The Story So Far – Chapter 8 – Breaking The Chains

CHAPTER 8 – BREAKING THE CHAINS

That last dregs of the bottle of wine remained on top of the fridge all week, I never had urge to drink it after I put it there, instead I began to talk to it.  No don’t get me wrong here, I wasn’t losing the plot and having mad conversations with an inanimate object, well I was, but for me the bottle represented that monster within.  Every time I walked past it I would point a finger at it and tell it that it couldn’t have me, I wasn’t going to drink it and it wasn’t going to win, I told the bottle I had a plan for it and that I wasn’t drinking it, I had this big plan to carry out on Sunday morning and this bottle was part of it, I told it that every time I walked by it.  I was in control now, I had a strength I couldn’t understand, but I was fighting back and I was determined to win and I was determined to let this bottle know who was in charge, I was and it was going to lose the battle now.

So when I woke the next morning, I got ready and headed off into town to carry out the first part of my plan.

The big plan was to pack my life away, get rid of everything that tied me to the alcoholic slob I had become, all of it to be symbolically put into a box and put in the place where all the other unwanted rubbish goes.

I wasn’t ready for Church yet, deep inside I wanted to go, but I had things to do before I made that step, I know I had found God, I knew He had heard my prayer and was answering them, but in my mind I still had things to do, I had to be clean before I walked into Church, I had to rid myself of some the dirt that was clinging to me, I wanted to be in control and this old me well and truly part of my past and a new start in Church was part of the future, I didn’t want to mix the two.

So I took myself into town, I brought the biggest plastic box I could carry and a marker pen.  Although my watch worked perfectly, the strap was caked in stale sweat and the odour of my alcoholic life, the watch was a past Christmas present from Victoria so I didn’t want to get rid of it totally either, so I brought the exact same watch, I had a plan for the other one.  I purchased a set of new pillows and pillowcases, my old ones also had that odour, that stale smell to them, there was no way I was ever going to wash that smell from them, it would be a constant reminder of the me that used to lay his head upon them, they had to go, so I purchased new ones.

I also grab a notebook and a decent pen.  One of the suggestions Gareth had made when we met was to journal.  He talked about how he empties his mind before bed by writing it all down, in that way he didn’t have to keep carrying it, he could write it down where it could be re read when needed and that way he found it easier to sleep.  I had never kept a journal or a dairy before, in all honesty I had really written anything since I was at school, apart from the odd letter at work, which were all based on standard templates, I had really never written anything of value.  But I decided I was going to take on this piece of advice and start from that very evening keeping a note of everything that was to happen to me.

When I got home, I took the old pillows and placed them carefully in the bottom of the plastic box, then I grabbed all the old clothes that I used to lounge around the house in, the ones I did the majority of my drinking in, the ones I spent days on end wearing, I took all the worn out clothes and underwear and put them carefully on top of the pillows in the box.  Then I took off the old watch and placed it carefully onto of the clothes.

Then I went into the kitchen and took down the third of a bottle of wine that was sat on the top of the fridge, I took it to the box and carefully positioned it up on the clothes in the centre of the box, then I closed the lid.  I took the marker I had purchased and on the box I wrote the message…

I DON’T NEED THESE
ANYMORE , TO BE PUT IN CELLAR
WITH THE OTHER RUBBISH

“THIS IS WHERE THE HEALING HAS BEGINS”

WAYNE, SUNDAY 25th MARCH 2012

Then once I was happy that I had put in the box everything that I could that reminded me of my old self, I took the box and put it in the cellar.  Our cellar contains everything that we no longer need, most of it is old paperwork and kids stuff, stuff that could be got rid of, but somehow we never actually have, one day it will be cleared out and all will be consigned to the rubbish bin forever.

The Forgotten Box

The Forgotten Box

When everything was in place I set off for karate and once more followed that old pattern, yes I did go to the pub again and yes I did drink, but once more I was content with two and set off for home when I had drank the second.  There was no detour on the way home, I simply got home, picked up the book I had brought earlier in the day and began to write about the last week, I back dated the book to the day I met Gareth, that was day my life restarted, it was as though a big part of me died when Sunday 18th March 2012 ended and the me that woke that next day was a fighter, ready to break free of the chains of sin that had held me.

On Tuesday morning I had a bit of a setback of sorts, I had to attend the Doctor’s for a prescription review for my Blood Pressure medication, when I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure, my blood pressure had been somewhere around 200 over 118, which is very high, for a then 26 year old, exceptionally high, after a few tests and some medication trials, my blood pressure failed to come down, so the Doctor at the time referred me to a heart specialist.

