Posted by: Marella | October 14, 2008

“Hi – I’m Allen, Alcoholic/Addict”

Hi. I’m Allen, alcoholic/addict. Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. Can’t remember much — that’s why I have to read this stuff to you off these pages. Besides, I’d be tempted to omit things if they weren’t staring me in the face.

Evil? I was the epitome of evil. Went online and ran a background check. Printer ran out of ink after seven pages. I’m not talking ancient history here — I’m talking six or seven years ago. Whatever I was in to, I couldn’t get enough. I was a first class glutton.

Money? I couldn’t get enough. Everything had a price — as much as traffic would bear. I wouldn’t even answer the phone unless there was something in it for me. I had to have things. Good things. The best of things. Fancy house. State of the art computer. Motorcycles. Guns — dozens of them, even though I wasn’t allowed to own them because of prior felonies. New 4×4 truck. 10,000 # Dayton winch I never even used. Boat & motor. Tools, the best brands. A $600 welder still in the box. I couldn’t fill the void no matter how many things I acquired.

Booze was pretty much a constant companion, from about 1970 until 2001. Even when I was in prison — three visits totaling about 10 years. My cellmate bought Mennen Skin Bracer from the commissary and drank it. He was a disgusting alcoholic, drinking after shave. I wasn’t an alcoholic — I just drank Listerine (4 bottles a week was the limit). You’re supposed to put that in your mouth. I even figured out a way to distill it and get the pure alcohol out of it. When I was on the streets, I never drank to much — I always quit when I passed out. My nine year old son once took a Polaroid picture of me passed out on the floor after I wet my pants. I addressed the problem by locking up the camera. Always bought pints of whiskey instead of fifths — the flat bottle won’t roll out from under the seat when you get pulled over. One thing I never could figure out is how all those cash machine receipts from the topless bar got in my pocket — or where the money went.

I started sniffing glue when I was 12, the year after my dad killed my mom and himself with a shotgun. Then pot, amphetamines & barbiturates by the time I was fifteen. Being a ward of the court, I was sent to Monroe Reformatory when I was sixteen for my first felony drug possession charge. I got out when I was nineteen, got married and had a child by the time I was twenty. I drank the first few years of my marriage, but left the drugs alone — I didn’t want to go back to prison.

Then my wife decided I had a problem with alcohol. The A.A. program has 12 steps, the first of which is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” Wasn’t my life that was unmanageable, it was my wife — the more I drank, the more unmanageable she became. She was off the hook — I married a demon. She made me go to treatment under threat of divorce. It was her fault I started using prescription drugs. She couldn’t smell ‘em on my breath. At first, my source was medicine cabinets — I always had to use the bathroom when visiting, or working on other people’s houses. Not very predictable, so I started scamming doctors — lying about symptoms to get prescriptions. But the doctors wouldn’t give me enough — acted like they were paying for ‘em. I needed more and more. I started burglarizing doctor’s offices — stealing syringes & samples the drug reps left for the doctors to dole out. But I’d have to do a burglary every two or three days because sample packs didn’t have very many pills in ‘em. Didn’t take long to run out of doctor’s offices in greater metropolitan Camas & Washougal. My next scathingly brilliant idea was to rob pharmacies at gun point. Got a lot of drugs there. Enough for my habit and enough to sell. Robbed every High School Pharmacy, Fred Meyer, Payless & Pay-n-Save in Clark County — some twice — before I was caught & sent to prison again. Judge sentenced me to 20 years. My ingrate of a wife divorced me. Told you she was unmanageable. Still haven’t figured out what went through her head. What happened to “…for better, or for worse, thru sickness and in health…?”

Married again when I got out of prison half a dozen years later. Same scenario. Drank until forced to quit with threat of divorce. Another ingrate. Started drugs again, but heroin this time. And I didn’t rob drugstores anymore, or play with guns. Just stole everything I could get my hands on, from anyone, including family. Staged a burglary at my own house to get my hands on my wife’s mother’s wedding ring to sell for drugs. Used her minivan once for a burglary (where I worked), and the security camera got her license plate number. Let me tell you, that took some explaining. It was about that time my wife told me she could tell when I was lying — she could see my lips move. I’d steal your billfold and help you look for it.

Driver’s license long gone so I had to take buses. Stole a master key to all the garages in this huge apartment complex. Got a shopping cart and two big duffel bags and went from garage to garage during the workday stealing all kinds of tools and filling the duffel bags. Wheeled the shopping cart to the bus stop, only to discover when the bus arrived, I couldn’t even lift the duffel bags out of the shopping cart. Kept stealing until I got caught for two stolen cars, possession of a machine gun, possession of burglar tools, possession of meth & cocaine. But I did figure out how to drive drunk without getting a DUI — make sure you’re in a stolen car and they’ll prosecute the felony, not the misdemeanor. Another divorce — can you believe it?

