Clara T., CIR Advisory Council Member

My name is Clara and I am an alcoholic.  I grew up a “protected southern girl”.   But with a difference.  Just as the country songs says,”I was putting peanuts in my Coke before it was cool”, I was a nerd before it was politically correct to be so.  Like many of us say though, even as a child I felt like that 99 sided peg trying to fit in a 100 sided hole.  I began drinking late in college, and using drugs several years later.  My drunkalog is a simple one.  I didn’t drink much.  I used drugs even less. But nough.  From 1978, just 5 years or so after my first drink, until 1990 I was hospitalized at last count 27 times.  I exhibited a full range of psychiatric symptoms from apparent psychosis, to delusions to suicidal depression from the age of 28 to 40.   The last suicide attempt I made was my 5th and that happened 3 months before I became a recovering alcoholic/addict.  You might think then that “she’s not really a real alcoholic or addict, she’s just crazy.  Well I guess I’m a poster child for “It’s not how much you drink but what it does to you”.  Since 5 months after stopping drinking and using in 1990, I haven’t been hospitalized, even once.  The simplicity of the second step for me is “When I drink I get hospitalized, when I don’t I on’t.”  The family and career I destroyed and the life I attempted to, have been, by the Grace of God, returned to me.  What is my life today?  You will see a lot of it on this page, but I know that I would not be here to share this with you were it not that a loving psychiatrist cared to challenge my denial, and that people were “in the rooms” when I needed recovery. Probably most important was that the God of my understanding loved me enough to tell me the truth when I prayed to him, “I’m worthless”.  Those were the words that triggered my “bottom” and my beginning on the journey out of alcoholism and addiction. It is by His love and His grace that I no longer have to be that way.

I was saved when I was thirteen years old in my childhood church – a little white country church in Mississippi.  But like many, I stopped going to church much during college and my young adulthood.  I experimented with different faiths and religions.  When I was 28, however, I returned to my first love, Jesus Christ.  I was filled with the Spirit and my life was never the same.  Today recovery has enabled me to be a servant.  I am able to give.  I am active in Green Street United Methodist Church as the Communications Chairperson and webservant of their website.  I also teach Disciple Bible Study and sing in the choir.  My church family today is as important to me as my recovery family.   I couldn’t give up either one for the other and wouldn’t want to.

Christians-in-Recovery Member

I have been an active member of CIR from it’s earliest beginnings as an email support group.  Over the last several years, CIR has grown from a single moderated daily email group containing a maximum of 40 members to several  subgroups covering many aspects of recovery.  I rejoiced as I saw the expansion of The Christians-in-Recovery website from a simple page with links to the steps and other recovery materials to it’s present multidimensionality with  Recovery software, art/music/recovery story sections, contacts, books, and support structure.  I assisted Obie by proofing and editing text in several recent recovery software programs , including the CIR Workbook & Guide, 12 Step Bible Studies, Recovery Companion and BibleAid series and in the publication of pamphlets and other outreach materials.

CIR is growing in it’s outreach and in it’s maturity.  Most recently, it has undergone the legal processes to become an official, nonprofit organization and ministry.  I agreed to serve as a voting member on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery and was elected as Vice-President in its initial organizational meeting online in late 1998.  As a longtime member, I understand the needs of a recovering person in bridging life both as an active Christian and a member of the recovery community.  No more, no less qualified than any other member of CIR’s family of members, I pray constantly that the will of the Lord would be done in the ministry of Christians in Recovery and that whatever needs there are can be met in the same spirit of generosity with which I was granted a new life in recovery. CIR has given me also a “new task” to learn. As editor of The Gabriel , CIR’s online magazine, I’ve learned two important lessons: 1) You can NEVER do it by yourself and 2) there is always more to learn. If you haven’t seen a copy, I would encourage you to go to The Gabriel’s Homepage and download a pdf copy. We try hard to keep it under 1.4 MB so that it can be either printed out or saved on floppy disk and given to people as a recovery ministry tool. For indeed we are all minister’s of God in this endeavor.

