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Phillip C’s Journey from Addiction, Immorality, and debt to a New Life and Purpose

Phillip C, of the northern Palm Beaches, was raised in a Christian home, in a privileged environment. He had a loving mother and a father who provided well for the family. 

He became a champion tennis player and played at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His father never saw him play. “I didn’t think about it at the time,” Phillip said, “but as I got a little older I did.” 

“There was no physical, verbal, or sexual abuse. He was just never there.”

Pain would teach me a lesson that pride would not let me learn.

As a binge drinker, his father would leave town for weeks at a time.

Eventually his mother had enough. With one son, Charles, in prep school, she packed up young Phillip and headed for New York City. 

Feeling very displaced from his hometown of Greensboro, NC, Phillip pointed out, in his southern drawl, “It was cold. And the people talked funny.” He felt very alone and abandoned. Four years later, he moved back to NC.

Phillip married while attending college and they had two daughters together.

But it was not a fairytale ending for any of them. Phillip was heavily involved in what he calls a trifecta: alcohol, powder and women. and disappearing without explanation was normal for him.

He had a friend whose motto was “have a drink and pick a country.” When he was 25 years old, he inherited $25M. “Clay and I were childhood friends. Fourth grade band. One night in February, I dropped the kids off at the babysitter’s and stopped by to see Clay. Remarking on the cold February air, Clay suggested that we needed to get warm.”

Clay was good friends with Bill Lear (Learjet). He called Bill and few hours later, they were were careening down the runway into Palm Beach with nothing but the winter clothes they had boarded in. They pulled up to Stinchfield’s, Worth Avenue, and traded out their winter clothes for tropical attire. No time for particulars like hems and fitting. Everything was scotch taped. Purple pants, bright yellow shirts and red sleeved jackets. They climbed back into their waiting limo and headed for the Bahamas.

Two days of revelry turned into a week, until Phillip finally decided it was time to go home. Clay said, “No. We’re going to Las Vegas.” But Phillip insisted on being dropped off in Greensboro, where he deplaned with a deep tan covering one half of his face and the other half white as snow, from passing out in the sun.

Dreaming of getting home and sleeping for at least two or three days, Phillip got off the plane in Greensboro, NC, and walked directly into all of his mother’s friends from the Garden Club. Phillip said, “And I didn’t have a great reputation with them anyway. I’ll never forget the look that only the president of the Junior League can give you as I stood there looking like a disheveled popsicle salesman.”

Phillip’s adventures were far from the respectable standards his mother raised him to live by. His older brother, Charles, expressed his displeasure at his behavior on more than one occasion.

Nonetheless, the insanity in Phillip’s life continued, such as the party at Clay’s Litchfield plantation. He and a houseful of guests in various stages of undress were found scrambling to escape the convoy of cars from the Garden Club Tour of Charlston, SC. Now in his 30’s, Phillip and his friends were found “diving into bushes to escape the little old ladies in blue straw hats strolling in to see the plantation.”

Rock bottom became the bedrock upon which Phillip would begin rebuilding his life.

Phillip made a decision to stop traveling. In his arrogance and pride he thought he could make the same income in Atlanta, and still maintain his lavish lifestyle.

Unable to support that lifestyle, he failed to ask friends for advice. If he had asked his friends, they would have said, “Downsize. Have a nice day,” and hung up the phone.

“Leave the neighborhood? My indoor basketball court that the boys depended on, along with the kegs of beer? No way. So I went down with it. I borrowed money from friends to support my lifestyle.”

“While I was on top of my game financially, inside I was a broken soul. The beauty of the lesson was that God wasn’t through with me.”

He and his wife divorced.

Phillip moved to Atlanta from Memphis after his divorce. Deciding he needed a bank account, he begrudgingly left the pool one sunny afternoon to go to the bank.

Phillip;s sons, Phillip (left) and Wesley (right)

Upon arriving, he saw, sitting at her desk, the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. He said, “I thought, why not? As I entered the bank she had gotten up from her desk and was headed my way. Now we’re talking! I was grinning, but she was not when she looked at me and said, ‘You can’t drink that beer in here, and where are your shoes?’ We were married the following year.”

They had two sons together. Again, no fairytale. Phillip was still heavily engaged in his Trifecta.

He and his second wife divorced.

He left North Carolina for South Florida at age 65 with no money, no job, and a debt of $250,000 owed to his friends. “This is not American Express. I had to pay them back. Some of them said, ‘Look, no. I gave you the money.’”

Rock bottom became the bedrock upon which Phillip would begin rebuilding his life.

Phillip C

He dragged himself to a twelve step recovery program and got clean and sober. He turned back to the faith he had grown up with, began living a life dedicated to One greater than himself, and embarked on a journey of integrity, honor, and respectability. 

Although he was raised in a Christian home, he made a fresh start on October 18, 1985, dedicating his life to the Lord. And his faith has continued to grow. Phillip said, “I made a commitment, but that commitment then, and my commitment today are two entirely different things.”

He paid back the money he borrowed from his friends. “It took sixteen years, but I paid them back. Every penny.”

Today Phillip dedicates his days to helping others. “I feel like I’m on a mission…God’s kept me around for a long time, and I think I’m reaching some people. I don’t make it about me. I make it about being a chosen messenger, like a lot of other people…we’re all messengers…”

Phillip’s approach to sharing his faith is attraction. “This whole spiritual journey is like fly fishing. Fly fishing is all about presentation or attraction. Telling people ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that,’ that’s going to run them off. Lay that fly out like it looks like it came out off a tree or floating down from the river. That’s attraction. I think sometimes the biggest deterrent to the whole Christian movement is other Christians.”

His method is relational. He believes that the greatest expression of love is giving your time and attention to another human being. “I’m beginning to understand what friendship and fellowship is all about. And it doesn’t come in the mail.”

A life with God does not come with promises of a trouble-free life.

Of all of the tragedies in Phillip’s life, the worst was yet to come. 

On the morning of January 14th, 2020, Phillip woke up to a message on his phone from the Los Angeles Narcotics department, asking Phillip to call them back as soon as possible. He knew it was about his 38 year old son, Phillip.

“I knew he was dead.”

Now Phillip helps the families and individuals of the ones who love the addict.

With 33 years of sobriety, he is very active in helping others in recovery. “I may have too many Sponsee’s, but I’ll always be available if my heart’s in the right place.”

In addition to his involvement in AA, Phillip is a certified addictions counselor in the State of Florida and the Founder of Family Recovery Solutions of Florida. His practice specializes in helping the families and the individuals who are “seeking relief from the surrounding chaos inflicted on them by a loved one in active addiction. This is not about the alcoholic or addict; this is all about healing for the family.”

If you have a loved one in your life who suffers from addiction and would like support, you can call Family Recovery Solutions at (561) 662-1605 or visit them online at https://familyhealingsolutions.com.

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