Beyond personality disorder and alcohol abuse

I was sexually abused as a child. It went on for approximately six years. It had a very big effect on me. I found it very confusing. My parents provided a stable home environment and cared about me. Like many people, communication between my self and my parents was not very good. My parents did not know I was being sexually abused. I told them about it when I was an adult. They both believed me when I told them which I found very helpful. I did not feel able to tell anyone about it at the time. The person abusing me told me that if I told anyone I "would go to Hell", which was quite a deterrent to a ten year old.

As I grew up I had this "big secret", about an adult having sex with me, which I felt I could not tell anyone about. I started to have very strong feelings and troublesome thoughts about the whole situation. I felt very guilty about what was going on. I felt very ashamed of my self. I felt very angry. I felt deeply resentful towards my abuser. I also had confusing and contradictory feelings, for example sometimes I liked the attention and some bits of the sex. This would confuse me further. The person abusing me seemed to really enjoy the power they could have over me. They would repeatedly tell me how wrong this activity was and stop it, for a few days, and then they would start it all up again. This repeated acceptance and rejection over and over again really 'did my head in'. This went on for years. I also had increasingly high levels of anxiety and a constant fear of being found out. I started to hate my self and struggle with suicidal, violent and self-destructive thoughts and impulses.

During this time I appeared fairly normal to the outside world. My grades fluctuated a lot. When I got to thirteen I discovered alcohol and some drugs and gambling. I found if I did these excessively and impulsively then the really bad mixture of thoughts and feelings in my head would go away for a short while, only they always came back and my repetitive excesses caused me and those around me increasing problems.

I ended up spending four months in a rehab for alcohol dependency when I was nineteen. I joined A. A., did their 12 step program and stayed sober for five years. I tried two years of psychotherapy. I went to university and got a first class honours degree and started teaching at university. However I still felt very hurt and troubled inside and struggled with suicidal thoughts.

Nothing seemed to solve my inner turmoil. I returned to drink and drugs, and became addicted to amphetamines. Sometimes I stopped drink and drugs for weeks or months but found my problems stayed the same. I had difficulty forming relationships as they caused me great anxiety and I found it difficult to manage my feelings such as resentments, fear, low mood, violent thoughts, loneliness, envy, shame and guilt. I spent the next four years in and out of the psychiatric hospital in Bradford. I lived a very self destructive lifestyle. I was given lots of medication and diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, then psychotic depression and finally with "Borderline Personality Disorder". No one explained what this meant. Sometimes I took overdoses or cut my self. I felt utter despair.
Then I overheard someone called Barry telling someone that Jesus had died to set them free from all their wrongs and had risen from the dead so they could be 'born again' into a 'new life'.

I suddenly thought, "it's true" and I knew I needed to be 'born again'. I then joined a church. The best thing was that I was accepted into a home group and the people really seemed to care about my well being and believed I could get better. I felt I belonged somewhere instead of being an outsider. I worked through the 12-1/2 Steps to Spiritual Health, outlined in a book the vicar (Howard Astin) had written. This was just basic Christian practice: I admitted that I did not have the power on my own to sort out the serious set of problem habits I had. I asked Jesus to be the Boss ("Lord") of my life from now on. Barry prayed for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit, this gave me the power to live out this new way of life. I then admitted every thing I had ever done wrong in my life, wrote it down and shared it in confidence with two other Christians who I had come to trust (Barry and John). I admitted all the problem habits I had formed in reaction to being abused (self hatred, addictions etc.), I then turned away from my previous way of life and believed God had forgiven me. I also shared all the hurtful and damaging things that had been done to me with these two men and forgave anyone who had hurt me, including the person who had sexually abused me. This was a great relief. I then was prayed for to be healed of the hurts of the past. I do not think I could have been healed without admitting my wrongs, turning away from them and forgiving the wrongs of others towards me.

I then have spent the next seven years living out my salvation and growing and maturing in line with God's word (the Bible). I got and continue to get a lot of support from my church. I started dating for the first time in ten years and have since married my wife who is a great blessing and loving support to me. I also have two step children. I came off benefits and am now in full time employment working with clients who have a "Personality Disorder" diagnosis like I had. I enjoy life and feel fulfilled. God has been very good to me and I want to share some of his love with others. Jesus promised that he had come to give us new life to the full, and he has. Along the way have been many struggles as I have had to submit to God's will and not my own. I love 'the new way of the Spirit' and am glad the power of the evil one was broken by the power of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. I was 'dead' in my spirit but rose again with Jesus! Praise be to God, who has the power to transform people's lives.

Paul, 02/08/2007