...That Saved A wretch like me.
My name is Don .I am 42 years old and live in Ottawa, Canada now with my daughter Jennifer - 3 & 1/2. I am working for the central bank (Canadian version of the U.S. Federal Reserve)supporting some of their computer systems. I'm a single dad and happier than I have ever been in my life. It wasn't always like this you see because I have only been drug & alcohol free for three years now.
Five years ago I was on my knees asking God for help. I needed someone in my life. Someone to give me a reason to live. I did not know what to look for: Someone like me who wanted to get out of the mess that drug addiction brings or someone who knows nothing and wants nothing to do with it. I prayed to God to send me someone and added "You decide" but please, send someone soon.
At this point in my life, I had lost a good job and found myself deciding whether I would stoop to eating the spilled french fries on the ground beside the dumpster of a MacDonald or take my needle-tracked arms a little further down the road and see what else God might provide. Yes, through all the misery I found myself floundering in, I had an unwaivering faith that God was watching over me and patiently waiting for me to come back to Him. This was due, in no small way, to the ease I had sworn off alcohol 8 years prior. I had left a pub after having only one and telling myself it was the last one. As I walked home that night I passed Notre Dame church and I looked up at this magnificent building to the neon cross lit in the steeple and said "God, I think I'm going to need your help on this one". I have never touched another drop nor did I have any difficulty never touching another drop. But, alas, I was still smitten by the other available psychotropic substances out there and it didn't take long for them to completely take over my life.
One day, I was introduced to a woman, Carole, who was called to entertain another drug user and myself. She too had the same problem. We saw each other several time over the next couple of months (misery loves company) and one day I arrived back from a 7 hour drive with everything we needed to get high.
When I arrived, she told me she had something to tell me. She was pregnant. I sat on the bed and looked up to God with a smile and said "So you decided to send me both". In this day and age, it is a womans choice so I said "I know I'm not a very good bet right now to be much of a husband and father but I truly believe this is a gift from God to help us get out of this mess. If you are willing to follow me to Timbuktu, because my job may take me there, then please don' t pass up this chance". Fortunately, she accepted. Unfortunately, I still had all the stuff ready to use. I convinced myself that I didn't have to quit just yet. My angst was overpowering. It was all I could do to take the few minutes to talk to Carole before doing what I had just waited hours to do. Carole wanted to too. I didn't know at that time that while I had been away, she had been called to entertain and had taken large doses with those she was with.
Luckily, I had not fallen so deep as to support our habit with crime, and our I.V. using was 1. monthly 2. filled with fear, guilt, paranoia and misery. A few months before Jennifer was born, Carole put her foot down. No More I.V. stuff. I did not want to loose the precious gifts God had given me so I miraculously was able to comply.
Once again, I was strickly a cannabis derivatives user. I knew, though, that as long as the door was open to using something that I was at risk of falling into something stronger and also, spiritually and psychologically, I was not improving. So I resolved to get "clean"... soon. Carole, on the other hand was content and adamant to continue her alcohol & prescription drugs. She suffers from clinical depression and really does need the medication. Combined with alcohol, this proved to be an explosive combination.
On February 28th, 1997 a 5 lb, 1oz little baby girl was born Jennifer Jessica Noëlla was born at Granby, Québec's St. Joseph's Hospital. Since our Doctor and the Public Health officials were aware of our problems, the baby was immediately scrutinized for any obvious signs of 'fetal alcohol syndrome' and other possible complications.
I guess God does know what we can and cannot handle at any particular time in our lives because He chose to bring this little girl into the world without a single blemish of her parent's problems.
It wasn't long before Carole was unable to breast feed due to her diet, sleeping habits and drinking habits. Now Jennifer had a Daddy to make the formula and feed her. After 5 weeks she was sleeping through the night.
I got a job! A contract for 3 months in Toronto. I stayed at my parents during the week and went back to Granby on weekends. Every other week, I would bring Jenny back to my parents with me so that her mother wouldn't have a breakdown.
One night, I had just put Jenny to bed and had rolled up my relaxant and just as I was about to light it, a cry came from Jenny's room. The feeling I had at that moment is hard to describe. There is an anxiety in the pit of the stomache that won't go away just because my relaxant will have to wait. It struck me that there is an innocent little girl wanting and needing attention and her Daddy is felling resentfull of it. She doesn't deserve to be resented. What did she do that would cause that? I knew then that I had to get "clean". Completly clean. That was the only solution I could come up with that would make the anxiety & resentment go away. Once again I asked God for some help. He knew what to do. After my contract was up, I got an offer for a full time job where I am currently employed. It was ideal. Carole does not speak English and I worked very hard in my life to learn to speak French. Ottawa is the perfect area to be for us since there are as many French speaking people as english. When we moved in to our new place, I threw out every piece of drug paraphernalia I could find. I was getting clean. This was October 3, 1997 and by the grace of God and the fellowship He gave to people like me called Narcotics Anonynous, I have never used since.
Carole was not on the same path. I had left with Jenny a few times but allways ended up going back. Carole attempted suicide a couple of times and I had to call the police on occasion to diffuse her rampages. The last rampage, I ended up with 1st & 2nd degree burns to most of my bare chest and arms when she doused me with the boiling kettle. I called the police and she was arrested.
After a couple of weeks of Hydrotherapy and the help of a wonderfull friend, I was ready to attempt the life of a single father. I thought it would be impossible. I was doomed to fail, I thought. How do so many single mother's do it, I wondered. I soon realized that while Carole was there, I was a single parent raising a baby and being a nurse to a very sick grownup. Once the nursing duties were gone, parenting was a breeze. I admit its not allways easy but it sure is a lot easier.
Carole went back to Granby and wollowed in despair and using up all the favors her friends could extend. After another suicide attempt/hospital stay she ended up at the Grey Nun's. When her court date came up in this area, the judge had the wisdom to send her to a drug rehabilitation center.
Its a shame she still hasn't found the path God wants her to follow. Its hard to pray for her to find it sometimes because I know how painfull it will be as she descends to the next "bottom". In the mean time, the rehab has given her somewhat of a footing and Jenny gets to see her Mom when she comes to visit about every second weekend. Sober of course. I make sure I pick her up early enough in her day so the chance of her being sober when we get there are pretty good. If she's not, we just leave.
Even if Carole was in recovery and gets on the right path, I won't risk going through the pain and despair I had to endure with her again nor will I put Jenny at risk either. Carole understands that. I don't know if she accepts it but I know she understands.
Thank God for teaching me to forgive.
When I think of what could have happened to Jenny, I thank God for sparing my heart that pain. I thank God for Jeshua's Ministry that those parents who could not break free and follow Him, their children are loved and cared for and are looked upon as the gifts of God they truly are.
In closing I would like to share with you the last verse of Amazing Grace circa 1779 that I have in a Hymn book published in 1886.
Yes, when this heart and flesh shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the vail, A life of joy and peace
May the peace of the Lord be with you today and always.
I have lost track of Don; but with his heart for the Lord and his daughter, I'm sure he is well. On the other hand, Pray NEVER hurts. I don't know why this letter jumped out at me, because I was not looking for it.