While walking through my recovery, a very important step was to write down all the people, places and things that I had a resentment to. I was to write, in columns, the who, where, or what, why I had the resentment, what effect it had on my life, and what my part was, if any. I found that in most cases I played a part in the resentment. Once the work was done, I was to share it with someone I trusted. During process, I learned something that would change my life forever. I learned that on of the most important keys in recovery from my alcoholism, was to put myself on my resentment list.
In that very moment a light bulb went on for me. Oh dear Lord, this is why I have relapsed with alcohol over and over again. This is what has kept me from surrendering my will to you. In facing the past, I would have to face the pain of just how much I hated myself for what I had done. I hated that person in the mirror. I actually had gotten to a place where I didn’t look in mirrors anymore. I found that the hate for myself, my guilt and shame, were at the root of my continuing to turn to the bottle even when I knew it was killing me. I would pick up a drink in an instant, just to not have to feel that pain. I think at times that kind of pain, the soul crushing kind, can drive people to consider suicide…..IF…and this is a huge IF…it is handled alone.
I also started to realize in this moment, that I wasn’t alone.
In anguish I cried out to The Lord and he answered by setting me free.
For many alcoholics like me, by the time we discover that there is a solution to our alcoholism, the damage has already been done. Our husbands have suffered, our children have been neglected, our parents have cried until there are no tears left. Here we sit trying to get sober, but all the while trying to bear the guilt and shame of the past, all alone. So there I was with the name Lori Payne staring back at me, under the column labeled Who. The Who was me. It looked something like this.
Who: Lori Payne
What they Did: Became an Alcoholic
How it effected Me: Ruined my life
My part: Stayed in Denial, allowing the Disease to take over
There it was. Staring me in the face. I finally knew what had caused me to continue to pick-up a drink after knowing how bad it was destroying my life, and the lives of those unfortunate enough to be caught up in it. I could not handle the pain of my own shame and guilt. I would rather pick-up a bottle and all that entails, than feel the pain of my brokeness. Broken dreams, broken lives, broken hearts. When I looked at my son, I saw the years I had lost. The years he had lost. When I saw my husband I thought how could he ever truly love me again. He might love me again, but he would never see me as a wife to be adored, a wife to love as Christ loved the church. No, that kind of love was gone.
Let me tell you something from experience. When hate lives in your heart, you are doomed for brokeness. When the hate is for yourself, YOU will eventually destroy YOU.
It came time for me to share my inventory, something that I had done before. This time when I shared about resenting myself, the pain came, the tears flowed, my guts hurt. I began to list the awful things that I had done. The shame and guilt poured out of me like vomit. I went on and on for several hours with my sponsor. I shared how I had driven drunk with my child in the care. I shared stories of being drunk at family weddings, funerals, church. But I think the worst pain was when I realized just how long my drinking had lasted. I had lost time with loved ones that I could never get back. Hurt that couldn’t be undone. Babies that were never born. Memories that were gone forever. I wept. I wept for me, I wept for my family, I wept for what could have been.
Then Jesus came. He showed up just when I thought the pain would be too much. Peace started to come over me. It was exactly like my friends in recovery had shared with me. My sweet Jesus would carry the load with me, if I would just turn to him. Something happened to me that day. Jesus showed up and carried my sin and shame. For the first time in my life, I started to feel free. I finally knew with every ounce of my heart and soul that Jesus loved me. I knew that I wouldn’t ever have to feel alone again, I had Jesus. He died on the cross, not just for everyone else, he died for me. That day I began to live.