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by Mike Clark (Ghostwritten by Dave Franco)

I WAS IN A FRIEND’S HOME, ONE DAY WHEN I CAUGHT THE SIGHT OF a pill bottle out of the corner of my eye. A sharp feeling fired through my body. I walked away wondering what had just happened. Suddenly I noticed a faint but steady knocking. What is that? I thought.

My addiction was calling.

It started small and insignificant; just thoughts that I could shoo away. Then it graduated to something that resembled a hunger pang, and then, an interest. And then, before I knew it, it was a strange, guilt-ridden consideration of actually reaching for something to take my pain away. And all of a sudden, I was emotionally postured like a kid in a candy store, looking around to see if the manager has noticed that I was about to grab and go. It would be so easy, I would think to myself. Who would ever know?

And then, I did it. I got a prescription for Xanax—a dirty drug straight from the pit of hell—and without much fanfare, I took them. My eyelids pitifully fluttered once again.

It was the worst kind of high; a bitter cocktail of euphoria from the drug and the cold slap of shame for letting everybody down—myself, my wife, my little girls and my God. Worst of all was the chaser: I knew I was going to do it again.

The cycle is this: self-condemnation. Guilt. Confession. Begging for forgiveness. Resolve to never do it again. Initial success in your goal. Then, weakness in your resolve. Failure. And tears. Lastly, the faint knocking is heard again, only, this time, it is louder, telling you it was always there and never going away. And there isn’t a doggone thing you can do about it.

You call yourself things like fraud, phony, liar, hypocrite. You condemn yourself with How could you? After all God did to bring you out of it. What is wrong with you?

There I was, a leader in a church and performing around San Diego with my band, selling CDs and carrying on like a changed man. Yet, all the while I was caught in an endless downward spiral and dying a little more each day under the weight of having let God down. It was awful.