Living Life the “Give” Way
In celebration of National Recovery Month, Fellowship Hall is highlighting the stories of some of our incredibly inspiring alumni and staff members on social media and here on our blog. It is our hope that in sharing these stories, we break the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol addiction. With knowledge, we can advocate for the proper treatment of ourselves and loved ones that may struggle with the disease.
Not everyone can pinpoint the beginning of their struggle with drugs and alcohol. Robert P, however, recalls a classmate’s simple question that would change his life forever, “Have you ever gotten high?” While growing up in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Robert says he felt as though he didn’t “fit in” with his peers. To combat those feelings of worthlessness, he lied and said that he had used before. “I couldn’t wait to use in hopes that drugs would fill the void,” Robert said. Little did he know, that simple “yes” would begin a battle with substances that would lead him to some of the lowest points of his life.
Robert says that he didn’t get high the first two times he used, but that didn’t stop him from using the third time–which ultimately “did the trick,” he says. “I got as high as a kite and bought into a lie that day that the hole I felt was finally gone. From that point forward my entire life was about getting high. Using substances created an illusion of feeling fulfilled, the obsession and compulsion of addiction took off like a jet leaving the planet.”
“Once I started using, I couldn’t stop, or rather, I stopped when things got bad but I couldn’t stay stopped,” Robert explained. As others in their early 20’s graduated college or started their careers, he spiraled down into what he describes as the lowest point of his life. By 24, he had suffered through five drug overdoses and served three and a half years in prison. One of his overdoses required him to be resuscitated three times. After a drug seizure in October of 1988 he was crushed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally he said.
Robert went on to get a job at a large textile corporation. He dedicated massive amounts of time and effort to his work, determined to move up in the company. His hard work did not go unnoticed–finally, he was selected as employee of the week. Unfortunately, Robert said that as the employee of the week, he mostly remembers laying on the floor with his forehead split open from seizing from overdose and passing out into a knitting machine. “The paramedics were hovering over me, asking me what my name was and I didn’t know. That episode landed me in a treatment center. I cried on the way there and told my mother I hoped there was another way to live, because I was sick of the mess my life had become,” he said. After entering treatment he would go on to relapse 14 times in 22 months. It wasn’t until he accepted a complete and total defeat that he surrendered to recovery that it would finally stick for him.
“I didn’t understand that self-will and self-centeredness were at the core of my destruction,” Robert admitted. “I learned that just quitting does not work. The only thing that stopped addiction from running over me is recovery, which for me, is complete abstinence and spiritual growth. I needed an active recovery program in order to manage addiction. I had to surrender. I used to think surrendering meant just admitting and accepting that I was an addict, but I missed the part about surrendering to recovery…like having a sponsor, a network of support, going to meetings, and living the NA way instead of my way.” Robert says that after this realization and dedication to the full recovery process, his life began to improve vastly.
“I told God, ‘I am going to do this 12-step program and if You ever want me to do something different, You let me know’,” Robert recalls. “For the next 25 years, I completely gave myself to the Twelve-Step way of life but, sure enough, the day came that God let me know He was calling me. By His grace, I’m dedicated to living a Christ-like life by striving to prepare to help others to do so in the wonderful world to come. And, by His grace, I am blessed to have celebrated 30 years clean on August 25th of this Year.”
Robert says he once heard a minister deliver a message about living life the give way versus the get way and it made a huge impact on how he lives today. Robert looks for opportunities to give to others by sharing the wisdom he’s learned along the way. In 1998, he joined the staff at Fellowship Hall as the Manager of the Gateway House. Now the Gateway Program which has two houses Gateway House and Zander’s Place that offers individuals in recovery structure, accountability, and support in the early stages of their recovery. He is deeply passionate about his work and over the years, he says, he has been blessed with the opportunity to inspire and encourage hundreds of men who have come through the Gateway transitional housing program.
Robert has made it clear that his wife Angela is his angel in recovery and in life. Robert is very grateful for all the support from his loved ones and the recovery community, Robert has had the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on everyone that he interacts with. If you’re lucky enough to run into him at Fellowship Hall and ask how he’s doing, he’s always quick to tell you, “I’m happy to be alive.”
For more information, resources, and encouragement, ‘like’ the Fellowship Hall Facebook page and follow us on Instagram at @FellowshipHallNC.
About Fellowship Hall
Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.