Alcoholism has effected my whole life. I remember at a child, my mother’s horror stories with her alcoholic brother’s well. Also remember the terrible reality that was Filmore, her brother. Furthermore, our family friend John Prevo died as a direct result of an alcoholic accident. His son helped me come to terms with my own alcoholism.
Yes, alcohol was certainly a part of my family background and personal background as a child.
My own drinking history was extensive. Starting when I was very young swiping drinks from Dad’s hidden whiskey bottles, which lead me to end up in a reform school when I was 14 (in addition to drug problems).
After the bizarre years from 18-22 when I went through a hell of drugs, alcohol and legal problems; I pretty much seemed to have drinking in check (at least publicly) for most of my adult life. Though there was much binge drinking that I hid from others. Still, it seemed that it was in “control.”
I thought so myself, quoting my father many times “There’s a difference in a man having a drink and a drink having a man.” It was the truth with him. It was a farce with me.
Denial was a big part of my disease. It was only after admitting I had a problem and seeking help many years later, that I found the help I needed.
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 inside the maze of my own heart. I never dealt successfully, with balancing all I had been through, into wellness and wholeness until 2011.
Through the years of my life, I mistakenly 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. [Yeah right!]
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 in my 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. 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.
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. Only for the last 12 years have I been a 100% OK, all the way. I’m glad this victory finally occurred.
Before this time, I tried to minister to others before I headed all together myself. After being crushed losing my wife, my home, my life’s savings, everything I own & my heart. I thrust myself in the ministry. I am acquainted with poverty. I gladly accepted that my 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. I rapidly climbed the ranks to the top of a national sales division, for a major company. Like so many times, I fell up while seeming to succeed. Everyone else did not see the alcohol as a. But it had a firm grip on me.
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. Nobody ever saw how lonely I was. Cause I had to have it together to handle my duty and live up to my Is publicly successful business man 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. After Terry’s accident, I completely quit drinking for a while.Then after a year, Started again. Only to stop again For 3 years, in the ministry in Tennessee, at least for the most part.
// So when I launched back into business; it gave me the perfect excuse to drink again.
It was now socially acceptable and expected. 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 was cheap.When I left the ministry to become The United States Residential Coordinator for Hettich. I began a drinking spree in 2003 that never stopped except for one 6 month period, until my sobriety date on Feb. 24, 2011. This problem with alcohol was exacerbated by a horrendous addiction to Benzodiazeprines, which nearly killed me. 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.
The last 4 years of my drinking became more and more out of control. I turned into a classical alcoholic. with an physical allergy to alcohol, that resulted in a mental obsession and severe blackouts [during which I was unaware of my own behavior].
This got very ugly and I hurt everyone near me. In the end, I became very violent and deeply afraid that I was going to seriously injure someone.
But even though I took my eyes off God. God never took his eyes off me.
God used a DUI in late 2010 to get my attention And bring me to my bottom. Although it was sometime later in treatment that I was finally able to lay the bottle down. That was the beginning of the end, of my drinking.
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 and hurt
Before I quit drinking, I became a shell of a man. A man of promise but burying my hopes in the bottom of a bottle to cover my pain. I had Tons of potential but no vision to live.
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. A family member I should have been taking care of, rescued me. 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 still knew God was there but my words were just that: words. I could not reach God, it seemed, and my life was sinking into a hole leading to my destruction. 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 humbly asked for help. I asked again & again. I surrendered my pompous, arrogant ego that had previously denied it had a problem, admitted I had a big one & submitted to someone else’s instruction.
Profound! I discovered this very act of weakness was in fact, true humility. I now see that God intended for me to realize that I needed others, like I have always known they need me.
True to the story-line of my life; God was there, when no other could help. When I honestly and humbly sought Him. On the fourth morning in a treatment center, where I sought assistance. 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 sidewalk from the horrors of substance abuse and arise with the help of God; I knew I could do it to.
It was like a dam burst inside me. It 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 to a little Gazebo overlooking a flowing mountain river directly in front of me. And I knew a flowing river from above was coming through me inside, in a similar way.
What was happening in the spiritual had positively connected in the natural. The river from above was flowing through me again. 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, even stronger!
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 anything like it. In a moment where the spiritual dimension became more real, than the natural, I experienced a deep soul cleansing.
All I had to do was ask, be willing and be patient, for God to move in His time. But I had to get honest with myself, humbly ask for help and be willing to accept guidance.
Life is not perfect today. But for the most part I am the healthiest and most together person that I know. I am a pastor, karate teacher and Christian calling coach and help many people. 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 traded in my old one. I signed on the dotted line of commitment. I don’t have all the answers. My Higher Power does. He is The Answer. You have to come past the arrogant, smug plane of self-will to find this simple trust and honest living – relying on Him and fellowshipping with others.
Today I live free from alcoholism’s bondage. I am told, it is a daily reprieve.
I have not had an alcoholic drink of
any kind since Feb. 24, 2011, by the grace of God. I had a burning bush experience of sorts, while in treatment where God mercifully appeared to me and freed me from
the hell of my addiction.
I am a pretty good guy today, …. I am sober, sane and free…. I live for God & others. not just me. Recently I gave my testimony in the pulpit. I will put a link to it here.
I am very busy these days working to help others, to see the hope of sobriety, sanity and serenity that I have found. More than anything – I am free today to live for Jesus with all my heart – mind -:soul and strength. And my life is very full and happy. I wish the same for you!
Timothy Grant Carter