How I, as a Christian, lived with a hidden alcohol addiction for years. And found a new beginning.
From the age of 20 I regularly drank a glass of wine for fun. While cooking, at dinner or in the evening and at the weekend. I noticed then that I really liked the effects of the alcohol. I felt less insecure, dared to make witty remarks and was lifted a bit above all the daily worries. Incentives also came in much less harshly.
Best friend and worst enemy
Over the years, the bottle of wine started to become my best friend. I could rely on him when I had had a tough day, when I dreaded a difficult conversation, or when I just didn't want to feel anything. A few wines always helped. During my pregnancy and breastfeeding period I left all alcohol without any problems. But with the hopeful thought: soon it will be allowed again! I can not wait!
It was only in recent years that I began to realize that I had an alcohol problem. Of course, that little voice in my head had been there way before, but I tried to ignore it. I was still in control, right? By the way, quitting was not an option. Of course it was God Who shook my foundations. That caused the phone to ring the moment I wanted to pour a glass. Or let me break four wine glasses in a week, so that I only had two left. My use increased. I started needing wine earlier in the day to 'function properly'. I became a hero in dosing the right amount, so that I could live my normal life with a constant intoxication. At the same time the realization grew that I was destroying myself. That I needed help.
Fight and prayer
Sometimes I tried to stop drinking. That only worked for a short time. My best friend could not be ignored and of course I quickly fell for him again. In the meantime I had ended up in a constant struggle with my addiction and with God. I did not understand: so often I had begged Him in deep desperation to release me from the alcohol. Then why did it not work to stop? How could there be a deep desire in me to do His will, while at the same time surrendering daily to my addiction? I felt so alone in my struggle. There was no suspection, although my husband did occasionally criticize me. But even he didn't know how deep I was. That I was busy with wine all day in my head and always had an opened bottle in the back of the cupboard.
During a church service I was touched by a sermon about David and Goliath. The pastor asked: what is your Goliath, your great enemy, against whom you are fighting? You must not only destroy it, you must completely destroy it. After all, Goliath did not just fall down to the ground. His head had to be taken off as a sign that he was completely defeated. Just as Jesus completely conquered satan and all evil powers. Only in Him is there power to defeat our enemies. That sermon was the beginning of my turnaround. I made the step and told my husband about my addiction. The same week I went to the GP with an excuse about a sore throat. A first step towards help.
My own GP was absent and I never met this GP before. At the end of the conversation I brought up my real request for help. The GP did not say much, listened carefully and looked at me with a look in which I saw understanding and not condemnation. That I just met him that day, I experience as guidance from Above. I never saw him in practice again after that day. A little relieved, I went out with an appointment for a meeting with my own doctor the following week.
Well-intentioned help with counterproductive effect
The decision had been made. I stopped drinking overnight and threw out all the wine. It turned out that it was not wise to do this on your own and without medication. I felt quite sick and dizzy for a few days. On the advice of my doctor, I went to an intake interview in addiction care. The care providers there felt that I mainly needed psychological help. That is why I was looking for a Christian coach in my own region. I had constructive conversations with her. Unfortunately, this coach turned out to have insufficient experience with addiction problems. When it came to my craving for alcohol, she said I could have a glass of wine very occasionally, when I really 'needed' it. And of course I believed her.
Guess what happened. Within a month I was back to square one. Or even further, actually. Disillusioned and desperate, I shouted to Heaven, “And now, Lord? Didn't I do what you asked? I asked for help! I don't want to live in dependence on booze anymore. I'm giving it to you now. Show me what to do, because I don't know any more…” The weeks dragged on, as did the active addiction. I avoided talking to my environment. I drank. And prayed.
One afternoon I was just walking into the hall when the regional newspaper hit the mat. With the header 'New AA group started' at the top of the front page. I felt like lightning struck. No, Lord, I thought. You cannot mean that. I go to an AA group to talk to complete strangers about my alcohol problem? Hesitantly, but also curious, I started to read the article. With every word, the conviction grew that this was the answer I had asked for. Not the answer that I would have chosen myself, but that the Lord God found necessary for me. I signed in for the first meeting.
The AA meeting was in my hometown. Fortunately, it was autumn and I was able to walk to the entrance of the building in the dark. I introduced myself fairly tense to the people who had taken the initiative to form this group, and to the first participants (unknown to me). That first night was like a warm bath. Finally I spoke to people who really understood. I was introduced to the 12 steps, which are discussed during the meetings.
That day, November 1, 2017, was the day I got sober and 'dry' and stopped drinking. With the support of this group of people I now live without active addiction and I have learned to deal with difficult moments. I understand better what an addiction does to me and how I can make the choice every day not to give in to it.
Saved to the rescue
Some time later, I spoke to the pastor who was preaching the sermon on David and Goliath. I told him how God had used these words to guide me on the right track. During that conversation he gave me something important: "You were saved to save." From that moment on I got the desire to do something for others who, like me, live with an alcohol addiction. Who desperately seek God's will in the midst of their addiction. Without anyone knowing anything about it.
A fresh start
Do you recognize yourself in my story? You are not accidentally reading these words. God never lets us down and He will go His way with us. He wants to save us. That is why His own Son died on the cross. He bore our sin. Also all those wrong things we have done as a result of our addiction. We can always go to Heavenly Father, even though we feel great shame and deep, deep guilt. God knows our desire for a life without alcohol addiction and does not judge us. He wants to help us take the right steps. A new beginning is possible. Jesus has risen! Evil has been conquered!
Does that mean that my addiction is now completely gone? That I go through life in complete freedom? No, definitely not. We still live in 'occupied territory' and experience the brokenness of life every day. I have to deal with temptation, weak moments and sometimes even uncertainty and doubt. Satan, the enemy has already been defeated, but not yet completely capitulated. We can see that in this world. But still: in all difficult moments I can know: my Father is there. We may always come back to Him through the sacrifice of His Son. The Holy Ghost dwells in us and guides and directs our lives with God. I can always get up and go on with new courage. That's called grace.
And one day, the battle will be over and we will live with Him. Forever.
For: In all this we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!