"I really have no excuse for turning out the way I did..." Faces Of Recovery - Steve Rotz

I really have no excuse for turning out the way I did.

My childhood was great. My folks were old school, but fair. I have 3 brothers and two sisters, and all but one were partiers. I was no exception. From the time I was 7-years-old, I used to dream of what it was like to have a drink with the boys. I was raised as a Catholic, but by the time I was in 9th grade, I didn't believe any of it.

I got my first job when I was 12 or 13. I was a farm hand at a neighbor's farm. I got paid $5 a day, got a beer at lunch, a beer at supper, and all the tobacco I could chew. By the time I was in 10th grade, I was an every weekend partier. I drank beer and smoked a little grass. By the time I was 22, I was drinking 4 of the 7 days of the week, and had developed a liking for whiskey.

I drank heavily enough that my stomach was in severe pain a lot, so when I was 24, I quit drinking. I smoked a little more grass and discovered PVC cement. My dad always had some on hand, so I could sit in the basement and inhale this stuff till I fell asleep. When it dried out, as I often left the can open, I'd break off dried chunks of glue and smoke it. My dad caught me a few times, but I don't think he really knew what I was up to. I did that for a while until I was unable to sleep. I felt like I was suffocating. I'd hear strange voices on the radio and hear screams in my head. I thought I was losing it! So I quit the glue.

By now, my guts were feeling better, so I started drinking again. All this time, I was functioning somehow – working and playing softball. My dad sold his house and I built a house with my two brothers. Then I began dabbling in the occult. I had a hole inside that I had to fill with something. I was communicating with spirits (demons, I now know), and it started to take a toll on me.

I had SOOOO many voices in my head! I'd drink to quiet them, but it didn't always work. I was angry and afraid. I'd try to get rid of spirits by calling more spirits. I wanted to die, but I didn't have the will to do it. I didn't want to do what the voices were telling me to do, that's for sure.

I got attacked by a spirit one night in my bed, and that really messed me up. I couldn't tell anyone what was happening – they'd think I was crazy. That was rock bottom. I had no hope. Nothing I did had any effect. If I had one drink, I had a lot of drinks. I'd try positive thinking, and the voices would shout that down. I felt worthless. 

In March of 2009, a friend invited me to this church in a movie theatre, and I dug it. I had this big empty hole in me, and I started filling it with good stuff. It really took hold when I got tricked – yep, TRICKED, into attending the church's recovery program. I was starting to believe, but I still lived this double life. I was saying how cool sobriety was... as I was drinking a beer. At a softball tournament one time, someone called me out.

I went home that night, half in the bag, with a choice – something was going to happen that night. It was either going to be really awesome, or really stupid. I hit the floor in my room, put my face to the floor, and asked Christ to forgive me and lead my life. And He did. That was my day: August 28, 2009, between 11:30 and midnight. I'll never, EVER forget it. I haven't drank or drugged since, and I haven't touched anything occult. The voices went away. No more night time attacks – I had something bigger now. I had joy – actual, real joy. I believed it. ALL of it!

I got a sponsor, worked the 12-steps, and began leading in my church's recovery program. I began teaching others out of the Bible and my experiences in life and recovery, and I even got married. God's calling on my life is to help others who were hung up like me. I went from being a slave to all kinds of things, to freedom in Christ. 

These days, I try to bring freedom to others through God's word and love every Monday night. If you would have told me 7 years ago I'd be doing this – and actually joyful AND sober?? I'd have called you the biggest liar. Since that day in 2009, I've gained some things and lost others – some of them were significant losses. But I still have this joy that was given to me. How is it possible? Only through Christ.