From his teens, alcohol was Mike’s refuge – from grief over his father’s early death, from severe loneliness and low self-worth. It was also a lubricant, “a couple of pints gave me all the self-confidence and self-esteem I had previously lacked.”
Although life improved when he met and married June, Mike’s drinking continued. “With anxiety and depression as well as the drink, I hurt my wife very badly and, sadly, I cannot ever repay this time as she died in 1998.
After his wife’s death, Mike’s drinking spiralled out of control. “There was no enjoyment; I was just desperately trying to suppress my feelings of grief, bitterness and anger.
I was drinking several bottles a day to keep me going. I used alcohol to get to sleep and to stay awake. People often think of alcoholics as men on park benches with a bottle beside them. My park bench was the sofa.
At the beginning of 2000, I nearly died due to alcohol. Strangely, after all the times I felt I wanted to die, I now wanted to live. I attempted to get to the phone but couldn’t, so I just prayed for help. My prayer was heard as several minutes later my mother arrived, let herself in and called an ambulance.
After being released from hospital, my social worker told me about Yeldall Manor. I arrived there in May 2000 and, as soon as I got there, I sensed God’s presence.
By taking away alcohol, I lost my comfort, my strength, my courage and support. I realised that only God could fill this big hole in my life, so I let Him in. Whatever I need, He provides. Life isn’t always easy, but whenever I’m struggling emotionally or physically, He provides what I’m lacking.
The social worker who referred me to Yeldall Manor told me when I completed the programme that, although he doesn’t believe in God or in miracles, when he sees me he sees a miracle!
After completing the programme, I knew that I didn’t want to go back into working with computers; I wanted to do something with a purpose, preferably God’s purpose. I’ve now had many rewarding years, living by faith and ministering to vulnerable people in a Christian outreach project in London, until health problems got in my way.
I continue to live and work at the project although I have been diagnosed with MS, and my activities are severely curtailed. Although each day is a struggle, it is nothing compared to the hell of addiction.
Through my work with addicts on the streets, and in counselling, I now understand the truth that, as with so many addicts, the addiction isn’t the problem, it’s the ‘solution’. After Yeldall, Jesus became my solution and remains so to this day. He continues to walk with me (very slowly) and support me daily, and I have never felt the need to return to my addiction despite the pain of my current struggles.