One area of concern to the entire board, is that CIR not become nonexistent because of lack of funding.  In the past, Obie has carried almost the complete burden of the creation, support, maintenance and funding of this ministry. It is time that the members of CIR begin to “toddle and eat solid food” and become “self supporting”.  The designation of CIR as a legally approved nonprofit organization will help in this, but we all need to remember to support CIR with our donations

What I have been able to contribute both in terms of time and financial support has been small in contrast to the tremendous growth of it’s ministry.  Only recently did I realize what CIR’s daily small steps in the power of the Lord could do.  For the precious reason of protecting our anonymity, only Obie knows who the members are and how they can be contacted.  But in a recent board meeting we were discussing the size of the total membership.  None of us knew exactly because it is an anonymous membership.  I was awed when Obie told us there were
400 people on the membership rolls.  And from a beginning of only 40 people!

It is with the highest joy that I extend my services to the Christian Recovery community is this position.  It is the least I can do in exchange for the life I was given.

Professional Activities  

I am a Staff Member & Neuroscientist in a major Teaching Hospital and Medical Center.  My Ph.D. was awarded in 1984 in Anatomy, and Neuroscience is my research speciality.  After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Neuroendocrinology, I left science and worked for several years in a local nursing home as an Activities Director.  But even my love for the elderly couldn’t overcome my love for science and medical research.  In 1990, I returned to the Medical Center as a research staff member investigating the effects of ethanol on hypothalamic-pituitary endocrine function.  Although not a faculty member during this time, I was asked to participate in a teaching lectureship between clincal  and research/basic science staff.  There we exchanged information in a seminar setting and were amazed to find that there is so much information that can and should be exchanged between the persons who see alcoholism and addiction in the clinics and recovery rooms and those who know the basic physiology and pharmacology of alcoholism and drug addiction.  Many times the relationship of these groups is comparable to that of the Christian and  Recovery Communities.  There is much that can be shared between them, but that sharing does not always happen.

From 1992, however, my major research interests have revolved around brain blood vessels and cerebral blood flow especially as related to ischemia and  stroke.  More recently, I have begun work in a new laboratory studying anatomical changes in the brain vasculature of the elderly as well as an exciting new project attempting to isolate the cause of intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns. While my vocation no longer deals with drug and alcohol addiction, my “calling” is certainly one of ministry to the recovery community– in my church, recovery meetings and through Christian’s In Recovery.

Internet  Experience

As many of you are, I was once also a “newbie” to the Internet.   It took at least a year after getting my first computer (some 10 years ago) to overcome my “block” and fear of the Internet.  The World Wide Web was just an interesting new idea among my friends.  But soon after logging on the first time, I was into it with both feet as they say.  Initially I participated in IRC recovery chat room discussions and that is actually where I came to know about CIR. Through a friend who was a member. She is no longer a member, but somehow I’ve stayed on through the years coming to know a LOT of people and hear a lot of different stories, but all with the same theme. As the song says, “People Need the Lord.”

Since then, I don’t chat as much as I did – life has just become too full.   I do co-chair the Tuesday Night General Recovery Meeting and can usually be found there. I still rely on email contacts such as CIR as a major backup to my recovery program and as a means of “getting to a meeting” when I can’t get to a meeting. 

Recently, I created the website for my home church, Green Street United Methodist Church and continue to maintain and update it weekly.  You are welcome to visit our site and do feel free to message me via the church’s website and/or email link.

Actually my computer/Internet experience and knowledge have turned out to be unexpected gifts of recovery.  Many people these days are getting new computers and logging online and need help in “getting started”.  I know that many computer nerds find this imposing, but for me to be able to help out when I can and to be understanding of their discomfort in learning
something new (sometimes at an age when they thought there was very little new to learn) is a way to minister and for that I am grateful.

Email & Snail Mail

Feel free to Email me.   or to write

Dr. Clara T.

I don’t promise to be able to answer all your questions, but as I tell students and colleagues, if I don’t know the answer we can find out together. To paraphrase the Big Book:

“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as we trudge the road to happy destiny May God bless you and keep you–until then”….
don’t forget to pray for Christians-in-Recovery. The fields are ripe for harvest.