2-Sobriety-is-Rewarding

Is relapse a part of recovery?

The answer is no, relapse is NOT a part of recovery!  Relapse is part of the disease of addiction, not recovery.  There is a great danger and a very subtle set up, in thinking that relapse is part of recovery.

This erroneous thinking can take the lives of addicts.  If I come into the recovery groups and I am told that, “relapse is part of recovery”, then the message is that relapsing is O.K. and it’s just part of the process of recovery.  How many relapses before someone dies?

Addicts are either “living in the disease” or they are “living in the solution”.  Working a 12 step program and having a relationship with your God is working the solution.  Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob, co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, talk about a “spiritual experience” sufficient to recover from alcoholism.

Eighteen years ago, I wrote an angry hate letter to the disease of addiction:

“You raped me of all my morals and values, and reduced me to a pile of dirty rags — a beggar and a homeless drunk.  You cut me deep inside and stole my soul, leaving only an empty shell of a person riddled with pain, fear, desperation, hopelessness, anger, rage, and a crushed spirit.  I became numb.  You were like a ravenous bloodthirsty parasite sucking the life out of me, enjoying my slow torture.  Twenty-eight years of this living hell was the price I paid to dance with you.

Even after suffering incomprehensible demoralization, I turned against myself and joined your chemical soldiers in the battle to win my destruction.  You killed my friend Mike in high school, and a month ago, my friend Jessie.

  • I lost my marriage.
  • I lost my career.
  • I became homeless.
  • I had five near-death experiences.
  • I lost my dreams.
  • I lost all the important relationships with family and friends.
  • I lost my dog.
  • I lost my drive and ambition.
  • I lost my self-confidence and my self-respect.
  • I lost my connection to God.
  • I violated my values and became a thief and a predator.
  • I was arrested 15 times, spent ten months in jail, and was in 13 treatment centers.
  • I lost the love inside my soul, and was filled with anger, rage, fear, desperation, terror and hopelessness.
  • I lost my faith and my trust in people and in myself.

I could add many things to this list, but you get the idea — you killed me in every possible way except by taking my physical life, and you came close to that five times.  This is what I call one hell of a blind date.  Although I hate you with every cell in my body, I am impressed with your diligence and persistence to obtain your goal — to kill me.  I look at you — the disease of addiction — as a highly intelligent, cunning, baffling, powerful, and vicious evil being which never rests and is always present, waiting for an opening to strike.  I wish I could see your red devil eyes and your blood-dripping fangs, but you are invisible.

You are more powerful than I, but if I could, I would kill you.  Slowly and deliciously over 28 years I would kill you, relishing your every cry.  I hate you even more because you have hurt my friends, my mother, and others that I love.  You just keep getting bigger and bigger, and the world is your playground.  I never knew that I would be forced to have a relationship with you — the disease — for the rest of my life.  I have stopped feeding you by no longer walking with your chemical soldiers.  I have the power of God, my fellow recovering addicts, and Alcoholics Anonymous  to keep you at bay.  As long as I continue to do on a daily basis what I need to do to stay sober and to grow spiritually, you will never be able to resume your task of destroying me.  As for your chemical soldiers, I respect and fear them, but they, too, can have no power over me as long as I choose not to use them.  Good-bye, pot.  Good-bye, alcohol.  Good-bye, cocaine.  I have found a new solution and His name is Jesus Christ.”

Eighteen years have passed since I was homeless and in the middle of my battle with addiction.  In desperation and overwhelming fear, I reached out and said this simple and powerful prayer:  “Jesus, Please Help Me”.  I had made my final surrender and my new life was waiting for me.  No other power than God could have saved me.  By the grace of God, I have been given 18 years of sobriety and a beautiful new life!

“Every recovering addict is a miracle because we have, “recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.” The book Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that, “The main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body.”

The disease of addiction has three major components: the mental obsession, the physical craving and the phenomenon of denial. Then add to this spiritual bankruptcy, intense emotional pain, devastating loneliness, fear and confusion, then you have a perfect storm for addiction and relapse.

Here is a powerful quote from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous:  “The great fact is just this, and nothing less:  That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe.  The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous.  He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.”

The book goes on to describe that every addict or alcoholic is faced with two choices:  “One is to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could. And the other, to accept spiritual help.”

The book states that, “Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.  To me these occurrences are phenomenon.  They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.  Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.”

Relapse is not part of recovery.  Relapse is part of the disease of addiction.  The reason why relapse is NOT O.K. is because addicts and alcoholics are dying every day from relapses.  Let’s make it clear that relapses, although they do happen, are not part of recovery, relapses are the enemy, not our friend.  Relapses live in our minds.  Relapses are the number one tool of the disease to kill us. All addicts face one of the most powerful, evil and destructive diseases in the world.  The disease of addiction is so powerful because it attacks us intensely in four ways.  It overwhelms us by attacking us emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically simultaneously.  This is why Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob point to a spiritual solution.  No addict can be the solution to his or her own addiction.  Addiction is much bigger than that.  ” We had to find a power greater than ourselves”.

