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I Never Planned To Stop Drinking

I never planned to stop drinking.  It just happened. 

It wasn't a meticulously thought out process and while there was a battle, it certainly wasn't against the bottle.  I was a far cry from an alcoholic, but I was your stereotypical binge drinker.  

I grew up in a family where drinking was prevalent.  Regardless of its influence in my life, my parents were always very responsible around my sister and me.  I don't recall any negative memories of alcohol growing up,  but I knew it was the life of the party and maybe that's where the seed was first planted.

Even though this was a very active part of the adult life around me, we still had the expectation from our parents that we would follow the law and drink responsibly when we were adults.  Just because my parents enjoyed their cocktails didn't mean they were loose on their rules with us.

College came and along with the studying, even more fun was to be had that left quite a few hazy nights and pounding headaches in the morning.  I enjoyed myself during those four years, creating lasting friendships and dating the one I would eventually marry.  It was hands down my favorite season of life.  While I definitely enjoyed myself, surprising to say, but I was far more responsible in that life than I was when I graduated.

Somewhere post-college, I lost control of myself and handed her over to alcohol. 

I was either not drinking at all or I was binge-drinking.  My weekends were completely unproductive as I laid curled up in my pitch black bedroom, swearing off any more alcohol for the rest of my life, not emerging until late afternoon only to be persuaded by friends to get right back it a few hours later.  Most days, it didn't take much persuading but there were times where I would try to join in the social gatherings and turn down alcohol, but then either the pressure would be too much, or I felt so socially awkward that I just would have one....then two....then three.

You see, I have always battled with major confidence issues.  I have always felt like I am not enough, but when I drank, I became more than enough.  My inhibitions were removed and I suddenly became hilarious, the life of the party and the last one to leave.  I didn't care really what I said because it was the truth and needed to be said {which got me in a lot of trouble}.  I allowed myself the freedom to find inappropriate jokes acceptable and gossip justified.  At first, I would wake up feeling so guilty thinking, "I don't really think that way of {insert name} and I really don't know why I laughed when he called {name} a {blank}," but I would always go back to what was becoming security to me, and the feeling of being loved.  My crowd, the people I enjoyed life with, loved to have a good time over a stocked full cooler of drinks and if I stopped, I surely would no longer fit in.  In my eyes, life was fun and the brutal hangovers were always worth it.

I began to wholeheartedly believe that I wasn't worth being around without a little bit of liquid courage.  My priorities were nonexistent and when I think back to those years, I am completely at a loss for what I did that was productive.

This was not the way that God intended for me to live. 

There was no clarity in my thoughts.  There was little fruit bearing from my tree.  And a lot of convincing myself that my binge-drinking did not affect my relationship with God.  Because...Jesus drank wine, right? 

WRONG.

When I got pregnant with Preslie, the clarity that I had lacked over the last four years returned in my sobriety and allowed for a slow transformation to begin.  In March of 2011,  I chronicled my strengthening relationship with the Holy Spirit in this post {excerpt below}

"The Lord knew my path that lay ahead.  He knew I would desperately need His help to lead me through this season of being a mom.   He knew that I would struggle with worrying about how others felt I chose to raise Preslie. He knew that I would need His assistance in taming my sharp tongue and openness regarding my opinions; He knew that I would need Him to lead me to be careful of what I say to others. And most importantly, I knew that I needed Him to succeed."

Throughout my pregnancy, I continued to feel the Holy Spirit move.  As I said, I was not an alcoholic; my problem was binging, so I did not miss alcohol at all while I was pregnant.  In fact, I could almost instantly recognize a huge difference in my life without it.  I began to love who I was sober.  I used the pregnancy excuse to miss functions to avoid feeling awkward, but at least I began to enjoy who I was alone.  

It all sounds great, but to say this simple time during my pregnancy kicked my binge-drinking habit for good and made me suddenly love myself would be a lie.  

It was only the beginning of my journey. 

After having Preslie, I didn't make it too long before I was tempted to drink with my friends.  The next day after a night out with the girls, with a new baby, I experienced a whole new level of hangover.  I was ashamed and embarrassed of myself and my pregnancy convictions kicked in quick.  "What are you doing," I remembered asking myself.  A couple of weeks passed, I missed my time with my friends, and I forgot those remorseful feelings and gave it another try, but again, I was sorely disappointed in myself and my choices.  

