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Abandoned, Abused, and Redeemed

Jarrod Anderson - 700 Club Producer
Robert Hull - 700 Club Producer

Neil says, “I didn’t want to be hit, I didn’t want to be yelled at. I wanted love from a father. That’s what I always wanted.”

Neil grew up with an abusive father who abandoned him and his family when he was 13.

Neil remembers, “I just felt, you know, if my own dad didn’t love me, you know, something was wrong with me.”

That left Neil vulnerable to an older neighbor’s offer of friendship, and eventually, his sexual advances.

Neil recounts, “He was the first male figure in my life that actually showed me that, you know, that he cared about me, that he accepted me.”

They only met on occasion over the years, but Neil could never shake the feelings of shame that followed.

Neil says, “Just dirty and disgusting like something’s truly, really wrong with me.”

By high school he was dating. At the same time he was also drinking and using drugs almost every day.

Neil remembers, “They were putting a Band-Aid on something that hurt. It would numb the pain.”

Then after high school, his girlfriend became pregnant. They decided to keep the baby and got engaged.  But Neil’s mom convinced the girl they were too young to start a family, and she had an abortion.

Neil remembers, “My interpretation of we were too young and we weren’t ready was I’m not a good enough person and I’m not going to be the father that this child needs.”

Then he found out his fiancé was cheating on him.

Neil reflects, “I was really broken. I started isolating. I stopped hanging around with people. I also told that other man that was in my life, no more, And so I really felt I had nobody to turn to, nobody to talk to. Everybody was unreliable in my life.”

Neil continues, “I became full-fledged alcoholic. I mean, I didn't do anything without alcohol. I didn’t go to the bathroom. I didn’t shower without it.”

Over the next 9 years, Neil abused alcohol and prescription medication. He got 3 DUI’s and was banned from every bar in his hometown.

Neil recalls, “I was eating about 75 Vicodins a day on top of, you know, anywhere from a 12-pack to a case of beer.”
During this time, Neil moved in with a woman and her 2 sons. Later, she became his common law wife, and together they had a daughter.

Neil says, “I thought I was a good dad… I was in denial of really the truth of what was going on.”

The truth was Neil was physically abusing his stepsons and his nephew who visited on occasion.

Neil remembers, “I couldn’t stop getting angry and getting physical. I couldn’t stop drinking. I could not change. And so I really felt like I was the terrorist and I was holding my family hostage. And so I tried to commit suicide.”
Neil continues, “After three days in the ICU I was wheeled into the psych ward and that’s kind of when reality really set in… I really had a problem.”

A week later, Neil was released from the psych ward and started going to AA meetings. He stopped drinking and, at the suggestion of his sponsor, began listening to sermons on Christian radio.

Neil remembers, “The roadblock I had with God was Father. And to me the word 'father' just didn’t sit well with me. It was a negative word in my life. I just believed, if God really was real, then why would He allow things to happen that happened? Especially to kids, why would that happen?”

Neil had been 9 months sober when he relapsed one night. While drunk, he told his wife something she needed to know – he had been cheating on her. She started hitting him until finally he hit her back.

Neil recalls, “That was really when I felt, not only had I become my dad, I had exceeded the level of low that my dad –I never saw my dad hit a woman. And so that was an all-time low for me.”

That night would mark the end of their marriage. The next morning, Neil knew what he had to do.

Neil recounts, “That’s when I realized that I needed to put down my guard… I got on the phone and I called that radio station and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

Neil started going to church to grow in his faith and never touched alcohol or drugs again. He also went to a rehab program called Celebrate Recovery, which helped him overcome his deep feelings of shame.

Neil says, “My heavenly Father has forgiven me of some of the horrible, rotten things that I have done to people. My stepsons, my nephew, they have forgiven me. And how could I not forgive my father? My earthly father.”

Today, Neil has been sober for over 6 years and helps run Celebrate Recovery at his church. He also takes care of his daughter Lindsey and is getting ready to marry his fiancé Maria.

Neil says, “I really looked at God as a Father, as Jesus said, I mean, cried out to Him, Abba Father, Daddy. You know, that was the one thing that I felt that I never had in life that I have today. Is I have –I have a Dad.”

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