This is definitely one of the most vulnerable (and long) posts I’ve done, but the Lord has really been after me to write this. When He does that, I cannot ignore Him. I know there is at least one person out there that this will help, and because of that one person, I will forever say, “Yes” to His promptings. There’s never a wrong time to be talking about His beautiful and unconditional love for us, His Redemption, His forgiveness; because of what He did for every single one of us on that cross, allows for me to talk about this amazing gift. The freedom and healing that comes from His sacrifice…my words will always fall short.
Sometimes in this life our greatest mistakes or hurts, our greatest breaking can become our greatest blessing. Mine was truly a total rebirth; an awakening.
In the midst of my shattered state, came the deepest healing. Healing of things I was not aware I needed healing for. An awareness of things locked away from my past that had woven themselves deep into my soul and twisted the darkness in and around everything I ever saw, thought or felt. I was corrupted and broken before I even hit the wall.
Once you’ve hit and you’re shattered into a million pieces, you frantically begin to pick up each little piece, each speck of dust, and in that moment, I saw many things I did not want to see. Each piece took me on a journey to my past where I didn’t want to go. Even though I didn’t want to look at all of this mess, I knew I had to. Nothing surrounding me made sense. I was suffocating; I was desperate. In the midst of my devastation and desperation, I fell to my knees and choked out the words “God, help me.” Those three little words gave Him permission to come rushing back in, to take control over my life and this new birth of who He truly created me to be began. But, in order for us to understand how this awakening came, we have to journey down the past when the cracking began. Because we all know, there has never been a childhood dream that begins with, “I want to be an addict when I grow up”.
In all my introspection, my addiction started around the age of nine. I became addicted to people pleasing. I was desperate to be included. I was living in a state of solitude and rejection and it wasn’t pretty. When you’re rejected and torn down, you make the decision to build yourself into someone others will like or accept, regardless if it fits or not. It’s like putting on an outfit that just doesn’t seem to fit right and leaves a part of you uncomfortable the entire time you’re wearing it. You worry if others will see how poorly it is fitting. But at some point, you convince yourself that it’s all good because others are talking to you while in your new outfit. You have now been accepted and the addiction deepens.
This morphing and changing happened a lot over the next several years and by the time I hit high school, I was a full-blown addict before I even touched my first drug. The internal misery I had then led to a deep desire to escape it. I didn’t know who I was behind all those layers and I wasn’t comfortable at all. I despised the skin I was in. This place gave full permission for me to hit the escape button. This escape button not only opened up my willingness to do any and all drugs, it also flooded in the thoughts and desires to just no longer exist. I had a death wish. At several points between eleven and seventeen years old, I was extremely suicidal. Then, in a dark moment, I had an encounter that briefly changed me. I say briefly because my state of mind was, “I’m not going to off myself, but I’m fine if I go in a car accident or overdose.” Yes…I was not in a good place. But, what addict ever is? This went on for a few years, being arrested, put in rehab, failing school and having to struggle through an alternative plan, periods of homelessness, unemployment, etc., but I didn’t really hit rock bottom until I got extremely sick.
I was allowed back in my parent’s home during this time. My Mom was a nurse, so I gave her a couple of the symptoms that I could pinpoint. But, she was a smart cookie and simply told me that I needed to schedule an appointment with the doctor.
I reluctantly made the appointment, went in and did the usual check up things. I went back afterwards for the follow up to discuss the results from all the tests. The doctor was kind but straightforward. I sat there wondering what in the world was he going to say to me. I was nervous and scared. He simply opened up my file, looked at it for a few minutes then looked up at me with the most serious and sincere look. His voice was calm and kind and gave me the biggest reality check. He said, “You’re severely underweight; you are jaundiced and there’s not much in your blood that would allow for it to clot properly if you had a major trauma. If you don’t change your lifestyle, you will be waiting for a new liver or dead very soon.” Up to this point, I didn’t care if I died, but for some reason, hearing him say those words to me, shook me to my core. In that moment, I cared. At the age of nineteen, I finally cared to see a future that I had never planned on or dreamed of.
The following Sunday, I had a miraculous encounter with Jesus. It’s a moment that I struggle to find words to describe. But one thing I can tell you is that day, I felt different. I didn’t feel sick anymore. The only way to say it is I felt like new life had been breathed into me; a refreshing. I went back home different, and from that day on, I never craved another thing. All withdrawals were gone and now, I was on to this new life I knew I needed.
It wasn’t without its trials. I knew a couple of the girls there at the church from high school. They kind of knew my story. As with everywhere you go in life, there were a couple of people not too keen with me. Just because I wasn’t drunk or doing drugs, my rough exterior hadn’t been removed; I still had my very rough edges. I said things and did things that weren’t what a “proper Christian” would say or do, but I kept going. I experienced a lot of healing and made some choices for my future that I could finally be proud of. Although things were going well, I still felt uncomfortable in my own skin; like something was off or missing. I didn’t know what that was or how to describe or fix it.
