I was raised in an alcoholic home. My father was not physically abusive but for reasons that I can’t recall, when I was five years old, I was afraid to go to sleep. I kept a butcher knife under my pillow. I do remember asking my mother if daddy was coming home. I asked her every night and she always said yes. Something happened to me between ages four and five that caused my fear. I don’t know what, but I do know my mother had some mental issues. Early memories are like this, sketchy. I know some things but not others.
At age twelve I was sexually molested by a priest. This set me on a long and debilitating course, trying to find out what that was all about, who I was, what was sexuality all about. It wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally told my mother what happened. Was I too ashamed? The sexual abuse happened the nights I stayed over at his house. He was a Chaplin at the local hospital and said early masses for the nuns. I was his altar boy.
She was aware of the priest only because another victim in the parish did tell his parents, but she had no idea about me. She told me they got rid of him—whatever that meant. My father passed away when I was twenty-eight. As far as I know, he never knew.
I can’t begin to tell you why I kept it to myself. I suppose it was the fear of a five-year-old still within me. Maybe I was afraid of the priest. Or, maybe it was a trust issue, or self-esteem/self-worth, or any other issue that spills over from a dysfunctional, alcoholic household, my home.
For many years I had a fear of being a homosexual. It wasn’t until I was fifty-six that I realized I had been the victim of a pedophile.
By age fifteen I was out of control, arrested, a convicted felon with a record that hung around my neck for the next thirty years. I had no respect for any authority and this played itself out at school. I found my acceptance with a group of guys like me—not the sexual abuse, as far as I know, but kindred spirits in our attitude toward authority.
All my rebelliousness came to a head my senior year of high school when my bookkeeping teacher confronted me the last day of school. She wouldn’t allow me to graduate until I made up homework assignments and tests from the many times I cut her classes. I was in a tough place as my dad had told me that I had to go to college, work full-time, or join the military, but I couldn’t stay home and continue to cause problems. I had already joined the Navy and was scheduled to go to boot camp two weeks after graduation.
My only alternative was to go to her classroom six hours a day for the week between classes ending and graduation. In the middle of that week she got so angry at me that she stomped her feet. Her face turned red as she told me I would never be a bookkeeper. I replied I didn’t want to be one, but it worked out and I walked across the stage to accept my diploma with a D- grade average.
I remembered her outburst years later and realized what she did was from a caring heart. She was the only teacher that cared enough to confront me. I was eventually able to tell her this some twenty years later at the funeral of a mutual friend. I told her that her caring had lit a fire in me and, ironically, that I did become a bookkeeper. In fact, I went on to become an accountant, a business manager, an auditor, an insurance agent, a financial planner, and a Registered Investment Advisor.
It took years of steady achievements to build up my low sense of self-worth. I suffered through four divorces and three severe bouts of depression before I discovered the underlying problem. I had suppressed a tremendous amount of anger and unforgiveness.
In 1998 my business collapsed, and I ended up homeless, divorced again, and bankrupt. Today I know it was only by the grace of God that I didn’t take my life or someone else’s.
My story of recovery started with ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings ten years earlier, in 1988, but believe it or not, my true recovery didn’t start until I was homeless. This is how God works, slowly, over the long hall, and I want you to know that it’s no easy journey. Yet, with God, there is no better journey.
My homelessness forced me into a men’s shelter where I attended therapy sessions. After six months, I took a position as a supervisor. It was six years of helping others that helped me the most, and I began to realize that although I wasn’t an alcoholic or drug addict, I had characteristics of both. I was a workaholic and I had plenty of personality defects. I saw my reflection in man after man at that shelter.
Today I thank God for that period of my life, and that I didn’t end up in prison or deeply addicted like many of the men I worked with. I was fortunate in this sense, but the truth is that my road to recovery was no different from theirs. We need God. We need small, consistent steps of achievement day after day. We need to help others.
In 2004, God impressed upon me to build this website. Now, I’m not saying God talks to me, but you understand. He has a way of prompting us to do things and we know it’s him, not ourselves, not our own musings. He told me he was going to speak to many through it. I asked how. His reply, “None of your business.”
I now know that this website is a product of my life experience. I now have a burning desire to help others find their way to God and freedom, and to a stable and productive life. Everyone, no matter where you are in your journey, descending or ascending, is valuable in the sight of God. It is not about who you are, but who you are becoming eternally. It is difficult, but that difficulty forces you to cling to God. It keeps you where you should’ve been all along. But, know this. It is possible to overcome. It is a process. Your reward awaits.
I’ve been a Christian since 1970, but I spent most of that time angry, angry with God, angry at the forces working against me. Today, I’m still working on my anger, but I’ve learned that those forces that test my faith force me to persevere. I’ve matured, my faith has matured, and all as a result of the very incidents that once provoked anger.
I can also tell you that I’ve been happily married to a wonderful woman for over twenty years. I have three step-daughters, a stepson, and ten step-grandchildren, all of whom treat me like a king. I love my two sons and their four kids, my grandchildren. I am rich indeed.
God’s mercy knows no bounds. He heals. He mends. He blesses us where it counts–where it really counts, in relationships that matter. This is where addiction does its damage. There are two things I understand the scriptures to teach that last eternally, His word and relationships.
Come along with me, won’t you? Join me on the road to recovery. Let’s see what God has in store for you.