My name is Scott and I am a believer who struggles with a host of sinful behaviors including drugs, alcohol and depression. I am a grateful child of the one and only true God. I started this recovery process believing that the drugs were my problem and I used them because my life was a broken mess. I lived over two decades under this false belief and only as I started through this journey I started to peel back the layers of character defects, destructive behaviors and self-centered sinful desires did I begin to learned that I (in my flesh) was the broken mess and everything else going wrong was a direct result of my brokenness. I honestly felt that I was just dealt a bad hand in life and I would just have to deal with it the only way I knew and I learned many different ways to deal with the feeling of being different, in adequate, not good enough. I grew up with any overwhelming feeling of fear. Fear ruled most if not all of my behaviors from when I was a child.
I grew up into a strong religious Catholic family that taught a fear of God. We were to do as told and especially in public we had to look perfect. Went to church dressed proper, couldn’t say a word and everything on the outside looked as good as could be. Casting Crowns talks about the “happy plastic people” in church and that was what it was like. A big facade. What happened when we were not in public was a different story. My parents fought quite a bit when I was young. When I got in trouble, they fought more. When I got into trouble it would literally spark off a household war. Physically things were thrown about but even worse, words flew like flaming spears. I felt guilty and shameful when this would happen. It was my fault. I was the cause. That is how I felt and I could not show it.
I grew up behind an older brother that was an incredibly smart child and he still is. I was compared and measured up to him all though my life. I can clearly remember a high school principle putting me over the desk and paddling me asking why you can’t be like your brother. I resented this greatly and it turned into hate and came out in all different types of behaviors.
I quickly learned to internalize everything I felt. Not feeling as good as, lesser than but showed none of it. I was not taught to show feelings and to this day still struggle with identifying them because my entire life feelings were jammed down and came out sideways.
These feeling I held deep inside drew out behaviors such as people pleasing and attention getting. I would do almost anything if it brought attention to me. What I didn’t know was that it was not the type of attention I really wanted. Inside I wanted to feel accepted, liked and loved for who I was but I settled for attracting whatever attention I could get.
These feelings that stirred inside and caused so much pain for so long suddenly disappeared temporarily the day I picked up my first drink. All of a sudden the pain went away and a false sense of well being came about. This first drink came when I was 11 and seeing my family members on holidays mixing coke and rum and enjoying themself attracted me to see what the big deal was. This was also another attention getting maneuver because I was able to tell my friends I did it. Thinking they would think it was cool. Immediately I learned to use it to take away my fears. The scared little boy found something to take the fear away.
I used and abused alcohol. I did dangerous things for attention prior to alcohol and now with alcohol I did even crazier things. Enticing one of my friends to drink with me he ended up breaking his leg at my house and led to my parents finding out about my drinking. The cat and mouse game ensued and I would take from the rum bottles, replacing it with water. I already started into the denial by hiding my behavior.
I also started stealing at a very young age, thinking if I have the coolest, newest thing out that my friends would like me. Essentially I already tried buying what I felt was missing in my life. My early teenage years were spent quickly graduating to marijuana, LSD and whatever it took for me to stop feeling. By
late high school years I always kept an entourage of those who I could supply with drugs and alcohol with the money I stole. I started drinking before school every and any day of the week. It came to a point where I was always the one who got too drunk, got sick all over and made a fool out of myself. Some didn’t want to drink and drug with me because of this even though I would try to buy them whatever they wanted.
Finishing high school my life was all about the next party. I decide not to go directly to college and maybe take a year off. I am still on that year off today. Many friends went away to college and I just worked and got high. I was introduced to cocaine and heroin and everything spiraled downward very fast. Taking off on $1500 weekends. Making runs to NY and North Philly. I was right in the middle of it. I just didn’t want to stop not feeling.
