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"I was worried I wouldn't fit in"

Updated: 2 days ago

My life was once shrouded in darkness, tangled in the destructive grip of alcohol, an idol that held my heart captive. How did I get to that point?  Looking back, it wasn’t just one thing, but a culmination of several things in my life that took a toll on my heart and mind.

Before then though, I had the best childhood. I grew up in the quiet small town of Waynetown with 2 older sisters and parents who loved beyond measure.  I grew up in a family where music was ever present and love filled our home. I was a pretty outgoing little girl, yet still a simple tomboy. I would rather spend my time in the mud and creek than anything else. I married when I was 18 straight out of highschool, having my whole life planned out. I figured I would follow in the footsteps of my mother: get married to a musician, have children young, and live happily ever after.

However, that was not in the plan for me.  Infertility, a silent struggle that often goes unnoticed, left me feeling shattered and broken. The constant cycle of hope and despair with each negative pregnancy test took a toll on my mental and emotional well-being. The pressure to conceive and the expectations surrounding parenthood added an extra layer of burden to an already heavy load. The dreams of parenthood felt forever out of reach. Adoption seemed like a path that could bring joy and fulfillment. However, each failed adoption was a profound loss that left scars that were not visible, but they ran deep within my soul. Four failed attempts at adoption intensified the grief, while the whispers of unmet expectations echoed in the silence of a nursery that remained empty. Depression was like a relentless shadow. 

It was a battle against self-doubt and the haunting question of 'why me?' I attended church and was an active member on the worship team. Yet, disappointment after disappointment left me doubting God, I was confused and questioned Him. I never let anyone know that I was struggling with those things during all of that time. I would not admit how defeated I felt.  I hated the feeling of being weak and vulnerable. Through the grace of God, after years of grappling with infertility and experiencing the heartbreak of failed attempts , our family found redemption through the incredible gifts of children  from the foster care system. We welcomed into our lives two remarkable souls—my son and daughter—who had endured their fair share of trials.  

Our family was complete, and my fairytale life was coming together.  When my now ex- husband,  pursued his passion for music, I wholeheartedly embraced his dreams as they were my dreams too. I had fantasized about this perfect life since I was in highschool. However, the irregular rhythms of a musician's life brought with them a set of challenges that were both unexpected and at times, very isolating and lonely. The responsibilities of raising our children, maintaining our home, and being present for their milestones felt like a solo performance a lot of the time.

The constant juggle between feeling like both the helper and the leader in our family became an overwhelming balancing act. I felt abandoned, but ashamed and guilty to admit the way I felt. So I often kept my feelings and concerns hidden. I felt left behind and like I was not a priority. I felt weak because I wasn’t able to keep it all together and I was letting my emotions run the show.

After years of struggle , our marriage finally crumbled under the weight of sin and pressure. 

Raising my children as a co- parent was not a role I had envisioned for myself, but life has a way of throwing unexpected twists our way. In the midst of that emotional storm, I found myself navigating uncharted territory, questioning my abilities, and facing the reality that I had chosen. Desiring to be closer to family, I had moved back to Crawfordsville with my kids. After a while I thought I could find myself. Unfortunately I tried to find my worth in a man again and that didn’t go as planned. I lived in sin with someone for a while, and was used, cheated on, manipulated and treated very poorly. I dated several other times, and it was the same scenario over and over:promises of a better life that were never fulfilled.

In the tapestry of my life, those were chapters marked by shadows of doubt, insurmountable heartaches, and a yearning for someone to love who would really love me back. The journey through failed relationships was a painful pilgrimage. I was at my breaking point.  That was the first time I tried to drown the pain in a bottle.  

Drinking  was a way of escape, a way to numb the pain. It didn’t start out having a grip on me, but just casual. I thought drinking alcohol was just a way to cut loose and have fun. Going out to sing at Open Mic nights or karaoke and meeting new people seemed harmless. At the time, I thought I deserved an escape. That mindset proved to be destructive.   

Around this time, the unthinkable happened, my dad passed away due to Covid-19. This became a catalyst for my downward spiral. He  wasn't just the head of our family; he was the glue that held us together. His love was the steady rhythm that guided us through life's highs and lows. In moments of discord, his wisdom and kindness was the music that brought us back to harmony. 

His presence was a reassuring melody that played in the background of our everyday lives, creating a sense of security and warmth.Yet, life's melodies sometimes carry somber notes, and in the absence of my dad, a void was left—a silence where once there was music.

The echoes of his laughter, the comforting strum and hum of his tunes, and the guiding notes of his advice linger in the air, a bittersweet reminder of the love that once filled our home. In the shadow of grief, loss, and the allure of alcohol’s numbing qualities, my life plunged into a deep abyss. I tried to fill the void  and pain of my dad’s absence with alcohol. One fateful night, the echoes of my father's passing collided with the flashing lights of a police car. Arrested for drinking and driving, I faced the consequences of my destructive choices. 