The next time I got out of prison, I had no wife to dog me about my drinking, or question my late night excursions. I didn’t need a wife when I could buy all the sex I wanted for a little dope from drug addicted women? Why’d it take me so long to figure that out? I managed a wrecking yard and drove a tow truck. Stripped & crushed cars. Whole crew of meth addicts, their wives, and sisters at my disposal. I was the king of evil.

One morning I drove up the street to the wrecking yard with a stolen Camry on the back of the tow truck and saw a dozen state patrol cars and a SWAT van had the place surrounded. Drove right on past and dumped the tow truck in a grocery store parking lot and never looked back. Lost my job & all my possessions, including the 5th wheel trailer I’d been living in at the wrecking yard. Didn’t think I should ask ‘em to mail me my final check. They’d have probably had the cops deliver it, along with numerous arrest warrants. They still owe me over $600. All I had left was my heroin & cocaine habits. Began living in a van on the streets of Seattle.

Part of the Bible describes my life back then. I like The Message version best.

Job 20: 12 – 29

“They savor evil as a delicacy,

Roll it around on their tongues,

Prolong the flavor, a dalliance in decadence —

Real gourmets of evil!

But then they get stomach cramps,

A bad case of food poisoning.

They gag on all that rich food;

God makes them vomit it up.

They gorge on evil, make a diet of that poison —

A deadly diet — and it kills them.

No quiet picnics for them beside gentle streams

With fresh-baked bread and cheese, and tall, cool drinks.

They spit out their food half-chewed,

Unable to relax and enjoy anything they’ve worked for.

And why? Because they exploited the poor,

Took what never belonged to them.

“Such God-denying people are never content with what they have

Or who they are;

Their greed drives them relentlessly.

They plunder everything

But they can’t hold on to any of it.

Just when they think they have it all, disaster strikes;

They’re served up a plate full of misery.

When they’ve filled their bellies with that,

God gives them a taste of his anger,

And they get to chew on that for a while.

As they run for their lives from one disaster, they run smack into another.

They’re knocked around from pillar to post,

Beaten to within an inch of their lives.

They’re trapped in a house of horrors,

And see their loot disappear down a black hole.

Their lives are a total loss —

Not a penny to their name, not so much as a bean.

God will strip them of their sin-soaked clothes

And hang their dirty laundry out for all to see.

Life is a complete wipeout for them,

Nothing surviving God’s wrath.

There! That’s God’s blueprint for the wicked —

What they have to look forward to.”

*******************************************************

About 6 years ago, in Seattle, I was standing in a Motel 6 parking lot in the middle of the night with my arms full of power tools I’d just stolen from a contractor’s truck. A cop drove slowly past on Highway 99. Had he seen me, I’d have spent the rest of my life in prison because of my extensive criminal record, and for some reason I realized it. I’d been shooting the dope in my neck because I couldn’t find any other veins, and even that was getting iffy. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Deathly sick when I had no dope, and when I got dope, it just got me well. I couldn’t get high any more. Took $100 worth of dope a day just to function like a normal person — not be voiding my bowels in my pants. That was the night my life changed. I asked a God I didn’t believe in to help me overcome my addiction.

And He did! I haven’t used drugs since that night. Three days into heroin withdrawl, I prayed for sleep — and woke up nine hours later. Even though vague & formless, God directed my journey. Alcoholic’s Anonymous introduced me to the concept of “A Higher Power of my understanding.” Even a hard-head like me can gag that down. And I began helping others. Getting a big warm fuzzy feeling whenever I did. Getting outside myself. Doing things that didn’t have a price tag.

Slowly — over a period of several years — that big empty void in my soul I’d tried to fill with drugs, alcohol, sex, obsessions of all kinds — began to fill. People began to notice & comment on changes they saw in me. God was no longer just good ordinary direction, but a tangible part of my being. I talked to and tried to listen to God on a daily basis because I’d begun reaping the blessings. All my needs were met. I still had wants — plenty of wants. But my needs were met. God was the only name He had at that point.

I had a thirst I tried to quench with books about God. Not the Bible! That was written by men with hidden agendas, solely to dupe the masses. I’d tried reading it before and it made no sense whatsoever — kinda like trying to decipher Shakespeare. And if it was so great, why’d they have to re-write it and come up with a “New Testament?” Wasn’t the old one good enough?

