Hello, my name is Wilma. I was born on December 1955 in California. I was blessed to have two of the most loving and godly parents anyone could wish for. They never did drugs or drank at home and we could talk about anything. My parents were always giving without expecting anything in return. We had all of our meals together on our dairy farm as a family. Prayer and bible reading were regular parts of our day. I was the second born out of six children and enjoyed having a big family. We would always have a big team for playing games. We did 4H, played sports together, and I learned to play the organ. If there were any hardships, us kids were unaware.
At age 16 I started playing the organ at our church and for weddings. I was able to start dating and going out with friends, where the presence of alcohol was normal. Once I graduated Christian school , I earned my Nursing degree through college and started working at a local hospital. And at age 21, I left the family farm. I went out every weekend, but drinking did not seem out of place because no one was really getting out of control. It was a normal aspect of most events.
I got married and had two wonderful boys. My first husband was a godly Christian man and we tried raising our boys in the eyes of the Lord. We told them about God and took them to church, Sunday school and gave them a Christian education. But at that time, the church and school were doing most of the discipline for our children. The time I could have spent teaching them about God was spent on other things. My Christian walk was more about obedience and going through the motions than love and a personal relationship with Jesus.
The economy was getting tough so we moved our family to Idaho, leaving over 100 relatives behind. Feeling that I alone had to give up everything, I withdrew. It became all about me and my feelings. I thought that I deserved not to work. So I would stay home, lay around watching tv all day, eating and drinking wine throughout the week. Despite the fact that we were still going through the motions: attending church and looking good in the public eye, God was not a priority in my life. I didn’t think about the affect any of it was having on my family. During my time in Idaho, I was justifying my drinking with socializing and calling it “relaxation”. I occupied every day of the week with these habits, going out for alcohol and appetizers. My then husband was non-confrontational and never expressed having a problem with the way that I was living. It was not his nature to tell me no. He knew what I was doing and joined me for weekend socializing. There was so much I took for granted. I realize now that I was lonely and had too much time on my hands. So the trouble began.
My husband was trying to make a living and we seldom spoke. With the declining health of my parents back home, I decided to move back to California. Looking back, I should not have put my family before my marriage, but I did and he encouraged it. We were only touching base once a week and it was minimal communication. The distance caused him to file for divorce and 20 days after I signed, it was finalized. I tried to just focus on taking care of my parents and keeping my head above water. Life just sort of carried on and my relationship with God suffered. I hardly ever thought of Him and the days just passed me by.
Eventually my dad passed away from cancer and I continued to help my mom. Being with him every day and knowing they would go to heaven added peace the grieving process.
It was springtime when I met my husband Dirk. I was drawn to him because he was Christian and Dutch like me. His parents were also a lot like mine with their love for the Lord and I liked that. Unfortunately we lived about 1 ½ hours apart. So, in the beginning it was a long distance relationship. He was in the middle of a divorce at the time which cause me to feel like “the other woman”. I guarded my heart by only sharing surface information and trying to seem agreeable. Each of our church’s gave us conflicting counsel regarding our arrangement and this cause confusion and stress. I didn’t know at the time but I was already building a wall of resentment against him because of my own weaknesses. It affected my sense of worth and all of my decisions.
Despite my uneasiness, I followed through with marriage. I was discouraged by our frequent arguments, but the weight of expectations and our plans pushed me on. My passivity lead to even more resentment and I did not have a biblical understanding of forgiveness or steadfast love.
I was storing up bitterness instead of looking at my own heart issues. Then the thought that God might not bless our relationship left my fear and anxiety unchecked. But once his divorce was finalized, we entered into marriage.
Our blended family brought unexpected conflicts and issues with equal treatment of the kids. He wanted every detail to be fair and there was a materialistic and competitive strain between us. When I married him I wasn’t used to being told “no” or “that’s not a good idea to do that…” So our conversations always became arguments and we weren’t using the four rules of communication, taught in scripture. I am grateful for learning them at Through The Gate, because they are so important. My feelings of loneliness and my drinking habits carried over into our home. The word “justify” would pop up in my head ALL the time! After a while I realized my drinking was affecting my husband and the “hiding” began. I was hiding bottles in our home and being deceitful. Whenever I wanted more than a moderate amount I concealed it and whenever I didn’t have plans, I secretly indulged. I was always planning when I could have more alcohol or fit it in throughout the day. I wore this mask for over 20 years, thinking that my public image was unaffected.