Behind bars, I confronted the shattered pieces of my life. It was in that cold, unforgiving place that I realized the depth of my brokenness. Alcohol had become the chains that bound me. The darkness was overwhelming. That should have been the wake-up call I needed. But it would take more than that to bring me to the low I needed in order to see my need for a savior. The loss of my dad plunged me into a cavern of grief. I blamed myself for his death, believing there was more that I could have done in the months before his sickness. I was a medical assistant and had helped with my parents appointments and medical concerns, and thought I could have done more that would have lessened the severity of his Covid symptoms. In the midst of my sorrow, I sought peace in the bottle, hoping to drown out the pain and guilt I felt. 

Alcohol became my solace, my refuge from the struggles and the pain of loss, promising comfort while tightening its grip on my soul. Unbeknownst to me, alcohol was becoming an insidious idol, gripping my heart tighter with each passing day. It had woven a chaotic melody, drowning out the harmonious notes of love and joy. I did not turn to those I loved for support or even to God, instead I turned to a bottle. The idol I had unwittingly embraced became a destructive force, leaving behind a trail of hurt and pain in the lives of those I cherished most.

I had lied to those I loved in an effort to hide the shame and guilt of my choices.  I made excuses, I isolated myself and stopped letting people be a part of my life.  I lost their trust.  I was no longer the person they knew and loved. I had driven a wedge between us and changed our family dynamic. As the days blurred into nights, my heart became entangled in the chains of addiction, and the once vibrant person I knew began to fade away and I didn’t recognize who I had become. I was making excuses and blame shifting to justify my drinking.  I kept plummeting further in the pit.  I eventually got arrested a second time about a year after my first arrest, this time with a felony charge. That still wasn’t enough to stop me. 

I was defeated, ashamed, and embarrassed, but also still too proud to admit I needed help.  I still naively thought I had it all under control on my own. I eventually went to AA and secular counseling but that was not the help I needed. I didn't know it then but I was battling with more than just the idol of alcohol. I was seeking the approval of others, trying to please everyone, trying to look and play the part, putting my hope in my relationship, my kids and my family making them idols in my life.  My heart was so self-focused. In the midst of the darkest night of my soul, I cried out for a glimmer of light. The pain was too much to bear alone, and the suffocating darkness seemed unending. I prayed while clutching a bottle, and cried out to Jesus to rescue me from myself. 

Little did I know that my desperate cry would be met by a Savior who turns our brokenness into beauty.  It had to be in His timing though. But first, God had to bring me even lower than I had already been. I distanced myself from my family because I knew I was a mess and wasn’t hiding it very well. The glimmer of light came when I finally felt rock bottom hit hard, waking me from the numbness of my self-imposed pity party.

It was the day that my boyfriend came  home to find me drunk and passed out that  I finally could see the damage I was doing. It wasn’t the first time he had found me like that. But seeing him broken and hurt by my actions helped  me sink to the bottom, where I needed to be. I had broken him down and it was the last time he could bear to see me like that. The hurt in his eyes haunted me, and I realized that I hurt so many people with my choices. So that night, I made the decision to finally seek help. The profound truth is that there are moments in life when we realize we cannot navigate the stormy seas alone. 

That was my moment. The journey of surrender began when I finally admitted my powerlessness—a humbling acknowledgement that, left to my own devices, I was not strong enough to break free from the chains of alcohol. The next morning, I was driven  to my mom’s where she met me with open arms on her front porch, and said she knew where I was going.  God had laid it on her heart before I even told her I needed help, and it was through grace that my momma found Through The Gate. I had put everyone who cared about me and loved me through a lot of pain, but still they were there to love and support me. Recovery and redemption demanded that I face the consequences of my actions. It was God, in His infinite mercy, who reached down into the depths of my brokenness and offered a lifeline.

Through The Gate is more than a recovery home; It was that lifeline. It's a haven saturated with the love and grace of Jesus Christ. In the embrace of His redeeming love, I found a sanctuary where healing took root, and the chains of idolatry began to loosen. When I arrived at Through The Gate , I was met with open arms.  I was immediately put at ease as I could feel the genuine love surrounding me in the staff and other residents.  I had never been to a rehab before and I had so much anxiety about not knowing what to expect.  

I was worried about it being like you see in the movies. I was worried I wouldn’t fit in. But TTG is the opposite. I immediately jumped in helping to cook meals, clean and fully embrace this program. Within days, I knew I was where God intended for me to be. Living here was challenging at times, but in every situation, God revealed something to me that I needed to work on in myself, and He still continues to do that today. Living with a bunch of other women isn’t always easy especially when we are all working on ourselves. Amidst the challenges, I found a supportive family in the staff and women at Through the Gate.

We have been a bit of a misfit family of women bound by a common journey toward redemption. Shared experiences, prayers, and mutual support created a Christ-centered sisterhood that became an integral part of the recovery process. The heart of the recovery home is the work of Jesus' love. Through biblical counseling,  spiritual mentorship, and classes, I encountered the One who brings beauty out of brokenness, rebuilding my life upon a firm foundation of His redeeming grace. Before coming to Through The Gate I can say that I read the bible, but not all the time and I had know idea how to apply it or actually study it correctly.  