There are many ways to fight off relapses:  Call your sponsor, pray and ask God for help, go to a meeting, pick up the phone and talk to a friend, read the recovery books, surround yourself with people in recovery who love you.  One of our greatest enemies is isolation and fear.  Alone we relapse, but together we find freedom and a new life.  I always found that doing service work and helping another addict, allowed me to be free of using thoughts or depression, or stress in my head.  When we are helping others, it is hard to get stuck in our own minds. I know that my mind can often become a bad neighborhood.  Helping others is the key to freedom.  Peace to you!

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

Whisper

When I was a young boy, I created in my mind Great Expectations for my life.  I dreamed of being a conqueror, a captain of some vast business enterprise and a protector of the poor, the disadvantaged, and a supporter of all underdogs.  I would be a rebel against “the establishment” and a fighter for good.

Nothing would stop me from confronting evil and speaking out against injustice.  I would have the courage to tell the truth publicly, when no else dared.  Worrying about what others would think of what I said and who I was as a person, would not be important to me, if fact, I would enjoy making liars uncomfortable.

My name would be famous for all of the right reasons.  Making sacrifices for the good of others would be my stock in trade.  My primary aim would be to touch the hearts of as many people as I could and give them Hope, Courage and Love.

When I graduated from college in 1981, I thought I could become anything that I set my mind to.  Anything that I had passion for, I would excel at.  If my heart was in the right place, that is, being of positive service to others, my goals would happen and I would make a difference in the world.

That was my mind set when I finished college and embarked upon my journey into the real world.  I was completely blind to the time bomb ticking away in my chest.  The disease of addiction was now ready to pounce on my dreams and tear my life apart.

If a college friend or a family member had predicted that I would barely survive 28 years of tortuous addiction, 13 treatment centers and a year of living outside on the streets in helpless homelessness, I would not have believed them.  After all, my life was full of promise and I had big plans for my life.  Nothing was going to get in my way.  I was going to become successful no matter what.

In the early years of my addiction to alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, I had tremendous denial of my addiction and this almost killed me.  Back then, I had not yet accepted that I had a problem with addiction and I passionately denied that I had an additional mental illness called manic depression.  In 1982, I told the psychiatrist that there was no way that I could have anything wrong with my brain because I achieved near perfect grades in high school and college and I was a member of the National Honor Society.  He told me, “If you do not get treatment for your manic depression and your addiction, your life will be ruined.”

The proposed treatment was for me to take lithium carbonate, a common solution for manic depression.  Because of my pride and rebellious nature, I decided not to take the lithium carbonate.  The result was an explosive escalation of both my addiction and my manic depression.  It is said that people with dual diagnosis (an addiction and a mental illness), have very low rates of recovery and many of them die if they do not get the help that they desperately need for both conditions.

The doctor was right.  My life was ruined.  I ended up going to 13 treatment centers with very little sobriety in between.  During that period of time, I experienced many jails, homelessness, violence, overwhelming fear and rage and a loneliness that left me feeling helpless and empty inside.  My spirit was crushed and I was like a wounded animal cornered by the monster called addiction and manic depression.  I had become completely defeated and powerless and I did not know how to get out of it. I experienced terror every day.

In 1998, in Denver Colorado where I was homeless for one year, a miracle happened that saved my life.  At the end of my addictive journey, I was sleeping in an electrical utility closet in an alley behind my favorite bar.  I had developed pancreatitis and the pain was devastating.  Emotionally, I was like a wild animal, full of fear and rage and confusion.  I was ready to strike out at anyone who threatened me again.  Spiritually, I was crushed and I felt less than human.  I felt rage and hate in my spirit and I felt like a different person, lost and confused and hurt beyond repair.  I did not know who I was anymore and I hated myself.

In the deepest recesses of my spirit, I know and I believe that Jesus loved me, and that He would forgive me and restore me to sanity.  A voice inside of me said, “Bob, all you have to do is ask Jesus to help you and He will do it for you.”  With nowhere else to turn and overwhelmed with emotion and a crushed spirit, I said this simple and powerful prayer,”Jesus please help me”.  With the help of family and friends, I made the journey to Hazelden Foundation in Center City, Minnesota for chemical dependency treatment and to get help for my manic depression.

Agreeing to go to Hazelden was my first surrender.  My agreeing to do nine months of treatment was my second surrender.  I immediately began taking lithium carbonate for manic depression and I was on my way to a new life free of all chemicals and I was stabilized with lithium.  When I graduated from Hazelden, I went to a halfway house for four months and got a job with a landscaping company.  Slowly and sometimes painfully, I began to build a new life.  Jesus held my hand the whole time.  I am His child and He loves me.  I became very grateful and focused on my recovery. By the Grace of God, I have been given the gift of 18 years of sobriety and my life has hope and promise and love in it.  Sometimes, looking back at my hopes and dreams and aspirations of my college years, I can become very depressed knowing that my life never matched up to who I wanted to become.  As the Beatles once said, “Money can’t buy me love.”

