This writing is not one of my, upbeat motivational writings. Neither is it a pretty story. This is a very personal disclosure shared in hopes that it might help some of you escape the hell that drugs and alcohol were to me.
People that know me well, understand that I have had more than the normal share of pain & suffering. Few can imagine how they would have survived what I have went through. Honestly, I don’t know how myself.
Reform school at 14 years old, near fatal accidents, cancer scare, lost careers, lost mom, lost dad, lost first wife, lost careers, lost companies, lost possessions, lost sister and last but not least, a nearly fatal bout with alcoholism.
Actually, I was never a bad guy. I just became a sick guy. I have been to the top in many ways and to the bottom in many ways. During all this life experience, I lost my way through the years, inside a maze… a maze in my own heart. I had not discovered a way to deal successfully with balancing all I had been through. I did not learn a way to permanently walk into wellness and wholeness until 4 years ago.
Sick!!!???? Many of you are now reeling in your chairs and saying but I thought you were a preacher. I was. But my service was intermittent. I spent most of my years in professional sales. My pastoral service was marked by seasons of honestly serving God, raising my children by myself and serving other people. But somewhere in all this tumult, Tim got lost, even in the ministry but not that he could admit. Yes, even well-meaning preacher’s can be sick.
After being crushed losing my wife, my home, my life’s savings, everything I owned & my heart. I thrust myself in the ministry. I became acquainted with poverty and that was alright then. I gladly accepted that my ministry service was for love and not for money. But as my kids grew up, I needed to re-establish some kind of financial stability. And in herculean strides I launched away from the ministry and back into the corporate scene, where I could solve my financial problems. I rapidly climbed the ranks to the top of a national sales division, for a major international company. Like so many times before, I fell up; while seeming to succeed to everyone looking.
I used to tell people at that time, my world was on fire and it was. Nobody ever saw how much I hurt inside. Cause I had to be strong. I was a big guy and had things going on….. But Nobody ever saw how lonely I was. Cause I had to have it together on the outside, to handle my duty and live up to my image. Still facts are facts, whether they are admitted or not. I had a Waterloo coming. My insides had never been healed from the loss of my first wife & they were coming apart; whether any one else could see it or not.
Through the years I had developed a reliable friend; alcohol. With it I could escape anything and deal with everything or so I thought. After all, I was my father’s son. And John W. Carter Sr. was strong and in control of everything. (I really had a wonderful father!) He taught me, It was all right for a man to have a drink, as long as the drink did not have the man. And after hearing the horror stories of my mother’s alcoholic family; I knew I would never let that happen to me.
Suffice it to say that is exactly what happened to me. The bottle got the better of me. The drink had me. I did not have the drink. And as someone claiming a powerful winner’s attitude, in the image of my strong overcoming earthly father; I could not admit that I had a problem, much less that it had me. Still, The harder I struggled the more I sank into the abyss of alcoholism. It was like quicksand. // Relax some of you who are wondering. I did not drink while I was in active ministry but I could never get it off my mind. Alcoholism was working on me, even when I wasn’t working on it.// So when I launched back into business; that was my perfect excuse to drink.
It was now socially acceptable and expected in my position. It was fine with God that I did it………….. Or so I lied to myself. . I would have told you that I thought it was ok & convinced you to believe it. But I was wrong. Booze was boss; not God and talk about Him was cheap. From my head and not my heart.
I have been privileged to achieve many things in my life. Yet I have also been subject to destructive appetites and passions that nearly destroyed me. Overcoming these has been the greatest genuine evidence of the touch of God in my life. But it did not happen without much struggle.
After the devastation of what happened to Terry (my first wife); there was hurt in my heart that no human could heal. It decimated my healthy vision. Deep inside, I felt a sense of pain and loss that consumed me from the inside out. I could not see clearly.
Doctor’s tried to help this deep mourning and loss, by giving me pills to numb the pain. But the pain remained and the pills became a habit. A 13 year habit. A habit when coupled with untreated alcoholism lead me to my very, lowest bottom and nearly the grave. I became a shell of a man. A man of promise but burying my hopes in the bottom of a bottle to cover the pain. I had Tons of potential but no vision to live and privately despised myself.