I knew some things from the bible, and could talk a good game, but I was not actually living and doing what God’s word says to do.  I did not have an actual relationship with Jesus. Now I can look at the scriptures and see a lesson in the way I’m handling situations or how I should not be handling situations. God’s word is a living breathing tool for our life. I learned that the bible doesn’t just point out where we’re wrong and leave us without guidance. It also tells how to get right with God and others. It doesn’t mean that I’m always going to do it perfectly, because the Lord knows I’m going to mess up and stumble.  It’s how you get back up from the fall and how you glorify God in the sanctification process.  

I had to learn a few things about myself that weren’t very pretty. In fact I didn’t like the reflection I saw.  I didn't realize that I was battling with more than just the idol of alcohol.  I had several idols that needed to be put in their place.  Redemption emerged from the most unexpected place—a renewed sense of purpose, genuine friendships, and the beauty that can arise from the ashes. It wasn't an easy journey — it required humility, surrender, and a willingness to embrace vulnerability though it is still a struggle for me at times.

One of the hardest things to do is to look at your own reflection. I discovered that I had a very skewed view of myself.  I thought I wasn’t that bad, and I was overall a good person, that I had it together… mostly.  Figuring out that none of us are really good, that I didn’t have it together and learning to put off my old ways, by putting on new ways of thinking was both challenging and rewarding. When I started seeking God’s truth in how I needed to change my ways I started noticing that I had more joy. Joy even when things were challenging.  

I learned that I have put a lot of emphasis on what others think of me and that I put a lot more pressure on myself seeking the approval of others.  It’s things like that, we don’t always see in ourselves until we start to look at them through the lens of Jesus. Recognizing that I need to put off my pride and selfishness was harder than I thought. Mainly because when you struggle in those areas, you don’t always see it.  It’s through the gospel and seeking God’s word that I find grace, and a Savior who will help to humble me. 

Through Biblical counseling and confronting the roots of my idols,It is more than just breaking free from the physical dependence of alcohol; it is about unraveling the twisted web of my heart's misplaced affections and centering myself on Christ. It is looking at my own reflection,taking responsibility for my own choices. It was realizing that all of the blame was on myself, that my feelings and heart are deceitful and seeing where I need to change.  I can make a lot of excuses for the choices I made and the damage done, but the truth is that it was all me… I made the choices that led me to the end of myself. I had to die to self in order to live in Christ.

He has made me a new creation. I don’t regret the journey that made me who I am in Christ today, because I know that God is sovereign and He was always present leading me back to Him. I do regret the hurt and pain that I caused by my selfishness and pride. The pain that I caused others is a reminder to me that I don’t want to be the reason others hurt again.  I have learned that when I struggle, I need to reach out and seek wisdom from brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am not alone.  I have a Savior who knows my needs before I even ask a thing.

The void that idols had falsely promised to fill is now replaced by a profound sense of fulfillment found in God's love and grace. The emptiness is filled with a joy that surpasses the fleeting pleasures of earthly things. Today, I stand as a testament to God's redeeming power. The chains of my past have been broken, and my idolatrous heart has been replaced with a heart that worships the One who offers true freedom. My life is now a song of gratitude, a melody of praise for the redemption that can only be found in Christ. Galatians 5:1 says “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Despite the fact that I have learned how to have joy and how to use the gospel to guide me, that doesn’t mean the pain has not vanished, the loss of my dad has left a profound emptiness, a quiet pause in the music of our lives. Yet, even in this silence, his music plays on—a timeless melody that weaves through our memories, a legacy that lives on in the notes we play and the love we share. That pain has given me a sense of empathy, understanding, and a testament to the grace that heals the deepest wounds.  God revealed His sovereignty to me, and I can look  back now and know that God was in control over my dad’s life and his death.  I can now use my experiences to lift others up and carry other’s burdens. There is always a purpose in our pain and trials. Out of that darkness, God illuminated my feet, and made straight my crooked path. 

I am so thankful for my family and loved ones who have supported me throughout my trials; my mom and sisters have endured and loved me more than I deserved. They remained a beacon of light—a source of unconditional love that defied the darkness that threatened to consume me. When I stumbled, faltered, and lost my way, their love and support never wavered.  In the face of my struggles, they didn't abandon ship. There were times when my actions spoke louder than words, when the consequences of my choices tested the very fabric of our relationship. 

Yet, through it all, their love remained steadfast, unyielding in its commitment to the belief that the person they loved was still within the grasp of redemption.  

I’m also thankful that my ex-husband took on so much while I was here. He  was and still is supportive of me and I could not ask for a better co-parent. To my kids, I see both the impact of my mistakes and the incredible resilience that is characterized by your spirits. The struggles you’ve faced, the hurdles you’ve overcome, and the courage you both displayed in the face of adversity has left a mark on me.  I am so proud of who you are becoming and I pray that you will be able to see the need for Jesus in your life.

Lastly, I want to give thanks for Through The Gate and everyone who sacrifices for this ministry. If anyone is considering applying at Through The Gate, I would urge you to seek help.  It is not a weakness to allow others to help bear in your burdens as I once thought.  You are not alone, there is redemption waiting for you. 

I would like to close with a verse that reminds me that even when it feels like I am going to be consumed by darkness, there is hope. It is taught in John 1:5, which says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

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