Ok, so my heart is pounding and won't stop. Usually that is an indication I need to do something that will take courage to do. I need to share my story. This story will be long, but whoever takes the time to sit down and read it are the people meant to. This story starts a way long time ago, but I can't start from there, I have to start from about three years ago. I have shared some of this testimony out loud with my MOPS group, but since then more has happened. I am saying out loud to myself as I type this, "Practice what you preach!" I have talked a lot about sharing your story. Emphasis on the word "YOUR". I tend to be extremely idealistic about what I am capable of, and leave myself out of the group of people I am speaking to. I hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself, and that's where this story begins. How will I encourage anyone to speak boldly about their life and story if I hold parts of mine in my own heart?
My story starts with the day a friend of mine spoke out loud the words that had been running through my mind for months, "You should probably stop drinking." She spoke these words, knowing they were heavy, because she said them in a hushed tone. Jordan and I had been trying to get pregnant with our third for a few months to no avail. I had heard God directly say to me, "If you want to get pregnant, you need to stop drinking." To anyone who has never made drinking a part of their daily life, they'll say, "Obviously!" Obviously, I shouldn't drink while I'm trying to get pregnant. Obviously that is extremely selfish and possibly dangerous to the baby. Yes, Obviously. I knew this in my head but didn't act on this conviction. I kept on drinking. This was in the stage of my life that I drank the heaviest. My heaviest drinking wasn't when I was single, living the "good life" going out partying every weekend. No. My drinking was heaviest when I had a 4 and 2 year old at home. I drank every single day, without fail. For some reason, it seemed completely normal to me. Maybe it was all the meme's saying things like, "Mommy needs her wine" with some funny image of a 50's housewife with a robotic smile doing chores with a screaming baby in the background. Or maybe it was the fact that most of my friends drank. I spent time with a lot of people who talked openly about having a drink or two or 5 like it was normal. I didn't really think I had a problem with it.
Looking back on it, I went out of my way to drink during the week. If Jordan was at the fire station, I would make random little trips to the grocery store, throwing a bottle of wine (or two) in the cart like it was an afterthought (and not at all what I actually went there for.) To back track, I did not grow up in a house where drinking was normal. My mom and dad did not drink in the home while we were growing up, and if they had alcohol at all, we didn't know about it. It wasn't until I became an adult that the generation of Christian women who started normalizing drinking every night and possibly the occasional instance where they took it too far. It was funny and relatable. Because of the culture I surrounded myself with, I felt like I had a very healthy relationship with alcohol. Until I didn't. I woke up too many times with a head ache or a hangover. I woke up too many mornings sorry for things I said to Jordan or checking my phone to make sure I didn't post some ridiculous rant on Facebook, or even see who I had been texting and what I said. I woke up too many times in a panic that I had done or said something that would mess up my life. I started to realize that alcohol was making me a worse version of myself, not a better one.
I was a worse Mom. Sometimes I would sleep so hard that Jordan wouldn't be able to wake me up in the middle of the night. Most times, I would slur an evening prayer hastily so that I could go binge-watch the latest series on Netflix until 2 am, only having to wake up because - SURPRISE I had kids who woke up early. I was a worse Wife. I picked fights with Jordan pointing out his flaws and shortcomings only to completely ignore my own. I would disrespect him and would then wonder why we were in a rough season. Sometimes I would remember things I said to him and other times I woke up completely unaware of an argument I had started. I wasted so many days and hours of my life inebriated.
When my friend said those words to me, it was as if she was in my head. I knew I had a problem. It took a month or so after that of me battling with it until finally I just stopped drinking. Cold-turkey. That was in January of 2017.
