This week, I would like to share a Guest column by J.S. A friend who wanted to share the following story.
I was lying across the design table. I was one of a team of four doing a full-scale drawing of a new Corvette. As part of a job shop, we were seeing if the engine would fit in the engine compartment.
We had to lie on the table to do the drawings, because we were each doing a different part of the car. While there, I was actually daydreaming about going out afterwards and having that first drink, knowing that it would not be the only drink.
I always had alcohol in the car wherever I went. I would have a pint that was open under the driver’s seat and an unopened pint under the passenger’s seat. I also had a fifth in the trunk so I didn’t run out. I was loaded.
I should have been stopped by the police and given a ticket or been taken to jail, but I wasn’t. I deserved to be though. By the grace of God, I never had an accident, not even any close calls. It is a miracle that I was never even stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Eventually I was fired from that job for being drunk on the job.
My drinking, of course, was exacerbated by the fact that I was bipolar and had gone undiagnosed for years. It had gotten so bad that I was growling at people. It wasn’t funny. If only I could go back and erase that or make it right, but of course that is not possible.
Another job I had was as a technical illustrator, and I had a bad morning, so I went down to the bar and had two quintuples (10 shots of alcohol) and then topped it off with a double. Afterwards, I went back to work, but of course I was useless the rest of the day.
I was married at the time, and it was a loveless marriage. I loved her but she did not reciprocate. She said the only reason she married me was to get away from home. When I got angry, I would take one of my World War II daggers and hack the walls, making an awful mess of it.
I had another job working in the Ford Motor Company on the technical illustration team. Scientists and engineers would produce rough sketches, and we had to turn them into professional drawings and lettering. I often worked overtime on the part-time job. When we worked overtime, the company would pay for us to eat out. I would drink my dinner. I would have liked to have been hired there, but I know that my drinking stopped me.
I have had so many jobs that I cannot remember all of them. I was always fired from the jobs or quit over the way I was treated. It wasn’t that I was treated badly, I just couldn’t get along with anybody and was drunk all the time. I even went to sleep with a bottle of liquor in hand.
My drinking started when I was 22 years old and had continued for years. I remember having the thought, “I’m 22 now, I guess I should start drinking and smoking.” That was a dumb decision.
Earlier when I was a teenager, I had been involved somewhat in church and had enjoyed participating in First Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I had played the part of the tribune in a play called the Robe and even made my own costume.
Years later when I was living with my mother, I decided to check the church out again. It was a different pastor, but he spent a lot of time with me. I put him through the wringer because I was still drinking, though not as heavily as before … and he always forgave me. He would come and see me and I would be sloshed. The pastor would talk me through it, and I would stop drinking for a while until there was another crisis of some sort. But eventually something happened.
In 1974, one night in late October, It suddenly dawned on me that I had not had a drink in weeks. Not only had I not had a drink, but I didn’t want one even though the house was full of booze. I stopped smoking cigars at about the same time.
I even had had incidents at the house. I would be misbehaving somehow and the police would come and take me to the nearby psychiatric hospital, because basically I was crazy. This one night, when it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a drink, I couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t even want a drink. I took every bottle of hooch that was in the house and poured it down the drain. That was a lot of alcohol going down the drain. In those days, the liquor would have been worth about $100, quite a bit for that time.
I maintain that I didn’t quit: the Lord took it away from me. It had controlled me.
On a hot day in summer, I would sometimes have 1 bottle of beer usually just part of the bottle and not the whole bottle. The rest would be left on the table. It was not like when I was drinking the hard stuff. I am no longer compelled like I used to be, by the grace of God, I was saved from myself.
I’ve been sober since 1988. I know He took out insurance for me, because now if I ever get a whiff of hard alcohol, I gag.
Sometime later, after I had been seeing a Dr. Longacre for depression for a long time, I mentioned to her what I was dealing with, and she diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder. After the diagnosis, I began being medicated to counter the disorder. The Lord worked through the psychiatrist at community mental health to keep me stable and restore my emotions. It took about 7 years to maintain an effective balance. I take the medicine regularly so that I do not return to being looney.
My mother is now dead, but I wish she could see that I am now sober and sane. While I have hurt many people over the years and wish I could undo all the damage, I cannot. As I was reminded recently by my pastor, I cannot go back, but I can go forward and make a difference in the days ahead for the glory of God, though I am one of the least of His subjects.
…and here is a glimpse of God’s mysterious ways of protecting us:
I was getting off work one Monday, and had the impulse to go to a music shop in town. I didn’t know why since I had been there just two days before. As I was pulling into the parking lot, a tie rod broke, making it so I could not steer the car. If I had not been just creeping along pulling into the parking lot, I would have been driving 70 miles an hour down the freeway. The car had to be hauled away by a tow truck and the manager of the store was so helpful that he drove me home a significant distance. Surely that was divine intervention as I remember wondering, “Why am I going to the store, I was just there two days ago.” Then this happened. God was watching out for me.