My memories from childhood are arguments, stress and verbal abuse. My dad worked all the time and my mum suffered from serious depression. I was simply neglected, not because my parents were bad people, but because they had their own difficulties.
By the time I was 9 or 10, I hated my dad, despised my mum, and I was utterly confused by God. I discovered beer when I was 13 and me and my mates would get drunk. By the time I was 16, sex also became a major part of my life. I scraped through my GCSEs, A levels and university degree. At university I indulged in surfing, sex and drinking. By the final year I was also taking weed, speed and ecstasy.
After university I blagged my way into jobs, was still getting drunk a lot and started using crack and cocaine. At one point I moved to Japan to pursue a life of drink, drugs and surfing. I also got married to a drinker and became addicted to medicine drugs. By the time my wife got pregnant and miscarried, I was taking high quantities of Valium, sleeping pills, dihydrocodeine washed down with a litre of vodka. I was an absolute mess. We had a quickie divorce and I returned to England.
I moved back in with my parents which was a nightmare, and I got straight back into drink and drugs to cope. The turning point came when I smacked my dad in the eye, and I had to spend a night in prison and I was embarrassed that the incident appeared in the local paper. I prayed that night alone in my room and I said sorry to God and told Him I was going to follow Him with all my heart. I didn’t know or feel it then, but from that point everything changed.
I started going to church and I realised that God helps you to become the person you should be. He doesn’t order you to change and leave you to it. I started talking to my parents again and I knew I had to forgive them. I heard about the Crisis Centre at church and decided to volunteer in the kitchen. This was really important to me because I knew God wanted me to serve others. I met Stu (the LIFE course manager) and he told me about the Life Recovery Group (LRG) so I started going to that too.
Everyone in the group was different and they were all in various stages of recovery. I could sense God there. After I detoxed, Stuart asked me to be on the leadership team and that gave me confidence and motivation to stick with it. I also volunteered on the LITE course as it was known then. LITE and LRG were an important part of my recovery as they gave me a community. I have a special place in my heart for this place.
I met Emma* at LRG and we got married last year. I’ve been clean for three years now. I’m on a journey to become the person God wants me to be. I’m not fully there yet, but God has given me a new life. He has given me a calling and I am at the start of something exciting. I feel called to a recovery group pastoral role and to look after the broken-hearted. I feel very blessed and lucky.
*Names have been changed