My mom had me when she was only 18 years old. I grew up in a rural area in northern Michigan as one of three children. I can remember around age 5 or 6 that my parents, aunts and uncles were smoking pot, doing drugs right around me and always drinking, always. I can remember at a young age thinking, wow they’re having a lot of fun, and at the same time I didn’t like the changes that appeared in my family, after they got buzzed. On occasion, the partying would turn to violence! I didn’t like that. I watched them and was exposed to a lot. I think that I was pretty neglected as a child. They were so focused on partying that they didn’t think much about me.
My biological father left me forever, at age seven, sending a crushing jolt to my heart. I only saw him once more later in life, at his mother’s funeral. My mom remarried shortly after. There were a lot of good things my mom and step dad taught me, they didn’t lead by example, but they sure talked a good game. I was raised to know right from wrong. My first time drinking was way excessive. I didn’t drink for a while after that, because I was so sick from that experience. My first taste of weed wasn’t too long after this and after I took one hit, I just remember feeling awesome. From then on I was drinking and drugging on a regular basis. For a long time I blamed myself for my father leaving us. I let the abandonment I felt from this drive me to dive into substance abuse to mask the painful feelings. I really only had a glimpse of God in these years, being exposed to some of the Catholic religion. I was baptized Catholic, but it didn’t really mean anything to me.
With no good jobs up north, my step dad found work in Central Michigan. We moved down to a suburban area and the drinking and drugging became heavy in both my use as well as by my mom and step dad. Fights were constant; in a way it was just young people against young people. At 15, after steady conflicts with my parents, I stormed out of their house with only a trash bag of clothes. After a short time, I moved back in with my parents and got enrolled at an inner city school. It was at this school I felt accepted and I met my future wife. My mom, an alcoholic at this point, would get high with me all the time. During my teenage years was about the only time we got along, when we were high. Shortly after this, my parents moved back up north and I became emancipated, to live on my own. From there I became a small time drug dealer, selling just enough to keep my habits going. I first rented a couch from a friend and then at one point, I was reduced to renting a walk in closet from a guy. Talk about living. I was surviving on toast and eggs, things were really looking down. For the most part of my youth I was alone and homeless, living on my own. I prayed from time to time, not really knowing what I was doing, but just knowing prayer was something that could help. Drugs and alcohol just kept on keeping’ on, weed, acid, coke, you name it, I did it. I never wanted to shoot up, call it a Godly fear but something always kept me from going too far, whether with drugs or crime. Somehow, I did end up graduating from High School.
Addiction is funny because you are the only one who doesn't see it happening.
At age 19, I started working at an auto dealership and they offered me a free demo car if I could sell 30 cars in 90 days, so I showed them all when I did it in 80 days! I was a real smooth talker and a natural salesman. Now that I was making good money, I started frequenting the strip bars and became engulfed in the sexual lusts of that environment. My girlfriend found out about some of my exploits and then ended up cheating on me with one of my closest friends. That dealt a huge blow to me! In time we ended up getting back together and worked things out. At the dealership, I became so arrogant that I was getting high at work and calling in sick all the time, but because I was such a good salesman they kept me around. In 1996 we decided we should get married. My girlfriend asked several churches if they would perform the ceremony and many turned us down flat. Finally we found a pastor who really cared about us and said he would do it. The first time we ever went to church was when we went to premarital counseling. After the wedding, we started attending services and liked what we heard. I never stopped using drugs and alcohol though. About a year after our wedding, I discovered Vicodin. It felt like that was what I was looking for, but I was losing control over my addictions. I used drugs and alcohol to put on a front to hide my insecurities and pain. I was a great manipulator. I even talked some poor guy at church into getting me Vicodin. A few years later, we dropped out of church and Sunday just became an empty day for me to get as high and as drunk as I could. Without the fellowship of the church, my conscience and spiritual interest diminished.
I was a hard working General Manager and a non-stop substance abuser.