Jesus had other plans for me.  If He had not humbled me with the disease of addiction, I would probably have developed into a corporate jerk with an ego big enough to hurt a lot of people.  As it is, my life is much more simple and humble, but I have the love and respect of my wife, Rochelle, and my family.  Rochelle and I enjoy our two grandchildren, Mickey and Natalia and we have started a new real estate business.

I remain grateful and I am active in helping other addicts.  I do some public speaking at high schools and treatment centers and I share my story of addiction and recovery.  Jesus encouraged me to write a book about my life of addiction and recovery.  One time when I was traveling by car cross country, Jesus gave me a powerful and clear message to write my book and to get it done now.  A year later, I was able to finish and publish my book.

The book is entitled, Saved By The Prince Of Peace—Dungeon To Sky.”   The web site is:   dungeontosky.com

I pray for your happiness, your faith and the blessings you will receive from helping other addicts.  If I can get sober, anyone can get sober!

Peace and blessings to you!

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

SEVEN DEADLY SINS

As I looked at the picture above of the Seven Deadly Sins, I was shocked that I have five out of the seven deadly sins and on some days, all seven!

I still have sin in my life and it can sometimes hold me back from enjoying and being productive in my new life that Jesus gave to me 18years ago.  My sin ebbs and flows.  Sometimes, it is furious and at times it can become all-consuming, and then it goes out like a flickering flame, with the promise of an even stronger return.  My mistake is that I often fail to ask Jesus for help with temptation or other life problems.

There is a battle raging inside every one of us between good and evil, between God and the Devil and the stakes are eternal.  The devil knows all of my weaknesses like cards he plays in his destructive game of high stakes poker.  He has the deadly sins of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride to use as tools to bring us to eternal destruction.

Once I think I have one type of sin under control, the devil then reaches into his evil tool bag and comes at me even harder with some other temptation and then he repeats this until I lose all confidence in myself and sometimes I give up trying to live as Jesus wants me to live.  Our error is that we allow our pride to prevent us from simply asking Jesus for help.

PLEASE ASK JESUS FOR HELP EVERY DAY!

Eighteen years ago, I was destroyed mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I was living on the edge of giving up. I was sleeping in an alley in Denver, Colorado and I had hate and rage in my heart as I began to feel death knocking on my door.  I was carrying the burden of  addiction, mental illness and painful loneliness that I could feel deep down in my bones.  I was committing suicide slowly by killing myself with chemicals.  Once a person gives up hope, death follows.  I looked over the edge of that cliff and it scared me so much that I surrendered my life to Jesus and He gave me a new life.

By the grace of God, I have been sober for 18 years because Jesus forgave all of my sins and he lifted me back up to a new life where I can now help others who struggle with addiction, homelessness and mental illness.  I am a recovering addict and I also have manic depression.  The combination of these two conditions usually results in hopelessness and often death.  I was at the point where I did not think I was going to live and I almost gave up all faith and hope.  Surrender was the key to  bringing me to Jesus.  Jesus saved me from a wasted life and a painful death.  All I did was turn to Jesus in desperation and fear and I said the most powerful prayer that I have ever said which was, “Jesus Please Help Me!”

In two days, I was sitting in a group of addicts who were in treatment at Hazelden Foundation in Center City, Minnesota.  That was in 1998, and it marked the start of my new life.  I completed nine months of treatment.  I desperately needed that time to heal and to come back to life.  It was a slow and painful road back to health.  I remain very grateful that Jesus held my hand over the rough spots and continued to pull me forward through all of the nightmares of my past.  Jesus is still with me and He is opening my eyes to his vision for me.  I believe that that vision is to touch the hearts of addicts, the mentally ill and homeless people.  The only thing that really motivates me and gets me excited is helping others.  I fight against the distractions in life which constantly try to pull me away from this mission.  Again, we all are involved in a battle between good and evil, God and the devil.  We can only win this battle by going directly to Jesus and asking for His help!  Many of us ignore the battle or don’t recognize it or we try to win the battle on our own.  In Jesus is victory!

If I can get sober and overcome mental illness then so can you!  Jesus made all of this possible.  I know that he loves me and He forgives my sin each day as long as I confess the sin and then ask for His forgiveness.  Each of us are sons and daughters of Jesus and He wants us to be His and not the devil’s.

Jesus is Love.  He is kind and forgiving and He asks us to follow him.  Jesus died on the cross to have victory over sin and death.  Our debts, our sins were nailed to that cross.  When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts, our sins are gone forever!

