Inspiring Christian Life Stories – Part 4

A Lifetime Disease

Addiction is not only a habit but a lifetime disease. The only proper treatment for it is abstinence.

I hadn't known that. I wish I had. I am now 45 years old; I only learned my lesson 3 years ago.

I was already into my CFC days and had even made it to handling a CFC household. I had stopped my drugs for a year serving as a Household Head, taking my service seriously. I joined on July 1990 at a CLP held in San Juan at the Pinaglabanan Church. Pinaglabanan - literally translated, it would mean, “I fought for this.” I would rather it means what St Paul said, “I fought the good fight. I won the race.”

I was winning the race, though. Except, I tripped again and again the latest ever worse than the last.

At 15 years of age, I was already addicted. Progressing from the milder ones to whatever was fashionable then (yes, there are 'politically correct' drugs too!) I was into the 70's drugs, 80's, and then, the 90's: Marijuana, to Madrox, to Ice. All the while, I made my grades in school, making it with honors three times until it couldn't be helped any longer. I even have my MBA from Ateneo. Initially working after post grad studies in a investment house, I worked my way to a management position in a bank. For 27 years, I was juggling my life in-between drugs, family, and work. I would kick off the habit now and then, but I would always go back to it and with a vengeance, worse than before.

But, no! I'm no addict. An addict is a down-and-out, AIDS-like-skinny, incoherent-speaking, urine-smelly, gutter-living, cardboard bum with blood-red eyes and tattered rags. I was no addict. I was no junkie. I was a highly educated corporate man. I went to work in corporate Makati in proper power-dress code and knew how to speak the language.

But my wife, Marisse, whom I met at post grad school, couldn’t take it anymore. An absentee father and husband, I would not go home for 3 days at times. I hid half my salary from my wife, contributing little yet borrowing from the family budget. I planted marijuana in 30 pots around the house for my rainy day special. Running up debts in my credit card, I sold off my properties to finance my habit. I loaned money to build my house and promptly used it in less than a year for my drugs. All in all I've probably ran up to five million pesos in my 27 years of drug use.

Give me a year and I'll kick off the habit, I negotiated with my wife. If not, off to the dreaded rehabilitation center I will go. I'll even pay my own stay there.

But, kick off the habit, I couldn't. One of the reasons why was because I continued to drink. I was an alcoholic too. When I finally admitted to myself the same substance abuse (giving up alcohol too), I strengthened my resolve. The only 'cure' to addiction is abstinence. (Even at the Lord's Day Celebrations, I now don't drink the wine.)

At Rehab, I fixed my personal relationship with God. All my CFC days I wasn't honest with myself and with my pastoral leaders looking after me. Now I was establishing my prayer time. I kept up the prayer journal. I was hearing God in my quiet time: “Do not be afraid. I am your God. I won't leave you.” I finally finished reading the whole Bible.

I took a moral inventory of myself. Owning up to what I had caused, I was directed by the rehab program to face reality with my weaknesses and my character defects. There were language therapy (nonviolence even in language), rosaries, TV viewing and lectures on the dangers of drugs, refresher courses on practical daily living (to exercise the brain), behavioral modification to the values of honesty, humility, integrity.

Parents of friends of my children used to warn their own kids not to make friends with my children “because their father is an addict.” Now my own son, while at dinner table, once said, “Papa, I'm very proud of you. You're very close to the Lord!”

Where once there was no peace at the house, it really is now a little Church. No tabloids, no alcohol are allowed inside. Like a temple, Jesus is enthroned. He's now the boss.

Of course, there still is the struggle to always grow in holiness. But I want to serve Him so much more. God's love and His faithfulness cannot be measured. By Nick Fabie

Continue to Part 5

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