Hi, I’m Tina and my sobriety date is 5/17/2018. I have been extremely apprehensive about writing my testimony for fear of not doing it perfectly and being humiliated. Then one day God spoke and told me it was not about me, it was for his glory, so I started writing. It shows me that anything that keeps me focused on myself, not Gods will, and loving others is sin. I know that my selfish desires will not let me do what is good, even when I want to, I cannot (Romans 7:18). He is currently working with my codependency, making good health choices and deep-rooted trust issues.
I was born 12/8/1960 in Beloit Wisconsin, weighing a little over 5 lbs., a full head of hair and 2 bottom teeth. I grew up having two loving parents and two brothers. My dad was a man of reason and integrity but spent his time with my brothers or being the neighborhood handy man. I recall telling my daughter upon his passing pop-pop wasn’t a man of many words. Her response was what are you talking about? We could talk about everything. My mother, spiritual in nature, was a stay at home mom. I can remember on weekends she would make homemade donuts for all our friends. She had an open-door policy with anyone that needed to talk.
In the second grade my parents pulled us from public school and placed us in parochial school. I didn’t have the typical catholic experience, we had lay teachers. I remember picnics at our house with the priests and nuns. I was taught about the trinity but knew nothing about a relationship with Jesus. A pivotal point in my young life was when a so-called friend bullied me in the 7th grade. That humiliation changed me. I no longer trusted anyone, and the result was me turning inward. Then in 9th grade I entered public school and was overwhelmed by the number of students, wondered how to make friends. Wanting to be accepted I began doing for others and made sure I did everything perfect. AH character defects of perfectionism, codependency keeping me from becoming my own person. I don’t recall one friend from that year. I do know I tried smoking pot, which made me feel more withdrawn. The fear of people continued through high school. by 12th grade weekend parties were a regular occurrence. Once in college I was off to the races: Friday afternoon parties at the beer garden on campus, Christopher’s, and the Towson bar scene. I didn’t see the unmanageability: running a red light only to realize I as looking at the next greenlight, falling asleep at my retail job, driving my mother’s car drunk and thinking- I’m ok- I haven’t had an accident, I work 3 jobs and I’m on the dean’s list. I was given the topic of alcoholism in a speech class at TSU and attended an open AA mtg for research and a seed was planted. For four more years I continued down the rabbit hole of drugs, sex, clubs and my first suicide attempt. My roommate’s boyfriend suggested an AA mtg where I proudly declared being an alcoholic and received my big book. That night after reading I decided I’d come back when it got unmanageable (not that passing out in the hall of the apartment or being woken by the sound of corn husks scraping alongside my VW bug wasn’t) and alcohol gave me the power to be comfortable in my own skin Besides what was I going to do with these old people. I’d come back when I got older. I’m back and now I’m older.
Shortly after that I met the man I would marry. He was playful, full of life, taught me to ski, sail, golf and he loved to party. In ‘87 we married and in ‘89 after 10 months of abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Erika. We didn’t have friends with children, and I felt isolated and alone, so I began drinking again and spending more time at my parents. I accepted Christ as my personal savior in ’91. In ’94 I discovered my husband was involved with some disturbing activities. I was taught that marriage was a lifelong commitment. If it’s broken, you fix it and I tried to do that time and again. Somehow it was always my fault as he twisted the truth. It was a game of lie and deny.
While raising our daughter my ex played the role of Disneyland dad and I was the correctional officer. As years passed, I became overwhelmed by a strong-willed child, demanding she act like an adult.
Control…control…control! I was more focused on my lengthy to-do list, instead of making her my priority. I couldn’t wait to have that first glass of wine at 5, to stuff my feelings before he got home. We joined a local church where I volunteered at the office, was asked to join the women’s ministry team, and began opening our home to couples for bible study. Over time I became resentful of the love he showed her and ignored my needs, feeling I rated below the dog a Cinderella of sorts.
I filed for divorce in 2001 due to his infidelity for the second time. I was done. I slowly moved further from God, my sin grew, and my heart was hardened. I now was a believer and not a follower, searching for love in all the wrong places. Heartbroken the betrayal ignited extreme emotional and mental disorders, due to the 14 years of emotional abuse and not being able to separate fact from fiction. Erika now confused and rebellious was splitting time between both our houses with different sets of rules. Unable to control her I decided in my infinite wisdom to stop being a mother and be a friend. I enabled her behavior to join the party. My house became a haven for all the children living in dysfunctional homes, not seeing I was one of those homes.
From 2001 till 2018 I’ve had 11 suicide attempts. I look back and I’m horrified by what I have put my family, daughter, and boyfriend through. I no longer was being emotional abused. I was the abuser. My last suicide attempt caused cardiac arrest (I have recall of a near death experience), renal failure and near amputation of my left leg. I spent the first month in two hospitals and three months in physical rehabilitation.
