Happy Tuesday! Well, if you have taken the time to open this...THANK YOU so much! My father told me years ago, “don’t speak unless you have something to say. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Today, I feel I have something to say, but before I start, someone also once told me, “a coward dies a 1000 deaths, but the courageous only once.” So here we go…
Many of you know that I have been very open and public about my struggles with addiction. NewSpring Church has done several stories on it over the years. Well, after 15 years and 9 months of sobriety, I relapsed, BIG TIME. Let’s go back for a minute. When Sabra died in late 2019, everything in my world changed. I mean EVERYTHING! Not only was she my wife and mother of my children, she was my business partner. With the loss of Sabra, I felt like a piece of me died with her. We were connected at a soul level. Honestly, the few months after her passing are such a blur it’s hard to recall and then COVID happened. As we all know, my industry was one of the hardest hit and the stress became overwhelming especially with not having my sweet Sabra there to run ideas by at night or just talk about how bad I was struggling. Of course I didn't want to stress my children out that I might possibly lose the business that their mother and I worked so hard for over the years, so I isolated myself and got in my head. When the shutdown was over and my oldest kids went back to their homes and their lives, the pain became unbearable. There were also some other circumstances that l just can’t discuss and never will that happened at this same time, and this was the tipping point. I just couldn’t take it anymore, and this is where the rubber meets the road. I felt like I had two options at that time: a bullet or what I knew comforted me in the past, alcohol and drugs. So I went with the easier, softer way and I chose to comfort my problems by catching a “buzz”. I thought “after almost 16 years, it’ll be different this time? Right?” WRONG! Sure, after that much time, it takes a while for the destruction to happen. But eventually it caught up with me. A little education here for those that don’t understand addiction. When someone crosses the imaginary line in his brain and becomes a full blown addict, you officially have the disease of addiction. And yes, it is a disease, not a result of moral failure. No one wakes up one day and thinks, “this will be a great day to destroy my life and ruin the trust of everyone around me.” In active addiction, the ability to choose goes away. See you can’t cross back from it and be medically cured, yet. I do believe science will find a cure at some point. They have come a long way! That’ll be a blog post for another day about MAT (medication assisted treatment).
I began to casually drink a couple beers, a couple glasses of wine, etc. I did it successfully for quite a while, but what ended up happening is it led me to my drug of choice, COCAINE. This is really hard to talk about, but I want to be honest. I would snort it, but I absolutely loved smoking it. I controlled this for a few months without anyone knowing. See I use by myself and only by myself. NEVER with anyone. I am too selfish to share! In early December of 2020, I reached out for help, started working a program, and put together 4 months of sobriety. In late April 2021, I relapsed again and went on a week long bender. It has been a struggle ever since. 50 days sober, relapse. 70 days, relapse. 30 days, relapse etc. etc. Then in late December 2021 leading into January 2022, I went off the deep end. Everyone in my life had had enough, including my children. I can’t blame any of them. Everyone has to set their own boundaries for their mental health, and these are different for everyone. I did have one incredibly selfless person around that I can honestly say helped save my life on more than one occasion. I’m going to keep her name anonymous for now, but she modeled Jesus’s grace, love, and mercy in a way I’ll never ever forget. Without judgment and condemnation, only love. She would show up and just sit with me, and what would happen is, I would always stop. One night, I lost consciousness and had to go to the hospital by ambulance. If she wasn’t there, I feel certain that I would have died that night.
Full transparency, my goal was to OD so I could leave this world. The pain and the struggle was too much. With the help of my family, my work family, a few dear friends, and girlfriend I decided to go to treatment. So January 31 of this year, I went to a recovery center and completed the program (The rumors in a small town were that Bill left treatment early and didn’t complete the program, and that is absolutely and completely false). I proudly hold my certificate of completion. My plan was to go home for a couple weeks to catch up on work and then leave to go to Myrtle Beach and live with some guys in recovery and work with my sponsor on the steps. While I was home, I did have a slip up. Despite this, I’ve been working really hard on myself and am SO thankful that I’ve had time to rest and reflect on all that has happened while being away. A BIG thank you to my children and my immediate family, work family, and dear friends for all pitching in on helping me with Pete, the restaurant, my home, and of course my sweet Bella (my dog).
