The Story So Far – Chapter 21 – Washed Away

CHAPTER 21 – WASHED AWAY

By the middle of October 2013 I was really on an emotional roller coaster, walking was sporadic, I would get out for the odd day, but there was no real frequency, when I walked it helped, but it became less and less.  I tried to get out, but it was hard work.

One Sunday afternoon, in early October, I came home from Church to an empty house as usual.  I was used to that, I would make some dinner, maybe have a quick nap, then get ready and go out to karate to teach for a couple of hours, it was my normal Sunday afternoon routine.

When I got home I remember walking into the front room and just sitting down and then experiencing something I had never experienced before.

Sometimes when I pray, I make my prayers and then just sit and wait quietly, saying nothing, just clearing my mind and waiting for God to speak.  Quite often in these times I will get visions which relate to the prayers I have made.  Sometimes I can identify them and decipher their meaning.  At other times I’m not sure what they actually mean and over the next few days I pray about them, hoping for further visions or a feeling that will explain their meaning to me.  This happens quite regularly and even when I am praying with friends, I will often see things that relate to the prayers others are making and I share what I see.

But on this Sunday afternoon it was completely different.  This was a type of vision I had never experienced before.  Images in my prayers was one thing and the “day dreams” I experienced in the lead up to helping a young girl who was self harming was another, but this was like I was seeing something play out on a TV or projector screen in front of me.

Before me I saw a scene of a pathway, in the pathway there were a number of steps and just beyond the steps, the pathway disappeared to the left behind some bushes.  Then I saw myself begin to walk along the pathway and start to walk up the handful of steps.  Just as I started up the steps, from around the bend ahead, a sudden rush of water came around the corner ahead and down the path towards me.  The deluge swept me down the steps and out of view.  After a few moments I came back into view trying once more to walk up the steps as the water kept flowing, but once again, as I walked up the steps, the tide became stronger and washed me away once more.

Then as quickly as it came, the vision disappeared entirely.

Never before I had I experienced anything like this and I didn’t know anyone else who had ever said they had seen visions this way.  I know there are many occasions in the Bible where various people experience visions from God in this way, but this was new to me and I didn’t know what to do or what it meant.

I sat there for a while trying to take in what I had just seen and doing my best to work out how that related to me.  I knew I was in a little bit of a hole, I was beginning to struggle with a few things, there were a few situations that were weighing me down, but it was a little bit of an up and down journey at that time, one day I would be fine and really up and the next something would happen that would put a downer on things and I would begin to stew on them and not let them go.  But I never felt like I was going to be washed away by anything.  I knew life was becoming a bit of a struggle, but this seemed like something drastic was going to happen.

I prayed on this, but didn’t feel like I was getting the answers to the questions I was asking.  In fairness, I’m not really sure I was asking the right questions, yes I was not finding this recovery easy at times, but I didn’t feel like there was anything that I couldn’t overcome, I felt I had to be careful, but other than that I didn’t really understand what I had seen.  After a few days I put it out of my mind and just carried on as usual.

Then on one Sunday at the end of October I was on camera during a preach by one of our Pastor’s.  This particular preach was on relationships and the longer it went on, the more it began it affect me.  My relationship had disintegrated as a consequence of my drinking, of all those wrong decisions and selfish actions.  I knew this and had to live with it.  It makes it harder because although separated, we still live in the same house and no matter how much I try to put it out of my mind, I still long for her and pray regularly for something to happen that will bring us back together.  I never stopped loving her, I just stopped loving myself, I couldn’t help what I was doing when I was drinking, I had no control , I let things go the way they did and now I had to live with the consequences.

So the more I listened to this preach, which don’t get me wrong, was a great preach, but for me it brought back so many feelings or remorse and even self hatred.  There were times during the preach that I felt I couldn’t stand there anymore, I wanted to turned around to the A.V. booth behind me and ask someone to take over, but I didn’t I managed to keep going and finish the camerawork at the end of the preach.  After that I kept myself to myself as I packed away quietly and made my exit from Church without anyone really noticing, just so I didn’t have to speak to anyone and explain what was going on in my head,  my mind was running at such a pace, running through all the things I did wrong and feeling that now I only have myself to blame, I knew that and come to terms with that well before now and learned to live with it, but now it was all running through my head once again, the last time it felt this bad was on the day I wanted to end my life, that day way back in March 2012, now eighteen months later it was all back, all the self hatred and anger for my actions, I just had to get out and find some space.

I sat at home for a while that afternoon, but things weren’t getting any better, I was lost in my head once again, this time just deeper than I had been for such a long time.  In the end I got myself up and took myself into town, to the Alpha Course meeting that my Church were running in one of the coffee shops in the town centre.

I sat there quietly listening for a while, eventually Steve from my A.V. Team joined me, I spoke with him for a while, I briefly explained how I felt, not in any great detail, Steve’s also in my Connect Group, so he knows my situation, he didn’t pry, he just let me talk, which was helping to lift some of the burden from my shoulders.

By the time I got home, I was feeling a lot better and spent the evening watching the TV with my kids and with my daughter keeping me entertained.  She has a great knack for being the entertainment in my life when I am down, she seems to sense that I need cheering up and just gets on with it, I’m thankful for that sometimes.