THE BATTLE HAS ALREADY BEEN WON!  Jesus bridged the gap between our sin and God.  When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished”.  What He mean’t was that He had taken on the sins of the world and death itself, and He defeated both of them, so that we could have forgiveness and eternal life with Him in Heaven.  Jesus gave His life to pay the price for our sin, and because He loves us, He has given us forgiveness and eternal life.  Very important:  We have to take action and ask  Jesus to come into our heart so we can begin our new life.  Do it now!

At the moment that Jesus died on the cross, there was a dark, powerful and violent storm.  There was a 30 foot curtain in the Temple that was there to separate the people from the Holy of Holies (God).  When Jesus died, that curtain was torn from the top of the curtain all the way to the ground.  The meaning is that Jesus Christ is our bridge to God.  We can now talk or pray directly to Jesus and we do not have to go through a priest or any other person.  We now have direct access to Jesus, the Son of God and the Creator of the universe!

Jesus continues to pursue us every day even while we are still sinners.  I am starting to listen for messages from God like animals and birds in nature to the kindness in the eyes of people I meet each day.  I see God in the smiles and faces of children.  I receive messages at my church and from my Christian radio station.  I am learning about the joy of giving as I do public speaking and writing about addiction and recovery.  I am beginning to listen for opportunities to help other people and to make an eternal difference in their lives.  Sometimes, it is just simple encouragement and hope and some love that can set people on their way to Jesus.   I can say that my 28 years of addiction do in fact have real and valuable purpose, as God is using me to help others.  It all started with Jesus on the cross and His great love for all of us! 

No matter what you are going through, whether it be a small problem or a life threatening situation, Jesus is waiting for your call and He will respond with His love for you.

Here are some powerful Bible verses and thoughts to consider:

Romans 8:37

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

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.”

Romans 6:23English Standard Version (ESV) 

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 Galatians 5:19-21 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 John 1:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 John 3:16 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 John 14:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 Luke 11:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 Jeremiah 29:11 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 Luke 1:37 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

JESUS IS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, HE LOVES US AND HE WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH US.

CALL ON JESUS NOW!

Peace, Love and Blessings to you!

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

sillouhette-of-girl-praying

C7MWC3 A wooden cross over a stack of money with the words in god we trust besides it.

Three words that live in the hearts of all of us:  Forgiveness, Prayer, Worry and Money.

In Mathew 6: 6-15, Jesus teaches us:

“When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do.  They think that their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.  Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask him!

Pray like this

“Our Father in heaven,

may your name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come soon,

May your will be done on earth,

as it is in heaven.  Give us today the food we need,

and forgive us our sins,

as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

And don’t let us yield to temptation,

but rescue us from the evil one.

About forgiveness, Jesus explains in Mathew 6:14:

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

In my life, there are two family members that I have had difficulty forgiving.  I have made some progress in forgiving them, but it seems like I am still hanging onto some resentments.  I believe that I must give these resentments to Jesus, because they are more than I can handle by myself.  Resentments eat their own container and they are poisonous, like toxic arrows that we have allowed to enter our heart.  We must get rid of this poison, so that we can give our love to people who need our help.

Now about money.  Jesus teaches us, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be…….. No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other, you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.

For ten years, I was obsessed with money.  Chasing money, making money, accumulating money.  I made a lot of money, but I was miserable.  My health steadily deteriorated.  My blood pressure was sky high, I gained 35 pounds as I used food to sooth my pain.  I was going against my own personal standards and morals.  I was having trouble sleeping at night and I developed shakes in my hands and other body tremors.

After ten years on the job, one day, I walked into the office, walked over to my cubicle, picked up my stuffed animal and walked out the door, never to return.  The company is happy to chew people up and then spit them out like a used piece of gum.  It was a churn and burn company.  Over a six month period, Jesus gave me little nudges to get out.  I felt increasingly stressed and decided that I was going to take control of my life, and get out while my health was still intact.  Do you remember this Bible verse; “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”  Money can be an evil thing and a distraction to our faith in Jesus.

Regarding worry:

Here are seven reasons not to worry:

Mathew 6:25 — The same God who created life in you can be trusted with the details of your life.

Mathew 6:26 — Worrying about the future hampers your efforts for today.

Mathew 6:27 — Worrying is more harmful then helpful.

Mathew 6:28-30 — God does not ignore those who depend on him.

Mathew 6:31-32 – Worrying shows a lack of faith in and understanding of God.

Mathew 6:33 – Worrying keeps us from real challenges God wants us to pursue.

Mathew 6:34 – Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry.

