Many of you know Mommaof3 from Em's blog...she is getting ready to share her story with her Celebrate Recovery group this Thursday night and she shared it with me today. It was such an inspirational story of recovery and faith that I asked her if she would mind sharing it with you all and she said "definitely!".....so here it is:
My name is Jamee and I am an alcoholic. I believe in Jesus Christ and He has been my Savior since 1991. I have been sober since December16, 2008 and Celebrate Recovery is and has been a life changing ministry for me.
Some of the back story: I grew up in a home of drinkers. Looking back it is easy for me to see that there was never a time when drinking wasn’t acceptable. Beer while working in the garage, wine with dinner, kahula in the coffee. My parents drank every day. My father doesn’t get mean when he drinks, he gets pretty silly. I have memories of him always laughing. I can only really remember my mom seeming drunk 2 or 3 times, but those are from the last several years so maybe I just don’t remember instances from my childhood involving her drinking.
All during my growing up years I was active in church. My parents went through phases, but made sure my sister and I were there every time the doors were opened. It was at FCA Camp in Estes Park in 1991 I accepted the Lord as my personal savior. I thought I was rededicating my life at the time, but know this is where I truly came to know the Lord in a personal and profound way. I came back from camp with a typical high and journaled daily for some time. Then life kept on and I was not held accountable, nor discipled by anyone to learn how to live an active Christian life.
I got drunk for the first time when I was 16. My uncle gave me the tequila bottle and encouraged me to drink straight from it. That was quite an experience but my sickness did not stop me from sharing my drinking story with pride the next day with my college aged co workers. That night was the first of many, continuing on for 14 years. Quite possibly my drinking stories of my college years and early twenties wouldn’t cause anyone much concern. Many young people drink to excess quite regularly. At least that was what I thought. It was not unusual for me to have no memory of how nights ended, how I got home, how I got undressed, or didn’t, or what I had said or done. I understand those to be black outs now but at the time I simply thought “Oh, I just don’t remember when I drink” I wonder now why that didn’t cause me more concern or why my boyfriend put up with it night after night.
I never thought that I was drinking too much or that I could make different decisions to alter the path my life was on. I was not active in church during my first two years of college. I may have gone when I came home for the weekend, but I had no sort of commitment.
I joined a sorority in the spring of my freshman year and that meant parties and more drinking. Sometimes I’d be a sad drunk, crying, creating drama between me and my boyfriend. Sometimes I was feisty, using cuss words and acting scrappy. The spring of my sophomore year I was invited to join an exclusive club whose whole focus was on drinking. The hazing was horrible, but I was so proud to have been asked to be a part of what I thought was important.
I went on a retreat at the end of my sophomore year and had a moment of clarity, a vision of how far from living a life for God I had come. That church camp high lasted for about 8 months. Soon I was drinking again, once getting thrown out of a bar for throwing up directly on the floor.
Things went along like this for years. I’d have a bad night, throw up, and have a hang over, decide I needed to cut back some, drink again the next time. My first job was teaching for a church preschool and we went to happy hour so often the bartenders knew us. That work environment quickly turned toxic and I quit after two years. I still never thought I had a true drinking problem. In fact, I think I liked my reputation as a party girl and the drinking stories I could tell.
I married my high school sweet heart and going out was normal for us. His parents drank wine with dinner, margaritas on occasion, though they have very sensible drinking habits. He continued to take care of me when I overindulged, never concerned with the regularity of these incidents. About 3 months after the birth of my first child we went to a wedding of a child hood friend of my husband’s. It was an Indian wedding, and I had unfamiliar foods and lots and lots of wine. In the middle of the night I somehow made it down the stairs holding my newborn and covered in vomit. My mother in law helped me this time, because my husband was out at the after party. I could have really hurt my daughter. I was not in control of my actions.
When my daughter was 4 she and I went to have dinner with some old friends. The adults drank wine and had a fabulous time. I don’t remember how the evening ended. I don’t remember how I drove home, a route I was unfamiliar with and in a vehicle that I was not comfortable in. Yes, I drove drunk with my 4 yr old in the car. That is one evening that can bring me the most sadness and shame if I allow the devil a foothold in my mind. And again my husband was not mad at me. He said I was hard enough on myself, but I now know that some of his actions were that of an enabler.
All my drinking didn’t take place on big party nights. There was daily drinking going on. The last several months included sangria in mason jars. Those big, huge jugs of sangria, mixed with a little sprite, the ratio of sprite to sangria getting smaller and smaller as the evening wore on. I drank before I took my kids to the dentist. I drank before I went to night church once. I drank before a Tuesday morning Bible study social.
Any time I felt a bit anxious going into a situation I drank first. I can remember a time I was with my kids and mother in law and couldn’t have a drink and how trapped I felt, how tight and uncomfortable. I could tell you story after story of how my drinking almost got me into trouble. How I was nearly raped. How I should have lost my job. How I wrecked my car but injured no one. One thing that is clear in all these stories is that the Lord’s hand of protection is very evident. And I know that because of His protection I’ve work yet to do on this earth. And I believe that part of that work is sharing my story of addiction, redemption and growth.
