BEYOND ALCOHOL: FROM NEVER TO NORMAL

By Eileen Knowles: I am not sure if all alcoholics have an oath they choose to live by, but I did.  It was a list of "nevers:"

  • If I ever have kids, I will never be so foolish as to stick them in a car and drive drunk.
  • No matter how much wine I consume, I will never miss appointments or responsibilities.
  • If I don't want people to know I am drunk, they'll never know.
  • I will never lose control, ever.

I knew I had a problem long before I reached out for help. My goal, every day, was to drink as much as I wanted and still function like a "normal" member of society. I went to extreme measures to reassure myself that I could live this way. I would drink a bottle of Merlot every night, and then get up at 6am and go to the gym to run 5 miles on a treadmill.

Then one night this happened: I ran out of wine before I was done drinking. One bottle was not quite enough anymore. There was a convenience store just 2 miles from my house. I put my two dogs (my four-legged children at the time) in the backseat of the car and drove to buy more wine. It became my normal routine.  So much for that never.

Then one Sunday afternoon this happened: I had planned to drink a few glasses, sober up, and meet my friend at 5pm for a Bible Study we were doing together. Instead, I woke up on my couch around 7pm. My friend had called several times wondering where I was, but I didn't hear the phone ringing even though it was sitting right there on the coffee table.  So much for that never too.

That was the beginning of the end for me. Eventually, all my nevers would become normal parts of my life.

Drinking became my way of running away and denying the pain -- a good way to sweep it under the proverbial rug.  When my mom was dying of breast cancer in my teen years, I didn't drink.  Instead, I chose to starve myself. After eventually seeing the scale dip from 126 lbs to 89 lbs, I saw a nutritionist, who taught me how to eat healthy.

I wasn't taught how to deal with pain, though.

In college, and after my mom's death, I used wine instead of my relationship with food as the pain-numbing method of choice.  This continued for almost a decade, until I finally started listening to the voice gently whispering truth into my heart:

You don’t have to run. You don’t have to hide. I want to offer you a second chance.

I resolved to do whatever it took to get this problem out of my life.

The first thing I needed to find was the healing I'd never quite managed to learn about. I knew it existed, and in my mind, it was a matter of life or death. That's how seriously I began to pursue healing.

I made a choice to do the hard and the scary thing. I reached out for help. I started attending a recovery program. I acknowledged my struggle to others. I was also able to listen and support others who were struggling too.

Something amazing happens when we stop trying to go it alone in life.  We gain strength and courage when we choose to reach out for help. We learn that we aren't alone in our pain. We learn we can walk through it, and come out alive on the other side.

In the process, I discovered a big God in that voice which whispered into my heart.  He didn't condemn me; He simply loved me.

The road to recovery was by no means easy or pain-free.  But it was possible, and it is so much more than the life I was living before. I wanted to use my second chance to tell you my story, because there's a better life -- beyond the pain -- for you too.

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