The moment that Jesus died on the cross to give us forgiveness for our sins, the long 30 foot curtain that separated the people from the Holy of Holies, was torn from the top of the curtain all the way down to the ground.  At last, the wall that separated us from direct communication with God was taken away.  The Old Testament covenant was brushed aside, and the new covenant was born.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  All we have to do is to ask Jesus to come into our hearts and to live inside of us.  Jesus gave up his life to save us, to give us forgiveness, eternal life and a joy that surpasses all understanding.

Every sin that all of us have ever committed was nailed to that cross, so that we can have forgiveness for our sins and eternal life with God who loves us so much.  Jesus defeated sin and death and He was resurrected by our Father.  We owe everything to Jesus.  All we have to do is to accept Jesus into our heart and we will be given new life.

Jesus is the answer to Forgiveness, Prayer, Worry and Money.

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

FORGIVENESS (2)      PICTURE OF FREEDOM FROM CHAINS  FORGIVENESS (3)

The holidays are usually joyful and blessed times, but in every family, there can be intense tension from negative history, hurt and pain that never healed and even outright cruelty and rejection. What is the mechanism that makes forgiveness possible?  It is love and putting the other person before ourselves.  Selfishness and self-centeredness breed pettiness, anger and cruelty.

I have had to forgive many people in my life including family members and other people in my life.  I definitely hurt a lot of people though my 28 years of addiction. It was my fault, and I am sorry for my sins.  I was able to make amends to most of them.  Some of them forgave me and some did not.  Some of them pretended that they forgave me, but never did.  All we can do is to extend our hand of friendship, love and forgiveness and if they reject us, then we move on to repairing other relationships.  We do not chase after people who hoard their own resentments and anger to fuel their spirits.  These negative and hateful people are toxic to us, and we should forgive them and move on.

I have been sober by the Grace of God for 18 years, and there are still relationships that remain damaged, because people refuse to drop the stick of judgement, resentment, fear and hate.  Of course, resentment eats its own container, like a powerful acid burning through our stomach.  None of it is good for us, and all of it leads to our own destruction.  For addicts, we cannot afford to harbor hate, resentment and anger because ultimately they will destroy us, and lead us down the path to relapse.  Relapse is death for us.  Therefore, all of this is important life and death stuff, and we must respect it and take intelligent and sacrificial action.  Many addicts and even some non-addicts feed off of anger and resentment like it is a life-giving elixir.  Sometimes we hang onto our anger and our resentment like it is our baby, our child and we cling to it for dear life!  Some people feel like they will become like the hole in the doughnut, if they give up and release their anger and resentment.  They are prisoners.

In my life, I was like that.  I used my intense anger, rage and resentments to drive my insanity, my hate and my addiction. I also used it to manipulate people.  I did not want to give it up because hate, anger and resentment made me feel powerful.  However, this acid destroyed my world and it came close to taking my life five times.

I believe that God was just waiting for me to humble myself, surrender and ask Him for help.  Getting help from God is as easy as a simple prayer, and at the end of my addictive journey, my prayer was:  “Jesus Please Help Me!”  Two days later, I went from the streets of Denver, Colorado to Minnesota at Hazelden Foundation for chemical dependency treatment.  My second surrender came when they strongly recommended that I complete nine months of treatment because my condition was so bad.

I said, “Yes, I am willing to do whatever it takes to be free of drugs and alcohol.  I never want to go back to that living hell.”  So I had to humble myself and make many sacrifices to get well and I had to trust God with my life!  If I had chosen not to go to treatment and to surrender my life to Jesus, I would have died the ugly, lonely, painful death of an addict alone on the street.  I would never have the life that God has given to me today.

God always had a plan for my life.  When I got sober I began to help other addicts and I found that I have a passion and a talent for touching people’s hearts.  After I was sober for 15 years, I wrote and published a book entitled, Saved By The Prince Of Peace–Dungeon To Sky.  This book is an intense story of my addiction and recovery.  I shared absolutely everything that I experienced over 28 years of addiction, including my one year of homelessness in Denver, Colorado.  I experienced jails, hospitals, living outside, violence, terror, fear and a bone-aching loneliness as I approached certain death.

I described what it is like to be both an untreated addict and a manic depressive at the same time which made recovery near impossible.  I ended up going to 13 treatment centers over 28 years.   I was reckless, and filled with rage and emotional pain.  I became a wild raving lunatic panhandling for money and shoplifting whenever I could.  I was no stranger to county jails and detox units.  I was the poster child for self-destruction.  My final treatment center, Hazelden, finally coordinated treatment for both my manic depression and my addiction.  This was the key that was missing all of those years, treatment for both conditions.

What would we rather have, a relationship that is wounded and fragmented and burning with resentment, or a relationship that is healed and repaired and glowing with love and forgiveness.

There are actions and choices and sacrifices that must be made to bring a relationship out of the smoldering ashes of the past, and into the promise of a loving future.  The ugly head of selfishness and self-centeredness may continue to come to the surface and try to sabotage your loving efforts.  It is a battle that you must win through love, sacrifice, patience and courage.