Anger & Judgment
OK, in this paragraph, please note, these are just my opinions and the things that I did to help people in the past and the biggest thing that can help me in the future. I’m not saying these things are right or wrong, it’s just what I felt led to do over the years. I think most of us have heard of the book “The Five Love Languages”. My 2 languages are “words of affirmation” and “physical touch”. What I have learned is that we give away what we want to receive. So I am a BIG hugger and encourager because in turn, that’s what I need: big hugs and lots of encouragement. I feel that this is an area in addiction where the cookie cutter approach is all wrong. When someone yells at me or quits speaking to me, and they think they’re helping, it’s actually doing the opposite for me. It sends me off the deep end. I just want someone to reach their hand down, pick me up, give me the biggest hug and tell me “you can do this, Bill, and I’ll help you anyway I can”. That’s what helps me and what got me sober the first time. I’ll share a brief story about my father. During this time, he would go house to house looking for me knocking on each door saying, “I love you son. I love you son. Just come out so I can hug you.” That forever impacted me. A non-judgemental love from a loving father. Sounds familiar doesn’t it… Thank you Aba!!
Where I currently am..and it’s so eerily familiar to when I got sober in September 2004.
I had to go out and test using a few more times before the miracle happened. I was saved by Jesus in January 2004, but it was September of that year before I surrendered to drugs and alcohol. The reason for that is plain & simple, PRIDE. I remember years ago Christine Caine said something in a message I’ll never forget, “If the light that is on you is stronger than the light that is in you, your world WILL collapse!”. That was me! I was so angry with God for taking my Sabra. I didn’t want anyone’s help including His. In the 12 steps, the only one you have to get perfect is step 1: “We admitted that we were powerless over drugs and alcohol and our lives have become unmanageable.” The 12 steps are a program of honesty and full transparency and there are days that I still struggle with the first step. The mental obsession of thinking that addicts can drink like other people is one that has sent people to the grave. I have been fortunate to put some solid recovery time together. 🙌 In my past years of recovery and working with people who are sick and suffering, I’ve always told them this, “when what’s hidden comes to light, it loses its power”, so I have to practice what I have preached and be completely honest. That is what recovery is all about!
When deciding to do this blog post, several people told me it’s professional suicide. For me, I couldn’t disagree more…it’s HEALING & ACCOUNTABILITY. If me sharing my struggles with my community in this blog post can help just one person, it will all be worth it. Most importantly God told me to do it, and I am committed to listening to him and doing what he says. I know one thing, it’s helping me as I write it.
God’s Love and Our Relationship
If I could tell you the things that have happened to me spiritually over the last few weeks, some of you would think I am crazy. HE is speaking to me in a powerful way right now. Our LOVE and RELATIONSHIP has been rekindled. HE is writing this beautiful story. I just can’t explain it, but I know it and feel it. I haven’t felt this kind of peace in years. In closing, I would like to share with you guys some scripture that’s been rocking my world and a brief story to close.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 NIV
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1 NIV
On Friday April 1st, I was having my quiet time and was in prayer. I went back to the day that Sabra died. I had a dear friend and pastor over, and we were planning her funeral. As her time to move into eternity was drawing near, Sabra had picked some specific songs that she wanted played at her funeral, and for the last song, God really put on my heart the song “Raise A Hallelujah” by Bethel Music.
For those that don’t know the story behind this song, there was a little boy named Jackson who was being airlifted to the hospital and dieing. The writer of this song got a phone call that night letting him know Jackson was probably not going to make it through the night, and he was going to die. While facing this giant of unbelief, he felt like enemies were surrounding him. All he could do was begin to worship God and raise a hallelujah. Out of these circumstances, he was able to write this song. Those that are familiar with the Bible know there are lots of Old and New Testament examples of praising during trying times. One example in the Old Testament would be the walls of Jericho coming down (Joshua 6: 1-27). A New Testament example: the apostle Paul worshiping and his chains being freed and jail doors opening all by worshiping God (Acts 16:25-34). In that moment in prayer, God spoke to me so clearly, more so than I’ve heard him in a long time. He said “Bill, this song was for you, you’re the little boy, my little boy. All I ask you to do is worship me in this storm, and I’ll do the rest.” So in closing, will you raise a hallelujah with me? Will you help me worship God in this storm? Because I know, just know, a breakthrough is right around the corner! Enclosed is a link to a beautiful live version of “Raise A Hallelujah” that tells the story.
If anyone reading this blog is currently struggling with drugs and alcohol or the thought of sucide, please feel free to direct message me. Helping you, helps me.
In a closing prayer: God of this bright-sad season, as my soul sinks slowly into Your rest, calm my thoughts, and may your spirit blow a fresh wind through my soul that I may pass through the wilderness and enter the land You have promised me. In Jesus name! Amen.
PS: I know I’ve seen several people since I’ve been to treatment that haven’t known what to say or they feel awkward. Don’t avoid me. I have no shame or guilt. I have been forgiven. You don’t have to say a word, a BIG hug would just be wonderful. ❤️
Never Give Up,
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