It was 7:30 AM. Jeff had just left for work and my 3-year-old baby girl was still asleep. I made it through another night. I really thought I was going to die last night. My blood pressure was so high and my anxiety level was through the roof all night. “Please God,” I had prayed. “Just help me through this night and I won’t drink again.”
But as usual, when faced with the decision to honor my words, I would convince myself that God never heard my prayer anyway and luck would just have it that I would live through the night.
I stood up and the room spun a little. My heartbeat was in my ears and I felt a little nauseous. My vision was hazy. There is only one thing that will make this go away.
I will just do one shot this morning and it will help me get some things done. And it’s true. I would get things done. I would clean the house, do the laundry, take care of my toddler and try to get my line count in for my medical transcriptionist job. Just one shot and I can start my day.
I walked into the bathroom and felt under the sink behind the towels and washcloths and found my shot glass and the pint of Evan Williams. Relief is on the way I thought to myself, while at the same time, I hated myself.
I filled the shot glass and threw it down my throat…but this time…something went wrong. My body started violently reacting to this shot and I almost immediately threw it back up. I tried hard to keep it down and it instead came out of my nose and my eyes. It burned so bad. I was crying.
I looked at myself in the mirror. There I was holding a shot glass in one hand and a pint in the other. My face was so red and puffy and I had tears and alcohol running down my face.
My vision went from hazy to crystal clear…It was like for the first time I realized…I have a real problem here.
I ran to the phone and called Jeff and said “please come home, I’m in trouble. I have a problem.” It is interesting to me, even to this day, that he never questioned me. He just said okay and came directly back home.
When he got there, I was sobbing and I took him all over the house to uncover and expose all the places I had been hiding my bottles of liquor. I didn’t want this life anymore. I saw the madness so clearly and I wanted out. With each exposure, I felt more and more relief. But how?
I wish I could say that was the last time I took a drink. But it wasn’t. My sobriety started about a month after that day. I relapsed four times during that month. I would go a couple of days sober and be all proud of myself and then think I could just drink on Friday night or something. I would drink the whole weekend and start sobriety again on Monday morning. The guilt and shame I felt each time I relapsed was crushing.
On the fourth time, I went to the liquor store and bought a fifth of Evan Williams. I came home and poured a shot and then I paced around the room weighing the pros and cons of taking the drink….FOR TWO STINKIN’ HOURS. And finally…I gave in to it and drank the whole weekend again. But that time was different for me.
Looking back and knowing that I paced around a room pondering a shot of alcohol for two hours gave me a vivid picture of how deep the hook of alcohol was in me. It was my god. And it would be the death of me.
I got pregnant with my second baby girl just a few months after my last drink. I started going to church. And we started building a house. When I was about six months pregnant, a precious woman named Donna, spent time with me on the phone and told me about the love of God. Though I was going to church every Sunday, I felt so much shame over my drinking and all the awful things I did while drinking for so many years. I believed I was too bad for God to possibly love me. In my mind, I was trash…spoiled goods.
I was raised to be terrified of God and He was just up in heaven looking for a reason to strike me dead. I could never figure out why He hadn’t already done it…so I figured He simply just couldn’t even look at me…not even enough to strike me dead.
But I was wrong about Him…so very wrong. I believe He was the one who got my attention on that morning in front of the bathroom mirror. I believe He was the one who was hotly pursuing me the day I paced for two hours around that shot weighing the pros and cons of taking that drink.
He won’t force Himself on you. He wants us to choose Him. But I didn’t that night. And He let me go ahead and have my way. That thought should scare us to death!
After we moved into our new home and had our second baby. All the garbage of shame and guilt was swirling around in me. I was uncomfortable every where…especially in church. So the desire to drink again came on strong. And I toyed with that thought in my brain until it got bigger and bigger and the decision to say yes was closer and closer.
I was driving…I don’t remember where I was or where I was going…but I distinctly remember conviction falling on me so deep and hard…I heard a voice so loud in my spirit…I can still hear it in my mind…
“If you drink again, you will lose everything, including your children.”
It shook me. It was as if God said “I’m done playing around. Stop this nonsense.”
I never drank again…Today makes 15 years since my last drink. God rescued me.
A LOT has happened in the last 15 years. I will forever be grateful that when I said yes to God…He actually heard me…cause He loves me. I’m convinced of it.
And I’m convinced that He loves you too…have you said yes to God? I believe if He can change me, He can change anyone! Please don’t ever think it’s too late!
Today is our 15 year sobriety anniversary. I have mixed emotions when I think of this. On one hand I am so thankful that God delivered us from that lifestyle but I also have huge regrets that I wasted so much of my life. I wish I could say I was one the few that quit drinking because they just didn’t see the point. Truth is, I drank the majority of my teenage and adult years. I started partying very young. One of my earliest memories of that lifestyle was of me sitting in the hallway of the high school during a Saturday night dance and hoping the vice principal wouldn’t notice how tore up I was. I am sure I am not the only one to attend a dance intoxicated but I was only in the eighth grade. My youngest daughter is about to enter the ninth grade and the thought of her attending any school function last year in the condition I was in at that point of my life doesn’t even seem possible.
This is something I try to teach my children often. Sin comes with consequences. I am actually very blessed that my lifestyle only had the consequences it did. I have a past that could have easily lead to no drivers license-(hence no career as a road salesman), felony record, or even death, many of my friends from that lifestyle are no longer with us. So when I think about all that could have happened, I need to thank God every day for His mercy and grace.
I still remember the changing point in my life. I had known for years that something had to give. Our marriage was rocky at best, the partying just wasn’t fun anymore, and I knew there had to be more to life than coming home from a long day at work just to start drinking almost immediately. It wasn’t until we had our first child that the decisions I was making started to get to me in that for the first time in my life I was responsible for more that just me.
One night after a typical evening, I stood in Taylor’s doorway watching her sleep. The guilt of the lifestyle we were living was overwhelming. We weren’t terrible parents when she was awake. She was always taken care of and had everything a child would want or need. The problem began once we put her to bed, that was when her mom and I could go back to the partying we had grown so accustomed to. That night was different. I stood in her doorway and remember the million-dollar question that I believe God posed. He asked me, “so what’s its going to be? You can either be a good drunk or a good dad but you can’t be both.” It had never been put to me quite like that. I knew it was so true and I needed to make a decision. It was probably one of the easiest decisions I ever made. The decision was easy but the process of leaving that life behind was one of the hardest things I ever did and I honestly don’t know if I could have done it without the motivation of a beautiful child that needed me.
I have never regretted that change in my life. The old way had gotten ugly and full of regrets and the new life promised a lifestyle that would allow me to look in a mirror and not be repulsed. I believe with all my heart that God never wanted me to feel that pain of that former lifestyle. I try to teach my children that His Word is not a bunch of dos and don’ts but helpful instructions to keep us from the pain and hurt that Satan wants us to feel. My life is an open book. I keep no secrets for the first time in my life and that comes with a freedom that is only known when God leads you. I am experiencing His promises everyday. I don’t mean that I have no problems but I don’t feel that oppression that comes when we run from Him. I LOVE my wife and children and cherish everyday I have with them. The thoughts of Taylor going off to college make me sad but I know that she has a foundation that will keep her close to our Lord. Rachel is a breath of fresh air, and I will cherish everyday she is here until that next chapter in her life.
Yes, I have regrets, but I got to experience the redeeming love that only comes from our Lord and Savior. If you are tired of running, please consider His open arms. I can’t promise puffy clouds and unicorns, but I know He is the only way to an abundant life.