My year of 2012 started with a continuation of my previous three years, slowly drifting deeper and deeper into the abyss. The previous few years I was struggling for work and money, my relationship was cracking open at a pace and all the while I was sinking into a 100 pound-plus-a-week drinking habit.
I had gone from casual drinker to hiding behind it. As my problems mounted, I became less able to deal with life, so I jumped inside a bottle and swam all the way to the bottom. I drank to take myself away from my issues, my bad dreams and stress disappeared as long as I had enough to drink. A few drinks to relax became two bottles of wine most nights. Other nights saw me add four or five pints to that also. I was in a permanent haze. I was able to put on a public show so my family, friends and karate students were blissfully unaware of the despair hidden behind my eyes.
When the 13th of March rolled around, things at home came to a head. As far as I was concerned, my life was over. I was struggling. I was lost. I couldn’t eat, but boy was I drinking…. more than ever. I tried not to. I really did. Each time I caved in and ran to the door to head for the shop, I apologized to Victoria, every single time.
Victoria, my partner, has been a Church goer for a number of years, leaving me at home every Sunday. I couldn’t entertain the idea of God. I hated the word Religion, but now I needed to make some sense of my life, so I asked if I could see her Pastor.
Life changed on the 18th of March, whilst Victoria was at church. I had the last of my suicide contemplation.
I sat on the edge of my bath with a sharp penknife in hand going through my life in my head, I was convinced everyone would be better off without me.
I had been there before many times, each time after all the negativity one thought prevailed, that my kids would be the ones who found me there lying dead in my own blood and no kid should live with that. I put the blade down, mad at myself once again, because I didn’t have the courage to live or the courage to die, I was nothing.
Victoria returned with her Pastor’s phone number the next morning. I fought every urge to go hide from this once again. I had to change my life and this was to be the phone call that started it all. I punched the call button and Gareth answered. I tried to say who I was. He knew me as Victoria’s partner. I got half way through explaining, then stalled.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had lost myself.
Gareth agreed to meet with me that night. On Monday March 19th, my world changed. I cleaned myself up and met with Gareth. I told him as much as I could admit to myself at the time. I wasn’t intentionally hiding anything, I was just so lost I didn’t know myself anymore.
We talk about God and Gareth prayed. I was a mess. I cried almost all the way through our meeting. I continually broke down, time and time again. But the meeting was good. I felt my heart was lighter and a weight was lifted.
The next day I couldn’t get a song out of my head. I couldn’t remember the lyrics, but this thought kept banging around in my head. I had to listen to “Healing Begins” by Tenth Avenue North. I did that night and I was blown away. It was all about me and telling me God and Jesus were there to help.
Over those two days, I had cut back on drinking, but I couldn’t sleep. The bad dreams were back. On the Wednesday night I got through it, after a stressful day, without having a drink. That night I prayed to God for the first time. I just prayed for the strength to get thought this. That night I had the best sleep ever, my prayer was answered.
On Thursday, March 29th, I gave up drinking. I went to the pub with the mindset that if I didn’t like the taste, I would never drink again. I bought one pint and hated it. That was it….the date of my Sobriety.
The following Sunday, I walked into church out of my own choosing, not because someone else wanted me there, but because I wanted to be there. I was scared and apprehensive, but I enjoyed it and decided I would stick it out. The next Sunday I responded to allow Jesus into my life. I was ready to move forward, to start a new journey.
On my first day in Church, I met James. I had met him once before and really liked him then. He remembered me, he knew Victoria and came over for a chat. I told him everything there and then he offered me help. He took my number and has kept in touch ever since. In my darkest days since then he has been there with encouragement. We have become great friends and he has helped me so much with my journey.
During April, a few weeks after I quit drinking, the withdrawals kicked in. I was in constant pain and ready to give in. I knew one drink could take it all away. When all seemed lost, I texted James. He responded and I got though it. I learned to pray. When I was struggling with the urge to sink back into my former self, I learned that if I asked God to take it away, it went.
God freed me from the torture. If I asked for help, it was there….always.
My other life is as a karate instructor. I kept sober for karate. It was the only place I could go to escape my issues at home. I put my suit on and became like superman…invincible. But take if off and head home, I was Clark Kent… weak. Over the previous years I had been a National Champion and runner-up, so when the Nationals rolled around on July 6th, I had lost nearly 28 pounds (in weight) and I had God on my side. I couldn’t fail.