So what if I have to humble myself and admit my wrong-doing, my sins and how I hurt the other person.  We must take the lead and be the better person.  We must swallow our deadly pride and become more like a servant, just as Jesus humbled himself and became our servant here on Earth.  Jesus is the ultimate good example and He led the way for us.  The reward for us is that we can often create a new relationship that is free of all poison and which is based on love and respect.  All of this takes time, but sometimes one honest, heart-felt conversation can turn the tide and turn a new page.

We cannot wait for the other person to make the first move.  We need to be the leader who is willing to sacrifice his or her own pride and become emotionally real and vulnerable.  We talk about our “side of the street” and focus on our shortcomings.  We do not criticize or judge the other person because that will only lead to conflict and additional resentment or even an explosive encounter.  We focus on our fears, our resentments, our disappointments, our insecurities and our faults.  In the process of making ourselves vulnerable, we allow the other person to become emotionally real and forgiving, and then progress can be made.  Repeat:  We do not criticize or attack the other person, because we are coming from a perspective love, not selfishness and hate.

If our desire is to repair the relationship and to enjoy a new freedom and a new happiness with this person, then we have to give something up, we must make sacrifices.  Do we love the person enough to put them first and ourselves second?  Do we have the courage, strength and wisdom to become a servant?  Remember this:  the devil wants there to be hate, resentment and anger in the relationship, because that is the river that he controls.  He will always fight against love and reconciliation.  He is the destroyer, and sometimes he is at play in some of our relationships.

But there is a simple and easy solution to that–  pray to Jesus every day and just ask for His help!   In fact, make sure to pray a lot before having a relationship encounter and then leave the results up to Jesus.

It is always worth it to humble ourselves, put our pride to the side, and heal the relationship with sacrificial love.  Of course, God is the great healer, but remember that we are his messengers!

Never give up on a person, but there might be times and certain relationships where you just need to back away for a time, and just focus intently on your own life, your own goals, and your own family and let there be peace.

”I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”   Philippians 4:13

Peace, Love and Blessings to you!

 

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

Steve Jobs picture

Steve Jobs’ Last Words

“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world.
In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…
Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…
Should be something that is more important:
Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days …
Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.
The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me.
What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.
That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.
Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.
What is the most expensive bed in the world? – “Sick bed” …

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”.
When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – “Book of Healthy Life”.
Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat yourself well. Cherish others.”

All of this reminds me of the Bible verse:

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

King James Version (KJV)

I pray that Steve Jobs will find peace and love.  

He certainly helped and positively impacted millions of people while he was on this Earth.

We can all learn from him.

 

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

Performance, eternity and love, how are they related?  I used to believe that in order to receive love I must perform well in school, work, athletics and be popular socially.  It started when I was a little boy.  I was always focused on pleasing others – my parents, my teachers and my coaches.  I can remember getting perfect grades in high school and rushing home to show my parents my accomplishment.  I was constantly chasing approval so that I could receive love.

When I worked as a professional sales person, I worked exceptionally hard for ten years and I ruined my health. My blood pressure was near stroke level at 180/90, my hands had a distinct tremor and I was not sleeping at night.  I was anxious and nervous and I was irritable.  I gained 35 pounds.  Remember this Bible verse:  “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” Matthew 10:37-39  When I was chasing money and success, I was distracted away from my relationship with Jesus and I became like a cork tossed in a restless sea, running scared and worshiping my own accomplishments.

The company I was working for loved me because I was intensely focused on making them money and making money for myself.  The company did not care if I drove myself to an early grave because they would just replace me with another sucker.  Jesus tells us that performance and good works are not needed to get His love.  Jesus is not looking for our good performance or our good works.  Performance and good works do not bring us to heaven.  However, when we love Jesus and when we love others, we naturally will want to do good works and to help others.

Here is what the November 20th reading in the Jesus Calling book tells us:  “I am pleased with you, My Child.  Allow yourself to become fully aware of my pleasure shining on you.  You don’t have to perform well in order to receive My Love.  In fact, a performance focus will pull you away from me, toward some sort of Pharisaism.  This can be a subtle form of idolatry; worshipping your own good works.  It can also be a source of deep discouragement when your works don’t measure up to your expectations.

Shift your focus from your performance to My radiant Presence.  The Light of My Love shines on you continually, regardless of your feelings or behavior.  Your responsibility is to be receptive to this unconditional love.  Thankfulness and trust are your primary receptors.  Thank Me for everything; trust in Me at all times.  These simple disciplines will keep you open to My loving presence.”

What about eternity?  The Jesus Calling book has this to say about eternity:  “Modern man has lost the perspective of eternity.  To distract himself from the gaping jaws of death, he engages in ceaseless activity and amusement.  The practice of being still in My Presence is almost a lost art, yet it is this very stillness that enables you to experience My eternal love.  The ultimate protection against sinking during life’s storms is devoting time to develop your friendship with Me.”

