“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will makes your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Six years ago today, I was completely broken, hopeless, and chained to my addiction. I lived life in constant fear and anxiety from as early as I can remember. When I discovered alcohol at the age of twelve years old, it was like taking an exhale for the first time in my life. It felt as though all the cares in the world no longer mattered. This feeling was one that I pursued as often as possible from that moment on.
Alcohol was not a part of my daily home life growing up. There was drinking on weekends at family parties, weddings, and holidays though, which I was always attracted to because the adults were happy and having fun. I knew my grandpa died of alcoholism when I was young but I had no idea what that meant or that it was something that ran in the family. My relationship with alcohol began as a means for a solution to the chaos I had been enduring for the years leading up to that first drink. I am the youngest of three, my two older brothers being five and seven years older. All of us have struggled with alcoholism/addiction. My oldest brother’s drug addiction started in his high school years. During this season there were jail visits, yelling, fighting, holes in the walls, threats, silence, kicking him out, letting him back in, and ultimately broken relationships. Our family dynamic was falling apart. My mom was depressed, my dad was angry, and I was a lost, scared, and alone. We were all powerless to the destruction taking place in our family. The impact it was having on me emotionally was to escape. If I could be out of the way and stay under the radar it would prevent conflict. I would clean the house before my parents got home from work to try to take burdens off of them. I practically lived at my friends houses so I didn’t have to be home. I looked for validation from people and thought I found my worth in making everyone else happy but really I was angry on the inside. Suppressing the anger reared it's head in many self destructive ways. It started with escaping to alcohol then led to more self destructive behaviors like smoking cigarettes, marijuana and later looking for escape through relationships with men. Nothing filled the void. It only temporarily relieved me from the deep hurt that continued to grow and go unaddressed. As time went on, my life got more difficult to navigate. I started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks regularly at the age of seventeen. I was having flashbacks of early sexual experiences and was faced with not only years of suppressing my emotions, but memories of childhood rape and sexual abuse that had taken place. I started seeing a therapist while continuing to self medicate with alcohol. This not only prevented any real healing from taking place, but increased my emotional turmoil, and belief that I was worthless.
For years alcohol allowed me to temporarily feel comfortable in my skin and gave me a false sense of identity. When I drank I felt confident, spontaneous and fun. I believed I fit in and it became my next solution to self worth. Hitting rock bottom wasn't just a night of blacking out, waking up in my own vomit, and being hungover. That was a regular occurrence by the time I was in my early twenties! The rock bottom was feeling this emptiness inside of me, realizing that I didn’t have control over alcohol and that it was in control of me and dictating my thinking and behavior.
My last night of drinking at twenty six years old came after my boyfriend (now husband) was sick of hearing me say “just one more drink” at the bar. He left me to fend for myself for the first time. I remember the bartender walking me to my apartment while I was cursing at people and staggering down the street. He threatened to buzz every apartment in the building if I didn’t go in… because I still wanted more to drink. When I woke the first time, it was to my neighbors stepping over me in the stairway. The second time was on my bathroom floor hugging the toilet. When I finally came to, I stared in the mirror and hated the person I had become and even worse I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t want to live a life with alcohol anymore but I didn't know how to live without it. Getting on my knees and making this connection with a personal god for the first time was the beginning of my new life. I simply asked, “God do you exist” I heard Him say yes and responded with “Help me”. I meant it with every fiber of my being and gratefully have been sober ever since.
I am not cured of alcoholism. I have a daily reprieve from drinking that with repetitive actions have created daily habits that safeguard me from picking up that first drink. There is no cure for alcoholism but there is recovery and tools to build a life without on a new foundation. I don't think about or crave alcohol regularly anymore which is a miracle in itself. I have redirected all my mental energy from negativity to positivity, purpose, and passion. I always had a vision of who I wanted to be and finally have had the tools and direction to become ME. I am a mom, a business owner, empowerment coach and writer. With twelve step recovery, therapy, church and a community of inspiring women I have all the support systems in place to keep me moving forward. Even when life gets messy which it still is. I have faced many tragic and unexpected losses in these last few years and two of them have been due to this disease which is why I am so passionate about sharing a message of hope and being an example of recovery. I have been able to walk through anything life has thrown my direction in sobriety because of my relationship with God.
The first model I had of a sober woman came into my life as a client during my rock bottom season and because of that I discovered that there were young women who could live free of addiction. I want to be a stand for teens and young women to have healthy relationships with themselves and others. I have become someone who has confidence, freedom of self expression, and most importantly peace from anxiety! Most of the time that is. When I am walking in the love and light of the Lord and living the design He created for me, not the other way around. For years I have compromised my worth to fit in and bought the lies that told me I am not enough. Today I am conquering that shame and guilt by following Jesus and believing His truth. I am allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in hopes to share who I truly am and help others evolve their personal struggles into strengths too. The only way I know to do it is by allowing God to change my heart. I am not the model to follow, He is. He is the only one to have ever lived a sinless life and because I know that today I am able to forgive myself for past mistakes and forgive all those who have harmed me too. Freedom from anger, control, addiction, perfectionism, and every other idol that will inevitably rear it's ugly head throughout my life can be conquered through the one who has overcome the world.