Well, no, no I didn’t. I lost in the first round.
I came off the mat disappointed, but then I just looked up and thought, “Okay, I’m with you God, if it’s not to be, I’m not ready yet. I trust you and I will follow your plan.
I am a work in progress but I have to work in order to progress.
It was a simple thought, but I understood there was still work to be done. I was ready to keep walking with Him, ready for whatever He had in store for me.
The next day was Baptism Sunday at my new Church. I was loving every Sunday now. I hated missing church and did my best to be there every Sunday. I had considered Baptism, but decided I wasn’t ready yet. I had a lot of karate commitments at the time. I would wait until later in the year.
So, I resigned myself to going to watch, to see how these things were done, ready for the next one in November. As I got ready for church and made my way to the door, I caught a glimpse of the weather outside. It looked overcast with a chance of rain. I checked the weather on my phone. It looked overcast with a chance of rain. A strange thought hit me, “I won’t take my coat, I’m not bothered if I get wet today!”
So I took my seat at church and joined in with worship. Then Gareth takes the stage. This day he’s going to do something he’s never done before. He challenged us that somebody would make the decision today, to get baptized. Don’t worry about spare clothes, they will be provided somehow!
At that very moment, I froze, literally my heart, my lungs, everything just froze for a few seconds. At that point I knew this was a message for me. I was being called to stand up and be counted. In the break, I went straight to Gareth and told him I would do it. I’m not usually impulsive. I had already decided against it, but Gareth’s words were a message from above for me. As part of the baptism service each person who makes the decision to be baptized goes on stage with their testimony. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to. The three others that had previously decided we’re on stage ready to start when yet another act of impulse took over me. I rose from my seat, walked onto the stage, taking Gareth by surprise and stopped at the end of the line to tell my story.
On stage the nerves left and I delivered my testimony. 200 people learned that day about the collapse of my life and my drinking. Then about my recovery. It was well received. I was then baptized and dry clothes were brought to me. I was catered to and it really didn’t matter about getting wet that day.
I got the greatest soaking of my life. This day is up there with the birth of my two children as the greatest day in my life.
I had shown my faith in God and His path for my life. I firmly believe that day he spoke to my heart. He told me I was ready. It didn’t matter that I didn’t feel ready. He believed I was ready. He lifted me from my seat onto that stage. I couldn’t do that by myself, but through God, those chains of self-consciousness are broken.
I know that God had tried to get though to me during my lost years, but I wasn’t listening. I was down at the bottom of a bottle and I was staying there. There were numerous messages, but I turned away from them all. I carried on my voyage of self-destruction.
I only started to listen when I thought that life was over, when my relationship ended. I always wanted to put it back together. I knew I was letting it go on too long. When I heard the words that it was over, my heart broke, then and only then, when I had finally reached the bottom did I start to listen.
I also believe God was there with me before I had ever prayed.
I believe he put his hands over my wrists and whispered in my ear that day, to stop me from committing suicide, the same way that he spoke to me, to tell me I must listen to “Healing Begins.”
When Gareth answered my call on March 19, 2012, my world changed forever. In turn I answered God’s call. I buried all the previous beliefs of my old life and opened myself to a brand new world and a brand new life.
In times when I wanted to fall away, when temptation was easier to accept than fight, I looked up and prayed. I accepted my weakness and asked for help. Through God’s love, temptation was removed. I was forgiven for my past and relieved of my demons.
I’m still working on improving myself, making small changes towards being a better person with a better life.
I count everyday since Thursday March 29, 2012, every SoberDay. Every night I write in my journal and at the top of the page, two numbers are written: the number of SoberDays and the number of days since my World changed on the 19th of march 2012. The day that the door to the kingdom of God was opened from me to enter.
I met Wayne in the bloggosphere. He encourages me with his posts. It is amazing that he has been set free just 10 months ago. He lives in Nottinghamshire in the UK. You can follow Wayne’s blog at TheBottomofaBottle.
Wayne shares his story of addiction so well. You may not be addicted to alcohol. But we all have our hang-ups. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s the computer? Maybe it’s the television or the iPad, or a person. What is your drug of choice?
God wants to set us free from our addictions. He want us to depend less on stuff, people and things and depend more on Him. He wants a relationship with you.
God sent Gareth and James to help Wayne. God will send people in your path too. Just ask Him. Tell God what you need.
As Wayne said, “…. God was there with me before I had ever prayed.”
“And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Thank you Wayne for sharing your story!