There isn't any wonder in why I kept going back to what I knew regardless of the consequences.  

So many battles had been laid at my feet. 

I had a terrible, terrifying, life-threatening delivery. 
I had hemorrhaged both in the delivery room and then again at home two weeks later that led to a two-week postpartum D&C {not fun}. 
My grandmother unexpectedly passed away two days after my D&C. 
I was severely anemic. 
I could not nurse. 

Like a thief in the night, Post-Partum Depression settled in.

I needed to escape it all.  And the last thing that drinking was doing was helping.

I started turning down social engagements and I began losing friends.  Or so I thought I was.  I lived in a world of utter inadequacy.  All those days of my life where I thought I wasn't enough were just teasers for what life with PPD would bring.  I was not a good friend.  I was terrified to be alone with my own baby.  I was terrified to be out in public with my baby.  I was a terrible wife.  And I certainly wasn't fun anymore.  

I had no identity. 

So I did it.  I just stopped drinking.  There was no "this is my last drink" or tapering off.  There was nothing driving the decision aside from wanting to be the best me that I could be.  I did not stop because overnight I had instantly become overly religious or holier than thou; we weren't even going to church at that time.  I stopped because I was failing at life miserably and I needed every ounce of clarity I could get.  But it came at what seemed to be a great cost.

During this time, I began journaling scripture and encouraging quotes that stood out to me. I thought this to be just a simple task, but I found myself researching the verses and learning more about the bible in the process. I was introduced to an app called Grace to You that goes through books of the bible where you can listen to a variety of different sermons to help you in a self-bible study.   I started with a sermon series on "Forgiveness" and began to work hard on myself.  I started listening to the Daily Audio Bible which reads from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day and began to become completely in love with God's word.  Four months in, March 2011, I told Adam that we need to try this church right down the road in Southlake.  Our first sermon series was on how to choose a biblical church.  The rest is history testimony.

God worked His way into my life when I had worked my way out of His.

It was not an easy journey and Adam and I even lost some of our friends that we were the closest to. That's the thing about suddenly no longer drinking: it brings on a lot of hate, a lot of judgment, and even persecution.  Many assumptions were made for why we stopped that were completely untrue. We were judged for our new decisions, "we were not near as fun", and we endured one of our hardest years of our lives.  We were tested.  We were tried.  We were persecuted.  We battled.  It hurt.  We cried.  We lost a lot of earthly things but we gained our salvation in Him. 

While not drinking was never a spiritual decision, it changed our spiritual lives dramatically.  Attending church regularly became our top priority and highlight of our week.  Changing ourselves from the inside out was a constant process brought on by the convictions of the word.

We began attending church consistently which ultimately led to serving the church body.

We began to bear good fruit.  

We began to love harder and live our lives with a Godly purpose.  

Our old selves passed away.   

We realized that alcohol was our number one stumbling block in our sanctification and road to Christ.  

Six years have now passed and both Adam and I have learned who we are aside from alcohol.

Our year long hiatus with alcohol taught us a lot about who we are; it realigned our priorities and breathed so much life into our lives.

You can still spot me on a girls night with a fruity martini but the difference is that that fruity martini doesn't rule my life.  We have since discovered that a glass of pinot noir is perfectly fine alongside our favorite Caprese salad.  A couple of beers at the Cowboys game or a pina colada by the pool on a hot summer's day won't set us back.  We indulge in a drink here or there, sometimes more often others, but we know exactly when to stop.  We don't crave more and more.  We don't desire a buzz.  We don't need it to be us.  We don't need it to have fun.  We don't need it at all.

We live lives of sobriety.  Ones of clarity.  

This is not a lifestyle we would have EVER seen us living six years ago.  We didn't even desire this life. 

Of all things sobriety has brought to our lives, being confident in a crowd, being able to be sober to have fun, to be sober to be ourselves, is such a gift.  

The Lord has worked a beautiful miracle in my life, showing me that my confidence in solely in Him.  He has surrounded me with people who love me so deeply, flaws in all, in my sobriety and not in my drunkenness.  He has given us a beautiful testimony of how he saves the broken and binds our wounds through His love.





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