I remember the day. The day the voice was so loud I couldn’t take it. The day I heard, “you have to quit drinking if you want to become the person you were meant to be.”
I was hungover. Real hungover. I was helping lead a group of 40 women through a leadership training. Normally I would have heard the voice of shame. “How dare you think you know what you’re talking about. You’re a fake. A liar. You’re worthless.”
That was the voice I heard often. Everyday at this point in my drinking career. But on this Saturday morning I heard a calm, caring voice that simply said, “you ARE worthy. I have plans for you but you’re not ready.”
No -these are not audible voices. These are thoughts that are clearly not my own. I’m a Christian and I have been ignoring God’s advice, instructions, commands…whatever you want to call them. For a very long time.
There was a time I was so in love with Christ that I could hear His calm voice on the daily. As soon as self doubt set in or lies surfaced…I could hear Him say. Uh. No. That’s not me and that’s not true.
But I never let that relationship grow to the point that I got through the many layers of shame, distrust and rejection. And so I took a wrong turn and let ego set in. The love story ended. I simply drifted apart.
And when the thorns of insecurity poked me I self soothed with drinking and working and just doing. I never got my head around just how much Christ loved me. Because I never fathomed I deserved that kind of love.
I craved acceptance and approval but I was never still enough to see that I was already accepted. Already approved. Already loved.
So I numbed the pain and kept fooling myself into thinking I could earn it through titles and accolades. Never mind that I worked so hard I lost sight of my health, my home. My family.
I drank at the end of the day because “I deserved it” I drank every day because “no one understood how hard I had it.”
I craved a drink everyday because it was the only way I could “check out.”
Because I never figured out just how much I was already loved I was grabbing onto things to try and feel accepted.
And I still do. The difference is- I can hit pause now.
If I can take the time to recognize that I’m grasping at things to soothe myself and ask why…I can consciously make a choice. To soothe or to sit.
I just got home from visiting my family in Alabama. The last time I went in December I was only 6 weeks sober. It was awful. I wanted to drink by 2 in the afternoon everyday.
The little girl in me was screaming. So many triggers that I didn’t even know existed. Nothing bad happened. But my brain was remembering…”oh this is when we drink. We always get wasted after a memory like that or to get ready to see that person.”
This time around that never happened. Except one afternoon. I got the urge but couldn’t figure out what the urge was for. I saw someone drink a beer. At first I thought I wanted one but once I pictured myself drinking the beer and remembered what it would taste like. What it would feel like. I didn’t want it.
Then I decided I was hungry so I prepared a plate of leftovers. But as I ate I realized I wasn’t hungry. This was only going to make me feel bloated and uncomfortable. So I put it down.
I just sat with the unease. And that’s when I realized. You just recognized something that’s been with you since you were 13 years old.
You don’t like to feel uncomfortable or explore your feelings to see why. I had just gotten back from visiting with my dad. The visit was good but it also stirred up memories of what was and could have been. I pushed them aside and made good on my promise not to get emotional while I was there.
But that didn’t mean that deep down I didn’t feel something. And when I got back to my mom’s, the feelings came out sideways and I could not put my finger on it. Until I did.
Whether it’s alcohol, food, shopping, work, cleaning, gossip, rude comments…these are ways we try to comfort ourselves.
My comfort of choice just happens to be with one of the most addictive substances on the planet.
I self-soothed with it long enough that it took a hold of my brain and refused to let go. Until I finally had the courage to break free.
So today I am thankful that I was able to cut the cord.
That I learned how to pause.
Today I know that I am being prepared for something.
Today I’m thankful that I realized I have to do some work before God shows me what that something is.
Today I am so so thankful that I no longer hear that voice of shame as often as I used to.
Today I feel loved.
Don’t live your life waiting for the moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.