My first drink of alcohol was the summer after my senior year in high school. In comparison to many of my classmates, I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. But it didn’t matter that I had waited; it didn’t matter that according to the law I was too young to drink; what mattered was that an entirely new world opened up to me. For a girl full of insecurities and anxiety, it didn’t take long for alcohol to become my best friend. My college years were one big party. Although every once in a while I heard that voice that I had learned to quiet well tell me this wasn’t the best choice, for the most part I felt my behavior was normal, extremely age appropriate and very accepted. I met my now-husband at a college party and our lives became intertwined with parties, drinking and fun. We married right out of college and I followed him across the country, following his career in the military, where we continued living the “college” life a few years more. We began trying for a baby and when faced with infertility, I was able to numb that pain with drinking and with the bar scene I knew I would have to give up if I were to have a baby. Two years into our struggle, we were blessed with our first miracle. For nine months I was sober and the voice became a little more than a whisper…do you really want to spend your life drunk? Don’t you think there’s more? The memory of the moment they placed my first son into my arms still brings me to tears. So much hope, perfection, miracles and love wrapped up in one tiny blanket. I wish I could say that moment was stronger than my desire to drink. But it wasn’t long before I was having a glass of wine, which seemed appropriate as a new mom. And then months later, when we were at a new base, in a new home and I had no friends, no family, those glasses of wine turned into a bottle of wine. I was not a fall down drunk. I still got up with my son; I may have had a headache or a dull ache behind my temple, but I was physically there. We began trying for a brother or sister for my one year old son, hoping this time would be easier. It wasn’t. I suffered 3 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, where I lost my tube; thankfully I was at the hospital when my tube burst, or I may not be sitting here today. During this time, we had begun attending a new church. For the first time in my life I signed up for a Bible study. And for the first time since high school, I dove deep into the Bible. I immersed myself and became a born again Christian. The voice, which I now understood to be the Holy Spirit, became louder and clearer. Drinking had to stop. For me, coming from a family of alcoholics, it was too risky. And more importantly, my drinking took precedence over God. In those days, I was too ashamed to get up and have quiet time after I had been drinking. I have to laugh at myself now, how ridiculous it was to only face God on a sober sunrise morning, as if He didn’t know full well why I had slept in the day before.
A few weeks before my son turned three, we found out I was pregnant. I literally fell to my knees in our bathroom, bawling my eyes out and thanking God. I didn’t know at the time that although it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, it was the beginning of a long uphill journey. We found out I was having twins (miracle)! We found out one was smaller. We tried not to worry. We found out Baby B, the smaller babe, had a congenital heart condition. My world literally shifted the moment I found out and my new normal began. Four days after the twins birth, he had his first open heart surgery. I remember, shortly after their birth, lying in bed, promising my D (the baby with the heart condition), that for him I would give up drinking. I had to. A few days later, sitting in my kitchen, I promised I would just cut down. It was three more years before I actually took the plunge, opened my tightly closed fists up to God and in exhaustion cried out, “Here. Take this away from me.” Thankfully, there was no official rock bottom that led me to the decision, although there was plenty of moments that leave me ashamed. Ashamed as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter. I often find myself wondering what college would have been like had I not approached it as one big party. I could have learned so much more, done so much more, been so much more. I can acknowledge that the emotion I felt towards the ladies down the street from me a few years back who didn’t drink at BBQ’s and block parties was jealousy. I didn’t realize I was jealous of their sober contentment. Last week, I celebrated one year of sobriety. I have come a very long way, completely and totally by the grace of God. The funny thing is when I started telling people I was no longer drinking, most of my friends literally said, “SAY WHAT?” I was the official party girl, the “fun” one. These days, I’ve learned I’m actually pretty fun sober. In fact, I’m actually funnier and on the plus side, I remember all the conversations the following morning. Its been a year of trials and blessings. I learned quickly that some of my “friends” were merely drinking pals. I learned I have some amazing real friends. I learned my husband is the most supportive, loving man a gal could ask for; I’ve learned I can run; I’ve learned my house is messier sober, as I don’t stay awake late into the night drinking wine in order to clean and impress my neighbors…and I’m learning that’s okay. Most importantly, I’ve learned the true meaning of God’s grace. I believe he will use my drinking years for good and that I’m a valuable child of His with much to offer. And even if all I have to offer goes no further than raising my beautiful, rambunctious, miraculous three boys, then it’s completely worth it. Here’s to many more sober sunrises.