It’s Too Much-It’s Never Enough

Tom Dolphin falls into a “favorite” category for Josh and I. He is literally one of our most favorite people to hang out with.  Having known Tom for several years, we have only recently learned about the severity of his battle with alcohol addiction. I was pumped when he mentioned guest posting on the blog. He shares openly and honestly about the isolation of his disease, and the saving power of his parent’s love. If you ever get the opportunity to meet Tom and his wife Mandy, count yourself lucky. They are the real deal.

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Alone and drunk in a crappy motel room with two options, quit drinking or die. Sane people wouldn’t have to think about it but I was insane. Poking out of my bag was a razor and then I looked at my arm. It was my solution. I wrote a note to my family and cried. I would slit my wrist in the bathtub. It was scary how calm I was about this decision. As I grabbed the razor a thought popped in my head and it took me off guard. It wasn’t a burning bush but what happened next saved my life.

Lets go back….

The first time I drank in high school it became the solution to my problems. Growing up I was insecure and extremely shy. They call it social anxiety today but back then I was a shy kid. I lacked self-confidence but when I drank booze I went from Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk. My disease grabbed ahold of me in my late twenties when I had free time and disposable income. I blamed my job for my drinking but that was a lie. I didn’t like myself and couldn’t handle reality. It became my only escape. I have heard the definition of addiction is never being able to get enough of what you don’t want. After 5 years of hard drinking the end was coming. I knew my body couldn’t handle this much alcohol consumption for much longer. Either the booze would kill me or I’d gain enough courage to end it myself.

Back in that motel room; after an hour of serious contemplation of suicide for whatever reason, I thought of my mom. It was an image of a police officer knocking on my parent’s door, “We found your son dead in a motel room.” My mom collapses to her knees screaming “no, no, no.” How could I be such a self-centered a**hole? How could I put my parents through that? In that moment I got on my knees and prayed. It was the first time I had prayed in, I can’t remember. I told God “If I wake up tomorrow I’ll get help and do whatever it takes to get sober.” But if I didn’t wake up it was ok, I was at peace with his decision. He knew I’d had enough pain and suffering. The next morning I did wake up. I went to my parent’s house and admitted I needed help. My mom’s reaction was relief and she cried uncontrollably. My dad looked pissed at me for what I put my mom through. I can’t blame him for being angry. They took me to treatment that afternoon.

I made it several days without a drink. The days turned into weeks, weeks into months and soon the obsession left me. It wasn’t easy and I have had difficult days, but a bad day sober is always better than a good day drunk. Today I attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis and love it. It’s the first time in my life I’ve felt like I belong. It’s taught me how to live a successful sober life and I can’t give enough thanks to the men in the program. God saved my life and A.A. has allowed me to live a life.

I remember a conversation I had with my dad when I was in my early twenties. He wanted me to attend church and have a relationship with God but I didn’t see the point. I thought I had been doing just fine without God. My dad said “Someday you’ll have something happen in your life and you’ll need God”. I blew it off like I did most his suggestions. That night in the motel room was the moment when I realized I needed God, and He was there. I hate the expression “I’ve found Jesus”. I’ve never seen Jesus on the back of milk carton and the news has never put out an amber alert for Jesus. He’s never gone missing. The difference is I stopped running from him. When I finally stopped running and recognized His presence, then my life changed.

I thank God everyday for everything in my life, good and bad because I shouldn’t be around for any of this. I should be dead; and every day is a gift that I have the opportunity to tear open. I try not to waste them but I do because I’m human. I heard a guy in an A.A. meeting say, “When you first get sober, write down all the things you want in your life. Then hope like hell God doesn’t hold you to that list because you’d be selling yourself short”. I agree.

mandy

I pray every day but my prayers are much different. I ask God to remove my character defects, how best to be of service, and tell him thank you. People ask me how they can help the person in their lives who drinks too much. I don’t have the answer, nor does anyone else. However, what you and I can do for them is pray, that’s it. It’s the most powerful thing you can do. I wonder how many nights my mom and dad lay awake praying for me? And I thank God they did.

