I am grateful that Jesus saved my life seven times. I had two car accidents and one motorcycle accident that were near fatal. I had two grand mal seizures as a result of over-dosing on crack cocaine. I had two violent encounters with people on the streets who wanted me dead. I narrowly escaped losing my life to these lunatics. So yes, I am grateful for my life and all the blessings that Jesus has given to me.
My life today is rich and abundant and filled with hope and promise. Contrast my life today with the fear, despair, anger, rage and burning loneliness that I carried every day of my addictive life and you can see what a relief and what a joy it is to be free of chemicals and the addictive lifestyle.
At the end of my addictive journey I was sleeping in a utility closet in an alley behind my favorite bar. My health had deteriorated quickly. I had pancreatitis from alcohol poisoning, I had lost 35 pounds and I had contracted Hepatitus C from sharing needles. I was very weak physically, I had dizzy spells and my thinking was confused. I was getting very little sleep, so my body could not repair itself.
Today, my physical health is good. I am free of Hepatitis C after a special 60 day treatment. It is a miracle that there is no trace of Hepatitis C in my body at all. I am back to a healthy weight, I have a healthy diet. Jesus has restored my body. Yes, I am grateful to be physically healthy.
After 28 years of addiction, my mental health had deteriorated to the point of lunacy. I was insane and completely controlled by the disease of addiction. I was on a fast moving train with a one way ticket to death and hell. Ever since I was in high school, I suffered from manic depression. In high school I did not even know what manic depression was, and I did not even know that I had it. I began using marijuana and alcohol to help me feel “normal”. I was self-medicating and did not know I was doing this.
My manic depression and my addiction started in high school and just kept on getting bigger and bigger until they controlled my life. I was what they call a functional addict. I was achieving perfect grades and I was an athlete in several sports. My mania helped me to achieve all of this, but later I would pay a terrible price. I had a nervous breakdown after graduating from college where I also achieved perfect grades. The manic depression was gaining in speed and my mental state was compulsive, reckless and volatile. I developed a hair-trigger temper and could be physically dangerous. Whatever thought came into my head, I just did it without thinking about the consequences. I was out of control and it only got worse. When you combine addiction with manic depression, you have the perfect storm for disaster and tragedy.
For the last 18 years I have taken lithium carbonate to treat the manic depression and I have had no problems. I went to thirteen treatment centers over the 28 years of my addictive journey and one of the top reasons is that I was NOT treating both the addiction and the manic depression. They must be treated simultaneously or no sobriety can be found. So yes, I am grateful to have my mind back.
Drugs and alcohol retard our emotional growth, because we are depending upon a chemical to handle the emotional ups and downs and pressures of becoming an adult. Our emotional maturity is stunted. Whenever I was facing something that was emotionally stressful or painful, I would run to the chemicals for relief. It got to the point where I could not function or cope with life without the chemicals. Eventually, I no longer controlled the chemicals, they controlled me. When I was frustrated or insulted or threatened, I would explode into either a physical or a verbal assault on whoever dared to cross the line that I had set in my mind.
Today, I am still very much passionate and intense, but my outbursts of anger or rage are getting fewer and far between. The emotional storms of the past, which caused relational damage and broken relationships, are rare. When I do make mistakes or hurt other people’s feelings, I am quick to recognize my character defects and I can apologize and repair the damage.
When I was an active addict, I could not keep any of my promises. I always had good intentions, but I could not keep my word. Today, when I make a promise I get great joy when I complete that promise and I hold my word as sacred. Sobriety has restored the loving, generous heart that I was born with. Yes, I am grateful for having much improved emotional health. There is always room for improvement, but I know that I am on the right path.
When I was living on the streets, I had isolated and separated myself from my family because I wanted to use drugs and alcohol in peace. The effect of my disease of addiction was to hurt everyone I loved and to deny the love that they had for me. My family members had all been through the disease of addiction with my mother, and now it was happening all over again with me. I damaged all of my relationships so that I could push people away and continue my affair with chemicals which had become my best friend and lover.
The disease of addiction wants us to be alone and isolated, away from the love of family and friends so that it can complete its ultimate goal: our destruction and death. Resentments and anger raged inside of me and in my family. The disease had started a war among us, and I was the bad guy. My addictive journey started back in high school and it gained in strength until I was homeless, destitute and full of fear and loneliness. Each family has distinct roles like the “hero” or the “scapegoat”. I was the scapegoat. I was the one in my family they could point to and say to themselves, “I am doing so much better than Bob.” As the years of my addictive nightmare progressed, I became the “scapegoat”. When I was in high school and college getting perfect grades, I was the hero. Several of my family members turned their backs on me and pretended I no longer existed, or perhaps they were just terrified at my life and did not know how to help. Or maybe for them, turning away was just the easier way to deal with me. Through my addiction, I created all of my problems, including relational divisions in our family.
Nobody knew what to do except my mother and my brother Chuck. My mother had been sober for years and she knew that love was the answer. My brother Chuck and his wife Beth took me into their home several times and helped me to heal my broken heart and crushed spirit. Love is the answer.
After 18 years of sobriety and freedom from chemicals, my family relationships are beginning to heal, slowly. People have long memories and the hurt that I caused them will not go away overnight. Overall, I feel like there have been miracles of forgiveness and the restoration of love and respect in our family.
Yes, I am grateful for the progress that has been made in restoring my family relationships. Jesus is the Great Healer and He has been busy helping our family.
During those 28 years of painful addictive hell, I had no peace in my soul. I was at war with myself and I was on a self-destructive path that had one end. It was like buying a ticket for a fast train that promised flowers and beauty, but brought you only terror, pain and misery. The train starts at point B and ends with death. I had a relationship with Jesus when I was in grade school, and up to my sophomore year in high school when I started using marijuana and alcohol. My prayers stopped and I felt separated from God. One important point: Through my addiction I separated myself from God. However, God never leaves us and as Saint Paul writes,
From the Bible: Romans 8:38-39 New International Version
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“I soon became alienated from my family and spent all of my time with my using friends. In the end, I learned that none of my using friends truly cared about me at all. They just wanted to have fun and get high.
I got sober in 1998 and God has blessed me with 18 years of sobriety. I have found a great church that has great music, powerful messages from the pastors and opportunities for volunteer work. I have gone on two mission trips with the church, to Nicaragua and Peru. We worked with the children, who probably taught me more than I taught them. I have a set time to pray and to meditate and in this quiet time, I read a chapter from the bible and I read the “Jesus Calling” book and the Twenty Four Hours A Day book. The messages in these readings are powerful and they help to positively feed my spirit.
Jesus has been calling me home all of my life. He has forgiven me and he loves me. He will guide me for the rest of my life and someday I will see Him face to face in paradise.
If you are interested in my full story, I have published a book: “Saved By The Prince Of Peace—Dungeon To Sky.”
You can order the book on my website which is: dungeontosky.com
Peace and Blessings to you.