While in rehab my daughter brought me a CR bible. She had prayed that God take me if it was his will. She could bear no more. I’ve emotionally terrorized and stolen her childhood. She required 6 months of no contact and I had to go to treatment, or I would not be a part of the grandchildren’s lives. Thankfully, God is faithful and turns bad situations into good. I searched for rehabs for a month to no avail. Then I began searching frantically for sober living facilities for the next 2 months. A floor nurse seeing how worked up I was, suggested I take a break and let God work it out. Calmly I began to search a week later and found The Way Homes. I instantly I knew that’s where God wanted me to go. Jeremiah 29:11(msg) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
I moved to The Way Homes in October of 2018, was baptized in November of 2018 and in March of 2019 a visiting pastor from Africa delivered me from a spirit of suicide. I always viewed that as a ploy to entice church donations. I’m here to testify to God’s power through the Holy Spirit and His unending love, grace and mercy available to all his children. Praise Jesus! “Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God” Mark 10:27 (niv). A month later, 6 months had passed, and I received a call from Erika. I had to share this miraculous healing. What came next was confirmation of my healing. Erika went ahead to tell me about her and a friend’s frightful experience. They asked if they could pray over me while on my death bed and I shook my head in agreement , when suddenly I popped up, eyes wide open, began shaking my finger violently, trying to shout at them with tubes down my throat and then laid down. To make it clear it took a month for me to roll over on my own, let alone sit up. She saw that spirit firsthand. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” John 10:10 (niv). It was only by the divine intervention of God and His angels that have continuously watched over me, that I’m alive today.
I’m not a first timer and failed to stay sober on three other occasions. The reasons being: I tried it without a sponsor; on the coat tails of a man with 30 years of sobriety; lastly I did steps 1-5 with a sponsor, decided I didn’t need her anymore, skipped steps 6-7 – proceeded to 8-9 then relapsed after finding my father dead. Do yourself a favor…do not go It alone and don’t look for a love relationship during the first year. This is a time to discover yourself. This is a we program where Christ is healer. Gather numbers – call to check up on others. They are your partners in recovery. Find a sponsor, work the steps and be honest. I’ve found true friends that are on the same journey as me.
I’m going to talk about the first three steps of my recovery. This was a solid foundation I built from.
Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I had never experienced withdrawal or urges when I stopped drinking in the past, so I’d pick up again. I knew now I was in complete denial. I was playing Russian roulette with my life, subconsciously knowing this drink could be the one to take me out. I had to be willing to face the past and take the garbage out. Denial disabled my feelings and stopped me from growing at the age of 16. God had a plan for my life, and it wasn’t to hide behind the mask that alienated me from Him, family and true friendships. Fear is a liar. My old self was fear driven resulting in panic attacks, skepticism, anti-social behavior and substance abuse to name a few resulting in deep pain, isolation, helplessness and emptiness. My “I got this I don’t need help” was deep seeded pride. I was playing God and running the show. I finally surrendered.
Step 2 – Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover. I acknowledged I couldn’t control anything but myself and I wanted God to change me. I found hope in a God that loved me, that Jesus had the power to change me and I should expect him to change me and restore my sanity. He gave me the strength to face my fears of inferiority (He’s still working on it). My perfectionism gave me unrealistic expectations of others and myself. My control blocked God’s purpose for my life. At this point the serenity prayer was a necessary tool, to pray and ask god to give me the courage to change while accepting the things I couldn’t change and the wisdom to know the difference. I needed to pray and rely on His wisdom; it was obvious my thought processes were running riot. My integrity grew as I took responsibility for my actions, kept my promises and was truthful. I had to learn to trust God and not what others thought of me. What others think of me is none of my business. I’m learning that my thoughts, actions and words need only line up with His word.
Step 3 – Make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. My self-reliance got me where I was, most of my life, utter chaos. I recommitted my life to Christ, losing the old self when I was baptized. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (cev) “Anyone who believes in Christ is a new person, the past is forgiven, and everything is new.” At this point I still was afraid of acceptance and worthiness. I now know he’s forgiven me, loves me and wants to use me for His glory. I must be willing to turn my life and will over each day. I can get stuck on being perfect and that’s when someone will come along side me and offer suggestions. God does and will speak through people. Today God is changing me and all I must do is seek, ask and follow. Is that to say all is perfect- no- I can be apprehensive at times to trust God.
Today I have a sense of peace, joy and clarity of mind. I’m getting out of myself and enjoy serving others with no strings attached. I’m learning about a relationship with the Holy Spirit through Christ and the truths of God in his written word. Family relationships are being mended. I’m able to take responsibility when I’m wrong and ask for forgiveness. Since my journey began at The Way Homes I have been blessed to have found a strong Christian sponsor, worked the CR 12 steps, found a home church, volunteer as a servant/leader for CR, and encourage other women as a house leader. I’ve found a family here that loves and respects me and wants the best for me. I’m able to listen and follow directions…sometimes. I’m able to take correction without pushing back and then do the next right thing. Working the steps in order under the direction of leadership has changed my life and I will be forever grateful. I’ve developed lifelong friendships, knowing I can count on them to help me and I them.
God tells me in His word that I am worthy and His child.
If this is your first time attending Celebrate Recovery, I’d like to welcome you and encourage you to keep coming back. If you want to know more about the loving, forgiving, and healing God I’ve found in Jesus, don’t hesitate to approach me or anyone with a name tag.
Thanks for listening and Blessings!