This is a video I recorded a couple of years ago. At the time I felt a need to say sorry for all the things that I had done in my drinking that had hurt and/or offended people. I also felt that I needed to apologise to all of the family members out there who were living with a problem drinker. It may be the only apology they ever get.
This is Lou’s side of what happened when John and her got together. John discussed his version in Part 2 of his testimony. Listen to both to hear the whole story.
Hi there welcome to heart to heart. If you haven’t listened to any of these before, this is not scripted we just sit and we talk. We wanted it to be real, we obviously checked it out with our members a few times.
Originally this was posted on Bottled Up our website to help drinkers and their families. Bottled Up is a secular website which while operating on the principles of Christianity without talking overtly about our faith as we did not want to create any perceived barriers to getting help. . This post was our first venture into being more open about our beliefs.
Hi there, welcome to heart to heart. If you haven’t listened to any of these before, this is not scripted we just sit and we talk. We wanted it to be real, we obviously checked it out with our members a few times. So you have to put up with ums but you can be absolutely sure that what is coming out is real. It’s not a performance and particularly today you may even see a few more hesitations because we’ve decided to talk about how our work began.
Yeah we have talked about it in the past but really we were going to go into the actual story of it. It’s a story that we haven’t exactly avoided but we just we haven’t put it out there before. One of the reasons is that we’re going to talk about subjects that some people might not particularly like but anyway here goes.
Can we just say before we start that because we’re therapists, your well-being is really important to us, the integrity of where you’re at. We’ve always said we meet people where they’re at and that is a very high value system to us and we never want to put up barriers. But to talk about this journey we have to talk about spirituality because it’s in the core of it and at the end of it will explain why we’ve chosen to do that.
If we’re going to be real then they have to be real. You have to get all of us. So this is all of us.
This journey was harder for you than me. I mean I’m a pastor’s daughter, so kind of I grew up with this. But when I first met you, if I said the name Christian you’d start twitching and run out the door.
It was a bit like that because I had been sort of you know, the church hadn’t been very kind to me in the past and you know I heard some Christians in the past and also I had delved into to various and assorted things in the past. And just decided, you know I would never have said I was an atheist I don’t think I ever came down and said I was ever an atheist, but I definitely said I was an agnostic.
And it was a bit awkward when we fell in love, because the reason I had such a strong faith is, in the middle of this living with a drinker I really had to find out if God was there, and I really call out to him. And I found that he really really turned up. So when I began to talk to you about that it was kind of quite hard but by the time this story begins you were in a different place with that, weren’t you? You’d met some really nice people and decided we weren’t all idiots and maniacs.
Yeah yeah most of them seemed reasonably human most of the time, and yeah I know we were very different. I’ve always resisted change in any shape or form. I’ve always resisted people sort of demanding of me and any shape or form and I really wasn’t very keen. When I thought about Christianity I thought that’s exactly what was going to happen with it. But it didn’t and it hasn’t.
So, by the time this story begins, certainly you had taken a step towards having a deeper kind of spiritually experience yourself. but what happened to me you hadn’t really come across before. We were sitting in a café, a place called Darts Farm near Exeter and it was like I went into a different world, it was kind of like a vision. It wasn’t new to me, I had a few of these before so I knew something was going on. But I heard all these cries and groanings. The pain of it was so deep, I actually started crying, didn’t I?
You did, yes. Wow, I thought, I really know how to show a girl a good time, don’t I. You know this date is going really well. You know, I thought this is date is getting distinctly odd.
So I kind of grabbed him by the hand and said I think I know what’s going on just hang on a minute and I’ll try and explain. So, I went back into the vision and I started talking to God and I said, what’s going on here? And it was so clear, I felt this voice say these are the cries of people really struggling with addiction with families and their pain is is important to me and I want you to go and help them.
And it was so real that when I spoke to you about it that reality kind of landed on you as well didn’t it? Yeah it just seemed to make an awful lot of sense to me. You know I wasn’t really looking at in a spiritual point of view but I was looking at it in a sort of common sensical point of view. I mean she’s a therapist, she lived with an alcoholic. I’m a psychologist, I was an alcoholic. Hmm put these two together and you’ve got something. You know something maybe something special, and I thought well yes, of course why wouldn’t you? I had already created 24/7 which was for drinkers and I thought, yeah why would you not do that. So I I didn’t see it on a spiritual level, but I did see it, as I say. in a common sensical level. If that’s a word.
Yeah and just as we began to talk about it I think that you did begin to sense that it was a call that was bigger than us.
