It is Easter and I am getting ready to go to my parents house for dinner. It is the first holiday since I had completed treatment and in my mind I was the star of the show. Everyone expected me to be there; sober, happy, and having it all together. There was no room for error. I had messed up too many other times and had to make this day perfect. My parents, brother, sister in law, and niece would all be there, expecting nothing less than perfection. It was all eyes on me.
The problem with this mind frame, besides the fact that it was downright ridiculous, was I was still thinking like an active alcoholic. I was back in what I like to call “spotlight thinking.” The whole world was revolving around Jenn the alcoholic. This holiday stardom I had placed on myself was a fine example. Forget the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this day was about Jennifer and her drinking problem. It was about poor, alcoholic Jennifer and all the pressure on her to stay the sober hero. To a normal person this is crazy thinking. To the crazy alcoholic, this is just normal thinking.
This time was no exception. I had already declared the pressure to be to much and was halfway through a liter of vodka. I figured I was already too far into the nightmare, so I did what I always did when I made the decision to once again pour alcohol into my body: I kept drinking. I realized I was probably too drunk to pull off a performace at my parents and I was angry at myself. I knew how I had gotten to this point and I had done nothing to stop it.
In the past few weeks of my recovery, I had failed to do the things I needed to stay healthy in sobriety. Meetings had become complacent for me, and rather then talk about it and figure out what was going on, I did what I knew to do and something I knew how to do well; I began to perform. I knew all the right things to say and do to make it appear as though I was living a healthy sober life. I smiled at the right times, interjected with some well rehearsed AA garb when appropriate, and said the serenity prayer with conviction. It was the perfect fraud, fraud I had practiced over and and over again. I knew all this, and I was angry at myself and this made for a excellent excuse to drink.
Needless to say I did not make it to Easter dinner. My parents had to answer the dreaded phone call a few minutes before eating that announced I would not be attending. I made up some lame excuse as always, I think that time I had developed a sudden stomach bug. But I was fooling nobody. That was the sad part, nobody was that surprised. I found out later my mother had not even brought up extra chairs for the dinner table.
I came out of that relapse, and the one after that, with the usual feelings of shame, regret, and guilt. I knew I had to do something different. It was over a lunch date with a friend that God used her to ask the question that has served as my freedom ticket ever since. “Don’t you realize that Jesus has given you power and authority over your addiction?”
I thought about what she said and then about the last time I had drank. I had chose to drink because I was angry at God and was blaming Him for what I believed was all His fault. I told Him that I was going to be exactly what He had made me to be, that it was too hard to fight this addiction everyday. I told Him I was going to give up. I was acutely aware that I was making a choice and that if I wanted too, I could ask God to intervene for me and He would. As a act of pure rebellion, I did not and I drank.
I had made a choice. A verse I had heard many times but never really absorbed popped into my mind.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bare, but with that temptation, He will also provide for you a way out, so that you may stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Suddenly it was crystal clear to me what I had to do. I was a human being and if left up to the flesh, I was going to chose to drink every time. I had to surrender. I had to ask for help. I had to believe Jesus Christ had power over my addiction, and because I was His child, I could exert that power through Him as well. I began to talk authority over my alcoholism. I literally told my addiction, out loud if necessary, that it was nothing in comparison to my Savior. I told it that it was going to lose every time because I had the King on my side. He provided a way out of many temptations and close calls. I basically told my alcoholism to go back to Hell where it had come from. And it has worked.
This year on Christmas Eve, I walked out of the candlelight service at my church with my mom. I had made it to my niece’s 2nd birthday party, Thanksgiving, Christmas at my cousins, and Christmas at my parents.I had given a testimony at my church. I had been to concerts and Christmas programs with my family. All sober. My mother looked at me and said: “It’s almost like I am exhausted with joy because we have you back. I was so happy that you came and just can’t believe how different everything is. Its so different now” She started to cry and my heart broke as I thought about all I had put her and my family through over the years. All the self-centered thinking and self-serving actions that had broken their hearts repeatedly flooded my mind. I hugged her tightly and cried also and whispered that I was sorry. She said not to be sorry, that she was just so glad I was back. She said she forgave me.
I promised myself I would never forget that moment with my mother. The healing power of Jesus Christ is the only reason that moment, along with many other moments I have experienced in sobriety have happened. In order to stay sober, I need to hold onto the joy that He promises, believe with all my heart that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. On the days I can’t do this, I pray that He will hold onto me, because I am not holding onto Him very well.