“. . .but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us. . .”
2nd Corinthians 1:9-10
I have many war stories from my childhood, the streets of Philadelphia, from my military days, and my ten years in one of Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institutions and these realities helped to developed me. Yet I’m not writing this portion of my story to glorify those so-called negative experiences, but to give thanks to God for my personalized gift of recovery.
My name is Dr. Ferman Felder and I am a person in long time recovery; what that means to me — I have been free from drugs, alcohol and tobacco products for twenty-five years. However, I must state the fact that I did not gain this sustained and maintained sobriety on my own; I have had and still have a great support team network from my only child (Alyese E. Caldwell), serving in ministry, from the recovery community at large, fellow veterans, ex-cons, friends, associates, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, from Almighty God, but very little help from my biological family.
In all actuality, I grew up in a large family where drinking, lying, deceit and secrets were the norm. For at the age of fifty-seven, I ordered a copy of my birth certificate and received a long version for the first time and my biological father’s name was revealed. For all my life, my mother (“functional alcoholic”) would not tell me who my father was. Even at the age of twenty-one, I got down on my knees and begged her to tell me the answer. For whatever reason(s) even on her deathbed decades later, she still would not tell me the truth.
Just this year (at fifty-eight), I found out that my favorite male cousin was also my oldest brother (yes, you read it right). Now quickly flipping back when I was searching for the truth at the age of twenty-one, I also learned that my oldest niece is also my sister (yes, you read it right).Yes! Emphatically yes! Incest seemed to have had a major thread sown within the fabric of my family’s history. These kinds of situations had most of my family inundated with drugs and/or alcohol. The expression of true love simply was eradicated from my family. As I recall, I never had a hug from my mother, let alone, my dad. Although my parents are deceased, my recovery lives on.
“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad”
This life that I’m living inside of the realm of recovery has allowed me to understand and appreciate my many years of suffering, struggle and sacrifice. Recovery has provided me an understanding of who I use to be, and who I am today. Love my past, my present and establishing my future before I get there. Recovery has allowed me the opportunity to obtain my Doctorate’s degree in Theology (although my daughter paid my remaining balance).
Living within the realm of recovery keeps me focused on daily meditation and prayer. I’m physically healthy with a daily routine of exercise, and a wiser diet. This life of recovery has made me a real man; a father my daughter is proud of, and a great example of manhood for my two little grandsons (Logan & Elijah). I’ve learned how to be a good friend, good neighbor, and always servant-minded. While healing from my hurt within this realm of recovery, the Lord allowed me to create and develop two companies. Fresh Fruit Music Management & Consulting Group, LLC (for profit) and No Cross –No Crown Community Church “The Scattered Abroad Church” (non-profit 501c3), my daughter is “the boss”. Recovery has also permitted me to acquire some materialistic possessions which may be a minor thing to some people, but to me, these things are monumentally major, such as a brand new 2013 Hyundai Genesis (my first brand new automobile at fifty-eight years of age). I am also presently seeking to move into a brand new home in the quiet suburban area of Pottstown, PA with all brand new furniture, etc. Having studio recording equipment to express myself creatively is also a plus for me inside of this realm of recovery. And to be trusted with credit cards – WOW!
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”
Nevertheless, my war stories are basically the same as any other recovering person’s with the differentiation of specifies. For it was 50 years ago when my grandfather (who eventually became my superman) gave me my first beer for my eighth birthday (which was some strange family ritual for each child in the family turning eight years old) and that led to me to stealing or drinking out of the drunken adults’ cups at their drinking and gambling parties. As a child, I was very miserable and watching the adults having pseudo fun, drinking and dancing. They seemed to be happy and I wanted to be happy too. Therefore, I drank anything that had alcohol in it, looking for a happy place for twenty-five years. Of course I never found “rapturous joy” until building upon my recovery.
By the time I was a teenager, I was an alcohol drinking, drug abusing, marijuana and cigarette smoking fool. I was so ragged. I attempted to escape it all by enlisting in the United States Armed Forces. Yes, I ran away from all the negativity within the streets of Philadelphia, right into the midst of the negativity with substance abuser from various parts of the country.
