My final drink was sometime in the wee hours of February 7th 2014 after 1.5 years of attempting to white-knuckle it to sobriety. I woke up in a Charleston hospital with stitches above my eye and no recollection of how they got there during the final night of a business trip. For the first time in my life my will power wasn’t enough to achieve my goals leading me to pick up once again. That last drink cost me my wife and being a full time father. It slammed me down hard, well below what I thought several times before was rock bottom.
I know today that my will needed to be broken for me to surrender. The next day I went to a meeting and got a temporary sponsor who instructed me to open that Big Book I had been driving around with in the back of my Jeep for over a year and read to page 164, twice. I started my 90 mtgs in 90 days (more like 120 mtgs) and I spoke at every meeting, exchanged numbers and most importantly I started every morning on my knees praying to God. I committed myself to my church volunteering to teach Sunday school each week for the first time in my life. I introduced myself to the Bible; the Children’s Storybook Bible, which I read to my youngest son before bed. I read everything I could find on recovery, faith and marriage reconciliation.
Each day was brutally long with lots of breaks to listen to AA podcasts or praying in bathroom stalls at work. The nights were cold, lonely and restless. But the days added up to a new monthly chip which always led to my oldest son getting my previous month’s chip. Before long my youngest boy decided he needed a chip too since big brother got one so I’d have to claim my chips at two different meetings each month. After about three months of the same strict routine each day I looked back and realized that I’d spent the loneliest, most painful time of my life while for the first time in 10 years I’d been alone most nights accountable to no one. Yet drinking or drugs had not once crossed my mind. It had never been an option. The difference has been the program and the prayers I started each day with. I realized that I’d received the first of the promises from this program …from God. Just as described on page 85 of the Big Book, “the problem has been removed”.
Around this time I was watching one of many faith or sobriety movies, Ragamuffin. In it there was a 3 minute clip that dropped me to my knees in tears. The scene recalls the first time Christian singer Rich Mullins heard a powerful sermon from Father Brennan Manning, one of us, who referred to we downtrodden as Ragamuffins – saved sinners who receive God’s mercy and grace. This 3:00 clip changed my relationship with my higher power, Jesus Christ, who Brennan believes will says to us, “I dare you to trust that I love you. Just as you are. Not as you should be. Because none of us are as we should be.” I recorded this clip on my iPhone and share it with anyone who I feel it can help receiving over 2,240 views since June 2014. Here’s the clip:
Since that first summer I’ve continued doing everything I can do to grab onto and hold tightly to God and sobriety including being Saved in a southern Pentecostal church, baptized in the rough Plum Island Autumn surf, been to meetings all over the world, and been working the steps meticulously with my sponsor. The only social media I’ve used during my recovery is Twitter (@gregmkelly or NewburyportDad) because it avoids the drama that comes from actually knowing people you communicate with and I’ve been able to build up a wonderful Recovery community. A highlight was meeting a group of women who host a weekly recovery podcast called @TheBubbleHour which they invited me join on week to share my story. Catherine, one of the women, has even attended my home group meeting with me several times while visiting the area with her husband from NYC.
Catherine invited me to talk about my recovery story last summer which you can find here:
Today I continue my walk with God, a Ragamuffin, saved sinner and beggar at the door of God’s mercy who each day receive God’s grace to add another day of sobriety and to live as the man I was intended to be. I’m 26 months sober who came here on my knees to stop drinking and became a better all around man. I’m proud of the father and man I am today and although my marriage was not restored I trust God’s plan and each day I pray to release the grip on my own will so Thy will be done. Today I remain very active at my church, reading the adult Bible this time, as well as my local AA community. I continue to have Hope for my future and for my boys’ future. I found a quote on Twitter that I keep close:
“I choose…My children! Breaking generational cycles – Addiction STOPS HERE!”
I hope that my testimony and sharing can in some way help you on your path.
Greg – RagamuffinDad