On April 8th, 1995, I woke up at Mercy Horizons medical detoxification unit. I had not eaten for three weeks and had spent longer than the last decade drinking daily.
On this day, 22 years ago, I was given the opportunity to choose to continue doing what I was doing or to allow rehabilitation to become my resurrection.
Since then, I have explored why alcohol had more purpose than I did at that point, and learned the difference between sobriety and recovery.
I can be sober and not in recovery, but I cannot be in recovery unless I am sober.
In recovery, I learned that I used alcohol to abuse myself enough so that people knew someone had abused me first.
Alcohol mimicked the voices of bullies: the rejection, degradation, and overall shame.
As an ironic result, I’ve learned that not doing well isn’t a threat to living out my sober Godly purpose. Instead, it is achieving my dreams that threatens the stability I began seeking 22 years ago.
As continued speaking requests, compliments, and surprising acknowledgment of my gifts pour in, my once neglected spirit is repaired and repurposed.
Here, however, is the crazy part: receiving exactly what I need wakes up the shameful voice that says, “If things go well for you, no one will know what they did to you.”
This cry of shame is strangely the cry for help.
I believe this struggle resonates for many of us. Alcohol and other forms of shame-based behavior served as my voice and my way of showing those who hurt me the depth of my pain.
My battle isn’t really against food or alcohol or any addictive substance.
Instead, it is a fight against seeking a hug from the armless; a struggle against dependency on those who hurt me versus the One who hurt for me.
By learning alcohol’s purpose in my life, I discovered His purpose for my life.
Today, I choose Him and His purpose for me.
In early sobriety and at certain times it has been crucial that I hyper-focused on life events. I learned to not cover or erase my past but to find purpose in the pain.
I will not act like my pain didn’t and doesn’t exist, nor do I ever want to be so engulfed in my own personal pain that I can’t hurt for people in Syria.
Alcohol no longer has purpose in my life but my pain does.
Today, when I choose Him, I choose me.
With 22 years sobriety, God and I will go for a run, work on upcoming talks, continue to write my book, meet with my pastor, go to a church event, and most of all, remember my pain and the pain He went through for me.
Long before I was rejected and abused, Jesus was rejected, beaten, and crucified.
On the third day, He was resurrected. Every day, for the last 22 years, has been the third day for me.
I am resurrected.