As October drew to a close, I was still struggling, it was fast approaching the men’s Unleash weekend getaway.  The Friday morning before we were due to go away, I took a quick walk down to the lake and prayed as I walked, I had this distinct feeling that I was being told by God that if I couldn’t actually tell him what was really troubling me then I should do what I do best, write it down in a poem.

So when I came back home I wrote out a poem called My Prayer…

MY PRAYER
How could I come so far

Yet feel I’ve traveled so little
I know You’re with me Lord
But I’m feeling so empty inside
Like a cup poured out upon the floor
In desperate need of filling up

This pain is breaking me down
My mind it holds me prisoner
I know You can ease the hurting
So why am I feeling so broken Lord?
Like a heart that’s been smashed
Into a million tiny & fragile pieces

I’ve been worn down by this time
I can barely stand again to fight
You’ve given me strength from the first day
Only I’m feeling so very tired
Like a distant star that’s lost it’s shine

I have so much support around me
Great people there to hold me up
I’m standing at centre of their love
So how do I feel so very alone
Like driftwood floating between homes

I’m barely holding on to my spirit
Clutching at the hope You hold
But the embers internal are slowly fading
I just need to find the breakthrough
Just a tiny spark to ignite the fire

Is it that my mind is winning
The voice inside overcomes the heart
Eroding my patience, testing resolve
Give me patience for Your promise
Just a sign to illuminate the way

I feel so small, yet You make me great
I feel so low, yet You let me fly
I feel so weak, yet You give me strength
I’ve lost my way, yet You show the way
I feel so isolated, yet You hold me in Your Kingdom

I need You Lord, I need You Lord

That pretty much summed up how I felt at that time, I felt lost and that I was losing my way.  I knew God was there, I was still holding onto Him, I had all these friends around me, but I couldn’t really reach out to them either, I was really in a bit of a rut, was I being washed away?  At this time I don’t think so, but I firmly believe I was just starting up those steps that I had seen in my vision, but as yet I don’t think the waters had reached me.

That night we had the first meeting at the Unleash weekend and followed it with a midnight game of five a side football, well actually it was more like ten a side in a very small place, very physical, but really fun.

I went to bed that night, but couldn’t sleep, I lay there awake, wondering what this week was going to bring, I knew I was struggling, I may have shared the “My Prayer” poem on my blog that morning, but I still wasn’t in the position where I was ready to share my problems, then it happened again.

As I lay there, for the second and so far last time, I had another vision that played out like a film in front of me.

This time I was sat on the side of a harbour, it looked like I was fishing, when all of sudden something had taken the end of my line and I was dragged below the water, then a few moments later, in the distance a great whale rose out of the water and splashed back down again, then disappeared below the water.

Once again I didn’t really understand what it was I was seeing or what it meant to me.  So I grabbed my phone, open my Bible app and went straight to the book of Jonah.  I read the whole book that evening and the lay there trying to piece it all together, what I had seen a few weeks before, what had happened over the last few weeks and what I had just witnessed.

I came to the conclusion that I was going to be facing something that could completely wash me away, I could be wiped out from it, but also after reading from Jonah, that I wasn’t to run away and hide from where God wanted me to be.  I believed that being at this getaway was exactly where I needed to be, but I had to start opening up and talking with people, I couldn’t keep this all in or it would wipe me off my feet, I had to start sharing what I was going through.

I hardly slept that night, when I went down for breakfast, I was sat at the same table as Gareth, our Senior Pastor, I explained to him what I had seen and what I felt I was being told.  He agreed that I needed to talk to people, I needed to share what was going in my life and not be afraid to open up and let people know how I felt.

As the day went one I spoke with a number of people about how I felt, including Paul, my Connect Group leader, I asked if I could maybe go a little earlier on Wednesday evening and chat with both Sarah and him, to which he agreed.  It wasn’t a great day in all honesty, I was still struggling and there were a few tears, but I knew what I had to do, whether I could keep doing it, keep being open was another thing.

The next morning I was back at Church and spoke with Paul again, he said he had spoken with Sarah and if I needed to talk, they would be happy for me to come around that evening and talk about whatever I needed to.

So that night I went to their house and told them exactly how I felt about everything.  They were great listeners and really helped me that evening.  By the time I got home I felt renewed, felt like I was being the process of fighting whatever it was I was to face.  For the first time in weeks I felt happy and content, like a great weight had been lifted.

For the next few days, things seemed to okay, but it wouldn’t last long, now I could see the water fast approaching.

FIGHTING FOR AIR by A ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Suffocation comes over me
A numbness occurs
As I try to breathe
I’m fighting for air again
I’ve gone too far down
I need a reason to live

When I’ve been struck down
I hear you whisper to me
I’m breathing into you
Get up and taste the air
And take a breath again

I’m fighting for air again
I’ve gone too far down
I need a reason to live
When I’ve been struck down

I’m fighting for air again
I’ve gone too far down
I need a reason to live
When I’ve been struck down

I’m fighting for air again
I’ve gone too far down
I need a reason to live
When I’ve been struck down

Yeah, Yeah
I’m fighting for air
I’m fighting for air
I’m fighting for air

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