During this time, the phrase "His face shines upon you." Rang out in my mind. I heard it in songs, read it in scripture and it seemed to be following me around. I didn't understand the phrase at the time... In March, my pastor, Joe Champion at Celebration Church spoke a message titled, CROSSROADS. It was about being at a place in your life where it was time to make a decision. Choose the direction your life will go. We are given a choice and it is up to us to act. After that service, he came directly up to the row I was sitting in (in a church of 2500 people), shook hands with people exiting the row and then stopped me and the group I was with. He asked about a couple of us and then looked me square in the eyes and said, "Now tell me about you." I sputtered a couple random facts about myself, "My name is Lisa." "I like this church" you know, small talk. He then placed his hand on my shoulder and said that he was going to pray over our group. He started praying and I could tell he was praying specifically for me and my situation. He was saying things that I had been saying the past few months to myself. I don't remember the exact words, but it was, as we say in church- talk, "A God Thing." He assured me that what I'm going through is necessary and that I will grow from it. He didn't know anything I had been going through or really anything about me, but spoke to me like I had been seeing him for counseling. I started to understand what "His face shines upon you" meant. God had a spotlight shining on me. He had favor over my life and was aware of my struggles and pain. He wanted me to feel seen and known.
In May of 2017 I found out I was pregnant with Daisy.
I spent that pregnancy completely transforming my mind and my physical body. Yes, my body was already going through changes due to pregnancy, but I was on a mission to be the healthiest version of myself. I went plant-based and I kept getting affirmation after affirmation from God that drinking should never again be a part of my life. During that pregnancy, I have never felt more like who I was supposed to be. I truly felt great! My mind felt renewed and my body as well. I noticed many changes in my appearance. My skin became less inflamed and I seemed to be glowing from the inside out. I blame pregnancy hormones, my plant-based diet and complete absence of alcohol... a trifecta of transformation.
The last month of my pregnancy was hard, to say the LEAST! The traumatic birth that followed the hardest month of my life didn't help. The birth story is too long to add in here, I'll just say this: I thought Daisy and I were going to die and I replayed the terrifying moments of that birth over and over in my head for months. I don't like to throw out the term PTSD because I feel like it is disrespectful of me to put myself in the same category of men and women in uniform who have truly seen and come out of situations that I can't even imagine. However, PTSD is the only way I know to describe it.
Let me just say, I had ZERO plans to reintroduce alcohol into my life after Daisy was born, but I did.
There was a day a few months after I had Daisy where I felt like I needed to just get out of the house. You know those days... you just want an hour or so to not hold a baby or help a child do something. I needed to clear my head and give myself a break. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, so I couldn't go shopping or anything. I decided to just go walk around the square by myself. I got to the square and saw some people walking around drinking pints of beer from a local restaurant. (You're allowed to walk around with alcohol on the square in Georgetown). I decided ONE beer couldn't hurt. It had been so long since I had a drink, I'm sure it wouldn't effect me like it used to. I slowly sipped on that beer while I walked around the square window shopping and people watching. . I got a flood of memories about why I used to drink. I felt relaxed, at-ease, like my old self and I liked it. This was the start of me trying to re-incorporate alcohol into my life. I thought I could just have a drink here or there, which is what it started out like, but after a few months one drink, two drinks, even three didn’t give me the relaxed feeling that I remembered from that first beer. I was beginning to become desensitized to it again. It took more and more to make me feel relaxed or like I was getting a buzz.
I was painfully aware of my drinking habits and swore to myself I wouldn't let it get the way it used to be. I did NOT want to go back to that place again. I spent the summer of 2018 trying to find a comfortable place for alcohol in my life. I really did believe that I could become the "casual drinker" I so envied. I wanted to be able to have a drink and not immediately want another one. It had to be possible, so I kept trying. Inevitably, every drink I had made me want another.
Finally, I thought I came to a healthy place. I decided that I wouldn't drink while I was at home and I would save drinking for when I went out to a restaurant or to someone's house. This seemed like a great happy-medium.
The day that changed my life forever arrived.
I was feeling a kind of overwhelm that sends me into almost a panic-mode. Jordan had been gone working overtime at the fire station for a few days, and was about to leave again for another long shift. I broke down in tears telling him that I needed a break before he left again. What I had been doing to relax was sit in the bubble bath, watching Parks and Rec on Hulu. The show always put me in a better mood and the bubble bath helped me relax. Obviously, that wouldn't be relaxing this day because the kids noise and knocking on the bathroom door would leave me feeling anything but relaxed. Jordan suggested I get out of the house.
