Being in recovery from addiction, I am one of a multitude of people who owe their existence to God’s grace and healing love expressed through the encouragement and support of many friends in recovery.
Much of my childhood was spent trying to survive the effects that my parents’ emotional isolation, abuse and addiction had on me. Despite an early Christian influence, I soon abandoned the hope that what I learned in Sunday school would help me deal with the chaos at home. A survival decision I made in childhood was, "If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me." I was obsessed with a need to fill the inner emptiness that plagued me. I rationalized that if I only "got" enough or "did" enough, I would find peace.
As a child I wanted desperately to be different from my alcoholic father and not succumb to addiction. Instead, the legacy of addiction continued, and, although I did not become as severe an alcoholic as my dad, I found my many additional ways to medicate my pain and loneliness through substances and addictive or compulsive behaviors. Adult life became a battle for survivala battle filled with casualties. I suffered the consequences of failed businesses and marriages. I didn’t want to hurt others or to be hurt, yet I was unable to see other options. I sought personal change and looked for God through New Age groups, only to find my self-defeating behavior still intact.
In my late 30’s I began to understand the scope of my problems. Out of desperation, on my knees, I cried out to God for help. The God I found understood my sincerity and led me to recovery through a secular twelve-step program. This was the beginning of a major transformation in every area of my life. The most significant area was in my relationship with God. Through the secular twelve-step program, I was encouraged by a recovering Christian friend to accept Jesus Christ as my Higher Power.
Today, carrying the twelve-step message to hurting people is my life’s work. I believe the twelve-step discipline, used within Christ-centered recovery groups, offers many alienated and wounded Christians a way to rediscover the unconditional love of God’s Holy Spirit. I also believe there are seekers in secular groups who can personally experience the loving presence of God, know Christ as their Higher Power and achieve greater healing in their lives.
I’ve spent several years assisting Christian ministries in establishing recovery support group programs. My life has been blessed by being part of this growing network of wounded believers. This book was developed with the hope that pastors and church leaders will be encouraged to form a recovery ministry and not be hindered by the difficulties that were present in the earlier groups.
The twelve-step process of recovery is an inherently spiritual journey. It guided me from a life of confusion and grief to one of growing peace and serenity. Those changes did not happen all at once. I’ve learned to accept that the process takes time and patience. But God, in His time, is instilling in me the strength and character that can only come from a healthy relationship with Him.
It took the suicide of my 20-year old son to bring me to my knees and recognize the extent of my illness. My codependency was so severe that I considered rearing a family with four children, building a business, being available to all who needed me and keeping peace at any price in my home to be a normal existence. My life was spent giving myself to others, meeting their needs with no concept of who I was or what my own needs were. My main focus was to make certain that my family, friends and co-workers had their needs met.
When my son committed suicide in 1982, I was oblivious to the seriousness of his addiction and was unaware of the multiple addictions that existed in my family. This tragedy, and the gradual deterioration of our family, brought me to recovery in 1984 when a hospital psychologist informed us that we were seriously in need of recovery.
My codependency grew out of several developmental conditions. I attended Catholic school for 12 years, during the time when rigidity was present and strict adherence to the rules was expected. My father was loving and caring but demanded perfection and obedience. My mother did the best she could but was a victim of an era when wives were expected to be subservient. I was unaware of the impact that these conditions had on me until my own family began to crumble.
In spite of the negative childhood influences, I am grateful for the many gifts bestowed upon me by my parents. The most precious of these gifts are with me today and manifest themselves in my confidence and self-esteem. My ability to function in the business world as an executive and my courage to face many hardships is a result of these childhood gifts.
During my early days of recovery, I read books that felt like my autobiography attended Adult Child of Alcoholic meetings and finally found the Twelve Steps. It was through these Twelve Steps that I was able to develop a relationship with God that I had never had in my life. A loving God with whom I now have a nurturing relationship replaced my childhood concept of a fearful and punishing God. It was through this transformation that I became willing to actively participate in the Christian community. I am now directing my energies toward helping wounded Christians like myself to rekindle their relationship with God.
My life continues to be full of situations that require my constant contact with God, but I know that as long as I remain committed to recovery and dedicate myself to God’s will I can look forward to a life filled with peace through God’s grace.