I must share the fact that I’ve learned at Philadelphia Biblical University (Cairn University) that the brain is not fully developed until the age of twenty-six. And I entered the military at the age of seventeen and was unknowingly exposed to abuse from the “Stress Readiness Training” and various strategic brainwashing techniques that I now believe damaged my brain and my ability to function in society. For forty years, I suffered not knowing what happened to me or how my brain was damaged, and the military did not tell me. Yes, I have been diagnosed with mental illnesses, which inadvertently had me to self-medicate in order for me to pretend that I was “normal” (whatever that is).
In the process of time, I was supreme in my stupidity. Selling drugs as well as injecting heroin in my veins and smoking crack cocaine in conjunction with all the other self-abusing, self-prescribed medicines. Then I was fortunately introduced to a psychiatrist for the first time outside of the military, but this was after a week of heart-felt stress. Several tragedies happened with family members and friends within that stress-filled week, such as death, incarcerations, disappearances, termination of a life, overdoses and more, all from me selfishly selling drugs. The guilt and shame overwhelmed me to the point of full pledged insanity.
But then fortunately and unfortunately, I was sentenced to ten years in prison. Yes, my life was saved, as well as the lives of (unknown) others. I was a menace in society, but thought I was doing the right things in life. I even carried a Bible in my pocket every day. Although I was called crazy most of those forty years, crazy was almost like a middle name. Nevertheless, I could not see the ugliness of my damaged brain smartly creating chaos.
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word”.
It was the prison sentence that got me to realize that I had a collection of serious problems because I would not compromise what I believed with members of another religious organization, I had to be placed temporarily on death-row. The prison had to protect me from getting killed, but when I got somewhat adjusted to prison life, I remembered Malcolm X and did the best I could to take on his kind of thinking. My focus was to read (sometimes fifty to seventy-five chapters each day) and study the Holy Bible. I also focused on reading and studying as much self-help material as possible and the correctional institution supplied the therapy (I spent about eight years in therapeutic communities). I realized that although my brain was damaged from my childhood and the military days, I still forced my brain to operate at its best when it was operating at its best. I began to study and research, in order to become capable of teaching teachers, preaching to preachers, counseling counselors, ministering to the ministers, administer to the administrators and psycho-analyze the psycho-analyzers.
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”
1st John 3:16
Today, by the grace of God, I am servant-minded – yes, people take advantage of me (when I let them), some call themselves manipulating of me, but that’s okay too, because they don’t know that I use to teach about the power of manipulation (positive and negative). Their pain that they take out on me is my gain. It’s all up to me on how far I allow a person to use me. Just as long as I don’t allow them to hurt me too much, while they are using me. Yet, I allow them (unknown to them) to practice their tactics with their brains. I hurt so many people in my young ignorant days, now I serve in hopes to serve the people I hurt, their children, as well as their grandchildren and/or their great grandchildren.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”
Today, I wear many emotional, mental, spiritual as well as physical hats (multi-personality at its best) to serve whomsoever, and meet them where-so-ever on whatsoever level they may be on – just to serve them for their positive growth. When one of the professors at Villanova University heard my cry for me to help others, she suggested that I go to PRO-ACT and volunteer. Today, as a Professional Consultant and Business Development Specialist, I volunteer my services at PRO-ACT in Philadelphia, PA. I could never give back anything even close to being tantamount to what PRO-ACT has given to me. There are so many honest, talented, intelligent and beautiful people at PRO-ACT; looking for love and willing to share their love with others, and the Lord knows, I can use all the love I can get. There is certainly an atmosphere of family love there at PRO-ACT, and I am so proud, privileged, and thankful to be a family member at PRO-ACT and a member of the recovery family at large.
In closing, the Veterans Administration now serves me most appropriately these days, opposed to the racist realities that existed in the seventies among the Viet Nam War Veterans. My psychiatrist prescription for me is to refrain from using drugs and alcohol, take my medicine as suited for me, and keep going to PRO-ACT, because I am now learning how to interact socially with sobriety and fun.
Thank you Readers for listening with your reading skills, and please understand, because of recovery; because of you and because of God, I am. . .
“FREE INDEED” (WALKING IN MY INTEGRITY AND LOVING MY RECOVERY)
Dr. Ferman Felder, Th.D.