Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hi. My name is Jennifer...

and, I'm an alcoholic.

I've struggled for a long time to say those words. It's something that I've known but not wanted to admit. It is something that I thought I could overcome on my own, but couldn't. Admitting it to my family was hard, admitting it to myself was harder. Writing about it now is leaving me completely vulnerable to criticism, ridicule, and contempt. There will be those who will not understand or have compassion but, there will also be those who will continue to love me... and those are the only people that matter.

I thought that I was going to cure myself...again. But, God had another path for me. Before I really even knew what was happening, I was driving myself to my first AA meeting on Monday night. After the profound providential crisis I experienced in the early hours of October 17th, I was so afraid that I knew something would have to happen.

I visited the AA website and found a meeting, found a phone number to call and, after much struggling with myself, made the call. God's voice was still ringing clear in my head as He asserted that I could not save myself. As I stared at the number on the computer screen, battling with myself over whether or not to call...a quite voice kept whispering, "just call. It's just a phone, it's just a number, it won't kill you to dial the number. Do that part and then just see what happens". So I did. A very kind lady's voice said, "hello".

"Is this who I talk to about an AA meeting?"

"Yes, this is Susan, how can I help you?"

The warmth in her voice instantly set me at ease. Well, easier. She asked no pressing personal questions. She simply told me where the meeting was and at what time and encouraged me to come. The whole day long after the phone call, I continued to try and talk myself out of going. Every time I would resign myself to staying home, my nightmare would come screaming back into my brain and I would decide that I needed to go. It was a very long, very very long day. I told my family that I was going grocery shopping. As strongly as I felt I needed help, I knew that I had to face this first step alone lest somebody convince me that I didn't need help. So, I got in my car and drove myself to a place I thought I would never voluntarily go.

The thing about God is, He knows me better than I know myself. He knew that I wouldn't voluntarily go. He also knew that nobody else would be able to convince me to go. My stubborn will would keep me defensive and standing my ground until I simply went insane or died from this disease. He knew that I would have to stand and face my enemy alone and see how helpless I really was. He knew that I would have to be in the darkest most frightening pit of sin before I became desperate for Him to save me. I no longer merely wanted out, I was terrified and panicked and pleading for help.

When I'm afraid to do something, I hear my mothers voice ring in my ears, "well then, just do it scared". So, that's what I did. With my heart racing, hands shaking, and tears flooding my eyes, I drove my broken pitiful self to a place where I was promised help. And, help is what I received.

I'm not sure I've ever been so warmly greeted. It was like that scene in Titanic after Jack dies but then is so warmly welcomed by all the other passengers on the other side of eternity. People I didn't even know were hugging me like I was their long lost friend. Their eyes were not filled with pity like I'd expected, but with a familiarity of suffering and pain. In that shared pain, I found peace. It was the same kind of brotherhood one would feel with a group of people who had all just survived a plane crash. We'd all been to hell, and that is what saved us.

I sat quietly while almost every other person in the room described to me their crisis point and what drove them to AA. They'd all been where I'd been. Some were still actively battling, some had been free for decades but all were united in their assurance that this was the way out. At the end of the meeting, I was asked if I wanted to say anything, the only thing I could squeak out was "I'm scared". The whole room was filled with understanding and that I was where I needed to be to get help. I could feel the rush of the Holy Spirit flood my soul and I tried not to fall to pieces. When the meeting was over, I was given phone numbers, literature, and told to come back.

So for the past 3 days, I've been reading, journaling, crying, reading some more, and talking with my family. At my second meeting I told one of the ladies that I'd been reading and journaling and crying. She assured me that I was healing. Healing is a bitch. But, it's a whole heck of a lot better than where I've been.

It's hard to see this chart but if you click on it it should take you to a larger file that you can read, should you feel a burning desire to do so. But, basically you can see the descent and then the insane circles at the bottom followed by either death or an ascent to an enlightened and interesting way of life with a bright future ahead. I've just turned the corner, so to speak. This is a rehabilitation period. It took me 10 years to reach the bottom, it freaks the hell out of me to think how long it will take me to climb my way back up to the top.

When I think back on all the bull crap I've written about in the past on this "Freedom" blog it makes me want to wretch. All the Zumba, juice fasts, nature walking, picture taking, God-talking, weight loosing, pretty words were complete nonsense. Any kind of efforts I made to try and better my self were in vain because I was completely ill. It was like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. Ridiculous. I've learned over the past few days just how extremely talented I was at hiding my sickness. People are shocked. "We would have never thought". All except one person; Taylor. She's the only person that wasn't surprised and even said, "Mom, I've been trying to tell you!" God gave daughters a special gift to be able to see right through to their mothers. I can't hide a darn thing from that girl.

So now my little secret is out. I am no longer going to pretend everything is ok, put a smile on my face and lie anymore. The thing about admitting it is simply and profoundly this.

The truth shall set you free.

I thought that it would put me in a box, label me and make me a freak. It's actually done the opposite. Living the lie was what was keeping me bound down. The path ahead is frightening, the most frightening thing I've ever faced. Going backwards, back down to the insanity and ultimate death is what is keeping me moving forward. My eyes are fixed upon Jesus...and all of the world grows strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

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