In Recovery

In response to a Christmas letter I sent to friends, someone suggested I write a personal narrative so that the preachy-ness I try so hard to avoid might disappear.


Perhaps telling the story how I overcame loneliness during a dark day in my journey would carry more reality than lofty suggestions, my friend surmised. It made me think.

My darkest hour came when I was dropped off at a men’s center for drug addiction and ushered into a mission where I was to sleep with 45 homeless men for 30 days. I would be confined to the center’s walls for the first month before being permitted to leave the grounds. I finished the first month and stayed two more, but 90 days into treatment, I relapsed.

The consequence was expulsion from the center. I was Canadian, homeless in the USA, not nearly as street smart as I pretended.

I pleaded for mercy with a 15-page document, and was subsequently allowed to stay on the condition that I remain confined to quarters three months, read two books and do chapter-by-chapter book reviews on them. That all happened and I stayed on through Christmas of 2008 until February.

In the end I was in recovery close to 12 months, a third of that time in confinement. It was the undeserved decision to let me stay in recovery at the time I relapsed that did the trick. That was my turning point.

Christmas came in the 10th month of recovery. My friends and family members in Canada still didn’t believe my recovery would stick. They had observed firsthand how a father on drugs does anything to get money for yet another rock.

All during recovery, we had Christian philosophy shoved down our throats, and I hated it, having had it forced on me all my childhood years. Yet I was smart enough to learn that if I was to recover, I would have to at least outwardly, at the center, profess the Bible to be the inspired Word of God.

When Christmas came, I had to stay in the center with about half the guys who had nowhere to go during the break. My family was up in Canada.

During the last six months at the center, I was fortunate in having Joe Iacocca as a counselor. He gave me one assignment after another, designed to help me think positively. One of the most effective things I did under his instruction was list 15 ungodly beliefs I had about myself: 1) my daughters would never trust me anymore; 2) no one would ever again love or trust me; 3) I would never have enough money to live beyond the poverty line (there were 12 other ungodly beliefs I listed as part of the assignment).

The assignment was to define and hopefully begin believing the godly opposites: 1) my daughters would learn to trust me again; 2) an angel would appear to love me; 3) I would find the resources to live beyond a pauper’s existence.

So I started to believe those godly things, and my outward professions about the Bible became inner conviction.

Now that I am clean, I see God’s hand in bringing me hope. In January I will be going to Mexico to be Father of the Bride on the sand at Cancun. All my family will be there to help celebrate my youngest daughter’s marriage.

I am very thankful this Christmas for recovered life. I am thankful for my three daughters who in my darkest moment had faith in my potential to be a good father again.

Is there divine intervention in all this. You bet! I am thankful for my Higher Power.

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