I texted a friend to see if she wanted to meet up last minute for Happy Hour at a restaurant near my house. We got to the restaurant and hung out for a few hours drinking margaritas. Over those four hours I had a margarita per hour. The time together was just what I thought I needed. I vented, she vented, I cried, she cried and we drank. I felt like I deserved these drinks. I had put in some hard work to make sure I wasn't making drinking part of my daily life again, so these drinks were well earned ( I told myself.)
Finally, I looked to see what time it was. In an almost panic, I realized I needed to get home to get Daisy to bed. (She didn't go to bed very well without nursing to sleep.) I had ran out of pumped milk so my only option at that point was to go nurse her. I wasn't planning on having that much to drink but there was nothing I could do about that now. I would have to nurse her and cross my fingers that the alcohol I had consumed wouldn't effect her.
My friend seemed a little tipsier than me, so I offered to drive us home. It was dusk, where the light is just starting to fade and the night is setting in. I pulled on to my street a mile from the restaurant and a police officer noticed my headlights were off. He followed me a few feet and turned his lights on. I immediately noticed the lights, panicked and pulled sharply to the curb, running into it and driving my car slightly up on the curb. (Not a good first impression.) The police officer came up to the side of the car. My window was broken so I had to open the door, hitting the officer in the process. As soon as I opened the car door, he asked where we had been. I answered him. He asked if I had been drinking, and because I'm a terrible liar, I said that I had one margarita. Without saying anything else he asked me to get out of the car. When I got out of the car, my friend started throwing up outside the passenger's side door. I still though that I was going to get out of this. I went on to fail the sobriety test.
As he placed the handcuffs on me, I was hit with a shock so intense I felt like I couldn't move. I started crying and pleading when I was put into the back of the police car. I tried to explain to him that my husband was a fire fighter and needed to go to work in the morning, that I had a 6 month at home who was exclusively breastfeeding. To add insult to injury the officers comments were gutting. "Your husband is a fire fighter and you're driving on the road risking lives? You should know better." and the real kicker was when he came after my motherhood. "Oh, you were planning on going home to nurse your baby with your contaminated breastmilk? What a great mom you are." Ya'll I have never felt lower in my entire life. This was by far the lowest I had felt and his words choked my very soul. Yes, I was planning on going home and feeding her my contaminated breastmilk. What kind of a mother am I? What was wrong with me? My kids deserve better.
I won't go in to the details of that night, but I will say I have never felt the kind of evil presence I felt while sitting in that jail all night. It was the worst and longest night of my life. My shirt was sopping wet with breastmilk by morning and I was so struck with self-loathing that I couldn't even muster the strength to cry. I didn't deserve to be sad. I had brought this destruction upon myself. But my kids, my husband, they didn't deserve this.
I could hear God saying to me, "You're done now. Alcohol has no place in your life. Move on from this."
Over this past 18 months I have had a breathalyzer in my car. They save that for people who's BAC (blood alcohol content) was above .15 (almost double the legal limit). I have had to go about my life with this daily reminder that I failed. I let my family down, I let myself down, I let people who I have "preached to" about alcohol use down. I have had fleeting moments of trying to find a place for alcohol in my life again over the past 18 months, but it is obvious to me that my life is so much better without it.
I want to share this part of my story because God calls us to use our stories to help others. I did not go through this to suffer in silence. I share now because I can truly say that this season is behind me. Alcohol has no place in my life. Alcohol promises all these things to us and never delivers.
Jesus follows through. He delivers. He sustains and remains.
Please reach out to me if you need someone to talk to. If you are struggling, whether with addiction or not, please talk to someone. If not me, find your person. I know that I am no where near qualified but to quote Christine Cane, "God doesn't call the qualified... he qualifies the called."
Please feel free to share this post with someone you know who is struggling. People need to know they're not alone.