He’s Been There All Along

Today I am grateful to be an alcoholic and drug addict. At various times in an alcoholics anonymous meeting I’ve used the phrase “burned my life down.” I have “burned my life down” many times to varying degrees. I will spare the details of specific events throughout my life where God has stepped in and saved my life. Instead, I will share some of the events over the last three to four year period where I have consented to His Grace.

About four and a half years ago a series of unhealthy and egocentric decisions led me to being evicted from a house I was renting in a rural area of central Missouri. I thought it was a good idea to find refuge in an old farmhouse with no running water, toilet, bathroom or heat except for a wood burning stove. There was only one semi-livable room. It was fall and I was still able to work a couple days a week so I made enough money to stay full stocked with ample amounts of drugs, alcohol, cigs and a meager amount of food. A woman that I had a volatile relationship with stayed with me part of the time. I will call her Elizabeth. Living in a situation that any normal person wouldn’t stay the night was not only my new normal, but I thought it was romantic. To my thinking a series of unfortunate events led me to my mother’s basement in St. Louis by the dead of winter. I was finally determined to get sober although I had been half heartedly at times trying for the previous three years. For the next three months I tried with short periods of sobriety. But it was Tim’s will and program and not God’s.

Fast forward to May and my decision to say screw it and find myself while kayaking for a few weeks on the river. Back in the country at my drug dealer buddy’s trailer I would start out. Then a car crash where I rolled the vehicle four times and miraculously walked away with some broken bones and temporary internal injuries. Naturally, I didn’t go to a hospital or doctor. So instead of kayaking and finding myself, I found myself homeless again, this time in a tent by a creek with no water unless it stormed. You would think that should have been a strong enough sign that I had to give up control. The five or six times in jail over the previous three years and numerous times getting fired and other events that I don’t want to go into failed to loosen my grip, but this should have. Drug consumption increased to absurd levels. Like they weren’t before? I found myself with no kids, no girl, no car, no job, no money, no home, no real relationships, but I did have access to all the dope I could do.

Three months later walking down a dark gravel road with a billion stars in the sky I broke down. I had been broken before but this felt different. I made a decision to stay clean and pass a drug test in order to get a job at a place that fired me a year earlier. But I failed after being clear for nine days. That shouldn’t have happened, or so I thought. The type of drug I was doing doesn’t stay in your system that long unless you are doing a ton of it. But after 21 days I passed, and only God knows why they hired me back part time even after I broke my foot the day before I was to start. God had lifted the obsession to use even though there was dope all around me.

There were so many times God stepped in during the 60 days at the dope house before another miracle happened. I was able to move into the basement of Elizabeth’s grandmother’s house. I went to an AA meeting in Vienna, MO and got a sponsor. This time I relied entirely on God. I had been beaten and utterly defeated. I followed my sponsor’s directions, not my ideas. I had to trust God completely.

In the two years and eleven months since my last drink my old life is unrecognizable from my life now. Two of my children, Elizabeth, and three dogs live with me in a house I rent. I have a truck and the best job I ever had. The three jobs I had since getting sober have prepared me for the one I have now. I had to learn through experiences and how to handle them with God as my guide. Not all were pleasant. But they were lessons God knew I had to learn to do His work.

Why am I grateful to be an alcoholic and drug addict? Not everyone gets reduced to the point where God is the only thing left. The funny thing is He’s been there all along. I just couldn’t see it.

Richard McCarthy

Columbia, MO