A difficult childhood led to escaping pain through prescription painkiller abuse. After feeling that his life was lost and losing his family, Hunter found help and recovery at Alabama Teen Challenge.
I’m a 28 year old guy who had his life radically changed by Jesus while in Teen Challenge. I had a turbulent childhood that never gave me a chance at stability. As long as I can remember my sister and I were tossed around between parents (who divorced when I was 4), grandparents, and even foster homes. I can remember the pain and embarrassment of the cops showing up at school because the wrong parent was there to pick us up. I didn’t know who to trust or even to turn to for love and support. Each parent said vulgar things about the other, the whole time my sister and I felt abandoned by both. The only small foundation I had was the teachings of my grandmother about God and life. However, this was overshadowed by the pain of being deserted.
My mental and emotional pain took a critical turn for the worse when I was sexually molested at 8 years old. Again I felt abandoned, hurt, and scared. This event affected my whole life, and I couldn’t accept that God or people could love me.
I lost my innocence early and had to grow up fast. My sister depended on me to be there for her emotionally and financially. I have always felt stretched thin. I had such low self-esteem issues that even though I might have had a promising future as an athlete, I didn’t pursue it. Instead I went to work. All the while my feelings of abandonment grew even more intense after my father had to leave town because of legal issues.
My high school sweetheart and I married when I was 21. Although I loved her I had no clue how to be a husband or a father. My first daughter was born shortly after we were married and our second just a few years later. I loved them so much and worked relentlessly trying to provide for them and give them things I thought they needed, not realizing it was my presence they longed for, like I did for my parents. The pressure of work and home finally got to me, and I tried using pharmaceutical pills just to get me through. Before I knew it, addiction had an unshakable grip on me. How treacherously ironic that the very thing I thought would help me keep my family together, started ripping it apart mercilessly. My wife started noticing the missing money and loss of life in my eyes. Before I could even cry for help, she had signed the divorce papers. But what hurt the most was when she fled to Alaska with our children. It was then I realized that I had become my father by abandoning my kids.
This enhanced my feelings of depression and loneliness, so I turned to the only comfort I knew (drugs). I was reckless in trying to hide my pain in drug use. In the end I was forging checks to pay for my habit. My life felt so dark in the bottom of this hole called addiction. It had gotten to the point where I didn’t care about myself or future anymore.
While in jail I prayed for a way out of this pit and for my life to change. I started reading the Bible and the promise it had for me. I knew God had something better for me. The Bay Minette Teen Challenge Program Director talked to my dad and God opened the door for me to enter their residential recovery program. What a great decision that turned out to be! While in Teen Challenge God has moved in ways I never felt possible. For the first time I felt loved and accepted. I just know in my heart that Jesus would never abandon me. Now He has given me a new heart to love and serve others. My depression has lifted and I know that my past doesn’t define me. I am a pure and righteous creation because of Jesus. The best part, He’s turning me into the man and father I’m supposed to be. Before coming to Teen Challenge and committing my life to God it had been over 2 ½ years since I had seen my little girls. Now, God has allowed me to see them again and be a part of their lives. They’re back in Alabama and I’m gaining my family’s trust back. God is going to use me to minister to people and I’m so glad that I get to start with those closest to me, my girls and my family!
To learn more about Alabama Teen Challenge, visit their information page on our resource directory.