ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE STORY . . .
The only experience I had [with healing] was about
suffering. And I didnt really believe in any of
that healing and recovery stuff. I would suffer for
a few days and then throw up. Then I would get up and
wouldnt even take a bath. Just get washed off,
and go out and buy some more drugs. I couldnt
endure, couldnt make it through that withdrawal.
I didnt believe that people like me would ever
be able to regain their lives.
But something inside of me kept telling me that
it was wrong. Its like if you send a space probe
out in space, without any kind of guidance system, it
just spins aimless off into space. My problem was I
kept interfering with that guidance system. When I was
out doing a burglary, I would pray if I heard sirens
in the distance, that they werent coming to arrest
me. So, I prayed, but I knew inside, instinctively,
that there was something really wrong with me.
I thought God must have messed up when He made me, that
there was some chemical missing in my brain that other
people had so they could feel things like that. And
I was so influenced by the drugs, I was so stupid that
I didnt realize it was the chemicals I was adding
to my brain that were keeping me from feeling what I
thought normal people felt.
It was 1969 when I thought, Hey, Ill
go to Vietnam and Ill become a hero, and Ill
get all these metals on my chest and itll solve
all those fearful questions inside of me. No one will
challenge me. Ill know and theyll know that
Im a real man.
Then I got so whacked out on the drugs. I started into
drugs while I was in the Marine Corps and I got crazy
with it and I was so defiant. Before I went into the
Marine Corps I was a blatant alcoholic. I had used just
strictly alcohol, but I got drunk three or four times
a week, at least.
I did try. I did actually try. I even started studying
with these born-again Christians and
I tried to really get things back together. But, when
my time was up and they put me out in May by
Halloween of that year I was in Episcopal Hospital with
a bullet in my spine because I had stolen some guns
in a burglary and was selling them, and I ended up getting
shot. . . . But thank God it got so bad right then.
As it turned out, I finally broke, and I couldnt
live like that anymore. I think what broke me was a
combination of the things that I hated most about myself.
The fear. All the things at the time that were so negative.
I didnt want to be vulnerable, didnt want
to feel things, didnt want to be sensitive.
I was shooting drugs into the juggler veins in my
neck. I didnt have any veins left in my body.
In the end I was afraid. They used to say, Once
a junkie, always a junkie. Youll die a junkie.
And I believed that. But what happened was, I went up
to Eagleville [drug and alcohol inpatient rehab]. I
had the syringe in my back pocket, in case things didn't
work out. I went through the intake and when they accepted
me, I took that syringe out and threw it in the trashcan.
By that time I had been shot and stabbed in the
jaw with a screwdriver. I didnt know what to do.
I started begging God to help me. I would walk through
the chow line in the morning and Id have my plate,
and Id go by the window and Id want to punch
out every window that I passed. I felt like Dracula,
or something, when that stuff was out of my system.
There was so much fear going on and it was coming out
in all these violent thoughts in my head. I was raging
inside because I didnt know how to stop it.
I just prayed. I would pray, God, look, let me
get through 'til lunch time. And at lunchtime
Id have that experience and I would say, Let
me just make it through to dinner. At dinner,
Id go back and say, Look, let me get to
that meeting. And at the meeting Id say...
You know those prayers that I was sending out I
was starting to connect with this loving parent. The
initial belief system that hit me there is the belief
system that I still have today, so I know that it was
real... These new thoughts were piercing my consciousness
and getting through to me.
Anyway, I got through the Eagleville experience,
came out, and started going to meetings. It was terrifying
for me, I used to shake inside, violently, man, my insides
would jump, the same feeling I had when my father used
to hit my mother. But I just kept going to the meetings.
Then I got really ill. Really sick. Couldnt walk
for awhile, bladder, bowels, and all, shut down, marriage
was falling apart. Everything was getting crazy. Before
that, when I got clean, I started running everyday.
I was playing ball. I was real athletic. Plus I was
in control at work. I ran everything. I took so much
pride in what I did, and I didnt realize it at
the time. But I got so sick that I got fired from my
job. They told me I had this spinal disease and it started
to really impact my life. They told me I was going to
end up in a wheelchair, which didnt happen.