So how do we get saved?  The best selling book of all time, the Bible, is very clear about how we can be saved:  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”  Romans 10:9-10

The best thing for all of us to do is to focus on our relationship with Jesus and not obsess over performance and good works.  To be clear, good works and acts of service to help others is great and we should do it, but let’s not use them as distractions that take us away from our personal relationship with Jesus.  Peace and Blessings to you!

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

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Life:

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.

Physical health:

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.

Mental health:

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.

Emotional health:

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.

Family health:

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.

Spiritual health:

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

3For 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.                           

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

let-go-let-god

All of us live in a society that values action more than quiet times.  We are rewarded by employers and our families for what we do and what we accomplish and we are judged accordingly.  A high or excessive drive is admired and encouraged without looking at the cost to ourselves, our families and our physical and mental health.

We have become a world of “human doings” rather than human beings.  All of this chasing after money, power and material things has left us exhausted, spent and damaged.  The enlightened people have learned to draw a line between the pursuit of materialism and the pursuit of spiritual growth.  Like the Bible says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”

Many people are groomed, trained and encouraged to be aggressive and to become rich and powerful.  They learn the ropes as they progress through high school, college and graduate school.  This is their rite of passage and their ticket to the game of success.  The problem is that they are told many lies along the way.  The lies are intended to control their behavior and to discourage independent thinking.

For example, I was told, not directly but by expectations that were established by my parents, that I would receive love and respect if I performed well in school and work.  If I failed, then the love and respect would be taken away and I would be alone.  I learned at a very young age to chase success and to achieve it at all costs.  I was guilty of not stopping the fast moving train of success that I had agreed to jump on, and think about what I wanted in my life, what my goals and dreams were.

I was told to go to high school, then college and then graduate school.  After that, I was to secure a high paying job in a fortune 500 company that had a prestigious name and reputation. Finally, I was to get married and have children while becoming powerful in my field.  There is a nauseating quality to this kind of chasing.  The chasing means nothing and ultimately, it is empty and meaningless.  So what happens after you find and possess the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow?  What comes next?  More emptiness.

There are so many questions and important goals to think about and they do not include power, money or material things.  What happens to us after we die?  Are we eternal spiritual beings hidden inside of physical bodies?  Who is God and what is my relationship with him?  How do I develop a relationship with God, the Creator of the Universe?  Is there a secret unseen battle between good and evil raging within me?  How can I keep my focus on spirituality and my relationship with God when there are so many distractions, demands and temptations in our world?

Each of us has free will.  Don’t we all create most of our own problems, and then feel sorry for ourselves or blame God for our misfortune? Each of us can choose to strengthen our spiritual life, or we can choose to ignore it.  In the end, chasing money, power and wealth can leave us feeling empty inside, because our spirit is hungry for spiritual things, not material things.  Our souls cry out for God and only God can satisfy this thirst.  Given the fact that our eternal lives are dependent on what we focus on, it makes perfect sense to keep our eyes on God.

The November 12th  reading from the “Jesus Calling” book opens our eyes and refocuses our attention:  “My kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.” In the spiritual realm, we cannot do anything to earn God’s love and approval.  All of us have sinned and have fallen short of God’s perfection.  None of us deserve forgiveness or acceptance from God.  We cannot earn our way to Heaven.  If a man does a thousand good works, and has no faith and does not believe in Jesus Christ, than it profits him nothing.  When we open up our hearts, minds and souls to God’s presence, love and forgiveness, then we receive the Truth and the Truth sets us free.  Salvation is a free gift from God and all we have to do is accept it.  We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, not by good works.  However, our faith will lead us to love and to help others and that is very good.

One last point from the November 2nd reading from the “Twenty Four Hours A Day” book:  “Keep yourself like an empty vessel for God to fill.  Keep pouring out yourself to help others, so that God can keep filling you up with His spirit.  The more you give, the more you will have for yourself.  God will see that you are kept filled as long as you are giving to others.  But if you selfishly try to keep all for yourself, you are soon blocked off from god, your source of supply, and you will become stagnant.  To be clear, a lake must have an inflow and an outflow.”

If all we focus on is accumulating wealth and power and fame, then we most likely are not focusing on giving to and helping others.  It’s O.K. to work hard and to achieve success in our work, but to ignore the spiritual power and wisdom of giving, is an eternal mistake.  Peace , Love and Blessings to you.

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.

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When I was living outside on the streets in Denver, Colorado for one year, I became numb as a defense mechanism to protect my self from the horror of my situation.  In one year, I had experienced, as a result of my own distorted decisions, many trajedies, accidents and spiritual nightmares.  There was violence on the street when my life was directly threatened.  I carried the burden of unending fear and an all-consuming loneliness coupled with an anger that had escalated into pure rage.

