Day 118 – Sharing my story

When I entered treatment in December 2009, the ministers and friends from my church were a major part of my care.  Today, I was asked to share my story at church in our “Lessons from the Contemporary Church” — essentially a mini-lead.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share the work my Higher Power is doing in my life. I’ve already made at least one connection with someone who wants to talk more about their son who is my age and may be in addiction.  My prayer before I spoke was that He would use His message to touch someone’s heart…  I was also able to meet a woman from the prayer chain; she recognized my story from recent months.  I was so thankful that we have these silent but powerful prayer warriors…

The scripture passage was about Saul’s conversion, from Acts 9:1-20.

Here’s a link to an audio version:

My name is CT. I am 41 years old.  I’d like to share a little bit of my story with you. 
I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. My main drug of choice was crystal meth, but I’ve used a variety of drugs since I took my first pill at age 33.  During that time and since college, I’ve also used alcohol as a drug.  I started drinking and drugging because it felt good.  That’s where it always starts.  But eventually, things got out of control.  And they always do for the addict or alcoholic.
Initially, I didn’t use drugs that often.  But, in the past 2-3 years, things got pretty bad for me.  I have always felt out of place for one reason or another.  I have been pretty successful career wise — 19 years with the same company, moving up the company ladder with 2 international assignments and 5 company moves.  Yet even with all that money and success, I felt like an impostor — and was afraid that someday someone would figure out that I really wasn’t any good.  I felt inadequate in most areas of my life — but I knew how to play the game and wear the mask. 
But the more I played this game, the worse I felt about myself. I began to lose self confidence.  Two years ago, my life started getting pretty bad.  I had a stressful project at work, a boss who I didn’t like, and went thru the ending of a 7 year relationship.  Of course, if I hadn’t been drugging so much, I might have been able to deal with all that.  But, I used more and more to feel less and less.  I isolated myself from friends and family.  I stopped coming to church for most of last year.  And, my drug use in the last year and a half grew to pretty much every day.   Quite simply, I used drugs to escape life.  
I can remember some pretty rough nights towards the end of last year.  I felt very empty.  I finally reached the point where I couldn’t continue living like this.  I was physically, mentally and spiritually bankrupt.  On December 21, 2009, I reached my bottom…I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to live or die.
Fortunately, that Monday night, I chose to live.  Even though I had stopped coming to church last year, my pastors had both reached out to me.  They didn’t know about my drug use, but they knew I was in a world of hurt.  Pastor Mike and I had been meeting for breakfast every other Saturday for most of last year.  So, when I chose life that night – literally – he was the first person I called.  
I was taken by ambulance to the hospital in the town where I live.  Several people from my church drove out to be with me.  And I found out later, the church’s prayer chain was kicked into action while I was still on the phone with 911.  I was admitted to the best drug & alcohol treatment center in Indiana the next day, spent a month off work in treatment, and have been in recovery since then.  I will celebrate 4 months clean and sober on Wednesday, by the grace of God.
I’ve learned that I have the disease of addiction.  But, by relying on God every day, I can make it through each day clean and sober.  I don’t have to use drugs to deal with life.  
I now see life through a different pair of glasses.  The job I returned to was just as stressful as when I left – but I have changed.  The boss I worked for was still the same — but I have changed.  
This process of recovery takes time – it’s like learning my ABC’s and 123’s all over again.  It will take a year or two for me to fully learn how to live life without drugs — and even then, this is a life long process of recovery.  And some days, it’s been tough…and I’ve been tempted to give up and go back to what is comfortable – as crazy as that sounds.  It’s true.  But I know that if I stop using the tools I’ve been given, I will go back to using or drinking.  And next time, I may not survive.  Most of us don’t.  Not many of us – most of us.

Even amidst all of this, I know that God’s hand has been on me over the past 3 years. I have an amazing peace and am thankful for everything that has happened.  I know this is exactly where I need to be because of the amazing things that God is doing in my life already.  When I returned to work, people told me I was a different CT.  I’ve had so many friends and family tell me how much better I look and sound.  Others can see the transformation that I feel in my heart.
Let me close by being clear about one thing – this story nothing to do with CT. This isn’t about me being strong and getting my life back under control.  This is about turning my life over to God. Like we’ve been taught here at our church, this is about remembering my baptism…every single day.  Literally, I don’t leave my house no matter how late I am unless I get on my knees and pray — and I admit my powerlessness over my addiction and over the things that happen in life.  I have been resurrected from that point of bankruptcy and given new life.  And for that, I am truly grateful.

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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