Many addicts come from broken homes with a history of physical violence or sexual abuse. I came from a good family with a nice house; quite a privileged up-bringing really.
I didn’t realise at the time, but I was trying to emulate my father, whom I idolised. But I could never be like him. I felt a failure. Whilst I was still at school, I was drinking half a bottle of spirits a day. For the next 25 years or so, I was a ‘functioning alcoholic’. On the good days, I’d have only a litre of vodka; on the bad days, a couple of litres (plus the beers and the sherries). I lied, I stole, I womanised. I did all sorts of appalling things just to suppress my feelings.
But when I came to Yeldall Manor, I found structure, acceptance, love; all those things I craved deep down. It wasn’t easy, and Campbell, my counsellor, made me face a lot of things I didn’t want to face, but I loved it.
I dismissed the Christian aspect at first and tried to intellectualise it but, in church one day, the speaker asked, ‘Who wants to be filled with the Holy Spirit?’ In spite of myself, my body stood up. I don’t know why. But in that moment, every sin, every care, every lie, everything I’d ever done bad was lifted from me. Absolutely gone. And, I realised recently, I was healed on that day. It doesn’t mean I can go and drink again, but I was healed.”
Now married to Jennie, “the final piece of my jigsaw”, Chris supports many others in their own journey of recovery, giving them work experience in his small gardening business and also helping in the Admissions office back at Yeldall Manor.