I took my first drink at the age of 12, and smoked cigarettes at the time too. It was 7 years after I had been sexually molested, and I was dealing with the trauma in all the wrong ways. My father wasn’t around due to his own mental illness and substance use problems. My mother did the best she could and I owe that woman my life.
By the time I was 14, I moved onto marijuana. I managed to keep my purity until my senior year. I was struggling with depression and dealing the only way I knew how…with boys attention and booze. I would get black out drunk and let people take advantage of me, with no recollection of it in the morning.
I ended up pregnant my senior year of high school. I intended on keeping the baby so I transferred schools and did what needed to be done. Then I miscarried. A piece of me died that year that took me decades to get back. I received a prescription for Vicodin after the miscarriage. I was immediately hooked. My lowest point was crushing and snorting them while I was alone, until my spine tingled and I felt absolutely nothing. As a teen, the emotional turmoil of grieving a lost child you never had was all too much. Drugs were the only thing that would fill the void.
Shortly after the Vicodin, I was introduced to ecstasy. I remember the first time I rolled, I remember the exact moment I knew I was hooked. I spent months going to raves, festival and such. I would use whatever was offered to me. The last time I used was when I got stuck in the bottom of a k hole (Ketamine) on a dirty motel room floor in a room full of strangers. I was convinced this is what hell felt like and I never wanted to feel that way again. I was only 19 years old.
With enough paranoia, anxiety, and depression to kill an elephant, I was ready to be clean. I got a call from an army recruiter and I said “sign my ass up, I’m done with this shit.” So, I went. Thanks to Uncle Sam I haven’t abused any opiates, or club drugs in 18 years.
I shipped for basic 3 months after 9/11. I knew what was coming. I was going to war. I went to war as a military policewoman. For those of you that don’t know, at the time it was the furthest toward the front line a woman could get. I saw a lot of death and destruction. I ended up with PTSD.
All along my adulthood, I carried my soul wounds from childhood that were never healed. They wouldn’t be healed until I met a man named Jesus.
My husband and I had been married for 7 years. We were just two very broken people trying to treat each other decent. We didn’t know how to love, so we stopped. We didn’t know how to care, so we stopped. The fighting was traumatizing my kids. So I did what I thought needed to be done…I planned a divorce.
The turning point was when my husband started going to recovery. Then I followed. We spent years in a recovery program, working step studies, doing counseling (both on our own and together), connecting with Jesus, forming accountability teams, and life groups. We just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this year. How great is that?
There’s just one other thing I had left undone. The father wound. I forgave my father, but didn’t have a chance to tell him. Our last words to each other were ugly. He passed away and my family was notified 4 months after, by his then “family.” There was no funeral, no memorial, and he wasn’t given a grave. I felt nothing for a month, then grief hit me.
I was in the middle of an alcohol relapse, and my depression was back. The grief was too much, it consumed me and I nearly drowned in my own tears. You see, I lost hope. I reached a point where I thought taking my own life was the solution. I had method, and intent, but I was interrupted in my impulsive attempt. God had other plans for my life. My husband loved me through it. I haven’t had a drink since that day, almost 4 years ago.
What’s your why?
My last drink was May 24th of 2014. I went back into recovery mode. Since then, I have worked as a mental health professional, helping those who are suicidal get the help they need. Trust me, when I say, there is purpose in the pain.
By the grace of God, this girl who barely graduated in High School Alternative Ed now has my MA Degree in Human Services Counseling Specializing in Addiction and Recovery.
When you’re in recovery, or when you’ve devoted your life to human services, people want to know your why. The pay is less than what you deserve, the clients can be quite irrational, and the office environment is less than stellar. There’s got to be a reason why, right?
Here’s my why. You can either be consumed by the fire, or you can fight it.
I refused to be consumed by the fire of addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness, and instead, I conquered that flame with the choice to recover instead. I chose recovery, and my life will never be the same.
My father was consumed by the fire. He wasn’t capable of being a father. His mental illness, and alcoholism ended up costing him his life. He was 55 years old. But God is so very good that he literally brought my fathers ashes to me. I placed them on my land and now, we’re connected in a way we couldn’t be before. He’s there when I hunt, when I fish, and when I wander the trails of my land. He’s with Jesus. His weary soul is now at peace.
If you find yourself in the pits of hopelessness, know this, that there is a purpose in the pain. No matter what you’re facing, there is always hope.
For every mess, there’s a message. For every test, a testimony.
The key is allowing the hope to shine through. We are not put on this earth to keep hope a secret, tucked away in shame and regret. So if you have hope, sound off. I’d love to know your why.
In the meantime, stay sober my friends!