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    Information About Addiction

    I begin the topic, “Information About Addiction” with My Life.

    A Butter Can Fly because of its Struggles

    A Butterfly Can Fly because of its Struggles

    Living Life Addicted: The Story of My Life
    ~written by Shirley Smith

    Someone once told me the reason they drank alcohol to the point of becoming drunk was to forget about their parent’s abuse as a child, and later to forget a failed marriage. A friend described to me a bad trip he incurred while doing PCP, also known as Angle Dust a hallucinogenic drug.

    He had taken the substance before getting on an elevator. Once inside and the doors shut, he began to experience a bad day. When the elevator went up, he thought he was shrinking to the floor and when the elevator went down he thought he was growing taller toward the ceiling. He was on the elevator four hours and could not get off! I asked him why he continued to do drugs knowing he could have a bad trip or die. His remark was to forget the hurt of growing up in an institution with no family; to stop the pain.

    As I thought about his answer, I thought about the many reasons others have said they drank until drunk and considered my own way of coping, my own way of forgetting hurt faces; my own life’s addictions.

    The dictionary defines addiction as the compulsive psychological need for a habit-forming chemical. Other psychologists define addict as someone who yields oneself to something, thereby controlled by forces outside himself and acting compulsively even against his own better judgment. Chemical dependency, usually referred to as drug and alcohol addiction, occurs when the individual’s relationship with the chemical becomes more important than anything else in the person’s life. After looking at my past life, I came to realize addiction comes in many forms.

    I never considered myself ‘Living Life Addicted’ until I read the book, Choices & Consequences by Dick Schaefer. He describes addiction as “the feeling disease.” The writer identifies a four-phase progression leading to chemical dependency.

    The first phase begins with the individual learning that a mood swing occurs. After being introduced to a drug he/she discovers there is no pain, any unpleasant memories or bad feelings while using. The individual learns the amount of chemical needed to feel good or to feel better. They learn to trust the substance consumed and when the high wears off the person returns to feeling normal.

    In the second phase, the individual seeks the mood swing. He/she is now beginning a relationship with the drug or alcohol. They are still in control in that they limit themselves in their use of the drug. Such as setting rules like, “I will never drink before 5:00 p.m.” “I won’t have more than three beers when I go out in the evening.” “I won’t drink at home.” The individual is still able to return to normal feelings.

    The third phase harmful dependence is evident whereupon a delusional system develops. The individual’s life now may be affected mentally, financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, etc. A fixation with alcohol or drugs has occurred; the breaking of rules of using along with increased tolerance follows. The delusional system composed of the psychological defense’s denial, rationalizations, projection, and minimizing aids the individual in losing touch with reality.

    Phase four drinks/uses to feel normal takes place, when the individual continues to seek to feel normal or what they may remember as normal and all areas of the individual’s life continue to decline. Their emotional pain is overwhelming; suicide is contemplated or even attempted. Once relief from the emotional pain comes, it’s only temporary. The person will more likely die prematurely.

    After studying these four phases, I examined my past emotions and lifestyle prior to giving my life to God and realized I was an addict out of touch with reality. I was </em>’Living Life Addicted’ and eventually lost everything I owned including my daughter.

    We all have a testimony to tell. Our lives shared with others encourage and lifts-up others during times of sorrow, as well as leads lost souls to the love and caring God. I have heard testimony after testimony of individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol; but my testimony is not about the typical drug or alcohol addiction. I had at one point in my life a problem with drinking, but God did intervene.

    My addiction had become the immorality lifestyle that I choice to live. I was ‘Living Life Addicted’ searching relentlessly for a good feeling just as the drug addict, alcoholic searching day by day for the next fix or the next drink.

    At the age of 10, my sister and I walked down a church aisle to the altar believing we were saved. My sister and I laid in bed one evening afterwards crying, fearful that our mom and dad was going to hell. My parents did not go to church and we only attended, when someone invited us.

    In my early teens, a friend invited me to attend her church, but I never sought to know God. My first vivid memory of God as being ‘a being’ was around the age 12. I had a habit in the afternoon to go to the forest near our home and just sit and watch the beauty of the trees. On one of those afternoons, I truly felt His presence, but again I never pursued to know Him more. As a teen, I even attended a church and felt the desire to be a missionary, even walking down the aisle to tell the pastor of my wish.

