Good morning. My name is Denise and I am an alcoholic - OOPS! I don't say that anymore! My name is Denise and I am a Child of the Most High God - Praise the Lord!
This is my life testimony.
I was born in New Westminster in 1947 and my family consisted of my mother, father and one older sister (who just passed away last month). She was 10 years older than me.
I grew up in Coquitlam, then Surrey, and then New Westminster where my parents bought their first and only home on Carnarvon Street. I attended St. Peter's Catholic School and St. Peter's Catholic Church. I went to Mass every Friday and every Sunday. My Dad was Catholic but my Mom was a Mormon who converted to Catholicism and they had plenty of fights about that! So I was raised to believe in God, but I didn't have a very good start.
My parents were alcoholics with my Mom drinking mostly on weekends and my Dad an everyday drinker. There was plenty of fighting and arguing and I can remember hanging onto the banister in that big old house in New Westminster, just wanting someone to love me. I cried many a tear - far too many for a young girl. My sister married when she was 18 years old so I was raised pretty much as an only child.
My mother was only 4'11" and whenever she was angry or frustrated with my father, she would re-paint and re-wallpaper the house, even though it had 18 foot ceilings. She did that a lot.
I wasn't a very good student and I took two attempts at each grade before I finally passed it! My parents were never happy about that, especially my father. He was the first one to tell me that I wouldn't amount to anything.
My parents would drag me around to their drinking parties with friends and family. I remember sitting in the truck while they went to the bar. Even though I didn't know it then, but I was learning to be like them.
My parents divorced when I was 14 because my mother left with another man. So my Dad and I carried on alone - Dad with his drinking, and me with my teenage rebellion as I learned to be defiant, and how to lie. When I got to high school, I entered a special program where I received on-the-job training as a Nurse's Aid. I got a job at the Melrose Park Private Hospital on 6th Avenue in New Westminster.
But around this time, I started drinking and partying and losing whatever childhood connection I had with God. I moved out of my dad's place and into a relationship with "Mr. Right". That turned into a joke and didn't last very long.
Then I met my husband Larry in 1966 and it was love at first sight. My father didn't approve of him and called him "a lazy Indian", but I kept going and we got married in 1968. Even though we did plenty of fighting and arguing, he was the love of my life. We had two beautiful boys - Larry (junior) and Darryl. But our marriage was so difficult, we only lasted for 3 years.
And that's when my life spiraled downward and my alcoholism took over. I lost all of my faith and all my connection with God.
In my alcoholism, my theme song became "Looking for Love in All The Wrong Places." In 1975, I moved to Salmon Arm to be with my mother and I hit rock bottom. I wanted to quit drinking and I vividly remember sitting by the lake, asking God to help me. That's where someone asked me if I had a drinking problem and I said, "YES, I DO." He gave me a phone number so I could talk to someone about it.
That's how I joined AA on June 12, 1976. I took my first step towards recovery and was introduced (again) to God, my Higher Power. Like they say at AA, "He drove the bus."
But truth be told, even though I was in AA, I was driving the bus. I attended the meetings but didn't always apply the teachings to my life. I entered a dysfunctional second marriage and after six months of mental and physical abuse, we tried a "geographical cure" and moved to Sandspit (up on the Queen Charlotte Islands). But that didn't work. He abandoned me and my boys up there.
Then I picked up again with an old boyfriend. I trusted him and thought he would change his druggie lifestyle, but this last relationship stripped me of any remaining faith I had in mankind.
Sometimes I would start church shopping and would attend various services, but gave up because I couldn't find a church where I felt accepted.
Then I found myself working in North Vancouver where I met my friend Cheryl. I asked her one time if she wanted a walking partner to go up the mountain. That's when I found out she was sober and was doing the 12 Step Program through the Bible and a program called Celebrate Recovery. Well, my ears perked up! We slowly become close friends and I could openly talk with Cheryl about my Higher Power.
Cheryl had planted a seed and I wanted to have what she had.
Around the same time, my neighbour had visited Home Church a couple of times and told me what a great church this is. So I came out and from the very first visit, I felt ACCEPTED and I felt like I was HOME.
I was so tired of having a huge void in my life. AA pointed me in the right direction, but God has been preparing me for 38 years for this day. This is now truly the best part of my life.
I now publicly accept Jesus Christ into my heart and soul and rely totally on Him for my salvation. I know He will never abandon me or forsake me. He walks beside me every day - and sometimes He carries me! I am growing in my faith and my walk with Christ and I have changed into a loving and caring person.
After 39 years of AA, I've graduated and have found Jesus Christ. I enjoy learning more about Him. I enjoy my daily Bible readings. I believe in miracles - because I am one! God works wonders in people when they open up their hearts and minds and accept His Son into their lives LIKE I DID. I now have the peace and contentment I've always been looking for. And as I grow in faith with Christ, I know that my reward will be in heaven.
To my wonderful daughter-in-law Barbara Anne, and to my sons Darryl and Larry, and to my grandchildren Noah, Isaiah and Sarah, I love you all and God bless you.
I'd like to thank God and thank everyone here for helping me on this journey.
My saving grace has been the Serenity Prayer. Would you stand and join me as we say it together?
God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.