I was introduced to my first secular recovery program in 1990 and the first time I was told to get a sponsor was rejected due to me feeling like I’m 18 now, what would I want someone to tell me what to do. I decided to leave rehab because a girlfriend was more important. Needless to say, my first OD was days afterward and my first trip via 302 to the first hospital was days after that. I decided to try something different this time. I tried a rehab romance. Found an older woman in rehab and moved from the rehab to her apartment. I probably don’t need to say that that attempt failed as well.
Many years of cocaine, heroin and crime proceeded. I paid many trips to both rehab and jail and every time I wanted my life to change but would try to do it again in my own will and failed.
The spiral ended in 1997 with two felony 1 charges, Robbery with a deadly weapon. I had lived for years with a several hundred a dollar day habit that stopped when I was arrested for robbing the same Turkey Hill two nights in a row. I felt an incredible sense of relief when they put me into the holding cell. I found some peace in the fact that it was finally over. I was tired, run down, beat up and completely empty inside.
In my many visits to jail, I can remember a feeling of acceptance that this was just the way my life was meant to be. I didn’t deserve anything more and wasn’t going to get it. In a moment of hopelessness, I attempted suicide. Doubled up some shoe strings and hung myself. God had another plan as I woke up on the cell floor. The strings had broken. During this massive run I took many hostages including two wives, two step children and two children of my own. I thank God that my boys did not see the worst of my battle.
I spent the next six years in AA sober. I had nothing left at that point and decided to give this thing a try. I went through the pink cloud period and some struggles but I did what the program required. My life changed. The promises of AA came true. I remember one of the moments of clarity when I stopped struggling with powerlessness. It finally clicked. The power came from me just doing whatever was asked in acceptance that my will didn’t work. I started the program with Judge Conahan as my higher power but then took the program as a higher power. I never really understood the god thing. I had no idea who he was. I had a misconception from some things I was taught when I was young and did not know of any sort of relationship. Although I didn’t know who God was, he was still there working in my life. I found peace and serenity in my life. I understood acceptance.
Unfortunately after 5 years or so I decided to switch back to Scott’s will. I ran on what I would call shear will power and knowledge of addiction for the next year. I slowly lost touch with the program. After all, I had a career, a family again, a wife, a house and my children. Eventually the inevitable happen and I was back to square one again and was no longer able to put any significant time together again for years. I exhausted every avenue of self again.
Then came a day when I was drawn to this church by God himself working through my son. A friend of my son asked him to attend a church event and considering it was a church event we said yes. He came back that night and said that he enjoyed it and wanted to go back. He attended for a while and one week around Halloween time they had to dress up as a bible character and so my wife and I dressed him up as an apostle as neither of us really knew of any specific bible characters. Since we went through the trouble of dressing him up, we decided to attend to see what he was doing there. This program turned out to be called Awanas and they also had an adult bible study at the same time. At this time I was still struggling with sobriety and my marriage was a mess. My son mixed up the start time and we ended up going an hour early and the Pastor was the only one there but he welcomed us and gave us a lesson sheet for the bible study and
we looked at the lesson and right across the top was the lesson called “marriage problems”. We looked at each other puzzled. We stayed for the study and we both left feeling like he wrote the lesson just for us. I thought he pried it out of my son and knew we were coming.
Afterward he invited us into his office and he asked me if I knew where I was going if I died right now.AI prideful Scott replied, I was going to heaven. He asked why and I responded that when I am sober, I do a lot of good things and am a good person. How wrong I was but just didn’t know it. Hence that was four years ago and here I am still listening to Pastor Dave custom write his messages just for me each Sunday. We started attending church and we started to get to know some of the people here. Being fresh off a relapse and recently being diagnosed with Bipolar, I felt that I had a mental illness and was a bit ashamed of it. Andy came over to me and invited me to come out Friday night and that there were others that were dealing with the same issues.
That Friday I attended my first Celebrate Recovery and felt that I was not alone. I still wasn’t sure about God but I listened to stories of victory every week and kept coming back because I wanted to see some victory in my life. I learned that I was a child of God and started to feel that I was worthy of this victory. About three months later during a message delivered by Dr. Dave Earley, I gave my heart to Christ.
