It’s an amazing thought tonight, that as I start to write this, at this very time on a Monday evening just like this one a whole year ago, I was in pieces, reliving, but more importantly discovering that I was an alcoholic. It was the first time that I was admitting to the outside world and once again more importantly to myself that I had a problem with alcohol, not just that I liked a drink and often, but that this transcended beyond mere liking and enjoying a drink, but that my whole being was dependant on it to survive, I was a lost and hopeless alcoholic, I knew how I was living was all wrong, I knew I had to do something about it before it was too late, I knew having made the most important phone call of my life earlier that day, that the time had come, time to find a way out of “Hell’s Waiting Room”!
I’m not going to write in detail about that phone call or that evening, that can be found here in the post “Answering The Call“, no this post is about my life of addiction and having had a year to reflect on it, a year living with the ups and downs of recovering from addiction, it’s time to discuss some of the more painful aspects of my addiction.
Please note the contents of this post haven’t been research over hours on the internet, I haven’t read hundreds of self help books or A.A. manuals, these are my thoughts on addiction based on my years of living with mine, you may disagree, that’s fine, if you have face an addiction of whatever kind, then naturally your experiences will differ from mine and your opinions will differ also.
My words are mine, my thoughts are mine, my feelings are mine, my experiences are mine, this is just me sharing me!
I have written about many parts of my troubles with drinking and what lead me to drinking, the simple fact of the matter was my complete inability to deal with my life when my own self worth was tested, I let my focus be on the things that were being taken from my life, things that in all honesty could be replaced with the right attitude, mainly work and money, they will always come and go, they have come and gone in my life before and I still got through it, but my reliance on these things for me to be me were far too much, so much that I started to worry about these things that I was losing, but could be replaced, rather than the things that were left, that I couldn’t replace, the love of Victoria and my kids, I focused so much on these other things, that I let them destroy me, then before I knew it I had lost the one thing that was the most important thing in my world at that time, Victoria. She stayed the course as long as she could, but she wanted better than I could give her, damn it, she deserved better than I gave her, but I destroyed all of that because instead of concentrating on serving her and my family, I chose worship a bottle, I gave in and consequently almost gave up.
Seeing Victoria everyday can be hard, most days I just want to reach out, just to brush her hand with mine, to offer a hug or kiss, but I can’t, I have to just stand aside and let her go by. Boy, do I pray about it, as I can’t influence her anymore than just sorting myself out, I leave the rest in God’s hands, if his paths for us are that we are truly meant to be together, then He will find a way, if not He will allow me to move on when the time is right, either way and although sometimes it’s hard to do I believe and trust in Him lead us both in the right direction.
So why do I call this my addiction?
Although I have spoken with and read testimonies of many who have been brave enough to admit they are an alcoholic, I use the term “are” rather than “were” as I do not believe you can ever escape this illness, but I’ll discuss this point later, each one is different, we all have common points, but we all have slightly different reasons why we got where we were, how we indulged in our addiction, how much or what we drank and how we were saved.
Therefore my experiences are almost entirely unique to me, no one else, as only I experienced them from my perspective, then they are truly my experiences alone. Yes, we who have been ravished by an addiction can converse with language that we may only understand, we share common points in our addiction, some key points will overlap, others will be unique, but we can understand each other and we can understand how someone became so lost within their own mind, that they were trapped in there and feared they would never get out alive, sadly some don’t.
Why are we addicts, rather than were addicts?
I have read many articles by some great Christians that I have a lot of respect for, their love and knowledge for the Word of God is far greater than mine, I am just a baby in terms of my faith, I have read many articles about God and addiction, they nearly all state that God can pretty much just remove any addiction, if you pray for it, it will be granted. Ok, I know the power of these words and yes, I have also experienced this power, there have been times when I have struggled and prayed for these thoughts to be removed, they were, He took them and gave me peace. But as I am only human and born to fail, I do, I fall back.