For a number of months I was under the specialist, he performed all sorts of tests, but couldn’t get to the route of the problem, he tried combinations of various medicines and gradually it came down to normal levels, the specialist was happy with that, he came to the conclusion that as heart disease and high blood pressure ran deep in both my mother and father’s families that is was an hereditary problem, but if I kept on the medication then it should stay under control.

Since that time I had been taking three tablets a day to keep it under control.  I knew that when I didn’t take any medication for a period of time, that the blood pressure steadily went back to it’s normally high levels.  But over the last few years I hadn’t missed my tablets for any significant period of time, each time I had been checked over the few years it was at normal levels, the tablets were doing their job, keeping it under control, all despite my excessive drinking and my lying to the Doctor’s about it.

So when on this morning my blood pressure had shot right back up to excessively high levels, I was shocked.  I explained to the Doctor everything that was happening and that I had realised I had a problem and I was trying to deal with it.  He asked if I wanted help with that, but I declined, he schedule another appoint for a few weeks time and scheduled me for a number of tests in the mean time.

This result came as a big shock, every other time it had been fairly normal, slightly higher than normal, but ever since I had been on the medication it had been that way and that was considered acceptable by both the specialist and my Doctors.  Now it had shot back up, even though I had been on the medication for some time, it put me on a real downer for a moment, in the midst of all this optimism, I was knocked right back.  But then I became convinced that had I not got this under control sooner, there would be no later, I became convinced that had I continued with my drinking, I was heading for a heart attack that I may not make it back from, I became convinced that I would not make it to the end of the year had I not taken steps, yes this was a knock back, but it’s also a wake up call.  I knew that this disease was going to kill me, I believed that I would have been either taken by the heart attack I was heading for or taken my own life!  But after a little soul searching through the day, I began to realise that I was actually doing the right thing, cutting down, trying to stop, getting my life in order, making a new start, there was a future, a future that would see me beyond this year, I just had to hold on, trust in God and let him guide my life now, he hadn’t save me just to let me die again, I had a way forward.

As the next few days went by I made a decision that each day I would try to change just one thing, to make a change in myself that I wasn’t happy with.  It’s impossible to change everything in one go, it has to be a process of gradual change.  So one day at a time, I changed one thing about myself, these changes ranged from having breakfast, to walking with my head up.  Now that was a hard one, I was known for walking fast, I guess it came from being short, when I was young I had to walk faster than everyone else to keep up, even though I have grown a little since then, I still move the legs at the same speed as I always had and therefore now walk faster then everyone else, even my old squad coach, who was well over six foot, wouldn’t walk with me, even though I am only five foot four & half inches (believe me the half an inch is very important), but when I walked, I got my head down and just went for it, never noticing what was around me, this change I couldn’t do in one day, it took day after day of trying to be so deliberate about keeping my head up, I wouldn’t take on another change until I had achieved this one, it took some time, but I did it.

Another one of those changes wasn’t easy either, this one took more than a day too.  In fact I still find myself failing with this one from time to time, especially on the bad days, but also on the good ones too.  I had this habit of responding to people who asked how I was with the phrase “not too bad”, well I decided that this was a get out clause.  What does “not too bad” actually mean, before it may have been quite accurate, I was bad, but not too bad, yet not good either.  But now things were different, okay things weren’t great, but they were getting better, they were so much better than they had been just over a week before, but was I that bad anymore, no, in truth I wasn’t.  So I decided I was to respond with “yes, I’m good thanks”, to have that air of positivity, to proclaim that I was actually okay and I was happy to say that.  Again this wasn’t easy and still isn’t, this one took so much longer and in all honesty I never really mastered it, at times I still catch myself saying “I’m not too bad”, I have to remind myself and pull myself up on it and then the next time to remember, life is good now I’m free.

On the Tuesday evening I went to the pub again after karate, from the night that Gareth came round I hadn’t had any drink at home, I had only drank in the pub after karate and never more than two pints, I had set that as a limit and I was keeping to it, I had gained control.  But this night I realised there wasn’t really any enjoyment in it anymore, I didn’t get that ahh feeling after the first mouthful, to be truthful it was hard to drink now and I actually began to dislike the taste, it wasn’t a bad pint, it didn’t taste any different to any time before, but something inside was saying you don’t like this anymore, you don’t need this anymore.

So when Thursday evening came around and karate had finished, I was walking across to the pub with a friend and as I walked I said to him that “if I didn’t like the taste of this first pint, then that was it, it was to be my last one and I wouldn’t drink again!”  As I walked in and ordered that first pint, there was this feeling inside that I was almost wishing myself not to like it, I didn’t want to like it anymore, I wanted to let it go, forever!  I sat down with my drink and took the first mouthful and it tasted absolutely awful, again it didn’t taste any different to before, but I hated it, totally hated it. So I decided I would finish the pint, but after that I would order a soft drink and that was it, no more, so when I went to the bar again, I ordered myself a lime and soda.