I still lived with a very strong sense of self. My entire life I was always in careers where I fixed things and I still thought I could fix everything. Sin still ran rampant in my life and I still tried to fix it until one incident brought me into church one Sunday morning and as we worshipped our lord, the lyrics to a song hit me in a special way that I realized that I was not giving God my everything. I had tears streaming down my face which I would have never done that before in public but there I was about half way up on the right hand side of the center aisle with Nancy Cannon holding my hand. Finally realized I was truly broken and needed Christ. He was able to use me but he wanted all of me. Not just what I wanted to give.
I will always have that battle of the flesh but today I know that I need to give him all of me.
The program of Celebrate Recovery has provided a simple way for a complex me to allow Christ’s healing in my life. I am still broken today. At least in the flesh but through Christ I am a completely new person. Because of my faith, I am assured of this.
The road to recovery has had its stretches of pot holes and I fell to relapse since but was loved by those around me through it and they picked me up and God provided his unconditional love and forgiveness to me yet again. Those who were there for me know who I am talking about. I don’t need to point anyone out because it was not the person but God working through them to pick me up and dust me off again. This backslide was exactly what I needed to put my pride down and get my focus back on God. Since that day my life and faith have grown incredible measures. I struggled many days but knew that I was given a purpose in life. That purpose becomes clearer to me each and every day. The trials still come but are dealt with today head on.
My life today has no room for drugs or alcohol. They are not an option anymore. With them out of the way I am left to deal with my character defects, my shortcomings and weak spots. I hold the victories close and see the goals ahead of me. I daily work a tenth step to keep tabs on my own wrongs and build upon the rights. I submit my life to the twelfth step and know that it is part of my purpose.
Each day I thank God for where he has me and lately my life is like riding a pink cloud but I know and accept that future trials will come and that I may struggle through them but I look forward to them bringing me closer to God and growing my faith.
I started by saying that I struggle with drugs and alcohol but today my only struggle is with my own will and with learning how to be a man, a spiritual leader, a husband and most importantly learning to father my children in God’s ways and not my own. I know today that I have been given the responsibility to be God’s advocate to raise my boys to know him, love him and live by his healing power. I also struggle today with balancing my faith, my recovery, marriage and fatherhood. I know that without God I have not any true recovery and without recovery I cannot be an effective loving husband or father.
I am eternally grateful to God for what he has given me and I do my best to share this with anyone I can.
I remind us of what was given to us and that we should present ourselves to him, holy and pleasing. Not because it is commanded of us but because we are grateful that he saved us from eternal death.
I have so many victories in my life but just a few are:
I no long am in bondage to using chemicals to escape any feeling that comes across my plate today.
I have been given the ability to take all medicines as they are designed to be used or prescribed.
I have the ability to hold medications for other people that do not yet have the discipline to do so themselves and not use them myself.
After several years of severe depression and bipolar, I do not need any medication to treat these issues and cannot remember when the last time I fell into depression was.
After two years of battling sleep problems I actually sleep most of the night these days.
My marriage is 1000% better than when I started this journey and is growing each and every day.
I have been given my life back in its fullness as God promised so that I do not have to hide in the rooms of twelve step programs anymore.
I have the joy of seeing my children smile when they are around me instead of worrying when the next time daddy is going away will be.
And so on… And so on…
I don’t claim these things as trophies but as proof of what Jesus Christ is capable in doing. It is through HIS victory on the cross that I get to enjoy the freedom of bondage. I would encourage anyone new to the program that there is hope, help, and healing here. In this program I feel safe, secure, confident and loved, and I learn something every week.
I am not afraid to let others into my life; I see and think differently about everything and everyone. I now see others the way God see’s them. I see that His mercies are fresh and new every day.
God’s word says : ‘Who the Son sets free is free indeed.’
Today I know that I am indeed free !