Because I have succumbed once before, it has left a weakness, my human mind looks and craves for a comfort zone, somewhere it can feel safe and happy, it built a reliance on that one thing that took away from all the hatred and stress that clouded my ability to exist, although it didn’t allow me to address my problems, it did allow me to relax enough to walk away from them, dealing with them was hard, walking away happy was easy, I took that route!
But, the problem with the weakness that addiction exposes, is that it will always be beacon of hope for just one, a beacon of hope for the enemy.
The Devil will and does use our weaknesses to build a barrier between us and God, if it makes us feel good, even though we know it’s wrong, he will use those feelings and the memories of those feelings to stoke up a will within us to sin again, to forgo our God and allow him to satisfy our needs. I know I’ve let him get too far into my head, I’ve let him try to build on weaknesses, when I couldn’t fight anymore, I gave in, not to the devil, but to prayer, I found I couldn’t stand alone, I asked for temptation to be removed and God granted my prayer, but the Devil keeps coming back, he leave’s me be for a while, then when I think all is fine and I’m moving on nicely, when my guard is beginning to fall, than bang, he’s back, trying to catch me off guard, trying to take me unawares, but I’m determined not to let him force me from my path with God.
So whether you are a believer in God or not, addiction is addiction, we never really get away from it, we learn to live with it, we learn to avoid it, we learn when the trigger points arise and find a way to deal with it when it arises, but we are only one small mistake away from falling back into a life of addiction.
What did my addiction do for me?
My addiction through alcohol was I would say a physical one, it involved a physical introduction into my body, so much so that eventually the body becomes reliant, this is more evident in alcohol and drug addictions, even smoking, the body begins to crave the introduction of these substances to trigger things in our heads that make us feel better, to give us that temporary high, that takes us away from all that may be troubling us, removes us from reality and into the bliss our own mind has created. Theses substance addictions can be very dangerous, in the case of alcohol, the body become dependant on that regular introduction of alcohol in order to function, it doesn’t actually need alcohol to function, but after prolonged exposure, it’s reliance is cemented and after such prolonged use just stopping drinking can actually be more dangerous than continuing to drink, the body becomes so reliant it shuts down when it is removed, unable to cope, in many instances this can result in death, not from the alcohol but indeed the lack of it.
The withdrawals from alcohol abuse can be extremely painful. I scoffed when I used to hear about celebrities having to go into rehab to deal with their addictions and the withdrawals, I thought they were sad and weak, but when my withdrawals kicked in, I found myself in a world of pain, starting from simple headaches, leading to full on body and in particular joint pain, I could hardly move, it was painful to stay still and painful to move, there was no escaping them, I just had to ride them out, hoping the pain killers would help, they didn’t but I got through it. But there were times when the pain was at it’s worst that I was tempted to take another drink. My thinking was to take a bottle of wine, this was what the body wanted to ease it’s pain, then this is what I would do, once again through prayer and good friends, I resisted the temptation and got through it all.
My limited understanding of drug abuse, leads me to understand that dependant on the drug the symptoms are very similar, the cravings, the body reliance and the search for that temporary high.
Another of what I would class as physical addiction is self harm, probably the most misunderstood and hidden of addictions. We see everyday addicts with a can of beer, smoking cigarettes and to a lesser extent taking drugs, we all know someone that does at least one of these things in excess, but do we know someone that actually takes a blade or a sharp object to cut their skin? I believe we all do, it a hidden addiction that’s as bad as any other, it’s not just confused teens or angst ridden Emo kids that do this, you would surprised at how many and just who do this to themselves, and why do you ask, why do they do this?
The same reason as I drank, that temporary high, that relief the brain sends out, that release of chemicals in our brain, that when our feelings say our lives are so bad we can never be happy, we can do something to ourselves that rebukes those feelings, that for a short while will make us feel better about ourselves. The bodies natural protection when we cut ourselves is to release these chemicals to make us feel better, to hide the pain of the cut, so just like I reached for a bottle to feel better, they reach for a blade to cut, that cut makes them feel better, just like my drink did, they crave it just like any other addict.