    I was fourteen when my parents announced their divorced, surprising us all. My mom said she never loved my dad and they were divorcing. This was during a time in American history that divorce was rare. You can only imagine how my peers reacted at school when I shared with them my parents were getting a divorce. I was heartbroken.

    Soon after, I met a guy who appeared to care for me and I began to stay out late on dates, as well as skipping school with him. I began not to care what I did. I felt no one cared for me. I began to grow cold and indifferent to what I truly wanted for my life. As a result of my parent’s divorce and because of my behavior, I was ashamed to go back to school, so I quit.

    I was pregnant and married at sixteen, but my husband was not ready to accept the responsibility of a family. After my mom and dad’s 18 year marriage ended in divorce, I made a vow to myself never to live with a man that I did not love.

    In my heart, I determined that I would not live in an unhappy marriage, as my parents did in the past. At nineteen, I was divorced and a single mother of a two year old daughter. Before, I had dreamed of finishing school, having a career, married and children. My life now was not anything resembling what I desired as a child.

    At the time, I didn’t know God was a personal being willing to take the pain from me. No one told me. No one told me he loved me and cared for me, and that he would wait for me. Others told me what they knew of God, which only made me not want him. I was twenty, divorced and was told by ‘Christians’ I would go to Hell if I ever married or dated. Strange too, I had divorced on the grounds of adultery.

    I did not seek God on the subject myself. In my heart I believe I was fearful that they were telling the truth. That meant there was no hope for me having the dream of a marriage. So at twenty, I became angry and began to harden my heart. I literally told God that if he was that kind of God, I didn’t want any part of Him. I chose to live my life without him. I laugh now at that remark to God. I smile because He stayed close to me even in my indifference to him.

    As my daughter grew older, she longed for the relationship between a father and daughter, but I couldn’t bear to think about her pain or the sorrow that she was going through. I had never wanted this to happen to her and did not want to think about all that had occurred in the past with her father and me. To think about the past or to feel her pain brought me only fear and grief.

    I felt I had failed and was rejected. I stayed busy to forget. I was lonely and worked overtime as often as the boss would let me or as often as I had a babysitter. Being young and ignorant of the needs of a child, I did not know that my actions to stay away from my daughter would be harmful.

    Chemical dependency is not the only thing that one can become addicted too. At 23 a friend invited me to a nightclub with a group. As I recalled my emotional being during those times, I now see how I was not addicted to the drink in the evenings but to the lifestyle. It was by God’s mercy that kept me from becoming an alcoholic. I prided myself on how much I could drink. Three years later, I develop blood clots in one leg. After being hospitalized and having to take blood thinner medications for a year, I could not drink any alcohol.

    After that year, I was only able to drink a few drinks during a night. During those nights I was out, my daughter stayed with baby sitters, as well as when I worked. As with any addiction, I had developed a relationship with my evening lifestyle of partying. Not only did I suffer mentally, financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, but my daughter did, as well. After setting up housekeeping with my daughter when she was two, I had established rules for our relationship but they became less important, as my “going out” intensified. I then began to go to the clubs during the week, as well as on weekends.

    I began to experience financial difficulties and thought that maybe I should stay home. By this time, I was spending a great deal of money on cover charges the clubs required to enter, for drinks and clothing. Also, I would get off work as often as the company allowed. At one point, I refused to have men buy my drinks because of subtle propositions, another rule broken leading to a decline of moral values.

    I rationalized my daughter’s stay with others with, “Well she enjoys staying with them,” when actually she was willing to stay because she thought that’s what I wanted.

    At one of the clubs,
    I met my second husband and we decided that nightclubs would not be part of our lives. I learned a hard lesson during this four year marriage. Four years of verbal and physical abuse to a child is too long. As I worked, he was taking care of my daughter. I did not hear or see what all he was doing to her. I had a fear of a problem but was never sure. When I was sure that he was abusing my daughter, we divorced. I could not shake the guilt of yet another failed marriage and I resumed my going out on weekends again.

    My work was in Cotton Mills. I took what was available at nineteen years of age, because of a child to raise alone and not finishing high school. I became so dissatisfied with my work I risked everything to get out of the Mill by going into sales. I began to believe in the deception of a get rich quick mode of thought. I gambled and I lost. I no longer could support my daughter, so I allowed her to live with her Grandmother. Another moment in my life that brought on guilt and shame.

