“I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin…” (“East to West” Casting Crowns)
I use to hate waking up. The only escape I had from the nightmare that had become my life was sleep. For those few hours of blackness, I could forget. Forget that my life was utterly and hopelessly out of control due to my alcoholism. When I did stir awake, the real life nightmare would start all over again. First thought: “I need a drink.” Second thought: “Now.” If I didn’t have enough, I had to scrounge what I had until I could get more. I would sip my bottle and obsessively check and recheck the amount of alcohol I had left, while thinking about how to get more. I had to find out how much money I had, and if I didn’t have any, how I was going to get my supply for the day. If I didn’t have enough change to buy a bottle, I had to devise a plan on how to steal one. If it was Sunday, and I had somehow not planned to have enough alcohol to get me to noon when the liquor stores opened, I was in a panic.
I can remember one Sunday, walking over to the nearby gas station to purchase some mouthwash to get me through until the stores opened. They didn’t have any, so I risked driving illegally, using my car which just barely had breaks to drive to another gas station to get some. I bought a toothbrush too, so it didn’t look like I just wanted the mouthwash. Then I went home and drank the two small bottles I had bought until noon finally arrived and I could get the real stuff. I lived next door to a bar, and I remember once, in a act of total desperation, I checked around outside to see if anyone had left some beer in the bottles thrown in the grass. Disgusting, pathetic desperation.
Looking back on all this, it is like remembering a really bad episode of “ Intervention” I watched. It is hard to believe the things that I use to do just so I could get and keep my drunk. People who read this and don’t understand addiction are probably astonished at my pathetic actions. They may judge me and think negative things. I can’t say that I blame them. I also am disgusted by what use to be my life. What I will say is addiction takes good people to lows they didn’t even know they had. It consumes you, to the point of losing who you really are. But lets be clear on one point: addiction’s goal is not to make you look good. It’s goal is to kill you.
Knowing the way my life use to be, you can’t imagine the freedom I feel when I can sit at a restaurant and notice others drinking around me and not feel that old compulsion to join them. Being able to wake up in the morning and not be sick, to go to work and accomplish something in my day,is still an amazing feeling to me. Simple things, like watching an entire hockey game and not needing to drink to enjoy it, going places and not worrying about people smelling booze on me, and not having to lie, are gifts in my life today.
Sobriety is a beautiful thing. But I am an alcoholic with an alcoholic brain, and I have to watch myself. Even when life is going very well, alcoholism tendencies can sneak up on me.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you donot fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12
Yesterday, my fiance dropped me off at a local super store and agreed to pick me up in a half hour. I did my shopping, and was done before the time frame was up. I walked outside to see how far the walk would be to the store he was at, when all of a sudden I saw it. The liquor store. All of a sudden, my seemingly dormant addict brain was in full force. “Your all alone right now, you could buy a bottle and slip it into your purse. Nobody would know.” It sneered at me. I could feel that old familiar craving for alcohol. I’m not just addicted to drinking, I am addicted to the whole process of drinking. The plan, the buying, the pouring. Its all part of the deal. And here was a golden opportunity to satisfy my addiction. And I could probably pull it off.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
“God, I need you.” I whispered. “Play the tape.” He replied. I saw myself going in, buying the alcohol, then having to sneak around to consume it. I felt the sick feeling of a hangover, and the way my family would feel when they heard. I saw all the bad things that would follow my choice. I felt His hand on my shoulder, turn me, and steer me back into the store. My fiance pulled up a few minutes later and I got into his truck.
Today is my fiance’s birthday. I attended church with my family and went out to eat afterwards. I was sober and felt happy and healthy. It was a great time, and I realized how much I am starting to feel like a member of my family again. None of today would of happened, had I decided to give in to my temptation yesterday. It is a proven fact that once I start drinking, I have no control over what is going to happen next. I was so grateful that once again, God had intervened. But I had to make the choice to ask for His help and direction.
Addiction is a huge giant to face, and I am a firm believer that I cannot beat it on my own. I may always have moments in my life like the one I had outside that store. These moments leave me with feelings of discouragement and defeat. But I know there is something way bigger than me and my addiction. Something I can choose when these moments occur to get me through them. I was once trapped in what appeared to be a locked room of destruction, but God has offered me a way of escape. I just have to ask Him, and He will never steer me wrong. For what I believed was impossible is happening. I am staying sober and living beautiful moments in my life. For it is written: “What is impossible for men, IS possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)