I feel like I was in a dark place, a very dark hole, so dark that during the two years leading up to me stopping drinking and turning this all around, I contemplated suicide on many occasions, I can’t remember exactly how many.
Sometimes you have to hit your rock bottom before you can be woken and brought to your senses, when life seemed like it wasn’t worth living any more I sat with a pen knife at my wrists, but God put his hand over my wrist and whispered in my ear and I knew then that I could never go through with it. On the last time that happened I decided it was time to turn this around to sort myself out, as at this point in time it all seemed lost, if I couldn’t take the only way out I knew, then the only way forward was to sort myself out. The next morning I rang my partner’s Pastor, arranged to meet him later that night to talk about where I was, that was the hardest phone call I had ever made in my life and probably the hardest I will ever make. But we met, we talked, well he talked, I cried, I was a mess, but I managed to let it all out. Two nights later I prayed for the first time, I prayed for the strength to get through this and turn it all around.
I was still in darkness at that time, it felt like over those last few days I had climbed out of that dark hole, but found myself in a dark tunnel with light at the end, a light that I could see and knew I needed to head for. I had prayed, but if I was hoping for a large searchlight on wheels, with everlasting batteries to light up this tunnel as I walked, I was sadly mistaken, God had handed me a small wind up torch. You know the sort, they work well when charged but you have to keep winding them up yourself, if you don’t that light will go out.
To me this tunnel felt like it was dark, very dark, with rough floors and even rougher walls, the only way to walk it was straight down the middle to light ahead. I had a small torch to light only a few steps at a time, if that went out all was lost, I had to keep it charged. In those early days I kept it charged, made small steps and kept looking forward. But things became hard, I started to stumble, I was in pain, I was falling away, I had fallen onto the rough walls and as I dragged myself along trying to keep the torch charged, the pain as those walls ripped into me was getting too hard and one night alone, in a world of pain due to the alcohol withdrawals, that torch went out. I felt so alone, I couldn’t take the pain I had been in for the last few weeks, the first weeks of sobriety felt easy, but when the withdrawals kicked in and after three weeks of almost constant pain, I couldn’t take anymore, I was back in the darkness.
But all was not lost, I had met some great people at Church who had offered their help at anytime if I was struggling. I am not usually someone who likes to intrude on other people, but on this night the message I was getting was don’t struggle alone, tell somebody, share it. So I grabbed my phone and sent the following text message;
“Hi James, Sorry to bother u, not having a good night, these aches n pains r really getting me down, I feel alone & as if I’m slipping back to that dark place I was in, just needed some friendly words of encouragement.”
The moment that green band indicated the text had been sent, everything changed. It was as though someone had come running down that tunnel with their own torch, helped me up onto my feet, dusted me down and charged my torch, they sent me back on my way down that tunnel with a new energy and renewed faith, I knew then that you don’t have to do this alone, you just have to ask for help sometimes. When you’re alone and struggling, let people help, don’t do it alone.
I’m still walking that tunnel, I can see the light getting closer and the closer I get the stronger I get, I’m determined not to let this torch go out, to not get complacent, if I fall into autopilot mode and stop being in control, this could all fall apart and the light quickly becomes extinguished, that’s not going to happen.
To have prayed and been miraculously brought out into the light, without experiencing that pain of the journey, would have been too easy, there would never be a lasting reminder that I never wanted to experience that again and for that reason alone I would never want to go back to where I was. I also just have to remember that, there will always be someone By My Side, I will never be alone.
‘Cause I’ll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don’t fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
(By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North)
So, I am determined stay in control and put myself into everything I do, to be focused on the way forward and do everything the best I can do it, that way this torch will never go out, I am constantly winding it up and that light at the end of this tunnel will gradually be within my grasp.