    Within two years, with the decline in moral standards I had four abortions and was pregnant again. Let me explain that I did not want children. I had hardened my heart after my first marriage and never wanted to raise another child again without a father. I had not planned on marrying again.

    I was twenty-three when I asked two doctors to perform a tubal ligation, a permanent form of female sterilization. They refused saying that I was too young. I did go on birth control pills. However, I was one of the few that the pill caused blood clots in my legs. No doctor would prescribe them to me again. I enjoyed my free sexual lifestyle and worked not to get pregnant, but my efforts were in vain. I will later talk about a person’s inability to stop a specific behavior in another article.

    Soon after, I lost everything I owned and pregnant. Suicide was continually in my thoughts. I battled the thoughts daily, “What is your family going to think of you now, that you’re pregnant.” “Go ahead kill yourself; it will be better that way.”

    I walked into several abortion clinics to have a pregnancy test, hoping the last one was wrong and the other would tell me that I wasn’t pregnant. I desired an abortion, but didn’t have the money. Shame stopped me from asking anyone for help. When I did have the money to pay for an abortion, an emergency would come up and that money had to be spent. I finally went to see my doctor to have a pregnancy test. I hoped again the abortion clinics would be wrong. I was 22 weeks along. I walked out of his office and refused to think about the pregnancy again; denying the truth.

    In conclusion, I was living phase four Drinks/uses to feel normal not knowing that living free unaddicted was normal. I could not remember living normal, because I had nothing to compare it too. I sought companionship in the bars, hoping for an end to the loneliness in my soul, looking and searching thinking that maybe I will meet someone to stop the pain. But I would have argued that I was not lonely. I was single and making my own way without any help from anyone.

    All areas of my life continued to decay.
    Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17 and 19 in the Bible, talks about people living in the futility of their thinking. “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that’s in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

    That scripture describes the person I had become, the life I chose to live. I purposely hardened my heart to live as I wanted. I wanted to experience all that I imagined and set out to do so. But I thought I was living right, I lost everything.

    I often thought I couldn’t face my family with all the mistakes I made. I had supported my daughter and myself since I was nineteen. Ten years later, the bank was in the process of foreclosing on my house and car. It was only a matter of days that I would have nowhere to live. I refused to admit I was pregnant and cried every night because of the problems that plagued me. Until one day my sister asked if I was going to have a baby.

    I could not deny the fact any longer. I was seven months going into my eight month. She did not hesitate to talk to my dad and stepmother. My stepmother called me the next day and asked me what I was going to do. All I could say was, “I don’t know.” She invited me to come and live with her and dad.

    Nightly, fear began to grip my heart that God no longer was with me. I believed in God, but I chose to live my life without him. I began to pray, “God, have I finally committed the unpardonable sin?” One night, one month before delivery, I heard him say, “I never left you, you left me.” Hearing those words that evening changed my life. I got up that morning and began to study a Bible that a grade school teacher had giving me.

    After my son was born, a few months later, the desire to go to a club was overwhelming and I needed a baby-sitter. I knew my parents would not approve of my “going out” so I did not ask them. I went to see my sister one weekend and she was overjoyed to see us, till I asked her to watch my son so I could go to a club. She looked at me with shock.

    Tearfully she said, “I thought you came to see me.” I saw my evil heart at that moment and hated myself. Tears began to slip down her cheeks, as I picked up my son and walked to the car. I gripped the steering wheel and began to cry out to God to take this desire from me. I drove home that night praying and God took the longing for “going out” away! Later, I prayed that God would change my heart to desire the things of Him. He did.

    Living Life Addicted is the inability to turn all your cares over to Jesus who says, “Come unto me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).” We are out of touch with reality when we choose to go our own way without God. Our attempts to find replacements are futile and destructive to our lives.

    A few months later, I gave my life to God. In other words, I said to God, “You take my life, I’ve already messed it up and you do what you want to with it.”

    Once I began to walk in the direction of learning of God, he became my ‘everything’. Thereafter, I never saw a lonely faced child without a father; I know God is the father to the fatherless. He became all things to me. “Come unto me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    1987 began my life, ‘A Journey through Faith.’

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