I thought about this all night really and still I am not sure about posting this as many of you have read parts of my story here and there throughout my blog. But still there may be that one who reads this and realizes that they are not alone in their struggles and that there is hope.
This is my testimony I shared last night at Celebrate Recovery after completing the 12 Step program.
Hello, I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who has struggled with depression, alcoholism, porn addiction, sexual orientation issues, self-worth, anger and a whole lot of other issues life throws at us. My name is Stuart and I am about to share just a little tidbit of my story with you.
I was born in the sixties to a newlywed couple that, to be honest, was not quite ready for marriage much less children…but then again who is? My dad was 19 and my mom was 18 when they married. Kids having kids basically. Back then the culture was different though. It was the norm.
One of the first jobs I remember my dad ever having was working for Budweiser, one of the biggest beer distributors. That is not how my taste for beer developed mind you but it did….sadly. But as I grew older the beer just was not numbing my hurts as a teenager enough so I graduated….to Jim Beam. Now that was a ride let me tell you. It was while on that ride that I almost died..just from drinking too much one night.
I ended up past out on the floor one night after partying with some friends. I woke the next morning with a knot on my head. The story that was shared with me the next day was that after passing out and lying on my back on the floor I started to vomit. Bad things can happen when you vomit while on your back…it has no where to go but back into your mouth. I started choking on my own vomit. Luckily one of those friends, though drunk of his tail too, had some sense left. He kicked me in the head with his steel toed boot causing my head to move which basically saved me.
I was molested in the men’s restroom at a shopping center while in elementary school. And again a few years later. Needless to say I had issues with going to a public restroom for some time after that. This along with several other things started a sexual issue in my life that lasted for decades.
At the age of twelve I accidentally ran across my Dad’s stash of Playboy magazines. He had asked me to go find a certain shirt for him. Unfortunately, he did not tell me exactly which side of the closet it was on. So I had to look around to find it. Well I found it and something I wish I had not.
That is what started a thirty year struggle with pornography. Man, how I wish I had never moved that one shirt in his closet. Because just like drugs….the need for more adrenaline, more stimulant just grew my desire to look at the magazines again and again. And just like the drinking….I graduated…to porn. Porn taught me the way a guy “should” act while having sex. It also gave me a very distorted view of how to treat women….in and out of the bedroom. And it also put a lot of pressure on me as I thought all guys looked like the ones in the videos. And well….as you can see I look nothing like a porn star with or without clothes.
Man you add porn addiction, to alcohol, sexual identity issues from being molested and you have one messed up kid…me. Being one that has a very addictive personality, having sex was not a good idea for me to do. But guess what? I did. Lots of it. With anyone, everywhere whenever possible. I tried it all. But I still did not have what I was looking for. That hole was still there. The alcohol never satisfied and neither did the sex.
One of my friends, my best friend, one I consider my brother stayed with me through all my issues. We met in the youth group at our church. Well some years after high school he went off to college. I would go see him whenever possibe. It was while visiting him one weekend that I met this beautiful young lady. And I do mean beautiful.
We kind of hit it off and starting to see each other a little whenever I would go to visit my friend. Great times but neither of us were ready for a serious relationship…..at least not me anyway. She ended up leaving college due to health issues and we lost contact for several years. Then my best friend gets married and guess who was there….yep…there she was. As beautiful as ever!
That was it. We started seeing each other despite the miles, as I lived in Greenville, Mississippi and she lived in Baton Rouge. We talked over the phone a lot and would see each other whenever possible. The relationship grew til one I day I could not see her with anyone else…ever. So I asked her to marry me and unbelievably she said yes. We were married right her at this church on June 26th 2005..her birthday.
Sadly I still carried a lot of baggage that was totally not fair for my wife to help shoulder. It caused a lot of issues within our marriage and understandably so. I will spare you the details but let’s just say I saw myself as a failure as a husband, man and lover.
That along with other issues in our marriage that we did not know how to work on caused us to separate. That was my rock bottom. To have my wife tell me that she no longer loved me and wanted me to leave was my breaking point.
That was when I truly came face to face with God. I started praying. I started going to church regularly. God truly started working in and on my heart. My life started to change. I started reading my Bible. I started reading Steven Farrar books off of my pastor’s suggestion. Reading those brought tears to my eyes as I realized how I had failed my wife as a husband. A role that I would cherish if given another chance. A role ordained by God for all husbands the moment we say those two awesome yet scary words of “I do”..
Shortly after that I was asked to attend the Johnny Hunt Men’s Conference in Alabama and God opened my eyes to where He wanted me to be and how I could help Him. The conference was about pornography in the lives of men in the church. Powerful conference where many men’s lives were changed, including mine.
It was three years ago that I was asked to come to Celebrate Recovery and help out. But after coming for only a short while I realized that I needed CR because I still had issues and hurts in my life to deal with like depression, anger issues, and self-worth. Once we started the twelve step program I realized just how much I really need to give to God. It is also here that I have found accountability partners that help keep me in check not only by praying for me but actually being present in my life. It has made all the difference in the world to my recovery from all my hurts, habits and hang-ups.
I have two children by my wife. One daughter, my princess/angel and a son, my little buddy.. They are my pride and joy. I try so hard now to lead them spiritually according to scripture. I do not want either of them to have to endure half of the things I had to. My son always says “Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” I always smile when he says that but inside I cry because to be just like me he must go through what I went through. I want him to be better than I was. I want both of my children to love God and follow scripture.
I want my children to see Jesus in me and not with just lip service. I want them to see it in action. I want them both to know that I love them and that despite our separation that I treat their mom with respect. I want my daughter to know what a man of God looks like, by my actions, so she will be able to recognize it when she gets older. I want my son to see how I treat their mom and women in general so that when he is older he will treat them all with the same type of respect.
My chains have been loosened by the grace of God. It is now my job to see their chains are of freedom and not addiction. That is my goal. To see my children grow in Christ. And with the help of my Celebrate Recovery friends, loved ones and my brothers and sisters in Christ supporting me and praying for me……
Well, let’s just put it this way.. God’s in control!
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.