I wanted to be professional baseball player or a fireman when I was growing up. How was it that in my early 40s I had successfully become an alcoholic? I was in a self-imposed hell that was physically, spiritually, and morally bankrupt.
I grew up in a Christian home and in what I thought was a typical household. My parents didn’t really drink– an occasional glass of wine typically only if people were over for dinner. We moved about every four years as I was growing up, and it wasn’t until I looked back at all the variables of my life, did I realize some of the impacts that had. It was in high school that my path began to wander. I was extremely insecure but popular. I shared my first kiss in high school with a girl from my church who took her life months after we had parted ways. Not because of me, but it was a loss and pain I didn’t know how to handle.
Eventually, drinking became part of what I did with some of my football and baseball teammates…and like an amazing switch, my shyness would disappear. It was fun and felt good. I had begun a life of duality: drink on Friday and or Saturday night, church on Sundays. After high school we moved to a busy beach town in Los Angeles. In my new surroundings, I was allowed more freedom and independence and even had a little income. However, I also began to walk away from God and became more focused on pursuing things: girls, parties, Los Angeles nightlife, clubs. And after some time, I moved myself. This time to finally go off to college in my early 20s.
Now in my own apartment, away from home in a college town, I totally turned my back on God. It was a fun time, but it also planted seeds of behavior that would grow out of proportion and control. I eventually finished school and headed off to career land. All that really changed was I had more income to pursue “fun” things. I truly did have some unique life experiences and progress in my career… but I was never content regardless of the company I worked for, and it never seemed to pay enough because of my spending habits. I had girlfriends on and off. I ended up in another beach town, with a job that paid more than the last one and it was “let the good times roll.” Weekend trips, parties, going out a few nights a week. I was establishing a pattern of always trying to get to the next “happy time.” Job changes didn’t scare me, and I always tried to get the “ideal career job.”
Eventually, I met a non-Christian gal that allowed my independence. After dating and defining the relationship, we decided that it would make smart financial sense to move in together since we got along so well. Was it perfect? No, but comfortable enough that I could be in it and be pretty happy most of the time. Well, some of the time, kind of. That was a seven-year relationship, and my alcohol consumption increased during that time. Drinking was the perfect escape when I didn’t want to face normal relationship tensions. I was drinking almost nightly, sometimes in moderation, and on weekends a lot more. I found a sense of ease and comfort while drinking that I didn’t typically have. Gradually the amounts and types of alcohol escalated and moved from beer and wine to included hard alcohol.
My mom, who I was close to, had various health issues over the years and decided to have a serious surgical procedure that would improve her quality of life. Our family rallied together, and my prayer life, primarily dormant, was reactivated as we tackled this surgery as a family. The surgery seemed to go well. However, Mom developed complications not long afterward. After two months of hospitalization, tears, and fear on my part…my mom passed away.
My parent’s faith never wavered through the whole ordeal. My world fell apart. I leaned into comfort from my girlfriend and drinking wine at night. Less than two months after my mom passed, I received a text message while at work. It was my girlfriend. Our relationship was over. I have never seen her since by her choice. My heart was completely shattered, and I did not have the tools, the fellowship, or the walk with God to handle it. I drank to fall asleep every night, and each night, it seemed to take more “help” to sleep. Needing a change of scenery, I took a job offer in Los Angeles. I was now a highly functional, highly paid, drinking executive. I could barely hold it together through the workday. I would get home and begin my drinking. I was mostly alone in Los Angeles, had no joy in my life, and was in a downward spiral.
I ended up leaving that job, and a couple of months later, still in total denial, I took the label of alcoholic for the first time. I stayed in denial for a long time. I was digging my hole deeper and deeper. I didn’t stop running from God and the problems (ME) until the pain became greater than the fear of change. I had stutter steps and relapses. Then by God’s grace, I walked into a Celebrate Recovery meeting I’d heard about. I had tried another 12-step program that had probably saved my life, but Celebrate Recovery reintroduced me to what was missing: God. The pursuit of God and my sobriety became my top priorities. God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, non-condemnation, and healing were being revealed to me in the Steps. The biggest reason I had avoided God was that I believed the lie that I wasn’t worthy, that my sin had gone too far.
It wasn’t true. As Scripture says in Psalm 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you…declares the Lord.” I had finally stopped to listen. God had been waiting for this prodigal son the whole time!! Today I have over six years of sobriety, a relationship with God that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined, and real peace and contentment that I had never known before. It has been hard work, and not always easy, but worth it. Sixteen months ago, my brother died in a tragic accident. There was not one moment that the thought of taking a drink crossed my mind. Now I have a living, active relationship with God, steadfast faith in His promises, and a community of fellowship in Celebrate Recovery that saw me through. God has filled my cup, and its overflowing.
If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: https://crgroups.info/. To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit: https://locator.crgroups.info/.