A hurt dwelled in my heart like a stone and a bitter shell of a man replaced the vivacious person that I had once believed myself to be…. It is easy for me to understand how many lives are dashed on the rocks of substance abuse and depression. I nearly perished there myself.
The horror stories from my alcoholism are myriad and vivid. On A dark cold night, when I could have & probably should have been impaled and died in a roadside ditch , I was curiously kept safe instead. Thankfully, I did not kill someone; when I turned insanely violent in a blackout. On and on these drunken stories of pitiful, incomprehensible demoralization could go. I have heard it said that alcoholics like me can’t go to hell, because we have already been there.
I still knew God was there but my words were just that: words. Prayers were foxhole pleas and I could not seem to reach Him and my life was sinking into a deep hole leading to my destruction. I could not stop drinking, no matter how hard I tried.
Somehow, I had to get out of my head and into my heart for help to come. At my lowest point, I did that which was I feared the most and which was unimaginable to me. I admitted I had a problem. I asked for help. I asked again & again and got serious about finding a solution. I surrendered my arrogant ego that had previously denied a problem. I admitted I had one.
Then, I did the unimaginable & submitted to someone else’s ideas & assistance.
I quit pretending that I already had the answers and found some clear simple steps to help me guide my life. Profound! I discovered this very act of weakness was in fact, a true humility that turned into my window of escape. I now see that God intended for me to realize that I needed others, like I have always known they need me.
It was not easy getting sober and drug free. It took more than one reach out, for me to get there.. Still, True to the story-line of my life; God was there, when no other could help. When I honestly and humbly sought Him, without conditions or exception; He showed up. On the fourth morning in a treatment center. We were shown a Johnny Cash movie; “Walk the Line.” During this movie, something happened on the inside of me. As I saw Johnny fall on the ground from the horrors of substance abuse and arise again, with the help of God; I knew I could do it also . It was like a dam burst inside me. Johnny looked exactly like me lying in the ditch. I knew if he could get up from his bondage, then I could to! A river of tears came forth and I ran outside from the building, to a little Gazebo overlooking a flowing river directly in front of me. And I knew a flowing river from above was coming through me inside, like the flowing river outside.
What was happening in the spiritual had positively connected in the natural. The river from above was flowing through me again. I was clear. I knew things would be ok. Not perfect but ok. I knew I had been healed from not only the substance abuse that was wrecking my life but also from the pain that haunted me within. It was a powerful, profound spiritual experience. God was there, when I was ready to let Him have His way in my life. I am grateful to say that the evidence of the reality of that event continues today!
So, at a point when I was no longer at the top of my game. At a point when I did not believe I could help myself. At the point where I no longer thought I could control my world; God flooded in!!! Despite all my training and spiritual experiences through the previous years; I had never experienced a total release before . In a moment where the spiritual dimension became more real, than the natural, I experienced a deep soul cleansing. Catharsis, whatever you want to call it. But the bottom line was: All I had to do was ask with all of me, nothing held back, be willing and be patient, for God to move in His time and the miracle happened. The key and pre-requisite was: I had to quit denying I had a problem and get honest with myself. Then humbly ask for help and be willing to accept guidance.
Life is not perfect today. But my heart has been healed. I no longer walk around with a dagger killing me inside that no one knows anything about. A deep powerful transaction has taken place. Its like a car deal. I got a new life and peace and traded in my old life of alcoholism. I signed on the dotted line of commitment and it was the best trade I have ever made.
I don’t have all the answers. My Higher Power as I understand Him does. He is the answer from alcoholism’s bondage for me today. It is a daily reprieve. Simple trust, honest living, caring relationships and facing life without having to hide in a bottle; that is what life is like for me today.
I only share my story to give you hope that instead of hiding in an alcohol or pill bottle that you can find a better life of serenity and happiness in recovery. This can happen, if you will get humble enough to admit your problem and seek help. That is my experience. Slam-