Paul and Charmaine’s Story

We were married in 2010 with huge hopes and dreams of a future together, but we both had a history of substance abuse. Shortly after getting married, my wife gave birth to a healthy, bubbly little girl. Soon after she was born, I was given an opportunity to be transferred to Johannesburg by my employer. I took the opportunity, but it was the beginning of a very slippery slope.

Charmaine started running a daycare operation from home and I worked in sales. I soon fell back into my past behaviour. I slowly started drinking, then I started attending local parties. In the meantime, I was oblivious to the fact that I was affecting Charmaine. Within weeks we had driven one another into a deep hole and we were both once again abusing crack cocaine and heroin.

Needless to say, I lost my job. Charmaine could not continue working with children. We were addicted, hopeless and self-destructive. We sought help from family, ‘rehabs’ and other institutions, to no avail. After losing almost everything, we decided moving back to Durban might be best.

After attending a halfway house for addicts, we were introduced back into the working world. We got another place of our own and started over again. Once again it did not last. The destructive behaviour did not stay in Johannesburg, it followed us to KZN! After we had successfully hurt every family member and exhausted every option available, Charmaine felt the best would be for us to separate.

She packed herself and our daughter up and left back to Johannesburg. It took two months for reality to sink in and for me to realize I needed help. By this time, Charmaine was convinced that the best way forward was a divorce. However, knowing that she was also part of the problem, this did not happen. During the months we were apart, Charmaine continued using drugs even though the problem, me, was no longer around!

I started on a journey to reach my family in Johannesburg. On the way I never had a place to stay and was in and out of prison several times. I eventually made it to Johannesburg, by which time Charmaine’s family had had enough of her. Now we were both on the streets and our children had to live with their grandmother. Then began a time of “hell” on earth.

We came back to Durban and began simply surviving. Drug use at this stage was a necessity much like eating. In fact it replaced eating. Sleeping at night with one eye open, always paranoid, permanently thinking of how to get the next fix.

I was a thief and a con, while Charmaine at this point had even had thoughts of selling herself. I again found myself in jail and court, threatened with further prison time. While on the street, a group of three men we knew suddenly disappeared.

Then one day, while Charmaine was having a birthday visit to the hairdresser, I was pacing up and down the main road with tears in my eyes. I was asking God to please step in and help, I could not continue. Being an atheist at heart and generally loathing Christians, this was a rather new and peculiar situation.

Charmaine was now unable to inject herself as her veins were so damaged. So I used to do it for her. In my mind, the next step was to give us both an overdose and call it quits.

A couple of weeks later, the guys who had vanished a few weeks previously appeared again on the street. We were curious where they had been, so we asked them.

One of them told us that they had been to CYPSA. I immediately remembered the day I had asked God to help us a few weeks back. Charmaine was not interested though. Weeks went by and we still went about our “daily routine.” I was determined to leave and go to this CYPSA place, after convincing myself that if God was in it, He would convince Charmaine.

Then one night Charmaine had a dream, that if we didn’t go to the place that we had been told about, we were going to die in the “gutter.” She woke with a fright and realized instantly that we had to go.

Shortly after that night we found ourselves at CYPSA, attending the meetings and speaking with the counsellors. I must emphasize that it was quite a step for Charmaine to walk through the gates due to her involvement in Spiritism. Taking full opportunity of the counseling, we began to make our lives right and the Lord started working.

Since that time, our daughter who is now 7 has come to live with us and is attending school. We have had another little girl who is 3 years old and is attending crèche.

Charmaine’s works at a school and is also currently studying which has been a dream of hers since she finished school. I work as a technician at a factory. Our relationships with family members have been restored and we often visit the family in Johannesburg.

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