My name is Chris Graham, and I am an addict, an alcoholic, and I am saved by the blood of Jesus.
This should be how I introduce myself to you. It’s how I was taught in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, and my Chemical Dependency Intensive Outpatient Program. The “saved by Jesus” is from my Celebrate Recovery groups and is the most important part.
This is hard for me to do. I don’t talk about my addiction often and you have to be pretty close for me to do so.
My drug of choice is marijuana. I’ve also partaken, in no particular order, of mushrooms, acid, ecstasy, cocaine, various pain killers and amphetamines in pill form, alcohol, opioids, and heroin. I have never used a needle.
My father is an alcoholic, wine was his drink. I can remember being fourteen and he was passed out on the kitchen floor. My mom called home from my younger brother’s baseball practice with a dead car battery and needed help, so I drove my dad’s car to the baseball field, jumped the battery, and got them home. I remember swearing to God I was never going to touch a drop of alcohol. I could see where that would lead, and I wanted no part of it.
So instead, I smoked everything. I wasn’t drinking, that’s how I rationalized it. I thought I could do everything else, but as long as alcohol never crossed my lips I was golden.
Fast forward to when the Mary Graham entered the picture, she can give you the dates and my age, I’m fuzzy on the subject. (Mary interjection: We started dating in October 2004. Chris had just turned 21. I had started pretend-dating him in my head a few months before October, but apparently I’m not allowed to count that since he didn’t know about our relationship yet.) I was still not drinking then, just smoking pot on a daily (…hourly…after work…whenever I wanted) basis. I never used around her and when we started dating, I tried to quit cold turkey.
Let me pause for a moment to say that I was baptized at the age of nine. I was raised a believer and have always, in some capacity, been a believer in God. I bought into the lie of the devil that the Lord would use me to make others better in the midst of my drug use. I could keep on sinning to make the word of God true, which we know is not right according to Romans 6:1-2. But that was what I thought. I was in the worship band at my church. I was in the teen ministry telling kids to not do drugs and then I’d leave them and go do drugs. I felt that in my failures I could lead others to a better place. And that’s a lie.
So I gave up drugs.
I knew Mary and I were going to get married even though I hadn’t proposed yet. I remember dropping her off after a date one night and throwing my one hitter and its dugout out my truck window. I was through. It was over and I had made my decision on where my heart was going to reside. Then a year or so into our marriage I said, “I would like to try beer.”
This wasn’t a smart choice.
My memory isn’t great, but it took about .5 seconds for my mind to say this drink isn’t what I want.
So I was drinking beer now. Knowing my proclivity to drink and addiction, I set as many safeguards as I could. If Mary felt I was getting out of hand, she could just say the word and I, the obedient husband, would stop.
But that’s where the devil knew he could get us, or me, specifically. Mary only knows about the drink, only the beer. But I can get mine on the side; a hit here, a hit there. You buy the right weed, the potent stuff, and that’s all she wrote. And if you’re smart, that’s all you gotta do. But whoever said an addict was smart?
In July of 2010, we went on a family vacation to the Smoky Mountains, a great place to hang out in the woods and get stoned.
And I did hang out in the woods and get stoned.
And I got caught.
Imagine your world just dissolving. Gone. Mary may have mentioned something different, or similar, but I can still see her coming through the door as I was exhaling. My first thought was “oh crap.” Those of you that know my wife know the rage that she can possess. I say this to all of you, you have no idea. I laid on the porch after she threw my stash over the cliff and wept. Not for my stash, but for my balls. She hated me with all of her being in that moment. I was five hours from home with no car, walking my only means of escape. I was toast.
So I cried out to God.
Our church’s minister has always said the sin you hide in the dark will always be brought into the light eventually. It will happen. Change hurts, so either you admit it and tell your friends when they ask, because they know you’re not in the light, or you suffer the consequences. And I did, I suffered the consequences.
I mentioned my wife’s fury. It not the anger that people think it is. It’s the pain. I broke her in that moment. Think about that. I’m crying just remembering the look of betrayal on her face. And that’s how she masks it, with anger. Being a stoner/pothead, I am detached and less likely to get angry. I don’t do confrontation. After enduring three more days of vacation with a family that knows I am doomed and that they will never see me again, I had to endure the hell ride home in a car alone with Mary. My wife had decided my (read: our) fate as she cried, screamed, and hurled insults in my direction for the whole drive home.
That’s what this anniversary still brings up in me. Even after six years I can remember the pain and the brokenness. The tears and the threats. I’m still amazed I even made it home sometimes. Ha, humor. This has been a sad story and I’m sorry. It is a sad one, but it turned out great after a time. There is redemption, as there always is with Christ.
Mary and I came back from that trip 6 years ago with divorce as the only option. God said no. You all know Harper. She’s awesome; a week and half after my addiction discovery, Mary told me she was pregnant. And that’s where my redemption started.
I went to rehab.
I started dating my wife while we were living apart.
I worked at becoming a better husband and a better daddy.
And life was different.
In Colossians 3:17 it tells us we are representatives of Him. And I failed at being that to so many people. I was living a lie and showing everyone a lie. That’s what I remember.
I am better now because God ripped what I thought was only mine in the dark, out into the light for everyone to see. Sure, I fail on a regular basis, but I’m doing it clean and sober now, and there’s peace in that. That’s all I do for my girls.
These are my ramblings, and my very long story.
(Side notes from Mary: Chris typed this by hunt and peck which makes me laugh so hard. Watching my cute little husband peck away at my desk was a fun role change. Also, he used the phrase “funk that” in a sentence and I removed it because I said he was not allowed to say “funk that” on my blog. He said that was censorship and something about the man holding him down so I’m letting you know he wishes it was in his story but I said no because I am a mean editor.)