In my life, every time I have faced a transition I have experienced fear and anxiety. What will happen next? How will my life change? Will I be able to rise to the occasion and become successful? Will I fail? Will people accept me or like me? Can I make a real contribution to this new chapter in my life? Will my painful past eliminate me from the running? Can people accept my history of addiction and recovery and will they respect the work I am doing to give back hope, love and encouragement to other addicts. Will I be harshly judged and then discarded as damaged goods with a high risk factor?
There have been several key transitions in my life. Our family lived in England from 1964 to 1970, my ages six to twelve. There are six kids in my family and all of us were anxious, fearful and excited about moving to a foreign country. In England, I was the “Yankee American” and there was a fair amount of teasing and ridicule. The English students came to respect me for my success in becoming the captain of the under eleven rugby team, and playing soccer as well as my talent for exercising my hot temper. My last name is Allison and there was one kid who repeatedly taunted me, calling me, “Allison in Wonderland”. One day, he was insulting me and I hit him so hard that he was passed out before he hit the pavement. He never bothered me again.
Academically, the British were at least a year ahead and so I had a lot of catching up to do including learning how to speak Latin. I achieved O.K. grades and loved the religious education class where we listened to the teacher tell the Bible stories about Jesus. Jesus became my hero way back then.
After six years in England, it was time to come home to the United States and I could not wait. I had the same anxiety, fear and excitement that I had when we came to England, but knowing that I was going home made it sweet. I came back to sixth grade and I remember the kids calling me a “limey” which is slang for an Englishman, since I still had a full English accent. The coach at the grade school in America advised my mother to get me involved in sports at the school as soon as possible, since this would help me to assimilate into American culture and help me to make new friends. I joined the tag football team and did well, earning the accolade “Bullet Bob” for my running speed and enthusiasm. Academically, I did very well, bolstered by the British education.
The next major transition was from grade school to high school. I spent an entire year getting myself psyched up to perform well in both high school academics and sports.
By the time I entered my freshman year in high school I was roaring to go, thanks in part to the prayer life I had developed in grade school. I remember after I joined the football team, I was the left tail back and I had to memorize dozens of football plays. I used to lie in bed and ask Jesus to review the plays in my head, so I could visualize them so when I stepped on the field it all would be automatic to me and I could just focus on running fast and dodging the defensive players who were trying to kill me. So my success in the high school transition was made possible by my faith and relationship with Jesus and also “psyching myself up” and raising my expectations of myself, so I could excel in both sports and academics. I achieved an A- average for all four years of high school and I was in four sports: football, wrestling, tennis and soccer.
High school to college was the next big transition. One observation I have is that going from high school to college, I no longer had as close a relationship with Jesus or least the drugs and alcohol that I had been doing in high school served to block that relationship. I was acting mainly on self-propulsion, but I would later discover that self-reliance does not work. I repeated my high school experience with excellence in academics, but in college I was not in any organized sports. I was always looking ahead to the next transition, which after college was graduate school in business. Competition to get into the top business schools was fierce and I worked hard in college to achieve almost perfect grades. I accepted an offer to attend a top MBA program. I lasted a year and half and then dropped out for mental health reasons. I thought getting a graduate degree would solve all of my problems and assure me of a successful business career. I was wrong.
I just wanted to be a salesman and did not have the passion to attain a graduate degree. I was ill prepared for pursuing the graduate degree because I really did not want to do it, but I was being influenced by my father, who thought it was a magical foundation for success. Looking back, I should have had a long talk with my spirit to figure out what I wanted to do. What was my passion? Was analytics and numbers something that I wanted to spend my precious time doing, or would I prefer to help people directly and make an eternal impact on their lives?
Currently, I am in a job search. My confidence is low and I am searching for what God wants me to do rather than just taking any old job that comes along. Times of transition can be scary and the fear can paralyze us. I am having faith that God is watching out for me when my hope is weak. I have faith that Jesus will love me as he always has. Jesus will lead me to the right path.
There have been other very intense life changing transitions. For 28 years, I was addicted to alcohol, marijuana and cocaine and I ended up homeless on the streets of Denver, Colorado for one year. That was a huge transition which almost took my life. I learned that I was also manic depressive and together with my addiction, I was headed for an early grave.
The next transition saved my life. While homeless and living out on the streets, I found a small electrical utility closet that I could open with a plastic comb and then lock the door from the inside. Life on the streets at night was dangerous and deadly. Homeless people were being killed by members of the Skinhead gang. They were killing people in order to earn entrance into the gang and homeless people were easy targets.
Here is the transition that saved my life: I woke up one morning in that closet and immediately felt the physical pain of pancreatitis from alcohol poisoning, mental pain in the form of over-powering fear and anger that had turned into rage and a loneliness that I could feel like an aching pain in my bones. I was right on the edge of losing all of my hope and desire to live. I was terrified. My hands trembled and shook. I was like a wild animal who had been cornered and was ready to strike out. I was defeated by drugs and alcohol and my manic depression. I was either going to live or die. I had reached the ultimate transition.
In desperation, and consumed by a vicious fear, and with just a spark of faith, I called out a most powerful prayer. Like a drowning man reaching for a life line I shouted out:
“Jesus Please Help Me!” This was the surrender that made my new life possible. Miraculously, two days later, I found myself in a group of 25 other addicts at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Jesus had helped me to bridge the gap between death and life and I began my new life of sobriety, sanity and joy. Jesus brought me through this most dangerous transition. Today, because of the Grace of Jesus Christ, I have 18 years of sobriety, a beautiful wife, a son and great home in a quiet neighborhood and two West Highland Terrier dogs, and two awesome grandchildren. Most importantly, I am helping other addicts to recover and to find a new life. I do public speaking to high schools and treatment centers and AA meetings. Jesus is the solution.
I have published a book, “Saved By The Prince Of Peace—Dungeon To Sky”. The book tells the story of my addiction and my recovery and it gives hope, encouragement, faith and love to the suffering addict, who might think that he or she cannot recover.
”My life is a miracle and I owe it all to Jesus.
The next time you are faced with a life transition, pray to Jesus:
Jesus Please Help Me!