I tried talking about God to people in the AA program — a place where “Higher Power” can mean anything from a 5’2″ blonde, to a motorcycle. These conversations were interesting, but hardly satisfying.

I tried a few churches. Trouble was, I’ve never responded very well when told what to do and didn’t feel comfortable there. I did, however, discover that I wouldn’t burst into flames upon entering a church.

Then this neighbor I’d talked to a little, given some home-made cookies to, invited me to her baptism. Didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I went — fully expecting to get bible thumped somewhere along the way. Her mother is one of those smiley Christians too. Be lucky if they didn’t tag-team me. Invite me over for tea & crumpets and conversation.

She addressed the congregation and I listened to some of her story. I believed her belief, therefore I felt safe sharing my beliefs with her at a later date. I even let her borrow my guide book, “Conversations With God.” Thought maybe that would get her head out of that musty old bible. Boy, did that ever backfire!

Took her about a week to compose & deliver a five page, single-spaced, typewritten letter regarding my book & my belief in it. She systematically destroyed premise after premise, backed every argument with scripture. She ended her letter with an invitation to study the Bible. How was I gonna study something I couldn’t even comprehend?

I agreed, not realizing at the time that these studies would undermine about 90 percent of everything I thought I knew about God and religion. So many changes in my life in such a short time. Never would have believed it possible. I have no cravings for alcohol or drugs, have given up caffeine & tobacco, and somehow, manage to survive on a plant based diet. I don’t have to carry a crucifix and wear garlic to keep the women in the church from hitting on me, so sinful sex is no longer an issue.

Now I’m the one doing the Bible thumping; friends, co-workers, family — anyone that holds still long enough finds out where I’m coming from today. I’ve become one of those people I used to shun — and I love every minute of it. I search for “prospects” every day and use what I’ve learned about Jesus & the Bible to spark an interest.

My baptism marked a milepost for me. I’m actually be a member of something worthwhile — this church — this family.

I never would have entered a church full of troublemakers who don’t even know what day to worship if Denise hadn’t had the courage to reach out beyond these walls and lead the way. I believe that discipleship is comprised of attraction and promotion. Jesus said “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations….” He didn’t say, “Sit, and wait for someone to inquire…” I’m trying. Every day I try. I’m not content to come to church and be fed. Seems to me a spiritual walk is kinda like riding a bicycle — gotta keep pedaling or you’re gonna fall over. In AA they have a saying; “Ya gotta give it away to keep it!” That doesn’t just apply to recovery — it applies to walking with Christ as well. If we hoard the light, we’ll live in darkness.

This is the second quarter we’ve been hammering on descipleship, evangalism & outreach in Sabbath school. I sit there wondering, Sabbath after Sabbath, “What else can I be doing?” Denise had the answer way before I did. She’d seen me talk to people at AA meetings — give them support, advice, and encouragement. She started nagging me about starting a meeting at the church. Said I might be able to help many people. But she also said it should be Alcoholics Victorious, not Alcoholics Anonymous because then we could talk about Jesus — work on recovery, and salvation.

Reaching out is what keeps me sober. I discovered that before I came to Jesus. I get a big, warm fuzzy feeling when I’m able to do something for others. It’s an emotional charge better than any dope I ever shot. Now I just alter the focus of my outreach a bit and throw Jesus into the mix. Tell ‘em how I fill “the void.”

And our first AV meeting was a smashing success. I don’t know whether anybody else got anything out of it — there were eleven people there, not counting kids — but I was on such a high afterwards, it brought tears of joy to my eyes and left me feeling totally fulfilled. I’d recommend outreach to anybody experiencing a dull spot in their life. If you’ve been wondering if there isn’t something more, something better, something that will almost take your breath away — there is. It’s called outreach! I get so filled with joy when I think that Jesus, working thru me, can make a difference in the life of another. All I ever did my entire life was hurt people, create wreckage, and take hostages. I’m still not used to the person I see when I look in the mirror these days.

Once again, the Bible covers what’s happened to me better than I ever could. This is from The Message.

Job 33: 26 – 30

“Or, you may fall on your knees and pray — to God’s delight!

You’ll see God’s smile and celebrate,

Finding yourself set right with God.

You’ll sing God’s praises to everyone you meet,

Testifying, ‘I messed up my life —

And let me tell you, it wasn’t worth it.

But God stepped in and saved me from certain death.

I’m alive again! Once more I see the light!’

“This is the way God works.

Over and over again

He pulls our souls back from certain destruction

So we’ll see the light — and live in the light!

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Responses

  1. Good for you & thanks for sharing.

    flybenji

  2. Very well written, and from the heart. Thanks for sharing this personal experience.


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