed it to sleep, otherwise the stress dreams took over, my problems haunted my sleep, but if I drank until I just fell asleep, these dreams never appeared, I would just wake up the next morning, ready to start the destructive cycle once again. He suggested writing it all down, empty the mind, the mind can by a busy thing, write it down, let it out. This is something I started a week later, I started my journal, I back dated it to this day and labelled that as day one, the start of my new life.
And lastly the hardest part, the one thing about the night that haunts me the most:
For the first time I saw my own pain.
I know this is rather an odd statement but, I can see now that every time I broke down into another flood of tears, when I looked at Gareth I could see the pain reflected in his face, in his expression, I could see him struggling to hold his own emotions together as I continuously broke down, then regained an amount of composure only to break down again, the cycle continued throughout the night, each time that I caught a glance at his face, I saw it, the reflection of my pain.
After an hour and half they left, but I felt better, I had let out a lot, maybe not everything, there would be other times for that, but the main things that needed sorting, my drinking and my direction in life were discussed. My heart felt lighter, more peaceful, the remains of last night’s wine remained on top of the fridge, where it would stay until it was placed in a box and put in the cellar, in the Forgotten Box.
It had been a long day of sorts, but a good one, it was the start, the next night I got a message from God to listen to Healing Begins, the night after that I prayed for the first time and received peace. I started a journey that day, a journey that just ten days later allowed me to quit drinking, then walk into Church to look for a new life.
Life changed that day, that evening Gareth brought with him the presence of God into my life, by his calm and friendly approach, his eagerness to help a lost cause like me, it helped me to realise that faith maybe the only thing that can heal this broken soul.
That day was 39 weeks ago today, I wanted to post it next Monday, on the 40 week anniversary, but as that is Christmas Eve it didn’t seem appropriate, so I thought about next Sunday, but yesterday’s service changed that.
Gareth spoke with passion about answering God’s call, which this morning whilst I walked got me thinking, what actually happen on that day Monday 19th March 2012 at 9.10am, did I answer God’s call or did God answer my call?
I know I ignored God’s call on many occasions, I turned away and continued my downward spiral to internal torture, had God given up on me yet, well no, I know that as I’ve stated before, the previous day I sat with a penknife at my wrist, but now I am convinced, that God covered my wrists and whispered in my ear that day, he saved me once again, he had a plan for me and death by my own hand wasn’t it.
I made that call, it wasn’t an easy thing to do, in fact I think it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever done, I was answering the call by making the call?
Was the simple fact he, Gareth, answered my call, just the start of my answering the call, he could have done what many of us do when we don’t recognise the incoming number, simply just ignore it, but he didn’t he answered the call.
I don’t really suppose it matters, what matters is that Gareth answered my call therefore I answered God’s call.
I owe Gareth so much for taking that call, a call at 9.10am on his first day back in the office after a short holiday, for rearranging things so he could meet with me that same night, he brought God into my life and I am eternally grateful.
“Save me, I’m lost
Oh lord, I’ve been waiting for you
I’ll pay any cost
Save me from being confused
Show me what I’m looking for
Show me what I’m looking for, oh Lord”
(Show Me What I’m Looking For by Carolina Liar)
I was going to post the song Castaway by Chasen with this post, but this morning I asked for a song to fit the post and this came on my iPod, it fits, job done!
Next year I turn 40, the saying is that life begins it 40, well don’t be fooled, they are all wrong.