I’m 33 years old. My three younger brothers and I were brought into the world by a lovely, caring mother. My parents split up when I was eight years old and that had a big impact on me. I always felt left out, alone, afraid, and I didn’t fit in at school. I thought it was just a period of life I was going through, but it just kept on going.
My way of solving it was by turning to substances. I started sniffing glue and paint as a young child, then started on drugs and alcohol. By 14 I was pretty much addicted to marijuana and alcohol. By my early 20s I was working and living a lie. I had a double life. People thought I was doing well, but deep inside I was suicidal and crazy. I was homeless a couple of times, but just thought that was part of my journey and things would get better.
I tried to stop drinking, doing drugs and doing crime, by going overseas. I just took my problems with me there because I was the one with the issues. No one else. I’ve blamed everyone else — society, the police, the courts, and it wasn’t the case at all.
But I thought I’d change my thinking and my attitude. For the first time in my life I wanted to try to get clean, I wanted to give it a go. Seventeen years of using heavily was enough physically and mentally. I did detox for 10 nights and then went to rehab. I had the easy option of running away from my problems like I always did — running away because I couldn’t face them — or I could actually face up to my problems and reach out for help.
Down the road from where I was living was Dulwich Hill (NSW) Salvation Army. I met (Major) Stephen Briggs (Salvo minister), who I now call my friend. He welcomed me with open arms to church on Sunday, and he’s always interested in catching up with me to see how I’m going and showing me that someone cares about me.
The Salvation Army has helped me to live day to day by showing me that I’m as important as anyone else, and that’s really nice for me to hear. I’m someone who has had a lot of anger, rage and hatred but I know I don’t have to carry that today. The people in The Salvation Army forgive what I’ve done and are willing to listen to my story and give me a pat me on the back and say, “Well done”.
Before I would have said I was an atheist and the devil was my best mate. But I decided I didn’t want to run on my own self-will anymore and I wanted to hand over my life to God.
Now I get down on my knees, I pray throughout the day; it makes me more humble. I’m sharing my journey with God and deep down he’s doing something for me. I want to make that relationship with him stronger and stronger and I want to share my life with him. I thank him every night and I thank him for the mornings I wake up.
Watch the video of Paul’s story at: others.org.au/video/video