I still performed well at work and was promoted to general sales manager. My daily life would be get up, drink a 40 oz. beer, take 40 mg of Vicodin and snort a line of Oxycontin (synthetic heroin) and off to work. At work, the highs had to continue; I would get high in the bathrooms or go to lunch and buy some liquor, drive around, smoke cigarettes and pop my pills. That’s just what I did. I was really good at covering up my usage. Some were suspicious of me, but no one questioned me, because of my strong work ethic. I drove drunk and high every day. My habit was surging out of control! If I didn’t have Vicodin every five hours or so, I would have horrible withdrawals. I went to great lengths to keep pain meds handy, from hustling people’s prescriptions to even fooling my doctors! The misery of opiate withdrawal is the worst thing that I’ve ever experienced. The bondage that I was in, to drugs and alcohol, can only be described and understood completely by someone that’s been there. I say that because I was not making choices anymore. The drugs and alcohol were making them for me, ‘period’. I could no longer function and was doing 20-30 ten mg pills of Vicodin a day and drinking on top of that! From there, I got into snorting my pills. It just got so out of hand, day in and day out of chasing dope and alcohol. It became the only way I could function! If I didn’t have Vicodin, I would have to call in sick to work and lay on the couch drinking hard liquor until my supplier would come through. The withdrawals were so bad, diarrhea, the shakes, the mental withdrawal and physical pain was too much to handle. I was on non-stop drugs and drinks all of the time, day or night. One morning I came into work and was shocked to see one of my District Supervisors there. I knew something wasn’t right. She asked to look in my demo car and found my Vicodin stash and cold beer in the back seat, from the drive in from home to work, that morning. I reluctantly agreed to take a drug test. I tested positive and was fired. From there, I went on a huge drug rampage. Things were getting really, really bad! I was pawning everything. I even pawned my wedding ring, for drug money! I knew we were going to lose the house, so I figured that we had six months of free rent and so I dove into my addictions. We were really struggling and ended up on welfare.
The moment things changed forever.
Then on a Saturday, I was sitting on the couch, drinking and drugging as usual and I saw our old pastor and his wife walking up to the house. I freaked out! The house was filthy, beer bottles were everywhere and I hadn’t shaved or showered in days. So I quickly met them out in the driveway. To my surprise they just wanted to give us some food and tell us that they loved us. When I brought that food in the house and closed the door, I knew that was the first time the Holy Spirit had been in our house in years. My wife and I cried because of what I’d become and where we were at. We hadn’t been to the pastor’s church in 3 or 4 years! That night I lay in bed and just prayed to God, pouring out my heart to him. I knew that on Monday I would start the rat race all over again for dope and alcohol. I was emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt! I lost all control over my usage, my wife and kids were suffering, I had no job, I sold one car for drugs, but I hated myself more than anything. That night I heard God speak to me and say “I will help you, but you need to get help. I will be there, but you need to get help.” That night I responded to God and said “I hear you and I’m going to get help.” Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, I was heading for rehab and was praying “God please let me get accepted into detox!” I was initially rejected, due to insurance issues and then was somehow admitted. My withdrawals were at their worst. The pastor came in and prayed for me for my quick recovery .We talked and wept together. The pastor then told me that before they dropped off the groceries they stopped at the end of the road and prayed that whatever was holding us down would leave and whatever needed to be revealed, would be brought to the surface. They also prayed that whatever Satan’s grip was upon us, the Lord would break it and heal us. That was the day before I had my revelation from God. Their prayers were answered so quickly and out of nowhere as well. I had no intention of changing my life. One miracle after another just kept happening! I was released on Oct. 17, which was a miracle in itself that I detoxed that quickly. I know God was at work when I showed no permanent liver or kidney damage. From there, I found an old friend who was clean and I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 step meetings and realized just how much of a God-send those meetings are. God saved my life and I was clean for the first time in forever! When I got home I still had plenty of problems; no job, home in foreclosure, a $5,500 hospital bill, but the miracle was that God changed me. Even so, God showed me favor in that the hospital bill was miraculously covered at 100%, by the hospital! Even more, I was completely healed of degenerative back tissue and I didn’t even believe in miraculous healings! I thought they were fake. Now I know that with God, all things are possible. Still we were getting close to having our home completely foreclosed and being kicked out on the street. We prayed and I stayed in faith. I was trusting God for a miracle. Right down to three hours before the sheriff was going to come and kick us out, a man bought our home and land contracted it back to us! That is just God! There were so many times that we had nothing and God has just blessed us and always provided for us. I was tithing of my income as well. God is so faithful that He also helped us pay off $20,000 of debt. As time went on, I got purified by God and my life has gotten more and more blessed.
My life is so different now.
People from my past don’t even know me; I’m a new man, born again! For the first time in my life, I’m part of the solution and not the problem and its God’s solution that I’m a part of. I lead Bible studies at church now! I am a successful realtor and family man. To think I was so far from God and now to be where I am today, it’s a miracle! The main thing that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit do for me is remove me from the bondage of self. My mother and I had a beautiful reconciliation and formed a strong relationship after God changed me. Through a recent tragedy my mother lost her life and this was very hard for me but through the power of Jesus Christ the healing has begun. I now know that when we give our sorrows, problems and pain to him he will help us get through and heal our wounds. Today I just want to give the thanks and praise to Jesus Christ for everything he’s done.
"The world and it's desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God will live forever." 1 John 2:17