All these addictions seek the same thing, whether it be physical like drink, drugs and self harm, or something like gambling, steeling, shopping or anything else that you do make yourself feel better, when you can’t control your feelings and urges, when you give in to temptation every time as an easy way out you are an addict.
Why did I not know I was an addict?
I guess my explanation of this is simple, to admit this addiction would be to admit it was a problem, admitting it was a problem would be to seek to put an end to my problem, why would I want to do that? After all it makes me feel good about myself, even if just for a short time!
My addictions made me feel better about myself for a while, when my life was well and truly “sucking more than an airplane toilet” (thanks Magnus for that one), why would I want to put an end to the only thing that makes me feel better, that’s all I had to look forward to, the temporary high, it only lasted a short time, so I did it again and again, it tried my best to live with that high, admitting I had a problem meant losing that high and no addict wants to do that!
So as an addict I ended up in a never ending circle, my life (in my opinion) sucked so bad I couldn’t deal with it, so I drank, that allowed me to remove myself from the problems, not deal with them remove myself from them, which in turn made the problems bigger, so I drank more to escape them, my problems got bigger and I drank more to escape them, it just kept increasing, they went hand in hand and I was losing the will to live, deep down I didn’t want to drink, but neither cold I actually function without it.
My life sucked as Magnus Persson said, more than an airplane toilet, but he also said;
“It’s OK to suck, as it’s halfway to success!”
I like that phrase, Magnus was guest speaker at Everyday Champions Church a few weeks ago, he used this phrase then and it stuck with me, when we admit our life does suck and we submit to God that we are not enough alone, then we truly are half way to success, an “excess” of God will make it complete!
Just what was Hell’s Waiting Room?
Well this is my take on the scenario, I see my addiction as controlling my life at that point, I couldn’t be happy without it, I couldn’t deal with anything without it, I couldn’t cope without it, I was reliant on it, but it was a sinful existence.
To be a drunkard is sinful and to indulge in porn for a high when I had no alcohol was sinful.
But my despair for the problems that my drinking compounded drove me to contemplations of suicide, it wasn’t just that one episode on Mother’s Day last year (a year yesterday), it was actually a fairly regular occurrence, it happened many times when I was alone, lost in my own world, feeling so insufficient, feeling I wasn’t needed, feeling useless, feeling alone, feeling DEAD, I had the knife, I had the location, all I had was the despair, luckily for me and unbeknownst to me, I had a God looking out for me who wouldn’t let me do it.
But I was there in a sinful life, looking to take the next step into hell, to end this sinful life and cease to exist, the only place for me was hell, I was there in the waiting room, just waiting for my number to be called so I could move on into hell!
Hell’s waiting room is a fantastic place for the sinful addict, it had everything I needed, shelves and fridges full of alcohol, porn on the TV’s and books just laid everywhere, I’m sure every sinner’s waiting room is different, but essentially the same, just waiting to be invited through those doors!
Luckily for all of us, God never locks those doors, that door we walk through to get into the that waiting room, is always available to use, you just need to know what the key is, to declare that Christ, our saviour Died on the Cross for our sins, when we believe Hell’s Waiting Room fades from view and the doorway to the Kingdom of God becomes illuminated beyond anything else!
On this night one year ago, I was given that key, that key to the rest of my life, with it I was given the courage, not just to hold on to that key, but to use it in that doorway to the Kingdom of God and the new life that awaited me beyond it, it may have taken me a few days to work out how to use the key, but I got there, I used that key and now I live a new life, not free of addiction, I will never be free whilst I am in this life on earth, but I can live with it and beyond it, I can handle it, I can fight it.
So I am truly:
Fighting Hard, Recovering, Rebuilding, REBORN.
Moving on from addiction to a new life!
I love this song, it’s lyrics and the passion in which they are sung, echo where I was one year ago, I can almost see and hear myself singing these words, luckily God heard my silent cries, the ones I didn’t actually know I was making, he heard and sent people into my life to “Just Save Me”!
What have I become?
Can’t face the morning sun
Just save me
You’re the only one
Who can pull me out
Save me from myself
Just save me
Just save me
(Just Save Me by Like A Storm)