Fast forward through a few years, I met and married my husband. Fast forward several more years, we had moved out of state, started our family, working good jobs; life was how everyone hopes it should be. But, I wasn’t. I was still an addict. I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs, but I still craved acceptance. I had acceptance from a lot of really great people, but once you have it, you want more. Any type of critique with work or home, comes across as rejection and/or judgment. This perception is 100% false, but it doesn’t matter to the addict. It’s how they hear and receive. I was hearing and receiving things in an incredibly distorted way and they stirred up some ancient junk that I was unaware of. Addicts don’t deal with their stuff; they numb out and run away. So, how does an addict numb out when drugs and alcohol aren’t acceptable? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Most of the time, it’s honestly done at a subconscious level (at least in my case). For me, I was emotionally detaching from everyone. I thought I had my crap together and couldn’t figure out why things continued to frustrate and anger me. Life was good, but in my mind and emotions, I still felt like I was a part of someone else’s show, like, “What’s my next line, Director?” I just knew deep inside that at some point things would fall apart. I was always expecting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. All through my childhood and forward, it seemed like nothing good would ever happen to me or for me no matter what I did or didn’t do. I was blinded to see the best things in front of me: my husband and kids. But, like I said, as an addict, it’s never enough. It’s a vicious cycle that gets you nowhere.
So, while doing my juggling act, a major bomb went off: my Mom had unexpectedly passed away. In an instant, everything and everyone stopped making sense to me. My family was just as wrecked as me and we were all trying to be there for each other, but I fell short.
The next three years were like living in a state of aftershock. You’re going through the motions, wandering aimlessly, ears ringing and you’re trying to gain some balance. This new world was foreign and it was supposed to be what we were all calling “the new normal”. What the heck is that? And, who cares? I didn’t want it, I didn’t ask for it and I was raging because of it. Everything that I had in some shape or form was dismantled and I had no clue how to even begin to piece it all back together. I was like a scavenger, scraping up things I thought belonged, even if they didn’t. I was frantically trying to create something I thought I could live with or in the least, something that helped me feel better; even if only for a moment. Then, because of a change in employment and leaving our home, I was once again placed in another “new normal”. At this point, I was so unrecognizably shattered; I looked at my husband and asked, “How did I get here?” I honestly didn’t understand. It was like a drunk wandering around in the midst of a blackout. They’re functioning, but have no consciousness of what they’re doing, nor could they remember the next day what they did. That was me. I had woken up, with no true, solid recollection of all that had gone on. It was all a blur and I couldn’t grasp ahold of the carnage that was now my reality.
But, in the midst, was the perfect opportunity for the Lord to come in and create the person He originally planned. You see, we are all created with specific plans and a specific purpose over our lives. God makes no mistakes. But, through our free will, our own selfish decisions and desires or even through things done to us throughout our lives, we become a dismantled version of the creation He intended for us to be. So, now, at that moment of being nothing but a busted up mess, He was able to pick up each of those pieces, wash them, heal them and piece them into the places they were supposed to be. And, for the first time in my life, I was able to see me; I was finally comfortable in my skin. I had no desire for any more masks, I had no energy for performance and I had been through an indescribable level of rejection. Did it hurt? Absolutely. But, this time, I didn’t have the energy or the desire to run or numb out. I was ready to face the pain. The great thing about being thrown into a dark pit is that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. I was glad I couldn’t see much. I didn’t want to see myself because I was draped in a load of shame, but every time I did look, all I saw was Jesus. His love, forgiveness and healing overwhelmed me to the point of suffocation. He wrapped me so tightly in His arms; the storms around me had little effect. It was like a Holy Cocoon. And in that tightly wrapped period of time, He was able to morph me into His beautiful creation. Because of all of this, my wings now shine His love and His glory for all creation to see.
Do I have regrets? Absolutely. Sometimes the most deeply spoken apologetic words won’t ever be heard, but repentance is a choice to move forward and make the choices to live differently. Have I struggled with forgiving myself? Every. Single. Day. That’s the real battle, you know. Learning how to forgive ourselves beyond the pain our actions caused in the midst of our addicted life. It’s not and never will be an overnight or easy experience. The deep-seeded hurts take time to heal. And in my experience, only God can bring the true and deep healing for those wounds. All you have to do is surrender, and in that, the addicted life becomes extinct and changes everything for the better. You are now a person you can truly love and you will live a life to be proud of.
how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
was blind, but now I see.
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free…