Suzanne discusses her alcoholism, how she came to terms with it and how she has received freedom from her addiction.
Behind the silk curtains.
First, let me begin by stating addiction hurts. It hurts and is confusing to everyone, the addict as well as those that love the addict. We don't start out as ppl who want to hurt others, but eventually and inevitably we do. I have hurt many on my journey to freedom and while I am not ashamed of my story, I am sorrowful that it caused others pain and confusion. Addiction is not pretty...let me begin.
I was born into a very loving family. They had prayed for me and longed for me for many years due to infertility. God obviously knew they needed me. Both my father, mother and sister are all older children. They keep things relatively together and are responsible, it was obvious early on that I did not fit into their box. They bought the book "strong willed child" when I was a mere 8 mths old, and thus it began.
The world felt so harsh to me. I think at heart, most addicts are sensitive, intuitive, passionate ppl to begin with, but I had ZERO coping skills and felt like everyone just screamed "perform, perform". It seemed I was born without this performance power that others seemed to possess.
My mother read the Bible to me night and day, had me memorize verses and catechism, I was homeschooled and sent to Christian schools and we were in church a lot. I felt like my family was desperate for me to "keep it together" and be a good, peaceful child. This was impossible for me, an extrovert personality who was feeling and intuitive by nature. I almost convinced myself I was adopted....
I couldn't keep up at home nor at school and I felt like the goal for my life was behavior modification which only fueled my inner thoughts that something was wrong with ME. Shame is the fuel for addiction.
Fast forward to teenage years. I had a wine cooler, ONE wine cooler, at a party on a hot summer night. I finally felt normal and free inwardly. I swore to myself that night I'd never do drugs. Time went on, I drank socially but always looked forward to it. College came and I never wanted parties to end, and I drowned my sensitive, passionate, and creative side up with booze, friends and boyfriends, hating school and loving parties which only drove the stake of shame further.
Fast forward into real life. Drinking was for a season right?! That is what I thought that hot summer night when I was 16. Now, I had two beautiful babies, a nice husband and we were 'living the dream', or so I thought. At this point drinking was still a choice, I could never stop drinking once I started, until I was intoxicated, which I had accepted, BUT I STILL had a choice whether to drink or not. My bottom was coming right around the corner fast and furious.
Mono came, I was abt to turn 30, I gained 30 pds and was on a anti-depressant. I had a best friend acknowledge she had a drinking issue and thus a new conversation begin. I will say it was 3 years and a 3rd child later before I got sober at the age of 32. The details are fuzzy, but I went to counseling, I went to Celebrate recovery, I went and talked to Bradford, went to ONE AA mtg and I was SLOWLY moving past awareness into acceptance, but still not ready to give it up. I was still waiting and pleading for a 'miracle' so I could deal with this issue privately and we could all go about 'living the dream'.
The drinking begin to hurt more than the thought of not drinking. I no longer had a choice at this point, nor did i still question if i had a problem, I knew. I had my dream house with silk curtains and I stashed behind them bottles bc I was having to drink that much to feel good...my tolerance was off the charts, and alcohol was beginning to stop working.
Back to 'Living the dream' ...my husband and I were leaders in a community group and I was co-leading a Beth Moore bible study at church, I had carved a career out of real estate since I was 23, I dressed my children in matching outfits (bc that screams to the world I've got it together, right?!) and tried to pour life and love into them during the day with crafts and activities, all while juggling selling houses. I was 'performing' better than I ever had and the sickest I have ever been.
I never drank before 4, except on a occasional holiday, and I prayed I would wake up with my desire for alcohol completely gone. I didn't drink everyday either and contained my drinking days to almost a schedule. It was the definition of insanity...doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Alcoholism looked very different than the images ppl generally associate with an alcoholic...bums carrying brown bags.
Spiritually I felt so connected to God bc I was hurting so bad. If I wasn't drinking, i was pleading, praying to God to intervene. I was getting 'sick and tired' of being 'sick and tired'.
My friend went to AA, we had struggled together to get sober for 3 yrs, including co-leading a bible study and going to celebrate recovery. I watched her stop drinking and string days and then weeks together. I knew there was hope. I went and committed to 90 days of mtgs and got many happy, joyous, free and successful women's numbers. They taught me the new dance of sober living and how to cope with life on life's terms. I remember being so proud of tucking my children in bed for a week straight without a drink. That's not normal.
I didn't think I could live without alcohol. I thought I'd lose a part of myself and thankfully I did. I lost the hurting, fearful, codependent, shameful child hiding in my grown-up body, that propelled me to hide behind booze and parties. They say you stop emotionally maturing at the age your addiction starts, so I had a lot of catching up to do.. I begin accepting the way God made me was beautiful and I didn't have to look like everyone else to fit in or feel normal, but now I know no one really feels "normal". We all have insecurities that fuel our desires for things that will fill us up, be that control, drugs, alcohol, legalism, money and more. They are ALL broken cisterns, and through my recovery I have learned we are all long for something greater than ourselves to be "enough".
Community has been the best part of recovery for me and the most healing. In becoming honest with myself and others I have found addiction touches almost every family somewhere down the line. God has granted me freedom from legalism and religion as He became so personal and real to me when I was bound in the shackles of alcoholism. He has set me free from people, places and things...and mostly myself. Everyday I strive to live in "He is enough" and I have witnessed countless spiritual awakenings with myself and in others recovery.
"but by the grace of God there go I".... There has never been a truer statement. In 5 days I will celebrate 4 years from when I walked into a dimly lit basement room scared to death, embarrassed, broken, hurting and READY. God slowly set me free as I dealt with the deeper inner issues that I learned were the problem... alcohol was the symptom. I came in trying to learn how to drink normally and it taught me how to live. I am forever grateful and pray my story offers hope to those who have none!