I was born April 4, 1995, to Robert Klingensmith Beck III and Elizabeth Beck in Phoenix, Arizona. The day after I was born my dad took off for a love affair with the bottle. This would be indicative of what most of my life would be.
My earliest two memories involve my father. First, I remember my mom holding me while talking to police officers when my father went missing. The other memory is building a snowman family with him. I made each snowman anatomically correct to show him how “smart” I was. I adored my father and constantly sought his approval. Every time I made a point about something happening in a ball game or something outdoorsy, it would follow with, “Huh, Dad?” He would always reply, “You’re right Gracie,” even if I was completely wrong. My life was filled with extreme highs and extreme lows with my father.
When I was in middle school I was a troubled kid. I talked back to teachers, didn’t do homework and had conflict with mean kids in class. Things at home made me feel as though I was not important, that I needed to act out to get attention. My father was, what seemed constantly, going on binges. Every few months it would get to the point of taking him to the hospital so he could detox. When he was on medication he was reserved to his bedroom all day, every day. A child living in this environment begins to ask questions like, “why does he choose drugs over me?” “Am I not important?” “Does he not really love me?” “Am I the cause of his alcoholism?” None of that is true.
My father’s childhood was filled with one tragedy after another, but the worst part was that he had no outlet to deal with his deep wounds and suffering. The only thing that helped ease the pain was drugs and alcohol.
My relationship with my father was rocky and sometimes nonexistent. I distanced myself from my father because I loved him and it hurt too badly to be around him.
As I got older, the only time we talked was when the Steelers were playing, the Diamondbacks were doing well or anything college football. But he never owned up to the way he damaged our family and never was truly repentant for being an absent father.
Last year, I experienced some things that gave me a perspective on what my father dealt with. I didn’t want to feel or think, I wanted to escape, I wanted to die. God allowed me to feel a fraction of the pain my father felt, that same pain that led him to drugs.
People told me growing up, “Be careful, alcoholism is in your DNA.” I am destined to be just like him, right? Wrong! There is a commonly believed lie about addiction; that it is an illness, an incurable disease. This is a lie that releases people’s responsibility for their actions and condemns them to a life of affliction. Addiction is an emotional disease, perhaps. In its purest state, addiction is selfishness, pride and sin. Addiction may end with physical dependence on drugs, but it starts with loneliness, insecurity, guilt, suffering and more. All of us tend to use things to escape reality.
My father bought into this lie and died because he felt trapped. Robert Beck died on October 13, 2016, from an overdose of several different prescription medications.
After my father died I went into shock. I started going downhill, fast. I was unable to process or put into words the feelings I had. My grief was not just for my father, but for the relationship, I would never have with him, the one thing I wanted my whole life. I used alcohol, extreme sarcasm (being a jerk), Netflix binging and partying to numb the feeling of my heart being torn out of my chest every single day.
However, God began showing me that the things I turned to only made me hurt more. I’m sure if my father could tell me one last thing, it would be that he regretted the path he took in life, he wished he would have dealt with his issues instead of hiding behind addiction, and life is meaningless without faith in God.
I share my father’s story with you because it is my story. Everything my father did when I was growing up has shaped me to be who I am, good or bad. I know my dad would want me to express to others that the only way to truly heal your emotional wounds is to reach out to God, the only One who understands ultimate suffering.
I used to dread waking up in the morning. Now when I wake up, I am hopeful for the future.
Hope For Addiction saves lives, mine included.
I have learned that addiction is not different from the sin with which I struggle. The only difference is that addiction is ugly to society and Christians. Jesus sought out the outcasts. He loved them unconditionally. To me, that is the most poetic and beautiful way God works. I was the outcast, but God’s promise to His children is He will never leave us or forsake us. I have experienced that promise in my life, even through the suffering.
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