Instead of appreciating my husband for working to provide, I condemned him in my heart for leaving me alone. My feelings of entitlement only added to the stress and anxiety. Our marriage began to split. We went to different churches, planned different activities, with different friends, and different beds. I felt alone and blamed my husband. Although, now I can see that I had an impossible expectation of him to meet a need that only Jesus could fulfill.
I started trying to fill the void by drinking with others. I was drinking and I wanted nothing to do with him or us. But in my heart I thought, “Why would Dirk want to be with me?” I had told others that I was not going to drink any more (which I had never said before in my entire life). But I’ve lied about so many other things, why should anyone believe me now? I was living a lonely and ungodly life—very selfish. Running from my problems when I should have gotten on my knees and reached out to my Best and Faithful Friend- my Lord. At last, my Pastor called and asked if I could come to church and talk. When I arrived, my son was sitting in Pastor Dave’s office. We hugged and then Scott read this letter he wrote titled “Mom”...
“Mom, I love you so much! However, I can’t stand by and watch you continue to destroy yourself and put others as well as yourself in danger. IN this picture this is how I want to remember you. Full of joy and love. You are living in this moment! This is the mom I want to have again. My memories of your growing up are not always this mom from the picture. Some of my earliest memories of you are you tucking me in to bed at night in Stanly Allen Court with the smell of wine on your breath. It took me until high school to identify the consistent odor. There were also times that you had passed out and forgot to pick Trev and I up from the bus. You also drove us around while intoxicated on many occasions.
This hurts to think of now that your addiction was stronger than your will power to protect us. In 2014 you received your first DUI. Megan and I were at the house when this happened. We talked before we left and you promised to never drink and drive again. A short time later you were caught drinking and driving and we all had a conference call about never drinking and driving “or else”. We never set a hard boundary in that call. Before this we had been talking about how your sneaking of wine was getting out of hand. You have always thought of yourself as clever with your sneak drinking, however, it is obvious to those of us who know you when you are drinking.
All of my teenage life you snuck wine and even those energy cocktails like Spark’s. I never understood the reason for this but I have seen you sneak off to drink more times than i ever care to admit. In the years since 2014 you have moved up from sneak drinking wine and Spark’s to Fireball Whisky. This is a tricky one because the intense amount of cinnamon in the whisky makes it hard to smell on your breath. It also is much stronger than wine. It is much more noticeable when you sneak off and come back progressively drunker each time. At my house in Idaho you came over to visit and you proceeded to sneak Fireball into my house and sneak and drink. It is not just me who is noticing this. Many people close to you who care for you have reached out to me or have been telling me about this. This too, you have promised years ago to quit doing. This too is a promise you have broken again and again.
Another problem with this is the over drinking. You can stay with “only” one glass of wine for a short period of time but then after something happens you fall back into drinking until blackout levels or until you are drunk. This is embarrassing to watch as all I want is to be proud of you for the woman I know that you are. When you get to this state you have called me names, insulted me, and lied to me over and over again.
Time and time again I have given you warnings and advice. I hate seeing you killing yourself. A month after heart surgery where we thought we might lose you. You asked your doctors if you could drink, hesitantly, they said yes but just one glass. You turned that into drinking in excess of Fireball. Also leading up to your surgery I heard doctors say they know your drinking is excessive because your liver is showing signs of damage. Mom, you are one of the greatest people I know. Your kindness is your go-to move and you are more thoughtful of others than they will ever know. You can listen and know what to say to make everything better. However, when you drink all that fades away. You show signs of aggression and carelessness for yourself and to others. I have developed a lot of my greatest traits from you and because of you. If I am ever sick or hurt you are my first call because I know that you can help me. Lately this isn’t the case. I have called you in the last few weeks for a pick-me-up and you were too drunk to even do that. I hate talking to you when you drink because you don’t listen. You get aggressive, you repeat the same thing over and over while bouncing all over a conversation.
I have been lied to numerous times and occasions. I am disappointed and deeply hurt because of your inner demons drinking. You drink because of pain, because of sadness, you also drink when you are happy, excited, nervous, and anxious. Life has not always been fair to you. It has hurt you and beat you down. Not many people could walk in your shoes. You need time to heal, time to recover, time to get away, and time with GOD. This program we are presenting, offers you all of this. Please choose to go to this program. The memories of your drinking that I carry are not ones that I will allow my future children and family to have. I want them to only know the great and kind Christian woman that you are.
This is a short-term sacrifice with the return of a great life of being a part of my family. Being invited to all events and getting a closer relationship in love and trust with me and my family. We can be closer than ever, once you have dealt with and control your demons by quitting drinking and getting help.