The last night I got drunk was December 14, 2008. My husband and I were at a co worker’s house for a game night. I had been drinking at my in law’s most of the afternoon and was already drunk when I got to the house. I remember taking a tour of the home, sitting down on the floor around the coffee table to play a game and then deciding I needed to lie down. I had been at the house for maybe 15 mins. I woke up hours later, all alone in the living room. I was disgusted with myself. I lay awake that night, repeating a cycle that had become so familiar to me. Drink too much, pass out, wake up in the night, hate myself, beg God for forgiveness. Repeat.
I knew I needed help. I realized I had quit several times before and had been unsuccessful each time. The next morning I told my husband I needed help, real help, in order to quit drinking. That I thought I was an alcoholic. He disagreed, trying to justify my actions, sincerely wanting me to not be upset with myself. But I had had enough. I was living a double life, portraying myself one way at the church where I worked each day and very nearly drinking each day as well. I was creating a home life for my children that I knew from my growing up years but that I desperately DID NOT want for my own babes.
Monday I got the email address of a woman at my church known for her recovery efforts. I emailed her, completely in despair. She wrote back, promising to call me that evening. I left the house after my babes were down and drove to Wal Mart. Part of me wanted her to call. Most of me hoped she didn't. The Lord knew just what I needed. She called and I haven't been the same since.
The first two years were not easy. Perhaps the hardest part was figuring out with my husband how my sobriety looks in our marriage. We had to look at our entire relationship and talk about how we felt and what we wanted. Communication is not our strong point and it was really hard. But because of the big challenge of dealing with my sobriety we are closer and I sincerely believe I trust him more than ever before. I trust that when the going gets tough, we are going to persevere.
I had a slip up in December of 2010. I took an anxiety pill before I went to a Christmas party. I knew the party might have some ‘triggers’ for me so I just wanted to be safe. The pills were prescribed to me by my doctor, actually during the time of my Granny’s death and funeral. And not only did I take a pill, I put an extra one in my pocket, just in case. At the party I was feeling fine. Good in fact. So good, that I took the other pill. I wish I had seen a neon sign that read: “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
That evening was proof that I am still an addict. I woke up with a hangover. But this time I did not wallow in my shame. I talked to my sponsor the very same night I took the pills and I flushed the rest down the toilet. I wrote in my journal and I asked for forgiveness. I thanked the Lord for the glimpse of how my life would still be if I was drinking, realizing that I cannot handle those feelings of ‘escape’. That I don’t NEED those feelings of escape. Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” Those are the words I need to fill my brain and soul with. And I continue to face the feelings I want to escape. Its called life. I have to choose to fill my mind with truth and it isn’t always easy. I think I had hoped by this point I wouldn’t ever struggle and I know how false that is. I know that the devil would love for me to think that I am ‘healed’ and don’t need help anymore. That I don’t need a support system, or texts from friends or an escape plan from time to time. Because then I wouldn’t need God.
Many days I don’t think about alcohol or my recovery at all. Other days I am reminded of how far I have come. And then there are days that I realize I could be back there in a flash. Yet now I am free of shame and I am forgiven. The Lord has used my years of drinking for good just as Paul says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 2011 was a banner year. I won a spot on a half marathon team by writing about how I replaced drinking with running. I helped lead a step study and I began a second step study. Again I share with you how incredible it feels to be free of shame from my past. I cannot lie and say there aren’t moments I flirt with wallowing, but I am quick to reach for help.....often with a text. I have heard now at least three times of folks upping their texting plan once I started texting them, ha!
I will openly share my story when it is meaningful to do so. I feel like the Lord is calling me to be transparent, to break down walls and to let others have the freedom to share in return. I have so much more empathy with all whom I encounter. We are all hurting, all in need of a Savior to remove our sins and wash us clean. Perhaps my favorite verse of all the CR verses is 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I am a living example of the power of Celebrate Recovery. I have over three years of sobriety and plan on many many more. Things are so sweet between my husband and me. I don’t think I realized how far reaching the effects of my drinking were, but as layers continue to peel back, even now, I am reminded of how toxic alcohol was to me. I talked with my sister a few weeks ago and we had a really honest discussion about our hopes for our young families, our sadnesses over things we wished were different and how grateful we both were for the Lord in our lives. I am here to say that that is a conversation I could not have ever imagined having 3 years ago.
I am indeed a changed person. Yes, I’ve lots of changing yet to do, and as one of my favorite songs go, “You’re not finished with me yet.” But, man, He has done so much! And it is because I made the choice to ask for help and come to Celebrate Recovery. To work the 12 steps. Even when it was hard and I wanted to just quit. I want to encourage you, no matter where you are on your journey to keep moving forward. Keep searching, stretching to know the Lord in a deeper way. Because He’s not finished with you yet!
Thank you for letting me share my story.
Posted by Annette