April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, which causes me to take a not-so-fond journey down memory lane.
It’s likely that I’m the only writer for this blog to have been through an “intervention.” Not as a participant, but as the focus of one. I’ve been sober for two years and while the detour my life took hurts to re-live, I see the triumph in it now and taste redemption on a daily basis when looking at my husband and sons. Through counseling and the clarity that comes in being sober for some time, I’ve recognized my drinking was merely a symptom of a deeper brokenness. While I chose to run to the bottle, I encounter women all the time who are running just the same as I did.
The things we run to may not always necessitate a twelve-step program, in fact sometimes the things we run to may seem noble and selfless, but it doesn’t downplay the fact that there’s something we’re running from rather than facing head on.
My journey to the intervention started out innocently.
I drank a little in high school and college. I wasn’t raised in a “broken home” with parents who fought addiction. I home brewed beer! I was classy! Sure, I had some drama in my life, some unresolved “Daddy Issues,” but I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunities and love surrounding me through my upbringing. Dating always kind of threw me for a loop. I gravitated toward guys that needed a little “fixing,” and focused on their issues rather than facing my own. I guess you can say this is where things began to shift. I got myself into a pretty toxic relationship with a guy who drank heavily and I chose a career that had extremely high burn-out rates. Drinking became my self-care; what I ran to when I was stressed or if I felt insecure when my boyfriend flirted with other girls or hid his text and social media messages.
I was confident, laid-back, strong, and independent – there was no way I was going to express my discomfort with these things, especially when, like magic, drinking always made them go away.
Fast forward to dating the man who is now my husband, a man with a child from a prior relationship. Well this can awaken all kinds of insecurities when you walk with “the limp” of broken trust from past relationships. Expressing my pain or discomfort would make me appear weak or inferior to this other woman, right? And if I was anything at all… it was strong. Once again beer… and then beer and shots… and then what turned into hidden bottles of vodka picked me back up when my “weaknesses” came knocking. You can see now why my boyfriend at the time orchestrated the “intervention.”
Fighting an addiction will show you just how strong you really are. Going through drug and alcohol rehabilitation strips you of any semblance of identity or strength you cling to. I was able to stop running when I recognized that I WAS weak, I WAS powerless, that sometimes I AM insecure and uncomfortable, but that even on my worst days, when I’m all of these things at once, I’m still fiercely loved. There’s a reason that man from before is now my husband.
He saw my strength when faced with my worst weaknesses and loved me through a season when I was incapable of loving myself.
As wives, as mothers, as women, we may not be in the relationship we dreamed of; it may not even seem like the one we signed up for. We could be facing conflicts and internal battles that we fear if we speak them into existence, we wont be loved or accepted. But where did we get off thinking that we’re meant to fight these battles alone? That we’re better off stifling the things that don’t sit well with us to maintain appearances, when in reality we’re just running to things that make them disappear… temporarily.
I said earlier that we all fight the temptation to run. So what are you running to?
It might be a glass of wine a little earlier in the day than you justified yesterday. It could be scrolling through Facebook or bingeing Netflix to distract yourself with something other than your self-image battles or the idea of confronting your husband on why he was acting “off” the other night. As hard as this may be to read, you could even be running to your children. This seems pure and wholesome and noble until you realize that you’re running to them to fill a void that exists because of a growing distance in your marriage or as a result of self image issues zapping any desire to get dressed up for girls nights. At what point did you decide you couldn’t run to face the hard stuff head on, that instead you’re okay settling for a shortcut?
It’s April, a month that brings rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings.
For me it’s a month that brings awareness, not just to a specific addiction (or my addiction), but awareness to our propensity to run away and how running fast enough will eventually wreck you. I’m grateful that my running didn’t kill me, but I’m also taking a pause this April with my ear to the ground for what else I might be running from and running to. What you’re running to today may not threaten your life, but long-term, what is it robbing from you? Authenticity? Fulfillment? Purpose? We’re women and mothers… there’s a supernatural strength woven into our very being that literally gives life. Take this month, and beyond, to stop running away from the challenges.