I gave my testimony tonight at my Celebrate Recovery meeting and I wanted to share it with you too. I know it’s different reading it over hearing it.
Thank you Lord for what you have done for me in and out of these rooms. It is only by His Grace and love that I am here tonight. I am humbled and it is an honor to share my story.
Hi my name is Mar and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with codependency and am the daughter of alcoholics.
I am the 6th child to a Catholic Family. My siblings are 5 -11 years older than me.
My parents were both worked hard but also alcoholics. Knowing all that I do now, who could blame them. My mother grew up in a very abusive alcoholic home and moved more than once a year. She attended 17 schools before graduating high school. My mom just wanted to escape. She got married at 17 and divorced the next year and then married my dad after knowing him for 6 short weeks. And my Dad, he was born as a result of a rape and grew up in another family member’s home. The shame he carried was unbearable. The fact that he would even know this still breaks my heart. None of these things were ever talked about. Most of this I’ve learned from other family members of the past year.
We did not want for anything growing up. I was very shy. Painfully shy in fact. I didn’t want to be noticed or bring attention to myself. We lived on a street with lots of kids but they were mostly older like my siblings. I was often the lookout but more often the pest.
As long as I can remember, one of my brothers told me that I was found in a trash can and they felt sorry for me and took me home. This same brother sexually abused me for several years. I never told anyone because he told me that they would send me back to the family who didn’t want me to begin with.
I had learning disabilities in school and I am convinced the abuse and learning difficulties were connected. I cried a lot those early years of school as I just want to be home with my mom. I was so afraid that someone would find out what was going on. I was pulled out of class for tutoring and was left feeling that I didn’t belong and was lonely because my friends were off doing other things while I had tutoring or summer school.
To say that I was a daddy’s girl would be an understatement. But if there was also a mommy’s girl, I would have been that too. My parents were my best friends.
My parents drank every night to the point they passed out on the sofa or chair and got up the next day and went to work. This seemed completely normal to me.
By the time I was 13, I was the only one left at home and it was like I was an only child. I became very close to my parents during this time while my siblings were off getting married and starting families of their own. The dynamics of my family was different than most families. Distance started to grow between me and the 5 siblings. I have relationships with only 2 of them today.
As a teenager, I used my sexuality to find love in all the wrong places with all the wrong guys. I was more sexually active than my peers and found myself in circles with older teens. The cycle had begun, I was looking for older guys who were outgoing, could make friends very easily and everyone liked them but when no one was looking, they were not kind to me. I was taken advantage of and this became what I knew and what I felt I deserved. That description of outgoing and made friends easily but was mean spirited, this is exactly how I would describe my brother while I just wanted to fade into the back ground.
I drank in high school which was a good escape but I hated feeling of bed spins or just the feeling of not being in control or worse yet feeling sick the next day. So I took on a different role. I helped my friends from getting into trouble or doing stupid things or helped them clean it up when they did. They all thought that I had a high tolerance but they were too drunk to notice that I had drank little to nothing. I was needed.
I was friends with everyone but didn’t belong in one group or click.
I started working in High School and continued on that path after. I met the man I’d later marry at a coworker’s house. They were about 10 years older and I liked hanging out with them. I got married at 23 to the class clown type who everyone loved and who would make friends with anyone if sports and drinks were involved. But I didn’t drink and while I like to watch sports I didn’t know names of players or their stats nor did I care. He is critical of others and mean spirited sarcastic humor rules his world. From the start were in different boats but rowing in different directions.
My life became about the kids and his life didn’t change much.
There were a couple of life changing events that made me realize that this was not what I signed up for and those center around the passing of my dad in 2001, we filed bankruptcy in 2007 because we were living off credit and was over extended and didn’t do anything about it. It was an easy way out from the responsibility but it was not easy at all. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And then my mom passed away in 2008.
