My first drink was either a fuzzy navel or Black Velvet and Coke. Say what you will about the Canadian whiskey, it did the trick and got me wasted. I was barely a teen. I graduated on to harder things that occupied most of my time and attention for the rest of my teen years… Then I met Jesus. Say what you will about the Middle Eastern Savior, He did the trick, got me saved and washed me clean!
My life was new, I was born again, and I really took that to heart! I embraced being clean, and church and the word of God and life without drugs. I didn’t drink for about a year after that divine deliverance from drugs, but then added alcohol back. There was no out-of-control binge; like all of the little foxes in life, it crept in a little at a time. Mike’s hard lemonades with family barbecues. Raspberry Smirnoff Ice while camping in the summer. When it was cold I loved hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps. And I lived there for years. I don’t think it was an issue. I could ask my kids, but I’d be scared of their answer and I could ask my ex, but he wouldn’t answer anyway.
Then wine. It tasted disgusting, but it was a whole lot cheaper and “healthier” than those sugar laden Smirnoff’s so… I embraced the bottle, for my heart’s sake when I started to focus on my health and fitness in 2008 after my grandpa died. Concerned, because of my addictive nature and past I did fervent research (all online of course) to find out what was an ‘acceptable’ amount to drink and for years made sure I didn’t exceed the acceptable limit… most of the time. But somewhere along the way the rules disappeared. It was a bottle every two nights and then she who budgeted and shopped fastidiously would magically need something at the store every other day and a full bottle of Merlot would fall into the basket too.
I can’t remember when, in the course of life, I had the talk with my ex, but I do distinctly remember where. We were walking west toward the street in front of an elementary school near our house and I told him I was concerned I may be drinking too much alcohol. I cannot remember anything more about the walk or the conversation. I remember when we moved from Snohomish County to wine country how surprised I was that so much of the culture here includes a drink with everything… well maybe not all Bible studies, but some of them for sure. I loosened up, maybe I was just being too hard on myself.
Then I got stupid drunk the spring break of 2012. My adopted daughter, Matea, was lost to me and my best dog ever was dead and I was fiery mad at God. I got drunk and I ran a six mile training run, mostly in the dark and somehow ended up swinging on an outdoor swing made by strong hands I don’t know anymore. He came to me, in his silent way, and tried to offer comfort. I sent him away with horrible, hurtful words, I did but didn’t mean. He left and I stumbled my way to my dog’s grave in the back yard and cried, and screamed to God, while Jeremy Riddle’s “Sweetly Broken” flooded into my ears on repeat.
I wanted my daughter back! God knew it and I knew God knew it but up to that point, I plead to God with tempered restraint. Not that night, HOW DARE YOU TAKE HER!!! WHY DID YOU EVEN BRING HER TO ME IF SHE WAS GOING TO LEAVE?! WHAT KIND OF A GOD ARE YOU? CRUEL, THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE! HAVEN’T I SERVED YOU? HAVEN’T I HONORED YOU? GIVE HER BACK!!! Then I threw up, stumbled into the house, puked some more and woke up to a hangover and humiliation that I behaved so in appropriately. I do not know if I apologized to my family, I should have. But less than two months later, that girl, that daughter lost to me, wanted to come home. It was a pivotal point in my relationship with God. Sometimes you gotta get down and dirty. And God’s the God of all Creation, He can handle it.
After that, after she was back, and I was a JAG teacher trying to be a good example to impressionable high-risk students, I analyzed my drinking and confessed to them and to my family that I thought maybe I drank too much. One of the girls in the class was inspired and quit drinking. She would mark her sober days on our white-board, and I didn’t quit drinking.
Then he left… was drinking a part of the silent reasons he left? I’ll never know. Closure would be nice, but then again, would it be? Nah, I’ll leave that stone unturned, and besides, The Leaving turned out pretty good for me anyway and I’ll leave the rest of the confession for another time...