I’d really like to choose Macklemore’s Neon Cathedral. It’s a poignant look at addiction and Macklemore is currently in recovery. Also, One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture.  The lyrics sum up my story and relationship with God.

The Chorus:

One thing remains

Your love never fails

It never gives up

It never runs out on me

Through the darkest hours of my life, the sunlight of the spirit was always shining. God never left, never ran out, never said this guy has gone off the deep end. Christ has been the light of hope even when I gave up on myself. That is why I say thank you to him everyday. God is the one thing that remains constant in my life.

~Neon Cathedral-Macklemore-featuring Allen Stone~

 

Round here they sing broken hymns
Their prayers flow better when they’re soaked in gin
The amp’s dusty and sits in the corner
By a bartender that’ll pickpocket your heart
And a jukebox that’ll steal your quarter
Bartender, please give me a confession
Exchange fear for courage in the form of a well drink
There’s a heavy current, got a long way to swim
Closed the Bible a while ago, I need some shots for this sin
Hail Mary, come with me, feel like Pac when it hits
Got some fire in my belly and a riot in the gut
Bushmills for a band-aid, the sweet taste of blood
Then I might actually feel something if I don’t cover it up
Watch their faces, familiar places
Even if they haven’t left the vinyl booth that they stayed in
The motel next door, a sign that reads vacant
And a truth that’s so strong I’d be a fool not to chase it
But yet, I’m a fool and I stay here
Hope these problems drown themselves, I die in wait here
One more, four more, forget it a night cap
Service starts at 5 tomorrow and I’ll be right back

[Hook: Allen Stone]
Underneath this fragile frame
Lives a battle between pride and shame
But I’ve misplaced that sense of pride
This crown of thorns is perched atop my spine
But listen closely as I testify
Dependency has been a thief at night
Thief at night, thief at night

[Verse 2: Macklemore]
I read the Bible, but I forgot the verses
The liquor store is open later than the church is
Pured by their imperfections, everything that’s burning
To Hell with the confessions, all the “Lord Have Mercy’s”
Blessed in holy water, listen, oh Holy Father
Have you ever smelled flesh that sweats out Monarch vodka?
11 AM in the morning and you can’t get it off ya
Callin’ to the preacher but it’s like the pastor isn’t talking
Until the store opens I can re-up on that doctrine
The people close to me say that I’m in need of a doctor
Think that I got a problem but these are not apostles
This is the drink of the Lord, that’s according to my gospel
Open to interpretation, if you’re judgin’ I don’t want it
I got sins that scold like my throat when I hit the bottle
And I’m sinking and that’s why I keep on drinking
I need a refill, far more than once every weekend
Sweet Jesus, I’m getting amnesia
Shaking til I get a taste, my faith is having seizures
Every time I walk away and try to leave it
Every time I walk away and try to leave it

[Bridge: Macklemore]
Wouldn’t miss it for the world
Baptized in my vices and the bar is my church
Traded my artist and I pawned off the easel
Spend it all searching for God at the Neon Cathedral

[Bridge: Macklemore]
Wouldn’t miss it for the world
Baptized my vices and the bar is my church
Traded my artist and I pawned off the easel
Spend it all searching for God, Neon Cathedral
Neon Cathedral

[Hook: Allen Stone]
Underneath this fragile frame
Lives a battle between pride and shame
But I’ve misplaced that sense of pride
This crown of thorns is perched atop my spine
But listen closely as I testify
Dependency has been a thief at night
Thief at night, thief at night

Dependency has been a thief at night
Thief at night, thief at night
Dependency has been a thief at night
Thief at night, thief at night

~One Thing Remains-Jesus Culture-Kristian Stanfill~

 

If you are struggling Tom would be happy to hook you up with resources, or have a cup of coffee, and talk about life. He really is that great-and your not alone.

Tom and Mandy

2 thoughts on “It’s Too Much-It’s Never Enough

  1. Tom that was really good. I’m thankful for you and your life! So much ahead for you and your lovely wife. I know your mom and dad were praying for you! Thanks for this…. Keep writing.

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