In late 2007 my mom got very sick and hid her cirrhosis diagnosis from everyone until she was hospitalized and the doctor said something in front of the family.. she was in the hospital or nursing home for 5 months. In March 2008 they suggested that there is nothing left to do for her but to go home with hospice care. 24 hours later she was home. Her bed was set up by the window. I spent that evening as I did the months leading to that day brushing her hair and putting lotion on her hands and feet. My Mom passed away just a few hours later.
My husband never went to see her and I again felt unsupported and not cared about. This was the end of my marriage. In 2010 and I am now a newly single parent with 3 sons. I walked away from a 16 year marriage because of years of my needs were not being met and I was exhausted from broken promises and not being heard or supported and I didn’t have the skills to tell him what I needed. I felt alone in my pain.
I started searching for a way to fill that emptiness and feeling of not belonging that I had felt most of my life. So I started with my spiritual life and went Church shopping. My faith was quiet in my adult life but knew there was more for me. Everywhere I turned I found James. James 1:2-3 Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity of great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
This made no sense to me but it just kept showing up.
I was white knuckling life as I had done for so long and just trying to make it until next payday or the often just to the end of day. I figured this was how my life was supposed to be.
I was lonely and felt I didn’t belong as I was the only person in my circle of friends that was divorced. I knew a lot of people but have very few friends. I found myself getting into suddo-relationships with men that I didn’t ask a lot of questions and honestly I just didn’t care. They were giving me time and attention even if it was mostly online or by text. It was time and attention all the same. Ignorance is bliss; I didn’t ask and therefore didn’t have to deal with shame of knowing the answer.
At the end of 2014, I reconnected with someone I went to high school with. He talked about love and God’s light and his beliefs seem to line up with mine. Early 2015, he was looking to start his life over and needed someone to take a chance on him. Again, I didn’t ask enough questions but agreed to have him crash on my sofa while he started over. He got a job within days of moving in. We went to Church together and as the weeks and months passed, I completely fell for him. He was filling that emptiness in a way like no one else ever had.
I knew that he was behind on his child support and had a court hearing pending. I knew he struggled with alcohol but he was not drinking. We didn’t have alcohol in the house and we were going to AA Step 11 meetings together. He never shared, didn’t have a sponsor and was not working the steps but I didn’t know anything about 12 step programs at that time.
In May the wheels fell off when he lost his job and he turned to alcohol. I came home from work to find him passed out on my sofa. I made excuses for him for a couple of days as every day I came home to him passed out. I kicked him out because I couldn’t allow my kids to be around this chaos. I started hiding and lying to everyone about what was going on once I kicked him out.
He didn’t go far, just a few blocks away, where he found a place to live with a bunch of other addicts who were squatting in a house while the owner was in jail. I paid rent for him because I felt bad for kicking him out. This was the start of my codependent merry go round.
I became the girl who put his needs above mine and thought if I just love him enough, he would stop.
I became the girl who left work to check in on him and lied about why I was gone so long.
I became that girl that believed his half truths because I wanted so desperately to get back to where we were.
I became that girl that took him to court drunk because he knew he was going jail.
I became that girl who visited her boyfriend in jail every weekend and cried in the waiting room wondering what I was doing and how did this become my life.
I became that girl who put my finances at risk to bond him out of jail a month later and lied to everyone about where I got the money.
I became that girl who was devastated that the day I bonded him out, he drank again after telling me he wouldn’t.
I moved him back in and my kids were so upset that they moved out and moved in with my ex-husband.
I waited a few days and when the drinking didn’t stop and I ended up with a black eye, I kicked him out once again.
July 18th 2015 I sat of my sofa sobbing. My kids moved out and were not talking to me because they felt betrayed and not heard and this man that I loved so much was choosing to drink over me and I felt that I was not enough. So I sat on the sofa, crying. Pen. Paper. Knife. I just wanted to end my pain. And then I heard some advice repeated in my head from a few years earlier from a conversation with my oldest son when a classmate committed suicide…..it just transfers the pain to someone else and you don’t fix a temporary problem with a permanent solution. I could not be responsible for giving my sons this pain.