In the very beginning of my experience of healing,
when I started to believe in that loving parent
theory, I started to believe that there was some hope
for me. Getting the help from God, I was going to be
able to do it. Thats really where my healing began.
. . . My faith started on grace in the beginning. I
started to believe that I could be okay. That was the
change. I stopped believing the lie and I started to
see the truth that I didnt have to feel
that way anymore. . . .I just know that in my life it
was more of a process than it was one single event.
I realized that even during my recovery time I had
drifted back into a lot of self-centered stuff. Being
in the hospital, being totally incapacitated, was another
breakthrough in my development, spiritually. The arrogance
of self importance, you know, when youre really
successful, man, its hard to say, Hey, if it's
not broke then dont fix it. What am I doing wrong?
But then, I knew there was something missing inside
I used to go on retreat with a friend of mine, Father
Mike. He would talk about the Enneagram (http://www.enneagraminstitute.com)
which describes the nine personality types. I was a
seven which is an enthusiastic doer -- always
busy, always doing. I read a couple books on the subject
and they said that a person of that personality type
can try to get it in other kinds of forms, but the only
deep, lasting thing, is the spiritual.
I really believe with all my heart and soul, that
God is love. Have you ever read, How long will
you hide your face from me? Its a quote
from the Psalms. Its in compassion that he reveals
his face. Thats why one person helping another
is so effective.
I remember sitting in a meeting at the penitentiary
and this guy was talking about stabbing himself over
and over again in his chest with a butcher knife, in
a psychotic episode, just trying to make the pain stop.
And I felt like I loved that guy. I knew how it felt
to be so full of despair and to be so angry.
When I was in Florida the doctors were saying I
was going to be dead in a couple years. Id had
a couple heart failures, my heart functions were damaged
fifty percent. They diagnosed me with Hepatitis C. My
spleen, liver and heart were enlarged, because of this
damage. The valves were all leaking. The spinal disease
I had created a lot of conditions.
One thing I learned was that if you resist pain,
if you tense up and try to resist the pain, it hurts
a lot worse. Thats where the pain comes from,
resisting the process. When I read the [St. Francis]
prayer I would relax and I would be able to do things
without the pain.
They told me I was going to become impotent. . . .They
told me I was going to develop spastic paralysis in
my legs. . . . They told my sponsor and my wife, that
I would be dead in a couple years. That was seven years
ago. I knew then that they were wrong.
I feel that the spiritual journey is just that,
its a journey. Every once in awhile you come up
on forks in the road, and you have to choose, again.
Love is a choice. Thats why I think we are created
in Gods image. Its that we have the ability
to love. For a lot of years, I thought had to figure
Gods signal out before I could use it. And if
I didnt get it quite right, oh boy, was I going
to pay. There was going to be this big hand at the end
of the maze, oops, (slap) wrong exit! You
I tested positive for active Hepatitis back in 95.
I had a biopsy done. The last couple years Ive
gone to the doctor to get my clearance done, and my
Hepatitis C is undetectable. And I could never take
the treatments, the interferon, because of my heart,
because of my spine, because of my nerve damage. . .
.They said, You cant take the medicine because
of the nerve damage. You have to be in relatively good
health. Now, the hepatitis isnt showing
up. I dont know what thats about. But, I
know that as long as I have that good stuff passing
through me, its going to change me.
I was on retreat, where they have prayer time set
aside in one adoration room. Usually, when Id
go in there it was daytime, and Id see the light
coming through the beautiful stained glass. One night
I went in there, when I was going through the sickness
and all. It was dark outside, and all I could see were
gray shadows where the stained glass normally is. And
I thought about how much like that our lives are. Were
just in this gray, kind of shadow world. We need that
light to shine through us to make us beautiful, like
the beauty of that stained glass. Its only possible
when the light is going through it. Knowing that I need
that light passing through me is the surest sign I know
for me to define healing.