My Last Drink 8 years ago
DISCLAIMER: I will be talking about the last day I took a drink and one of the reasons why I drank in this post. Some of it is not pretty, and it is part of my past, but I have a reason for sharing it. Much my Celebrate Recovery friends know, little does anyone else. So read if you wish, but I break the silence beyond CR about that last day in my own personal hell of my own making.
On May 26th, 2002 I took my last drink. It was about eleven when I took my last drink. As much as I'd like to tell you it was an ah-ha moment and I just got it and put it down, it wasn't. In fact, if left on my own, I'd of continued drinking that day. I was in Stage 3 of alcoholism. For those of you who don't know, that is the last and deadliest stage. Some places call it drinking to live. It is no longer enjoyment, but to relieve the withdraw symptoms and keep you feeling normal. I rarely, at this stage, ever felt drunk. First thing in the morning I would have a drink. It was usually Mike's Hard Lemonade because I could drink it down fast and start to feel better. Once the first one was down, my stomach would feel less queazy and I could start on another one to help the shaking in my hands go away. That was bad. My hands would shake so bad I'd have to use two hands to drink in the morning. This is how my day started out. You might be surprised to know I had a job, but I didn't have to go in till noon. But I'd stash a couple of mike hard lemonade in my backpack for work. Problem was, I was out of alcohol so I walked to the store (I had no car and you did NOT want me on the road) and got a six pack of hard lemonade. This would tide me over and give me my fix for the 10 hour shift.
God, however, intervened. Sometimes God is subtle and other times He brings the rain (military term for bringing the big guns). So for me, He brought it. There were lots of prayers going up about me and my condition. You'd think that at some point I would have got it, but I felt I was too far gone. I'd given up. I had no hope. None. Several stints in rehab, even long term rehab, and still I was drinking. My thinking had become so impaired and had been for awhile and it led me to make decisions that were not in my best interest. And it led me to make choices that would bring me to police attention. I knew they wanted to talk to me but my thought was if I ignore it, and drink enough, it would just go away.
So at eleven I was about to take a shower and the door came crashing in. God brought the rain. If you have ever had a gun 6 inches from your head being told to get down, it is a very sobering experience. One move, sudden move, and...well...it never got to that. The police had a search warrant and they had me in the bedroom. They were nice, as nice as they could be. They'd done their background work on me and realized I wasn't some hardened criminal, just someone caught up in addiction. And they wanted me to confess to some things. I wasn't budging. I wasn't. I'd watched plenty of cop shows that confession is bad. Get a lawyer. Even with my roommate confessing, he knew what I'd done. But the detective, in my opinion, was an angel, or at least an angel on earth. He looked at me, no joke, and said, "Paul, I just want you to know that right now Jesus is standing in that corner right now and you are not lying just to me your lying to Him." You just can't make that stuff up.
And in an instant I was sober. And I heard God. In my heart, there was God and He said in my heart, "Here is your chance. Here is your chance at a new life. All you have to do is confess. I'll take it from there, but it's time for the truth." I confessed. I told the detective to give me a pen and paper and I did. I gave every detail. I put it all down. In fact, to such detail there were really no questions after that. Some will say it was a homerun for the police. But in fact, it was a homerun for me, because at that point my new life began and I haven't taken a drink since. And God did take over.
In those early days of recovery, God carried me. I suffered no withdraw symptoms. I was still in my prideful, selfish state, I tried to make things about me, look what I've done, etc. But it was during this early stage that letter's from my Dad were so helpful and encouraging. He had to correct me on quite a few things that I remember, spiritually. There were some honest letters with some things I needed to hear. Mom's letters were encouraging and made me cry more than once. The problem was I'd numb myself for so long now I had to feel again. It was painful. I had to look at what I'd done. I'd run from that for sooo long, now I had to face it. But I wasn't alone. God carried me. I began reading the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. I don't say that in a prideful sort of way, it was God who directed me.
So flash forward. If you would of told me 8 years ago I'd be where I was today I'd of laughed at you. But looking back and reflecting on this day, I realize how much God did. He met me where I was at. He answered several prayers. In the end, it was my choice to accept God's help. He didn't force me to, He gave me an opportunity to live a better life. And God has directed my steps. There has been miracle after miracle from God in my life. From reconciliation and forgiveness from my family, getting to Tyler, finding my best friend and love of my life Ginger, to jobs, to this apartment I write this blog in. God has used fellow believers to help me along the way. Sometimes those people were just there briefly and others have stayed and helped me along the way.
In that 8 years I've had to face alot of fears and work on things from the past. In my addiction I was drugged and sexually abused by a man in AA. And that guilt and shame kept me in my addiction for several years. It was my dirty little secret, and the reason for my two suicide attempts. When I got to Celebrate Recovery it was this issue that I was finally able to work on. That is why Celebrate Recovery is so dear to my heart because that is where I got help for that. And God led me there. I'll never forget the first time I gave my testimony in front of almost 200 people and talked about it. The secret was gone. It was out. I'd met other people with similar circumstances and I was able to share openly. I'm a survivor now and at Celebrate Recovery I talk freely about the experience and how God has helped me overcome it. I don't need to drink over that pain now. By the way, Ginger was the first at Celebrate Recovery to know. I'll never forget sitting in her Xterra, tears welling up in my eyes as I relived that experience. God is good.
So the big issue I work on now is codependency. Most addicts fall into one of two classes: control freaks or codependents. Oh yes, I'm a big people pleaser. I'm better now having worked through the steps on this issue, but I still have a ways to go. Mostly I deal with self confidence (my art work) and making decisions, or making the wrong one's. I still have a tendency to isolate but God is not through with me yet! Ginger has seen the biggest change in me, but I have a good support team that calls me on my behavior. That is a good thing.
I'll never forget going back to Iowa and seeing my Aunt and her telling me something about my eyes. The last time she'd seen me they were lifeless, glazed, now they were alive and vibrant. All God. None of this, none of this was possible except for God coming in and carrying me. I'd underestimated God's healing power. He heals. I'm living proof. I didn't take a step to Him, He took several to Me, stood at the door and asked me, "Will you open it?" Thank the Lord I did...
So in a couple of weeks my parents are coming down to Texas. They'll get to see the apartment all decorated now (and the outside remodeled!), and spend some time with Ginger and I. It is a happy time. And all because God brought the rain...