My name is Wayne and I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict. I’ve been sober since May 1999; the day I started the methadone clinic.
My thinking at the time I got on the clinic was that “this might keep me out of prison.” I saw methadone as “just another drug.” I didn’t realize the benefit I was about to receive. When I took methadone, I didn’t get high. I got relief from all the insanity I usually felt when I was coming off opiates. Methadone allowed me to get through a whole 24 hours and be okay. It gave me something I hadn’t felt in a long time; hope.
I began to get some insight into myself and my disease. I understood that if I drank or used there was nothing within me that could stop me from going to prison. That thought scared me to death because I was a habitual criminal and I knew society was through with me.
When I was using, I couldn’t hold a job and I abandoned my 4 kids. The guilt and condemnation I felt was horrific. I hated myself but I didn’t know that, I thought I hated you. I was blind and delusional. I lived in my feelings and they were always talking trash to me and about me; “You sorry SOB, don’t even try, you’re gonna fail.” Religion calls my enemy the accuser of the Brethren. That’s exactly how the voices in my head would come to me. They’d beat me to death. The only relief I ever got was when I drank. I got instant relief; felt okay in my own skin. It was very powerful, and I knew I’d be back. Of course, at some point it quit working. It no longer brought me relief; it added to the problem. At that point I began to go to harder drugs to find relief. It went on and on, there was no end in sight.
The first step in recovery is not something I DO, it’s something that happens TO me. It’s through the pain of life, the pain of failure, of self-help failing me over and over that brought me to the truth and the truth set me free. The truth is I’m powerless over alcohol and drugs and I’m powerless over managing my life. When I became able to admit these truths to myself, I was then ready for sobriety. My sobriety was a gift, a gift from God. Not everyone sees it that way and that’s okay. I only have to deal with me. For years I tried to act my way or behave my way into sobriety; all that ever did was result in bad behavior. When I came to the end of myself and surrendered, my world came alive. The steps came alive. I found out in the 3rd step that I don’t turn my will over to his care, I do that because I didn’t have possession of my will. Something else had my will, so I turned myself over to God’s care to take care of me ‘til I could find out what had possession of my will.
When I got to the 4th step, to be honest, it scared the life out of me. All my life I had been living in my feelings. When I thought about myself some very dark and depraved feelings would come up. I felt like a monster. I thought, “if I get honest about myself then I’m gonna see what I feel” and I could hardly bare to think about it. As I began to examine myself, I began to see the exact nature of my wrongs. I began to see my insanity and how I was driven by self-centered fear. My fear activated my defects. But what I didn’t see was that these “defects” were God-given instincts that I either didn’t reach for or they didn’t reach far enough. Pride for instance, it can go to two extremes; on one end it will say “I don’t need anybody including God” but on the other extreme it says, “I’m not worthy of God.” God’s purpose for us is somewhere in the middle; I don’t want to be a floor mat and I don’t need to harm anyone. Assertiveness is the balance.
I soon discovered that the overreactions were coming from a place of pain from my past. Some of my first memories are when I was a very small child and they would take my mother away to the insane asylum. She would be gone for several months and all of us kids would be scattered to various relatives. Later my mother would come home only to have it happen again after a few more months. It created a fear in me that touched every part of my life; from relationships to the way I lived. Nothing was ever enough, nothing was safe, it could all be gone in an instant. I would lay in bed at night trembling. I had a home, an apartment, and a boarding house but yet I’d feel like the city was going to take everything I own. It was an unrealistic fear, but the fear was definitely there. Once I dealt with all of this fear and the underlying causes, my whole life changed.
As I began to see the truth about myself and take ownership, I was in possession of something that I could give to God. I was able to turn myself over to God because I finally had a self to turn over. I was no longer living in a fantasy. I was able to give myself to God for the first time in my life. I know what I have today is real because I don’t feel the need to convince anyone else of it; the fact that I know is enough.
I’m not trying to get good; I’m trying to get honest and what I’ve discovered is that everything is a gift. When I see or believe correctly, I’m able to live correctly. When I came to believe in my powerlessness and unmanageability, the ability to step into the solution appeared. God met me in my honesty. I’ve discovered God’s will for me. God’s will for me is to be myself; the one thing that I might be able to do! It’s in being myself that I’ve found everything that I’ve been looking for in life: to be at peace with God, with others, and with myself. I’m no longer lost. I’ve been reborn.