That was the last alcohol that I have ever consumed, since I finished that last pint at 10.30pm, Thursday 29th March 2012.  That day is forever etched in my memory, I have counted every day since that day, that was the day the Lord truly set me free, gave me the strength to say NO MORE, it wasn’t my strength, I knew I didn’t have any, I fell each time before that, it wasn’t until Gareth came into my life, bringing with him the keys to the door to a life with God, all I had to do was have the courage to open the door.  Once that door was opened, a strength came upon we that allowed me to fight back, to get control, to fight an addiction which had taken the best of my life away from me, all by the strength the Lord had placed within me.

In my weakness, He is strong.

That first test of my sobriety came a couple of nights later, one of my work colleagues was transferring to another branch and a leaving do had been arranged, with a meal at a Chinese restaurant in town and then a pub crawl afterwards.  So just two days after I vowed I would never drink again, I found myself the first to arrive at the pub next to the restaurant, I looked around and everyone was drinking alcohol and I had a big choice to make, stand strong or be weak and join in, so I ordered a Coke, the others began to arrive shortly after and each one ordered an alcoholic drink.  I had let everyone at work know what had been going off and that I had decided to stop drinking, no one pressured me, they left me to it as I ordered further cokes as they carried on with the alcohol.  Once the meal was over they all decided to carry on drinking in the pubs around town, I told them I was going home and left.  I was never one for pub crawls, I didn’t actually like drinking in town, I liked the pub I usually drank at, mainly because it was fairly quiet and I could chat with my friends, we would take part in the quizzes, something which I was particularly good at, I enjoyed that, but not the pub crawl atmosphere in crowded pubs with loud music, so doing something you really don’t enjoy when in all honesty you are struggling with not drinking, just didn’t appeal to me so I went home.

The whole night was full of mixed feelings, at times I felt comfortable, I could laugh along with things and at other times, I hated being there, I wanted out, I didn’t want to drink, I wasn’t going to drink, but being there was excruciating, the monster inside was stirring and I was doing everything I could to keep it down, I managed, but it was making me really uncomfortable.  When I got out it was such a relief, the fresh air was so inviting after being locked inside with your worst enemy parading it’s self in front of you.

When I got home I watched a bit of TV with my son, filled in my journal, then put my headphones in, listened to Healing Begins, then prayed, listened to Healing Begins once again then went to sleep, I had a big day ahead in the morning.

Since that night that I got the message to listen to Healing Begins, I had taken to listening to it when I woke in the morning, wherever I walked I listened to it and the last thing I listened to before I went to sleep was this song.  It was my inspiration, at times it still had me in tears and even now when it comes on my iPod, on a random shuffle, it brings a tear to my eye.  It was such an important thing for me in those early weeks, gradually more and more songs spoke to me, but this one was the one that was speaking to me above all others.  At the time I don’t think I really appreciated where the need to listen to that song came from on that Tuesday night, that repeated message, that feeling that I must listen to this, it took some time to come to the conclusion that it was God speaking to me, God telling me to listen to that song, he spoke to me through that song.  Music has always played a big part in my life, all sorts of music, everywhere I went I had music with me, when I worked, I had music on in the background, music was a big thing for me, so it was natural that this was used by the Lord to speak into my life, now when I look back to all the music I had been listening to over the previous four years, it was not by chance, there was no coincidence that I was listening to Christian music during the worst moments of my life, none at all.

FREEDOM REIGNS by JESUS CULTURE
Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom

Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom
Lift Your eyes to heaven
There is freedom

Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom

If You’re tired and thirsty
There is freedom
If You’re tired and thirsty
There is freedom

Give Your all to Jesus
Give him all, there is freedom
Give Your all to Jesus
There is freedom

Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom

If your burden’s heavy
He brings freedom
If your burden’s heavy
He brings freedom

If you’re hurt and broken
He brings freedom
If you’re hurt and broken
He brings freedom

Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face
There is freedom

Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness

1 thought on “The Story So Far – Chapter 8 – Breaking The Chains

  1. Beverley

    Ironic in March 2012 while your life was on he mend, mine was in the beginning of destruction. You have really given me encouragement you have been so honest, I’m so glad for you. God clearly wanted you because you have a testimony and he wanted you to give it. He takes the worse scenarios and change it around. Just like the story of Lazarus, he could have healed him but waited five days to prove he could. He has done the same for you. You had to hit rock bottom for God to step in. Remember people who are healthy don’t need a doctor 🙂

    Reply

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