I want you to know that you will not be healing alone. We will be doing the curriculum with you. So, once you are allowed to do calls, we can talk to you about what you’re learning. I will also be attending ALANON classes to recover as well. We can write to each other often, talk, and visit you once you have the ability to do so in the program.
If you don’t choose to go to this program today with me, I will be forced to draw hard boundaries with you. You will be cut off from all communication with me and my family. I will not budge on this. I have never quit on you. You need this help and recovery. I can’t watch you kill yourself or endanger others any more. My biggest fear in this whole situation is that you will continue to choose the life you are currently living over a life with me in it. I love you so much and I can’t wait to see the woman you are once you are healed.”
This letter was painful to hear because it was all true and I thought I had done a good job of hiding my addiction. I also realized how much I was not giving God glory by the choices I was making. I drove home, packed up and flew to Indiana, where I arrived at Through the Gate September 2019. When I came to TTG I felt it was an “overkill”. All I could focus on was my bitterness, anger, and blame-shifting. I wanted the control over when people found out, who found out, and how they found out. When that didn’t happen, I was angry—in addition to being in denial.
Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted. I hurt the ones I love but most of all I grieved my Heavenly Father. But I hope to show true and sincere repentance with my life. Now I want to shout it from the mountain tops and tell everyone about my God! I’ve learned that you can be a Christian BUT not be godly. It’s not just about what you do and say, it’s about what is in your heart. Faith is more than believing in Christ, He has to be your life. In Colossians 3:4 it says “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in Glory.” Christ gives us power to live for Him now, He gives us hope for the future. I need to be active and grow to be that godly woman as a wife, mother, and grandmother.
Being here at TTG has opened my eyes to the reality of my addiction. It took me about five months to really start to understand “Why” I drank… I learned that in Christ, “alcoholic” is not my identity: that I can’t blame my addiction on a disease. The Bible calls addiction the sin of idolatry or drunkenness. Choosing to drink was 100% my choice. No one made me do it. I can’t blame it on stress, depression… It’s a choice of the heart which is connected to my mind. I’ve also learned the importance of church family here. I never expected strangers from another body to be so loving. Tammy, Jocelyn, and Debbie were the first to welcome me. Then I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Seeing the way people were welcoming and nonjudgmental here was different, it was something I started to look forward to.
I don’t want to squeeze God into my life as a checklist anymore. Instead of fitting Him into my life, I want to fit into His plans. I want to take advantage of the opportunities to serve that God has for me in the moment, instead of always thinking ahead for myself. Now I am looking for Him in the little things because putting him first will actualize my faith. I’ve learned that pride and anxiety come from focusing on “self”, whereas humility focuses on others. The more I understand God’s power and glory, the more humble I will be. Then I can give myself more readily to others as Christ gave Himself for me.
This is my verse I chose: Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This means His power is sufficient for me to do His will. I can overcome troubles, pressures, and trials because of His power. The Righteousness of Christ is a free gift to us and we should walk in it. No longer do we have to say, “I am an addict” or “I am an alcoholic,”. I am a Child of the King. He sees me as righteous. My God is Powerful. My God is Faithful. My God is In Charge.
I long to love my life with my husband and enjoy the family, friends, and blessings that my loving Heavenly Father has given me and all this time I have taken them for granted. I want to thank my God for loving me enough to bring me to my knees with a humble spirit. I do see purpose in the problems that have resulted from my selfish, addicted ways: giving me a closer relationship with Him.
I would also like to thank Kathy for all the time that she spent as my counselor, offering words of wisdom and encouragement. I’d also like to thank Janet for sharing her personal experiences and opening my eyes to some difficult truths. Tammy for all of our unexpected talks and helping me through times of panic. She was a wonderful example of a godly woman as a volunteer at TTG. A special thanks to Dawn and Bella for always being available to talk. And I want to express gratitude for my boys for loving me enough to put up with my selfishness over the years. Lastly, my husband Dirk, thank you for growing as the husband I need and for pursuing the Lord. Even through my trials in this program, you were there for me, always reaching out and pushing us toward Christ. I pray that we grow stronger together now than ever before.
To everyone else involved at TTG as staff or volunteers, I thank them for their effort and influence. I will miss everyone. To the women going through the program now, I just want to say that something will grow from all you are going through and it will be you. Keep close to the Lord, keep praying, and be alone with God. I never saw it coming. I just thought I was going to stop drinking, but it saved my marriage through Christ. And I’ll end with this: Only in Indiana.