Yeah I mean I’ve always had some kind of spirituality around me, although often resisted it as well. And of course, I’d come up through Alcoholics Anonymous. I’d come up through the 12-step program which is as they say is a spiritual program you know and God is at the heart of that one you know. And I have to say I resisted that as much as I possibly could you know because it kept saying there is is an answer. I kept saying can I have another answer please because I’m not really keen on that one. And it wasn’t till I was really forced, I was forced to my knees because I thought, I need to do something or I’m going to drink and I really, really don’t want to drink but I don’t know how I won’t drink. And and I’ve told this story many times. I ended up saying the most fervent prayer I have said in my life. It was just three words. God help me! And since that day, I’ve never had a craving. 35 years and I’ve never had a craving. So God turned up that day. He didn’t turn up the way I had expected or the way I would have liked Him to do. You know nothing dramatic, a choir of angels would have been nice you know, the voice from the sky that sort of thing, maybe a fiery chariot, I’m not particularly fussed. But He turned up in the most effective way, which is He took away the craving and it’s been like that ever since. So even though I was deep in agnosticism, I had to say something happened there you know. Reluctantly I said it reluctantly I had to say. Because I had to talk to a lot of people who pointed out what was obvious. That, you know, you pray it, you know you had this terrible craving that you couldn’t control, you prayed then you didn’t have a craving. You know, is there a logic to what happened here? So, as I say I was a reluctant spiritual person
And it I think it’s important that you know that. Because many people’s journey to something outside of themselves is not easy. It is a lot of kind of soul searching. I think again one of the reasons why we are kind of talking today, first of all that’s where the Chain of Care began. It’s God in our lives who turned out and said these people matter to us and as Christians you tend to continue to pray about everything so we just continue to pray and the heart of God was so strong in us that we actually invested our own money doing this. That’s not to say we look how wonderful we are. It is to say that it was such a deep thing inside of us that by the time we really thought this through and started doing it, that we were literally prepared to put our money where our mouth is if you like. Literally, and it was quite a lot of money, I can’t remember how much it was but we don’t regret that one bit. Initially we thought we’d recoup it by charging et cetera but you know as we’ve told the story, at the end of last year, we just felt, no, we have to get this away, we really need to give it away and that was when the chain of care really started because what we looked up was we saw people looking at the website and thinking, “oh do I really want to invest in this?”. And we thought, well okay we’ll take that barrier away, because if we take that barrier away then we can help people without them having to worry about where the money is coming from. Because quite often, if there’s an alcoholic in the family, then a lot your money is going out and you get a short of cash. I’m sure that a lot of you all relate to that. So, we thought, well we’ll take that away. As I see it that was the start of the chain of care. We give it to you, you give it to somebody else, they give it to someone else etc etc.
And can I say thank you so much to the people that really have invested. One lot of people are inclined to give a bit more than the other. You can probably work that out for yourself which give more. But we can promise you, that anything you do give does go back to the website. We have just paid up front for a year and the money that you give will pay us back for that. Literally every penny that you give goes back into somebody somewhere who is googling in six months time “is there someone somewhere that can help me and arriving at the website. We also apologise deeply for the things that keep happening, they are out of our control and drive us nuts.
Yeah, it’s been a difficult last few months and if you have been around the website for the last few months, you will I realise that it’s been difficult for people to join, then if they could join they couldn’t get access to the website. It’s been one thing after another and we really deeply apologise a lot.
He’s been tearing his hair out and I had to pin him down in the corner because he hadn’t got enough hair.
Thank you for that dear.
Okay, so why are we telling you now? For those of you think “Yuck, I don’t want to know” feel free to just ignore this video. The last thing we want to do is piss you off.
Yeah, there’s plenty other videos you could watch.
Yes I know, we don’t mention anything about our faith. In the corona virus that is going around the world, and Britain is just getting to this point where there’s gonna be more and more lock down, people are feeling very helpless and they’re feeling really afraid. So, I think the hope which we bring today, even the fact that you’re sitting here listening to us, is because we were called by someone who cared for you, who’s bigger than us and still cares for you as we do believe if you reach out, help is there, love is there, care is there and for the people that will listen and think I really needed to hear that as I’m scared, we thought well we’re going to risk it. We are going to do this because it’s part of our narrative but also we both deeply believe that you are not alone out there we deeply believe that and the reason I have such a strong faith are now John, in the end, got his faith was because we had a spiritual intervention from a God that we have got to know, who really cares. And you know the sickness and darkness out there is nothing to do with God. If you get to know him, you will know that he is loving and the two pictures he gave us were about the love in partnership and the love between a parent and a child, profound pictures of deep committed love.
And I could just see two things, one is that spirituality is at the heart of the 12-step program, I said that already. That was because Bill Wilson had a spiritual experience when he was in a psychiatric hospital and he wrote to Carl Jung, who was a very famous psychologist at a time, and Carl Jung wrote back and said, look you need this spiritual experience, because what would we are looking at is transformation. Alcohol transforms you, transforms your personality, sometimes not from the better, but that’s another matter. And you need something which is also transformative. This was Carl Jung had said. So that’s there, and it has been part of a 12-step and Minnesota model type program for many, many years. The other one point I want to make is that, when I taught the master’s course for alcohol and drug counsellors, I introduced spirituality as a module and the reason I did that was for holistic reasons. Much of medical science was starting to look at a holistic approach, which looks at mental, physical and spiritual and how that fitted into healing. For example, The Lancet devoted a complete edition to spirituality and healing and they came out very, very positive about it. And it’s not just in the realms of addiction, but there’s a lot of research going on around the world is looking at how spirituality aids healing.
And prayer, which is just a way of building a bridge between the seen and the unseen came out very well in that journal as well I believe. So, there you are so we decided to tell you, I suppose, who we truly were and what our journey is all about. And as I said earlier, for those for whom this is important then do share. You know if you have a faith that’s real for you, talk about it on the forum. If you’re in the States you probably don’t even understand where we’ve been so tentative, because people talk about all sorts of things there, in England not so much. And you know people can be quite hostile and aggressive really, which I think is really sad, and they think they know, but actually if you look at research they don’t know because research shows that to have a sense of the unseen and the spiritual is really, very important for our mental and emotional health. So if people are feeding stuff into you, actually he’s a professor of drink and drugs and he’s actually gone into this. He wouldn’t have taught a module unless he had done the research. Spirituality gets a worse press than it should do really. Remember this website is open to people of all faiths and people of no faith. You matter to us, no matter where you’re coming from, you matter to us. We want you to know your pain matters, your journey matters and we will always do our best to input this website as well as we can, and to build a community where you can come with us and feel safe and begin to apply some helpful things.
Thanks for this listening, I’m sure we’ll check in again soon. Lots of love. Bye.
Lou discusses how Christianity is different from religion. In religion we are looking at a set of rules that we aspire to keep whereas Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus.