Monday, February 28, 2011

Awkward Situation #17...

I had surgery two weeks ago. My Sunday School class set up a care calendar so folks could generously sign up to bring us dinner. I have three young children, so this has been extremely helpful. A friend whom I have known for 18 years emailed me and wanted to help, wanted to bring a meal. She excitedly signed up on the calendar to bring pizza and salad on Sunday night.

She got here last night and I was alone, my family had gone to my husband's soccer game. As she unloaded her goodies I saw a suspicious looking 4 pack in her basket. This was a woman I had babysat for, grown up around, known for years and years. However, we have not been close in at least ten years.

She pulled out the bottles, explaining that her son in law worked for a beer company and was always giving her free samples of the newest stuff. This was hard apple cider, and she said it was really good. I am not sure what my face looked like when I politely declined and quickly put them in the fridge. I tried to get her to keep them, in a flippant, causal way. I did not share my sobriety with her.

It was interesting to me that she brought the cider. We have never drank together before.

After she left I sent a frantic text to of my peeps and got instant response.

"Do you need me to come get them from you?"
"Did you tell her?"
"Pour them out!"

I thought about what to do. Should I call her and tell her my story? Didn't really seem necessary. We aren't super close and rarely see each other. Should I give the cider to my sister or sister in law? This was my first response, but several folks encouraged me to just pour them out. That I didn't really want to be known for providing alcohol  to others.

Though I think it would have been fine to pass the drinks on, it was very powerful for me to open each bottle and pour it down the sink. I think my husband thought it was wasteful, but whatever. I felt obedient and powerful and strong.

there IS hope~

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Last year's testimony:

WARNING: This is long.....

My name is jamee and I struggle with alcoholism. I accepted Christ as my savior in 1991 at FCA camp and have had a tumultuous relationship with Him ever since.
I grew up in a home of drinkers. Looking back it is easy for me to see that there was never a time that drinking wasn’t acceptable. A beer while working in the garage, wine after dinner, Kailua in the coffee. My parents drank every day. I heard stories of my grandfather’s drinking and how he abused my grandmother but never saw any evidence that it was still going on. We regularly spent time with my extended family on my mother’s side.
Once, in 7th grade I refused to get in the car with my dad when he’d been drinking. It was time for Sunday afternoon youth, but I asked him to not take the beer in the car with us. He said ‘You are a b*** just like your mother.” I vividly remember that conversation.
In 9th grade my mom went to Alanon meetings. I don’t really know what prompted her to go, but I also remember my dad drinking nonalcoholic beer for a time after that. Nothing else really stands out about that time, though.
All long we went to church pretty regularly. Starting in 3rd grade my granny took my sister and me to Sunday school, and by 7th grade my parents were also attending Sunday school and church. Their Sunday school class was popular and we went to every youth activity that was offered. I loved going to camp each summer and every retreat I could register for.
The summer before 9th grade I went to FCA camp in Colorado. While I had been baptized as a baby and confirmed in the 6th grade it was in Estes Park that I first realized what a personal relationship with Jesus was about. I thought I was rededicating my life at the time, but think this is where I truly came to know the Lord in a 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 on the 4th of July while staying with my grandparents. My parents were out of town and my aunt and uncle taught me to drink tequila straight from the bottle.  I felt sick the next day at work, but loved sharing my drinking story with my college aged coworkers. I was 16.
My senior year of high school I drank with some of my friends, but not all of my groups of friends were drinkers. I was still active in my church youth group, even serving as president of the group for one semester. I learned to eat biscuits to soak up the alcohol in my system and to keep a stash of cough drops in my car to pop in my mouth when I came home at night and kissed my mom.
I don’t remember getting home one night when I came back to visit from college early my freshman year, but woke up the next morning still fully clothed. Some how I knew my mom knew what had happened. Come to find out when I came home I tried to get in bed with my sister who was in 9th grade. I was obnoxious and she couldn’t get me to leave her room so she went in and got my mom.
My mom started crying and told me everything in her life that had gone wrong was because of alcohol. She took me to pick up my car and told me from then on I’d have to be home by 1 am when I came home to visit.
I don’t think I slowed down my drinking at all, or even thought anything I had done was problematic. I often went to visit my boyfriend at his college or he came to Austin and we drank every weekend. In January of my freshman year I went away for the weekend with some friends from my dorm. We stopped on the way out of town and an older guy bought us alcohol for the trip.
During the second night of that trip I found myself in a very dangerous situation with an older man. When I woke up the next morning I was completely ashamed. While the Lord protected me from the very worst that could have happened, my choices caused damage that will haunt me for a lifetime.
Still 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 at this point. I may have gone when I came home for the weekend, but I don’t really remember any sort of commitment.
I joined a sorority in the spring of 1996 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.
In May of 1997 one of my roommates sponsored me on a college aged Christian retreat. It was three days of love and acceptance and truth. Hard  truth. I realized how far I had come from FCA camp 6 years earlier. I felt broken, sad, unworthy. Some of the adults prayed with me on Saturday night and I once again rededicated my life to Christ.
I came home a new person. I fully embodied 2 Corinthians 5:17, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. I wrote a letter to my boyfriend, informing him we could no longer act the way we had been acting. I prayed regularly, had devotionals with a good friend from high school, and decided I would not drink until I turned 21. I was 19 at the time.
It didn’t last. I don’t really remember when I started drinking again, but know I was drinking by Christmas time. My boyfriend and I were making some right decisions, but also some wrong ones. I decided AGAIN at New Year’s to not drink until I turned 21 in September. That lasted until March when I came home from work, started drinking before we all went to a concert and ended up being asked to leave the bar when I threw up right 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, 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 took some sort of pride in the drinking stories I could tell and my reputation as a party girl.
Once, in 2002 I quit drinking. I felt very clearly that I was not being a good example and that I needed to quit for awhile and really get control of things. I stopped in February, got pregnant in August and didn't drink again until the following June.
After the spring of 2005 I was not supposed to be drinking publically. I signed a contract, saying I would abstain because of my leadership position. I honestly never thought about actually NOT drinking, just about how I would not get caught. This resulted in lots of deception. I would drink before I went places; fill sonic cups with alcohol, sneak back to the bar at weddings. My parents and sister knew of the contract I signed but thought it was ridiculous and never questioned my desire to drink regardless of the consequences to my job.
In June of 2008 I was very drunk at a local street festival. The following week I was talking to a relatively new acquaintance and she brought up a mutual friend. I asked her how she knew I knew Roxanne. She looked at me, completely baffled. Apparently the three of us had a conversation that I recalled none of. I quit drinking at that point for two months. I told one friend I was quitting, but told no one else of my decision, not even my husband. I was determined to do this on my own. I was done being stupid.
My sister was getting married in October and there were showers and parties and I started drinking again. It was slow for a few weeks, but by November I was drinking daily. In December I woke up after passing out on the living room floor at a game night with some of my husband's work friends. Some of whom I didn't even know. As I lay awake in bed that night, totally hating myself, making deals with God and unable to sleep, I knew I needed help. I was living a double life and I was nearing the point of mental breakdown.
Carson said last week that we are ready to accept principle one,  that we are powerless, when our pain is greater than our  fear. At this point I was embodying Psalm 40:12
For troubles without number surround me;
       my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
       They are more than the hairs of my head,
       and my heart fails within me.
And Psalm 38:4
My guilt has overwhelmed me
       like a burden too heavy to bear
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.
I arrived in the parking lot the night of my first Celebrate Recovery meeting. Thought about not going in. Figured everyone in such a predicament thinks about not going in. I walked into the building and found the room. Everyone seemed to know each other. It was very near Christmas and there appeared to be a lot of joy in that room. I was not feeling it....
The woman I talked to on the phone came over and introduced herself, hugged me and told me she was glad I was there. I don't remember what I said, but it was thru my continuous tears. The worship leader started singing and I heard their voices, rising to praise the Lord.
My Lord. The same Lord that had kept me safe over 14 years of irresponsible drinking. The Lord that called me at least two previous times to quit drinking. I was completely ashamed, totally embarrassed about where I was and unable to even move my lips along with the words. During the small group time my crying continued. I crossed my legs and my foot shook so incessantly, I am surprised it didn't fall off. I was able to say my name, but that was all.
I told Betty I’d give Celebrate Recovery 6 months.  That was over 14 months ago. I haven’t had a drink since December 16, 2008. This time I told my husband. I went to the doctor and I asked for help. And I again was determined to do this. This time with a support system.
I have come to love the community in this room.  I look forward to coming each week to check in and to be encouraged. I have grown in my relationship with the Lord.
But working the steps has been hard. It is still hard. There are parts of me I don’t want to dissect and I don’t care to examine my ways. Each week when we read 1 John 1:9 I am reminded of the healing theses steps provide.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.“
And step 5 says that we must admit to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. That has been a huge lesson in pride for me. Before CR I felt like I had my life pretty much together, besides my drinking. I could look at my extended family members, old friends, people around me and quickly see how they could benefit from a more active spiritual life. I often thought about choices my sister was making and how disappointed I was.  Total denial.
I was so glad I was on the right track. I was certainly living the right way. In most areas I might have thought I was headed in the right direction; however I was living such a lie, hiding my drinking, my insides were being eaten up. I was portraying myself one way at work and with my current circle of friends and living a completely different way around my family. I wanted desperately to be the person I was trying to be at work but I was failing miserably. 
I was stubborn. I thought I could do it on my own. I didn’t think I had a real problem. Surely I could control myself. I know now that without the Holy Spirit and without the hard work I am doing in Celebrate Recovery I would be sinking deeper into active alcoholism.
Instead I am sober. I went to counseling for several months when I first quit drinking and I am working thru the steps with my sponsor. I have a network of folks I text when I get in a jam. I come here each week.  I started running and have completed two half marathons since getting sober. Running has been so good for me in many ways. It has the obvious physical benefits and it has given me something to be proud of. I followed a training program for the ½ marathon and stuck thru the whole thing, even when it got hard. That is not how I normally operated. Generally, if things got tough, I quit. Or I drank. As I ran my first half marathon the scripture that kept running thru my head was Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”
I was very literally throwing off the alcohol that entangled my life and running with a great cloud of witnesses.
Still, things are not easy. My husband and I are working through my sobriety. We are figuring out what works for us. That involves lots of lessons in trial and error. My parents and sister aren’t really super supportive, but I am realizing that’s ok. This summer I was at my parents’ house and when I mentioned to my dad that I hadn’t had a drink in over 7 months he said ‘On purpose?’ At Thanksgiving I tried to tell my uncle about my drinking, but when I mentioned I thought my drinking was becoming problematic he said “I don’t agree with you.
I know now that all I can do is pray for my family and be an example.  I desire to break the cycle of alcoholism for my children. I want a different ‘normal’ for them.  Some times that is all that keeps me going, keeps me from not taking a drink. I want my children to have something different.
I am grateful for the Lord and for the people he has blessed my life with. I have made deep relationships with people over the last months that would not have come about had I never struggled with my drinking. And though I wish I was not an alcoholic, I do NOT wish I didn’t have these friendships. I am blessed.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.