My spirit was crying out for relief and escape from an evil presence that pursued me every day and every night.  There was no escape.  I can remember like it was yesterday the night 22 years ago, when I walked out of the bar and saw snow coming down hard and fast.  I immediately became fearful and angry because I had no place to live, and no shelter from a winter that had arrived.

I started searching for some place to get dry shelter out of the weather.  After a few days, I found an electrical utility closet in a alley behind my favorite bar, where I had been drinking for the last year. I opened the door to the closet using a plastic comb and I could lock it from the inside.  The closet was very small, too small for me to stretch out my legs.  I was happy to have a safe place off of the street.  I got my money hustling on the streets by pan handling and shop lifting.

There was no heat in the electrical closet.  One night in January, the temperature was extremely cold, and I woke up at 3 am with pain in my joints and a cold that had penetrated my bones like a dull persistent painful ache.  I learned that I must put down two layers of card board on the floor of the closet or the concrete would suck out all of my body heat and I could die of hypothermia.  When I first arrived in Denver, late at night, I saw people sleeping on the heat vents on the sidewalks.  These vents were exhaust vents from the big buildings.  I told myself that I would never resort to sleeping out in the open unprotected from lunatics on the streets.  I ended up spending a few nights on the vents.

I experienced violence on the streets and I often dreamed about people chasing me and wanting me dead.  I became a thief and then one after one, my morals and beliefs came crashing down, as I did things that I swore I would never do.  I experienced several county jails and a hospital due to a severe car accident.  I lost the car and had to walk thereafter.  I joined a caravan of walking homeless people and we walked all over the city in pursuit of breakfast, lunch, dinner and hot showers.  There were charities that provided food, clothing and medical support for homeless people.  I was like the walking dead. 

My spiritual state had deteriorated to the point of bankruptcy.  I felt separated from my true self and I had become a raving lunatic flipping off the world with hate in my heart.  Pain was at the center of my being and it had overwhelmed my spirit and my emotions.  I felt like a wolf that had been cornered, put in a cage and cruelly taunted.  I was ready to explode in anger and rage at the drop of a hat.  I had become an injured animal, ready to attack.  My spirit was crushed.  My confidence was gone and I felt lost.  The condition of my heart was like Hiroshima after we dropped the nuclear bomb on that poor city.  I became devastated spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.  I had contracted hepatitis C and pancreatitus.  I had lost 35 pounds and I was extremely weak.  I was sick every day and getting worse. 

Because of all of this pain, mostly self- inflicted, I chose to become completely numb.  I did this to protect myself from my pain and the horror of who I had become.  18 years later, this numbness has subsided, but it is still deep inside of me, and it rears its ugly head when I am under stress.  Any time that I start to think about my past, a lightening quick protective wall descends to block me from my past.  This wall prevents healing.  The wall is no longer needed and it is no longer my friend. 

I knew several people who used to drink with me on the streets that lost all of their hope, and it was not too long afterward that they died.  I was stumbling towards the edge of a high cliff, about to give up hope until I said the most important prayer of my life:   I prayed, “ Jesus, please help me”.  In three days, with the help of family and friends I arrived at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota to begin nine months of treatment for chemical dependency.  This was the beginning of my new life of freedom from chemicals and a new way of living.  I have been sober for 18 years by the grace of God.  I met my wife after being sober for four years, we bought a house and have two West Highland Terrier dogs and I have returned to my true self.  I do public speaking about addiction and recovery at high schools and chemical dependency treatment centers.  I am now a walking, talking miracle thanks to Jesus Christ.  I remain very grateful for my sobriety and I am passionate about helping others.  The person I became in Denver during my homeless days is gone forever.

Today, I went to church and met with a priest to do confession.  I was very nervous because I had not gone to confession in twenty years.  By the grace of God, the priest was great.  He was a good listener and he could read between the lines.  He told me that he was impressed with the quality of my confession and then he invited me to meet with him at the church.  I did not feel judged at all and I could feel the love of Jesus.  He told me to go out to the church benches and just sit for 10 minutes without speaking.  He said, “Just sit and be quiet for ten minutes and invite Jesus to be with you”.

I did this and I began to feel calm, and there were some small tears that welled up in my eyes.  I felt listened to and I felt loved.  However, I could feel that steely numbness holding me back, not allowing me to feel the pain of the past.  I guess in many ways, I am still numb after all of these 18 years.  Progress not perfection.  Sin separates us from God, but today my sins are forgiven.  May you find love and peace!

 

About The Author

Robert J. Allison lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife Rochelle Allison. Robert survived a 28-year battle with chemical dependency, including 13 chemical dependency treatment centers and homelessness. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began his new life of faith and contented sobriety. Robert has been blessed with 18 years of sobriety and with his new freedom he now is helping other addicts to find peace, faith and the priceless gift of sobriety.