My life was unmanageable and I was a mess.
I almost lost my job. But instead I was demoted.
The 2 younger kids (11 and 15) moved back in 2 weeks after they left but they were hesitant and skeptical of everything I was doing. But my 19 year old wanted nothing to do with me.
So I did what any good out of control codependent would do, I continued to chase after him and try to save him from himself. During this time, we actually talked about one day we would be on stage together sharing our story of love and recovery.
His drinking continued to be completely out of control and I continued to make excuses and lie. After the 4th trip to the ER for him to detox I picked him up and I was angry. I just didn’t understand why he wasn’t stopping; I had done everything I knew to do. Clearly it was my fault and I was not enough.
In October, I had reached my limit and asked him to leave me alone. To just go away. That I was not enough to save him and I couldn’t take it anymore. But he didn’t. I received 100’s and 100’s of text messages and phone calls. He trespassed and then entering my house when I was not home but my 11 year old was.
I got a protective order which he then violated and spent a month in jail.
How did this become my life?
I started to go to Al-Anon. This actually made me miss him because it was the same location as the AA meetings I attending with him. I started to think about the good times and how he filled my emptiness. I reached out to him in December. We talked by phone for a couple of weeks. But then he was picked up again for not paying child support and was back in jail.
I met with someone from my Church (thank you Joni for being here tonight) and she suggested Celebrate Recovery. And I am so grateful that I listened.
Feb 2nd 2016 was my first CR meeting. I talked to him from jail as I walked into the meeting. And after that meeting, I did not talk to him again. His mail was returned to him unopened and I have never looked back.
Feb 9th I took my Welcome Home Chip. I carried that chip on me 24 hours a day for months. It meant everything to me.
I listened and learned and cried in each CR meeting. I finally found a place where I belonged and that people understood. I could share and no one told me what to do. They just listened without judgment.
I started a blog. I was looking for an outlet to write about how I was feeling and what I had learned. I found support I never imagined.
I got a sponsor and I started to work the steps with her. I needed to look back at my life to figure out how I got myself in this awful place because I am determined to never be in that place again. So, I had to go back to my beginning. This relationship is one I would not trade for the world and I am so grateful for her walking along side me.
My oldest son moved back home and I am so grateful for him being here tonight to support me.
From working Steps 1 – 5 with my sponsor, I was able to make all these connections from my childhood to adulthood. I had never realized how the events of when I was 5 impacted my life at 45. And I began to heal those parts of my heart that I didn’t even realize were hurting.
I starting listening to CR podcasts and filling up all my time with understanding what happened in my life. I taught something I learned and has become part of my recovery path for the first time in November. I was humbled by that experience of sharing.
I joined a women’s step study group and have developed relationships with amazing faith filled women who lift me up and cry and celebrate with and for me.
Now I understand what James 1:2-3 means ‘when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity of great joy’. Had I not been there, I wouldn’t be here.
To the new comer, I say keep coming back, it works if you work it and you are worth it. I am only 13 months in and God has moved mountains of hurts. Matthew 11:28 If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you can say to this mountain ‘Move!’ and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.
I am in the process of self publishing the first year of my blog to capture what happened in my life as I let go and let God.
God was with me every step of the way. Sending people to walk with me and help guide me in the right direction. But it is in my faith and willingness to understand and let go that I have found freedom from my hurts. These hurts once kept me from living my authentic self.
No one needs to get fit before joining this gym, just come as you are because God loves you in this moment and so does everyone in this room. God wants to take to you a better life when you become willing to allow Him to work in your life.
So here I am sharing my story of love and recovery. Sharing how God, the CR program, you and I have changed my life. I am a work in progress. I am a healthier person now than I was a year ago and I am forever grateful for being there to now being here so I can see the joy and resilience that I have developed.
I have not only found joy in trials but I have learned that I am enough, that I can love and am lovable, I have learned that I do belong and all things are possible when you let go and let God.
Thank you for letting me share.
This is me and this is my story. Thank you for reading it. My journey continues.